, , , , , , , , , , ,

Take this for your comfort: the disturbing and troubling of your heart by a sin argues that sin to be mortified more than unmortified, provided that as your sin stirs in your heart, so your resolutions and supplications against those sins stir in your heart, too. If sin fights against you, you must strive against it in resolutions and protestations against it.

Indeed, the heavenly country can only be obtained by striving. Bunyan provides such a picture at the Interpreter’s House:

Then the Interpreter took him, and led him up towards the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to keep it, being resolved to do to the men that would enter, what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, “Set down my name, sir;” the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet on his head, and rush towards the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out,  Matt. 11:12; Acts 14:22; he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

“Come in, come in,

Eternal glory thou shalt win.”

So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they. Then Christian smiled, and said, I think verily I know the meaning of this.

Edward Polhill in A View of Some Divine Truths writes:

This plainly appears by comparing the heavenly rewards and the earthly man together. The rewards are at a great distance from sense. They lie in another world. The treasure is in heaven. The recompense is above. A red sea of death is to be passed through before we can come at it. The man, to whom the tender is made, is earthly, carnal, living by sense, wrapt in the veil of time; one like the infirm woman in the gospel, who is bowed together, and can in no wise lift up himself, no, not to a heaven of glory and blessedness freely offered unto him. He hangs in the clay of one earthly thing or other, and by bonds of strong concupiscence is fastened to this lower world; and, which is a prodigy in an immortal soul, he loves to be so, and thinks that it is good being here. A little earth with him, is better than heaven. Sensual pleasures out-relish the pure rivers above. O how unfit is such a man to close in with such a reward! How much work must be done to make him capable of it! The man must be unearthed and unbound from this lower world.

The concupiscential strings, which tie him thereunto, must be cut, that his soul may have a free ascent towards heaven. A precious faith must be raised up, that this world may appear, such as it is, a shadow, a figure, a nothing to make man happy; that heaven with its beatitudes may be realised and presented to the mind. A divine temper must be wrought, that he may be able to rend off the veil of time, and take a prospect of eternity; to put by all the world, and look into heaven. He must be a pilgrim on earth, living by faith, walking in holiness, every step preparing for, and breathing after the heavenly country. He must pray, work, strive, wrestle, watch, wait, serve God instantly, and all this to be rewarded in another world; without such a temper heaven will signify nothing, and without a Divine power such a temper cannot be had.

Hence St. Peter tells us, “That God hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible.” (1 Pet. 1:3, 4.) The lively hope, which takes hold upon the great reward, is not from the power of nature; no, it is from a divine generation, it is a heavenly touch from Christ risen and sitting at the right hand of majesty, from thence to do spiritual miracles, as upon earth he did corporeal. Hence St. Paul argues, “If you be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.” (Col. 3:1.) The natural man, dead in sin, cannot seek them; only those who are spiritual and risen with Christ can do it. It is therefore from the Divine power and spirit, that men, naturally carnal and earthly, are made capable of closing with the heavenly and supernal rewards which are tendered in the gospel.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 33.