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´╗┐Title: Bunyan Characters (2nd Series)
Author: Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1894 Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier edition by David


BUNYAN CHARACTERS--SECOND SERIES
Lectures delivered in St. George's Free Church Edinburgh
By Alexander Whyte, D.D.


IGNORANCE


   "I was alive without the law once."--_Paul_.

   "I was now a brisk talker also myself in the matter of
   religion."--_Bunyan_.

This is a new kind of pilgrim.  There are not many pilgrims like this
bright brisk youth.  A few more young gentlemen like this, and the
pilgrimage way would positively soon become fashionable and popular, and
be the thing to do.  Had you met with this young gentleman in society,
had you noticed him beginning to come about your church, you would have
lost no time in finding out who he was.  I can well believe it, you would
have replied.  Indeed, I felt sure of it.  I must ask him to the house.  I
was quite struck with his appearance and his manners.  Yes; ask him at
once to your house; show him some pointed attentions and you will never
regret it.  For if he goes to the bar and works even decently at his
cases, he will be first a sheriff and then a judge in no time.  If he
should take to politics, he will be an under-secretary before his first
parliament is out.  And if he takes to the church, which is not at all
unlikely, our West-end congregations will all be competing for him as
their junior colleague; and, if he elects either of our Established
churches to exercise his profession in it, he will have dined with Her
Majesty while half of his class-fellows are still half-starved
probationers.  Society fathers will point him out with anger to their
unsuccessful sons, and society mothers will smile under their eyelids as
they see him hanging over their daughters.

Well, as this handsome and well-appointed youth stepped out of his own
neat little lane into the rough road on which our two pilgrims were
staggering upward, he felt somewhat ashamed to be seen in their company.
And I do not wonder.  For a greater contrast you would not have seen on
any road in all that country that day.  He was at your very first sight
of him a gentleman and the son of a gentleman.  A little over-dressed
perhaps; as, also, a little lofty to the two rather battered but
otherwise decent enough men who, being so much older than he, took the
liberty of first accosting him.  "Brisk" is his biographer's description
of him.  Feather-headed, flippant, and almost impudent, you might have
been tempted to say of him had you joined the little party at that
moment.  But those two tumbled, broken-winded, and, indeed,
broken-hearted old men had been, as an old author says, so emptied from
vessel to vessel--they had had a life of such sloughs and stiff
climbs--they had been in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness so
often--that it was no wonder that their dandiacal companion walked on a
little ahead of them.  'Gentlemen,' his fine clothes and his cane and his
head in the air all said to his two somewhat disreputable-looking fellow-
travellers,--"Gentlemen, you be utter strangers to me: I know you not.
And, besides, I take my pleasure in walking alone, even more a great deal
than in company, unless I like it better."  But all his society manners,
and all his costly and well-kept clothes, and all his easy and
self-confident airs did not impose upon the two wary old pilgrims.  They
had seen too much of the world, and had been too long mixing among all
kinds of pilgrims, young and old, true and false, to be easily imposed
upon.  Besides, as one could see from their weather-beaten faces, and
their threadbare garments, they had found the upward way so dreadfully
difficult that they both felt a real apprehension as to the future of
this light-hearted and light-headed youth.  "You may find some difficulty
at the gate," somewhat bluntly broke in the oldest of the two pilgrims on
their young comrade.  "I shall, no doubt, do at the gate as other good
people do," replied the young gentleman briskly.  "But what have you to
show at the gate that may cause that the gate be opened to you?"  "Why, I
know my Lord's will, and I have been a good liver all my days, and I pay
every man his own.  I pray, moreover, and I fast.  I pay tithes, and give
alms, and have left my country for whither I am going."  Now, before we
go further: Do all you young gentlemen do as much as that?  Have you
always been good livers?  Have you paid every man and woman their due?  Do
you pray to be called prayer?  And, if so, when, and where, and what for,
and how long at a time?  I do not ask if your private prayer-book is like
Bishop Andrewes' _Devotions_, which was so reduced to pulp with tears and
sweat and the clenching of his agonising hands that his literary
executors were with difficulty able to decipher it.  Clito in the
_Christian Perfection_ was so expeditious with his prayers that he used
to boast that he could both dress and do his devotions in a quarter of an
hour.  What was the longest time you ever took to dress or undress and
say your prayers?  Then, again, there is another Anglican young gentleman
in the same High Church book who always fasts on Good Friday and the
Thirtieth of January.  Did you ever deny yourself a glass of wine or a
cigar or an opera ticket for the church or the poor?  Could you honestly
say that you know what tithes are?  And is there a poor man or woman or
child in this whole city who will by any chance put your name into their
prayers and praises at bedtime to-night?  I am afraid there are not many
young gentlemen in this house to-night who could cast a stone at that
brisk lad Ignorance, Vain-Hope, door in the side of the hill, and all.  He
was not far from the kingdom of heaven; indeed, he got up to the very
gate of it.  How many of you will get half as far?

Now (what think you?), was it not a very bold thing in John Bunyan, whose
own descent was of such a low and inconsiderable generation, his father's
house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the
families in the land--was it not almost too bold in such a clown to take
such a gentleman-scholar as Saul of Tarsus, the future Apostle of the
Lord, and put him into the _Pilgrim's Progress_, and there go on to
describe him as a very brisk lad and nickname him with the nickname of
Ignorance?  For, in knowledge of all kinds to be called knowledge,
Gamaliel's gold medallist could have bought the unlettered tinker of
Elstow in one end of the market and sold him in the other.  And nobody
knew that better than Bunyan did.  And yet such a lion was he for the
truth, such a disciple of Luther was he, and such a defender and preacher
of the one doctrine of a standing or falling church, that he fills page
after page with the crass ignorance of the otherwise most learned of all
the New Testament men.  Bunyan does not accuse the rising hope of the
Pharisees of school or of synagogue ignorance.  That young Hebrew Rabbi
knew every jot and tittle of the law of Moses, and all the accumulated
traditions of the fathers to boot.  But Bunyan has Paul himself with him
when he accuses and convicts Saul of an absolutely brutish ignorance of
his own heart and hidden nature.  That so very brisk lad was always
boasting in himself of the day on which he was circumcised, and of the
old stock of which he had come; of his tribe, of his zeal, of his
blamelessness, and of the profit he had made of his educational and
ecclesiastical opportunities.  Whereas Bunyan is fain to say of himself
in his _Grace Abounding_ that he is "not able to boast of noble blood or
of a high-born state according to the flesh.  Though, all things
considered, I magnify the Heavenly Majesty for that by this door He
brought me into this world to partake of the grace and life that is in
Christ by the Gospel."

As we listen to the conversation that goes on between the two old
pilgrims and this smartly appointed youth, we find them striving hard,
but without any sign of success, to convince him of some of the things
from which he gets his somewhat severe name.  For one thing, they at last
bluntly told him that he evidently did not know the very A B C about
himself.  Till, when too hard pressed by the more ruthless of the two old
men, the exasperated youth at last frankly burst out: "I will never
believe that my heart is thus bad!"  There is a warm touch of Bunyan's
own experience here, mixed up with his so dramatic development of Paul's
morsels of autobiography that he lets drop in his Epistles to the
Philippians and to the Galatians.  "Now was I become godly; now I was
become a right honest man.  Though as yet I was nothing but a poor
painted hypocrite, yet I was proud of my godliness.  I read my Bible, but
as for Paul's Epistles, and such like Scriptures, I could not away with
them; being, as yet, but ignorant both of the corruptions of my nature
and of the want and worth of Jesus Christ to save me.  The new birth did
never enter my mind, neither knew I the deceitfulness and treachery of my
own wicked heart.  And as for secret thoughts, I took no notice of them."
My brethren, old and young, what do you think of all that?  What have you
to say to all that?  Does all that not open a window and let a flood of
daylight into your own breast?  I am sure it does.  That is the best
portrait of you that ever was painted.  Do you not see yourself there as
in a glass?  And do you not turn with disgust and loathing from the
stupid and foolish face?  You complain and tell stories about how
impostors and cheats and liars have come to your door and have impudently
thrust themselves into your innermost rooms; but your own heart, if you
only knew it, is deceitful far above them all.  Not the human heart as it
stands in confessions, and in catechisms, and in deep religious books,
but your own heart that beats out its blood-poison of self-deceit, and
darkness, and death day and night continually.  "My heart is a good
heart," said that poor ill-brought-up boy, who was already destroyed by
his father and his mother for lack of self-knowledge.  I entirely grant
you that those two old sinners by this time were taking very pessimistic
and very melancholy views of human nature, and, therefore, of every human
being, young and old.  They knew that no language had ever been coined in
any scripture, or creed, or catechism, or secret diary of the deepest
penitent, that even half uttered their own evil hearts; and they had
lived long enough to see that we are all cut out of one web, are all dyed
in one vat, and are all corrupted beyond all accusation or confession in
Adam's corruption.  But how was that poor, mishandled lad to know or
believe all that?  He could not.  It was impossible.  "You go so fast,
gentlemen, that I cannot keep pace with you.  Go you on before and I will
stay a while behind."  Then said Christian to his companion: "It pities
me much for this poor lad, for it will certainly go ill with him at
last."  "Alas!" said Hopeful, "there are abundance in our town in his
condition: whole families, yea, whole streets, and that of pilgrims too."
Is your family such a family as this?  And are you yourself just such a
pilgrim as Ignorance was, and are you hastening on to just such an end?

And then, as a consequence, being wholly ignorant of his own corruption
and condemnation in the sight of God, this miserable man must remain
ignorant and outside of all that God has done in Christ for corrupt and
condemned men.  "I believe that Christ died for sinners and that I shall
be justified before God from the curse through His gracious acceptance of
my obedience to His law.  Or, then, to take it this way, Christ makes my
duties that are religious acceptable to His Father by virtue of His
merits, and so shall I be justified."  Now, I verify believe that nine
out of ten of the young men who are here to-night would subscribe that
statement and never suspect there was anything wrong with it or with
themselves.  And yet, what does Christian, who, in this matter, is just
John Bunyan, who again is just the word of God--what does the old pilgrim
say to this confession of this young pilgrim's faith?  "Ignorance is thy
name," he says, "and as thy name is, so art thou: even this thy answer
demonstrateth what I say.  Ignorant thou art of what justifying
righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul through the
faith of it from the heavy wrath of God.  Yea, thou also art ignorant of
the true effect of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ's, which
is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love His name, His
word, His ways, and His people."  Paul sums up all his own early life in
this one word, "ignorant of God's righteousness."  "Going about," he says
also, "to establish our own righteousness, not submitting ourselves to be
justified by the righteousness that God has provided with such wisdom and
grace, and at such a cost in His Son Jesus Christ."  Now, young men, I
defy you to be better born, better brought up, or to have better
prospects than Saul of Tarsus had.  I defy you to have profited more by
all your opportunities and advantages than he had done.  I defy you to be
more blameless in your opening manhood than he was.  And yet it all went
like smoke when he got a true sight of himself, and, with that, a true
sight of Christ and His justifying righteousness.  Read at home to-night,
and read when alone, what that great man of God says about all that in
his classical epistle to the Philippians, and refuse to sleep till you
have made the same submission.  And, to-night, and all your days, let
_submission_, Paul's splendid submission, be the soul and spirit of all
your religious life.  Submission to be searched by God's holy law as by a
lighted candle: submission to be justified from all that that candle
discovers: submission to take Christ as your life and righteousness,
sanctification and redemption: and submission of your mind and your will
and your heart to Him at all times and in all things.  Nay, stay still,
and say where you sit, Lord, I submit.  I submit on the spot to be
pardoned.  I submit now to be saved.  I submit in all things from this
very hour and house of God not any longer to be mine own, but to be
Thine, O God, Thine, Thine, for ever, in Jesus Christ Thy Son and my
Saviour!

"But, one day, as I was passing in the field, and that, too, with some
dashes in my conscience, fearing lest all was not right, suddenly this
sentence fell upon my soul, Thy Righteousness is in heaven!  And,
methought, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right
hand.  There, I saw, was my Righteousness.  I also saw, moreover, that it
was not my good frame of heart that made my Righteousness better, nor my
bad frame of heart that made my Righteousness worse: for my Righteousness
was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
'Twas glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and prevalency
of His benefits.  And that because I could now look from myself to Him
and should reckon that all those graces of God that were now green in me
were yet but like those crack-groats and four-pence halfpennies that rich
men carry in their purses when their gold is in their trunks at home!  Oh,
I saw that day that my gold was all in my trunk at home!  Even in Christ,
my Lord and Saviour!  Now, Christ was all to me: all my wisdom, all my
righteousness, all my sanctification and all my redemption."

   "Methinks in this God speaks,
   No tinker hath such power."



LITTLE-FAITH


   "O thou of little faith."--_Our Lord_.

Little-Faith, let it never be forgotten, was, all the time, a good man.
With all his mistakes about himself, with his sad misadventure, with all
his loss of blood and of money, and with his whole after-lifetime of
doleful and bitter complaints,--all the time, Little-Faith was all
through, in a way, a good man.  To keep us right on this all-important
point, and to prevent our being prematurely prejudiced against this
pilgrim because of his somewhat prejudicial name--because give a dog a
bad name, you know, and you had better hang him out of hand at
once--because, I say, of this pilgrim's somewhat suspicious name, his
scrupulously just, and, indeed, kindly affected biographer says of him,
and says it of him not once nor twice, but over and over and over again,
that this Little-Faith was really all the time a truly good man.  And,
more than that, this good man's goodness was not a new thing with him it
was not a thing of yesterday.  This man had, happily to begin with, a
good father and a good mother.  And if there was a good town in all those
parts for a boy to be born and brought up in it was surely the town of
Sincere.  "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old
he will not depart from it."  Well, Little-Faith had been so trained up
both by his father and his mother and his schoolmaster and his minister,
and he never cost either of them a sore heart or even an hour's sleep.
One who knew him well, as well, indeed, as only one young man knows
another, has been fain to testify, when suspicions have been cast on the
purity and integrity of his youth, that nothing will describe this
pilgrim so well in the days of his youth as just those beautiful words
out of the New Testament--"an example to all young men in word, in
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith even, and in purity"--and
that, if there was one young man in all that town of Sincere who kept his
garments unspotted it was just our pilgrim of to-night.  Yes, said one
who had known him all his days, if the child is the father of the man,
then Little-Faith, as you so unaccountably to me call him, must have been
all along a good man.

It was said long ago in _Vanity Fair_ about our present Premier that if
he were a worse man he would be a better statesman.  Now, I do not repeat
that in this place because I agree with it, but because it helps to
illustrate, as sometimes a violent paradox will help to illustrate, a
truth that does not lie all at once on the surface.  But it is no paradox
or extravagance or anything but the simple truth to say that if Little-
Faith had had more and earlier discoveries made to him of the innate evil
of his own heart, even if it had been by that innate evil bursting out of
his heart and laying waste his good life, he would either have been
driven out of his little faith altogether or driven into a far deeper
faith.  Had the commandment come to him in the manner it came to Paul;
had it come so as that the sinfulness of his inward nature had revived,
as Paul says, under its entrance; then, either his great goodness or his
little faith must have there and then died.  God's truth and man's
goodness cannot dwell together in the same heart.  Either the truth will
kill the goodness, or the goodness will kill the truth.  Little-Faith, in
short, was such a good man, and had always been such a good man, and had
led such an easy life in consequence, that his faith had not been much
exercised, and therefore had not grown, as it must have been exercised
and must have grown, had he not been such a good man.  In short, and to
put it bluntly, had Little-Faith been a worse sinner, he would have been
a better saint.  "_O felix culpa_!" exclaimed a church father; "O happy
fault, which found for us sinners such a Redeemer."  An apostrophe which
Bishop Ken has put into these four bold lines--

   "What Adam did amiss,
   Turned to our endless bliss;
   O happy sin, which to atone,
   Drew Filial God to leave His throne."

And John Calvin, the soberest of men, supports Augustine, the most
impulsive of men, in saying the same thing.  All things which happen to
the saints are so overruled by God that what the world regards as evil
the issue shows to be good.  For what Augustine says is true, that even
the sins of saints are, through the guiding providence of God, so far
from doing harm to them, that, on the contrary, they serve to advance
their salvation.  And Richard Hooker, a theologian, if possible, still
more judicious than even John Calvin, says on this same subject and in
support of the same great father, "I am not afraid to affirm it boldly
with St. Augustine that men puffed up through a proud opinion of their
own sanctity and holiness receive a benefit at the hands of God, and are
assisted with His grace, when with His grace they are not assisted, but
permitted, and that grievously, to transgress.  Ask the very soul of
Peter, and it shall undoubtedly make you itself this answer: My eager
protestations, made in the glory of my ghostly strength, I am ashamed of;
but those crystal tears, wherewith my sin and weakness were bewailed,
have procured my endless joy: my strength hath been my ruin, and my fall
my stay."  And our own Samuel Rutherford is not likely to be left far
behind by the best of them when the grace of God is to be magnified.  "Had
sin never been we should have wanted the mysterious Emmanuel, the
Beloved, the Chief among ten thousand, Christ, God-man, the Saviour of
sinners.  For, no sick sinners, no soul-physician of sinners; no captive,
no Redeemer; no slave of hell, no lovely ransom-payer of heaven.  Mary
Magdalene with her seven devils, Paul with his hands smoking with the
blood of the saints, and with his heart sick with malice and blasphemy
against Christ and His Church, and all the rest of the washen ones whose
robes are made fair in the blood of the Lamb, and all the multitude that
no man can number in that best of lands, are all but bits of free grace.
O what a depth of unsearchable wisdom to contrive that lovely plot of
free grace.  Come, all intellectual capacities, and warm your hearts at
this fire.  Come, all ye created faculties, and smell the precious
ointment of Christ.  Oh come, sit down under His shadow and eat the
apples of life.  Oh that angels would come, and generations of men, and
wonder, and admire, and fall down before the unsearchable wisdom of this
gospel-art of the unsearchable riches of Christ!"  And always pungent
Thomas Shepard of New England: "You shall find this, that there is not
any carriage or passage of the Lord's providence toward thee but He will
get a name to Himself, first and last, by it.  Hence you shall find that
those very sins that dishonour His name He will even by them get Himself
a better name; for so far will they be from casting you out of His love
that He will actually do thee good by them.  Look and see if it is not so
with thee?  Doth not thy weakness strengthen thee like Paul?  Doth not
thy blindness make thee cry for light?  And hath not God out of darkness
oftentimes brought light?  Thou hast felt venom against Christ and thy
brother, and thou hast on that account loathed thyself the more.  Thy
falls into sin make thee weary of it, watchful against it, long to be rid
of it.  And thus He makes thy poison thy food, thy death thy life, thy
damnation thy salvation, and thy very greatest enemies thy very best
friends.  And hence Mr. Fox said that he thanked God more for his sins
than for his good works.  And the reason is, God will have His name."
And, last, but not least, listen to our old acquaintance, James Fraser of
Brea: "I find advantages by my sins: '_Peccare nocet, peccavisse vero
juvat_.'  I may say, as Mr. Fox said, my sins have, in a manner, done me
more good than my graces.  Grace and mercy have more abounded where sin
had much abounded.  I am by my sins made much more humble, watchful,
revengeful against myself.  I am made to see a greater need to depend
more upon Him and to love Him the more.  I find that true which Shepard
says, 'sin loses strength by every new fall.'"  Have you followed all
that, my brethren?  Or have you stumbled at it?  Do you not understand
it?  Does your superficial gin-horse mind incline to shake its empty head
over all this?  I know that great names, and especially the great names
of your own party, go much farther with you than the truth goes, and
therefore I have sheltered this deep truth under a shield of great names.
For their sakes let this sure truth of God's best saints lie in peace and
undisputed beside you till you arrive to understand it.

But, to proceed,--the thing was this.  At this passage there comes down
from Broadway-gate a lane called Dead-Man's-lane, so called because of
the murders that are commonly done there.  And this Little-Faith going on
pilgrimage, as we now do, chanced to sit down there and fell fast asleep.
Yes; the thing was this: This good man had never been what one would call
really awake.  He was not a bad man, as men went in the town of Sincere,
but he always had a half-slept half-awakened look about his eyes, till
now, at this most unfortunate spot, he fell stone-dead asleep.  You all
know, I shall suppose, what the apostle Paul and John Bunyan mean by
sleep, do you not?  You all know, at any rate, to begin with, what sleep
means in the accident column of the morning papers.  You all know what
sleep meant and what it involved and cost in the Thirsk signal-box the
other night. {1}  When a man is asleep, he is as good as dead, and other
people are as good as dead to him.  He is dead to duty, to danger, to
other people's lives, as well as to his own.  He may be having pleasant
dreams, and may even be laughing aloud in his sleep, but that may only
make his awaking all the more hideous.  He may awake just in time, or he
may awake just too late.  Only, he is asleep and he neither knows nor
cares.  Now, there is a sleep of the soul as well as of the body.  And as
the soul is in worth, as the soul is in its life and in its death to the
body, so is its sleep.  Many of you sitting there are quite as dead to
heaven and hell, to death and judgment, and to what a stake other people
as well as yourselves have in your sleep as that poor sleeper in the
signal-box was dead to what was coming rushing on him through the black
night.  And as all his gnashing of teeth at himself, and all his sobs
before his judge and before the laid-out dead, and before distracted
widows and half-mad husbands did not bring back that fatal moment when he
fell asleep so sweetly, so will it be with you.  Lazarus! come forth!
Wise and foolish virgins both: Behold the Bridegroom cometh!  Awake, thou
that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light!

And, with that, Guilt with a great club that was in his hand struck
Little-Faith on the head, and with that blow felled him to the earth,
where he lay bleeding as one that would soon bleed to death.  Yes, yes,
all true to the very life.  A man may be the boast and the example of all
the town, and yet, unknown to them all, and all but unknown to himself
till he is struck down, he may have had guilt enough on his track all the
time to lay him half dead at the mouth of Dead-Man's-lane.  Good as was
the certificate that all men in their honesty gave to Little-Faith, yet
even he had some bad enough memories behind him and within him had he
only kept them ever present with him.  But, then, it was just this that
all along was the matter with Little-Faith.  Till, somehow, after that
sad and yet not wholly evil sleep, all his past sins leapt out into the
light and suddenly became and remained all the rest of his life like
scarlet.  So loaded, indeed, was the club of Guilt with the nails and
studs and clamps of secret aggravation, that every nail and stud left its
own bleeding bruise in the prostrate man's head.  I have myself, says the
narrator of Little-Faith's story, I have myself been engaged as he was,
and I found it to be a terrible thing.  I would, as the saying is, have
sold my life at that moment for a penny; but that, as God would have it,
I was clothed with armour of proof: ay, and yet though I was thus
harnessed, I found it hard work to quit myself like a man.  No man can
tell what in that combat attends us but he that hath been in the battle
himself.  Great-Grace himself,--whoso looks well upon his face shall see
those cuts and scars that shall easily give demonstration of what I say.

Most unfortunately there was no good Samaritan with his beast on the road
that day to take the half-dead man to an inn.  And thus it was that
Little-Faith was left to lie in his blood till there was almost no more
blood left in him.  Till at last, coming a little to himself, he made a
shift to scrabble on his way.  When he was able to look a little to
himself, besides all his wounds and loss of blood, he found that all his
spending money was gone, and what was he to do, a stranger in such a
plight on a strange road?  There was nothing for it but he must just beg
his way with many a hungry belly for the remainder of his way.  You all
understand the parable at this point?  Our knowledge of gospel truth; our
personal experience of the life of God in our own soul; our sensible
attainments in this grace of the Spirit and in that; in secret prayer, in
love to God, in forgiveness of injuries, in goodwill to all men, and in
self-denial that no one knows of,--in things like these we possess what
may be called the pocket-money of the spiritual life.  All these things,
at their best, are not the true jewel that no thief can break through nor
steal; but though they are not our best and truest riches, yet they have
their place and play their part in sending us up the pilgrim way.  By our
long and close study of the word of God, if that is indeed our case; by
divine truth dwelling richly and experimentally in our hearts; and by a
hidden life that is its own witness, and which always has the Holy
Spirit's seal set upon it that we are the children of God,--all that
keeps, and is designed by God to keep our hearts up amid the labours and
the faintings, the hopes and the fears of the spiritual life.  All that
keeps us at the least and the worst above famine and beggary.  Now, the
whole pity with Little-Faith was, that though he was not a bad man, yet
he never, even at his best days, had much of those things that make a
good and well-furnished pilgrim; and what little he had he had now clean
lost.  He had never been much a reader of his Bible; he had never sat
over it as other men sat over their news-letters and their romances.  He
had never had much taste or talent for spiritual books of any kind.  He
was a good sort of man, but he was not exactly the manner of man on whose
broken heart the Holy Ghost sets the broad seal of heaven.  But for his
dreadful misadventure, he might have plodded on, a decent, humdrum,
commonplace, everyday kind of pilgrim; but when that catastrophe fell on
him he had nothing to fall back upon.  The secret ways of faith and love
and hope were wholly unknown to him.  He had no practice in importunate
prayer.  He had never prayed a whole night all his life.  He had never
needed to do so.  For were we not told when we first met him what a
blameless and pure and true and good man he had always been?  He did not
know how to find his way about in his Bible; and as for the maps and
guide-books that some pilgrims never let out of their hand, even when he
had some spending money about him, he never laid it out that way.  And a
more helpless pilgrim than Little-Faith was all the rest of the way you
never saw.  He was forced to beg as he went, says his historian.  That is
to say, he had to lean upon and look to wiser and better-furnished men
than himself.  He had to share their meals, look to them to pay his
bills, keep close to their company, walk in their foot-prints, and at
night borrow their oil, and it was only in this poor dependent way that
Little-Faith managed to struggle on to the end of his dim and joyless
journey.

It would have been far more becoming and far more profitable if Christian
and Hopeful, instead of falling out of temper and calling one another bad
names over the sad case of Little-Faith, had tried to tell one another
why that unhappy pilgrim's faith was so small, and how both their own
faith and his might from that day have been made more.  Hopeful, for some
reason or other, was in a rude and boastful mood of mind that day, and
Christian was more tart and snappish than we have ever before seen him;
and, altogether, the opportunity of learning something useful out of
Little-Faith's story has been all but lost to us.  But, now, since there
are so many of Little-Faith's kindred among ourselves--so many good men
who are either half asleep in their religious life or are begging their
way from door to door--let them be told, in closing, one or two out of
many other ways in which their too little faith may possibly be made
stronger and more fruitful.

Well, then, faith, like everything else, once we have it, grows greater
by our continual exercise of it.  Exercise, then, intentionally and
seriously and on system your faith every day.  And exercise it habitually
and increasingly on your Bible, on heaven, and on Jesus Christ.  And let
your faith on all these things, and places, and persons, work by love,--by
love and by imagination.  Our love is cold and our faith is small and
weak for lack of imagination.  Read your Psalm, your Gospel, your Epistle
every morning and every night with your eye upon the object.  Think you
see the Psalmist amid all his deep and divine experiences.  Think you see
Jesus Christ speaking His parables, saying His prayers, and doing His
good works.  Walk up and down with Him, observing His manner, His look,
His gait, His divinity in your humanity, till Galilee and Jerusalem
become Scotland and Edinburgh; that is, till He is as much with you, and
more, than He was with Peter and James and John.  Never close your eye a
single night till you have again laid your hand on the very head of the
Lamb of God, and till you feel that your sin and guilt have all passed
off your hand and on upon His head.  And never rise without, like William
Law, saluting the rising sun in the name of God, as if he had just been
created and sent up into your sky to let you see to serve God and your
neighbour for another day.  And be often out of this world and up in
heaven.  Beat all about you at building castles in the air; you have more
material and more reason.  For is not faith the substance of things hoped
for, and the evidence of things not seen?  Walk often in heaven's
friendly streets.  Pass often into heaven's many mansions filled with
happy families.  Imagine this unhappy life at an end, and imagine
yourself sent back to this probationary world to play the man for a few
short years before heaven finally calls you home.  Little-Faith was a
good man, but there was no speculation in his eyes and no secrets of love
in his heart.  And if your faith also is little, and your spending money
also is run low, try this way of love and imagination.  If you have a
better way, then go on with it and be happy yourself and helpful to
others; but if your faith is at a standstill and is stricken with
barrenness, try my counsel of putting more heart and more inward eye,
more holy love and more heavenly joy, into your frigid and sterile
religion.



THE FLATTERER


   "A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his
   feet."--_The Wise Man_.

Both Ignorance and Little-Faith would have had their revenge and
satisfaction upon Christian and Hopeful had they seen those two so
Pharisaical old men taken in the Flatterer's net.  For it was nothing
else but the swaggering pride of Hopeful over the pitiful case of Little-
Faith, taken along with the hard and hasty ways of Christian with that
unhappy youth Ignorance, that so soon laid them both down under the small
cords of the Shining One.  This word of the wise man, that pride goeth
before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall, was fulfilled to
the very letter in Christian and Hopeful that high-minded day.  At the
same time, it must be admitted that Christian and Hopeful would have been
more than human if they had not both felt and let fall some superiority,
some scorn, and some impatience in the presence of such a silly and
upsetting stripling as Ignorance was; as, also, over the story of such a
poor-spirited and spunging creature as Little-Faith was.  Christian and
Hopeful had just come down from their delightful time among the
Delectable Mountains, and they were as full as they could hold of all
kinds of knowledge, and faith, and hope, and assurance; when, most
unfortunately, as it turned out, they first came across Ignorance, and
then, after quarrelling with him, they fell out between themselves over
the case of Little-Faith.  Their superior knowledge of the truth, and
their superior strength of faith, ought to have made them more able to
bear with the infirmities of the weak, and with the passing moods,
however provoking, of one another.  But no.  And their impatience and
contempt and bad temper all came at this crisis to such a head with them
that they could only be cured by the small cords and the stinging words
of the Shining One.  The true key to this so painful part of the parable
hangs at our own girdle.  We who have been born and brought up in an
evangelical church are thrown from time to time into the company of
men--ministers and people--who have not had our advantages and
opportunities.  They have been born, baptized, and brought up in
communities and churches the clean opposite of ours; and they are as
ignorant of all New Testament religion as Ignorance himself was; or, on
the other hand, they are as full of superstition and terror and spiritual
starvation as Little-Faith was.  And then, instead of recollecting and
laying to heart Who made us to differ from such ignorance and such
unbelief, and thus putting on love and humility and patience toward our
neighbours, we speak scornfully and roughly to them, and boast ourselves
over them, and as good as say to them, Stand by thyself, come not near to
me, for I am wiser, wider-minded, stronger, and better every way than
thou.  And then, ere ever we are aware of what we are doing, we have let
the arch-flatterer of religious superiority and of spiritual pride seduce
us aside out of the lowly and heavenly way of love and humility till we
are again brought back to it with rebukes of conscience and with other
chastisements.  You all understand, my brethren, that the man black of
flesh but covered with a white robe was no wayside seducer who met
Christian and Hopeful at that dangerous part of the road only and only on
that high-minded day.  You know from yourselves surely that both
Christian and Hopeful carried that black but smooth-spoken man within
themselves.  The Flatterer who led the two pilgrims so fatally wrong that
day was just their own heart taken out of their own bosom and personified
and dramatised by Bunyan's dramatic genius, and so made to walk and talk
and flatter and puff up outside of themselves till they came again to see
who in reality he was and whence he came,--that is to say, till they were
brought to see what they themselves still were, and would always be, when
they were left to themselves.  "Where did you lie last night? asked the
Shining One with the whip.  With the Shepherds on the Delectable
Mountains, they answered.  He asked them then if they had not of those
shepherds a note of direction for the way?  They answered, Yes.  But did
you not, said he, when you were at a stand pluck out and read your note?
They answered, No.  He asked them why?  They said they forgot.  He asked,
moreover if the shepherds did not bid them beware of the Flatterer?  They
answered, Yes; but we did not imagine, said they, that this fine-spoken
man had been he."

All good literature, both sacred and profane, both ancient and modern, is
full of the Flatterer.  Let me not, protests Elihu in his powerful speech
in the book of Job, let me not accept any man's person; neither let me
give flattering titles unto man, lest in so doing my Maker should soon
take me away.  And the Psalmist in his powerful description of the wicked
men of his day: There is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward
part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter
with their tongue.  And again: They speak with flattering lips, and with
a double heart do they speak.  But the Lord shall cut off all flattering
lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.  "The perpetual
hyperbole" of pure love becomes in the lips of impure love the impure
bait that leads the simple ones astray on the streets of the city as seen
and heard by the wise man out of his casement.  My son, say unto wisdom,
Thou art my sister, and call understanding thy kinswoman; that they may
keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth thee
with her words, which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth
the covenant of her God.  And then in the same book of Hebrew aphorisms
we find this text which Bunyan puts on the margin of the page: "A man
that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet."  And now,
before we leave the ancient world, if you would not think it beneath the
dignity of the place we are in, I would like to read to you a passage out
of a round-about paper written by a satirist of Greece about the time of
Ezra and Nehemiah in Jerusalem.  You will easily remark the difference of
tone between the seriousness and pathos of the Hebrew prophet and the
light and chaffing touch of Theophrastus.  "The Flatterer is a person,"
says that satirist of Greek society, "who will say to you as he walks
with you, 'Do you observe how people are looking at you?  This happens to
no man in Athens but to you.  A fine compliment was paid you yesterday in
the Porch.  More than thirty persons were sitting there when the question
was started, Who is our foremost man?  Every one mentioned you first, and
ended by coming back to your name.'  The Flatterer will laugh also at
your stalest joke, and will stuff his cloak into his mouth as if he could
not repress his amusement when you again tell it.  He will buy apples and
pears and will give to your children when you are by, and will kiss them
all and will say, 'Chicks of a good father.'  Also, when he assists at
the purchase of slippers he will declare that the foot is more shapely
than the shoe.  He is the first of the guests to praise the wine and to
say as he reclines next the host, 'How delicate your fare always is'; and
taking up something from the table, 'Now, how excellent that is!'"  And
so on.  Yes, we have heard it all over and over again in Modern Athens
also.  The Greek fable also of the fox and the crow and the piece of
cheese is only another illustration of the truth that the God of truth
and integrity never left Himself without a witness.  Our own literature
also is scattered full of the Flatterer and his too willing dupes.  "Of
praise a mere glutton," says Goldsmith of David Garrick, "he swallowed
what came.  The puff of a dunce he mistook it for fame."  "Delicious
essence," exclaims Sterne, "how refreshing thou art to poor human nature!
How sweetly dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most
difficult and tortuous passages to the heart."  "He that slanders me,"
says Cowper, "paints me blacker than I am, and he that flatters me
whiter.  They both daub me, and when I look in the glass of conscience, I
see myself disguised by both."  And then he sings:

   "The worth of these three kingdoms I defy
   To lure me to the baseness of a lie;
   And of all lies (be that one poet's boast),
   The lie that flatters I abhor the most."

Now, praise, which is one of the best and sweetest things in human life,
so soon passes over into flattery, which is one of the worst things, that
something must here be said and laid to heart about praise also.  But, to
begin with, praise itself must first be praised.  There is nothing nobler
than true praise in him who speaks it, and there is nothing dearer and
sweeter to him who hears it.  God Himself inhabits the praises of Israel.
All God's works praise Him.  Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.  Praise
waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion.  Enter into His gates with
thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Violence shall no more be
heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou
shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.  And such also is
all true praise between man and man.  How deliciously sweet is praise!
How we labour after it! how we look for it and wait for it! and how we
languish and die if we do not get it!  Again, when it comes to us, how it
cheers us up and makes our face to shine!  For a long time after it our
step is so swift on the street and our face beams so that all men can
quite well see what has come to us.  Praise is like wine in our blood; it
is new life to our fainting heart.  So much is this the case that a
salutation of praise is to be our first taste of heaven itself.  It will
wipe all tears off our eyes when we hear our Lord saying to us, "Well
done!" when all our good works that we have done in the body shall be
found unto praise and honour and glory in the great day of Jesus Christ.

At the same time, this same love of praise is one of our most besetting
and fatal temptations as long as we are in this false and double and
deceptive world.  Sin, God curse it! has corrupted and poisoned
everything, the very best things of this life, and when the best things
are corrupted and poisoned they become the worst things.  And praise does
not escape this universal and fatal law.  Weak, evil, and self-seeking
men are near us, and we lean upon them, look to them, and listen to them.
We make them our strength and support, and seek repose and refreshment
from them.  They cannot be all or any of these things to us; but we are
far on in life, we are done with life, before we have discovered that and
will admit that.  Most men never discover and admit that till they are
out of this life altogether.  Christ's praise and the applause of His
saints and angels are so future and so far away from us, and man's praise
and the applause of this world, hollow and false as it is, is so near us,
that we feed our souls on offal and garbage, when, already, in the
witness of a good conscience, we might be feasting our souls on the
finest of the wheat, and satisfying them with honey out of the rock.  And,
then, this insatiable appetite of our hearts, being so degraded and
perverted, like all degraded and perverted appetites, becomes an iron-
fast slave to what it feeds upon.  What miserable slaves we all are to
the approval and the praise of men!  How they hold us in their bondage!
How we lick their hands and sit up on our haunches and go through our
postures for a crumb!  How we crawl on our belly and lick their feet for
a stroke and a smile!  What a hound's life does that man lead who lives
upon the approval and the praise and the patronage of men!  What meanness
fills his mind; what baseness fills his heart!  What a shameful leash he
is led about the world in!  How kicked about and spat upon he is; while
not half so much as he knows all the time that he deserves to be!  Better
far be a dog at once and bay the moon than be a man and fawn upon the
praises of men.

If you would be a man at all, not to speak of a Christian man, starve
this appetite till you have quite extirpated it.  You will never be safe
from it as long as it stirs within you.  Extirpate it!  Extirpate it!  You
will never know true self-respect and you will never deserve to know it,
till you have wholly extirpated your appetite for praise.  Put your foot
upon it, put it out of your heart.  Stop fishing for it, and when you see
it coming, turn away and stop your ears against it.  And should it still
insinuate itself, at any rate do not repeat to others what has already so
flattered and humbled and weakened you.  Telling it to others will only
humble and weaken you more.  By repeating the praise that you have heard
or read about yourself you only expose yourself and purchase
well-deserved contempt for yourself.  And, more than that, by fishing for
praise you lay yourself open to all sorts of flatterers.  Honest men, men
who truly respect and admire you, will show you their dignified regard
and appreciation of you and your work by their silence; while your leaky
slaves will crowd around you with floods of praise that they know well
will please and purchase you.  And when you cannot with all your arts
squeeze a drop out of those who love and honour you, gallons will be
poured upon you by those who have respect neither for themselves nor for
you.  Faugh!  Flee from flatterers, and take up only with sternly true
and faithful men.  "I am much less regardful," says Richard Baxter, "of
the approbation of men, and set much lighter store by their praise and
their blame, than I once did.  All worldly things appear most vain and
unsatisfying to those who have tried them most.  But while I feel that
this has had some hand in my distaste for man's praise, yet it is the
increasing impression on my heart of man's nothingness and God's
transcendent greatness; it is the brevity and vanity of all earthly
things, taken along with the nearness of eternity;--it is all this that
has at last lifted me above the blame and the praise of men."

To conclude; let us make up our mind and determine to pass on to God on
the spot every syllable of praise that ever comes to our eyes or our
ears--if, in this cold, selfish, envious, and grudging world, any
syllable of praise ever should come to us.  Even if pure and generous and
well-deserved praise should at any time come to us, all that does not
make it ours.  The best earned usury is not the steward's own money to do
with it what he likes.  The principal and the interest, and the trader
too, are all his master's.  And, more than that, after the wisest and the
best trader has done his best, he will remain, to himself at least, a
most unprofitable servant.  Pass on then immediately, dutifully, and to
its very last syllable, to God all the praise that comes to you.  Wash
your hands of it and say, Not unto us, O God, not unto us, but unto Thy
name.  And then, to take the most selfish and hungry-hearted view of this
whole matter, what you thus pass on to God as not your own but His, He
will soon, and in a better and safer world, return again to the full with
usury to you, and you again to God, and He again to you, and so on, all
down the pure and true and sweet and blessed life of heaven.



ATHEIST


   " . . . without God [literally, atheists] in the world."--_Paul_.

"Yonder is a man with his back toward Zion, and he is coming to meet us.
So he drew nearer and nearer, and at last came up to them.  His name was
Atheist, and he asked them whither they were going?  We are going to the
Mount Zion, they answered.  Then Atheist fell into a very great laughter.
What is the meaning of your laughter? they asked.  I laugh to see what
ignorant persons you are to take upon you so tedious a journey, and yet
are like to have nothing but your travel for your pains.  Why, man?  Do
you think we shall not be received? they said.  Received!  There is no
such place as you dream of in all this world.  But there is in the world
to come, replied Christian.  When I was at home, Atheist went on, in mine
own country I heard as you now affirm, and, from that hearing, I went out
to see, and have been seeking this city you speak of this twenty years,
but find no more of it than I did the first day I set out.  And, still
laughing, he went his way."

Having begun to tell us about Atheist, why did Bunyan not tell us more?
We would have thanked him warmly to-night for a little more about this
unhappy man.  Why did the dreamer not take another eight or ten pages in
order to tell us, as only he could have told us, how this man that is now
Atheist had spent his past twenty years seeking Mount Zion?  Those
precious unwritten pages are now buried in John Strudwick's vault in
Bunhill Fields, and no other man has arisen able to handle Bunyan's
biographic pen.  Had Bunyan but put off the entrance of Christian and
Hopeful into the city till he had told us something more about the twenty
years it had taken this once earnest pilgrim to become an atheist, how
valuable an interpolation that would have been!  What was it that made
this man to set out so long ago for the Celestial City?  What was it that
so stoutly determined him to leave off all his old companions and turn
his back on the sweet refreshments of his youth?  How did he do at the
Slough of Despond?  Did he come that way?  What about the Wicket Gate,
and the House Beautiful, and the Interpreter's House, and the Delectable
Mountains?  What men, and especially what women, did he meet and converse
with on his way?  What were his fortunes, and what his misfortunes?  How
much did he lay out at Vanity Fair, and on what?  At what point of his
twenty years' way did his youthful faith begin to shake, and his youthful
love begin to become lukewarm?  And what was it that at last made him
quite turn round his back on Zion and his face to his own country?  I
cannot forgive Bunyan to-night for not telling us the story of Atheist's
conversion, his pilgrimage, and his apostasy in full.

At the same time, though it cannot be denied that Bunyan has lost at this
point a great opportunity for his genius and for our advantage,--at the
same time, he undoubtedly did a very courageous thing in introducing
Atheist at all; and, especially, in introducing him to us and making him
laugh so loudly at us when we are on the very borders of the land of
Beulah.  A less courageous writer, and a writer less sure of his ground,
would have left out Atheist altogether; or, if he had felt constrained to
introduce him, would have introduced him at any other period of our
history rather than at this period.  Under other hands than Bunyan's we
would have met with this mocking reprobate just outside the City of
Destruction; or, perhaps, among the booths of Vanity Fair; or, indeed,
anywhere but where we now meet him.  And, that our greater-minded author
does not let loose the laughter of Atheist upon us till we are almost out
of the body is a stroke of skill and truth and boldness that makes us
glad indeed that we possess such a sketch at Bunyan's hand at all, all
too abrupt and all too short as that sketch is.  In the absence, then, of
a full-length and finished portrait of Atheist, we must be content to
fall back on some of the reflections and lessons that the mere mention of
his name, the spot he passes us on, and the ridicule of his laughter, all
taken together, awaken in our minds.  One rapid stroke of such a brush as
that of John Bunyan conveys more to us than a full-length likeness, with
all the strongest colours, of any other artist would be able to do.

1.  One thing the life-long admiration of John Bunyan's books has helped
to kindle and burn into my mind and my imagination is this: What a
universe of things is the heart of man!  Were there nothing else in the
heart of man but all the places and all the persons and all the
adventures that John Bunyan saw in his sleep, what a world that would
open up in all our bosoms!  All the pilgrims, good and bad--they, or the
seed and possibility of them all, are all in your heart and in mine.  All
the cities, all the roads that lead from one city to another, with all
the paths and all the by-paths,--all the adventures, experiences,
endurances, conflicts, overthrows, victories,--all are within us and
never are to be seen anywhere else.  Heaven and hell, God and the devil,
life and death, salvation and damnation, time and eternity, all are
within us.  "There is no Mount Zion in all this world," bellowed out this
blinded fool.  "No; I know that quite well," quickly responded Christian;
"but there is in the world to come."  He would have said the whole truth,
and he would have been entirely right, had he taken time to add, "and in
the world within."  "And more," he should have said to Atheist, "much
more in the world within than in any possible world to come."  The
Celestial City, every Sabbath-school child begins gradually to
understand, is not up among the stars; till, as he grows older, he takes
in the whole of the New Testament truth that the kingdom of heaven is
wholly within him.  You all understand, my brethren, that were we swept
in a moment up to the furthest star, by all that infinite flight we would
not be one hair's-breadth nearer the heavenly city.  That is not the
right direction to that city.  The city whose builder and maker is God
lies in quite a different direction from that altogether; not by
ascending up beyond sun and moon and stars to all eternity would we ever
get one hand's-breadth nearer God.  But if you deny yourself sleep to-
night till you have read His book and bowed your knees in His closet; if,
for His sake, you deny yourself to-morrow when you are eating and
drinking; as often as you say, "Not my will, but Thine be done"; as often
as you humble yourself when others exalt themselves; as often as you
refuse praise and despise blame for His sake; as often as you forgive
before God your enemy, and rejoice with your friend,--Behold! the kingdom
of heaven, with its King and all His shining court of angels and saints
is around you;--is, indeed, within you.  No; there is no such place.
Heaven is not in any place: heaven is in a person where it is at all; and
you are that person as often as you put off an earthly and put on a
heavenly mind.  That mocking reprobate, with his secret heart all through
those twenty years hungering after the lusts of his youth,--he was wholly
right in what he so unintentionally said; there is no such place in all
this world.  And, even if there were, it would spue him and all who are
like him out of its mouth.

2.  And, then, in all that universe of things that fills that bottomless
pit and shoreless sea the human heart, there is nothing deeper down in it
than just its deep and unsearchable atheism.  The very deepest thing, and
the most absolutely inexpugnable thing, in every human heart is its
theism; its original and inextinguishable convictions about itself and
about God.  But, all but as deep as that--for all around that, and all
over that, and soaking all through that--there lies a superincumbent mass
of sullen, brutish, malignant atheism.  Nay, so deep down is the atheism
of all our hearts, that it is only one here and another there of the
holiest and the ripest of God's saints who ever get down to it, or even
get at their deepest within sight of it.  Robert Fleming tells us about
Robert Bruce, that he was a man that had much inward exercise about his
own personal case, and had been often assaulted anent that great
foundation truth, if there was a God.  And often, when he had come up to
the pulpit, after being some time silent, which was his usual way, he
would say, "I think it is a great matter to believe there is a God";
telling the people that it was another thing to believe that than they
judged.  But it was also known to his friends what extraordinary
confirmations he had from the Lord therein, and what near familiarity he
did attain to in his heart-converse with God: Yea, truly, adds Fleming,
some things I have had thereanent that seem so strange and marvellous
that I forbear to set them down.  And in Halyburton's priceless _Memoirs_
we read: "Hereby I was brought into a doubt about the truths of religion,
the being of God, and things eternal.  Whenever I was in dangers or
straits and would build upon these things, a suspicion secretly haunted
me, what if the things are not?  This perplexity was somewhat eased while
one day I was reading how Robert Bruce was shaken about the being of God,
and how at length he came to the fullest satisfaction."  And in another
place: "Some days ago reading Ex. ix. and x., and finding this, 'That ye
may know that I am God' frequently repeated, and elsewhere in passages
innumerable, as the end of God's manifesting Himself in His word and
works; I observe from it that atheism is deeply rooted even in the Lord's
people, seeing they need to be taught this so much.  The great difficulty
that the whole of revelation has to grapple with is atheism; its whole
struggle is to recover man to his first impressions of a God.  This one
point comprehends the whole of man's recovery, just as atheism is the
whole of man's apostasy."  And, again, in another part of the same great
book, Halyburton says: "I must observe, also, the wise providence of God,
that the greatest difficulties that lie against religion are hid from
atheists.  All the objections I meet with in their writings are not
nearly so subtle as those which are often suggested to myself.  The
reason of this is obvious from the very nature of the thing--such persons
take not a near-hand view of religion, and while persons stand at a
distance neither are the advantages nor the difficulties of religion
discerned."  And now listen to Bunyan, that arch-atheist: "Whole floods
of blasphemies both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures were poured
upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment.  Against the very
being of God and of His only beloved Son; or, whether there were, in
truth, a God and a Christ, or no.  Of all the temptations that ever I met
with in my life, to question the being of God and the truth of the Gospel
is the worst, and the worst to be borne.  When this temptation comes it
takes away my girdle from me, and removeth the foundation from under me."

   "Fool, said my Muse to me, look in thy heart and write."

And John Bunyan looked into his own deep and holy heart, and out of it he
composed this incident of Atheist.

3.  It may not be out of place at this point to look for a moment at some
of the things that agitate, stir up, and make the secret atheism of our
hearts to fluctuate and overflow.  Butler has a fine passage in which he
points out that it is only the higher class of minds that are tempted
with speculative difficulties such as those were that assaulted Christian
and Hopeful after they were so near the end of their journey.  Coarse,
commonplace, and mean-minded men have their probation appointed them
among coarse, mean, and commonplace things; whereas enlightened,
enlarged, and elevated men are exercised after the manner of Robert
Bruce, Thomas Halyburton, John Bunyan, and Butler himself.  "The chief
temptations of the generality of the world are the ordinary motives to
injustice or unrestrained pleasure; but there are other persons without
this shallowness of temper; persons of a deeper sense as to what is
invisible and future.  Now, these persons have their moral discipline set
them in that high region."  The profound bishop means that while their
appetites and their tempers are the stumbling-stones of the most of men,
the difficult problems of natural and revealed and experimental religion
are the test and the triumph of other men.  As we have just seen in the
men mentioned above.  Students, whose temptations lie fully as much in
their intellects as in their senses, should buy (for a few pence)
Halyburton's Memoirs.  "With Halyburton," says Dr. John Duncan, "I feel
great intellectual congruity.  Halyburton was naturally a sceptic, but
God gave that sceptic great faith."

Then again, what Atheist calls the "tediousness" of the journey has
undoubtedly a great hand in making some half-in-earnest men sceptics, if
not scoffers.  Many of us here to-night who can never now take this
miserable man's way out of the tedium of the Christian life, yet most
bitterly feel it.  Whether that tedium is inherent in that life, and
inevitable to such men as we are who are attempting that life; how far
that feature belongs to the very essence of the pilgrim life, and how far
we import our own tedium into the pilgrimage; the fact remains as Atheist
puts it.  As Atheist in this book says, so the Atheist who is in our
hearts often says: We are like to have nothing for all our pains but a
lifetime of tedious travel.  Yes, wherever the blame lies, there can be
no doubt about it, that what this hilarious scoffer calls the tediousness
of the way is but a too common experience among many of those who,
tediousness and all, will still cleave fast to it and will never leave
it.

Then, again, great trials in life, great straits, dark and
too-long-continued providences, prayer unanswered, or not yet answered in
the way we dictate, bad men and bad causes growing like a green bay tree,
and good men and good work languishing and dying; these things, and many
more things such as these, of which this world of faith and patience is
full, prove quite too much for some men till they give themselves up to a
state of mind that is nothing better than atheism.  "My evidences and my
certainty," says Halyburton, "were not answerable to the weight I was
compelled to lay upon them."  A figure which Goodwin in his own tender
and graphic way takes up thus: "Set pins in a wall and fix them in ever
so loosely, yet, if you hang nothing upon them they will seem to stand
firm; but hang a heavy weight upon them, or even give them the least jog
as you pass, and the whole thing will suddenly come down.  The wall is
God's word, the slack pin is our faith, and the weight and the jog are
the heavy burdens and the sudden shocks of life, and down our hearts go,
wall and pin and suspended vessel and all."

When the church and her ministers, when the Scriptures and their
anomalies, and when the faults and failings of Christian men are made the
subject of mockery and laughter, the reverence, the fear, the awe, the
respect that all enter so largely into religion, and especially into the
religion of young people, is too easily destroyed; and not seldom the
first seeds of practical and sometimes of speculative atheism are thus
sown.  The mischief that has been done by mockery and laughter to the
souls, especially of the young and the inexperienced, only the great day
will fully disclose.

And then, two men of great weight and authority with us, tell us what we
who are ministers would have found out without them: this, namely, that
the greatest atheists are they who are ever handling holy things without
feeling them.

"Is it true," said Christian to Hopeful, his fellow, "is it true what
this man hath said?"  "Take heed," said Hopeful, "remember what it hath
cost us already for hearkening to such kind of fellows.  What!  No Mount
Zion!  Did we not see from the Delectable Mountains the gate of the City?
And, besides, are we not to walk by faith?  Let us go on lest the man
with the whip overtakes us again."  Christian: "My brother, I said that
but to prove thee, and to fetch from thee a fruit of the honesty of thy
heart."  Many a deep and powerful passage has Butler composed on that
thesis which Hopeful here supplies him with; and many a brilliant sermon
has Newman preached on that same text till he has made our
"predispositions to faith" a fruitful and an ever fresh commonplace to
hundreds of preachers.  Yes; the best bulwark of faith is a good and
honest heart.  To such a happy heart the truth is its own unshaken
evidence.  To whom can we go but to Thee?--they who have such a heart
protest.  The whole bent of such men's minds is toward the truth of the
gospel.  Their instincts keep them on the right way even when their
reason and their observation are both confounded.  As Newman keeps on
saying, they are "easy of belief."  They cannot keep away from Christ and
His church.  They cannot turn back.  They must go on.  Though He slay
them they will die yearning after Him.  They often fall into great error
and into great guilt, but their seed remaineth in them, and they cannot
continue in error or in guilt, because they are born of God.  They are
they in whom

   "Persuasion and belief
   Have ripened into faith; and faith become
   A passionate intuition."



HOPEFUL


   "We are saved by hope."--_Paul_

Up till the time when Christian and Faithful passed through Vanity Fair
on their way to the Celestial City, Hopeful was one of the most light-
minded men in all that light-minded town.  By his birth, and both on his
father's and his mother's side, Hopeful was, to begin with, a youth of an
unusually shallow and silly mind.  In the jargon of our day he was a man
of a peculiarly optimistic temperament.  No one ever blamed him for being
too subjective and introspective.  It took many sharp trials and many
bitter disappointments to take the inborn frivolity and superficiality
out of this young man's heart.  He was far on in his life, he was far on
even in his religious life, before you would have ever thought of calling
him a serious-minded man.  Hopeful had been born and brought up to early
manhood in the town of Vanity, and he knew nothing better and desired
nothing better than to lay out his whole life and to rest all his hopes
on the things of the fair; on such things, that is, as houses, lands,
places, honours, preferments, titles, pleasures, and delights of all
sorts.  And that vain and empty life went on with him, till, as he told
his companion afterwards, it had all ended with him in revelling, and
drinking, and uncleanness, and Sabbath-breaking, and all such things as
destroyed his soul.  But in Hopeful's happy case also the blood of the
martyrs became the seed of the church.  Hopeful, as he was afterwards
called, had suffered so many bitter disappointments and shipwrecks of
expectation from the things of the fair, that is to say, from the houses,
the places, the preferments, the pleasures and what not, of the fair,
that even his heart was ripe for something better than any of those
things, when, as God would have it, Christian and Faithful came to the
town.  Hopeful was still hanging about the booths of the fair; he was
just fingering his last sixpence over a commodity that he knew quite well
would be like gall in his belly as soon as he had bought it; when,--what
is that hubbub that rolls down the street?  Hopeful was always the first
to see and to hear every new thing that came to the town, and thus it was
that he was soon in the thick of the tumult that rose around Christian
and Faithful.  Had those two pilgrims come to the town at any former
time, Hopeful would have been among the foremost to mock at and smite the
two men; but, to-day, Hopeful's heart is so empty, and his purse also,
that he is already won to their side by the loving looks and the wise and
sweet words of the two ill-used men.  Some of the men of the town said
that the two pilgrims were outlandish and bedlamite men, but Hopeful took
courage to reprove some of the foremost of the mob.  Till, at last, when
Faithful was at the stake, it was all that his companions could do to
keep back Hopeful from leaping up on the burning pile and embracing the
expiring man.  And then, when He who overrules all things so brought it
about that Christian escaped out of their hands, who should come forth
and join him at the upward gate of the city but just Hopeful, who not
only joined himself to the lonely pilgrim, but told him also that there
were many more of the men of the city who would take their time and
follow after.  And thus, adds his biographer, when one died to make his
testimony to the truth, another rose up out of his ashes to be a
companion to Christian.

When Madame Krudener was getting her foot measured by a pietist
shoemaker, she was so struck with the repose and the sweetness and the
heavenly joy of the poor man's look and manner that she could not help
but ask him what had happened to him that he had such a look on his
countenance and such a light in his eye.  She was miserable, though she
had all that heart could wish.  She had all that made her one of the most
envied women in Europe; she had birth, talents, riches, rank, and the
friendship of princes and princesses, and yet she was of all women the
most miserable.  And here was a poor chance shoemaker whose whole heart
was running over with a joy such that all her wealth could not purchase
to her heart one single drop of it.  The simple soul soon told her his
secret; it was no secret: it was just Jesus Christ who had done it all.
And thus her poor shoemaker's happy face was the means of this great
lady's conversion.  And, in like manner, it was the beholding of
Christian and Faithful in their words and in their behaviour at the fair
that decided Hopeful to join himself to Christian and henceforth to be
his companion.

What were the things, asked Christian of his young companion, that first
led you to leave off the vanities of the fair and to think to be a
pilgrim?  Many things, replied Hopeful.  Sometimes if I did but meet a
good man in the street.  Or if mine head began unaccountably, or mine
heart, to ache.  Or if some one of my companions became suddenly sick.  Or
if I heard the bell toll that some one was dead.  But, especially, when I
thought of myself that I must quickly come to judgment.  And then it is
told in the best style of the book how peace and rest and the beginning
of true satisfaction came to poor Hopeful's heart at last.  But you must
promise me to read the passage for yourselves before you sleep to-night;
and to read it again and again till, like Hopeful's, your heart also is
full of joy, and your eyes full of tears, and your affections running
over with love to the name and to the people and to all the ways of Jesus
Christ.

And then, it is very encouraging and reassuring to us to see how
Hopeful's true conversion so deepened and sobered and strengthened his
whole character.  He remained to the end in his mental constitution and
whole temperament, as we say, the same man he had always been; but, while
remaining the same man, at the same time a most wonderful change
gradually began to come over him, till, by slow but sure degrees, he
became the Hopeful we know and look to and lean upon.  To use his own
autobiographic words about himself, it was "by hearing and considering of
things that are Divine" that his natural levity was so completely whipped
out of his soul till he was made at last an indispensable companion to
Christian, strong-minded and serious-minded man as he was.  "Conversion
to God," says William Law, "is often very sudden and instantaneous,
unexpectedly raised from variety of occasions.  Thus, one by seeing only
a withered tree, another by reading the lives and deaths of the
antediluvian fathers, one by hearing of heaven, another of hell, one by
reading of the love or wrath of God, another of the sufferings of Christ,
may find himself, as it were, melted into penitence all of a sudden.  It
may be granted also that the greatest sinner may in a moment be converted
to God, and may feel himself wounded in such a degree as perhaps those
never were who have been turning to God all their lives.  But, then, it
is to be observed that this suddenness of change or flash of conviction
is by no means of the essence of true conversion.  This stroke of
conversion is not to be considered as signifying our high state of a new
birth in Christ, or a proof that we are on a sudden made new creatures,
but that we are thus suddenly called upon and stirred up to look after a
newness of nature.  The renewal of our first birth and state is something
entirely distinct from our first sudden conversion and call to
repentance.  That is not a thing done in an instant, but is a certain
process, a gradual release from our captivity and disorder, consisting of
several stages and degrees, both of life and death, which the soul must
go through before it can have thoroughly put off the old man.  It is well
worth observing that our Saviour's greatest trials were near the end of
His life.  This might sufficiently show us that our first awakenings have
carried us but a little way; that we should not then begin to be self-
assured of our own salvation, but should remember that we stand at a
great distance from, and are in great ignorance of, our severest trials."
Such was the way that Christian in his experience and in his wisdom
talked to his young companion till his outward trials and the consequent
discoveries he made of his own weakness and corruption made even Hopeful
himself a sober-minded and a thoughtful man.  "Where pain ends, gain ends
too."

Then, again, no one can read Hopeful's remarkable history without
discovering this about him, that he showed best in adversity and
distress, just as he showed worst in deliverance and prosperity.  It is a
fine lesson in Christian hope to descend into Giant Despair's dungeon and
hear the older pilgrim groaning and the younger pilgrim consoling him,
and, again, to stand on the bank of the last river and hear Hopeful
holding up Christian's drowning head.  "Be of good cheer, my brother, for
I feel the bottom, and it is good!"  Bless Hopeful for that, all you
whose deathbeds are still before you.  For never was more true and fit
word spoken for a dying hour than that.  Read, till you have it by heart
and in the dark, Hopeful's whole history, but especially his triumphant
end.  And have some one bespoken beforehand to read Hopeful in the River
to you when you have in a great measure lost your senses, and when a
great horror has taken hold of your mind.  "I sink in deep waters," cried
Christian, as his sins came to his mind, even the sins which he had
committed both since and before he came to be a pilgrim.  "But I see the
gate," said Hopeful, "and men standing at it ready to receive us."  "Read
to me where I first cast my anchor," said John Knox to his weeping wife.

The Enchanted Ground, on the other hand, threatened to throw Hopeful back
again into his former light-minded state.  And there is no saying what
shipwreck he might have made there had the older man not been with him to
steady and reprove and instruct him.  As it was, a touch now and then of
his old vain temper returned to him till it took all his companion's
watchfulness and wariness to carry them both out of that second Vanity
Fair.  "I acknowledge myself in a fault," said Hopeful to Christian, "and
had I been here alone I had run in danger of death.  Hitherto, thy
company hath been my mercy, and thou shalt have a good reward for all thy
labour."

Now, my brethren, in my opinion we owe a great debt of gratitude to John
Bunyan for the large and the displayed place he has given to Hopeful in
the _Pilgrim's Progress_.  The fulness and balance and proportion of the
_Pilgrim's Progress_ are features of that wonderful book far too much
overlooked.  So far as my reading goes I do not know any other author who
has at all done the justice to the saving grace of hope that John Bunyan
has done both in his doctrinal and in his allegorical works.  Bunyan
stands alone and supreme not only for the insight, and the power with
which he has constructed the character and the career of Hopeful, but
even for having given him the space at all adequate to his merits and his
services.  In those eighty-seven so suggestive pages that form the index
to Dr. Thomas Goodwin's works I find some hundred and twenty-four
references to "faith," while there are only two references to "hope."  And
that same oversight and neglect runs through all our religious
literature, and I suppose, as a consequence, through all our preaching
too.  Now that is not the treatment the Bible gives to this so essential
Christian grace, as any one may see at a glance who takes the trouble to
turn up his Cruden.  Hope has a great place alongside of faith and love
in the Holy Scriptures, and it has a correspondingly large and eloquent
place in Bunyan.  Now, that being so, why is it that this so great and so
blessed grace has so fallen out of our sermons and out of our hearts?  May
God grant that our reading of Hopeful's autobiography and his subsequent
history to-night may do something to restore the blessed grace of hope to
its proper place both in our pulpit and in all our hearts.

To kindle then, to quicken, and to anchor your hope, my brethren, may I
have God's help to speak for a little longer to your hearts concerning
this neglected grace!  For, what is hope?  Hope is a passion of the soul,
wise or foolish, to be ashamed of or to be proud of, just according to
the thing hoped for, and just according to the grounds of the hope.  Hope
is made up of these two ingredients--desire and expectation.  What we
greatly desire we take no rest till we find good grounds on which to
build up our expectations of it; and when we have found good grounds for
our expectations, then a glad hope takes possession of our hearts.  Now,
to begin with, how is it with your desires?  You are afraid to say much
about your expectations and your hopes.  Well; let us come to your
hearts' desires.--Men of God, I will enter into your hearts and I will
tell you your hearts' desires better than you know them yourselves; for
the heart is deceitful above all things.  The time was, when, like this
young pilgrim before he became a pilgrim, your desires were all set on
houses, and lands, and places, and honours, and preferments, and wives,
and children, and silver, and gold, and what not.  These things at one
time were the utmost limit of your desires.  But that has all been
changed.  For now you have begun to desire a better city, that is, an
heavenly.  What is your chief desire for this New Year? {2}   Is it not a
new heart?  Is it not a clean heart?  Is it not a holy heart?  Is it not
that the Holy Ghost would write the golden rule on the tables of your
heart?  Does not God know that it is the deepest desire of your heart to
be able to love your neighbour as yourself?  To be able to rejoice with
him in his joy as well as to weep with him in his sorrow?  What would you
not give never again to feel envy in your heart at your brother, or
straitness and pining at his prosperity?  One thing do I desire, said the
Psalmist, that mine ear may be nailed to the doorpost of my God: that I
may always be His servant, and may never wander from His service.  Now,
that is your desire too.  I am sure it is.  You would not say it of
yourself, but I defy you to deny it when it is said about you.  Well,
then, such things being found among your desires, what grounds have you
for expecting the fulfilment of such desires?  What grounds?  The best of
grounds and every ground.  For you have the sure ground of God's word.
And you have more than His word: you have His very nature, and the very
nature of things.  For shall God create such desires in any man's heart
only to starve and torture that man?  Impossible!  It were blasphemy to
suspect it.  No.  Where God has made any man to be so far a partaker of
the Divine nature as to change all that man's deepest desires, and to
turn them from vanity to wisdom, from earth to heaven, and from the
creature to the Creator, doubt not, wherever He has begun such a work,
that He will hasten to finish it.  Yes; lift up your heavy hearts, all ye
who desire such things, for God hath sent His Son to say to you, Blessed
are ye that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for ye shall be
filled.  Only, keep desiring.  Desire every day with a stronger and a
more inconsolable desire.  Desire, and ground your desire on God's word,
and then heave your hope like an anchor within the veil whither the
Forerunner is for you entered.  May I so hope? you say.  May I venture to
hope?  Yes; not only may you hope, but you must hope.  You are commanded
to hope.  It is as much your bounden duty to hope always, and to hope for
the greatest and best things, as it is to repent of your sins, to love
God and your neighbour, to keep yourself pure, and to set a watch on the
door of your lips.  You have been destroyed, I confess and lament it, for
lack of knowledge about the nature, the grounds, and the duty of hope.
But make up now for past neglect.  Hope steadfastly, hope constantly,
hope boldly; hope for the best things, the greatest things, the most
divine and the most blessed things.  If you forget to-night all else you
have heard to-day, I implore you not any longer to forget and neglect
this, that hope is your immediate, constant, imperative duty.  No sin, no
depth of corruption in your heart, no assault on your heart from your
conscience, can justify you in ceasing to hope.  Even when trouble "comes
tumbling over the neck of all your reformations" as it came tumbling on
Hopeful, let that only drive you the more deeply down into the true
grounds of hope; even against hope rejoice in hope.  Remember the
Psalmist in the hundred-and-thirtieth Psalm,--down in the deeps, if ever
a fallen sinner was.  Yet hear him when you cannot see him saying: I hope
in Thy word!  And--for it is worthy to stand beside even that splendid
psalm,--I beseech you to read and lay to heart what Hopeful says about
himself in his conversion despair.

And then, as if to justify that hope, there always come with it such
sanctifying influences and such sure results.  The hope that you are one
day to awaken in the Divine likeness will make you lie down on your bed
every night in self-examination, repentance, prayer, and praise.  The
hope that your eyes are one day to see Christ as He is will make you
purify yourself as nothing else will.  The hope that you are to walk with
Christ in white will make you keep your garments clean; it will make you
wash them many times every day in the blood of the Lamb.  The hope that
you are to cast your crown at His feet will make you watch that no man
takes your crown from you.  The hope that you are to drink wine with Him
in His Father's kingdom will reconcile you meanwhile to water, lest with
your wine you stumble any of His little ones.  The hope of hearing Him
say, Well done!--how that will make you labour and endure and not faint!
And the hope that you shall one day enter in through the gates into the
city, and have a right to the tree of life,--how scrupulous that will
make you to keep all His commandments!  And this is one of His
commandments, that you gird up the loins of your mind, and hope to the
end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of
Jesus Christ.



TEMPORARY


   "They are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and
   have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation
   fall away."--_Our Lord_.

"Well, then, did you not know about ten years ago one Temporary in your
parts who was a forward man in religion?  Know him! replied the other.
Yes.  For my house not being above three miles from his house he would
ofttimes come to me, and that with many tears.  Truly I pitied the man,
and was not altogether without hope of him; but one may see that it is
not every one who cries Lord, Lord.  And now, since we are talking about
him, let us a little inquire into the reason of the sudden backsliding of
him and such others.  It may be very profitable, said Christian, but do
you begin.  Well, then, there are in my judgment several reasons for it."
And then, with the older man's entire approval, Hopeful sets forth
several reasons, taken from his own observation of backsliders, why so
many men's religion is such a temporary thing; why so many run well for a
time, and then stand still, and then turn back.

1.  The fear of man bringeth a snare, said Hopeful, moralising over his
old acquaintance Temporary.  And how true that observation is every
evangelical minister knows to his deep disappointment.  A young man comes
to his minister at some time of distress in his life, or at some time of
revival of religion in the community, or at an ordinary communion season,
and gives every sign that he is early and fairly embarked on an
honourable Christian life.  He takes his place in the Church of Christ,
and he puts out his hand to her work, till we begin to look forward with
boastfulness to a life of great stability and great attainment for that
man.  Our Lord, as we see from so many of His parables, must have had
many such cases among His first followers.  Our Lord might be speaking
prophetically, as well as out of His own experience, so well do His
regretful and lamenting words fit into so many of our own cases to-day.
For, look at that young business man.  He has been born and brought up in
the Church of Christ.  He has gladdened more hearts than he knows by the
noble promise of his early days.  Many admiring and loving eyes have been
turned on him as he took so hopefully the upward way.  But a sifting-time
soon comes.  A time of temptation comes.  A time comes when sides must be
taken in some moral, religious, ecclesiastical controversy.  This young
man is at that moment a candidate for a post that will bring distinction,
wealth, and social influence to him who holds it.  And the candidate we
are so much interested in is admittedly a man of such outstanding talents
that he would at once get the post were it not that the holder of that
post must not have his name so much associated with such and such a
church, such and such political and religious opinions, and such and such
public men.  He is told that.  Indeed, he is not so dull as to need to be
told that.  He has seen that all along.  And at first it is a dreadful
wrench to him.  He feels how far he is falling from his high ideals in
life; and, at first, and for a long time, it is a dreadful humiliation to
him.  But, then, there are splendid compensations.  And, better than
that, there are some good, and indeed compelling, reasons that begin to
rise up in our minds when we need them and begin to look for them, till
what at first seemed so mean and so contemptible, and so ungrateful, and
so dishonourable, as well as so spiritually perilous, comes to be faced
and gone through with positively on a ground of high principle, and,
indeed, of stern moral necessity.  So deceitful is the human heart that
you could not believe what compelling reasons such a mean-spirited man
will face you with as to why he should leave all the ways he once so
delighted in for a piece of bread, and for the smile of the open enemies
of his church, and his faith, not to say his Saviour.  You will meet with
several such men any afternoon coming home from their business.  Sometimes
they have still some honest shame on their faces when they meet you; but
still oftener they pass you with a sullen hatred and a fierce defiance.
This is he who heard the word, and anon with joy received it.  Yet had he
not root in himself, but dured for a while; for when tribulation or
persecution arose because of the word by and by he was offended.  They
went out from us, says John, but they were not of us; for if they had
been of us they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out
that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

2.  Guilt, again, Hopeful went on, and to meditate terror, are so
grievous to most men, that they rather choose such ways as will but
harden their hearts still more and more.  You all know what it is to
meditate terror?  "Thine heart shall meditate terror," says the prophet,
"when thou sayest to thyself, who among us shall dwell with the devouring
fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"  The fifty-
first Psalm is perhaps the best meditation both of guilt and of terror
that we have in the whole Bible.  But there are many other psalms and
passages of psalms only second to the fifty-first Psalm, such as the
twenty-second, the thirty-eighth, the sixty-ninth, and the hundred-and-
thirtieth.  Our Lord Himself also was meditating terror in the garden of
Gethsemane, and Paul both guilt and terror when he imagined himself both
an apostate preacher and a castaway soul.  And John's meditations of
terror in the Revelation rose into those magnificent pictures of the Last
Judgment with which he has to all time covered the walls of the Seven
Churches.  In his own _Grace Abounding_ there are meditations of terror
quite worthy to stand beside the most terrible things of that kind that
ever were written, as also in many others of our author's dramatical and
homiletical books.  I read to you the other Sabbath morning a meditation
of terror that was found among Bishop Andrewes' private papers after his
death.  You will not all have forgotten that meditation, but I will read
it to you to-night again.  "How fearful," says Andrewes, in his terror,
"will Thy judgment be, O Lord, when the thrones are set, and the angels
stand around, and men are brought in, and the books are opened, and all
our works are inquired into, and all our thoughts are examined, and all
the hidden things of darkness!  What, O God, shall Thy judgment that day
be upon me?  Who shall quench my flame, who shall lighten my darkness, if
Thou pity me not?  Lord, as Thou art loving, give me tears, give me
floods of tears, and give me all that this day, before it be too late.
For then will be the incorruptible Judge, the horrible judgment-seat, the
answer without excuse, the inevitable charge, the shameful punishment,
the endless Gehenna, the pitiless angels, the yawning hell, the roaring
stream of fire, the unquenchable flame, the dark prison, the rayless
darkness, the bed of live coals, the unwearied worm, the indissoluble
chains, the bottomless chaos, the impassable wall, the inconsolable cry.
And none to stand by me; none to plead for me; none to snatch me out."
Now, no Temporary ever possessed anything like that in his own
handwriting among his private papers.  A meditation like that, written
out with his own hand, and hidden away under lock and key, will secure
any man from it, even if he had been appointed to backsliding and
reprobation.  Bishop Andrewes, as any one will see who reads his _Private
Devotions_, was the chief of sinners; but his discovered and deciphered
papers will all speak for him when they are spread out before the great
white throne, "glorious in their deformity, being slubbered," as his
editors say, "with his pious hands, and watered with his penitential
tears."

Thomas Shepard's _Ten Virgins_ is the most terrible book upon Temporaries
that ever was written.  Temporaries never once saw their true vileness,
he keeps on saying.  Temporaries are, no doubt, wounded for sin
sometimes, but never in the right place nor to the right depth.  And
again, sin, and especially heart-sin, is never really bitter to
Temporaries.  In an "exhortation to all new beginners, and so to all
others," "Be sure," Shepard says, "your wound for sin at first is deep
enough.  For all the error in a man's faith and sanctification springs
from his first error in his humiliation.  If a man's humiliation be
false, or even weak or little, then his faith and his hold of Christ are
weak and little, and his sanctification counterfeit.  But if a man's
wound be right, and his humiliation deep enough, that man's faith will be
right and his sanctification will be glorious.  The esteem of Christ is
always little where sin lies light."  And Hopeful himself says a thing at
this point that is quite worthy of Shepard himself, such is its depth and
insight.  He speaks of the righteous actually _loving_ the sight of their
misery.  He does not explain what he means by that startling language
because he is talking all the time, as he knows quite well, to one who
understood all that before he was born.  Nor will I attempt to explain or
to vindicate what he says.  Those of you who love the sight of your own
misery as sinners will understand what Hopeful says without any
explanation; while those who do not understand him would only be the more
stumbled by any explanation of him.  The love of the sight of their
misery, and the unearthly sweetness of their sorrow for sin, are only
another two of those provoking paradoxes of which the lives of God's true
saints are full--paradoxes and impossibilities and incoherencies that
make the literature of experimental religion to be positively hateful and
unbearable to Temporary and to all his self-seeking and apostate kindred.

3.  But even where the consciences of such men are occasionally awakened,
proceeds Hopeful, in his so searching discovery of Temporaries, yet their
minds are not changed.  There you are pretty near the business, replied
his fellow; for the bottom of all is, for want of a change of their mind
and will.  Now, one would have been afraid and ashamed for one moment to
suspect that Temporary's mind was not completely changed, so "forward"
was he at first in his religion.  But, no: forward before all his
neighbours as Temporary was, to begin with, yet all the time his mind was
not really changed.  His forwardness did not properly spring out of his
true mind at all, but only out of his momentarily awakened conscience and
his momentarily excited heart.  A sinner with a truly changed mind is
never forward.  His mind is so changed that forwardness in anything is
utterly alien to it, and especially all forwardness in the profession of
religion.  The change that had taken place in Temporary, whatever was the
seat of it, only led him to bully men like Christian and Hopeful, who
would not go fast enough for him.  "Come," said Pliable, in the beginning
of the book, "come on and let us mend our pace."  "I cannot go so fast as
I would," humbly replied Christian, "because of this burden on my back."
It is a common observation among mountaineers that he who takes the hill
at the greatest spurt is the last climber to come to the top, and that
many who so ostentatiously make spurts at the bottom of the hill never
come within sight of the top at all.  And this is one of the constant
dangers that wait on all revivals, religious retreats, conferences, and
even communion seasons.  Our hot fits, the hotter they are, are only the
more likely, unless we take the greatest care, to cast us down into all
the more deadly a chill.  It is this danger that our Lord points out so
plainly in His parable of apostasy.  The same is he, says our Lord, that
heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in
himself, but dureth for a while.  In Hopeful's words, his mind and will
were never changed with all his joy, only his passing moods and his
momentary emotions.

Multitudes of men who are as forward at first as Pliable and Temporary
were turn out at last to have no root in themselves; but here and there
you will discover a man who is all root together.  There are some men
whose whole mind and heart and will, whose whole inward man, has gone to
root.  All the strength and all the fatness of their religious life
retreat into its root.  They have no leaves at all, and they have too
little fruit as yet; but you should see their roots.  Only, no eye but
the eye of God can see sorrow for sin--secret and sore humiliation on
account of secret sin--the incessant agony that goes on within between
the flesh and the spirit, between sin and grace, between very hell and
heaven itself.  To know your own evil hearts, my brethren, say to you on
that subject what any Temporary will, is the very root of the whole
matter to you.  Whatever Dr. Newman's mistakes as to outward churches may
have been, he was a master of the human heart, the most difficult of all
matters to master.  Listen, then, to what he says on the matter now in
hand.  "Now, unless we have some just idea of our hearts and of sin, we
can have no right idea of a Moral Governor, a Saviour, or a Sanctifier;
that is, in professing to believe in them we shall be using words without
attaching any distinct meaning to them.  Thus self-knowledge is at the
root of all real religious knowledge; and it is vain,--it is worse than
vain,--it is a deceit and a mischief, to think to understand the
Christian doctrines as a matter of course, merely by being taught by
books, or by attending sermons, or by any outward means, however
excellent, taken by themselves.  For it is in proportion as we search our
hearts and understand our own nature that we understand what is meant by
an Infinite Governor and Judge; it is in proportion as we comprehend the
nature of disobedience and our actual sinfulness that we feel what is the
blessing of the removal of sin, redemption, pardon, sanctification, which
otherwise are mere words.  God speaks to us primarily in our hearts.  Self-
knowledge is the key to the precepts and doctrines of Scripture.  The
very utmost that any outward notices of religion can do is to startle us
and make us turn inward and search our hearts; and then, when we have
experienced what it is to read ourselves, we shall profit by the doctrine
of the Church and the Bible."  My brethren, the temper in which you
receive that passage, and receive it from its author, may be safely taken
by you as a sure presage whether you are to turn out a Temporary and a
Castaway or no.

Now, to conclude with a word of admission, and, bound up with it, a word
of encouragement.  After all that has been said, I fully admit that we
are all Temporaries to begin with.  We all cool down from our first heat
in religion.  We all halt from our first spurt.  We all turn back from
faith and from duty and from privilege through our fear of men, or
through our corrupt love of ourselves, or through our coarse-minded love
of this present world.  Only, those who are appointed to perseverance,
and through that to eternal life, always kindle again; they are kindled
again, and they love the return of their lost warmth.  They recover
themselves and address themselves again and again to the race that is
still set before them.  They prove themselves not to be of those who draw
back unto perdition, but of those that believe to the saving of the soul.
Now, if you have only too good ground to suspect that you are but a
temporary believer, what are you to do to make your sure escape out of
that perilous state?  What, but to keep on believing?  You must cry
constantly, Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!  When at any time
you are under any temptation or corruption, and you feel that your faith
and your love are letting slip their hold of Christ and of eternal life,
then knot your weak heart all the faster to the throne of grace, to the
cross of Christ, and to the gate of heaven.  Give up all your mind and
heart, and all that is within you, to the one thing needful.  Labour
night and day in your own heart at believing on Christ, at loving your
neighbour, and at discovering, denying, and crucifying yourself.  It will
all pay you in the long run.  For if you do all these things, and
persistently do them, then, though you are at this moment all but dead to
all divine things, and all but a reprobate, it will be found at last that
all the time your name was written among the elect in heaven.

The perseverance of the saints, the "five points" notwithstanding, is not
a foregone conclusion.  The final perseverance of the ripest and surest
saint is all made up of ever-new beginnings in repentance, in faith, in
love, and in obedience.  Begin, then, every new day to repent anew, to
return anew, to believe and to love anew.  And if all your New-Year
repentances and returnings and reformations are all already proved to be
but temporary--even if they lie all around you already a bitter mockery
of all your professions--still, begin again.  Begin to-night, and begin
again to-morrow morning.  Spend all the remainder of your days on earth
beginning.  And, ere ever you are aware, the final perseverance of
another predestinated saint will be found accomplished in you.



SECRET


   "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him."--_David_.

A truly religious life is always a secret life: it is a life hid, as Paul
has it, with Christ in God.  The secret of the Lord, says the Psalmist,
is with them that fear Him.  And thus it is that when men begin to fear
God, both their hearts and their lives are henceforth full of all kinds
of secrets that are known to themselves and to God only.  It was when
Christiana's fearful thoughts began to work in her mind about her husband
whom she had lost--it was when all her unkind, unnatural, and ungodly
carriages to her dear friend came into her mind in swarms, clogged her
conscience, and loaded her with guilt--it was then that Secret knocked at
her door.  "Next morning," so her opening history runs, "when she was up,
and had prayed to God, and talked with her children awhile, one knocked
hard at the door to whom she spake out, saying, If thou comest in God's
name, come in.  So he who was at the door said, Amen, and opened the
door, and saluted her with, Peace be to this house.  The which when he
had done, he said, Christiana, knowest thou wherefore I am come?  Then
she blushed and trembled, also her heart began to wax warm with desires
to know whence he came, and what was his errand to her.  So he said unto
her, My name is Secret, I dwell with those that are high.  It is talked
of where I dwell as if thou hadst a desire to go thither; also, there is
a report that thou art aware now of the evil thou formerly didst to thy
husband in hardening of thy heart against his way, and in keeping of thy
babes in their ignorance.  Christiana, the Merciful One has sent me to
tell thee that He is a God ready to forgive, and that He taketh delight
to multiply to pardon offences.  He would also have thee know that He
inviteth thee to come into His presence, even to His table, and that He
will there feed thee with the fat of His house, and with the heritage of
Jacob thy father.  Christiana at all this was greatly abashed in herself,
and she bowed her head to the ground, while her visitor proceeded and
said, Christiana, here is a letter for thee which I have brought from thy
husband's King.  So she took it and opened it, and, as she opened it, it
smelt after the manner of the best perfume; also it was written in
lettering of gold.  The contents of the letter was to this effect, that
the King would have her do as did Christian her husband, for that was the
way to come to the city and to dwell in His presence with joy for ever.
At this the good woman was completely overcome.  So she said to her
visitor, Sir, will you carry me and my children with you that we may go
and worship this King?  Then said the heavenly visitor, Christiana, the
bitter is before the sweet.  Thou must through troubles, as did he that
went before thee, enter this celestial city."  And so on.

1.  Now, to begin with, you will have noticed the way in which Christiana
was prepared for the entrance of Secret into her house.  She was a widow.
She sat alone in that loneliness which only widows know and understand.
More than lonely, she was very miserable.  "Mark this," says the author
on the margin, "you that are churls to your godly relations."  For this
widow felt sure that her husband had been taken from her because of her
cruel behaviour to him.  Her past unnatural carriages toward her husband
now rent the very caul of her heart in sunder.  And, again and again,
about that same time strange dreams would sometimes visit her.  Dreams
such as this.  She would see her husband in a place of bliss with a harp
in his hand, standing and playing upon it before One that sat on a throne
with a rainbow round His head.  She saw also as if he bowed his head with
his face to the paved work that was under the Prince's feet, saying, I
heartily thank my Lord and King for bringing me to this place.  You will
easily see how ready this lone woman was with all that for his entrance
who knocked and said, Peace be to this house, and handed her a letter of
perfume from her husband's King.  Then you will have remarked also some
of the things this visitor from on high said to her of the place whence
he had come.  He told her, to begin with, how they sometimes talked about
her in his country.  She thought that she was a lonely and forgotten
widow, and that no one cared what became of her.  But her visitor assured
her she was quite wrong in thinking that.  He had often himself heard her
name mentioned in conversation above; and the most hopeful reports, he
told her, were circulated from door to door that she was actually all but
started on the upward way.  Yes, he said, and we have a place prepared
for you on the strength of these reports, a place among the immortals
close beside your husband.  And all that, as you will not wonder, was the
beginning of Christiana's secret life.  After that morning she never
again felt alone or forgotten.  I am not alone, she would after that say,
when any of her old neighbours knocked at her door.  No, I am not alone,
but if thou comest in God's name, come in.

2.  And from that day a long succession of secret providences began to
enter Christiana's life, till, as time went on, her whole life was filled
full of secret providences.  And not her present life only, but her
discoveries of God's secret providences towards her and hers became
retrospective also, till both her own parentage and birth, her husband's
parentage and birth also, the day she first saw him, the day of their
espousals, the day of their marriage, and the day of his death, all shone
out now as so many secret and special providences of God toward her.
Bishop Martensen has a fine passage on the fragmentariness of our
knowledge, not only of divine providence as a whole, but even of those
divine providences that fill up our own lives.  And he warns us that,
till we have heard the "Prologue in Heaven," many a riddle in our lives
must of necessity remain unsolved.  Christiana could not have told her
inquiring children what a prologue was, nor an epilogue either, but many
were the wise and winning discourses she held with her boys about their
father now in heaven, about her happiness in having had such a father for
her children, and about their happiness that the road was open before
them to go to where he now is.  And there are many poor widows among
ourselves who are wiser than all their teachers, because they are in that
school of experience into which God takes His afflicted people and opens
to them His deepest secrets.  They remember, with Job, when the secret of
the Lord was first upon their tabernacle.  Their widowed hearts are full
of holy household memories.  They remember the days when the candle of
the Lord shone upon their head when they washed their steps with butter,
and the rock poured them out rivers of oil.  And still, when, like Job
also, they sit solitary among the ashes, the secret of the Lord is only
the more secretly and intimately with them.  John Bunyan was well fitted
to be Christiana's biographer, because his own life was as full as it
could hold of these same secret and special providences.  One day he was
walking--so he tells us--in a good man's shop, bemoaning himself of his
sad and doleful state--when a mighty rushing wind came in through the
window and seemed to carry words of Scripture on its wings to Bunyan's
disconsolate soul.  He candidly tells us that he does not know, after
twenty years' reflection, what to make of that strange dispensation.  That
it took place, and that it left the most blessed results behind it, he is
sure; but as to how God did it, by what means, by what instruments, both
the rushing wind itself and the salutation that accompanied it, he is
fain to let lie till the day of judgment.  And many of ourselves have had
strange dispensations too that we must leave alone, and seek no other
explanation of them for the present but the blessed results of them.  We
have had divine descents into our lives that we can never attempt to
describe.  Interpositions as plain to us as if we had both seen and
spoken with the angel who executed them.  Miraculous deliverances that
throw many Old and New Testament miracles into the shade.  Providential
adaptations and readjustments also, as if all things were actually and
openly and without a veil being made to work together for our good.
Extrications also; nets broken, snares snapped, and such pavilions of
safety and solace opened to us that we can find no psalm secret and
special enough in which to utter our life-long astonishment.  Importunate
prayers anticipated, postponed, denied, translated, transmuted, and then
answered till our cup was too full; sweet changed to bitter, and bitter
changed to sweet, so wonderfully, so graciously, and so often, that words
fail us, and we can only now laugh and now weep over it all.  Poor Cowper
knew something about it--

   "God moves in a mysterious way
      His wonders to perform;
   He plants His footsteps in the sea,
      And rides upon the storm.

   "Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
      The clouds ye so much dread
   Are big with mercy, and shall break
      In blessings on your head.

   "Blind unbelief is sure to err,
      And scan his work in vain;
   God is His own interpreter,
      And He will make it plain."

3.  Secret scriptures also--from that enlightening day Christiana's Bible
became full of them.  Peter says that no prophecy is of any private
interpretation; and, whatever he means by that, what he says must be
true.  But Christiana would have understood the apostle better if he had
said the exact opposite of that,--if not about the prophecies, at least
about the psalms.  Leave the prophecies in this connection alone; but of
the psalms it may safely be said that it is neither the literal nor the
historical nor the mystical interpretation that gets at the heart of
those supreme scriptures.  It is the private, personal, and, indeed,
secret interpretation that gets best at the deepest heart of the psalms.
An old Bible came into my hands the other day--a Bible that had seen
service--and it opened of its own accord at the Book of Psalms.  On
turning over the yellow leaves I found a date and a deep indentation
opposite these words: "Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in Him:
and He will bring it to pass."  And as I looked at the figures on the
margin, and at the underscored text, I felt as if I were on the brink of
an old-world secret.  "Create in me a clean heart" had a significant
initial also; as had this: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit."
The whole of the hundred-and-third psalm was bracketed off from all
public interpretation; while the tenth, the cardinal verse of that secret
psalm, had a special seal set upon it.  Judging from its stains and scars
and other accidents, the whole of the hundred-and-nineteenth psalm had
been a special favourite; while the hundred-and-forty-third also was all
broidered round with shorthand symbols.  But the secret key of all those
symbols and dates and enigmatical marks was no longer to be found; it had
been carried away in the owner's own heart.  But, my head being full of
Christiana at the time, I felt as if I held her own old Bible in my hand
as I turned over those ancient leaves.

4.  Our Lord so practised secrecy Himself in His fasting, in His praying,
and in His almsgiving, and He makes so much of that same secrecy in all
His teaching, as almost to make the essence of all true religion to stand
in its secrecy.  "When thou prayest," says our Lord, "shut thy door and
pray in secret."  As much as to say that we are scarcely praying at all
when we are praying in public.  Praying in public is so difficult that
new beginners, like His disciples, have to practise that so difficult art
for a long time in secret.  Public prayer has so many besetting sins, it
is open to so many temptations, distractions, and corruptions, that it is
almost impossible to preserve the real essence of prayer in public
prayer.  But in secret all those temptations and distractions are happily
absent.  We have no temptation to be too long in secret prayer, or too
loud, or too eloquent.  Stately old English goes for nothing in secret
prayer.  We never need to go to our knees in secret trembling, lest we
lose the thread of our prayer, or forget that so fit and so fine
expression.  The longer we are the better in secret prayer.  Much
speaking is really a virtue in secret prayer; much speaking and many
repetitions.  Also, we can put things into our secret prayers that we
dare not come within a thousand miles of in the pulpit, or the prayer-
meeting, or the family.  We can enter into the most plain-spoken
particulars about ourselves in secret.  We can put our proper name upon
ourselves, and upon our actions, and especially upon our thoughts when
our door is shut.  Then, again, we can pray for other people by name in
secret; we can enter, so far as we know them, into all their
circumstances in a way it is impossible to do anywhere but in the utmost
secrecy.  We can, in short, be ourselves in secret; and, unless it is to
please or to impress men, we had better not pray at all unless we are
ourselves when we are engaged in it.  You can be yourself, your very
worst self; nay, you must be, else you will not long pray in secret, and
even if you did you would not be heard.  I do not remember that very much
is said in so many words in her after-history about Christiana's habits
of closet-prayer.  But that Secret taught her the way, and waited till
she had tasted the sweetness and the strength of being a good while on
her knees alone, I am safe to say; indeed, I read it between the lines in
all her after-life.  She was rewarded openly in a way that testifies to
much secret prayer; that is to say, in the early conversion of her
children, in the way they settled in life, and such like things.  Pray
much for those things in secret that you wish to possess openly.

5.  But perhaps the best and most infallible evidence we can have of the
truth of our religion in this life is in the steady increase of our
secret sinfulness.  Christiana had no trouble with her own wicked heart
so long as she was a woman of a wicked life.  But directly she became a
new creature, her heart began to swarm, such is her own expression, with
sinful memories, sinful thoughts, and sinful feelings; till she had need
of some one ever near her, like Greatheart, constantly to assure her that
those cruel and deadly swarms, instead of being a bad sign of her
salvation, were the very best signs possible of her good estate.  Humility
is the foundation of all our graces, and there is no humility so deep and
so ever-deepening as that evangelical humility which in its turn rises
out of and rests upon secret sinfulness.  Not upon acts of secret sin.  Do
not mistake me.  Acts of secret sin harden the heart and debauch the
conscience.  But I speak of that secret, original, unexplored, and
inexpugnable sinfulness out of which all a sinner's actual sins, both
open sins and secret, spring; and out of which a like life of open and
actual sins would spring in God's very best saints, if only both He and
they did not watch night and day against them.  Sensibility to sin, or
rather to sinfulness, is far and away the best evidence of sanctification
that is possible to us in this life.  It is this keen and bitter
sensibility that secures, amid all oppositions and obstructions, the true
saint's onward and upward progress.  Were it not for the misery of their
own hearts, God's best saints would fall asleep and go back like other
men.  A sinful heart is the misery of all miseries.  It is the deepest
and darkest of all dungeons.  It is the most painful and the most
loathsome of all diseases.  And the secrecy of it all adds to the
bitterness and the gall of it all.  We may know that other men's hearts
are as sinful as our own, but we do not feel their sinfulness.  We cannot
sensibly feel humiliation, bondage, sickness, and self-loathing on
account of another man's envy, or ill-will, or resentment, or cruelty, or
falsehood, or impurity.  All these things must be our own before we can
enter into the pain and the shame of them; but, when we do, then we taste
what death and hell are indeed.  As I write these feeble words about it,
a devil's shaft of envy that was shot all against my will into my heart
this morning, still, after a whole day, rankles and festers there.  I
have been on my knees with it again and again; I have stood and looked
into an open grave to-day; but there it is sucking at my heart's blood
still, like a leech of hell.  Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse
Thou me from secret faults.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, O
wretched man that I am!  "Let a man," says William Law when he is
enforcing humility, "but consider that if the world knew all that of him
which he knows of himself: if they saw what vanity and what passions
govern his inside, and what secret tempers sully and corrupt his best
actions, he would have no more pretence to be honoured and admired for
his goodness and wisdom than a rotten and distempered body to be loved
and admired for its beauty and comeliness.  This is so true, and so known
to the hearts of almost all people, that nothing would appear more
dreadful to them than to have their hearts fully discovered to the eyes
of all beholders.  And, perhaps, there are very few people in the world
who would not rather choose to die than to have all their secret follies,
the errors of their judgments, the vanity of their minds, the falseness
of their pretences, the frequency of their vain and disorderly passions,
their uneasinesses, hatreds, envies, and vexations made known to all the
world."  Where did William Law get that terrible passage?  Where could he
get it but in the secret heart of the miserable author of the _Serious
Call_?

6.  The half cannot be told of the guilt and the corruption, the pain and
the shame and the manifold misery of secret sin; but all that will be
told, believed, and understood by all men long before the full
magnificence of their sanctification, and the superb transcendence of
their blessedness, will even begin to be described to God's secret
saints.  For, all that sleepless, cruel, and soul-killing pain, and all
that shameful and humbling corruption,--all that means, all that is, so
much holiness, so much heaven, working itself out in the soul.  All that
is so much immortal life, spotless beauty, and incorruptible joy already
begun in the soul.  Every such pang in a holy heart is a death-pang of
another sin and a birth-pang of another grace.  Brotherly love is at last
being born never to die in that heart where envy and malice and
resentment and revenge are causing inward agony.  And humility and
meekness and the whole mind of Christ are there where pride and anger and
ill-will are felt to be very hell itself.  And holiness, even as God is
holy, will soon be there for ever where the sinfulness of sin is a
sinner's acutest sorrow.  "As for me," said one whose sin was ever before
him, "I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when
I wake with Thy likeness."



MRS. TIMOROUS


   "But the fearful [literally, the timid and the cowardly] shall have
   their part in the second death."--_Revelation xxi_.

No sooner had Secret bidden Christiana farewell than she began with all
her might to make ready for her great journey.  "Come, my children, let
us pack up and begone to the gate that leads to the Celestial City, that
we may see your father and be with him, and with his companions, in
peace, according to the laws of that land."  And then: "Come in, if you
come in God's name!" Christiana called out, as two of her neighbours
knocked at her door.  "Having little to do at home this morning," said
the elder of the two women, "I have come across to kill a little time
with you.  I spent last night with Mrs. Light-mind, and I have some good
news for you this morning."  "I am just preparing for a journey this
morning," said Christiana, packing up all the time, "and I have not so
much as one moment to spare."  You know yourselves what Christiana's
nervousness and almost impatience were.  You know how it upsets your good
temper and all your civility when you are packing up for a long absence
from home, and some one comes in, and will talk, and will not see how
behindhand and how busy you are.  "For what journey, I pray you?" asked
Mrs. Timorous, for that was her visitor's name.  "Even to go after my
good husband," the busy woman said, and with that she fell a-weeping.  But
you must read the whole account of that eventful morning in Christiana's
memoirs for yourselves till you have it, as Secret said, by
root-of-heart.  On the understanding that you are not total strangers to
that so excellently-written passage I shall now venture a few
observations upon it.

1.  Well, to begin with, Mrs. Timorous was not a bad woman, as women went
in that town and in that day.  Her companions,--her gossips, as she would
have called them,--were far worse women than she was; and, had it not
been for her family infirmity, had it not been for that timid,
hesitating, lukewarm, and half-and-half habit of mind which she had
inherited from her father, there is no saying what part she might have
played in the famous expedition of Christiana and Mercy and the boys.  Her
father had been a pilgrim himself at one time; but he had now for a long
time been known in the town as a turncoat and a temporary, and all his
children had unhappily taken after their father in that.  Had her father
held on as he at one time had begun--had he held on in the face of all
fear and all danger as Christiana's noble husband had done--to a
certainty his daughter would have started that morning with Christiana
and her company, and would have been, if a timid, easily scared, and
troublesome pilgrim, yet as true a pilgrim, and made as welcome at last,
as, say, Miss Much-afraid, Mr. Fearing, and Mr. Ready-to-halt were made.
But her father's superficiality and shakiness, and at bottom his warm
love of this world and his lukewarm love of the world to come, had
unfortunately all descended to his daughter, till we find her actually
reviling Christiana on that decisive morning, and returning to her dish
of tea and tittle-tattle with Mrs. Bats-eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs.
Light-mind, and Mrs. Know-nothing.

2.  The thing that positively terrified Mrs. Timorous at the very thought
of setting out with Christiana that morning was that intolerable way in
which Christiana had begun to go back upon her past life as a wife and a
mother.  Christiana could not hide her deep distress, and, indeed, she
did not much try.  Such were the swarms of painful memories that her
husband's late death, the visit of Secret, and one thing and another had
let loose upon Christiana's mind, that she could take pleasure in nothing
but in how she was to escape away from her past life, and how she could
in any way mend it and make up for it where she could not escape from it.
"You may judge yourself," said Mrs. Timorous to Mrs. Light-mind, "whether
I was likely to find much entertainment with a woman like that!"  For,
Mrs. Timorous too, you must know, had a past life of her own; and it was
that past life of hers all brought back by Christiana's words that
morning that made Mrs. Timorous so revile her old friend and return to
the society we so soon see her with.  Now, is not this the case, that we
all have swarms of evil memories that we dare not face?  There is no
single relationship in life that we can boldly look back upon and fully
face.  As son or as daughter, as brother or as sister, as friend or as
lover, as husband or as wife, as minister or as member, as master or as
servant--what swarms of hornet-memories darken our hearts as we so look
back!  Let any grown-up man, with some imagination, tenderness of heart,
and integrity of conscience, go back step by step, taking some time to
it,--at a new year, say, or a birthday, or on some such suitable
occasion: let him go over his past life back to his youth and
childhood--and what an intolerable burden will be laid on his heart
before he is done!  What a panorama of scarlet pictures will pass before
his inward eye!  What a forest of accusing fingers will be pointed at
him!  What hissing curses will be spat at him both by the lips of the
living and the dead!  What untold pains he will see that he has caused to
the innocent and the helpless!  What desolating disappointments, what
shipwrecks of hope to this man and to that woman!  What a stone of
stumbling he has been to many who on that stone have been for ever broken
and lost!  What a rock of offence even his mere innocent existence, all
unknown to himself till afterwards, has been!  Swarms, said Christiana.
Swarms of hornets armed, said Samson.  And many of us understand what
that bitter word means better than any commentator on Bunyan or on Milton
can tell us.  One of the holiest men the Church of England ever produced,
and one of her best devotional writers, used to shut his door on the
night of every first day of the week, and on his knees spread out a
prayer which always contained this passage: "I worship Thee, O God, on my
face.  I smite my breast and say with the publican, God be merciful to me
a sinner; the chief of sinners; a sinner far above the publican.  Despise
me not--an unclean worm, a dead dog, a putrid corpse.  Despise me not,
despise me not, O Lord.  But look upon me with those eyes with which Thou
didst look upon Magdalene at the feast, Peter in the hall, and the thief
on the cross.  O that mine eyes were a fountain of tears that I might
weep night and day before Thee!  I despise and bruise myself that my
penitence is not deeper, is not fuller.  Help Thou mine impenitence, and
more and more pierce, rend, and crush my heart.  My sins are more in
number than the sand.  My iniquities are multiplied, and I have no
relief."  Perish your Puritanism, and your prayer-books too!  I hear some
high-minded and indignant man saying.  Perish your Celestial City and all
my desire after it, before I say the like of that about myself!  Brave
words, my brother; brave words!  But there have been men as blameless as
you are, and as brave-hearted over it, who, when the scales fell off
their eyes, were heard crying out ever after: O wretched man that I am!
And: Have mercy on me, the chief of sinners!  And so, if it so please
God, will it yet be with you.

3.  "Having had little to do this morning," said Mrs. Timorous to Mrs.
Light-mind, "I went to give Christiana a visit."  "Law," I read in his
most impressive Life, "by this time was well turned fifty, but he rose as
early and was as soon at his desk as when he was still a new,
enthusiastic, and scrupulously methodical student at Cambridge."  Summer
and winter Law rose to his devotions and his studies at five o'clock, not
because he had imperative sermons to prepare, but because, in his own
words, it is more reasonable to suppose a person up early because he is a
Christian than because he is a labourer or a tradesman or a servant.  I
have a great deal of business to do, he would say.  I have a hardened
heart to change; I have still the whole spirit of religion to get.  When
Law at any time felt a temptation to relax his rule of early devotion, he
again reminded himself how fast he was becoming an old man, and how far
back his sanctification still was, till he flung himself out of bed and
began to make himself a new heart before the servants had lighted their
fires or the farmers had yoked their horses.  Shame on you, he said to
himself, to lie folded up in a bed when you might be pouring out your
heart in prayer and in praise, and thus be preparing yourself for a place
among those blessed beings who rest not day and night saying, Holy, Holy,
Holy.  "I have little to do this morning," said Mrs. Timorous.  "But I am
preparing for a journey," said Christiana.  "I have now a price put into
my hand to get gain, and I should be a fool of the greatest size if I
should have no heart to strike in with the opportunity."

4.  Another thing that completely threw out Christiana's idle visitor and
made her downright angry was the way she would finger and kiss and read
pieces out of the fragrant letter she held in her hand.  You will
remember how Christiana came by that letter she was now so fond of.
"Here," said Secret, "is a letter I have brought thee from thy husband's
King."  So she took it and opened it, and it smelt after the manner of
the best perfume; also it was written in letters of gold.  "I advise
thee," said Secret, "that thou put this letter in thy bosom, that thou
read therein to thy children until you have all got it by root-of-heart."
"His messenger was here," said Christiana to Mrs. Timorous, "and has
brought me a letter which invites me to come."  And with that she plucked
out the letter and read to her out of it, and said: "What now do you say
to all that?"  That, again, is so true to our own life.  For there is
nothing that more distastes and disrelishes many people among us than
just that we should name to them our favourite books, and read a passage
out of them, and ask them to say what they think of such wonderful words.
Samuel Rutherford's _Letters_, for instance; a book that smells to some
nostrils with the same heavenly perfume as Secret's own letter did.  A
book, moreover, that is written in the same ink of gold.  Ask at
afternoon tea to-morrow, even in so-called Christian homes, when any of
the ladies round the table last read, and how often they have read,
_Grace Abounding, The Saint's Rest, The Religious Affections, Jeremy
Taylor, Law, a Kempis, Fenelon_, or such like, and they will smile to one
another and remark after you are gone on your strange taste for
old-fashioned and long-winded and introspective books.  "Julia has buried
her husband and married her daughters, and since that she spends her time
in reading.  She is always reading foolish and unedifying books.  She
tells you every time she sees you that she is almost at the end of the
silliest book that ever she read in her life.  But the best of it is that
it serves to dispose of a good deal of her spare time.  She tells you all
romances are sad stuff, yet she is very impatient till she can get all
she can hear of.  Histories of intrigue and scandal are the books that
Julia thinks are always too short.  The truth is, she lives upon folly
and scandal and impertinence.  These things are the support of her dull
hours.  And yet she does not see that in all this she is plainly telling
you that she is in a miserable, disordered, reprobate state of mind.  Now,
whether you read her books or no, you perhaps think with her that it is a
dull task to read only religious and especially spiritual books.  But
when you have the spirit of true religion, when you can think of God as
your only happiness, when you are not afraid of the joys of eternity, you
will think it a dull task to read any other books.  When it is the care
of your soul to be humble, holy, pure, and heavenly-minded; when you know
anything of the guilt and misery of sin, or feel a real need of
salvation, then you will find religious and truly spiritual books to be
the greatest feast and joy of your mind and heart."  Yes.  And then we
shall thank God every day we live that He raised us up such helpers in
our salvation as the gifted and gracious authors we have been speaking
of.

5.  "The further I go the more danger I meet with," said old Timorous,
the father, to Christian, when Christian asked him on the Hill Difficulty
why he was running the wrong way.  "I, too, was going to the City of
Zion," he said; "but the further on I go the more danger I meet with."
And, in saying that, the old runaway gave our persevering pilgrim
something to think about for all his days.  For, again and again, and
times without number, Christian would have gone back too if only he had
known where to go.  Go on, therefore, he must.  To go back to him was
simply impossible.  Every day he lived he felt the bitter truth of what
that old apostate had so unwittingly said.  But, with all that he kept
himself in his onward way till, dangers and difficulties, death and hell
and all, he came to the blessed end of it.  And that same has been the
universal experience of all the true and out-and-out saints of God in all
time.  If poor old Timorous had only known it, if he had only had some
one beside him to remind him of it, the very thing that so fatally turned
him back was the best proof possible that he was on the right and the
only right way; ay, and fast coming, poor old castaway, to the very city
he had at one time set out to seek.  Now, it is only too likely that
there are some of my hearers at this with it to-night, that they are on
the point of giving up the life of faith, and hope, and love, and holy
living; because the deeper they carry that life into their own hearts the
more impossible they find it to live that life there.  The more they aim
their hearts at God's law the more they despair of ever coming within
sight of it.  My supremely miserable brother! if this is any consolation
to you, if you can take any crumb of consolation out of it, let this be
told you, that, as a matter of fact, all truly holy men have in their
heart of hearts had your very experience.  That is no strange and unheard-
of thing which is passing within you.  And, indeed, if you could but
believe it, that is one of the surest signs and seals of a true and
genuine child of God.  Dante, one of the bravest, but hardest bestead of
God's saints, was, just like you, well-nigh giving up the mountain
altogether when his Greatheart, who was always at his side, divining what
was going on within him, said to him--

   "Those scars
   That when they pain thee most then kindliest heal."

"The more I do," complained one of Thomas Shepard's best friends to him,
"the worse I am."  "The best saints are the most sensible of sin," wrote
Samuel Rutherford.  And, again he wrote, "Sin rages far more in the godly
than ever it does in the ungodly."  And you dare not deny but that Samuel
Rutherford was one of the holiest men that ever lived, or that in saying
all that he was speaking of himself.  And Newman: "Every one who tries to
do God's will"--and that also is Newman himself--"will feel himself to be
full of all imperfection and sin; and the more he succeeds in regulating
his heart, the more will he discern its original bitterness and guilt."
As our own hymn has it:

   "They who fain would serve Thee best
   Are conscious most of wrong within."

Without knowing it, Mrs. Timorous's runaway father was speaking the same
language as the chief of the saints.  Only he said, "Therefore I have
turned back," whereas, first Christian, and then Christiana his widow,
said, "Yet I must venture!"

And so say you.  Say, I must and I will venture!  Say it; clench your
teeth and your hands and say it.  Say that you are determined to go on
towards heaven where the holy are--absolutely determined, though you are
quite well aware that you are carrying up with you the blackest, the
wickedest, the most corrupt, and the most abominable heart either out of
hell or in it.  Say that, say all that, and still venture.  Say all that
and all the more venture.  Venture upon God of whom such reassuring
things are said.  Venture upon the Son of God of whom His Father is
represented as saying such inviting things.  Venture upon the cross.
Survey the wondrous cross and then make a bold venture upon it.  Think
who that is who is bleeding to death upon the cross, and why?  Look at
Him till you never afterwards can see anything else.  Look at God's
Eternal, Divine, Well-pleasing Son with all the wages of sin dealt out to
Him, body and soul, on that tree to the uttermost farthing.  And, devil
incarnate though you indeed are, yet, say, if that spectacle does not
satisfy you, and encourage you, and carry your cowardice captive.
Venture! I say, venture!  And if you find at last that you have ventured
too far--if you have sinned and corrupted yourself beyond redemption--then
it will be some consolation and distinction to you in hell that you had
out-sinned the infinite grace of God, and had seen the end of the
unsearchable riches of Christ.  Timid sinner, I but mock thee, therefore
venture!  Fearful sinner, venture!  Cowardly sinner, venture.  Venture
thyself upon thy God, upon Christ thy Saviour, and upon His cross.
Venture all thy guilt and all thy corruption taken together upon Christ
hanging upon His cross, and make that tremendous venture now!



MERCY


   "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."--_Our Lord_.

The first time that we see Mercy she is standing one sunshine morning
knocking along with another at Christiana's door.  And all that we
afterwards hear of Mercy might be described as, A morning call and all
that came of it; or, How a godly matron led on a poor maid to fall in
love with her own salvation.  John Bunyan, her biographer, in all his
devotion to Mercy, does not make it at all clear to us why such a sweet
and good girl as Mercy was could be on such intimate terms with Mrs.
Timorous and all her so questionable circle.  Could it be that Mercy's
mother was one of that unhappy set?  And had this dear little woman-child
been brought up so as to know no better than to figure in their
assemblies, and go out on their morning rounds with Mrs. Light-mind and
Mrs. Know-nothing?  Or, was poor Mercy an orphan with no one to watch
over her, and had her sweet face, her handsome figure, and her winning
manners made her one of the attractions of old Madam Wanton's midnight
routs?  However it came about, there was Mercy out on a series of morning
calls with a woman twice her age, but a woman whose many years had taught
her neither womanliness nor wisdom.  "If you come in God's name, come
in," a voice from the inside answered the knocking of Mrs. Timorous and
Mercy, her companion, at Christiana's door.  In all their rounds that
morning the two women had not been met with another salutation like that;
and that strange salutation so disconcerted and so confounded them that
they did not know whether to lift the latch and go in, or to run away and
leave those to go in who could take their delight in such outlandish
language.  "If you come in God's name, come in."  At this the women were
stunned, for this kind of language they used not to hear or to perceive
to drop from the lips of Christiana.  Yet they came in; but, behold, they
found the good woman preparing to be gone from her house.  The
conversation that ensued was all carried on by the two elder women.  For
it was often remarked about Mercy all her after-days that her voice was
ever soft, and low, and, especially, seldom heard.  But her ears were not
idle.  For all the time the debate went on--because by this time the
conversation had risen to be a debate--Mercy was taking silent sides with
Christiana and her distress and her intended enterprise, till, when Mrs.
Timorous reviled Christiana and said, "Come away, Mercy, and leave her in
her own hands," Mercy by that time was brought to a standstill.  For,
like a rose among thorns, Mercy was thoughtful and wise and womanly far
beyond her years.  So much so, that already she had made up her mind to
offer herself as a maidservant to help the widow with her work and to see
her so far on her way, and, indeed, though she kept that to herself, to
go all the way with her, if the way should prove open to her.  First, her
heart yearned over Christiana; so she said within herself, If my
neighbour will needs be gone, I will go a little way with her to help
her.  Secondly, her heart yearned over her own soul's salvation, for what
Christiana had said had taken some hold upon Mercy's mind.  Wherefore she
said within herself, I will yet have more talk with this Christiana, and
if I find truth and life in what she shall say, myself with all my heart
shall also go with her.  "Neighbour," spoke out Mercy to Mrs. Timorous,
"I did indeed come with you to see Christiana this morning, and since she
is, as you see, a-taking of her last farewell of her country, I think to
walk this sunshine morning a little way with her to help her on the way."
But she told her not of her second reason, but kept that to herself.  I
would fain go on with Mercy's memoirs all night.  But you will take up
that inviting thread for yourselves.  And meantime I shall stop here and
gather up under two or three heads some of the more memorable results and
lessons of that sunshine-morning call.

1.  Well, then, to begin with, there was something quite queen-like,
something absolutely commanding, about Christiana's look and manner, as
well as about all she said and did that morning.  Mercy's morning
companion had all the advantages that dress and equipage could give her;
while Christiana stood in the middle of the floor in her housewife's
clothes, covered with dust and surrounded with all her dismantled house;
but, with all that, there was something about Christiana that took
Mercy's heart completely captive.  All that Christiana had by this time
come through had blanched her cheek and whitened her hair: but all that
only the more commanded Mercy's sensitive and noble soul.  To be open to
impressions of that kind is one of the finest endowments of a finely
endowed nature; and, all through, the attentive reader of her history
will be sure to remark and imitate Mercy's exquisite and tenacious
sensibility to all that is true and good, upright and honourable and
noble.  And then, what a blessing it is to a girl of Mercy's mould to
meet at opening womanhood with another woman, be it a mother, a mistress,
or a neighbour, whose character then, and as life goes on, can supply the
part of the supporting and sheltering oak to the springing and clinging
vine.  Christiana being now the new woman she was, as well as a woman of
great natural wisdom, dignity, and stability of character, the safety,
the salvation of poor motherless Mercy was as good as sure.  Indeed, all
Mercy's subsequent history is only one long and growing tribute to the
worth, the constant love, and the sleepless solicitude of this true
mother in Israel.

2.  Now, it was so, that, wholly unknown to all her companions, young and
old, in her own very remarkable words, Mercy had for a long time been
hungering with all her heart to meet with some genuinely good
people,--with some people, as she said herself,--"of truth and of life."
These are remarkable words to hear drop from the lips of a young girl,
and especially a girl of Mercy's environment.  Now, had there been
anything hollow, had there been one atom of insincerity or exaggeration
about Christiana that morning, had she talked too much, had all her
actions not far more than borne out all her words, had there not been in
the broken-hearted woman a depth of mind and a warmth of heart far beyond
all her words, Mercy would never have become a pilgrim.  But the natural
dignity of Christiana's character; her capable, commanding, resolute
ways; the reality, even to agony, of her sorrow for her past life--all
taken together with her iron-fast determination to enter at once on a new
life--all that carried Mercy's heart completely captive.  Mercy felt that
there was a solemnity, an awesomeness, and a mystery about her new
friend's experiences and memories that it was not for a child like
herself to attempt to intrude into.  But, all the more because of that, a
spell of love and fear and reverence lay on Mercy's heart and mind all
her after-days from that so solemn and so eventful morning when she first
saw Christiana's haggard countenance and heard her remorseful cries.  My
so churlish carriages to him!  Now, such carriages between man and wife
had often pained and made ashamed Mercy's maidenly heart beyond all
expression.  Till she had sometimes said to herself, blushing with shame
before herself as she said it, that if ever she was a wife--may my tongue
cleave to the roof of my mouth before I say one churlish word to him who
is my husband!  And thus it was that nothing that Christiana said that
morning in the uprush of her remorse moved Mercy more with pity and with
love than just what Christiana beat her breast about as concerning her
lost husband.  Mercy used to say that she saw truth and life enough in
one hour that morning to sober and to solemnise and to warn her to set a
watch on the door of her lips for all her after-days.

3.  Before Mrs. Timorous was well out of the door, Mercy had already
plucked off her gloves, and hung up her morning bonnet on a nail in the
wall, so much did her heart heave to help the cumbered widow and her
fatherless children.  "If thou wilt, I will hire thee," said Christiana,
"and thou shalt go with me as my servant.  Yet we will have all things
common betwixt thee and me; only, now thou art here, go along with me."
At this Mercy fell on Christiana's neck and kissed her mother; for after
that morning Christiana had always a daughter of her own, and Mercy a
mother.  And you may be sure, with two such women working with all their
might, all things were soon ready for their happy departure.

Mr. Kerr Bain invites his readers to compare John Bunyan's Mercy at this
point with William Law's Miranda.  I shall not tarry to draw out the full
comparison here, but shall content myself with simply repeating Mr.
Bain's happy reference.  Only, I shall not content myself till all to
whom my voice can reach, and who are able to enjoy only a first-rate
book, have Mr. Bain's book beside their _Pilgrim's Progress_.  That
morning, then, on which Mrs. Timorous, having nothing to do at home, set
out with Mercy on a round of calls--that was Mercy's last idle morning
for all her days.  For her mind was, ever after that, to be always
busying of herself in doing, for when she had nothing to do for herself
she would be making of hosen and garments for others, and would bestow
them upon those that had need.  I will warrant her a good housewife,
quoth Mr. Brisk to himself.  So much so that at any place they stopped on
the way, even for a day and a night to rest and refresh themselves, Mercy
would seek out all the poor and all the old people, and ere ever she was
aware what she was doing, already a good report had spread abroad
concerning the pilgrims and their pilgrimage.  At the same time, it must
be told that poor Mercy's heart was more heavy for the souls of the poor
people than for their naked bodies and hungry bellies.  So much was this
so that when the shepherds, Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere,
took her to a place where she saw one Fool and one Want-wit washing of an
Ethiopian with intention to make him white, but the more they washed him
the blacker he was, Mercy blushed and felt guilty before the
shepherds,--she so took home to her charitable heart the bootless work of
Fool and Want-wit.  Mercy put on the Salvationist bonnet at her first
outset to the Celestial City, and she never put it off till she came to
that land where there are no more poor to make hosen and hats for, and no
more Ethiopians to take to the fountain.

4.  There are not a few young communicants here to-night, as well as not
a few who are afraid as yet to offer themselves for the Lord's table;
and, as it so falls out to-night, Mercy's case contains both an
encouragement and an example to all such.  For never surely had a young
communicant less to go upon than Mercy had that best morning of all her
life.  For she had nothing to go upon but a great desire to help
Christiana with her work; some desire for truth and for life; and some
first and feeble yearnings over her own soul,--yearnings, however, that
she kept entirely to herself.  That was all.  She had no remorses like
those which had ploughed up Christiana's cheeks into such channels of
tears.  She had no dark past out of which swarms of hornets stung her
guilty conscience.  Nor on the other hand, had she any such sweet dreams
and inviting visions as those that were sent to cheer and encourage the
disconsolate widow.  She will have her own sweet dreams yet, that will
make her laugh loud out in her sleep.  But that will be long after this,
when she has discovered how hard her heart is and how great God's grace
is.  "How shall I be ascertained," she put it to Christiana, "that I also
shall be entertained?  Had I but this hope, from one that can tell, I
would make no stick at all, but would go, being helped by Him that can
help, though the way was never so tedious.  Had I as good hope for a
loving reception as you have, I think no Slough of Despond would
discourage me."  "Well," said the other, "you know your sore, and I know
mine; and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come to
our journey's end."  And soon after that, of all places on the upward
way, Mercy's evil began at the Wicket Gate.  "I have a companion," said
Christiana, "that stands without.  One that is much dejected in her mind,
for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for; whereas I was
sent to by my husband's King."  So the porter opened the gate and looked
out; but Mercy was fallen down in a swoon, for she fainted and was afraid
that the gate would not be opened to her.  "O sir," she said, "I am
faint; there is scarce life left in me."  But he answered her that one
once said, "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my
prayer came in into Thee, into Thy holy temple.  Fear not, but stand up
upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come."  "I am come, sir,
into that for which I never was invited, as my friend Christiana was.  Her
invitation was from the Lord, and mine was but from her.  Wherefore, I
fear that I presume."  Then said he to those that stood by, "Fetch
something and give it to Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her
fainting."  So they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, and a while after she
revived.--Let young communicants be content with Mercy's invitation.  She
started for the City just because she liked to be beside a good woman who
was starting thither.  She wished to help a good woman who was going
thither; and just a little desire began at first to awaken in her heart
to go to the city too.  Till, having once set her face to go up, one
thing after another worked together to lead her up till she, too, had her
life full of those invitations and experiences and interests and
occupations and enjoyments that make Mercy's name so memorable, and her
happy case such an example and such an inspiration, to all God-fearing
young women especially.

5.  John Bunyan must be held responsible for the strong dash of romance
that he so boldly throws into Mercy's memoirs.  But I shall postpone Mr.
Brisk and his love-making and his answer to another lecture.  I shall not
enter on Mercy's love matters here at all, but shall leave them to be
read at home by those who like to read romances.  Only, since we have
seen so much of Mercy as a maiden, one longs to see how she turned out as
a wife.  I can only imagine how Mercy turned out as a wife; but there is
a picture of a Scottish Covenanting girl as a married wife which always
rises up before my mind when I think of Mercy's matronly days.  That
picture might hang in Bunyan's own peculiar gallery, so beautiful is the
drawing, and so warm and so eloquent the colouring.  Take, then, this
portrait of one of the daughters of the Scottish Covenant.  "She was a
woman of great worth, whom I therefore passionately loved and inwardly
honoured.  A stately, beautiful, and comely personage; truly pious and
fearing the Lord.  Of an evenly temper, patient in our common
tribulations and under her personal distresses.  A woman of bright
natural parts, and of an uncommon stock of prudence; of a quick and
lively apprehension in things she applied herself to, and of great
presence of mind in surprising incidents.  Sagacious and acute in
discerning the qualities of persons, and therefore not easily imposed
upon.  [See Mr. Brisk's interviews with Mercy.]  Modest and grave in her
deportment, but naturally cheerful; wise and affable in conversation,
also having a good faculty at speaking and expressing herself with
assurance.  Being a pattern of frugality and wise management in household
affairs, all such were therefore entirely committed to her; well fitted
for and careful of the virtuous education of her children; remarkably
useful in the countryside, both in the Merse and in the Forest, through
her skill in physic and surgery, which in many instances a peculiar
blessing appeared to be commanded upon from heaven.  And, finally, a
crown to me in my public station and pulpit appearances.  During the time
we have lived together we have passed through a sea of trouble, as yet
not seeing the shore but afar off."

"The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.  What,
my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?  Who
can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  Her
children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth
her.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth
the Lord, she shall be praised."



MR. BRISK


   "Be ye not unequally yoked."--_Paul_.

There were some severe precisians in John Bunyan's day who took the
objection to the author of the _Pilgrim's Progress_ that he sometimes
laughed too loud.

   "One may (I think) say, both he laughs and cries,
   May well be guessed at by his watery eyes.
   Some things are of that nature as to make
   One's fancy chuckle while his heart doth ake.
   When Jacob saw his Rachel with the sheep,
   At the same time he did both laugh and weep."

And even Dr. Cheever, in his excellent lectures on the _Pilgrim's
Progress_, confesses that though the Second Part never ceases for a
moment to tell the serious story of the Pilgrimage, at the same time, it
sometimes becomes so merry as almost to pass over into absolute comedy.
"There is one passage," says Cheever, "which for exquisite humour, quiet
satire, and naturalness in the development of character is scarcely
surpassed in the language.  It is the account of the courtship between
Mr. Brisk and Mercy which took place at the House Beautiful."

Now, the insertion of such an episode as that of Mr. Brisk into such a
book as the _Pilgrim's Progress_ is only yet another proof of the health,
the strength, and the truth to nature of John Bunyan's mind.  His was
eminently an honest, straightforward, manly, English understanding.  A
smaller man would not have ventured on Mr. Brisk in such a book as the
_Pilgrim's Progress_.  But there is no affectation, there is no prudery,
there is no superiority to nature in John Bunyan.  He knew quite well
that of the thousands of men and women who were reading his _Pilgrim_
there was no subject, not even religion itself, that was taking up half
so much of their thoughts as just love-making and marriage.  And, like
the wise man and the true teacher he was, he here points out to all his
readers how well true religion and the fullest satisfaction of the
warmest and the most universal of human affections can be both harmonised
and made mutually helpful.  In Bunyan's day love was too much left to the
playwrights, just as in our day it is too much left to the poets and the
novelists.  And thus it is that in too many instances affection and
passion have taken full possession of the hearts and the lives of our
young people before any moral or religious lesson on these all-important
subjects has been given to them: any lesson such as John Bunyan so
winningly and so beautifully gives here.  "This incident," says Thomas
Scott, "is very properly introduced, and it is replete with instruction."

Now, Mr. Brisk, to begin with, was, so we are told, a young man of some
breeding,--that is to say, he was a young man of some social position,
some education, and of a certain good manner, at least on the surface.  In
David Scott's Illustrations Mr. Brisk stands before us a handsome and
well-dressed young man of the period, with his well-belted doublet, his
voluminous ruffles, his heavily-studded cuffs, his small cane, his
divided hair, and his delicate hand,--altogether answering excellently to
his name, were it not for the dashed look of surprise with which he gets
his answer, and, with what jauntiness he can at the moment command, takes
his departure.  "Mr. Brisk was a man of some breeding," says Bunyan, "and
that pretended to religion; but a man that stuck very close to the
world."  That Mr. Brisk made any pretence to religion at any other time
and in any other place is not said; only that he put on that pretence
with his best clothes when he came once or twice or more to Mercy and
offered love to her at the House Beautiful.  The man with the least
religion at other times, even the man with no pretence to religion at
other times at all, will pretend to some religion when he is in love with
a young woman of Mercy's mind.  And yet it would not be fair to say that
it is all pretence even in such a man at such a time.  Grant that a man
is really in love; then, since all love is of the nature of religion, for
the time, the true lover is really on the borders of a truly religious
life.  It may with perfect truth be said of all men when they first fall
in love that they are, for the time, not very far away from the kingdom
of heaven.  For all love is good, so far as it goes.  God is Love; and
all love, in the long-run, has a touch of the divine nature in it.  And
for once, if never again, every man who is deeply in love has a far-off
glimpse of the beauty of holiness, and a far-off taste of that ineffable
sweetness of which the satisfied saints of God sing so ecstatically.  But,
in too many instances, a young man's love having been kindled only by the
creature, and, never rising from her to his and her Creator, as a rule,
it sooner or later burns low and at last burns out, and leaves nothing
but embers and ashes in his once so ardent heart.  Mr. Brisk's
love-making might have ended in his becoming a pilgrim but for this fatal
flaw in his heart, that even in his love-making he stuck so fast to the
world.  It is almost incredible: you may well refuse to believe it--that
any young man in love, and especially a young gentleman of Mr. Brisk's
breeding, would approach his mistress with the question how much she
could earn a day.  As Mr. Brisk looks at Mercy's lap so full of hats and
hosen and says it, I can see his natty cane beginning to lengthen itself
out in his soft-skinned hand and to send out teeth like a muck-rake.  Give
Mr. Brisk another thirty years or so and he will be an ancient churl,
raking to himself the sticks and the straws and the dust of the earth,
neither looking up to nor regarding the celestial crown that is still
offered to him in exchange for his instrument.

"Now, Mercy was of a fair countenance, and, therefore, all the more
alluring."  But her fair countenance was really no temptation to her.
"Sit still, my daughter," said Naomi to Ruth in the Old Testament.  And
it was entirely Mercy's maidenly nature to sit still.  Even before she
had come to her full womanhood under Christiana's motherly care she would
have been an example to Ruth.  Long ago, while Mercy was still a mere
girl, when Mrs. Light-mind said something to her one day that made her
blush, Mercy at last looked up in real anger and said, We women should be
wooed; we were not made to woo.  And thus it was that all their time at
the House Beautiful Mercy stayed close at home and worked with her needle
and thread just as if she had been the plainest girl in all the town.  "I
might have had husbands afore now," she said, with a cast of her head
over the coat that lay on her lap, "though I spake not of it to any.  But
they were such as did not like my conditions, though never did any of
them find fault with my person.  So they and I could not agree."  Once
Mercy's mouth was opened on the subject of possible husbands it is a
miracle that she did not go on in confidence to name some of the husbands
she might have had.  Mercy was too truthful and too honourable a maiden
to have said even on that subject what she did say if it had not been
true.  No doubt she believed it true.  And the belief so long as she
mentioned no names, did not break any man's bones and did not spoil any
man's market.  Don't set up too prudishly and say that it is a pity that
Mercy so far forgot herself as to make her little confidential boast.  We
would not have had her without that little boast.  Keep-at-home,
sit-still, hats and hosen and all--her little boast only proves Mercy to
have been at heart a true daughter of Eve after all.

There is an old-fashioned word that comes up again and again in the
account of Mr. Brisk's courtship,--a word that contains far more interest
and instruction for us than might on the surface appear.  When Mr. Brisk
was rallied upon his ill-success with Mercy, he was wont to say that
undoubtedly Mistress Mercy was a very pretty lass, only she was troubled
with ill conditions.  And then, when Mercy was confiding to Prudence all
about her possible husbands, she said that they were all such as did not
like her conditions.  To which Prudence, keeping her countenance,
replied, that the men were but few in their day that could abide the
practice that was set forth by such conditions as those of Mercy.  Well,
tossed out Mercy, if nobody will have me I will die a maid, or my
conditions shall be to me as a husband!  As I came again and again across
that old seventeenth-century word "conditions," I said to myself, I feel
sure that Dr. Murray of the Oxford Scriptorium will have noted this
striking passage.  And on turning up the Sixth Part of the _New English
Dictionary_, there, to be sure, was the old word standing in this present
setting.  Five long, rich, closely packed columns stood under the head of
"Condition"; and amid a thousand illustrations of its use, the text:
"1684, Bunyan, Pilgr., ii. 84.  He said that Mercy was a pretty lass, but
troubled with ill conditions."  Poor illiterate John Bunyan stood in the
centre of a group of learned and famous men, composed of Chaucer, Wyclif,
Skelton, Palsgrave, Raleigh, Featly, Richard Steel, and Walter Scott--all
agreeing in their use of our word, and all supplying examples of its use
in the best English books.  By Mercy's conditions, then, is just meant
her cast of mind, her moral nature, her temper and her temperament, her
dispositions and her inclinations, her habits of thought, habits of
heart, habits of life, and so on.

"Well," said Mercy proudly, "if nobody will have me, I will die a maid,
or my conditions shall be to me as a husband.  For I cannot change my
nature, and to have one that lies cross to me in this,--that I purpose
never to admit of as long as I live."  By this time, though she is still
little more than a girl, Mercy had her habits formed, her character cast,
and, more than all, her whole heart irrevocably set on her soul's
salvation.  And everything--husband and children and all--must condition
themselves to that, else she will have none of them.  She had sought
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and she will seek
nothing, she will accept nothing--no, not even a husband--who crosses her
choice in that.  She has chosen her life, and her husband with it.  Not
the man as yet, but the whole manner of the man.  The conditions of the
man, as she said about herself; else she will boldly and bravely die a
maid.  And there are multitudes of married women who, when they read this
page about Mercy, will gnash their teeth at the madness of their youth,
and will wildly wish that they only were maids again; and, then, like
Mercy, they would take good care to make for themselves husbands of their
own conditions too--of their own means, their own dispositions,
inclinations, tastes, and pursuits.  For, according as our conditions to
one another are or are not in our marriages,

   "They locally contain or heaven or hell;
   There is no third place in them."

What untold good, then, may all our young women not get out of the loving
study of Mercy's sweet, steadfast, noble character!  And what untold
misery may they not escape!  From first to last--and we are not yet come
to her last--I most affectionately recommend Mercy to the hearts and
minds of all young women here.  Single and married; setting out on
pilgrimage and steadfastly persevering in it; sitting still till the
husband with the right conditions comes, and then rising up with her
warm, well-kept heart to meet him--if any maiden here has no mother, or
no elder sister, or no wise and prudent friend like Prudence or
Christiana to take counsel of--and even if she has--let Mercy be her
meditation and her model through all her maidenly days.

"Nay, then," said Mercy, "I will look no more on him, for I purpose never
to have a clog to my soul."  A pungent resolve for every husband to read
and to think to himself about, who has married a wife with a soul.  Let
all husbands who have such wives halt here and ask themselves with some
imagination as to what may sometimes go on, at communion times, say, in
the souls of their wives.  It is not every wife, it is true, who has a
soul to clog; but some of our wives have.  Well, now, let us ask
ourselves: How do we stand related to their souls?  Do our wives, when
examining the state of their souls since they married us, have to say
that at one time they had hoped to be further on in the life of the soul
than they yet are?  And are they compelled before God to admit that the
marriage they have made, and would make, has terribly hindered them?
Would they have been better women, would they have been living a better
life, and doing far more good in the world, if they had taken their
maidenly ideals, like Mercy, for a husband?  Let us sometimes imagine
ourselves into the secrets of our wives' souls, and ask if they ever feel
that they are unequally and injuriously yoked in their deepest and best
life.  Do we ever see a tear falling in secret, or hear a stolen sigh
heaved, or stumble on them at a stealthy prayer?  A Roman lady on being
asked why she sometimes let a sob escape her and a tear fall, when she
had such a gentleman of breeding and rank and riches to her husband,
touched her slipper with her finger and said: "Is not that a well-made, a
neat, and a costly shoe?  And yet you would not believe how it pinches
and pains me sometimes."

But some every whit as good women as Mercy was have purposed as nobly and
as firmly as Mercy did, and yet have wakened up, when it was too late, to
find that, with all their high ideals, and with all their prudence, their
husband is not in himself, and is not to them, what they at one time felt
sure he would be.  Mercy had a sister named Bountiful, who made that
mistake and that dreadful discovery; and what Mercy had seen of married
life in her sister's house almost absolutely turned her against marriage
altogether.  "The one thing certain," says Thomas Mozley in his chapter
on Ideal Wife and Husband, "is that both wife and husband are different
in the result from the expectation.  Age, illness, an increasing family,
no family at all, household cares, want of means, isolation, incompatible
prejudices, quarrels, social difficulties, and such like, all tell on
married people, and make them far other than they once promised to be."
When that awakening comes there is only one solace, and women take to
that supreme solace much more often than men.  And that solace, as you
all know, is true, if too late, religion.  And even where true religion
has already been, there is still a deeper and a more inward religion
suited to the new experiences and the new needs of life.  And if both
husband and wife in such a crisis truly betake themselves to Him who
gathereth the solitary into families, the result will be such a
remarriage of depth and tenderness, loyalty and mutual help, as their
early dreams never came within sight of.  Not early love, not children,
not plenty of means, not all the best amenities of married life taken
together, will repair a marriage and keep a marriage in repair for one
moment like a living and an intense faith in God; a living and an intense
love to God; and then that faith in and love for one another that spring
out of God and out of His love alone.

   "The tree
   Sucks kindlier nurture from a soil enriched
   By its own fallen leaves; and man is made,
   In heart and spirit, from deciduous hopes
   And things that seem to perish."



MR. SKILL


   "The vine of Sodom."--_Moses_.

With infinite delicacy John Bunyan here tells us the sad story of
Matthew's sore sickness at the House Beautiful.  The cause of the sore
sickness, its symptoms, its serious nature, and its complete cures are
all told with the utmost plainness; but, at the same time, with the most
exquisite delicacy.  Bunyan calls the ancient physician who is summoned
in and who effects the cure, Mr. Skill, but you must believe that Bunyan
himself is Mr. Skill; and I question if this skilful writer ever wrote a
more skilful page than just this page that now lies open before him who
has the eyes to read it.

Matthew, it must always be remembered, was by this time a young man.  He
was the eldest son of Christiana his mother, and for some time now she
had been a sorely burdened widow.  Matthew's father was no longer near
his son to watch over him and to warn him against the temptations and the
dangers that wait on opening manhood.  And thus his mother, with all her
other cares, had to be both father and mother to her eldest son; and,
with all her good sense and all her long and close acquaintance with the
world, she was too fond a mother to suspect any evil of her eldest son.
And thus it was that Christiana had nearly lost her eldest son before her
eyes were open to the terrible dangers he had for a long time been
running.  For it was so, that the upward way that this household without
a head had to travel lay through a land full of all kinds of dangers both
to the bodies and to the souls of such travellers as they were.  And what
well-nigh proved a fatal danger to Matthew lay right in his way.  It was
Beelzebub's orchard.  Not that this young man's way lay through that
orchard exactly; yet, walled up as was that orchard with all its
forbidden fruit, that evil fruit would hang over the wall so that if any
lusty youth wished to taste it, he had only to reach up to the
over-hanging branches and plash down on himself some of the forbidden
bunches.  Now, that was just what Matthew had done.  Till we have him
lying at the House Beautiful, not only not able to enjoy the delights of
the House and of the season, but so pained in his bowels and so pulled
together with inward pains, that he sometimes cried out as if he were
being torn to pieces.  At that moment Mr. Skill, the ancient physician,
entered the sick-room, when, having a little observed Matthew's intense
agony, with a certain mixture of goodness and severity he recited these
professional verses over the trembling bed:

   "O conscience, who can stand against thy power?
   Endure thy gripes and agonies one hour?
   Stone, gout, strappado, racks, whatever is
   Dreadful to sense, are only toys to this--
   No pleasures, riches, honours, friends can tell
   How to give ease to this, 'tis like to hell."

And then, turning to the sick man's mother, who stood at the bed's head
wringing her hands, the ancient leech said to her: "This boy of yours has
been tampering with the forbidden fruit!"  At which the angry mother
turned on the well-approved physician as if he had caused all the trouble
that he had come to cure.  But the ancient man knew both the son and the
mother too, and therefore he addressed her with some asperity: "I tell
you both that strong measures must be taken instantly, else he will die."
When Mr. Skill had seen that the first purge was too weak, he made him
one to the purpose; and it was made, as he so learnedly said, _ex carne
et sanguine Christi_.  The pills were to be taken three at a time,
fasting, in half a quarter of a pint of the tears of repentance.  After
some coaxing, such as mothers know best how to use, Matthew took the
medicine and was soon walking about again with a staff, and was able to
go from room to room of the hospitable and happy house.  Understandest
thou what thou readest? said Philip the deacon to Queen Candace's
treasurer as he sat down beside him in the chariot and opened up to him
the fifty-third of the prophet Isaiah.  And, understandest thou what thou
here readest in Matthew and Mr. Skill?

1.  Now, on this almost too closely veiled case I shall venture to
remark, in the first place, that multitudes of boys grow up into young
men, and go out of our most godly homes and into a whole world of
temptation without due warning being given them as to where they are
going.  "I do marvel that none did warn him of it," said Mr. Skill, with
some anger.  What Matthew's father might have done in this matter had he
been still in this world when his son became a man in it we can only
guess.  As it was, it never entered his mother's too fond mind to take
her fatherless boy by himself when she saw Beelzebub's orchard before
him, and tell him what Solomon told his son, and to point out to him the
prophecy that King Lemuel's mother prophesied to her son.  Poor Matthew
was a young man before his mother was aware of it.  And, poor woman, she
only found that out when Mr. Skill was in the sick-room and was looking
at her with eyes that seemed to say to her that she had murdered her
child.  She had loved too long to look on her first-born as still a
child.  When he went at any time for a season out of her sight, she had
never followed him with her knowledge of the world; she had never
prevented him with an awakened and an anxious imagination; till now she
had got him home with no rest in his bones because of his sin.  And then
she began to cry too late, O naughty boy, and, O careless mother, what
shall I do for my son!

2.  "That food, to wit, that fruit," said Mr. Skill, "is even the most
hurtful of all.  It is the fruit of Beelzebub's orchard."  So it is.
There is no fruit that hurts at all like that fruit.  How it hurts at the
time, we see in Matthew's sick-room; and how it hurts all a man's after
days we see in Jacob, and in Job, and in David, and in a thousand sin-
sick souls of whose psalms of remorse and repentance the world cannot
contain all the books that should be written.  "And yet I marvel," said
the indignant physician, "that none did warn him of it; many have died
thereof."  Oh if I could but get the ears of all the sons of godly
fathers and mothers who are beginning to tamper with Beelzebub's orchard-
trees, I feel as if I could warn them to-night, and out of this text, of
what they are doing!  I have known so many who have died thereof.  Oh if
I could but save them in time from those gripes of conscience that will
pull them to pieces on the softest and the most fragrant bed that shall
ever be made for them on earth!  It will be well with them if they do not
lie down torn to pieces on their bed in hell, and curse the day they
first plashed down into their youthful hands the vine of Sodom.  Both the
way to hell and the way to heaven are full of many kinds of hurtful
fruits; but that species of fruit that poor misguided Matthew plucked and
ate after he had well passed the gate that is at the head of the way is,
by all men's testimony, by far the most hurtful of all forbidden fruits.

3.  The whole scene in Matthew's sick-room reads, after all, less like a
skilful invention than a real occurrence.  Inventive and realistic as
John Bunyan is, there is surely something here that goes beyond even his
genius.  After making all allowance for Bunyan's unparalleled powers of
creation and narration, I am inclined to think, the oftener I read it,
that, after all, we have not so much John Bunyan here as very Nature
herself.  Yes; John Gifford surely was Mr. Skill.  Sister Bosworth surely
was Matthew's mother.  And Matthew himself was Sister Bosworth's eldest
son, while one John Bunyan, a travelling tinker, was busy with his
furnaces and his soldering-irons in Dame Bosworth's kitchen.  Young
Bunyan, with all his blackguardism, had never plashed down Beelzebub's
orchard.  He swears he never did, and we are bound to believe him.  But
young Bosworth had been tampering with the forbidden fruit, and Gifford
saw at a glance what was wrong.  John Gifford was first an officer in the
Royalist army, then a doctor in Bedford, and now a Baptist Puritan
pastor; and the young tinker looked up to Gifford as the most wonderful
man for learning in books and in bodies and souls of men in all the
world.  And when Gifford talked over young Bosworth's bed half to himself
and half to them about a medicine made _ex carne et sanguine Christi_,
the future author of the _Pilgrim's Progress_ never forgot the phrase.  At
a glance Gifford saw what was the whole matter with the sick man.  And
painful as the truth was to the sick man's mother, and humiliating with a
life-long humiliation to the sick man himself, Gifford was not the man or
the minister to beat about the bush at such a solemn moment.  "This boy
has been tampering with that which will kill him unless he gets it taken
off his conscience and out of his heart immediately."  Now, this same
divination into our pastoral cases is by far and away the most difficult
part of a minister's work.  It is easy and pleasant with a fluent tongue
to get through our pulpit work; but to descend the pulpit stairs and deal
with life, and with this and that sin in the lives of our people,--that
is another matter.  "We must labour," says Richard Baxter in his
_Reformed Pastor_, "to be acquainted with the state of all our people as
fully as we can; both to know the persons and their inclinations and
conversation; to know what sins they are most in danger of, what duties
they neglect, and what temptations they are most liable to.  For, if we
know not their temperament or their disease, we are likely to prove but
unsuccessful physicians."  But when we begin to reform our pastorate to
that pattern, we are soon compelled to set down such entries in our
secret diary as that of Thomas Shepard of Harvard University: "Sabbath,
5th April 1641.  Nothing I do, nay, none under my shadow prosper.  I so
want wisdom for my place, and to guide others."  Yes; for what wisdom is
needed for the place of a minister like John Gifford, John Bunyan,
Richard Baxter, and Thomas Shepard!  What wisdom, what divine genius, to
dive into and divine the secret history of a soul from a twinge of
conscience, even from a drop of the eye, a tone of the voice, or a
gesture of the hand or of the head!  And yet, with some natural taste for
the holy work, with study, with experience, and with life-long expert
reading, even a plain minister with no genius, but with some grace and
truth, may come to great eminence in the matters of the soul.  And then,
with what an interest, solemn and awful, with what a sleepless interest
such a pastor goes about among his diseased, sin-torn, and scattered
flock!  All their souls are naked and open under his divining eye.  They
need not to tell him where they ail, and of what sickness they are nigh
unto death.  That food, he says, with some sternness over their sick-bed,
I warned you of it; I told you with all plainness that many have died of
eating that fruit!  "We must be ready," Baxter continues, "to give advice
to those that come to us with cases of conscience.  A minister is not
only for public preaching, but to be a known counsellor for his people's
souls as the lawyer is for their estates, and the physician is for their
bodies.  And because the people are grown unacquainted with this office
of the ministry, and their own necessity and duty herein, it belongeth to
us to acquaint them herewith, and to press them publicly to come to us
for advice concerning their souls.  We must not only be willing of the
trouble, but draw it upon ourselves by inviting them hereto.  To this end
it is very necessary to be acquainted with practical cases and able to
assist them in trying their states.  One word of seasonable and prudent
advice hath done that good that many sermons would not have done."

4.  As he went on pounding and preparing his well-approved pill, the (at
the bottom of his heart) kind old leech talked encouragingly to the
mother and to her sick son, and said: "Come, come; after all, do not he
too much cast down.  Had we lived in the days of the old medicine, I
would have been compounding a purge out of the blood of a goat, and the
ashes of an heifer, and the juice of hyssop.  But I have a far better
medicine under my hands here.  This moment I will make you a purge to the
purpose."  And then the learned man, half-doctor, half-divine, chanted
again the sacred incantation as he bent over his pestle and mortar,
saying: _Ex carne et sanguine Christi_!  Those shrewd old eyes soon saw
that, in spite of all their defences and all their denials, damage had
been done to the conscience and the heart that nothing would set right
but a frank admission of the evil that had been done, and a prompt
submission to the regimen appointed and the medicine prepared.  And how
often we ministers puddle and peddle with goat's blood and heifer's ashes
and hyssop juice when we should instantly prescribe stern fasting and
secret prayer and long spaces of repentance, and then the body and the
blood of Christ.  How often our people cheat us into healing their hurt
slightly!  How often they succeed in putting us off, after we are called
in, with their own account of their cases, and set us out on a wild-goose
chase!  I myself have more than once presented young men in their trouble
with apologetic books, University sermons, and watered-down explanations
of the Confession and the Catechism, when, had I known all I came
afterwards to know, I would have sent them Bunyan's _Sighs from Hell_.  I
have sent soul-sick women also _The Bruised Reed_, and _The Mission of
the Comforter_ with sympathising inscriptions, and sweet scriptures
written inside, when, had I had Mr. Skill's keen eyes in my stupid head,
I would have gone to them with the total abstinence pledge in my one
hand, and Jeremy Taylor's _Holy Living and Dying_ in my other.  "No diet
but that which is wholesome!" almost in anger answered the sick man's
mother.  "I tell you," the honest leech replied, in more anger, "this boy
has been tampering with Beelzebub's orchard.  And many have died of it!"

5.  It was while all the rest of the House Beautiful were supping on lamb
and wine, and while there was such music in the House that made Mercy
exclaim over it with wonder--it was at the smell of the supper and at the
sound of the psalmody that Matthew's gripes seized upon him worse than
ever.  All the time the others sat late into the night Matthew lay on the
rack pulled to pieces.  After William Law's death at King's Cliffe, his
executors found among his most secret papers a prayer he had composed for
his own alone use on a certain communion day when he was self-debarred
from the Lord's table.  I do not know for certain just what fruit the
young non-juror had stolen out of Beelzebub's orchard before that
communion season; but I can see that he was in poor Matthew's exact
experience that communion night,--literally torn to pieces with agonies
of conscience while all his fellow-worshippers were at the table of the
Lord.  While the psalms and hymns are being sung at the supper-table, lay
your ear to Law's closet door.  "Whilst all Thy faithful servants are on
this day offering to Thee the comfortable sacrifice of the body and the
blood of Christ, and feasting at that holy table which Thou hast ordained
for the refreshment, joy, and comfort of their souls, I, unhappy wretch,
full of guilt, am justly denied any share of these comforts that are
common to the Christian world.  O my God, I am an unclean worm, a dead
dog, a stinking carcass, justly removed from that society of saints who
this day kneel about Thine altar.  But, oh! suffer me to look toward Thy
holy Sanctuary; suffer my soul again to be in the place where Thine
honour dwelleth.  Reject not the sacrifice of a broken heart, and do Thou
be with me in secret, though I am not fit to appear in Thy public
worship.  Lord, if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean.  Lord, speak but
the word, and Thy servant shall be healed."  It is the fruit of
Beelzebub's orchard.  Many have died thereof.

6.  "Pray, sir, make me up twelve boxes of them; for if I can get these,
I will never take other physic."  "These same pills," he replied, "are
good also to prevent diseases as well as to cure when one is sick.  But,
good woman, thou must take these pills no other way but as I have
prescribed; for if you do, they will do no good."  I have taken one
illustration from William Law's life; I shall take another from that
world of such illustrations and so close.  "O God, let me never see such
another day as this.  Let the dreadful punishment of this day never be
out of my mind."  And it never was.  For, after that day in hell, Law
never laid down his head on his pillow that he did not seem to remember
that dreadful day.  William Law would have satisfied Dr. Skill for a
convalescent.  For he never felt that he had any right to touch the body
and blood of Christ, either at communion times, or a thousand times every
day, till he had again got ready his heart of true repentance.  My
brethren, self-destroyed out of Beelzebub's orchard, and all my brethren,
live a life henceforth of true repentance.  Not out of the sins of your
youth only, but out of the best, the most watchful, and the most
blameless day you ever live, distil your half-pint of repentance every
night before you sleep.  For, as dear old Skill said, unless you do,
neither flesh nor blood of Christ, nor anything else, will do you any
genuine good.



THE SHEPHERD BOY


   "He humbled Himself."--_Paul_.

"Now as they were going along and talking, they espied a boy feeding his
father's sheep.  The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh
and well-favoured countenance, and as he sat by himself he sang.  Hark,
said Mr. Greatheart, to what the shepherd boy saith.  So they hearkened
and he said:

      He that is down, needs fear no fall;
   He that is low no pride:
   He that is humble, ever shall
   Have God to be his guide.

      I am content with what I have,
   Little be it or much:
   And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
   Because thou savest such.

      Fulness to such a burden is
   That go on pilgrimage:
   Here little, and hereafter bliss,
   Is best from age to age.

Then said their guide, Do you hear him?  I will dare say that this boy
lives a merrier life and wears more of that herb called Heart's-ease in
his bosom than he that is clad in silk and velvet."

Now, notwithstanding all that, nobody knew better than John Bunyan knew,
that no shepherd boy that ever lived on the face of the earth ever sang
that song; only one Boy ever sang that song, and He was not the son of a
shepherd at all, but the son of a carpenter.  And, saying that leads me
on to say this before I begin, that I look for a man of John Bunyan's
inventive and sanctified genius to arise some day, and armed also to boot
with all our latest and best New Testament studies.  When that sorely-
needed man so arises he will take us back to Nazareth where that
carpenter's Boy was brought up, and he will let us see Him with our own
eyes being brought up.  He will lead us into Mary's house on Sabbath
days, and into Joseph's workshop on week days, and he will show us the
child Jesus, not so much learning His letters and then putting on His
carpenter's clothes, as learning obedience by the things that He every
day suffered.  That choice author will show us our Lord, both before He
had discovered Himself to be our Lord, as well as after He had made that
great discovery, always clothing Himself with humility as with a garment;
taking up His yoke of meekness and lowly-mindedness every day, and never
for one moment laying it down.  When some writer with as holy an
imagination as that of John Bunyan, and with as sweet an English style,
and with a New Testament scholarship of the first order so arises, and so
addresses himself to the inward life of our Lord, what a blessing to our
children that writer will be!  For he will make them see and feel just
what all that was in which our Lord's perfect humility consisted, and how
His perfect humility fulfilled itself in Him from day to day; up through
all His childhood days, school and synagogue days, workshop and holy
days, early manhood and mature manhood days; till He was so meek in all
His heart and so humble in all His mind that all men were sent to Him to
learn their meekness and their humility of Him.  I envy that gifted man
the deep delight he will have in his work, and the splendid reward he
will have in the love and the debt of all coming generations.  Only, may
he be really sent to us, and that soon!  Theodor Keim comes nearest a far-
off glimpse of that eminent service of any New Testament scholar I know.
Jeremy Taylor and Thomas Goodwin also, in their own time and in their own
way, had occasional inspirations toward this still-waiting treatment of
the master-subject of all learning and all genius--the inward
sanctification, the growth in grace, and then the self-discovery of the
incarnate Son of God.  But, so let it please God, some contemporary
scholar will arise some day soon, combining in himself Goodwin's
incomparable Christology, and Taylor's incomparable eloquence, and Keim's
incomparably digested learning, with John Bunyan's incomparable
imagination and incomparable English style, and the waiting work will be
done, and theology for this life will take on its copestone.  In his
absence, and till he comes, let us attempt a few annotations to-night on
this so-called shepherd boy's song in the Valley of Humiliation.

   He that is down, needs fear no fall.

The whole scenery of the surrounding valley is set before us in that
single eloquent stanza.  The sweet-voiced boy sits well off the wayside
as he sings his song to himself.  He looks up to the hill-tops that hang
over his valley, and every shining tooth of those many hill-tops has for
him its own evil legend.  He thinks he sees a little heap of bleaching
bones just under where that eagle hangs and wheels and screams.  Not one
traveller through these perilous parts in a thousand gets down those
cruel rocks unhurt; and many travellers have been irrecoverably lost
among those deadly rocks, and have never received Christian burial.  All
the shepherds' cottages and all the hostel supper-tables for many miles
round are full of terrible stories of the Hill Difficulty and the Descent
Dangerous.  And thus it is that this shepherd boy looks up with such fear
at those sharp peaks and shining precipices, and lifts his fresh and well-
favoured countenance to heaven and sings again: "He that is down, needs
fear no fall."  Down in his own esteem, that is.  For this is a song of
the heart rather than of the highway.  Down--safe, that is, from the
steep and slippery places of self-estimation, self-exaltation,
self-satisfaction.  Down--so as to be delivered from all ambition and
emulation and envy.  Down, and safe, thank God, from all pride, all high-
mindedness, and all stout-heartedness.  Down from the hard and cruel
hills, and buried deep out of sight among those meadows where that herb
grows which is called Heart's-ease.  Down, where the green pastures grow
and the quiet waters flow.  No, indeed; he that is down into this sweet
bottom needs fear no fall.  For there is nowhere here for a man to fall
from.  And, even if he did fall, he would only fall upon a
fragrance-breathing bed of lilies.  The very herbs and flowers here would
conspire to hold him up.  Many a day, as He grew up, the carpenter's son
sat in that same valley and sang that same song to His own humble and
happy heart.  He loved much to be here.  He loved also to walk these
meadows, for He found the air was pleasant.  Methinks, He often said with
Mercy, I am as well in this valley as I have been anywhere else in My
journey.  The place, methinks, suits with My spirit.  I love to be in
such places where there is no rattling with coaches nor rumbling with
wheels.  Methinks, also, here one may without much molestation be
thinking what he is, whence he came, and to what his King has called him.

   He that is low, no pride.

Low in his own eyes, that is.  For pride goeth before destruction, and a
haughty spirit before a fall.  Yes; but he who is low enough already--none
of the sure destructions that pride always works shall ever come near to
him.  "The proud man," says Sir Henry Taylor, "is of all men the most
vulnerable.  'Who calls?' asks the old shepherd in _As You Like It_.
'Your betters,' is the insolent answer.  And what is the shepherd's
rejoinder?  'Else are they very wretched.'  By what retort, reprisal, or
repartee could it have been made half so manifest that the insult had
lighted upon armour of proof?  Such is the invincible independence and
invulnerability of humility."

   He that is humble ever shall
      Have God to be his guide.

For thus saith the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name
is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the heart of the humble, and to
revive the heart of the contrite ones . . . All those things hath Mine
hand made, but to this man will I look, saith the Lord, even to him that
is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembleth at My word . . .
Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly; but the
proud He knoweth afar off . . . Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves
unto the elder.  Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be
clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to
the humble . . . Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty,
neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for
me.  Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned
of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child . . . Take My yoke upon
you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find
rest unto your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

   I am content with what I have,
      Little be it, or much:
   And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
      Because thou savest such.

The only thing this sweet singer is discontented with is his own
contentment.  He will not be content as long as he has a shadow of
discontent left in his heart.  And how blessed is such holy discontent!
For, would you know, asks Law, who is the greatest saint in all the
world?  Well, it is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who
gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice.
But it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God
willeth, who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness, and
has a heart always ready to praise God for it.  "Perhaps the shepherd's
boy," says Thomas Scott, "may refer to the obscure and quiet stations of
some pastors over small congregations, who live almost unknown to their
brethren, but are in a measure useful and very comfortable."  Perhaps he
does.  And, whether he does or no, at any rate such a song will suit some
of our brethren very well as they go about among their few and far-off
flocks.  They are not church leaders or popular preachers.  There is not
much rattling with coaches or rumbling with wheels at their church door.
But, then, methinks, they have their compensation.  They are without much
molestation.  They can be all the more thinking what they are, whence
they came, and to what their King has called them.  Let them be happy in
their shut-in valleys.  For I will dare to say that they wear more of
that herb called Heart's-ease in their bosom than those ministers do they
are sometimes tempted to emulate.  I will add in this place that to the
men who live and trace these grounds the Lord hath left a yearly revenue
to be faithfully paid them at certain seasons for their maintenance by
the way, and for their further encouragement to go on in their
pilgrimage.

   Here little, and hereafter bliss,
   Is best from age to age.

But, now, from the shepherd boy and from his valley and his song, let us
go on without any more poetry or parable to look our own selves full in
the face and to ask our own hearts whether they are the hearts of really
humble-minded and New Testament men or no.  Dr. Newman, "that subtle,
devout man," as Dr. Duncan calls him, says that "humility is one of the
most difficult of virtues both to attain and to ascertain.  It lies," he
says, "close upon the heart itself, and its tests are exceedingly
delicate and subtle.  Its counterfeits abound."  Most true.  And yet
humility is not intended for experts in morals only, or for men of a rare
religious genius only.  The plainest of men, the least skilled and the
most unlettered of men, may not only excel in humility, but may also be
permitted to know that they are indeed planted, and are growing slowly
but surely in that grace of all graces.  No doubt our Lord had, so to
describe it, the most delicate and the most subtle of human minds; and,
no doubt whatever, He had the most practised skill in reading off what
lay closest to His own heart.  And, then, it was just His attainment of
the most perfect humility, and then His absolute ascertainment of the
same, that enabled Him to say: Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me.  At
the same time, divine as the grace is, and divine as the insight is that
is able to trace it out in all its exquisite refinements of thought and
feeling in the sanctified soul, yet humility is a human virtue after all,
and it is open to all men to attain to it and intelligently and lovingly
to exercise it.  The simplest and the least philosophical soul now in
this house may apply to himself some of the subtlest and most sensitive
tests of humility, as much as if he were Dr. Duncan or Dr. Newman
themselves; and may thus with all assurance of hope know whether he is a
counterfeit and a castaway or no.

Take this test for one, then.  Explain this text to me: Phil. ii. 3--"In
lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than himself."  Explain
and illustrate that.  Not from a commentary, but straight out from your
own heart.  What does your heart make of that scripture?  Does your heart
turn away from that scripture almost in anger at it?  Do you say you are
certain that there must be some other explanation of it than that?  Do
you hold that this is just another of Paul's perpetual hyperboles, and
that the New Testament is the last book in the world to be taken as it
reads?  Yes; both bold and subtle father that he is: counterfeits abound!

Another much blunter test, but, perhaps, a sufficiently sharp test, is
this: How do you receive correction and instruction?  Does your heart
meekly and spontaneously and naturally take to correction and instruction
as the most natural and proper thing possible to you?  And do you
immediately, and before all men, show forth and exhibit the correction
and the instruction?  Or, does this rather take place?  Does your heart
beat, and swell, and boil, and boil over at him who dares to correct or
counsel you?  If this is a fair test to put our humility to, how little
humility there is among us!  How few men any of us could name among our
friends to whom we would risk telling all the things that behind their
backs we point out continually to others?  We are terrified to face their
pride.  We once did it, and we are not to do it again, if we can help it!
Let a man not have too many irons in the fire; let him examine himself
just by these two tests for the time--what he thinks of himself, and what
he thinks of those who attempt, and especially before other people, to
set him right.  And after these two tests have been satisfied, others
will no doubt be supplied till that so humble man is made very humility
itself.

And now, in the hope that there may be one or two men here who are really
and not counterfeitly in earnest to clothe themselves with humility
before God and man, let them take these two looms to themselves out of
which whole webs of such garments will be delivered to them every
day--their past life, and their present heart.  With a past life like
ours, my brethren--and everyman knows his own--pride is surely the
maddest state of mind that any of us can allow ourselves in.  The first
king of Bohemia kept his clouted old shoes ever in his sight, that he
might never forget that he had once been a ploughman.  And another wise
king used to drink out of a coarse cup at table, and excused himself to
his guests that he had made the rude thing in his rude potter days.  Look
with Primislaus and Agathocles at the hole of the pit out of which you
also have been dug; look often enough, deep enough, and long enough, and
you will be found passing up through the Valley of Humiliation singing:

   "With us He dealt not as we sinn'd,
   Nor did requite our ill!"

Another excellent use of the past is, if you are equal to it, to call
yourself aloud sometimes, or in writing, some of the names that other
people who know your past are certainly calling you.  It is a terrible
discipline, but it is the terror of the Lord, and He will not let it hurt
you too much.  I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and
injurious, says Paul.  And, to show Titus, his gospel-son, the way, he
said to him: We ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived,
serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful,
and hating one another.  And John Bunyan calls himself a blackguard, and
many other worse names; only he swears that neither with his soldiering
nor with his tinkering hands did he ever plash down Beelzebub's orchard.
But if you have done that, or anything like that, call yourself aloud by
your true name on your knees to-night.  William Law testifies, after five-
and-twenty years' experience of it, that he never heard of any harm that
he had done to any in his house by his habit of singing his secret psalms
aloud, and sometimes, ere ever he was aware, bursting out in his
penitential prayers.

And, then, how any man with a man's heart in his bosom for a single day
can escape being the chief of sinners, and consequently the humblest of
men for all the rest of his life on earth, passes my comprehension!  How
a spark of pride can live in such a hell as every human heart is would be
past belief, did we not know that God avenges sin by more sin; avenges
Himself on a wicked and a false heart by more wickedness and more
falsehood, all ending in Satanic pride.

Too long as I have kept you in this valley to-night, I dare not let you
out of it till I have shared with you a few sentences on evangelical
humiliation out of that other so subtle and devout man, Jonathan Edwards.
But what special kind of humiliation is evangelical humiliation? you will
ask.  Hear, then, what this master in Israel says.  "Evangelical
humiliation is the sense that a Christian man has of his own utter
insufficiency, utter despicableness, and utter odiousness; with an always
answerable frame of heart.  This humiliation is peculiar to the true
saints.  It arises from the special influence of the Spirit of God
implanting and exercising supernatural and divine principles; and it is
accompanied with a sense of the transcendent beauty of divine things.
And, thus, God's true saints all more or less see their own odiousness on
account of sin, and the exceedingly hateful nature of all sin.  The very
essence of evangelical humiliation consists in such humility as becomes a
man in himself exceeding sinful but now under a dispensation of grace.  It
consists in a mean esteem of himself, as in himself nothing, and
altogether contemptible and odious.  This, indeed, is the greatest and
the most essential thing in true religion."  And so on through a whole
chapter of beaten gold.  To which noble chapter I shall only add that
such teaching is as sweet, as strengthening, and as reassuring to the
truly Christian heart as it is bitter and hateful to the counterfeit
heart.



OLD HONEST


   "An honest heart."--_Our Lord_.

   Next tell them of Old Honest, who you found
   With his white hairs treading the pilgrim's ground;
   Yea, tell them how plain-hearted this man was,
   How after his good Lord he bare his cross:
   Perhaps with some grey head this may prevail,
   With Christ to fall in love, and sin bewail.

You would have said that no pilgrim to the Celestial City could possibly
have come from a worse place, or a more unlikely place, than was that
place from which Christian and Christiana and Matthew and Mercy had come.
And yet so it was.  For Old Honest, this most excellent and every way
most delightful old saint, hailed from a far less likely place than even
the City of Destruction.  For he came, this rare old soul, of all places
in the world, from the Town of Stupidity.  So he tells us himself.  And,
partly to explain to us the humiliating name of his native town, and
partly to exhibit himself as a wonder to many, the frank old gentleman
goes on to tell us that his birthplace actually lies four degrees further
away from the sun than does the far-enough away City of Destruction
itself.  So that you see this grey-haired saint is all that he always
said he was--a living witness to the fact that his Lord is able to save
to the uttermost, and to gather in His Father's elect from the utmost
corner of the land.  Men are mountains of ice in my country, said Old
Honest.  I was one of the biggest of those icebergs myself, he said.  No
man was ever more cold and senseless to divine things than I was, and
still sometimes am.  It takes the Sun of Righteousness all His might to
melt the men of my country.  But that He can do it when He rises to do
it, and when He puts out His full strength to do it--Look at me! said the
genial old soul.

We have to construct this pilgrim's birth and boyhood and youth from his
after-character and conversation; and we have no difficulty at all in
doing that.  For, if the child is the father of the man, then the man
must be the outcome of the child, and we can have no hesitation in
picturing to ourselves what kind of child and boy and young man dear Old
Honest must always have been.  He never was a bright child, bright and
beaming old man as he is.  He was always slow and heavy at his lessons;
indeed, I would not like to repeat to you all the bad names that his
schoolmasters sometimes in their impatience called the stupid child.
Only, this was to be said of him, that dulness of uptake and
disappointment of his teachers were the worst things about this poor boy;
he was not so ill-behaved as many were who were made more of.  When his
wits began to waken up after he had come some length he had no little
leeway to make up in his learning; but that was the chief drawback to Old
Honest's pilgrimage.  For one thing, no young man had a cleaner record
behind him than our Honest had; his youthful garments were as unspotted
as ever any pilgrim's garments were.  Even as a young man he had had the
good sense to keep company with one Good-conscience; and that friend of
his youth kept true to Old Honest all his days, and even lent him his
hand and helped him over the river at last.  In his own manly, hearty,
blunt, breezy, cheery, and genial way Old Honest is a pilgrim we could
ill have spared.  Old Honest has a warm place all for himself in every
good and honest heart.

"Now, a little before the pilgrims stood an oak, and under it when they
came up to it they found an old pilgrim fast asleep; they knew that he
was a pilgrim by his clothes and his staff and his girdle.  So the guide,
Mr. Greatheart, awaked him, and the old gentleman, as he lifted up his
eyes, cried out: What's the matter?  Who are you?  And what is your
business here?  Come, man, said the guide, be not so hot; here is none
but friends!  Yet the old man gets up and stands upon his guard, and will
know of them what they are."  That weather-beaten oak-tree under which we
first meet with Old Honest is an excellent emblem of the man.  When he
sat down to rest his old bones that day he did not look out for a bank of
soft moss or for a bed of fragrant roses; that knotted oak-tree alone had
power to draw down under its sturdy trunk this heart of human oak.  It
was a sight to see those thin grey haffets making a soft pillow of that
jutting knee of gnarled and knotty oak, and with his well-worn
quarterstaff held close in a hand all wrinkled skin and scraggy bone.  And
from that day till he waved his quarterstaff when half over the river and
shouted, Grace reigns! there is no pilgrim of them all that affords us
half the good humour, sagacity, continual entertainment, and brave
encouragement we enjoy through this same old Christian gentleman.

1.  Now, let us try to learn two or three lessons to-night from Old
Honest, his history, his character, and his conversation.  And, to begin
with, let all those attend to Old Honest who are slow in the uptake in
the things of religion.  O fools and slow of heart! exclaimed our Lord at
the two travellers to Emmaus.  And this was Old Honest to the letter when
he first entered on the pilgrimage life; he was slow as sloth itself in
the things of the soul.  I have often wondered, said Greatheart, that any
should come from your place; for your town is worse than is the City of
Destruction itself.  Yes, answered Honest, we lie more off from the sun,
and so are more cold and senseless.  And his biographer here annotates on
the margin this reflection: "Stupefied ones are worse than merely
carnal."  So they are; though it takes some insight to see that, and some
courage to carry that through.  Now, to be downright stupid in a man's
natural intellects is sad enough, but to be stupid in the intellects of
the soul and of the spirit is far more sad.  You will often see this if
you have any eyes in your head, and are not one of the stupid people
yourself.  You will see very clever people in the intellects of the head
who are yet as stupid as the beasts in the stall in the far nobler
intellects of the heart.  You will meet every day with men and women who
have received the best college education this city can give them, who are
yet stark stupid in everything that belongs to true religion.  They are
quick to find out the inefficiency of a university chair, or a
schoolmaster's desk, but they know no more of what a New Testament pulpit
has been set up for than the stupidest sot in the city.  The Divine
Nature, human nature, sin, grace, redemption, salvation, holiness, heart-
corruption, spiritual life, prayer, communion with God, a conversation
and a treasure in heaven,--to all these noblest of studies and divinest
of exercises they are as a beast before God.  When you come upon a man
who is a sot in his senses and in his understanding, you expect him to be
the same in his spiritual life.  But to meet with an expert in science, a
classical scholar, an author or a critic in letters, a leader in
political or ecclesiastical or municipal life, and yet to discover that
he is as stupid as any sot in the things of his own soul, is one of the
saddest and most disheartening sights you can see.  Much sadder and much
more disheartening than to see stairs and streets of people who can
neither read nor write.  And yet our city is full of such stupid people.
You will find as utter spiritual stupidity among the rich and the
lettered and the refined of this city as you will find among the ignorant
and the vicious and the criminal classes.  Is stupidity a sin? asks
Thomas in his Forty-Sixth Question.  And the great schoolman answers
himself, "Stupidity may come of natural incapacity, in which case it is
not a sin.  But it may come, on the other hand, of a man immersing his
soul in the things of this world so as to shut out all the things of God
and of the world to come, in which case stupidity is a deadly sin."  Now,
from all that, you must already see what you are to do in order to escape
from your inborn and superinduced stupidity.  You are, like Old Honest,
to open your gross, cold, senseless heart to the Sun of Righteousness,
and you are to take care every day to walk abroad under His beams.  You
are to emigrate south for your life, as our well-to-do invalids do, to
where the sun shines in his strength all the day.  You are to choose such
a minister, buy and read such a literature, cultivate such an
acquaintanceship, and follow out such a new life of habits and practices
as shall bring you into the full sunshine, till your heart of ice is
melted, and your stupefied soul is filled with spiritual sensibility.
For, "were a man a mountain of ice," said Old Honest, "yet if the Sun of
Righteousness will arise upon him his frozen heart shall feel a thaw; and
thus hath it been with me."  Your poets and your philosophers have no
resource against the stupidity that opposes them.  "Even the gods," they
complain, "fight unvictorious against stupidity."  But your divines and
your preachers have hope beside the dullest and the stupidest and even
the most imbruted.  They point themselves and their slowest and dullest-
witted hearers to Old Honest, this rare old saint; and they set up their
pulpit with hope and boldness on the very causeway of the town of
Stupidity itself.

2.  In the second place,--on this fine old pilgrim's birth and boyhood
and youth.  The apostle says that there is no real difference between one
of us and another; and what he says on that subject must be true.  No;
there is really no difference compared with the Celestial City whether a
pilgrim is born in Stupidity, in Destruction, in Vanity, or in Darkland.
At the same time, nature, as well as grace, is of God, and He maketh,
when it pleaseth Him, one man to differ in some most important respects
from another.  You see such differences every day.  Some children are
naturally, and from their very infancy, false and cruel, mean and greedy;
while their brothers and sisters are open and frank and generous.  One
son in a house is born a vulgar snob, and one daughter a shallow-hearted
and shameless little flirt; while another brother is a born gentleman,
and another sister a born saint.  Some children are tender-hearted,
easily melted, and easily moulded; while others in the same family are
hard as stone and cold as ice.  Sometimes a noble and a truly Christian
father will have all his days to weep and pray over a son who is his
shame; and then, in the next generation, a grandson will be born to him
who will more than recover the lost image of his father's father.  And so
is it sometimes with father Adam's family.  Here and there, in Darkland,
in Destruction, and in Stupidity, a child will be born with a surprising
likeness to the first Adam in his first estate.  That happy child at his
best is but the relics and ruins of his first father; at the same time,
in him the relics are more abundant and the ruins more easy to trace out.
And little Honest was such a well-born child.  For, Stupidity and all,
there was a real inborn and inbred integrity, uprightness,
straightforwardness, and nobleness about this little and not over-clever
man-child.  And, on the principle of "to him that hath shall be given,"
there was something like a special providence that hedged this boy about
from the beginning.  "I girded thee though thou hast not known Me" was
never out of Old Honest's mouth as often as he remembered the days of his
own youth and heard other pilgrims mourning over theirs.  "I have
surnamed thee though thou hast not known Me," he would say to himself in
his sleep.  Slow-witted as he was, no one had been able to cheat young
Honest out of his youthful integrity.  He had not been led, and he had
led no one else, into the paths of the destroyer.  He could say about
himself all that John Bunyan so boldly and so bluntly said about himself
when his enemies charged him with youthful immorality.  He left the town
in nobody's debt.  He left the print of his heels on no man or woman or
child when he took his staff in his hand to be a pilgrim.  The upward
walk of too many pilgrims is less a walk than an escape and a flight.  The
avenger of men's blood and women's honour has hunted many men deep into
heaven's innermost gate.  But Old Honest took his time.  He walked, if
ever pilgrim walked, all the way with an easy mind.  He lay down to sleep
under the oaks on the wayside, and smiled like a child in his sleep.  And,
when he was suddenly awaked, instead of crying out for mercy and starting
to his heels, he grasped his staff and demanded even of an armed man what
business he had to break in on an honest pilgrim's midday repose!  The
King of the Celestial City had a few names even in Stupidity which had
not defiled their garments, and Old Honest was one of them.  And all his
days his strength was as the strength of ten, because his heart was pure.

3.  At the same time, honesty is not holiness; and no one knew that
better than did this honest old saint.  When any one spoke to Old Honest
about his blameless youth, the look in his eye made them keep at arm's-
length as he growled out that without holiness no man shall see God!
Writing from Aberdeen to John Bell of Hentoun, Samuel Rutherford says: "I
beseech you, in the Lord Jesus, to mind your country above; and now, when
old age is come upon you, advise with Christ before you put your foot
into the last ship and turn your back on this life.  Many are beguiled
with this that they are free of scandalous sins.  But common honesty will
not take men to heaven.  Alas! that men should think that ever they met
with Christ who had never a sick night or a sore heart for sin.  I have
known a man turn a key in a door and lock it by."  "I can," says John
Owen, "and I do, commend moral virtues and honesty as much as any man
ought to do, and I am sure there is no grace where they are not.  Yet to
make anything to be our holiness that is not derived from Jesus Christ,--I
know not what I do more abhor."  "Are morally honest and sober men
qualified for the Lord's Supper?" asks John Flavel.  "No; civility and
morality do not make a man a worthy communicant.  They are not the
wedding garment; but regenerating grace and faith in the smallest measure
are."  "My outside may be honest," said this honest old pilgrim, "while
all the time my heart is most unholy.  My life is open to all men, but I
must hide my heart with Christ in God."

4.  And then this racy-hearted old bachelor was as full of delight in
children, and in children's parties, with all their sweetmeats and nuts
and games and riddles,--quite as much so--as if he had been their very
grandfather himself.  Nay, this rosy-hearted old rogue was as inveterate
a matchmaker as if he had been a mother of the world with a houseful of
daughters on her hands and with the sons of the nobility dangling around.
It would make you wish you could kiss the two dear old souls, Gaius the
innkeeper and Old Honest his guest, if you would only read how they laid
their grey heads together to help forward the love-making of Matthew and
Mercy.  Yes, it would be a great pity, said Old Honest,--thinking with a
sigh of his own childless old age,--it would be a great pity if this
excellent family of our sainted brother should fail for want of children,
and die out like mine.  And the two old plotters went together to the
mother of the bridegroom, and told her with an aspect of authority that
she must put no obstacle in her son's way, but take Mercy as soon as
convenient into a closer relation to herself.  And Gaius said that he for
his part would give the marriage supper.  And I shall make no will, said
Honest, but hand all I have over to Matthew my son.  This is the way,
said Old Honest; and he skipped and smiled and kissed the cheek of the
aged mother and said, Then thy two children shall preserve thee and thy
husband a posterity in the earth!  Then he turned to the boys and he
said, Matthew, be thou like Matthew the publican, not in vice, but in
virtue.  Samuel, he said, be thou like Samuel the prophet, a man of faith
and of prayer.  Joseph, said he, be thou like Joseph in Potiphar's house,
chaste, and one that flees from temptation.  And James, be thou like
James the Just, and like James the brother of our Lord.  Mercy, he said,
is thy name, and by mercy shalt thou be sustained and carried through all
thy difficulties that shall assault thee in the way, till thou shalt come
thither where thou shalt look the Fountain of Mercy in the face with
comfort.  And all this while the guide, Mr. Greatheart, was very much
pleased, and smiled upon the nimble old gentleman.

5.  "Then it came to pass a while after that there was a post in the town
that inquired for Mr. Honest.  So he came to his house where he was, and
delivered to his hands these lines, Thou art commanded to be ready
against this day seven night, to present thyself before thy Lord at His
Father's house.  And for a token that my message is true, all thy
daughters of music shall be brought low.  Then Mr. Honest called for his
friends and said unto them, I die, but shall make no will.  As for my
honesty, it shall go with me: let him that comes after me be told of
this.  When the day that he was to be gone was come he addressed himself
to go over the river.  Now, the river at that time overflowed the banks
at some places.  But Mr. Honest in his lifetime had spoken to one Good-
conscience to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his
hand, and so helped him over.  The last words of Mr. Honest were, Grace
reigns!  So he left the world."  Look at that picture and now look at
this: "They then addressed themselves to the water, and, entering,
Christian began to sink, and crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he
said, I sink in deep waves, the billows go over my head, all His waters
go over me.  Then said the other, Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel
the bottom, and it is good.  Then said Christian, Ah, my friend, the
sorrows of death have compassed me about; I shall not see the land that
flows with milk and honey.  And with that a great horror and darkness
fell upon Christian, so that he could not see before him; and all the
words that he spoke still tended to discover that he had horror of mind
lest he should die in that river and never obtain entrance in at the
gate.  Here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the
troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and
before he began to be a pilgrim.  'Twas also observed that he was
troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits.  Hopeful,
therefore, had much ado to keep his brother's head above water.  Yea,
sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then ere a while he would rise
up again half dead."  My brethren, all my brethren, be not deceived; God
is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.  Whom
the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
Thou, O God, wast a God that forgavest them, but Thou tookest vengeance
on their inventions.



MR. FEARING


   "Happy is the man that feareth alway."--_Solomon_

For humour, for pathos, for tenderness, for acute and sympathetic insight
at once into nature and grace, for absolutely artless literary skill, and
for the sweetest, most musical, and most exquisite English, show me
another passage in our whole literature to compare with John Bunyan's
portrait of Mr. Fearing.  You cannot do it.  I defy you to do it.
Spenser, who, like John Bunyan, wrote an elaborate allegory, says: It is
not in me.  Take all Mr. Fearing's features together, and even
Shakespeare himself has no such heart-touching and heart-comforting
character.  Addison may have some of the humour and Lamb some of the
tenderness; but, then, they have not the religion.  Scott has the insight
into nature, but he has no eye at all for grace; while Thackeray, who, in
some respects, comes nearest to John Bunyan of them all, would be the
foremost to confess that he is not worthy to touch the shoe-latchet of
the Bedford tinker.  As Dr. Duncan said in his class one day when telling
us to read Augustine's Autobiography and Halyburton's:--"But," he said,
"be prepared for this, that the tinker beats them all!"  "Methinks," says
Browning, "in this God speaks, no tinker hath such powers."

Now, as they walked along together, the guide asked the old gentleman if
he knew one Mr. Fearing that came on pilgrimage out of his parts.  "Yes,"
said Mr. Honest, "very well.  He was a man that had the root of the
matter in him; but he was one of the most troublesome pilgrims that ever
I met with in all my days."  "I perceive you knew him," said the guide,
"for you have given a very right character of him."  "Knew him!"
exclaimed Honest, "I was a great companion of his; I was with him most an
end.  When he first began to think of what would come upon us hereafter,
I was with him."  "And I was his guide," said Greatheart, "from my
Master's house to the gates of the Celestial City."  "Then," said Mr.
Honest, "it seems he was well at last."  "Yes, yes," answered the guide,
"I never had any doubt about him; he was a man of a choice spirit, only
he was always kept very low, and that made his life so burdensome to
himself and so troublesome to others.  He was, above many, tender of sin;
he was so afraid of doing injuries to others that he would often deny
himself of that which was lawful because he would not offend."  "But
what," asked Honest, "should be the reason that such a good man should be
all his days so much in the dark?"  "There are two sorts of reasons for
it," said the guide; "one is, the wise God will have it so: some must
pipe and some must weep.  Now, Mr. Fearing was one that played upon this
base.  He and his fellows sound the sackbut, whose notes are more doleful
than the notes of other music are.  Though, indeed, some say that the
base is the ground of music.  And, for my part, I care not at all for
that profession that begins not with heaviness of mind.  The first string
that the musician usually touches is the base when he intends to put all
in tune.  God also plays upon this string first when He sets the soul in
tune for Himself.  Only, here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing, that
he could play upon no other music but this till toward his latter end."

1.  Take Mr. Fearing, then, to begin with, at the Slough of Despond.
Christian and Pliable, they being heedless, did both fall into that bog.
But Mr. Fearing, whatever faults you may think he had--and faults, too,
that you think you could mend in him--at any rate, he was never heedless.
Everybody has his fault to find with poor Mr. Fearing.  Everybody blames
poor Mr. Fearing.  Everybody can improve upon poor Mr. Fearing.  But I
will say again for Mr. Fearing that he was never heedless.  Had Peter
been on the road at that period he would have stood up for Mr. Fearing,
and would have taken his judges and would have said to them, with some
scorn--Go to, and pass the time of your sojourning here with something of
the same silence and the same fear!  Christian's excuse for falling into
the Slough was that fear so followed him that he fled the next way, and
so fell in.  But Mr. Fearing had no such fear behind him in his city as
Christian had in his.  All Mr. Fearing's fears were within himself.  If
you can take up the distinction between actual and indwelling sin,
between guilt and corruption, you have already in that the whole key to
Mr. Fearing.  He was blamed and counselled and corrected and pitied and
patronised by every morning-cloud and early-dew neophyte, while all the
time he lived far down from the strife of tongues where the root of the
matter strikes its deep roots still deeper every day.  "It took him a
whole month," tells Greatheart, "to face the Slough.  But he would not go
back neither.  Till, one sunshiny morning, nobody ever knew how, he
ventured, and so got over.  But the fact of the matter is," said the
shrewd-headed guide, "Mr. Fearing had, I think, a slough of despond in
his own mind; and a slough that he carried everywhere with him."  Yes,
that was it.  Greatheart in that has hit the nail on the head.  With one
happy stroke he has given us the whole secret of poor Mr. Fearing's life-
long trouble.  Just so; it was the slough in himself that so kept poor
Mr. Fearing back.  This poor pilgrim, who had so little to fear in his
past life, had yet so much scum and filth, spume and mire in his present
heart, that how to get on the other side of that cost him not a month's
roaring only, but all the months and all the years till he went over the
River not much above wet-shod.  And, till then, not twenty million cart-
loads of wholesome instructions, nor any number of good and substantial
steps, would lift poor Mr. Fearing over the ditch that ran so deep and so
foul continually within himself.  "Yes, he had, I think, a slough of
despond in his mind, a slough that he carried everywhere with him, or
else he never could have been the man he was."  I, for one, thank the
great-hearted guide for that fine sentence.

2.  It was a sight to see poor Mr. Fearing at the wicket gate.  "Knock,
and it shall be opened unto you."  He read the inscription over the gate
a thousand times, but every time he read it his slough-filled heart said
to him, Yes, but that is not for such as you.  Pilgrim after pilgrim came
up the way, read the writing, knocked, and was taken in; but still Mr.
Fearing stood back, shaking and shrinking.  At last he ventured to take
hold of the hammer that hung on the gate and gave with it a small rap
such as a mouse might make.  But small as the sound was, the Gatekeeper
had had his eye on his man all the time out of his watch-window; and
before Mr. Fearing had time to turn and run, Goodwill had him by the
collar.  But that sudden assault only made Mr. Fearing sink to the earth,
faint and half-dead.  "Peace be to thee, O trembling man!" said Goodwill.
"Come in, and welcome!"  When he did venture in, Mr. Fearing's face was
as white as a sheet.  You would have said that an officer had caught a
thief if you had seen poor Mr. Fearing hiding his face, and the
Gatekeeper hauling him in.  And not all the entertainment for which the
Gate was famous, nor all the encouragement that Goodwill was able to
speak, could make terrified Mr. Fearing for once to smile.  A more hard-
to-entertain pilgrim, all the Gate declared when he had gone, they had
never had in their hospitable house.

3.  "So he came," said the guide, "till he came to our House; but as he
behaved himself at the Gate, so he did at my Master the Interpreter's
door.  He lay about in the cold a good while before he would adventure to
call.  Yet he would not go back neither.  And the nights were cold and
long then.  At last I think I looked out of the window, and perceiving a
man to be up and down about the door, I went out to him, and asked what
he was; but, poor man, the water stood in his eyes.  So I perceived what
he wanted.  I went in, therefore, and told it in the house, and we showed
the thing to our Lord.  So He sent me out again to entreat him to come
in, but I dare say I had hard work to do it.  At last he came in, and I
will say that for my Lord, He carried it wonderful lovingly to Mr.
Fearing.  There were but a few good bits at the table, but some of it was
laid upon his trencher."  In this way the guide tells us his first
introduction to Mr. Fearing, and how Mr. Fearing behaved himself in the
Interpreter's House.  For instance, in the parlour full of dust, when the
Interpreter said that the dust is original sin and inward corruption, you
would have thought that the Interpreter had stabbed poor Mr. Fearing to
the heart, so did he break out and weep.  Before the damsel could come
with the pitcher, Mr. Fearing's eyes alone would have laid the dust, they
were such a fountain of tears.  When he saw Passion and Patience, each
one in his chair--"I am that child in rags," said Mr. Fearing; "I have
already received all my good things!"  Also, at the wall where the fire
burned because oil was poured into it from the other side, he perversely
turned that fire also against himself.  And when they came to the man in
the iron cage, you could not have told whether the miserable man inside
the cage or the miserable man outside of it sighed the loudest.  And so
on, through all the significant rooms.  The spider-room overwhelmed him
altogether, till his sobs and the beating of his breast were heard all
over the house.  The robin also when gobbling up spiders he made an
emblem of himself, and the tree that was rotten at the heart,--till the
Interpreter's patience with this so perverse pilgrim was fairly worn out.
So the Interpreter shut up his significant rooms, and had this so
troublesome pilgrim into his own chamber, and there carried it so
tenderly to Mr. Fearing that at last he did seem to have taken some
little heart of grace.  "And then we," said Greatheart, "set forward, and
I went before him; but the man was of few words, only he would often sigh
aloud."

4.  "Dumpish at the House Beautiful" is his biographer's not very
respectful comment on the margin of the history.  There were too many
merry-hearted damsels running up and down that house for Mr. Fearing.  He
could not lift his eyes but one of those too-tripping maidens was looking
at him.  He could not stir a foot but he suddenly ran against a talking
and laughing bevy of them.  There was one thing he loved above
everything, and that was to overhear the talk that went on at that season
in that house about the City above, and about the King of that City, and
about His wonderful ways with pilgrims, and the entertainment they all
got who entered that City.  But to get a word out of Mr. Fearing upon any
of these subjects,--all the king's horses could not have dragged it out
of him.  Only, the screen was always seen to move during such
conversations, till it soon came to be known to all the house who was
behind the screen.  And the talkers only talked a little louder as the
screen moved, and took up, with a smile to one another, another and a yet
more comforting topic.

The Rarity Rooms also were more to Mr. Fearing than his necessary food.
He would be up in the morning and waiting at the doors of those rooms
before the keepers had come with their keys.  And they had to tell him
that the candles were to be put out at night before he would go away.  He
was always reading, as if he had never read it before, the pedigree of
the Lord of the Hill.  Moses' rod, Shamgar's goad, David's sling and
stone, and what not--he laughed and danced and sang like a child around
these ancient tables.  The armoury-room also held him, where were the
swords, and shields, and helmets, and breast-plates, and shoes that would
not wear out.  You would have thought you had your man all right as long
as you had him alone among these old relics; but, let supper be ready,
and the house gathered, and Mr. Fearing was as dumpish as ever.  Eat he
would not, drink he would not, nor would he sit at the same table with
those who ate and drank with such gladness.  I remembered Mr. Fearing at
the House Beautiful when I was present at a communion season some time
back in Ross-shire.  The church was half full of Mr. Fearing's close
kindred that communion morning.  For, all that the minister himself could
do, and all that the assisting minister could do--no! to the table those
self-examined, self-condemned, fear-filled souls would not come.  The two
ministers, like Mr. Greatheart's Master, carried it wonderful lovingly
with those poor saints that day; but those who are in deed, and not in
name only, passing the time of their sojourning here in fear--they cannot
all at once be lifted above all their fears, even by the ablest action
sermons, or by the most wise and tender table-addresses.  And, truth to
tell, though you will rebuke me all the way home to-night for saying it,
my heart sat somewhat nearer to those old people who were perhaps a
little too dumpish in their repentance and their faith and their hope
that morning, than it did to those who took to the table with a light
heart.  I know all your flippant cant about gospel liberty and against
Highland introspection, as you call it--as well as all your habitual
neglect of a close and deep self-examination, as Paul called it; but I
tell you all to-night that it would be the salvation of your soul if you
too worked your way up to every returning Lord's table with much more
fear and much more trembling.  Let a man examine himself, Saxon as well
as Celt, in Edinburgh as well as in Ross-shire, and so let him eat of
that flesh and drink of that blood.  "These pills," said Mr. Skill, "are
to be taken three at a time fasting in half a quarter of a pint of the
tears of repentance; these pills are good to prevent diseases, as well as
to cure when one is sick.  Yea, I dare say it, and stand to it, that if a
man will but use this physic as he should, it will make him live for
ever.  But thou must give these pills no other way but as I have
prescribed; for, if you do, they will do no good."  "Then he and I set
forward," said the guide, "and I went before; but my man was of but few
words, only he would often sigh aloud."

5.  As to the Hill Difficulty, that was no stick at all to Mr. Fearing;
and as for the lions, he pulled their whiskers and snapped his fingers in
their dumfoundered faces.  For you must know that Mr. Fearing's trouble
was not about such things as these at all; his only fear was about his
acceptance at last.  He beat Mr. Greatheart himself at getting down into
the Valley of Humiliation, till the guide was fain to confess that he
went down as well as he ever saw man go down in all his life.  This
pilgrim cared not how mean he was, so he might be but happy at last.  That
is the reason why so many of God's best saints take so kindly and so
quietly to things that drive other men mad.  You wonder sometimes when
you see an innocent man sit down quietly under accusations and insults
and injuries that you spend all the rest of your life resenting and
repaying.  And that is the reason also that so many of God's best saints
in other ages and other communions used to pursue evangelical humility
and ascetic poverty and seclusion till they obliterated themselves out of
all human remembrance, and buried themselves in retreats of silence and
of prayer.  Yes, you are quite right.  A garment of sackcloth may cover
an unsanctified heart; and the fathers of the desert did not all escape
the depths of Satan and the plague of their own heart.  Quite true.  A
contrite heart may be carried about an applauding city in a coach and
six; and a crucified heart may be clothed in purple and fine linen, and
may fare sumptuously every day.  A saint of God will sometimes sit on a
throne with a more weaned mind than that with which Elijah or the Baptist
will macerate themselves in the wilderness.  Every man who is really set
on heaven must find his own way thither; and he who is really intent on
his own way thither will neither have the time nor the heart to throw
stones at his brother who thinks he has discovered his own best way.  All
the pilgrims who got to the City at last did not get down Difficulty and
through Humiliation so well as Mr. Fearing did; nor was it absolutely
necessary that they should.  It was not to lay down an iron-fast rule for
others, but it was only to amuse the way with his account of Mr. Fearing,
that the guide went on to say: "Yes, I think there was a kind of sympathy
betwixt that valley and my man.  For I never saw him better in all his
pilgrimage than when he was in that valley.  For here he would lie down,
embrace the ground, and kiss the very flowers that grew in this valley.
He would now be up every morning by break of day, tracing and walking to
and fro in that valley."

6.  Now, do you think you could guess how Mr. Fearing conducted himself
in Vanity Fair?  Your guess is important to us and to you to-night; for
it will show whether or no John Bunyan and Mr. Greatheart have spent
their strength for nought and in vain on you.  It will show whether or no
you have got inside of Mr. Fearing with all that has been said; and thus,
inside of yourself.  Guess, then.  How did Mr. Fearing do in Vanity Fair,
do you think?  To give you a clue, recollect that he was the timidest of
souls.  And remember how you have often been afraid to look at things in
a shop window lest the shopkeeper should come out and hold you to the
thing you were looking at.  Remember also that you are the life-long
owners of some things just because they were thrown at your head.
Remember how you sauntered into a sale on one occasion, and, out of sheer
idleness and pure fun, made a bid, and to your consternation the
encumbrance was knocked down to your name; and it fills up your house to-
day till you would give ten times its value to some one to take it away
for ever out of your sight.  Well, what was it that those who were so
shamelessly and so pesteringly cadging about places, and titles, and
preferments, and wives, and gold, and silver, and such like--what was it
they prevailed on this poor stupid countryman to cheapen and buy?  Do you
guess, or do you give it up?  Well, Greatheart himself was again and
again almost taken in; and would have been had not Mr. Fearing been
beside him.  But Mr. Fearing looked at all the jugglers, and cheats, and
knaves, and apes, and fools as if he would have bitten a firebrand.  "I
thought he would have fought with all the men of the fair; I feared there
we should have both been knock'd o' th' head, so hot was he against their
fooleries."  And then--for Greatheart was a bit of a philosopher, and
liked to entertain and while the away with tracing things up to their
causes--"it was all," he said, "because Mr. Fearing was so tender of sin.
He was above many tender of sin.  He was so afraid, not for himself only,
but of doing injury to others, that he would deny himself the purchase
and possession and enjoyment even of that which was lawful, because he
would not offend."  "All this while," says Bunyan himself, in the eighty-
second paragraph of _Grace Abounding_, "as to the act of sinning I was
never more tender than now.  I durst not take a pin or a stick, though
but so big as a straw, for my conscience now was sore and would smart at
every touch.  I could not now tell how to speak my words for fear I
should misplace them."  "The highest flames," says Jeremy Taylor in his
_Life of Christ_, "are the most tremulous."

7.  "But when he was come at the river where was no bridge, there, again,
Mr. Fearing was in a heavy case.  Now, he said, he should be drowned for
ever, and so never see that Face with comfort that he had come so many
miles to behold.  And here also I took notice of what was very
remarkable; the water of that river was lower at this time than ever I
saw it in all my life, so he went over at last not much above wet-shod."
Then said Christiana, "This relation of Mr. Fearing has done me good.  I
thought nobody had been like me, but I see there was some semblance
betwixt this good man and I, only we differed in two things.  His
troubles were so great that they broke out, but mine I kept within.  His
also lay so hard upon him that he could not knock at the houses provided
for entertainment, but my trouble was always such that it made me knock
the louder."  "If I might also speak my heart," said Mercy, "I must say
that something of him has also dwelt in me.  For I have ever been more
afraid of the lake, and the loss of a place in Paradise, than I have been
of the loss of other things.  Oh! thought I, may I have the happiness to
have a habitation there: 'tis enough though I part with all the world to
win it."  Then said Matthew, "Fear was one thing that made me think that
I was far from having that within me that accompanies salvation; but if
it was so with such a good man as he, why may it not also go well with
me?"  "No fears, no grace," said James.  "Though there is not always
grace where there is fear of hell; yet, to be sure, there is no grace
where there is no fear of God."  "Well said, James," said Greatheart;
"thou hast hit the mark, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom;
and, to be sure, they that want the beginning have neither middle nor
end."  But we shall here conclude our discourse of Mr. Fearing after we
have sent after him this farewell:--

         "It is because
   Then thou didst fear, that now thou dost not fear.
   Thou hast forestalled the agony, and so
   For thee the bitterness of death is past.
   Also, because already in thy soul
   The judgment is begun.  That day of doom,
   One and the same for this collected world--
   That solemn consummation for all flesh,
   Is, in the case of each, anticipate
   Upon his death; and, as the last great day
   In the particular judgment is rehearsed,
   So now, too, ere thou comest to the Throne,
   A presage falls upon thee, as a ray
   Straight from the Judge, expressive of thy lot.
   That calm and joy uprising in thy soul
   Is first-fruit to thy recompense,
   And heaven begun."



FEEBLE-MIND


   "Comfort the feeble-minded."--_Paul_.

Feeble-mind shall first tell you his own story in his own words, and then
I shall perhaps venture a few observations upon his history and his
character.

"I am but a sickly man, as you see," said Feeble-mind to Greatheart, "and
because Death did usually knock once a day at my door, I thought I should
never be well at home.  So I betook myself to a pilgrim's life, and have
travelled hither from the town of Uncertain, where I and my father were
born.  I am a man of no strength at all of body, nor yet of mind; but
would, if I could, though I can but crawl, spend my life in the pilgrim's
way.  When I came at the gate that is at the head of the way, the Lord of
that place did entertain me freely.  Neither objected he against my
weakly looks, nor against my feeble mind; but gave me such things as were
necessary for my journey, and bade me hope to the end.  When I came to
the house of the Interpreter I received much kindness there; and, because
the Hill Difficulty was judged too hard for me, I was carried up that
hill by one of his servants.  Indeed I have found much relief from
pilgrims, though none were willing to go so softly as I am forced to do.
Yet, still, as they came on, they bid me be of good cheer, and said that
it was the will of their Lord that comfort should be given to the feeble-
minded, and so went on their own pace.  I look for brunts by the way; but
this I have resolved on, to wit, to run when I can, to go when I cannot
run, and to creep when I cannot go.  As to the main, I thank Him that
loves me, I am fixed.  My way is before me, my mind is beyond the river
that has no bridge, though I am, as you see, but of a feeble mind."

Then said old Mr. Honest, "Have you not some time ago been acquainted
with one Mr. Fearing, a pilgrim?"  "Acquainted with him! yes.  He came
from the town of Stupidity, which lies four degrees to the northward of
the City of Destruction, and as many off where I was born.  Yet we were
well acquainted; for, indeed, he was mine uncle, my father's brother.  He
and I have been much of a temper; he was a little shorter than I, but yet
we were much of a complexion."  "I perceive that you know him," said Mr.
Honest, "and I am apt to believe also that you were related one to
another; for you have his whitely look, a cast like his with your eye,
and your speech is much alike."

"Alas!" Feeble-mind went on, "I want a suitable companion.  You are all
lusty and strong, but I, as you see, am weak.  I choose therefore rather
to come behind, lest, by reason of my many infirmities, I should be both
a burden to myself and to you.  I am, as I said, a man of a weak and
feeble mind, and shall be offended and made weak at that which others can
bear.  I shall like no laughing; I shall like no gay attire; I shall like
no unprofitable questions.  Nay, I am so weak a man as to be offended
with what others have a liberty to do.  I do not yet know all the truth.
I am a very ignorant Christian man.  Sometimes, if I hear some rejoice in
the Lord, it troubles me because I cannot do so too.  It is with me as
with a weak man among the strong, or as with a sickly man among the
healthy, or as a lamp despised."  "But, brother," said Greatheart, "I
have it in commission to comfort the feeble-minded and to support the
weak."  Thus therefore, they went on--Mr. Greatheart and Mr. Honest went
before; Christiana and her children went next; and Mr. Feeble-mind and
Mr. Ready-to-halt came behind with his crutches.

1.  In the first place, a single word as to Feeble-mind's family tree.

Thackeray says that _The Peerage_ is the Family Bible of every true-born
Englishman.  Every genuine Englishman, he tells us, teaches that sacred
book diligently to his children.  He talks out of it to them when he sits
in the house and when he walks by the way.  He binds it upon his
children's hands, and it is as a frontlet between their eyes.  He writes
its names upon the doorposts of his house, and makes pictures out of it
upon his gates.  Now, John Bunyan was a born Englishman in his liking for
a family tree.  He had no such tree himself--scarcely so much as a
bramble bush; but, all the same, let the tinker take his pen in hand, and
the pedigrees and genealogies of all his pilgrims are sure to be set
forth as much as if they were to form the certificates that those
pilgrims were to hand in at the gate.

Feeble-mind, then, was of an old, a well-rooted and a wide-spread race.
The county of Indecision was full of that ancient stock.  They had
intermarried in-and-in also till their small stature, their whitely look,
the droop of their eye, and their weak leaky speech all made them to be
easily recognised wherever they went.  It was Feeble-mind's salvation
that Death had knocked at his door every day from his youth up.  He was
feeble in body as well as in mind; only the feebleness of his body had
put a certain strength into his mind; the only strength he ever showed,
indeed, was the strength that had its roots in a weak constitution at
which sickness and death struck their dissolving blows every day.  To
escape death, both the first and the second death, any man with a
particle of strength left would run with all his might; and Feeble-mind
had strength enough somewhere among his weak joints to make him say, "But
this I have resolved on, to wit, to run when I can, to go when I cannot
run, and to creep when I cannot go.  As to the main, I am fixed!"

2.  At the Wicket Gate pilgrim Feeble-mind met with nothing but the
kindest and the most condescending entertainment.  It was the gatekeepers
way to become all things to all men.  The gatekeeper's nature was all in
his name; for he was all Goodwill together.  No kind of pilgrim ever came
wrong to Goodwill.  He never found fault with any.  Only let them knock
and come in and he will see to all the rest.  The way is full of all the
gatekeeper's kind words and still kinder actions.  Every several pilgrim
has his wager with all the rest that no one ever got such kindness at the
gate as he got.  And even Feeble-mind gave the gatekeeper this
praise--"The Lord of the place," he said, "did entertain me freely.
Neither objected he against my weakly looks nor against my feeble mind.
But he gave me such things as were necessary for my journey, and bade me
hope to the end."  All things considered, that is perhaps the best praise
that Goodwill and his house ever earned.  For, to receive and to secure
Feeble-mind as a pilgrim--to make it impossible for Feeble-mind to
entertain a scruple or a suspicion that was not removed beforehand--to
make it impossible for Feeble-mind to find in all the house and in all
its grounds so much as a straw over which he could stumble--that was
extraordinary attention, kindness, and condescension in Goodwill and all
his good-willed house.  "Go on, go on, dear Mr. Feeble mind," said
Goodwill giving his hand to Mr. Fearing's nephew, "go on: keep your
feeble mind open to the truth, and still hope to the end!"

3.  "As to the Interpreter's House, I received much kindness there."  That
is all.  But in that short speech I think there must he hid no little
shame and remorse.  No words could possibly be a severer condemnation of
Feeble-mind than his own two or three so irrelevant words about the
Interpreter's house.  No doubt at all, Feeble-mind received kindness
there; but that is not the point.  That noble house was not built at such
cost, and fitted up, and kept open all the year round, and filled with
fresh furniture from year to year, merely that those who passed through
its significant rooms might report that they had received no rudeness at
the hands of the Interpreter.   "'Come,' said the Interpreter to Feeble-
mind, 'and I will show thee what will be profitable to thee.'  So he
commanded his man to light the candle and bid Feeble-mind follow him.  But
it was all to no use.  Feeble-mind had neither the taste nor the capacity
for the significant rooms.  Nay, as one after another of those rich rooms
was opened to him, Feeble-mind took a positive dislike to them.  Nothing
interested him; nothing instructed him.  But many things stumbled and
angered him.  The parlour full of dust, and how the dust was raised and
laid; Passion and Patience; the man in the iron cage; the spider-room;
the muck-rake room; the robin with its red breast and its pretty note,
and yet with its coarse food; the tree, green outside but rotten at the
heart,--all the thanks the Interpreter took that day for all that from
Feeble-mind was in such speeches as these: You make me lose my head.  I
do not know where I am.  I did not leave the town of Uncertain to be
confused and perplexed in my mind with sights and sounds like these.  Let
me out at the door I came in at, and I shall go back to the gate.
Goodwill had none of these unhappy rooms in his sweet house!"  Nothing
could exceed the kindness of the Interpreter himself; but his house was
full of annoyances and offences and obstructions to Mr. Feeble-mind.  He
did not like the Interpreter's house, and he got out of it as fast as he
could, with his mind as feeble as when he entered it; and, what was
worse, with his temper not a little ruffled.

And we see this very same intellectual laziness, this very same downright
dislike at divine truth, in our own people every day.  There are in every
congregation people who take up their lodgings at the gate and refuse to
go one step farther on the way.  A visit to the Interpreter's House
always upsets them.  It turns their empty head.  They do not know where
they are.  They will not give what mind they have to divine truth, all
you can do to draw them on to it, till they die as feeble-minded, as
ignorant, and as inexperienced as they were born.  They never read a
religious book that has any brain or heart in it.  The feeble _Lives_ of
feeble-minded Christians, written by feeble-minded authors, and published
by feeble-minded publishers,--we all know the spoon-meat that multitudes
of our people go down to their second childhood upon.  Jonathan Edwards--a
name they never hear at home, but one of the most masculine and seraphic
of interpreters--has a noble discourse on The Importance and Advantage of
a thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth.  "Consider yourselves," he says,
"as scholars or disciples put into the school of Christ, and therefore be
diligent to make proficiency in Christian knowledge.  Content not
yourselves with this, that you have been taught your Catechism in your
childhood, and that you know as much of the principles of religion as is
necessary to salvation.  Let not your teachers have cause to complain
that while they spend and are spent to impart knowledge to you, you take
little pains to learn.  Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures.  And
when you read, observe what you read.  Observe how things come in.
Compare one scripture with another.  Procure and diligently use other
books which may help you to grow in this knowledge.  There are many
excellent books extant which might greatly forward you in this knowledge.
There is a great defect in many, that through a lothness to be at a
little expense, they provide themselves with no more helps of this
nature."  Weighty, wise, and lamentably true words.

"Mundanus," says William Law, "is a man of excellent parts, and clear
apprehension.  He is well advanced in age, and has made a great figure in
business.  He has aimed at the greatest perfection in everything.  The
only thing which has not fallen under his improvement, nor received any
benefit from his judicious mind, is his devotion; this is just in the
same poor state it was when he was six years of age, and the old man
prays now in that little form of words which his mother used to hear him
repeat night and morning.  This Mundanus that hardly ever saw the poorest
utensil without considering how it might be made or used to better
advantage, has gone on all his life long praying in the same manner as
when he was a child; without ever considering how much better or oftener
he might pray; without considering how improvable the spirit of devotion
is, how many helps a wise and reasonable man may call to his assistance,
and how necessary it is that our prayers should be enlarged, varied, and
suited to the particular state and condition of our lives.  How poor and
pitiable is the conduct of this man of sense, who has so much judgment
and understanding in everything but that which is the whole wisdom of
man!"  How true to every syllable is that!  How simple-looking, and yet
how manly, and able, and noble!  We close our young men's session with
Law and Butler to-night, and I cannot believe that our session with those
two giants has left one feeble mind in the two classes; they were all
weeded out after the first fortnight of the session; though, after all is
done, there are still plenty left both among old and young in the
congregation.  Even Homer sometimes nods; and I cannot but think that
John Bunyan has made a slip in saying that Feeble-mind enjoyed the
Interpreter's House.  At any rate, I wish I could say as much about all
the feeble minds known to me.

4.  The Hill Difficulty, which might have helped to make a man of Feeble-
mind, saw a laughable, if it had not been such a lamentable, spectacle.
For it saw this poor creature hanging as limp as wet linen on the back of
one of the Interpreter's sweating servants.  Your little boy will explain
the parable to you.  Shall I do this? or, shall I rather do that? asks
Feeble-mind at every stop.  Would it be right? or, would it be wrong?
Shall I read that book?  Shall I go to that ball?  Shall I marry that
man?  Tell me what to do.  Give me your hand.  Take me up upon your back,
and carry me over this difficult hill.  "I was carried up that," says
poor Feeble-mind, "by one of his servants."

5.  "The one calamity of Mr. Feeble-mind's history," says our ablest
commentator on Bunyan, "was the finest mercy of his history."  That one
calamity was his falling into Giant Slay-good's hands, and his finest
mercy was his rescue by Greatheart, and his consequent companionship with
his deliverer, with Mr. Honest, and with Christiana and her party till
they came to the river.  You constantly see the same thing in the life of
the Church and of the Christian Family.  Some calamity throws a weak,
ignorant, and immoral creature into close contact with a minister or an
elder or a Christian visitor, who not only relieves him from his present
distress, but continues to keep his eye upon his new acquaintance,
introduces him to wise and good friends, invites him to his house, gives
him books to read, and keeps him under good influences, till, of a weak,
feeble, and sometimes vicious character, he is made a Christian man, till
he is able for himself to say, It was good for me to be afflicted; the
one calamity of my history has been my best mercy!

6.  Feeble-mind, I am ashamed to have to admit, behaved himself in a
perfectly scandalous manner at the house of Gaius mine host.  He went
beyond all bounds during those eventful weeks.  Those weeks were one long
temptation to Feeble-mind--and he went down in a pitiful way before his
temptation.  Two marriages and two honeymoons, with suppers and dances
every night, made the old hostelry like very Pandemonium itself to poor
Feeble-mind.  He would have had Matthew's and James's marriages conducted
next door to a funeral.  Because he would not eat flesh himself, he
protested against Gaius killing a sheep.  "Man," said old Honest, almost
laying his quarterstaff over Feeble-mind's shoulders--"Man, dost thou
think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"
"I shall like no laughing," said Feeble-mind; "I shall like no gay
attire; I shall like no unprofitable questions."  I think it took some
self-conceit to refuse to sit at table beside Christiana because of her
gay attire.  And I hope Mercy did not give up dressing well, even after
she was married, to please that weak-minded old churl.  And as to
unprofitable questions--we are all tempted to think that question
unprofitable which our incapacity or our ignorance keeps us silent upon
at table.  We think that topic both ill-timed and impertinent and unsafe
to which we are not invited to contribute anything.  "I am a very
ignorant man," he went on to say; and, if that was said in any humility,
Feeble-mind never said a truer word.  "It is with me as it is with a weak
man among the strong, or as with a sick man among the healthy, or as a
lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease."  All which only
brought Greatheart out in his very best colours.  "But, brother," said
the guide, "I have it in commission to comfort the feeble-minded, and to
support the weak.  You must needs go along with us; we will wait for you,
we will lend you our help, we will deny ourselves of some things, both
opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into
doubtful disputations before you; we will be made all things to you
rather than that you shall be left behind."

7.  The first thing that did Mr. Feeble-mind any real good was his being
made military guard over the women and the children while the men went
out to demolish Doubting Castle.  _Quis custodiet_? you will smile and
say when you hear that.  Who shall protect the protector? you will say.
But wait a little.  Greatheart knew his business.  For not only did
Feeble-mind rise to the occasion, when he was put to it; but, more than
that, he was the soul of good company at supper-time that night.  "Jocund
and merry" are the very words.  Yes; give your feeble and fault-finding
folk something to do.  Send them to teach a class.  Send them down into a
mission district.  Lay a sense of responsibility upon them.  Leave them
to deal with this and that emergency themselves.  Cease carrying them on
your back, and lay weak and evil and self-willed people on their back.
Let them feel that they are of some real use.  As Matthew Arnold says,
Let the critic but try practice, and you will make a new man of him.  As
Greatheart made of Feeble-mind by making him mount guard over the
Celestial caravan while the fighting men were all up at Doubting Castle.

8.  "Mark this," says Mr. Feeble-mind's biographer on the early margin of
his history, lest we should be tempted to forget the good parts of this
troublesome and provoking pilgrim--"Mark this."  This, namely, which
Feeble-mind says to his guide.  "As to the main, I thank Him that loves
me, I am fixed.  My way is before me, my mind is beyond the river that
has no bridge, though I am, as you see, but of a feeble mind."  And that
leads us with returning regard and love to turn to the end of his
history, where we read: "After this Mr. Feeble-mind had tidings brought
him that the post sounded his horn at his chamber door.  Then he came in
and told him, saying, I am come to tell thee that thy Master hath need of
thee, and that in very little time thou must behold His face in
brightness.  Then Mr. Feeble-mind called for his friends, and told them
what errand had been brought to him, and what token he had received of
the truth of the message.  As for my feeble mind he said, that I shall
leave behind me, for I shall have no need of that in the place whither I
go.  Nor is it worth bestowing upon the poorest pilgrim.  Wherefore, when
I am gone, I desire that you would bury it in a dung-hill.  This done,
and the day being come in which he was about to depart, he entered the
river as the rest.  His last words were, Hold out, faith and patience!  So
he went over to the other side."



GREAT-HEART


   "--when thou shalt enlarge my heart."--_David_.

On Sabbath, the 12th December 1886, I heard the late Canon Liddon preach
a sermon in St. Paul's Cathedral, in which he classed Oliver Cromwell
with Alexander the Sixth and with Richard the Third.  I had taken my
estimate of the great Protector's character largely from Carlyle's famous
book, and you can judge with what feelings I heard the canon's
comparison.  And, besides, I had been wont to think of the Protector as
having entered largely into John Bunyan's portrait of Greatheart, the
pilgrim guide.  And the researches and the judgments of Dr. Gardiner have
only gone to convince me, the eloquent canon notwithstanding, that Bunyan
could not have chosen a better contemporary groundwork for his Greatheart
than just the great Puritan soldier.  Cromwell's "mental struggles before
his conversion," his life-long "searchings of heart," his "utter absence
of vindictiveness," his unequalled capacity for "seeing into the heart of
a situation," and his own "all-embracing hospitality of heart"--all have
gone to reassure me that my first guess as to Bunyan's employment of the
Protector's matchless personality and services had not been so far
astray.  And the oftener I read the noble history of Greatheart, the
better I seem to hear, beating behind his fine figure, by far the
greatest heart that ever ruled over the realm of England.

1.  The first time that we catch a glimpse of Greatheart's weather-beaten
and sword-seamed face is when he is taking a stolen look out of the
window at Mr. Fearing, who is conducting himself more like a chicken than
a man around the Interpreter's door.  And from that moment till Mr.
Fearing shouted "Grace reigns!" as he cleared the last river, never
sportsman surely stalked a startled deer so patiently and so skilfully
and so successfully as Greatheart circumvented that chicken-hearted
pilgrim.  "At last I looked out of the window, and perceiving a man to be
up and down about the door, I went out to him and asked him what he was;
but, poor man, the water stood ill his eyes.  So I perceived what he
wanted.  I went in, therefore, and told it in the house, and we showed
the thing to our Lord.  So He sent me out again to entreat him to come
in; but I dare say I had hard work to do it."  Greatheart's whole account
of Mr. Fearing always brings the water to my eyes also.  It is indeed a
delicious piece of English prose.  If I were a professor of _belles
lettres_ instead of what I am, I would compel all my students, under pain
of rustication, to get those three or four classical pages by heart till
they could neither perpetrate nor tolerate bad English any more.  This
camp-fire tale, told by an old soldier, about a troublesome young recruit
and all his adventures, touches, surely, the high-water mark of sweet and
undefiled English.  Greatheart was not the first soldier who could handle
both the sword and the pen, and he has not been the last.  But not Caesar
and not Napier themselves ever handled those two instruments better.

2.  Greatheart had just returned to his Master's house from having seen
Mr. Fearing safely through all his troubles and well over the river,
when, behold, another caravan of pilgrims is ready for his convoy.  For
Greatheart, you must know, was the Interpreter's armed servant.  When at
any time Greatheart was off duty, which in those days was but seldom, he
took up his quarters again in the Interpreter's house.  As he says
himself, he came back from the river-side only to look out of the
Interpreter's window to see if there was any more work on the way for him
to do.  And, as good luck would have it, as has been said, the guide was
just come back from his adventures with Mr. Fearing when a pilgrim party,
than which he had never seen one more to his mind, was introduced to him
by his Master, the Interpreter.  "The Interpreter," so we read at this
point, "then called for a man-servant of his, one Greatheart, and bid him
take sword, and helmet, and shield, and take these, my daughters," said
he, "and conduct them to the house called Beautiful, at which place they
will rest next.  So he took his weapons and went before them, and the
Interpreter said, God-speed."

3.  Now I saw in my dream that they went on, and Greatheart went before
them, so they came to the place where Christian's burden fell off his
back and tumbled into a sepulchre.  Here, then, they made a pause, and
here also they blessed God.  "Now," said Christiana, "it comes to my mind
what was said to us at the gate; to wit, that we should have pardon by
word and by deed.  What it is to have pardon by deed, Mr. Greatheart, I
suppose you know; wherefore, if you please, let us hear your discourse
thereof."  "So then, to speak to the question," said Greatheart.  You
have all heard about the "question-day" at Highland communions.  That day
is so called because questions that have arisen in the minds of "the men"
in connection with doctrine and with experience are on that day set
forth, debated out, and solved by much meditation and prayer; age,
saintliness, doctrinal and experimental reading, and personal experience
all making their contribution to the solution of the question in hand.
Just such a question, then, and handled in such a manner, was that
question which whiled the way and cheated the toil till the pilgrims came
to the House Beautiful.  The great doctrinal and experimental Puritans,
with Hooker at their head, put forth their full strength and laid out
their finest work just on this same question that Christiana gave out at
the place, somewhat ascending, upon which stood a cross, and a little
below, in the bottom, a sepulchre.  But not the great Comment on The
Galatians itself, next to the Holy Bible as it is, as most fit for a
wounded conscience; no, nor that perfect mass of purest gold, The Learned
Discourse of Justification, nor anything else of that kind known to me,
is for one moment, to compare in beauty, in tenderness, in eloquence, in
scriptural depth, and in scriptural simplicity with Greatheart's noble
resolution of Christiana's question which he made on the way from the
Interpreter's house to the House Beautiful.  "This is brave!" exclaimed
that mother in Israel, when the guide had come to an end.  "Methinks it
makes my heart to bleed to think that He should bleed for me.  O Thou
loving One!  O Thou blessed One!  Thou deservest to have me, for Thou
hast bought me.  No marvel that this made the water to stand in my
husband's eyes, and that it made him trudge so nimbly on.  O Mercy, that
thy father and thy mother were here; yea, and Mrs. Timorous too!  Nay, I
wish now with all my heart that here was Madam Wanton too.  Surely,
surely their hearts would be affected here!"  Promise me to read at home
Greatheart's discourse on the Righteousness of Christ, and you will thank
me for having exacted the promise.

The incongruity of a soldier handling such questions, and especially in
such a style, has stumbled some of John Bunyan's fault-finding readers.
The same incongruity stumbled "the Honourable Colonel Hacker, at Peebles
or elsewhere," to whom Cromwell sent these from Edinburgh on the 25th
December 1650--"But indeed I was not satisfied with your last speech to
me about Empson, that he was a better preacher than fighter or soldier--or
words to that effect.  Truly, I think that he that prays and preaches
best will fight best.  I know nothing that will give like courage and
confidence as the knowledge of God in Christ will; and I bless God to see
any in this army able and willing to impart the knowledge they have for
the good of others.  I pray you receive Captain Empson lovingly: I dare
assure you he is a good man and a good officer; I would we had no worse."

4.  "Will you not go in and stay till morning?" said the porter to
Greatheart, at the gate of the House Beautiful.  "No," said the guide; "I
will return to my lord to-night."  "O sir!" cried Christiana and Mercy,
"we know not how to be willing you should leave us in our pilgrimage.  Oh
that we might have your company till our journey's end."  Then said
James, the youngest of the boys, "Pray be persuaded to go with us and
help us, because we are so weak and the way so dangerous as it is."  "I
am at my lord's commandment," said Greatheart.  "If he shall allow me to
be your guide quite through, I shall willingly wait upon you.  But here
you failed at first; for when he bid me come thus far with you, then you
should have begged me of him to have gone quite through with you, and he
would have granted your request.  However, at present, I must withdraw,
and so, good Christiana, Mercy, and my brave children, adieu!"  "Help
lost for want of asking for," is our author's condemnatory comment on the
margin at this point in the history.  And there is not a single page in
my history, or in yours, my brethren, on which the same marginal lament
is not written.  What help we would have had on our Lord's promise if we
had but taken the trouble to ask for it!  And what help we once had, and
have now lost, just because when we had it we did not ask for a
continuance of it!  "No," said Greatheart to the porter, and to the two
women, and to James--"No.  I will return to my lord to-night.  I am at my
lord's commandment; only, if he shall still allot me I shall willingly
wait upon you."

Now, what with the House Beautiful, so full of the most delightful
company; what with music in the house and music in the heart; what with
Mr. Brisk's courtship of Mercy, Matthew's illness, Mr. Skill's cure of
the sick man, and what not--a whole month passed by like a day in that so
happy house.  But at last Christiana and Mercy signified it to those of
the house that it was time for them to be up and going.  Then said Joseph
to his mother, "It is convenient that you send back to the house of Mr.
Interpreter to pray him to grant that Mr. Greatheart should be sent to us
that he may be our conductor the rest of our way."  "Good boy," said she,
"I had almost forgot."  So she drew up a petition and prayed Mr. Watchful
the porter to send it by some fit man to her good friend, Mr.
Interpreter; who, when it was come and he had seen the contents of the
petition, said to the messenger, "Go, tell them that I will send him." .
. . Now, about this time one knocked at the door.  So the porter opened,
and, behold, Mr. Greatheart was there!  But when he came in, what joy was
there!  Then said Mr. Greatheart to the two women, "My lord has sent each
of you a bottle of wine, and also some parched corn, together with a
couple of pomegranates.  He has also sent the boys some figs and raisins
to refresh you on your way."  "The weak may sometimes call the strong to
prayers," I read again in the margin opposite the mention of Joseph's
name.  Not that I am strong, and not that she is weak, but one of my
people I spent an hour with last afternoon whom you would to a certainty
have called weak had you seen her and her surrounding,--she so called me
to prayer that I had to hurry home and go straight to it.  And all last
night and all this morning I have had as many pomegranates as I could eat
and as much wine as I could drink.  Yes; you attend to what the weakest
will sometimes say to you, and they will often put you on the way to get
Greatheart back again with a load of wines and fruits and corn on his
shoulder to refresh you on your journey.  "Good boy!" said Christiana to
Joseph her youngest son, "Good boy!  I had almost forgot!"

5.  When old Mr. Honest began to nod after the good supper that Gaius
mine host gave to the pilgrims, "What, sir," cried Greatheart, "you begin
to be drowsy; come, rub up; now here's a riddle for you."  Then said Mr.
Honest, "Let's hear it."  Then said Mr. Greatheart,

   "He that will kill, must first be overcome;
   Who live abroad would, first must die at home."

"Hah!" said Mr. Honest, "it is a hard one; hard to expound, and harder
still to practise."  Yes; this after-supper riddle of Mr. Greatheart is a
hard one in both respects; and for this reason, because the learned and
much experienced guide--learned with all that his life-long quarters in
the Interpreter's House could teach him, and experienced with a
lifetime's accumulated experience of the pilgrim life--has put all his
learning and all his life into these two mysterious lines.  But old
Honest, once he had sufficiently rubbed up his eyes and his intellects,
gave the answer:

   "He first by grace must conquered be
      That sin would mortify.
   And who, that lives, would convince me,
      Unto himself must die."

Exactly; shrewd old Honest; you have hit off both Greatheart and his
riddle too.  You have dived into the deepest heart of the Interpreter's
man-servant.  "The magnanimous man" was Aristotle's masterpiece.  That
great teacher of mind and morals created for the Greek world their
Greatheart.  But, "thou must understand," says Bunyan to his readers,
"that I never went to school to Aristotle or Plato.  No; but to Paul, who
taught Bunyan that what Aristotle calls magnanimity is really
pride--taught him that, till there is far more of the Christian religion
in those two doggerel lines at Gaius's supper-table than there is in all
The Ethics taken together.  And it is only from a personal experience of
the same life as that which the guide puts here into his riddle that any
man's proud heart will become really humble and thus really great, really
enlarged, and of an all-embracing hospitality like Cromwell's and
Greatheart's and John Bunyan's own.  Would you, then, become a Greatheart
too?  And would you be employed in your day as they were employed in
their day?  Then expound to yourself, and practise, and follow out that
deep riddle with which Greatheart so woke up old Honest:

   "He that will kill, must first be overcome;
   Who live abroad would, first must die at home.

6.  Greatheart again and again at the river-side, Greatheart sending
pilgrim after pilgrim over the river with rapture, and he himself still
summoned to turn his back on the Celestial City, and to retrace his steps
through the land of Beulah, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
and through the Valley of Humiliation, and back to the Interpreter's
house to take on another and another and another convoy of fresh
pilgrims, and his own abundant entrance still put off and never to
come,--our hearts bleed for poor Greatheart.  Back and forward, back and
forward, year after year, this noble soul uncomplainingly goes.  And,
ever as he waves his hand to another pilgrim entering with trumpets
within the gates, he salutes his next pilgrim charge with the brave
words: "Yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt
two: having a desire to depart and to be with Christ.  Nevertheless to
abide in the flesh is more needful for you, for your furtherance and joy
of faith by my coming to you again."  If Greatheart could not "usher
himself out of this life" along with Christiana, and Mercy, and Mr.
Honest, and Standfast, and Valiant-for-truth--if he had still to toil
back and bleed his way up again at the head of another happy band of
pilgrims--well, after all is said, what had the Celestial City itself to
give to Greatheart better than such blessed work?  With every such
returning journey he got a more and more enlarged, detached, hospitable,
and Christ-like heart, and the King's palace in very glory itself had
nothing better in store for this soldier-guide than that.  A nobler
heaven Greatheart could not taste than he had already in himself, as he
championed another and another pilgrim company from his Master's earthly
gate to his Master's heavenly gate.  Like Paul, his apostolic prototype,
Greatheart sometimes vacillated just for a moment when he came a little
too near heaven, and felt its magnificent and almost dissolving
attractions full in his soul.  You will see Greatheart's mind staggering
for a moment between rest and labour, between war and peace, between
"Christ" on earth and "Christ" in heaven--you will see all that set forth
with great sympathy and great ability in Principal Rainy's new book on
Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, and in the chapter entitled, The
Apostle's Choice between Living and Dying.

Then there came a summons for Mr. Standfast.  At which he called to him
Mr. Greatheart, and said unto him, "Sir, although it was not my hap to be
much in your good company in the days of my pilgrimage, yet, since the
time I knew you, you have been profitable to me.  When I came from home I
left behind me a wife and five small children.  Let me entreat you, at
your return (for I know that you will go and return to your master's
house in hopes that you may be a conductor to more of the holy pilgrims),
that you send to my family and let them be acquainted with all that hath
and shall happen to me.  Tell them, moreover, of my happy arrival to this
place, and of the present late blessed condition I am in, and so on for
many other messages and charges."  Yes, Mr. Standfast; very good.  But I
would have liked you on your deathbed much better if you had had a word
to spare from yourself and your wife and your children for poor
Greatheart himself, who had neither wife nor children, nor near hope of
heaven, but only your trust and charge and many suchlike trusts and
charges to carry out when you are at home and free of all trust and all
charge and all care.  But yours is the way of all the pilgrims--so long,
at least, as they are in this selfish life.  Let them and their children
only be well looked after, and they have not many thoughts or many words
left for those who sweat and bleed to death for them and theirs.  They
lean on this and that Greatheart all their own way up, and then they
leave their widows and children to lean on whatever Greatheart is sent to
meet them; but it is not one pilgrim in ten who takes the thought or has
the heart to send a message to Mr. Greatheart himself for his own
consolation and support.  I read that Mr. Ready-to-halt alone, good soul,
had the good feeling to do it.  He thanked Mr. Greatheart for his conduct
and for his kindness, and so addressed himself to his journey.  All the
same, noble Greatheart! go on in thy magnanimous work.  Take back all
their errands.  Seek out at any trouble all their wives and children.
Embark again and again on all thy former battles and hardships for the
good of other men.  But be assured that all this thy labour is not in
vain in thy Lord.  Be well assured that not one drop of thy blood or thy
sweat or thy tears shall fall to the ground on that day when they that be
wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn
many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.  Go back, then,
from thy well-earned rest, O brave Greatheart! go back to thy waiting
task.  Put on again thy whole armour.  Receive again, and again fulfil,
thy Master's commission, till He has no more commissions left for thy
brave heart and thy bold hand to execute.  And, one glorious day, while
thou art still returning to thy task, it shall suddenly sound in thy
dutiful ears:--"Well done! good and faithful servant!"  And then thou too

   "Shalt hang thy trumpet in the hall
   And study war no more."



MR. READY-TO-HALT


   "For I am ready to halt."--_David_.

Mr. Ready-to-halt is the Mephibosheth of the pilgrimage.  While
Mephibosheth was still a child in arms, his nurse let the young prince
fall, and from that day to the day of his death he was lame in both his
feet.  Mephibosheth's life-long lameness, and then David's extraordinary
grace to the disinherited cripple in commanding him to eat continually at
the king's table; in those two points we have all that we know about Mr.
Ready-to-halt also.  We have no proper portrait, as we say, of Mr. Ready-
to-halt.  Mr. Ready-to-halt is but a name on John Bunyan's pages--a name
set upon two crutches; but, then, his simple name is so suggestive and
his two crutches are so eloquent, that I feel as if we might venture to
take this life-long lameter and his so serviceable crutches for our
character-lecture to-night.

John Bunyan, who could so easily and so delightfully have done it, has
given us no information at all about Mr. Ready-to-halt's early days.  For
once his English passion for a pedigree has not compelled our author's
pen.  We would have liked immensely to have been told the name, and to
have seen displayed the whole family tree of young Ready-to-halt's
father; and, especially, of his mother.  Who was his nurse also?  And did
she ever forgive herself for the terrible injury she had done her young
master?  What were his occupations and amusements as a little cripple
boy?  Who made him his first crutch?  Of what wood was it made?  And at
what age, and under whose kind and tender directions did he begin to use
it?  And, then, with such an infirmity, what ever put it into Mr. Ready-
to-halt's head to attempt the pilgrimage?  For the pilgrimage was a task
and a toil that took all the limbs and all the lungs and all the labours
and all the endurances that the strongest and the bravest of men could
bring to bear upon it.  How did this complete cripple ever get through
the Slough, and first up and then down the Hill Difficulty, and past all
the lions, and over a thousand other obstacles and stumbling-blocks, till
he arrived at mine host's so hospitable door?  The first surprised sight
we get of this so handicapped pilgrim is when Greatheart and Feeble-mind
are in the heat of their discourse at the hostelry door.  At that moment
Mr. Ready-to-halt came by with his crutches in his hand, and he also was
going on pilgrimage.  Thus, therefore, they went on.  Mr. Greatheart and
Mr. Honest went on before, Christiana and her children went next, and Mr.
Feeble-mind and Mr. Ready-to-halt came behind with his crutches.

   "Put by the curtains, look within my veil,
   Turn up my metaphors, and do not fail,
   There, if thou seekest them, such things to find,
   As will be helpful to an honest mind."

1.  Well, then, when we put by the curtains and turn up the metaphors,
what do we find?  What, but just this, that poor Mr. Ready-to-halt was,
after all, the greatest and the best believer, as the New Testament would
have called him, in all the pilgrimage.  We have not found so great faith
as that of Mr. Ready-to-halt, no, not in the very best of the pilgrim
bands.  Each several pilgrim had, no doubt, his own good qualities; but,
at pure and downright believing--at taking God at His bare and simple
word--Mr. Ready-to-halt beat them all.  All that flashes in upon us from
one shining word that stands on the margin of our so metaphorical author.
This single word, the "promises," hangs like a key of gold beside the
first mention of Mr. Ready-to-halt's crutches--a key such that in a
moment it throws open the whole of Mr. Ready-to-halt's otherwise lockfast
and secret and inexplicable life.  There it all is, as plain as a pike-
staff now!  Yes; Mr. Ready-to-halt's crutches are just the divine
promises.  I wonder I did not see that all the time.  Why, I could
compose all his past life myself now.  I have his father and his mother
and his nurse at my finger-ends now.  This poor pilgrim--unless it would
be impertinence to call him poor any more--had no limbs to be called
limbs.  Such limbs as he had were only an encumbrance to this unique
pedestrian.  All the limbs he had were in his crutches.  He had not one
atom of strength to lean upon apart from his crutches.  A bone, a muscle,
a tendon, a sinew, may be ill-nourished, undeveloped, green, and unknit,
but, at the worst, they are inside of a man and they are his own.  But a
crutch, of however good wood it may be made, and however good a lame man
may be at using it--still, a crutch at its best is but an outside
additament; it is not really and originally a part of a man's very self
at all.  And yet a lame man is not himself without his crutch.  Other men
do not need to give a moment's forethought when they wish to rise up to
walk, or to run, or to leap, or to dance.  But the lame man has to wait
till his crutches are brought to him; and then, after slowly and
painfully hoisting himself up upon his crutches, with great labour, he at
last takes the road.  Mr. Ready-to-halt, then, is a man of God; but he is
one of those men of God who have no godliness within themselves.  He has
no inward graces.  He has no past experiences.  He has no attainments
that he can for one safe moment take his stand upon, or even partly lean
upon.  Mr. Ready-to-halt is absolutely and always dependent upon the
promises.  The promises of God in Holy Scripture are this man's very
life.  All his religion stands in the promises.  Take away the promises,
and Mr. Ready-to-halt is a heap of heaving rags on the roadside.  He
cannot take a single step unless upon a promise.  But, at the same time,
give Mr. Ready-to-halt a promise in his hand and he will wade the Slough
upon it, and scale up and slide down the Hill Difficulty upon it, and
fight a lion, and even brain Beelzebub with it, till he will with a
grudge and a doubt exchange it even for the chariots and the horses that
wait him at the river.  What a delight our Lord would have taken in Mr.
Ready-to-halt had He come across him on His way to the passover!  How He
would have given Mr. Ready-to-halt His arm; how He would have made
Himself late by walking with him, and would still have waited for him!
Nay, had that been a day of chap-books in carpenters' shops and on the
village stalls, how He would have had Mr. Ready-to-halt's story by heart
had any brass-worker in Galilee told the history!  Our Lord was within an
inch of telling that story Himself, when He showed Thomas His hands and
His side.  And at another time and in another place we might well have
had Mr. Ready-to-halt as one more of our Lord's parables for the common
people.  Only, He left the delight and the reward of drawing out this
parable to one He already saw and dearly loved in a far-off island of the
sea, the Puritan tinker of Evangelical England.

2.  And now, after all that, would you think it going too far if I were
to say that in making Himself like unto all His brethren, our Lord made
Himself like Mr. Ready-to-halt too?  Indeed He did.  And it was because
his Lord did this, that Mr. Ready-to-halt so loved his Lord as to follow
Him upon crutches.  It would not be thought seemly, perhaps, to carry the
figure too close to our Lord.  But, figure apart, it is only orthodox and
scriptural to say that our Lord accomplished His pilgrimage and finished
His work leaning all along upon His Father's promises.  Esaias is very
bold about this also, for he tells his readers again and again that their
Messiah, when He comes, will have to be held up.  He will have to be
encouraged, comforted, and carried through by Jehovah.  And in one
remarkable passage he lets us see Jehovah hooping Messiah's staff first
with brass, and then with silver, and then with gold.  Let Thomas
Goodwin's genius set the heavenly scene full before us.  "You have it
dialoguewise set forth," says that great preacher.  "First Christ shows
His commission, telling God how He had called Him and fitted Him for the
work of redemption, and He would know what reward He should receive of
Him for so great an undertaking.  God at first offers low; only the elect
of Israel.  Christ thinks these too few, and not worth so great a labour
and work, because few of the Jews would come in; and therefore He says
that He would labour in vain if this were all His recompense; and yet
withal He tells God that seeing His heart is so much set on saving
sinners, to satisfy Him, He will do it even for those few.  Upon this God
comes off more freely, and openeth His heart more largely to Him, as
meaning more amply to content Him for His pains in dying.  'It is a light
thing,' says God to Him, 'that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up
the tribes of Jacob--that is not worth Thy dying for.  I value Thy
sufferings more than so.  I will give Thee for a salvation to the ends of
the earth.'  Upon this He made a promise to Christ, a promise which God,
who cannot lie, promised before the world began.  God cannot lie, and,
most of all, not to His Son."

And, then, more even than that.  This same deep divine tells us that it
is a certain rule in divinity that, whatsoever we receive from Christ,
that He Himself first receives in Himself for us.  All the promises of
God's word are made and fulfilled to Christ first, and so to us in and
after Him.  In other words, our Lord's life was so planned for Him in
heaven and was so followed out and fulfilled by Him on earth, that, to
take up the metaphor again, He actually tried every crutch and every
staff with His own hands and with His own armpits; He actually leaned
again and again His own whole weight upon every several one of them.
Every single promise, the most unlikely for Him to lean upon and to
plead, yet, be sure of it, He somehow made experiment upon them all, and
made sure that there was sufficient and serviceable grace within and
under every one of them.  So that, Mr. Ready-to-halt, there is no
possible staff you can take into your hand that has not already been in
the hand of your Lord.  Think of that, O Mr. Ready-to-halt!  Reverence,
then, and almost worship thy staff!  Throw all thy weight upon thy staff.
Confide all thy weakness to it.  Talk to it as thou walkest with it.  Make
it talk to thee.  Worm out of it all its secrets about its first Owner.
And let it instruct thee about how He walked with it and how He handled
it.  The Bible is very bold with its Master.  It calls Him by the most
startling names sometimes.  There is no name that a penitent and a
returning sinner goes by that the Bible does not put somewhere upon the
sinner's Saviour.  And in one place it as good as calls Him Ready-to-halt
in as many words.  Nay, it lets us see Him halting altogether for a time;
ay, oftener than once; and only taking the road again, when a still
stronger staff was put into his trembling hand.  And if John had but had
room in his crowded gospel he would have given us the very identical
psalm with which our Lord took to the upward way again, strong in His new
staff.  "For I am ready to halt," was His psalm in the house of His
pilgrimage, "and My sorrow is continually before Me.  Mine enemies are
lively, and they are strong; and they that hate Me wrongfully are
multiplied.  They also that render evil for good are Mine adversaries;
because I follow the thing that good is.  Forsake Me not, O Lord; O My
God, be not far from Me.  Make haste to help Me, O Lord My salvation."

3.  Among all the devout and beautiful fables of the "dispensation of
paganism," there is nothing finer than the fable of blind Tiresias and
his staff.  By some sad calamity this old prophet had lost the sight of
his eyes, and to compensate their servant for that great loss the gods
endowed him with a staff with eyes.  As Aaron's rod budded before the
testimony and bloomed blossoms and yielded almonds, so Tiresias' staff
budded eyes, and divine eyes too, for the blind prophet's guidance and
direction.  Tiresias had but to take his heaven-given staff in his hand,
when, straightway, such a divinity entered into the staff that it both
saw for him with divine eyes, and heard for him with divine ears, and
then led him and directed him, and never once in all his after journeys
let him go off the right way.  All other men about him, prophets and
priests both, often lost their way, but Tiresias after his blindness,
never, till Tiresias and his staff became a proverb and a parable in the
land.  And just such a staff, just such a crutch, just such a pair of
crutches, were the crutches of our own so homely Mr. Ready-to-halt.  With
all their lusty limbs, all the other pilgrims often stumbled and went out
of their way till they had to be helped up, led back, and their faces set
right again.  But, last as Mr. Ready-to-halt always came in the
procession--behind even the women and the children as his crutches always
kept him--you will seek in vain for the dot of those crutches on any by-
path or on any wrong road.  No; the fact is, if you wish to go to the
same city, and are afraid you lose the way; as Evangelist said, "Do you
see yon shining light?" so I would say to you to-night, "Do you see these
crutch-marks on the road?"  Well, keep your feet in the prints of these
crutches, and as sure as you do that they will lead you straight to a
chariot and horses, which, again, will carry you inside the city gates.
For Mr. Ready-to-halt's crutches have not only eyes like Tiresias' staff,
they have ears also, and hands and feet.  A lamp also burns on those
crutches; and wine and oil distil from their wonderful wood.  Happy
blindness that brings such a staff!  Happy exchange! eyes full of earth
and sin for eyes full of heaven and holiness!

4.  "They began to be merry," says our Lord, telling the story of the
heart-broken father who had got back his younger son from a far country.
And even Feeble-mind and Ready-to-halt begin to be merry on the green
that day after Doubting Castle has fallen to Greatheart's arms.  Now,
Christiana, if need was, could play upon the viol, and her daughter Mercy
upon the lute; and, since they were so merry disposed, she played them a
lesson, and Mr. Ready-to-halt would dance.  So he paid a boy a penny to
hold one of his crutches, and, taking Miss Much-afraid by the hand, to
dancing they went.  And, I promise you he footed it well; the lame man
leaped as an hart; also the girl was to be commended, for she answered
the music handsomely.  In spite of his life-long infirmity, there was
deep down in Mr. Ready-to-halt an unsuspected fund of good-humour.  There
was no heartier merriment on the green that day than was the merriment
that Mr. Ready-to-halt knocked out of his nimble crutch.  "True, he could
not dance without one crutch in his hand."  True, dear and noble Bunyan,
thou canst not write a single page at any time or on any subject without
thy genius and thy tenderness and thy divine grace marking the page as
thine own alone!

5.  The next time we see Mr. Ready-to-halt he is coming in on his
crutches to see Christiana, for she has sent for him to see him.  So she
said to him, "Thy travel hither hath been with difficulty, but that will
make thy rest the sweeter."  And then in process of time there came a
post to the town and his business this time was with Mr. Ready-to-halt.
"I am come to thee in the name of Him whom thou hast loved and followed,
though upon crutches.  And my message is to tell thee that He expects
thee at His table to sup with Him in His kingdom the next day after
Easter."  "I am sent for," said Mr. Ready-to-halt to his fellow-pilgrims,
"and God shall surely visit you also.  These crutches," he said, "I
bequeath to my son that shall tread in my steps, with an hundred warm
wishes that he may prove better than I have done."  Isaac was a child of
promise, and Mr. Ready-to-halt had an Isaac also on whom his last
thoughts turned.  Isaac had been born to Abraham by a special and
extraordinary and supernatural interposition of the grace and the power
of God; and Mr. Ready-to-halt had always looked on himself as a second
Abraham in that respect.  A second Abraham, and more.  True, his son was
not yet a pilgrim; perhaps he was too young to be so called; but
Greatheart will take back the old man's crutches--Greatheart was both man-
of-war and beast-of-burden to the pilgrims and their wives and
children--and will in spare hours teach young Ready-to-halt the use of
the crutch, till the son can use with the same effect as his father his
father's instrument.  Is your child a child of promise?  Is he to you a
product of nature, or of grace?  Did you receive him and his brothers and
sisters from God after you were as good as dead?  Did you ever steal in
when his nurse was at supper and say over his young cradle, He hath not
dealt with me after my sins, nor rewarded me according to my iniquities?
Is it in your will laid up with Christ in God about your crutches and
your son what Mr. Ready-to-halt dictated on his deathbed?  And does God
know that there is no wish in your old heart a hundred times so warm for
your son as is this wish,--that he may prove better at handling God's
promises than you have been?  Then, happy son, who has old Mr. Ready-to-
halt for his father!

6.  "He whom thou hast loved and followed, though upon crutches, expects
thee at His table the next day after Easter."  Take comfort, cripples!
Had it been said that the King so expects Greatheart, or Standfast, or
Valiant-for-truth, that would have been after the manner of the kings of
this world.  But to insist on having Mr. Ready-to-halt beside Him by such
and such a day; to send such a post to a pilgrim who has not a single
sound bone in all his body; to a sinner without a single trustworthy
grace in all his heart; to a poor and simple believer who has nothing in
his hand but one of God's own promises--Who is a king like unto our King?
Surely King David was never a better type of Christ than when he said to
Mephibosheth, lame in both his feet from his nurse's arms: "Fear not,
Mephibosheth, for I will surely show thee kindness, and thou shalt eat
bread at my table continually."  And Mephibosheth shall always be our
spokesman when he bows himself and says in return: "What is thy servant,
that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?"



VALIANT-FOR-TRUTH


   "--They are not valiant for the truth."--_Jeremiah_

   "--Ye should contend earnestly for the faith."--_Jude_.

   "Forget not Master Valiant-for-the-Truth,
   That man of courage, tho' a very youth.
   Tell every one his spirit was so stout,
   No man could ever make him face about."
   _Bunyan_.

"I am of Dark-land, for there was I born, and there my father and mother
are still."  "Dark-land," said the guide; "doth not that lie upon the
same coast as the City of Destruction?"  "Yes, it doth," replied Valiant-
for-truth.  "And had I not found incommodity there, I had not forsaken it
at all; but finding it altogether unsuitable to me, and very unprofitable
for me, I forsook it for this way.  Now, that which caused me to come on
pilgrimage was this.  We had one Mr. Tell-true came into our parts, and
he told it about what Christian had done, that went from the City of
Destruction.  That man so told the story of Christian and his travels
that my heart fell into a burning haste to be gone after him, nor could
my father and mother stay me, so I got from them, and am come thus far on
my way."

1.  A very plain and practical lesson is already read to us all in
Valiant-for-truth's explanation of his own pilgrimage.  He tells the
guide that he was made a pilgrim just by having the story of The Pilgrim
told to him.  All that Tell-true did was just to recite the story of the
pilgrim, when young Valiant's heart fell into a burning haste to be a
pilgrim too.  My brethren, could any lesson be plainer?  Read the
_Pilgrim's Progress_ with your children.  And, after a time, read it
again till they call it beautiful, and till you see the same burning
haste in their hearts that young Valiant felt in his heart.  Circulate
the _Pilgrim's Progress_.  Make opportunities to give the _Pilgrim's
Progress_ to the telegraph boys and errand boys at your door.  Never go
on a holiday without taking a dozen cheap and tasteful copies of _The
Pilgrim_ to give to boys and girls in the country.  Make sure that no
one, old or young, of your acquaintance, in town or country, is without a
good copy of _The Pilgrim_.  And the darker their house is, make all the
more sure that John Bunyan is in it.

   "Now may this little book a blessing be,
   To those that love this little book and me
   And may its buyer have no cause to say
   His money is but lost or thrown away."

2.  But the great lesson of Valiant's so impressive life lies in the
tremendous fight he had with three ruffians who all set upon him at once
and well-nigh made an end of him.  For, when we put by the curtains here
again, and turn up the metaphors, what do we find?  What, but a lesson of
first-rate importance for many men among ourselves; for many public men,
many ministers, and many other much-in-earnest men.  For Valiant, as his
name tells us, was set to contend for the truth.  He had the truth.  The
truth was put into his keeping, and he was bound to defend it.  He was
thrown into a life of controversy, and thus into all the terrible
temptations--worse than the temptations to whoredom or wine--that
accompany a life of controversy.  The three scoundrels that fell upon
Valiant at the mouth of the lane were Wildhead, Inconsiderate, and
Pragmatic.  In other words, the besetting temptations of many men who are
set as defenders of the truth in religion, as well as in other matters,
is to be wild-headed, inconsiderate, self-conceited, and intolerably
arrogant.  The bloody battle that Valiant fought, you must know, was not
fought at the mouth of any dark lane in the midnight city, nor on the
side of any lonely road in the moonless country.  This terrible fight was
fought in Valiant's own heart.  For Valiant was none of your calculating
and cold-blooded friends of the truth.  He did not wait till he saw the
truth walking in silver slippers.  Let any man lay a finger on the truth,
or wag a tongue against the truth, and he will have to settle it with
Valiant.  His love for the truth was a passion.  There was a fierceness
in his love for the truth that frightened ordinary men even when they
were on his own side.  Valiant would have died for the truth without a
murmur.  But, with all that, Valiant had to learn a hard and a cruel
lesson.  He had to learn that he, the best friend of truth as he thought
he was, was at the same time, as a matter of fact, the greatest enemy
that the truth had.  He had to take home the terrible discovery that no
man had hurt the truth so much as he had done.  Save me from my friend!
the truth was heard to say, as often as she saw him taking up his weapons
in her behalf.  We see all that every day.  We see Wildhead at his
disservice of the truth every day.  Sometimes above his own name, and
sometimes with grace enough to be ashamed to give his name, in the
newspapers.  Sometimes on the platform; sometimes in the pulpit; and
sometimes at the dinner-table.  But always to the detriment of the truth.
In blind fury he rushes at the character and the good name of men who
were servants of the truth before he was born, and whose shield he is not
worthy to bear.  How shall Wildhead be got to see that he and the like of
him are really the worst friends the truth can possibly have?  Will he
never learn that in his wild-bull gorings at men and at movements, he is
both hurting himself and hurting the truth as no sworn enemy of his and
of the truth can do?  Will he never see what an insolent fool he is to go
on imputing bad motives to other men, when he ought to be prostrate
before God on account of his own?  More than one wild-headed student of
William Law has told me what a blessing they have got from that great
man's teaching on the subject of controversy.  Will the Wildheads here to-
night take a line or two out of that peace-making author and lay them to
heart?  "My dear L-, take notice of this, that no truths, however solid
and well-grounded, will help you to any divine life, but only so far as
they are taught, nourished, and strengthened by an unction from above;
and that nothing more dries and extinguishes this heavenly unction than a
talkative reasoning temper that is always catching at every opportunity
of hearing or telling some religious matters.  Stop your ears and shut
your eyes to all religious tales . . . I would no more bring a false
charge against a deist than I would bear false witness against an
apostle.  And if I knew how to do the deists more justice in debate I
would gladly do it . . . And as the gospel requires me to be as glad to
see piety, equity, strict sobriety, and extensive charity in a Jew or a
Gentile as in a Christian; as it obliges me to look with pleasure upon
their virtues, and to be thankful to God that such persons have so much
of true and sound Christianity in them; so it cannot be an unchristian
spirit to be as glad to see truths in one party of Christians as in
another, and to look with pleasure upon any good doctrines that are held
by any sect of Christian people, and to be thankful to God that they have
so much of the genuine saving truths of the gospel among them . . .
Selfishness and partiality are very inhuman and base qualities even in
the things of this world, but in the doctrines of religion they are of a
far baser nature.  In the present divided state of the Church, truth
itself is torn and divided asunder; and, therefore, he is the only true
Catholic who has more of truth and less of error than is hedged in by any
divided part.  To see this will enable us to live in a divided part
unhurt by its division, and keep us in a true liberty and fitness to be
edified and assisted by all the good that we hear or see in any other
part of the Church.  And thus, uniting in heart and spirit with all that
is holy and good in all Churches, we enter into the true communion of
saints, and become real members of the Holy Catholic Church, though we
are confined to the outward worship of only one particular part of it.
And thus we will like no truth the less because Ignatius Loyola or John
Bunyan were very jealous for it, nor have the less aversion to any error
because Dr. Trapp or George Fox had brought it forth."  If Wildhead would
take a winter of William Law, it would sweeten his temper, and civilise
his manners, and renew his heart.

3.  Inconsiderate, again, is the shallow creature he is, and does the
endless mischief that he does, largely for lack of imagination.  He never
thinks--neither before he speaks nor after he has spoken.  He never put
himself in another man's place all his days.  He is incapable of doing
that.  He has neither the head nor the heart to do that.  He never once
said, How would I like that said about me? or, How would I like that done
to me? or, How would that look and taste and feel to me if I were in So-
and-so's place?  It needs genius to change places with other men; it
needs a grace beyond all genius; and this poor headless and heartless
creature does not know what genius is.  It needs imagination, the noblest
gift of the mind, and it needs love, the noblest grace of the heart, to
consider the case of other people, and to see, as Butler says, that we
differ as much from other people as they differ from us.  And it is by
far the noblest use of the imagination, far nobler than carving a
Laocoon, or painting a Last Judgment, or writing a "Paradiso" or a
"Paradise Lost," to put ourselves into the places of other men so as to
see with their eyes, and feel with their hearts, and sympathise with
their principles, and even with their prejudices.  Now, the inconsiderate
man has so little imagination and so little love that he is sitting here
and does not know what I am saying; and what suspicion he has of what I
am saying is just enough to make him dislike both me and what I am saying
too.  But his dull suspicion and his blind dislike are more than made up
for by the love and appreciation of those lovers and defenders of the
truth who painfully feel how wild and inconsiderate, how hot-headed, how
thoughtless, and how reckless their past service even of God's truth has
been.

   "The King is full of grace and fair regard.
   Consideration, like an angel, came
   And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him."

4.  And as to Pragmatic, I would not call you a stupid person even though
you confided to me that you had never heard this footpad's name till to-
night.  John Bunyan has been borrowing Latin again, and not to the
improvement of his style, or to the advantage of his readers.  It would
be insufferably pragmatic in me to begin to set John Bunyan right in his
English; but I had rather offend the shades of a hundred John Bunyans
than leave my most unlettered hearer without his full and proper Sabbath-
night lesson.  The third armed thief, then, that fell upon Valiant was,
under other names, Impertinence, Meddlesomeness, Officiousness,
Over-Interference.  Pragmatic,--by whatever name he calls himself, there
is no mistaking him.  He is never satisfied.  He is never pleased.  He is
never thankful.  He is always setting his superiors right.  He is like
the Psalmist in one thing, he has more understanding than all his
teachers.  And he enjoys nothing more than in letting them know that.
There is nothing he will not correct you in--from cutting for the stone
to commanding the Channel Fleet.  Now, if all that has put any visual
image of Pragmatic into your mind, you will see at once what an enemy he
too is fitted to be to the truth.  For the truth does not stand in
points, but in principles.  The truth does not dwell in the letter but in
the spirit.  The truth is not served by setting other people right, but
by seeing every day and in every thing how far wrong we are ourselves.
The truth is like charity in this, that it begins at home.  It is like
charity in this also, that it never behaves itself unseemly.  A
pragmatical man, taken along with an inconsiderate man, and then a wild-
headed man added on to them, are three about as fatal hands as any truth
could fall into.  The worst enemy of the truth must pity the truth, and
feel his hatred at the truth relenting, when he sees her under the
championship of Wildhead, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic.

5.  The first time we see Valiant-for-truth he is standing at the mouth
of Dead-man's-lane with his sword in his hand and with his face all
bloody.  "They have left upon me, as you see," said the bleeding man,
"some of the marks of their valour, and have also carried away with them
some of mine."  And, in like manner, we see Paul with the blood of
Barnabas still upon him when he is writing the thirteenth of First
Corinthians; and John with the blood of the Samaritans still upon him
down to his old age when he is writing his First Epistle; and John Bunyan
with the blood of the Quakers upon him when he is covertly writing this
page of his autobiography under the veil of Valiant-for-truth; and
William Law with the blood of Bishop Hoadly and John Wesley dropping on
the paper as he pens that golden passage which ends with Dr. Trapp and
George Fox.  Where did you think Paul got that splendid passage about
charity?  Where did you think William Law got that companion passage
about Church divisions, and about the Church Catholic?  Where are such
passages ever got by inspired apostles, or by any other men, but out of
their own bloody battles with their own wild-headedness, intolerance,
dislike, and resentment?  Where do you suppose I got the true key to the
veiled metaphor of Valiant-for-truth?  It does not exactly hang on the
doorpost of his history.  Where, then, could I get it but off the inside
wall of my own place of repentance?  Just as you understand what I am now
labouring to say, not from my success in saying it, but from your own
trespasses against humility and love, your unadvised speeches, and your
wild and whirling words.  Without shame and remorse, without
self-condemnation and self-contempt, none of those great passages of
Paul, or John, or Bunyan, or Law were ever written; and without a like
shame, remorse, self-condemnation, and self-contempt they are not rightly
read.

   "Oh! who shall dare in this frail scene
   On holiest, happiest thoughts to lean,
   On Friendship, Kindred, or on Love?
   Since not Apostles' hands can clasp
   Each other in so firm a grasp,
   But they shall change and variance prove.

   "But sometimes even beneath the moon
   The Saviour gives a gracious boon,
   When reconciled Christians meet,
   And face to face, and heart to heart,
   High thoughts of Holy love impart
   In silence meek, or converse sweet.

   "Oh then the glory and the bliss
   When all that pained or seemed amiss
   Shall melt with earth and sin away!
   When saints beneath their Saviour's eye,
   Filled with each other's company,
   Shall spend in love the eternal day!"

6.  Then said Greatheart to Mr. Valiant-for-truth, "Thou hast worthily
behaved thyself; let me see thy sword."  So he showed it him.  When he
had taken it in his hand and had looked thereon a while, the guide said:
"Ha! it is a right Jerusalem blade!"  "It is so," replied its owner.  "Let
a man have one of these blades with a hand to wield it, and skill to use
it, and he may venture upon an angel with it.  Its edges will never
blunt.  It will cut flesh, and bones, and soul, and spirit, and all."
Both Damascus and Toledo blades were famous in former days for their
tenacity and flexibility, and for the beauty and the edge of their steel.
But even a Damascus blade would be worthless in a weak, cowardly, or
unskilled hand; while even a poor sword in the hand of a good swordsman
will do excellent execution.  And much more so when you have both a first-
rate sword and a first-rate swordsman, such as both Valiant and his
Jerusalem blade were.  Ha! yes.  This is a right wonderful blade we have
now in our hand.  For this sword was forged in no earthly fire; and it
was whetted to its unapproachable sharpness on no earthly whetstone.  But,
best of all for us, when a good soldier of Jesus Christ has this sword
girt on his thigh he is able then to go forth against himself with it;
against his own only and worst enemy--that is, against himself.  As here,
against his own wildness of head and pride of heart.  Against his own
want of consideration also.  "My people do not consider."  As also
against himself as a lawless invader of other men's freedom of judgment,
following of truth, public honour, and good name.  As the Arabian
warriors see themselves and dress themselves in their swords as in a
glass, so did Valiant-for-truth see the thoughts and intents, the joints
and the marrow of his own disordered soul in his Jerusalem blade.  In the
sheen of it he could see himself even when the darkness covered him; and
with its two edges all his after-life he slew both all real error in
other men and all real evil in himself.  "Thou hast done well," said
Greatheart the guide.  "Thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against
sin.  Thou shalt abide by us, come in and go out with us, for we are thy
companions."

7.  "Sir," said the widow indeed to Valiant-for-truth, "sir, you have in
all places shown yourself true-hearted."  The first time she ever saw
this man that she is now seeing for the last time on this side the river,
his own mother would not have known him, he was so hacked to pieces with
the swords of his three assailants.  But as she washed the blood off the
mangled man's head and face and hands, she soon saw beneath all his
bloody wounds a true, a brave, and a generous-hearted soldier of the
Cross.  The heart is always the man.  And this woman had lived long
enough with men to have discovered that.  And with all his sears she saw
that it was at bottom the truth of his heart that had cast him into so
many bloody encounters.  There were men in that company, and men near the
river too, with far fewer marks of battle, and even of defeat, upon them,
who did not get this noble certificate and its accompanying charge and
trust from this clear-eyed widow.  And, then, she had never forgot--how
could she?--his exclamation, and almost embrace of her as of his own
mother, when he burst out with his eyes full of blood, "Why, is this
Christian's wife?  What! and going on pilgrimage too?  It glads my heart!
Good man!  How joyful will he be when he shall see her and her children
enter after him in at the gates into the city!"  He would have been
hacked a hundred times worse than he was before the widow of Christian,
and the mother of his children, would have seen anything but the manliest
beauty in a young soldier who could salute an old woman in that way.  It
gladdened her heart to hear him, you may be sure, as much as it gladdened
his heart to see her.  And that was the reason that she actually set
Greatheart himself aside, and left her children under this young man's
sword and shield.  "I would also entreat you to have an eye to my
children," she said.  Young men, has any dying mother committed her
children, if you at any time see them faint, to you?  Have you ever
spoken so comfortably to any poor widow about her sainted husband that
she has passed by some of our foremost citizens, and has astonished and
offended her lawyers by putting a stripling like you into the
trusteeship?  Did ever any dying mother say to you that she had seen you
to be so true-hearted at all times that she entreated you to have an eye
to her children?  Speaking at this point for myself, I would rather see
my son so trusted at such an hour by such a woman than I would see him
the Chancellor of Her Majesty's Exchequer, or the Governor of the Bank of
England.  And so to-night would you.



STANDFAST


   "So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."--_Paul_.

In his supplementary picture of Standfast John Bunyan is seen at his very
best, both as a religious teacher and as an English author.  On the
Enchanted Ground Standfast is set before us with extraordinary insight,
sagacity, and wisdom; and then in the terrible river he is set before us
with an equally extraordinary rapture and transport; while, in all that,
Bunyan composes in English of a strength and a beauty and a music in
which he positively surpasses himself.  Just before he closes his great
book John Bunyan rises up and once more puts forth his very fullest
strength, both as a minister of religion and as a classical writer, when
he takes Standfast down into that river which that pilgrim tells us has
been such a terror to so many, and the thought of which has so often
affrighted himself.

When Greatheart and his charge were almost at the end of the Enchanted
Ground, so we read, they perceived that a little before them was a solemn
noise as of one that was much concerned.  So they went on and looked
before them.  And behold, they saw, as they thought, a man upon his
knees, with hands and eyes lift up, and speaking, as they thought,
earnestly to one that was above.  They drew nigh, but could not tell what
he said; so they went softly till he had done.  When he had done, he got
up and began to run towards the Celestial City.  "So-ho, friend, let us
have your company," called out the guide.  At that the man stopped, and
they came up to him.  "I know this man," said Mr. Honest; "his name, I
know, is Standfast, and he is certainly a right good pilgrim."  Then
follows a conversation between Mr. Honest and Mr. Standfast, in which
some compliments and courtesies are exchanged, such as are worthy of such
men, met at such a time and in such a place.  "Well, but, brother," said
Valiant-for-truth, "tell us, I pray thee, what was it that was the cause
of thy being upon thy knees even now?  Was it for that some special mercy
laid obligations upon thee, or how?"  And then Standfast tells how as he
was coming along musing with himself, Madam Bubble presented herself to
him and offered him three things.  "I was both aweary and sleepy and also
as poor as a howlet, and all that the wicked witch knew.  And still she
followed me with her enticements.  Then I betook me, as you saw, to my
knees, and with hands lift up and cries, I prayed to Him who had said
that He would help.  So just as you came up the gentlewoman went her way.
Then I continued to give thanks for my great deliverance; for I verify
believe she intended me no good, but rather sought to make stop of me in
my journey.  What a mercy is it that I did resist her, for whither might
she not have drawn me?"  And then, after all this discourse, there was a
mixture of joy and trembling among the pilgrims, but at last they broke
out and sang:

   "What danger is the pilgrim in,
   How many are his foes,
   How many ways there are to sin,
   No living mortal knows!"

1.  "Well, as I was coming along I was musing with myself," said
Standfast.  You understand what it is to come along musing with yourself,
do you not, my brethren?  "I will muse on the work of Thy hands," says
the Psalmist.  And again, "While I was musing the fire burned."  Well,
Standfast was much given to musing, just as David was.  Each several
pilgrim has his own way of occupying himself on the road; but Standfast
could never get his fill just of musing.  Standfast loved solitude.
Standfast liked nothing better than to walk long stretches at a time all
by himself alone.  Standfast was like the apostle when he preferred to
take the twenty miles from Troas to Assos on foot and alone, rather than
to round the cape on shipboard in a crowd.  "Minding himself to go
afoot," says the apostle's companion.  It would have made a precious
chapter in the Acts of the Apostles had the author of that book been able
to give his readers some of Paul's musings as he crossed the Troad on
foot that day.  But in the absence of Paul's musings we have here the
musings of a man whom Paul would not have shaken off had he foregathered
with him on that lonely road.  For Standfast was in a deep and serious
muse mile after mile, when, who should step into the middle of his path
right before him but Madam Bubble with her body and her purse and her
bed?  Now, had this hungry howlet of a pilgrim been at that moment in any
other but a musing mood of mind, he had to a certainty sold himself, soul
and body, Celestial City and all, to that impudent slut.  But, as He
would have it who overrules Madam Bubble's descents, and all things,
Standfast was at that moment in one of his most musing moods, and all her
smiles and all her offers fell flat and poor upon him.  Cultivate
Standfast's mood of mind, my brethren.  Walk a good deal alone.  Strike
across country from time to time alone and have good long walks and talks
with yourself.  And when you know that you are passing places of
temptation see that your thoughts, and even your imaginations, are well
occupied with solemn considerations about the certain issue of such and
such temptations; and then, to you, as to Standfast,

   "The arrow seen beforehand slacks its flight."

2.  But, musing alone, the arrow seen beforehand, and all, Standfast
would have been a lost man on that lonely road that day had he not
instantly betaken himself to his knees.  And it was while Standfast was
still on his knees that the ascending pilgrims heard that concerned and
solemn noise a little ahead of them.  Did you ever suddenly come across a
man on his knees?  Did you ever surprise a man at prayer as Greatheart
and his companions surprised Standfast?  I do not ask, Did you ever enter
a room and find a family around their morning or evening altar?  We have
all done that.  And it left its own impression upon us.  But did you ever
spring a surprise upon a man on his knees alone and in broad daylight?  I
did the other day.  It was between eleven and twelve o'clock in the
forenoon when I asked a clerk if his master was in.  Yes, he said, and
opened his master's door.  When, before I was aware, I had almost fallen
over a man on his knees and with his face in his hands.  "I pray thee,"
said Valiant-for-truth, "tell us what it was that drew thee to thy knees
even now.  Was it that some special mercy laid its obligations on thee,
or how?"  I did not say that exactly to my kneeling friend, though it was
on the point of my tongue to say it.  My dear friend, I knew, had his own
difficulties, though he was not exactly as poor as a howlet.  And it
might have been about some of his investments that had gone out of joint
that he went that forenoon to Him who had said that He would help.  Or,
like the author of the _Christian Perfection_ and _The Spirit of Prayer_,
it was the sixth hour of the day, and he may have gone to his knees for
his clerks, or for his boys at school, or for himself and for the man in
the same business with himself right across the street.  I knew that my
friend had the charming book at home in which such counsels as these
occur: "If masters were thus to remember their servants, beseeching God
to bless them, letting no day pass without a full performance of this
devotion, the benefit would be as great to themselves as to their
servants."  And perhaps my friend, after setting his clerks their several
tasks for the day, was now asking grace of God for each one of them that
they might not be eye-servants and men-pleasers, but the servants of
Christ doing the will of God from the heart.  Or, again, he may have read
in that noble book this passage: "If a father were daily to make some
particular prayer to God that He would please to inspire his children
with true piety, great humility, and strict temperance, what could be
more likely to make the father himself become exemplary in these
virtues?"  Now, my friend (who can tell?) may just that morning have lost
his temper with his son; or he may last night have indulged himself too
much in eating, or in drinking, or in debate, or in detraction; and that
may have made it impossible for him to fix his whole mind on his office
work that morning.  Or, just to make another guess, when he opened the
book I had asked him to buy and read, he may have lighted on this
heavenly passage: "Lastly, if all people when they feel the first
approaches of resentment or envy or contempt towards others; or if in all
little disagreements and misunderstandings whatever they should have
recourse at such times to a more particular and extraordinary
intercession with God for such persons as had roused their envy,
resentment, or discontent--this would be a certain way to prevent the
growth of all uncharitable tempers."  You may think that I am taking a
roundabout way of accounting for my friend's so concerned attitude at
twelve o'clock that business day; but the whole thing seemed to me so
unusual at such a time and in such a place that I was led to such guesses
as these to account for it.  In so guessing I see now that I was
intruding myself into matters I had no business with; but all that day I
could not keep my mind off my blushing friend.  For, like Mr. Standfast,
my dear friend blushed as he stood up and offered me the chair he had
been kneeling at.  "But, why, did you see me?" said Mr. Standfast.  "Yes,
I did," quoth the other, "and with all my heart I was glad at the sight."
"And what did you think?" said Mr. Standfast.

3.  "Was it," asked Valiant-for-truth, in a holy curiosity, "was it some
special mercy that brought thee to thy knees even now?"  Yes; Valiant-for-
truth had exactly hit it.  Gracious wits, like great wits, jump together.
"Yes," confessed Standfast, "I continue to give thanks for my great
deliverance."  My brethren, you all pray importunately in your time of
sore trouble.  Everybody does that.  But do you feel an obligation, like
Standfast, to abide still on your knees long after your trouble is past?
Nature herself will teach us to pray; but it needs grace, and great grace
continually renewed, to teach us to praise, and to continue all our days
to praise.  How we once prayed, ay, as earnestly, and as concernedly, and
as careless as to who should see or hear us as Standfast himself!  How
some of us here to-night used to walk across a whole country all the time
praying!  How we hoodwinked people in order to get away from them to pray
for twenty miles at a time all by ourselves!  Under that bush--it still
stands to mark the spot; in that wood, long since cut down into ploughed
land--we could show our children the spot to this day where we prayed,
till a miracle was wrought in our behalf.  Yes, till God sent from above
and took us as He never took a psalmist, and set our feet upon a still
more wonderful rock.  How He, yes, HE, with His own hand cut the cords,
broke the net, and set us free!  Come, all ye that fear God! we then
said, and said it with all sincerity too.  And yet, how have we forgotten
what He did for our soul?  We start like a guilty thing surprised when we
think how long it is since we had a spell of thanksgiving.  Shame on us!
What treacherous hearts we have!  What short memories we have!  How soon
we forgive ourselves, and so forget the forgiveness of our God!  Brethren,
let us still lay plans for praise as we used to do for prayer.  If our
friends will go out with us, let us at least insist on walking home
alone.  Let us say with Paul that we get sick at sea; and, besides, that
we have some calls to make and some small accounts to settle before we
leave the country.  Tell them not to wait dinner for us.  And then let us
take plenty of time.  Let us stop at all our old stations and call back
all our old terrors; let us repeat aloud our old psalms--the
twenty-fifth, the fifty-first, the hundred and third, and the hundred and
thirtieth.  We used to terrify people with our prayers as Standfast
terrified the young pilgrims that day; let us surprise and delight them
now with our psalms of thanksgiving.  For, with all our disgraceful
ingratitude in the past, if William Law is right, we are even yet not far
from being great saints, if he is not wrong when he asks: "Would you know
who is the greatest saint in the world?  It is not he who prays most or
fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is most eminent for
temperance, chastity, or justice.  But it is he who is most thankful to
God, and who has a heart always ready to praise God.  This is the
perfection of all virtues.  Joy in God and thankfulness to God is the
highest perfection of a divine and holy life."  Well, then, what an
endless cause of joy and thankfulness have we!  Let us acknowledge it,
and henceforth employ it; and we shall, please God, even yet be counted
as not low down but high up among the saints and the servants of God.

4.  Christiana said many kind and wise and beautiful things to all the
other pilgrims before she entered the river, but it was observed that
though she sent for Mr. Standfast, she said not one word to him when he
came; she just gave him her ring.  "The touch is human and affecting,"
says Mr. Louis Stevenson, in his delightful paper on Bagster's "Bunyan,"
in the _Magazine of Art_.  By the way, do you who are lovers of Bunyan
literature know that remarkable and delicious paper?  The Messrs. Bagster
should secure that paper and should issue an _edition de luxe_ of their
neglected "Bunyan," with Mr. Stevenson's paper for a preface and
introduction.  Bagster's "Illustrated Bunyan," with an introduction on
the illustrations by Mr. Louis Stevenson, if I am not much mistaken,
would sell by the thousand.

5.  Lord Rosebery knows books and loves books, and he has called
attention to the surpassing beauty of the English in the deathbed scenes
of the _Pilgrim's Progress_.  And every lover of pure, tender, and noble
English must, like the Foreign Secretary, have all those precious pages
by heart.  Were it not that we all have a cowardly fear at death
ourselves, and think it wicked and cruel even to hint at his approaching
death even to a fast-dying man, we would never let any of our friends lie
down on his sick-bed without having a reassuring and victorious page of
the _Pilgrim_ read to him every day.  If the doctors would allow me, I
would have these heavenly pages reprinted in sick-bed type for all my
people.  But I am afraid at the doctors.  And thus one after another of
my people passes away without the fortification and the foretaste that
the deathbeds of Christian, and Christiana, and Hopeful, and Mr. Fearing,
and Mr. Feeble-mind, and Mr. Honest, and Mr. Standfast would most surely
have given to them.  Especially the deathbed, if I must so call it, of
Mr. Standfast.  But as Christiana said nothing that could be heard to Mr.
Standfast about his or her latter end, but just looked into his eyes and
gave him her ring, so I may not be able to say all that is in my heart
when your doctor is standing close by.  But you will understand what I
would fain say, will you not?  You will remember, and will have this
heavenly book read to you alternately with your Bible, will you not?  Even
the most godless doctor will give way to you when you tell him that you
know as well as he does just how it is with you, and that you are to have
your own way for the last time.  I know a doctor who first forbade her
minister and her family to tell his patient that she was dying, and at
the same time told them to take away from her bedside all such alarming
books as the _Pilgrim's Progress_ and the _Saint's Rest_, and to read to
her a reassuring chapter out of _Old Mortality_ and _Pickwick_.

It will, no doubt, put the best-prepared of us into a deep muse, as it
put Standfast, when we are first told that we must at once prepare
ourselves for a change of life.  But I for one would not for worlds miss
that solemn warning, and that last musing-time.  It will all be just as
my Master pleases; but if it is within His will I shall till then
continue to petition Him that I may have a passage over the river like
the passage of Standfast.  Or, if that may not now be, then, at least, a
musing-time like his.  The post from the Celestial City brought Mr.
Standfast's summons "open" in his hand.  And thus it was that Standfast's
translation did not take him by surprise.  Standfast was not plunged
suddenly and without warning into the terrible river.  He took the open
summons into big own hand and read it out like a man.  After which he
went, as his manner was, for a good while into a deep and undisturbed
muse.  As soon as he came out of his muse he would have Greatheart to be
sent for.  And then their last conversation together proceeded.  And no
one interfered with the two brave-hearted men.  No one interposed, or
said that Greatheart would exhaust or alarm Standfast, or would
injuriously hasten his end.  Not only so, but all the way till he was
half over the river, Standfast kept up his own side of the noble
conversation.  And it is his side of that half-earthly, whole-heavenly
conversation that I would like to have put into suitable type and
scattered broadcast over all our sick-beds.

6.  "Tell me," says Valdes to Julia in his _Christian Alphabet_, "have
you ever crossed a deep river by a ford?"  "Yes," says Julia, "I have,
many times."  "And have you remarked how that by looking upon the water
it seemed as though your head swam, so that, if you had not assisted
yourself, either by closing your eyes, or by fixing them on the opposite
shore, you would have fallen into the water in great danger of drowning?"
"Yes, I have noticed that."  "And have you seen how by keeping always for
your object the view of the land that lies on the other side, you have
not felt that swimming of the head, and so have suffered no danger of
drowning?"  "I have noticed that too," replied Julia.  Now, it was
exactly this same way of looking, not at the black and swirling river,
but at the angelic conduct waiting for him at the further bank, and then
at the open gate of the Celestial City,--it was this that kept
Standfast's head so steady and his heart like a glowing coal while he
stood and talked in the middle of the giddy stream.  You would have
thought it was Paul himself talking to himself on the road to Assos.  For
I defy even the apostle himself to have talked better or more boldly to
himself even on the solid midday road than Standfast talked to himself in
the bridgeless river.  "I see myself," he said, "at the end of my journey
now.  My toilsome days are all ended.  I am going now to see that head
that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spat upon for me.  I
loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of
His shoe in the earth I have coveted to set my foot also.  His name has
been to me as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfumes.  His word I
did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings.  He
has held me, and I have kept me from my iniquities.  Yea, my steps He has
strengthened in my way."  Now, while Standfast was thus in discourse his
countenance changed, his strong man bowed down under him, and after he
had said "Take me!" he ceased to be seen of them.  But how glorious it
was to see how the open region was now filled with horses and chariots,
with trumpeters and pipers, and with singers and players on stringed
instruments, all to welcome the pilgrims as they went up and followed one
another in at the beautiful gate of the city!



MADAM BUBBLE


   "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."--_Solomon_.

   "I have overcome the world."--_Our Lord_.

   "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  For
   all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
   and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And
   the world passeth away, and the lust thereof."--_John_.

   "This bubble world."--_Quarles_.

Madam Bubble's portrait was first painted by the Preacher.  And he
painted her portrait with extraordinary insight, boldness, and
truthfulness.  There is that in the Preacher's portrait of Madam Bubble
which only comes of the artist having mixed his colours, as Milman says
that Tacitus mixed his ink, with resentment and with remorse.  Out of His
reading of Solomon and Moses and the Prophets on this same subject, as
well as out of His own observation and experience, conflict and conquest,
our Lord added some strong and deep and inward touches of His own to that
well-known picture, and then named it by the New Testament name of the
World.  And then, after Him, His longest-lived disciple set forth the
same mother and her three daughters under the three names that still
stick to them to this day,--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life.  But it was reserved for John Bunyan to fill up
and to finish those outlines of Scripture and to pour over the whole work
his own depth and strength of colour, till, altogether, Madam Bubble
stands out as yet another masterpiece of our dreamer's astonishing
genius.  Let us take our stand before this heaving canvas, then, till we
have taken attentive note of some of John Bunyan's inimitable touches and
strokes and triumphs of truth and art.  "One in very pleasant attire, but
old . . . This woman is a witch . . . I am the mistress of the world, she
said, and men are made happy by me . . . A tall, comely dame, something
of a swarthy complexion."  In the newly discovered portrait of a woman,
by Albert Durer, one of the marks of its genuineness is the way that the
great artist's initials A. D. are pencilled in on the embroidery of the
lady's bodice.  And you will note in this gentlewoman's open dress also
how J. B. is inextricably woven in.  "She wears a great purse by her side
also, and her hand is often in her purse fingering her money.  Yea, this
is she that has bought off many a man from a pilgrim's life after he had
fairly begun it.  She is a bold and an impudent slut also, for she will
talk with any man.  If there be one cunning to make money in any place,
she will speak well of him from house to house . . . She has given it out
in some places also that she is a goddess, and therefore some do actually
worship her . . . She has her times and open places of cheating, and she
will say and avow it that none can show a good comparable to hers.  And
thus she has brought many to the halter, and ten thousand times more to
hell.  None can tell of the mischief that she does.  She makes variance
betwixt rulers and subjects, betwixt parents and children, 'twixt
neighbour and neighbour, 'twixt a man and his wife, 'twixt a man and
himself, 'twixt the flesh and the heart."  And so on in the great
original.  "Had she stood by all this while," said Standfast, whose eyes
were still full of her, "you could not have set Madam Bubble more amply
before me, nor have better described her features."  "He that drew her
picture was a good limner," said Mr. Honest, "and he that so wrote of her
said true".

1.  "I am the mistress of this world," says Madam Bubble.  And though all
the time she is a bold and impudent slut, yet it is the simple truth that
she does sit as a queen over this world and over the men of this world.
For Madam Bubble has a royal family like all other sovereigns.  She has a
court of her own, too, with its ball-room presentations and its birthday
honours.  She has a cabinet council also, and a bar and a bench with
their pleadings and their decisions.  Far more than all that, she has a
church which she has established and of which she is the head; and a
faith also of which she is the defender.  She has a standing army also
for the extension and the protection of her dominions.  She levies taxes,
too, and sends out ambassadors, and makes treaties, and forms offensive
and defensive alliances.  But what a bubble all this World is to him
whose eyes have at last been opened to see the hollowness and the
heartlessness of it all!  For all its pursuits and all its possessions,
from a child's rattle to a king's sceptre, all is one great bubble.
Wealth, fame, place, power; art, science, letters; politics, churches,
sacraments, and scriptures--all are so many bubbles in Madam Bubble's
World.  This wicked enchantress, if she does not find all these things
bubbles already, by one touch of her evil wand she makes them so.  She
turns gold into dross, God into an idle name, and His Word into words
only; unless when in her malice she turns it into a fruitful ground of
debate and contention; a ground of malice and hatred and ill-will.  Vanity
of vanities; all is vanity and vexation of spirit.  Still, she sits a
queen and a goddess to a great multitude: to all men, to begin with.  And,
like a goddess, she sheds abroad her spirit in her people's hearts and
lifts up upon them for a time the light of her countenance.

2.  "I am the mistress of the world," she says, "and men are made happy
by me."--I would like to see one of them.  I have seen many men to whom
Madam Bubble had said that if they would be ruled by her she would make
them great and happy.  But though I have seen not a few who have believed
her and let themselves be ruled by her, I have never yet seen one happy
man among them.--The truth is, Madam Bubble is not able to make men happy
even if she wished to do it.  She is not happy herself, and she cannot
dispense to others what she does not possess.  And, yet, such are her
sorceries that, while her old dupes die in thousands every day, new dupes
are born to her every day in still greater numbers.  New dupes who run to
the same excess of folly with her that their fathers ran; new dupes led
in the same mad dance after Madam Bubble and her three daughters.  But,
always, and to all men, what a bubble both the mother and all her
daughters are!  How they all make promises like their lying mother, and
how, like her, they all lead men, if not to the halter and to hell, as
Greatheart said, yet to a life of vanity and to a death of disappointment
and despair!  What bubbles of empty hopes both she and her three children
blow up in the brains of men!  What pictures of untold happiness they
paint in the imaginations of men!  What pleasures, what successes in
life, what honours and what rewards she pledges herself to see bestowed!
"She has her times and open places of cheating," said one who knew her
and all her ways well.  And when men and women are still young and
inexperienced, that is one of her great cheating times.  At some seasons
of the year, and in some waters, to the fisherman's surprise and
confusion, the fish will sometimes take his bare hook; a bit of a red rag
is a deadly bait.  And Madam Bubble's poorest and most perfunctory
busking is quite enough for the foolish fish she angles for.  And not in
our salad days only, when we are still green in judgment, but even to
grey hairs, this wicked witch continues to entrap us to our ruin.  Love,
in all its phases and in all its mixtures, first deludes the very young;
and then place, and power, and fame, and money are the bait she busks for
the middle-aged and the old; and always with the same bubble end.  The
whole truth is that without God, the living and ever-present God, in all
ages of it and in all parts and experiences of it, our human life is one
huge bubble.  A far-shining, high-soaring bubble; but sooner or later
seen and tasted to be a bubble--a deceit-filled, poison-filled
bubble.--Happy by her!  All men happy by her!  The impudent slut!

3.  Another thing about this slut is this, that "she will talk with any
man."  She makes up to us and makes eyes at us just as if we were free to
accept and return her three offers.  And still she talks to us and offers
us the same things she offered to Standfast till, to escape her and her
offers, he betook himself to his knees.  Nay, truth to tell, after she
had deceived us and ensnared us till we lay in her net cursing both her
and ourselves, so bold and so impudent and so persistent is this
temptress slut, and such fools and idiots are we, that we soon lay our
eyes on her painted beauty again and our heads in her loathsome lap; our
heads on that block over which the axe hangs by an angry hair.  "She will
talk with any man."  No doubt; but, then, it takes two to make a talk,
and the sad thing is that there are few men among us so wise, so
steadfast, and so experienced in her ways that they will not on occasion
let Madam Bubble talk her talk to them, and talk back again to her.  The
oldest saint, the oftenest sold and most dearly redeemed sinner, needs to
suspect himself to the end, till he is clear out of Madam Bubble's
enchanted ground and for ever over that river of deliverance which shall
sweep Madam Bubble and all her daughters into the dead sea for ever.

   "The grey-haired saint may fail at last,
      The surest guide a wanderer prove;
   Death only binds us fast
      To the bright shore of love."

4.  "She highly commends the rich," the guide goes on about Madam Bubble,
"and if there be one cunning to get money in any place she will speak
well of him from house to house."  "The world," says Faber, "is not
altogether matter, nor yet altogether spirit.  It is not man only, nor
Satan only, nor is it exactly sin.  It is an infection, an inspiration,
an atmosphere, a life, a colouring matter, a pageantry, a fashion, a
taste, a witchery.  None of all these names suit it, and all of them suit
it.  Meanwhile its power over the human creation is terrific, its
presence ubiquitous, its deceitfulness incredible.  It can find a home
under every heart beneath the poles.  It is wider than the catholic
church, and it is masterful, lawless, and intrusive within it.  We are
all living in it, breathing it, acting under its influence, being cheated
by its appearances, and unwarily admitting its principles."  Let young
ministers who wish to preach to their people on the World--after studying
what the Preacher, and the Saviour, and John, and John Bunyan say about
the World,--still read Faber's powerful chapter in his _Creator and
Creature_.  Yes; Madam Bubble finds a home for herself in every heart
beneath the poles.  The truth is Madam Bubble has no home, as she has no
existence, but in human hearts.  And all that Solomon, and our Saviour,
and John, and John Bunyan, and Frederick Faber say about the world and
about Madam Bubble they really say about the heart of man.  It is we, you
and I, my brethren, who so highly commend the rich.  It is we ourselves
here who speak well from house to house of him whose father or whose self
has been cunning to get money.  We either speak well or ill of them.  We
either are sick with envy at them, or we fawn upon them and fall down
before them.  How men rise in our esteem in the degree that their money
increases!  With what reverence and holy awe we look up at them as if
they were gods and the sons of gods!  They become more than mortal men to
our reverent imaginations.  How happy, how all but blessed they must be!
we say to ourselves.  Within those park gates, under those high towers,
in that silver-mounted carriage, surrounded with all those liveried
servants, and loved and honoured by all those arriving and leaving
guests--what happiness that rich man must have!  We are either eaten up
of lean-eyed envy of this and that rich man, or we positively worship
them as other men worship God and His saints.  Yes; Madam Bubble is our
very mother.  She conceived us and she suckled us.  We were brought up in
her nurture and admonition.  We learned her Catechism, and her shrine is
in our heart to-night.  Like her, if only a pilgrim is poor, we scorn
him.  We will not know him.  But if there be any one, pilgrim or no,
cunning to get money, we honour him, and we claim him as our kindred and
relation, our acquaintance and our friend.  We will speak often of him as
such from house to house.  Just see if we will not.  There is room in our
hearts, Madam Bubble, there is room in our hearts for thee!

5.  "She loves them most that think best of her."  But, surely, surely,
the guide goes quite too far in blaming and being hard upon poor Madam
Bubble for that?  For, to give her fair play, she is not at all alone in
that.  Is the guide himself wholly above that?  Do we not all do that?  Is
there one in ten, is there one in a thousand, who hates and humiliates
himself because his love of men and women goes up or down just as they
think of him?  Yes; Greatheart is true to his great name in his whole
portrait of Madam Bubble also, and nowhere more true than in this present
feature.  For when any man comes to have any true greatness in his
heart--how he despises and detests himself as he finds himself out in not
only claiming kindred and acquaintance with the rich and despising and
denying the poor; but, still more, in loving or hating other men just as
they love or hate him!  The world loves her own.  Yes; but he who has
been taken out of the world, and who has had the world taken out of him,
he loves--he strives to love, he goes to his knees every day he lives to
love--those who not only do not think well of him, but who both think ill
of him and speak ill of him.  "Humility," says William Law, "does not
consist in having a worse opinion of ourselves than we deserve, or in
abasing ourselves lower than we really are.  But as all virtue is founded
in truth, so humility is founded in a true and just sense of our
weakness, misery, and sin.  He who rightly feels and lives in this sense
of his condition lives in humility.  And, it may be added, when our
hearts are wholly clothed with humility we shall be prompt to approve the
judgment and to endorse the sentence of those who think and speak the
least good of us and the most evil."

6.  "'Twas she," so the guide at last wound up, "that set Absalom against
his father, and Jeroboam against his master.  'Twas she that persuaded
Judas to sell his Lord, and that prevailed with Demas to forsake the
godly pilgrim's life.  None can tell all the mischief that Madam Bubble
does.  She makes variance between rulers and subjects, between parents
and children, 'twixt neighbour and neighbour, 'twixt a man and his wife,
'twixt a man and himself, 'twixt the flesh and the heart."  Now, I shall
leave that last indictment and its lessons and its applications to
yourselves, my brethren.  You will get far more good out of this
accumulated count against Madam Bubble if you explain it, and open it up,
and prove it, and illustrate it to yourselves.  Explain, then, in what
way this sorceress set Absalom against his father and Jeroboam against
his master.  Point out in what way she makes variance between a ruler and
his subjects, and give illustrations.  Put your finger on a parent and on
a child between whom there is variance at this moment on her account.
And, if you are that parent or that child, what have you done to remove
that variance?  Name two neighbours that to your knowledge Madam Bubble
has come between; and say what you have done to be a peacemaker there.
Set down what you would say to a man and his wife so as to put them on
their guard against Madam Bubble ever coming in between them.  And, last
and best of all, point out to yourself at what times and in what ways
this wicked witch tries to make variance between God's Holy Spirit
striving within you and your own evil heart still strong within you.  When
you are weary and sleepy and hungry as a howlet, and, Madam Bubble and
her three daughters make a ring round you, what do you do?  Do you ever
take to your knees?  Really and honestly, do you?  When you find yourself
out looking with holy fear on a rich and lofty relation, and with
insufferable contempt on a poor and intrusive relation, by what name do
you call yourself?  Write it down.  And when she would fain put variance
between you and those who do not think well of you, what steps do you
take to foil her?  Where and how do you get strength at that supreme
moment to think of others as you would have them think of you?  "Oh,"
said Standfast, "what a mercy it is that I did resist her! for to what
might she not have drawn me?"



GAIUS


   "Gaius, mine host."--_Paul_.

Goodman Gaius was the head of a hostel that stood on the side of the
highway well on to the Celestial City.  The hostess of the hostel was no
more, and the old hostel-keeper did all her once well-done work and his
own proper work into the bargain.  Every day he inspected the whole house
with his own eyes, down even to the kitchen and the scullery.  The good
woman had left our host an only daughter; but, "Keep her as much out of
sight as is possible," she said, and so fell asleep.  And Gaius
remembered his wife's last testament every day, till none of the hostel
customers knew that there was so much as a young hostess in all the
house.  "Yes, gentlemen," replied the old innkeeper.  "Yes, come in.  It
is late, but I take you for true men, for you must know that my house is
kept open only for such."  So he took the large pilgrim party to their
several apartments with his own eyes, and then set about a supper for
those so late arrivals.  Stamping with his foot, he brought up the cook
with the euphonious and eupeptic name, and that quick-witted domestic
soon had a supper on the table that would have made a full man's mouth
water.  "The sight of all this," said Matthew, as the under-cook laid the
cloth and the trenchers, and set the salt and the bread in order--"the
sight of this cloth and of this forerunner of a supper begetteth in me a
greater appetite to my food than I thought I had before."  So supper came
up; and first a heave-shoulder and a wave-breast were set on the table
before them, in order to show that they must begin their meal with prayer
and praise to God.  These two dishes were very fresh and good, and all
the travellers did eat heartily well thereof.  The next was a bottle of
wine red as blood.  So Gaius said to them, "Drink freely; this is the
juice of the true vine that makes glad the heart of God and man."  And
they did drink and were very merry.  The next was a dish of milk well
crumbed.  At the sight of which Gaius said, "Let the boys have that, that
they may grow thereby."  And so on, dish after dish, till the nuts came
with the recitations and the riddles and the saws and the stories over
the nuts.  Thus the happy party sat talking till the break of day.

1.  Now, it is natural to remark that the first thing about a host is his
hospitality.  And that, too, whether our host is but the head of a hostel
like Goodman Gaius, or the head of a well-appointed private house like
Gaius's neighbour, Mr. Mnason.  The first and the last thing about a host
is his hospitality.  "Say little and do much" is the example and the
injunction to all our housekeepers that Rabban Shammai draws out of the
eighteenth of Genesis.  "Be like your father Abraham," he says, "on the
plains of Mamre, who only promised bread and water, but straightway set
Sarah to knead three measures of her finest meal, while he ran to the
herd and fetched a calf tender and good, and stood by the three men while
they did eat butter and milk under the tree.  Make thy Thorah an
ordinance: say little and do much: and receive every man with a pleasant
expression of countenance."  Now, this was exactly what Gaius our goodman
did that night, with one exception, which we shall be constrained to
attend to afterwards.  "It is late," he said, "so we cannot conveniently
go out to seek food; but such as we have you shall be welcome to, if that
will content."  At the same time Taste-that-which-is-good soon had a
supper sent up to the table fit for a prince: a supper of six courses at
that time in the morning, so that the sun was already in the sky when Old
Honest closed his casement.

"Dining in company is a divine institution," says Mr. Edward White, in
his delightful _Minor Moralities of Life_.  "Let Soyer's art be honoured
among all men," he goes on.  "Cookery distinguishes mankind from the
beasts that perish.  Happy is the woman whose daily table is the result
of forethought.  Her husband shall rise up and call her blessed.  It is
piteous when the culinary art is neglected in our young women's
education.  Let them, as St. Peter says, imitate Sarah.  Let them see how
that venerable princess went quickly to her kneading-trough and oven and
prepared an extempore collation of cakes and pilau for the angels.  How
few ladies, whether Gentiles or Jewesses, could do the like in the
present day!"

2.  The wistful and punctilious attention that Goodman Gaius paid to each
individual guest of his was a fine feature in his munificent hospitality.
He made every one who crossed his doorstep, down even to Mr. Fearing,
feel at once at home, such was his exquisite as well as his munificent
hospitality.  "Come, sir," he said, clapping that white-faced and
trembling pilgrim on the shoulder, "come, sir, be of good cheer, you are
welcome to me and to my house; and what thou hast a mind to, that call
for freely: for what thou wouldst have my servants will do for thee, and
they will do it for thee with a ready mind."  All the same, for a long
time Mr. Fearing was mortally afraid of the servants.  He would as soon
have thought of stamping his foot for a duchess to come up as for any of
Gaius's serving-maids.  He was afraid to make any noise in his room lest
all the house should hear it.  He was afraid to touch anything in the
room lest it should fall and be broken.  We ourselves, with all our
assumed ease and elaborate abandon, are often afraid to ring our bell
even in an inn.  Mr. Fearing would as soon have pulled the tail of a
rattlesnake.  But before their sojourn was over, the Guide was amazed at
Mr. Fearing, for that hare-hearted pilgrim would be doing things in the
house that he himself would scarcely do who had been in the house a
thousand times.  It was Gaius's exuberant heartiness that had demoralised
Mr. Fearing and made him almost too forward even for a wayside inn.  In
little things also Gaius, mine host, showed his sensitive and solicitous
hospitality.  We all know housekeepers, not to say innkeepers, and not
otherwise ungenerous housekeepers either who will grudge us a
sixpennyworth of sticks and coals in a cold night, and that, too, in a
room furnished to overflowing by Morton Brothers or the Messrs. Maple.  We
take a candlestick and a dozen candles with us in the boot of the
carriage when we wish to read or write late into the night in that great
house.  Another housekeeper, who would give you her only daughter with
her wealthy dowry, will sometimes be seen by all in her house to grudge
you a fresh cup of afternoon tea when you drop in to see her and her
daughter.  She says to herself that it is to spare the servants the
stairs; but, all the time, under the stairs, the servants are blushing
for the sometimes unaccountable stinginess of their unusually munificent
mistress.  I shall give you "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a
little and there a little" of Aristotle upon munificence in little things
till you come up to his pagan standard.  "There is a real greatness," he
says, "even in the way that some men will buy a toy to a child.  Even in
the smallest matters the munificent man will act munificently!"  As
Gaius, mine host, munificently did.

3.  Speaking of children, what a night of entertainment good old Gaius
gave the children of the pilgrim party!  "Let the boys have the crumbed
milk," he gave orders.  "Butter and honey shall they eat," he exclaimed
over them as that brimming dish came up.  "This was our Lord's dish when
He was a child," he said to the mother of the boys, "that He might know
to refuse the evil and to choose the good."  Then they brought up a dish
of apples, and they were very good-tasted fruit.  Then said Matthew, "May
we eat apples, since they were such by and with which the serpent
beguiled our first mother?"  Then said Gaius,

   "Apples were they by which we were beguiled,
   Yet sin, not apples, hath our souls defiled.
   Apples forbid, if eat, corrupt the blood.
   To eat such, when commanded, does us good.
   Drink of His flagons then, thou Church, His Dove,
   And eat His apples who are sick of love."

Then said Matthew, "I make the scruple because I awhile since was sick
with eating of fruit."  "Forbidden fruit," said the host, "will make you
sick, but not what our Lord hath tolerated."  While they were thus
talking they were presented with another dish, and it was a dish of nuts.
Then said some at the table, "Nuts spoil tender teeth, especially the
teeth of children," which when Gaius heard, he said,

   "Hard texts are nuts (I will not call them cheaters)
   Whose shells do keep their kernels from the eaters;
   Ope then the shells and you shall have the meat;
   They here are brought for you to crack and eat."

Then Samuel whispered to his mother and said, "Mother, this is a very
good man's house; let us stay here a good while before we go any
farther."  The which Gaius the host overhearing, said, "With a very good
will, my child."

4.  Widower as old Gaius was, and never for a single hour forgot that he
was, there was a certain sweet and stately gallantry awakened in his
withered old heart at the sight of Christiana and Mercy, and especially
at the sight of Matthew and Mercy when they were seen together.  He seems
to have fallen almost in love with that aged matron, as he called her,
and the days of his youth came back to him as he studied the young
damsel, who was to her as a daughter.  And this set the loquacious old
innkeeper upon that famous oration about women which every man who has a
mother, or a wife, or a sister, or a daughter has by heart.  And from
that he went on to discourse on the great advantages of an early
marriage.  He was not the man, nor was he speaking to a mother who was
the woman, ever to become a vulgar and coarse-minded matchmaker; at the
same time, he liked to see Matthew and Mercy sent out on a message
together, leaving it to nature and to grace to do the rest.  The pros and
cons of early marriage were often up at his hearty table, but he always
debated, and Gaius was a great debater, that true hospitality largely
consisted in throwing open the family circle to let young people get well
acquainted with one another in its peace and sweetness.  And Gaius both
practised what he preached, and at the same time endorsed his watchful
wife's last testament, when he gave his daughter Phebe to James,
Christiana's second son, and thus was left alone, poor old Gaius, when
the happy honeymoon party started upward from his hostel door.

5.  Their next host was one Mr. Mnason, a Cyprusian by nation, and an old
disciple.  "How far have you come to-day?" he asked.  "From the house of
Gaius our friend," they said.  "I promise you," said he, "you have gone a
good stitch; you may well be weary; sit down."  So they sat down.  "Our
great want a while since," said Old Honest, "was harbour and good
company, and now I hope we have both."  "For harbour," said the host,
"you see what it is, but for good company that will appear in the trial."
After they were a little rested Old Honest again asked his host if there
were any store of good people in that town; and, "How," he said, "shall
we do to see some of them?  For the sight of good men to them that are
going on pilgrimage is like to the appearing of the moon and stars to
them that are sailing upon the seas."  Then Mr. Mnason stamped with his
foot and his daughter Grace came up, when he sent her out for five of his
friends in the town, saying that he had a guest or two in his house at
present to whom he would like to introduce them.

Now, this is another of the good qualities of a good host, to know the
best and the most suitable people in the town, and to be on such terms
with them that on short notice they will step across to help to entertain
such travellers as had come to Mr. Mnason's table.  And it is an
excellent thing to be sure that when we are so invited we shall not only
get a good dinner, but also, as good "kitchen" with our dinner, good
company and good conversation.  It is nothing short of a fine art to
gather together and to seat suitably beside one another good and suitable
people as Mr. and Miss Mnason did in their hospitable house that
afternoon.  And then, as to the talk: let the host and the hostess
introduce the guests, and then let the guests introduce their own topics.
And as far as possible, in a city and a day like this, let our topics be
books rather than people.  And let the books be the books that the guests
have read rather than those that the host and the hostess have read.
Books are a fine subject for a talk at table.  Only, let great readers
order their learned and literary talk so as not to lead the less learned
into temptation.  There is no finer exercise of fine feeling than to be
able to carry on a conversation about matters that other people present
are ignorant of, and at the same time to interest them, to set them at
ease, and to make them forget both you and themselves.  I had a letter
the other day from an English Church clergyman, in which he tells me that
his bishop is coming this month to his vicarage for a kind of visitation
and retreat, and that they are to have William Law's _Characters and
Characteristics_ read aloud to them when the bishop and the assembled
clergy are at their meals.  For my part, I would rather hear a good all-
round talk on that book by the bishop and his clergy after they had all
read the book over and over again at home.  But such readings at
assembled meals have all along been a feature of the best fraternal life
in the Church of England and in some of the sister churches.

6.  Now, after dining and supping repeatedly with garrulous old Gaius,
and with the all-but-silent Mr. Mnason, I have come home ruminating again
and again on this--that a good host, the best host, lets his guests talk
while he attends to the table.  If the truth may even be whispered to
one's-self about a table that one has just left, Gaius did his best to
spoil his good supper by his own over-garrulity.  It was good talk that
he entertained his waiting guests with, but we may have too much of a
good thing.  His oration in praise of women was an excellent oration, had
it been delivered in another house than his own; and, say, when he was
asked to give the health of Christiana, or of Matthew the bridegroom and
Mercy the bride, it would then have been perfect; but not in his own
house, and not when his guests were waiting for their supper.  On the
other hand, you should have seen that perfect gentleman, Mr. Mnason.  For
that true old Christian and old English gentleman never once opened his
mouth after he had set his guests a-talking.  He was too busy watching
when any man's dish was again empty.  He was too much delighted to see
that every one of his guests was having his punctual share of the supper,
and at the same time his full share of the talk.  Mr. Fearing's small
voice was far more pleasant to Mr. Mnason than his own voice was in his
own best story.  As I opened my own door the other night after supping
with Mr. and Miss Mnason, I said to myself--One thing I have again seen
and learned to-night, and that is, that a host, and still more a hostess,
should talk less at their own table than their most silent, most bashful,
and most backward guest.  "Make this an ordinance for thee," said Rabban
Shammai to his sons in the law; "receive all thy guests with a pleasant
expression of countenance, and then say little and do much."



CHRISTIAN


   "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."--_Luke_.

   "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."--_King Agrippa_.

   "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from
   iniquity."--_Paul_.

All the other personages in the Pilgrim's Progress come and go; they all
ascend the stage for a longer or shorter time, and then pass off the
stage and so pass out of our sight; but Christian in the First Part, and
Christiana in the Second Part, are never for a single moment out of our
sight.  And, accordingly, we have had repeated occasion and opportunity
to learn many excellent lessons from the chief pilgrim's upward walk and
heavenly conversation.  But so full and so rich are his life and his
character, that some very important things still remain to be collected
before we finally close his history.  "Gather up the fragments that
nothing be lost," said our Lord, after His miraculous meal of multiplied
loaves and fishes with His disciples.  And in like manner I shall now
proceed to gather up some of the remaining fragments of Christian's life
and character and experience.  And I shall collect these fragments into
the three baskets of his book, his burden, and his sealed roll and
certificate.

1.  And first, a few things as to his book.  "As I slept I dreamed, and
behold I saw a man clothed in rags standing in a certain place, with his
face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his
back.  I looked and saw him open the book and read therein; and as he
read he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain he broke
out with a lamentable cry, saying, What shall I do?"  We hear a great
deal in these advertising days, and not one word too much, about the
books that have influenced and gone largely to the making of our great
men; but Graceless, like John Bunyan, his biographer, was a man of but
one book.  But, then, that book was the most influential of all books; it
was the Book of books; it was God's very own and peculiar Book.  And
those of us who, like this man, have passed out of a graceless into a
gracious state will for ever remember how that same Book at that time
influenced us till it made us what we are and shall yet be.  We read many
other good books at that epoch in our life, but it was the pure Bible
that we read and prayed over out of sight the most.  We needed no
commentators or exegetes on our simple Bible in those days.  The great
texts stood out to our eyes in those days as if they had been written
with a sunbeam; while all other books (and we read nothing but the best
books in those days) looked like twilight and rushlight beside our Bible.
In those immediate, direct, and intense days we would have satisfied
Wordsworth and Matthew Arnold themselves in the way we read our Bible
with our eye never off the object.  The Four Last Things were ever before
us--death and judgment, heaven and hell.  "O my dear wife," said
Graceless, "and you the children of my bowels, I your dear friend am in
myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I
am for certain informed that this our city will be burned with fire from
heaven, in which fearful overthrow both myself, with thee my wife, and
you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I
see not) some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered."  He
would walk also solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and sometimes
praying; and thus for some days he spent his time.  Graceless at that
time and at that stage would have satisfied the exigent author of the
_Practical Treatise upon Christian Perfection_ where he says that "we are
too apt also to think that we have sufficiently read a book when we have
so read it as to know what it contains.  This reading may be quite
sufficient as to many books; but as to the Bible we are not to think that
we have read it enough because we have often read and heard what it
teaches.  We must read our Bible, not to know what it contains, but to
fill our hearts with the spirit of it."  And, again, and on this same
point, "There is this unerring key to the right use of the Bible.  The
Bible has only one intent, and that is to make a man know, resist, and
abhor the working of his fallen earthly nature, and to turn the faith,
hope, and longing desire of his heart to God; and therefore we are only
to read our Bibles with this view and to learn this one lesson from it .
. . The critic looks into his books to see how Latin and Greek authors
have used the words 'stranger' and 'pilgrim,' but the Christian, who
knows that man lives in labour and toil, in sickness and pain, in hunger
and thirst, in heat and cold among the beasts of the field, where evil
spirits like roaring lions seek to devour him--he only knows in what
truth and reality man is a poor stranger and a distressed pilgrim upon
the earth."  John Bunyan read neither Plato nor Aristotle, but he read
David and Paul till he was the chief of sinners, and till he was first
the Graceless and then the Christian of his own next-to-the-Bible book.

2.  In the second place, and as to his burden.  We are supplied with no
particulars as to the first beginnings, the gradual make-up, and at last
the terrible size of Christian's burden.  What this pilgrim's youthful
life must have been in such a city as his native city was, and while he
was still a young man of such a name and such a character in such a city,
we are left to ourselves to think and consider.  Graceless was his name
by nature, and his life was as his name and his nature were.  Still, as I
have said, we have no detailed and particular account of his early life
when his burden was still day and night in the making up.  How long into
your life were you graceless, my brother?  And what kind of life did you
lead day and night before you were persuaded or alarmed, as the case may
have been with you, into being a Christian?  What burdens do you carry on
your broken back to this day that were made up in the daylight or in the
darkness by your own hands in your early days?  Were you early or were
you too late in your conversion?  Or are you truly converted to God and
to salvation even yet?  And are you at this moment still binding a burden
on your back that you shall never lay down on this side your grave--it
may be, not on this side your burning bed in hell?  Ask yourselves all
that before God and before your own conscience, and make yourselves
absolutely sure that God at any rate is not mocked; and, therefore that
you, too, shall in the end reap exactly as you from the beginning have
sown.  "How camest thou by thy burden at first?" asked Mr.
Worldly-Wiseman at the trembling pilgrim.  "By reading this book in my
hand," he answered.  And, in the long run, it is always the Bible that
best creates a sinner's burden, binds it on his back, and makes it so
terribly heavy to bear.  Fear of death and judgment will sometimes make
up and bind on a sinner's burden; and sometimes the fear of man's
judgment on this side of death will do it.  Fear of being found out in
some cases will make a man's secret sin far too heavy for him to bear.
The throne of public opinion is not a very white throne; at the same
time, it is a coarse forecast and a rough foretaste of the last judgment;
and the fear of it not seldom makes a man's burden simply intolerable to
him.  Sometimes a great sinner's burden leads him to flight and outlawry;
sometimes to madness and self-murder; and sometimes, by the timeous and
sufficient grace of God, to the way of escape that our pilgrim took.
Tenderness of conscience, also, simple softness of heart and conscience,
will sometimes make a terrible burden out of what other men would call a
very light matter.  Bind a burden on that iron pillar standing there, and
it will feel nothing and say nothing.  But, bind the same burden on that
man in whose seat that dead pillar takes up a sitter's room, and he will
make all that are in the house hear his sighs and his groans.  And lay an
act of sin--an evil word or evil work or evil thought--on one man among
us, and he will walk about the streets with as erect a head and as
smiling a countenance and as light a step as if he were an innocent
child; while, lay half as much on his neighbour, and it will so bruise
him to the earth that all men will take knowledge of him that he is a
miserable man.  Our Lord could no doubt have carried His cross from the
hall of judgment to the hill-top without help had His back not been wet
with blood.  What with a whole and an unwealed body, a well-rested and
well-nourished body, He could easily have carried, with His broken body
and broken heart He quite sank under.  And so it is with His people.  One
of His heart-broken, heart-bleeding people will sink down to death and
hell under a burden of sin and corruption that another of them will
scarcely feel or know or believe that it is there.  Some sins again in
themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are far more heavy to
bear than others, and by some sinners than others.  I was reading Bishop
Andrewes to myself last night and came upon this pertinent passage.  "Sin:
its measure, its harm, its scandal.  Its quality: how often--how long.
The person by whom: his age, condition, state, enlightenment.  Its
manner, motive, time, and place.  The folly of it, the ingratitude of it,
the hardness of it, the presumptuousness of it.  By heart, by mouth, by
deed.  Against God, my neighbours, my own body.  By knowledge, by
ignorance.  Willingly and unwillingly.  Of old and of late.  In boyhood
and youth, in mature and old age.  Things done once, repeated often,
hidden and open.  Things done in anger, and from the lust of the flesh
and of the world.  Before and after my call.  Asleep by night and awake
by day.  Things remembered and things forgotten.  Through the fiery darts
of the enemy, through the unclean desires of the flesh--I have sinned
against Thee.  Have mercy on me, O God, and forgive me!"  That is the way
some men's burdens are made up to such gigantic proportions and then
bound on by such acute cords.  That is the way that Lancelot Andrewes and
John Bunyan walked solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and
sometimes praying, till the one of them put himself into his immortal
_Devotions_, and the other into his immortal _Grace Abounding_ and
_Pilgrim's Progress_.

"Then I saw in my dream that Christian asked the Gatekeeper further if he
could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back, for as yet
he had not got rid of it, nor could he by any means get it off without
help.  He told him, 'As to thy burden, be content to bear it until thou
comest to the place of deliverance, for there it will fall from off thy
back itself.'  Now I saw in my dream that the highway up which Christian
was to go was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall is
Salvation.  Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not
without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.  He ran thus
till he came to a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a
cross, and a little below in the bottom a sepulchre.  So I saw in my
dream that just as Christian came up with the cross his burden loosed
from off his back, and began to tumble and so continued to do till it
came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in and I saw it no
more.  Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry
heart, 'He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death!'"

   "Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre!  Blest rather be
   The Man that there was put to shame for me."

But, then, how it could be that this so happy man was scarcely a stone-
cast past the cross when he had begun again to burden himself with fresh
sin, and thus to disinter all his former sin?  How a true pilgrim comes
to have so many burdens to bear, and that till he ceases to be any longer
a pilgrim,--a burden of guilt, a burden of corruption, and a burden of
bare creaturehood,--I must leave all that, and all the questions
connected with all that, for you all to think out and work out for
yourselves; and you will not say any morning on this earth, like Mrs.
Timorous, that you have little to do.

3.  The third of the three Shining Ones who saluted Christian at the
cross set a mark on his forehead, and put a roll with a seal set upon it
into his hand.  A roll and a seal which he bid him look on as he ran, and
that he should give that roll in at the Celestial Gate.  Bunyan does not
in all places come up to his usual clearness in what he says about the
sealed roll.  We must believe that he understood his own meaning and
intention in all that he says, first and last, about the roll, but he has
not always made his meaning clear, at least to one of his readers.
Theological students, and, indeed, all thoughtful Christian men, are
invited to read Dr. Cunningham's powerful paper on Assurance in his
_Reformers_.  The whole literature of Assurance is there taken up and
weighed and sifted with all that great writer's incomparable learning and
power and judgment.  Our Larger Catechism, also, is excellent on this
subject; and this subject is a favourite commonplace with all our best
Calvinistic, Puritan, and Evangelical authors.  Let us take two or three
passages out of those authors just as a specimen, and so close.

"Can true believers"--Larger Catechism, Question 80--"Can true believers
be infallibly assured that they are in an estate of grace, and that they
shall persevere therein to the end?  _Answer_: Such as truly believe in
Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him may,
without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of
God's promise, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves
those graces to which the promises of eternal life are made, and bearing
witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, they may be
infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall
persevere therein unto salvation."  Question 81: "Are all true believers
at all times assured of their present being in a state of grace, and that
they shall be saved?  _Answer_: Assurance of grace and salvation not
being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they
obtain it, and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and
intermitted through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and
desertions; yet are they never left without such a presence and support
of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair."  "A
Christian's assurance," says Fraser of Brea, "though it does not firstly
flow from his holiness, yet is ever after proportionable to his holy
walking.  Faith is kept in a pure conscience.  Sin is like a blot of ink
fallen upon our evidence.  This I found to be a truth."  "It was the
speech of one to me," says Thomas Shepard of New England, "next to the
donation of Christ, no mercy like this, to deny assurance long; and why?
For if the Lord had not, I should have given way to a loose heart and
life.  And this is a rule I have long held--long denial of assurance is
like fire to burn out some sin and then the Lord will speak peace."
"Serve your God day and night faithfully," says Dr. Goodwin.  "Walk
humbly; and there is a promise of the Holy Ghost to come and fill your
hearts with joy unspeakable and glorious to rear you up to the day of
redemption.  Sue this promise out, wait for it, rest not in believing
only, rest not in assurance by graces only; there is a further assurance
to be had."  "I would not give a straw for that assurance," says John
Newton, "which sin will not damp.  If David had come from his adultery
and still have talked of his assurance, I should have despised his
speech."  "When we want the faith of assurance," says Matthew Henry, "let
us live by the faith of adherence."  And then the whole truth is in a
nutshell in Isaiah and in John: "The effect of righteousness shall be
quietness and assurance for ever," and "My little children, let us not
love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  And hereby we
shall know that we are of the truth, and so shall assure our hearts
before Him."



CHRISTIANA


   "Honour widows that are widows indeed."--_Paul_.

We know next to nothing of Christiana till after she is a widow indeed.
The names of her parents, and what kind of parents they were, the schools
and the boarding-schools to which they sent their daughter, her school
companions, the books she read, if she ever read any books at all, the
amusements she was indulged in and indulged herself in--on all that her
otherwise full and minute biographer is wholly silent.  He does not go
back beyond her married life; he does not even go back to the beginning
of that.  The only thing we are sure of about Christiana's early days is
that she was an utterly ungodly woman and that she married an utterly
ungodly man.  "Have you a family?  Are you a married man?" asked Charity
of Christian in the House Beautiful.  "I have a wife and four small
children," he replied.  "And why did you not bring them along with you?"
Then Christian wept, and said: "Oh, how willingly would I have done it;
but they were all utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage."  "But you
should have talked to them," said Charity, "and have endeavoured to have
shown them the danger of being behind."  "So I did," answered Christian.
"And did you pray to God that He would bless your counsel to them?"  "Yes,
and with much affection; for you must think that my wife and poor
children were very dear unto me."  "But what could they say for
themselves why they came not?"  "Why, my wife was afraid of losing the
world, and my children were given over to the foolish delights of youth;
so what with one thing and what with another, they left me to wander in
this manner alone."

But what her husband's conversion, good example, and most earnest
entreaties could not all do for his worldly wife, that his sudden death
speedily did.  And thus it is that both Christiana's best life, all our
interest in her, and all our information about her, dates, sad to say,
not from her espousal, nor from her marriage day, nor from any part of
her married life, but from her husband's death.  Her maidenhood has no
interest for us; all our interest is fixed on her widowhood.  This work
of fiction now in our hands begins where all other works of fiction end;
for in the life of religion, you must know, our best is always before us.
Well, scarcely was her husband dead when Christiana began to accuse
herself of having killed him.  To take her own bitter words for it, the
most agonising and remorseful thoughts about her conduct to her husband
stung her heart like so many wasps.  Ah yes!  A wasp's sting is but a
blade of innocent grass compared with the thoughts that have stung us all
as we recalled what we said and did to those who are now no more.  There
are graves in the churchyard we dare not go near.  "I have sinned away
your father!" she cried, as she threw herself on the earth at the feet of
her astounded children.  "I have sinned away your father and he is gone!"
And yet there was no mark of a bullet and no gash of a knife on his dead
body, and no chemistry could have extracted one grain of arsenic or of
strychnine out of his blood.  But there are many ways of taking a man's
life besides those of poison or a knife or a gunshot.  Constant fault-
finding, constant correction and studied contempt before strangers, total
want of sympathy and encouragement, gloomy looks, rough remarks, all
blame and never a word of praise, things like these between man and wife
will kill as silently and as surely as poison or suffocation.  Look at
home, my brethren, and ask yourselves what you will think of much of your
present conduct when it has borne its proper fruit.  "Upon this came into
her mind by swarms all her unkind, unnatural, and ungodly carriages to
her dear friend, which also clogged her conscience and did load her with
guilt.  It all returned upon her like a flash of lightning, and rent the
caul of her heart asunder."  "That which troubleth me most," she would
cry out, "is my churlish carriages to him when he was under distress.  I
am that woman," she would cry out and would not be appeased--"I am that
woman that was so hardhearted as to slight my husband's troubles, and
that left him to go on his journey alone.  How like a churl I carried
myself to him in all that!  And so guilt took hold of my mind," she said
to the Interpreter, "and would have drawn me to the pond!"

A minister's widow once told me that she had gone home after hearing a
sermon of mine on the text, "What profit is there in my blood?" and had
destroyed a paper of poison she had purchased in her despair on the
previous Saturday night.  It was not a sermon from her unconscious
minister, but it was far better; it was a conversation that Christiana
held with her four boys that fairly and for ever put all thought of the
pond out of their mother's remorseful mind.  "So Christiana," as we read
in the opening of her history--"so Christiana called her sons together
and began thus to address herself unto them: My sons, I have, as you may
perceive, been of late under much exercise in my soul about the death of
your father.  My carriages to your father in his distress are a great
load on my conscience.  Come, my children, let us pack up and be gone to
the gate, that we may see your father and be with him, according to the
laws of that land."  I like that passage, I think, the best in all
Christiana's delightful history--that passage which begins with these
words: "So she called her children together."  For when she called her
children together she opened to them both her heart and her conscience;
and from that day there was but one heart and one conscience in all that
happy house.  I was walking alone on a country road the other day, and as
I was walking I was thinking about my pastoral work and about my people
and their children, when all at once I met one of my people.  My second
sentence to him was: "This very moment I was thinking about your sons.
How are they getting on?"  He quite well understood me.  He knew that I
was not indifferent as to how they were getting on in business, but he
knew that I was alluding more to the life of godliness and virtue in
their hearts and in their characters.  "O sir," he said, "you may give
your sons the skin off your back, but they will not give you their
confidence!"  So had it been with Christian and his sons.  He had never
managed, even in his religion, to get into the confidence of his sons;
but when their mother took them into her agonised confidence, from that
day she was in all their confidences, good and bad.  You who are in your
children's confidences will pray in secret for my lonely friend with the
skin off his back, will you not? that he may soon be able to call his
sons together so as to start together on a new life of family love, and
family trust, and family religion.  That was a fine sight.  Who will make
a picture of it?  This widow indeed at the head of her family council-
table, and Matthew at the foot, and James and Joseph and Samuel all in
their places.  "Come, my children, let us pack up that we may see your
father!"  Then did her children burst into tears for joy that the heart
of their mother was so inclined.

From that first family council let us pass on to Christiana's last
interview with her family and her other friends.  Her biographer
introduces her triumphant translation with this happy comment on the
margin: "How welcome is death to them that have nothing to do but die!"
Well, that was exactly Christiana's case.  She had so packed up at the
beginning of her journey; she had so got and had so kept the confidences
of all her sons; she had seen them all so married in the Lord, and thus
so settled in a life of godliness and virtue; she had, in short, lived
the life of a widow indeed, till, when the post came for her, she had
nothing left to do but just to rise up and follow him.  His token to her
was an arrow with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart,
which by degrees wrought so effectually with her that at the time
appointed she must be gone.  We have read of arrows of death sharpened
sometimes with steel and sometimes with poison; but this arrow, shot from
heaven, was sharpened to a point with love.  Indeed, that arrow, or the
very fellow of it, had been shot into Christiana's heart long ago when
she stood at that spot somewhat ascending where was a cross and a
sepulchre; and, especially, ever since the close of Greatheart's great
discourse on pardon by deed.  For the hearing of that famous discourse
had made her exclaim: "Oh!  Thou loving One, it makes my heart bleed to
think that Thou shouldest bleed for me!  Oh!  Thou blessed One, Thou
deservest to have me, for Thou hast bought me!  Thou deservest to have me
all, for Thou hast paid for me ten thousand times more than I am worth!"
Now it was with all that love working effectually in her heart that
Christiana called for her children to give them her blessing.  And what a
comfort it was to her to see them all around her with the mark of the
kingdom on their foreheads, and with their garments white.  "My sons and
my daughters," she said, "be you all ready against the time His post
calls for you."  Then she called for Mr. Valiant-for-truth, and entreated
him to have an eye on her children, and to speak comfortably to them if
at any time he saw them faint.  And then she gave Mr. Standfast her ring.
"Behold," she said, as Mr. Honest came in--"Behold an Israelite indeed,
in whom is no guile!"  Then Mr. Ready-to-halt came in, and then Mr.
Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid, and then Mr. Feeble-mind.  Now
the day drew on that Christiana must be gone.  So the road was full of
people to see her take her journey.  But, behold! all the banks beyond
the river were full of horses and chariots which were come down from
above to accompany her to the City gates, so she came forth and entered
the river with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the
river-side.  The last word she was heard to say here was, "I come, Lord,
to be with Thee, and to bless Thee."

But with all this, you must not suppose that this good woman, this mother
in Israel, had forgotten her grandchildren.  She would sooner have
forgotten her own children.  But she was too good a woman to forget
either.  For long ago, away back at the river on this side the Delectable
Mountains, she had said to her four daughters--I must tell you exactly
what she has said: "Here," she said, "in this meadow there are cotes and
folds for sheep, and an house is built here also for the nourishing and
bringing up of those lambs, even the babes of those women that go on
pilgrimage.  Also there is One here who can have compassion and that can
gather these lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom.  This Man,
she said, will house and harbour and succour the little ones, so that
none of them shall be lacking in time to come.  This Man, if any of them
go astray or be lost, He will bring them again, He will bind up that
which was broken, and will strengthen them that are sick.  So they were
content to commit their little ones to that Man, and all this was to be
at the charge of the King, and so it was as a hospital to young children
and orphans."

And now I shall sum up my chief impressions of Christiana under the three
heads of her mind, her heart, and her widowhood indeed.

1.  The mother of Christian's four sons was a woman of real mind, as so
many of the maidens, and wives, and widows of Puritan England and
Covenanting Scotland were.  You gradually gather that impression just
from being beside her as the journey goes on.  She does not speak much;
but, then, there is always something individual, remarkable, and
memorable in what she says.  I have a notion of my own that Christiana
must have been a reader of that princely Puritan, John Milton.  And if
that was so, that of itself would be certificate enough as to her
possession of mind.  There is always a dignity and a strength about her
utterances that make us feel sure that she had always had a mind far
above her neighbours, Mrs. Bat's-eyes, Mrs. Light-mind, and Mrs. Know-
nothing.  The first time she opens her mouth in our hearing she lets fall
an expression that Milton had just made famous in his _Samson_--

   "Ease to the body some, none to the mind
   From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
   Of hornets armed no sooner found alone,
   But rush upon me thronging, and present
   Times past, what once I was, and what am now."

Nor can I leave this point without asserting it to you that no church and
no school of theology has ever developed the mind as well as sanctified
the heart of the common people like the preaching of the Puritan pulpit.
Matthew Arnold was not likely to over-estimate the good that Puritanism
had done to England.  Indeed, in his earlier writings he sometimes went
out of his way to lament the hurt that the Puritan spirit had done to
liberality of life and mind in his native land.  But in his riper years
we find him saying: "Certainly," he says, "I am not blind to the faults
of the Puritan discipline, but it has been an invaluable discipline for
that poor, inattentive, and immoral creature, man.  And the more I read
history and the more I see of mankind, the more I recognise the value of
the Puritan discipline."  And in that same Address he "founded his best
hopes for that so enviable and unbounded country in which he was
speaking, America, on the fact that so many of its millions had passed
through the Puritan discipline."  John Milton was a product of that
discipline on the one hand, as John Bunyan was on the other.  Christiana
was another of its products in the sphere of the family, just as Matthew
Arnold himself had some of his best qualities out of the same fruitful
school.

2.  Her heart, her deep, strong, tender heart, is present on every page
of Christiana's noble history.  Her heart keeps her often silent when the
water in her eyes becomes all the more eloquent.  When she does let her
heart utter itself in words, her words are fine and memorable.  As, for
one instance, after Greatheart's discourse on redemption.  "O Mercy, that
thy father and mother were here; yea, and Mrs. Timorous also.  Nay, I
wish with all my heart now that here was Madam Wanton, too.  Surely,
surely, their hearts would be affected, nor could the fear of the one,
nor the powerful lusts of the other, prevail with them to go home again,
and to refuse to become good pilgrims."  But it was not so much what she
said herself that brought out the depth and tenderness of Christiana's
heart, it was rather the way her heart loosened other people's tongues.
You must all have felt how some people's presence straitens your heart
and sews up your mouth.  While there are other people, again, whose
simple presence unseals your heart and makes you eloquent.  We ministers
keenly feel that both in our public and in our private ministrations.
There are people in whose hard and chilling presence we cannot even say
grace as we should say it.  Whereas, we all know other people, people of
a heart, that is, whose presence somehow so touches our lips that we
always when near them rise far above ourselves.  Christiana did not speak
much to her guides and instructors and companions, but they always spoke
their best to her, and it was her heart that did it.

3.  And then a widow indeed is just a true and genuine widow; a widow not
in her name and in her weeds only, but still more in her deep heart, in
her whole life, and in her garnered experience.  "Honour widows that are
widows indeed.  Now, she that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in
God, and continueth in supplications and in prayers night and day.  Well
reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have
lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have
relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work."
These are the true marks and seals and occupations of a widow indeed.  And
if she has had unparalleled trials and irreparable losses, she has her
corresponding consolations and compensations.  For she has a freedom to
go about and do good, a liberty and an experience that neither the
unmarried maiden nor the married wife can possibly have.  She can do
multitudes of things that in the nature of things neither of them can
attempt to do.  Things that would be both unseemly and impossible for
other women to say or to do are both perfectly seemly and wholly open for
her to say and to do.  Her widowhood is a sacred shield to her.  Her
sorrow is a crown of honour and a sceptre of authority to her.  She is
consulted by the young and the inexperienced, by the forsaken and by the
forlorn, as no other human being ever is.  She has come through this
life, and by a long experience she knows this world and the hearts that
fill it and make it what it is.  A widow indeed can show a sympathy, and
give a counsel, and speak with a weight of wisdom that one's own mother
cannot always do.  All you who by God's sad dispensation are now clothed
in the "white and wimpled folds" of widowhood, let your prayer and your
endeavour day and night be that God would guide and enable you to be
widows indeed.  And, if you do, you shall want neither your occupation
nor your honour.



THE ENCHANTED GROUND


   "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any
   divination against Israel."--_Balaam_.

"I saw then in my dream that they went till they came into a certain
country whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy if he came a
stranger to it.  And here Hopeful began to be very dull and heavy of
sleep, wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy
that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes; let us lie down here and take one
nap."  And then when we turn to the same place in the Second Part we read
thus: "By this time they were got to the Enchanted Ground, where the air
naturally tended to make one drowsy.  And that place was all grown over
with briars and thorns, excepting here and there, where was an enchanted
arbour, upon which, if a man sits, or in which if a man sleeps, 'tis a
question, say some, whether they shall ever rise or wake again in this
world.  Now, they had not gone far, but a great mist and darkness fell
upon them all, so that they could scarce, for a great while, see the one
the other.  Wherefore they were forced for some time to feel for one
another by words, for they walked not by sight.  Nor was there on all
this ground so much as one inn or victualling-house wherein to refresh
the feebler sort.  Then they came to an arbour, warm, and promising much
refreshing to the pilgrims, for it was finely wrought above head,
beautified with greens, and furnished with couches and settles.  It also
had a soft couch on which the weary might lean.  This arbour was called
The Slothful Man's Friend, on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of
the pilgrims there to take up their rest when weary.  This, you must
think, all things considered, was tempting.  I saw in my dream also that
they went on in this their solitary way till they came to a place at
which a man is very apt to lose his way.  Now, though when it was light,
their guide could well enough tell how to miss those ways that led wrong,
yet in the dark he was put to a stand.  But he had in his pocket a map of
all ways leading to or from the Celestial City, wherefore he struck a
light (for he never goes also without his tinder-box), and takes a view
of his book or map, which bids him be careful in that place to turn to
the right-hand way.  Then I thought with myself, who that goeth on
pilgrimage but would have one of those maps about him, that he may look
when he is at a stand, which is the way to take?"

1.  "But what is the meaning of all this?" asked Christiana of the guide.
"This Enchanted Ground,"--her able and experienced friend answered her,
"this is one of the last refuges that the enemy to pilgrims has;
wherefore it is, as you see, placed almost at the end of the way, and so
it standeth against us with the more advantage.  For when, thinks the
enemy, will these fools be so desirous to sit down as when they are
weary, and when so like to be weary as when almost at their journey's
end?  Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted Ground is placed so nigh
to the land Beulah and so near the end of their race; wherefore let
pilgrims look to themselves lest they fall asleep till none can waken
them."  "That masterpiece of Bunyan's insight into life, the Enchanted
Ground," says Mr. Louis Stevenson, "where his allegory cuts so deep to
people looking seriously on life."  Yes, indeed, Bunyan's insight into
life!  And his allegory that cuts so deep!  For a neophyte, and one with
little insight into life, or into himself, would go to look for this land
of darkness and thorns and pitfalls, alternated with arbours and settles
and soft couches--one new to life and to himself, I say, would naturally
expect to see all that confined to the region between the City of
Destruction and the Slough of Despond; or, at the worst, long before, and
never after, the House Beautiful.  But Bunyan looked too straight at life
and too unflinchingly into his own heart to lay down his sub-Celestial
lands in that way; and when we begin to look with a like seriousness on
the religious life, and especially when we begin to look bold enough and
deep enough into our own heart, then we too shall freely acknowledge the
splendid master-stroke of Bunyan in the Enchanted Ground.  That this so
terrible experience is laid down almost at the end of the Celestial
way--the blaze of light that pours upon our heads fairly startles us,
while at the same time it comforts us and assures us.  That this
Enchanted Ground, which has proved so fatal to so many false pilgrims,
and so all but fatal to so many true pilgrims, should lie around the very
borders of Beulah, and should be within all but eye-shot of the Celestial
City itself,--that is something to be thankful for, and something to lay
up in the deepest and the most secret place in our heart.  That these
pilgrims, after all their feastings and entertainments--after the
Delectable Mountains and the House Beautiful--should all be plunged upon
a land where there was not so much as a roadside inn, where the ways were
so dark and so long that the pilgrims had to shout aloud in order to keep
together, where, instead of moon or stars, they had to walk in the spark
of a small tinder-box--what an encouragement and assurance to us is all
that!  That is no strange thing, then, that is now happening to us, when,
after our fine communion season, we have suddenly fallen back into this
deep darkness, and are cast into these terrible temptations, and feel as
if all our past experiences and attainments and enjoyments had been but a
self-delusion and a snare.  That we should all but have fallen fast
asleep, and all but have ceased both from watching against sin and from
waiting upon God--well, that is nothing more than Hopeful himself would
have done had he not had a wary old companion to watch over him, and to
hold his eyes open.  Let all God's people present who feel that they are
nothing better of all they have enjoyed of Scriptures and sacraments, but
rather worse; let all those who feel sure that they have wandered into a
castaway land, so dark, so thorny, so miry, and so lonely is their
life--let them read this masterpiece of John Bunyan again and again and
take heart of hope.

   "When Saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither
   And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
   Yea, let them hear of them, in any wise,
   Thus to keep ope their drowsy slumb'ring eyes;
   Saints' fellowship, if it be managed well,
   Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell."

2.  But far worse than all its briars and thorns, far more fatal than all
its ditches and pitfalls, were the enchanted arbours they came on here
and there planted up and down that evil land.  For those arbours are all
of this fatal nature, that if a man falls asleep in any of them it arises
a question whether he shall ever come to himself again in this world.
Now, where there are no inns nor victualling-houses, no Gaius and no Mr.
Mnason, what a danger all those ill-intended arbours scattered all up and
down that country become!  Well, then, the first enchanted arbour that
the pilgrims came to was built just inside the borders of the land, and
it was called The Stranger's Arbour--so many new-comers had lain down in
it never to rise again.  The young and the inexperienced, with those who
were naturally of a believing, buoyant, easy mind, lay down in hundreds
here.  Hopeful's mind was naturally a mind of a soft and easy and self-
indulgent cast; and had he been alone that day, or had he had for a
companion a man of a less wary, less anxious, and less urgent mind than
Christian was, Hopeful had taken a nap, as he so confidingly called it--a
fatal nap in that arbour built by the enemy of pilgrims, just on purpose
for the young and the ignorant, the inexperienced and the self-indulgent.

3.  The Slothful Man's Arbour has been already described.  It was a warm
arbour, and it promised much refreshing to the pilgrims.  It also had in
it a soft couch on which the weary might lean.  "Let us lie down here and
take just one nap; we shall be refreshed if we take a nap!"  "Do you not
remember," said the other, "that one of the shepherds bid us beware of
the Enchanted Ground?  And he meant by that that we should beware of
sleeping; wherefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and
be sober."  Now, what is a nap?  And what is it to take a nap in our
religion?  The New Testament is full of warnings to those who read it and
go by it--most solemn and most fearful warnings--against _sleep_.  Now,
have you any clear idea in your minds as to what this divinely denounced
sleep is?  Sleep is good and necessary in our bodily life.  We would not
live long if we did not sleep; we would soon go out of our mind; we would
soon lose our senses if we did not sleep.  Insomnia is one of the worst
symptoms of our eager, restless, over-worked age.  "He giveth His beloved
sleep"; and while they sleep their corn grows they know not how.  But
sleep in the great exhortation-passages of the Holy Scriptures does not
mean rest and restoration; it means in all those passages insensibility,
stupidity, danger, and death.  In our nightly sleep, and in the measure
of its soundness, we are utterly dead to the world around us.  Men may
come into our house and rob us of our most precious possessions; they may
even come up to our bed and murder us; our whole house may be in a blaze
about us; we may only awaken to leap out of sleep into eternity.  Now, we
are all in a sleep like that in our souls.  There is above us, and around
us, and beneath us, and within us the eternal world, and we are all sound
asleep; we are all stone-dead in the midst of it.  Devils and wicked men
are stealing our treasures for eternity, and we are sound asleep; hell is
already kindling our bed beneath us, but we smell not its flames, or we
only catch the first gasp of them before we make our everlasting bed
among them.  Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch
and be sober.  What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise and call upon thy God!
When the guide shook Heedless and Too-bold off their settles in that
slothful arbour, the one of them said with his eyes still shut, "I will
pay you when I take my money," and the other said, "I will fight so long
as I can hold my sword in my hand."  At that one of the children laughed.
"What is the meaning of that?" asked Christiana.  The guide said: "They
talk in their sleep."  So they did, and so do all men.  For this whole
world is full of settles on which men sleep and talk in their sleep.  The
newspapers to-morrow morning will all be full to overflowing of what men
have said and written to-day and yesterday in their sleep.  The shops and
the banks and the exchanges will all be full of men making promises and
settling accounts in their sleep.  They will finger their purses, and
grasp their swords, and all in their sleep.  And not children but devils
will laugh as they hear the folly that falls from men's lips who are
besotted with spiritual sleep and drugged with spiritual and fleshly sin.
A dream cometh through the multitude of business.  I had just got this
length in this lecture the other night when I went to sleep.  And in my
sleep one of my people came to me and asked me if I could make it quite
clear and plain to him what it would be for a man like him after a
communion-time to begin to walk with God.  And I just wish I could make
the things of the Enchanted Ground as plain to myself and to you to-night
as I was able to make a walk with God plain to myself and to my visitor
that night in my ministerial dream.  I often wish that my business mind
worked as well in my study chair and in my pulpit as it sometimes does in
my bed and in my sleep.  "Now, I beheld in my dream that they talked more
in their sleep at this time than ever they did in all their journey.  And
being in a muse thereabout, the gardener said even to me: Wherefore
musest thou at the matter?  It is the nature of the fruit of the grapes
of those vineyards to go down so sweetly as to cause the lips of them
that are asleep to speak."  The reason my poor lips spake so sweetly
about a walk with God that night most have been because I spent all the
summer evening before walking with God and with you in the vineyards of
Beulah.

4.  Listen to Samson, shorn of his locks, as he shakes himself off a soft
and sweetly-worked couch in The Sensual Man's Arbour:

         "No, no;
   It fits not; thou and I long since are twain;
   Nor think me so unwary or accurst
   To bring my feet again into the snare
   Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains,
   Though dearly to my cost, thy gins, and toils;
   Thy fair enchanted cup and warbling charms
   No more on me have power, their force is null'd;
   So much of adder's wisdom have I learnt
   To fence my ear against thy sorceries.
   If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men
   Loved, honour'd, fear'd me, thou alone couldst hate me,
   Thy husband, slight me, sell me, and forego me;
   How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby
   Deceivable, in most things as a child,
   Helpless, thence easily contemn'd, and scorn'd,
   And last neglected?  How wouldst thou insult,
   When I must live uxorious to thy will
   In perfect thraldom!  How again betray me,
   Bearing my words and doings to the lords
   To gloss upon, and censuring, frown or smile!
   This jail I count the house of liberty
   To thine, whose doors my feet shall never enter."

5.  The love of money to some men is the root of all evil.  There came
once a youth to St. Philip Neri and, flushed with joy, told him that his
parents after much entreaty had at length allowed him to study law.  St.
Philip was not a man of many words.  "What then?" the saint simply asked
the shining youth.  "Then I shall become a lawyer!"  "And then?" pursued
Philip.  "Then," said the young man, "I shall earn a nice sum of money,
and I shall purchase a fine country house, procure a carriage and horses,
marry a handsome and rich wife, and lead a delightful life!"  "And then?"
"Then,"--the youth reflected as death and eternity arose before his eyes,
and from that day he began to take care of his immortal soul.  Philip
with one word snatched that young man's soul off The Rich Man's Settle.

6.  The Vain Man's Settle draws down many men to shame and everlasting
contempt.  Praise a vain man or a vain woman aright and enough and you
will get them to do anything you like.  Give a vain man sufficient
publicity in your paper or on your platform and he will become a spy, a
traitor, and cut-throat in your service.  The sorcerer's cup of
praise--keep it full enough in a vain man's hand, and he will sleep in
the arbour of vanity till he wakens in hell.  Madam Bubble, the
arch-enchantress, knows her own, and she has, with her purse, her
promotion, and her praise, bought off many a promising pilgrim.

7.  And then she, by virtue of whose sorceries this whole land is drugged
and enchanted, is such a bold slut that she will build a Sacred Arbour
even, and will fill it full of religious enchantment for you rather than
lose hold of you.  She will consecrate places and persons and periods for
you if your taste lies that way; she will build costly and stately
churches for you; she will weave rich vestments and carve rich vessels;
she will employ all the arts; she will even sanctify and set apart and
seat aloft her holy men--what will she not do to please you, to take you,
to intoxicate and enchant you?  She will juggle for your soul equally
well whether you are a country clown in a feeing-market or a fine lady of
aesthetic tastes and religious sensibilities in the capital and the
court.  But I shall let Father Faber speak, who can speak on this subject
both with authority and with attraction.  "She can open churches, and
light candles on the altar, and intone _Te Deums_ to the Majesty on high.
She can pass into the beauty of art, into the splendour of dress, and
into the magnificence of furniture.  She can sit with high principles on
her lips discussing a religious vocation and praising God and sanctity.
On the benches of bishops and in the pages of good books you will find
her, and yet she is all the while the same huge evil creature."  Yes; she
is all the time the same Madam Bubble who offered to Standfast her body,
her purse, and her bed.

Now, would you know for yourself, like the communicant who came to me in
my sleep, how you are ever to get past all those arbours, and settles,
and seats, and couches, with all their sweet sorceries and intoxicating
enchantments--would you in earnest know that?  Then study well the case
of one Standfast.  Especially the time when she who enchants this whole
ground hereabouts set so upon that pilgrim.  In one word, it was this: he
remembered his Lord; and, like his Lord, he fell on his face; and as his
Lord would have it, His servant's lips as they touched the ground touched
also the healing plant harmony and he was saved.

         "A small unsightly root,
   But of divine effect.
   Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swain
   Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon;
   And yet more med'cinal is it than that moly
   That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
   He call'd it haemony, and gave it me,
   And bade me keep it as of sovran use
   'Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp,
   Or ghastly furies' apparition.
   And now I find it true; for by this means
   I knew the foul enchantress, though disguised,
   Enter'd the very lime-twigs of her spells,
   And yet came off.  If you have this about you
   (As I will give you when you go) you may
   Boldly assault the necromancer's hall:
   Where if she be, with dauntless hardihood,
   And brandished blade, rush on her, break her glass,
   And shed her luscious liquor on the ground,
   And seize her wand."

Prayer, my sin-beset brethren, standfast prayer, is the otherwise
unidentified haemony whose best habitat was the Garden of Gethsemane; and
with that holy root in your heart and in your mouth, there is "no
enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against
Israel."



THE LAND OF BEULAH


   "Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah."--_Isaiah_.

The first thing that John Bunyan tells us about the land of Beulah is
this--that the shortest and the best way to the Celestial City lies
directly through that land.  The land of Beulah has its own indigenous
inhabitants indeed.  Old men dwell in the streets of Beulah, and every
man with his staff in his hand for very age.  The streets of the city
also are full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.  The land
of Beulah has its frequent visitors also, and its welcome guests from the
regions above.  Some of the shining ones come down from time to time and
make a short sojourn in Beulah.  The angels in heaven have such a desire
to see the lands from which God's saints come up that at certain seasons
all the suburbs of the Celestial City are full of those shining servants
of God and of the Lamb.

But what made the dreamer to smile and to talk so in his sleep was when
he saw that all the upward ways to the Celestial City ran through the
land of Beulah.  He saw also in his dream how all the pilgrims blamed
themselves so bitterly now because they had misspent so much of their
time and strength in the ways below, and so had not come sooner to see
and to taste this blessed land.  But, at the same time, as it was, they
all rejoiced with a great joy because that, after all their delays and
all their wanderings, their way still led them through the borders of
Beulah.  Now, my dear fellow-communicants, how shall we find our way at
once, and without any more wanderings, into that so desirable land?  How
shall we attain to walk its streets all the rest of our days with our
staff in our hand?  How shall we hope to see our boys and our girls
playing in the streets of Beulah, and eating all their days of its sweet
and its healing fruits?  How shall we and our children with us henceforth
escape the Slough of Despond, and Giant Despair's dungeon, and the Valley
of the Shadow of Death?  The word, my brethren, the answer to all that,
is nigh unto us, even in our mouth and in our heart.  For faith, simple
faith, will do all that both for us and for our children beside us.  A
heart-feeding faith in God, in the word of God, and in the Son of God,
will do it.  Faith, and then obedience.  For obedience, my brethren, is
Beulah.  All obedience is already Beulah.  Holy obedience will bring the
whole of Beulah into your heart and into mine at any moment.  It is
disobedience that makes so many of those who otherwise are true pilgrims
to miss so much of the land of Beulah.  Ask any affable old man with his
staff in his hand for very age, and he will tell you that it was his
disobedience that kept him so long out of the land of Beulah.  While, let
any man, and above all, let any young man, begin early to live a life of
believing obedience, and he will grow up and grow old and see his
children's children playing around his staff in the streets of Beulah.
Let any young man make the experiment for himself upon obedience and upon
Beulah.  Let him not too easily believe any dreamer or even any seer
about obedience and about the land of Beulah.  It is his own matter and
not theirs; and let him make experiment upon it all for his own
satisfaction and assurance.  Let any young man, then, try prayer as his
first step into obedience, and especially secret prayer.  Let him shut
his door to-night, and let him see if he is not already inside one of the
gates of Beulah.  Let him deny himself every day also, if it is only in a
very little thing.  Let him say sternly to his own heart every hour of
temptation, No! never! and on the spot a sweet waft of Beulah's finest
spices will fall upon his face.  "The ineffable joy of renouncing joy"
will every day make the lonely wilderness of this world a constant Beulah
to such a man.  For, to live at all times, in all places, and in all
things for other men, and never and in nothing for yourself--that is the
deepest secret of Beulah.  To say it, if need be, three times to-night on
your face and in a sweat of blood, "Not my will, but Thine be done!"--that
will to-night turn the garden of Gethsemane itself into the very garden
of Glory.  Do you doubt it?  Are you not yet able to believe it?  Then
hear about it from One who has Himself come through it.  Hear His word
upon the whole matter who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  "Come
unto Me," says the King of Beulah, "all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me,
for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  So after He had washed
their feet, and had taken His garments and was set down again, He said
unto them, "Know ye what I have done to you?  For I have given you an
example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  If ye know these
things, happy are ye if ye do them.  If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that
He may abide with you for ever.  If a man love Me, he will keep My words;
and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and will make Our
abode with him.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as
the world giveth, give I unto you.  These things have I spoken unto you
that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name; ask, and ye shall receive,
that your joy may be full.  Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast
given Me, be with Me where I am."  And thus I saw in my dream that their
way lay right through the land of Beulah, in which land they solaced
themselves for a season.

2.  "They solaced themselves."  Now, solace is just the Latin _solatium_,
which, again, is just a soothing, an assuaging, a compensation, an
indemnification.  Well, that land into which the pilgrims had now come
was very soothing to their ruffled spirits and to their weary hearts.  It
assuaged their many and sore griefs also.  It more than compensated them
for all their labours and all their afflictions.  And it was a full
indemnification to them for all that they had forsaken and lost both in
beginning to be pilgrims and in enduring to the end.  The children of
Israel had their first solace in their pilgrimage at Elim, where there
were twelve wells of water and threescore and ten palm-trees; and they
encamped there by the waters.  And then they had their last and crowning
solace when the spies came back from Eshcol with a cluster of grapes that
they bare between two upon a staff, with pomegranates and figs.  And
Moses kept solacing his charge all the way through the weary wilderness
with such strong consolations as these: "For the Lord thy God bringeth
thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths
that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and
vines, and fig-trees; a land of oil-olive and honey; a land wherein thou
shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a
land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig
brass."  Our Lord spake solace to His doubting and fainting disciples
also in many such words as these: "Verily, I say unto you, there is no
man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children
for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in
this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."  The Mount
of Transfiguration also was His own Beulah-solace; and the Last Supper
and the prayer with which it wound up were given to our Lord and to His
disciples as a very Eshcol-cluster from the Paradise above.  Now, I saw
in my dream that they solaced themselves in the land of Beulah for a
season.  Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds.  (The
Latin poets called the birds _solatia ruris_, because they refreshed and
cheered the rustic labourers with their sweet singing.)  And every day
the flowers appeared in the earth, and the voice of the turtle was heard
in the land.  In this country the sun shineth night and day, for there is
no night there.

3.  "In this country the sun shineth night and day."  How much Standfast
must have enjoyed that land of light you may guess when you recollect
that he came from Darkland, which lies in the hemisphere right opposite
to the land of Beulah.  In Darkland the sun never shines to be called
sunshine at all.  All the days of his youth, Standfast told his
companions, he had sat beside his father and his mother in that obscure
land where to his sorrow his father and his mother still sat.  But in
Beulah "the rose of evening becomes silently and suddenly the rose of
dawn."  This land lies beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death, neither
could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle.  Now, Doubting
Castle is a dismal place for any soul of man to be shut up into.  And in
that dark hold there are dungeons dug for all kinds of doubting souls.
There are dungeons dug for the souls of men whose doubts are in their
intellects, as well as for those also whose doubts arise out of their
hearts.  Some men read themselves into Doubting Castle, and some men sin
and sell themselves to its giant.  God casts some of His own children all
their days into those dungeons as a punishment for their life of
disobedience; He casts others down into chains of darkness because of
their idleness and unfruitfulness.  But Beulah is far away from Doubting
Castle.  Beulah is a splendid spot for a studious man to lodge in.  For
what a clear light shines night and day in Beulah!  To what far horizons
a man's eye will carry him in Beulah!  What large speculations rise
before him who walks abroad in Beulah!  How clear the air is in Beulah,
how clean the heart and how unclouded the eye of its inhabitants!  The
King's walks are in Beulah, and the arbours where He delighteth to be.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall be admitted to see God in
the land of Beulah.  In the land of Beulah the sun shall no more be thy
light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee;
but the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and thy God thy glory!

4.  "In this land also the contract between the bride and the bridegroom
is renewed."  Now, there is no other day so bitter in any man's life as
that day is on which his bridal contract is broken off.  And it is the
very perfection and last extremity of bitterness when his contract is
broken off because of his own past life.  Let all those, then, who would
fain enter into that sweet contract think well about it beforehand.  Let
them look back into all their past life.  For all their past life will be
sure to find them out on the day of their espousals.  If they have their
enemies--as all espoused men have--this is the hour and the power of
their enemies.  The day on which any man's espousals are published is a
small and local judgment-day to him.  For all the men, and, especially,
all the women, who have ever been injured by him, or who have injured
themselves upon him; all the men and all the women who for any reason,
and for no reason, hate both him and his happiness,--their tongues and
their pens will take no sleep till they have got his contract if they
can, broken off.  And even when the bridegroom is too innocent, or the
bride too true, or God too good to let the contract continue long to be
broken off, that great goodness of God and that great trust of his
contracted bride will only make the bridegroom walk henceforth more
softly and rejoice with more trembling.  And that is a most excellent
mind.  I know no better mind in which any man, guilty or innocent, can
enter on a married life.  I sometimes tell the bridegrooms that I can
take a liberty with to keep saying to themselves all the way up to the
marriage altar the tenth verse of the 103rd psalm; as well as when they
come up afterwards to the baptismal font: "He hath not dealt with us
after our sins nor rewarded us after our iniquities."  And it is surely
Beulah itself, at its very best, it is surely Beulah above itself, when a
happy bridegroom is full of that humble and happy mind, and when he is in
one and the same moment reconciled both to his bride on earth and to his
God and Father in heaven.  In this land, therefore, in the land of
Beulah, the contract between the bride and the bridegroom is renewed;
yea, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, so shall thy God rejoice
over thee.

5.  The salaams and salutations also that they were met with as often as
they went out to walk in the streets thereof were a constant surprise,
satisfaction, and sweetness to the fearful pilgrims.  No passer-by ever
once frowned or scowled upon them because their faces were Zionward, as
they do in our cities.  No one ever treated them with scorn or contempt
because they were poor or unlettered.  No man's face either turned dark
at them or was turned away from them as they passed up the street.  They
never, all the time they abode in Beulah, took to the lanes of the city
to escape the unkind looks of any of its citizens.  Greatheart's hand was
never away from his helmet.  His helmet was never well on his head.  His
always bare and unhelmeted head said to all the men of Beulah, I love and
honour and trust you.  You would not hurt a hair of my head.  And so on,
till all the streets of Beulah were one buzz of salutation,
congratulation, and benediction.  Here they heard voices from out of the
city, loud voices, saying, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy
salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him.  Here all the
inhabitants of the country called them the holy people, the redeemed of
the Lord, sought out, a city not forsaken.

6.  Now, as they walked in this land they had more rejoicing than in
parts more remote from the kingdom to which they were bound.  And still
drawing nigh to that city they had yet a more perfect view thereof.  It
was builded of pearls and precious stones, also the street thereof was
paved with gold, so that by reason of the natural glory of the city and
the reflection of the sunbeams upon it, Christian with desire fell sick.
Hopeful also had a fit or two of the same disease.  Wherefore here they
lay by it awhile, crying out because of their pangs, If you see my
beloved, tell him that I am sick of love.  There are in all good cases of
recovery three successive stages of soul-sickness.  True, soul-sickness
always runs its own course, and it always runs its own course in its own
order.  This special sickness first shows itself when the soul becomes
sick with sin.  We have that sickness set forth in many a psalm, notably
in the thirty-eighth psalm; and in a multitude of other scriptures, both
old and new, this evil disease is dealt with if we had only the eyes and
the heart to read such scriptures.  The second stage of this sickness is
when a sinner is not so much sick with the sin that dwelleth in him as
sick of himself.  Sinfulness in its second stage becomes so incorporate
with the sinner's whole life--sin so becomes the sinner's very nature,
and, indeed, himself,--that all his former loathing of sin passes over
henceforth into loathing of himself.  This is the most desperate stage in
any man's sickness; but, bad as it is, incurable as it is, it must be
passed into before the third stage of the healing process can either be
experienced or understood.  In the case in hand, by the time the pilgrims
had come to Beulah they had all had their full share of sin and of
themselves till they here entered on an altogether new experience.
"Christian with desire fell sick," we read, "and Hopeful also had a fit
or two of the same disease.  Wherefore here they lay by it a while,
crying out because of their pangs, If you see my beloved, tell him that I
am sick of love."  David, Paul, Bernard, Bunyan himself, Rutherford,
Brainerd, M'Cheyne, and many others crowd in upon the mind.  I shall but
instance John Flavel and Mrs. Jonathan Edwards, and so close.  John
Flavel being once on a journey set himself to improve the time by
meditation, when his mind grew intent, till at length he had such
ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such a full assurance of his
interest therein, that he utterly lost the sight and sense of this world
and all its concerns, so that for hours he knew not where he was.  At
last, perceiving himself to be faint, he sat down at a spring, where he
refreshed himself, earnestly desiring, if it were the will of God, that
he might there leave the world.  His spirit reviving, he finished his
journey in the same delightful frame, and all that night the joy of the
Lord still overflowed him so that he seemed an inhabitant of the other
world.  The only other case of love-sickness I shall touch on to-night I
take from under the pen of a sin-sick and love-sick author, who has been
truthfully described as "one of the first, if not the very first, of the
masters of human reason," and, again, as "one of the greatest of the sons
of men."  "There is a young lady in New-haven," says Edwards, "who is so
loved of that Great Being who made and rules the world, that there are
certain seasons in which this Great Being in some way or other invisible
comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, so that she
hardly cares for anything but to meditate upon Him.  She looks soon to
dwell wholly with Him, and to be ravished with His love and delight for
ever.  Therefore, if you present all this world before her, with the
richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is
unmindful of any pain or affliction.  She has a strange sweetness in her
mind, and a singular piety in her affections; is most just and
conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do
anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her the whole world.  She
loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have
some one invisible always communing with her."  And so on, all through
her seraphic history.  "Now, if such things are too enthusiastic," says
the author of _A Careful and a Strict Enquiry into the Freedom of the
Will_, "if such things are the offspring of a distempered brain, let my
brain be possessed evermore of that blessed distemper!  If this be
distraction, I pray God that the whole world of mankind may all be seized
with this benign, meek, beneficent, beatific, glorious distraction!  The
peace of God that passeth all understanding; rejoicing with joy
unspeakable and full of glory; God shining in our hearts, to give the
light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ; with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of God, and being changed into the same
image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord; being
called out of darkness into marvellous light, and having the day-star
arise in our hearts!  What a sweet distraction is that!  And out of what
a heavenly distemper and out of what a sane enthusiasm has all that come
to us!"

   "More I would speak: but all my words are faint;
   Celestial Love, what eloquence can paint?
   No more, by mortal words, can be expressed,
   But all Eternity shall tell the rest."



THE SWELLING OF JORDAN


   "The swelling of Jordan."--_Jeremiah_.

"Fore-fancy your deathbed," says Samuel Rutherford.  "Take an essay," he
says in his greatest book, that perfect mine of gold and jewels, _Christ
Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself_--"Take an essay and a lift at your
death, and look at it before it actually comes to your door."  And so we
shall.  Since it is appointed to all men once to die, and after death the
judgment; and since our death and our judgment are the only two things
that we are absolutely sure about in our whole future, we shall
henceforth fore-fancy those two events much more than we have done in the
past.  And to assist us in that; to quicken our fancy, to kindle it, to
captivate it, and to turn our fancy wholly to our salvation, we have all
the entrancing river-scenes in the _Pilgrim's Progress_ set before us; a
succession of scenes in which Bunyan positively revels in his exquisite
fancies, clothing them as he does, all the time, in language of the
utmost beauty, tenderness, pathos, power, and dignity.  Let us take our
stand, then, on the bank of the river and watch how pilgrim after pilgrim
behaves himself in those terrible waters.  We are all voluntary
spectators to-night, but we shall all be compulsory performers before we
know where we are.

1.  On entering the river even Christian suddenly began to sink.  Fore-
fancy that.  All the words he spake still tended to discover that he had
great horror of mind and hearty fears that he would die in that river;
here also he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins he had
committed both since and before he began to be a pilgrim.  Fore-fancy
that also, all you converted young men.  Hopeful, therefore, had much to
do to keep his brother's head above water; yea, sometimes he would be
quite gone down, and then in a while he would rise up again half-dead.
Then I saw in my dream that Christian was in a muse a while; to whom also
Hopeful added this word, "Be of good cheer; Jesus Christ maketh thee
whole."  And with that Christian broke out with a loud voice, "When thou
passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers
they shall not overflow thee."  Then they both took courage and the enemy
was after that as still as a stone till they were gone over.  Fore-fancy
that also.  There is one other thing out of that crossing that I hope I
shall remember when I am in the river: "Be of good cheer," said Hopeful
to his sinking fellow--"Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel the bottom,
and it is good."  "Hold His hand fast," wrote Samuel Rutherford to Lady
Kenmure.  "He knows all the fords.  You may be ducked in His company but
never drowned.  Put in your foot, then, and wade after Him.  And be sure
you set your feet always upon the stepping-stones."  Yes; fore-fancy
those stepping-stones, and often practise your feet upon them before the
time.

2.  "Good woman," said the post to Christiana, the wife of Christian the
pilgrim; "Hail, good woman, I bring thee tidings that the Master calleth
for thee, and expecteth thee to stand in His presence in clothes of
immortality within this ten days."  Fore-fancy that also.  Now the day
was come that she must be gone.  And so the road was full of people to
see her take her journey.  But, behold, all the banks beyond the river
were full of horses and chariots which were come down from above to
accompany her to the city gate.  So she came forth and entered the river
with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the river-side.
And thus she went and entered in at the gate with all the ceremonies of
joy that her husband had done before her.  Fore-fancy, if you can, some
of those ceremonies of joy.

3.  When Mr. Fearing came to the river where was no bridge, there again
he was in a heavy case.  Now, he said, he should be drowned for ever and
never see that Face with comfort he had come so many miles to behold.  And
here also I took notice of what was very remarkable; the water of that
river was lower at this time than ever I saw it in all my life.  So he
went over at last not much above wet-shod.  Fore-fancy and fore-arrange,
if it be possible, for a passage like that.  When he was going tip to the
gate Mr. Greatheart began to take his leave of him, and to wish him a
good reception above.  "I shall," he said, "I shall."  Be fore-assured,
also, of a reception like that.

4.  In process of time there came a post to the town again, and his
business was this time with Mr. Ready-to-halt.  So he inquired him out
and said to him, "I am come to thee in the name of Him whom thou hast
loved and followed, though upon crutches.  And my message is to tell thee
that He expects thee at His table to sup with Him in His kingdom the next
day after Easter."  After this Mr. Ready-to-halt called for his fellow-
pilgrims and told them, saying, "I am sent for, and God shall surely
visit you also.  These crutches," he said, "I bequeath to my son that he
may tread in my steps, with a hundred warm wishes that he may prove
better than I have done."  When he came to the brink of the river, he
said, "Now I shall have no more need of these crutches, since yonder are
horses and chariots for me to ride on."  The last words he was heard to
say were, "Welcome life!"  Let all ready-to-halt hearts fore-fancy all
that.

5.  Then Mr. Feeble-mind called for his friends and told them what errand
had been brought to him, and what token he had received of the truth of
the message.  "As for my feeble mind," he said, "that I shall leave
behind me, for I shall have no need of that in the place whither I go.
When I am gone, Mr. Valiant, I desire that you would bury it in a dung-
hill."  This done, and the day being come in which he was to depart, he
entered the river as the rest.  His last words were, "Hold out faith and
patience."  Fore-fancy such an end as that to your feeble mind also.

6.  Did you ever know a family, or, rather, the relics of a family, where
there was just a decrepit old father and a lone daughter left to nurse
him through his second childhood?  All his other children are either
married or dead; but both marriage and death have spared Miss Much-afraid
to watch over the dotage-days of Mr. Despondency; till one summer
afternoon the old man fell asleep in his chair to waken where old men are
for ever young.  And in a day or two there were two new graves side by
side in the old churchyard.  Even death could not divide this old father
and his trusty child.  And so when the time was come for them to depart,
they went down together to the brink of the river.  The last words of Mr.
Despondency were, "Farewell night and welcome day."  His daughter went
through the river singing, but none could understand what it was she
said.  Fore-fancy that, all you godly old men, with a daughter who has
made a husband and children to herself of her old father.

7.  As I hear Old Honest shouting "Grace reigns!" I always remember what
a lady told me about a saying of her poor Irish scullery-girl.  The
mistress and the servant were reading George Eliot's Life together in the
kitchen, and when they came to her deathbed, on the pillow of which
Thomas A'Kempis lay open, "Mem," said the girl, "I used to read that old
book in the convent; but it is a better book to live upon than to die
upon."  Now, that was exactly Old Honest's mind.  He lived upon one book,
and then he died upon another.  He lived according to the commandments of
God, but he died according to the comforts of the Gospel.  Now, we read
in his history how that the river at that time overflowed its banks in
some places.  But Mr. Honest had in his lifetime spoken to one
Good-conscience to meet him at the river, the which he also did, and lent
him his hand, and so helped him over.  All the same, the last words of
Mr. Honest still were, "Grace reigns!"  And so he left the world.  Fore-
fancy whether or no you are making, as one has said, "an assignation with
terror" at that same river-side.

8.  Standfast was the last of the pilgrims to go over the river.
Standfast was left longest on this side the river because his Master
could best trust him here.  His Master had to take away many of His other
servants from the evil to come, but He could trust Standfast.  You can
safely trust a man who takes to his knees in every hour of temptation, as
Standfast was wont to do.  "This river," he said, "has been a terror to
many.  Yea, the thoughts of it have often frighted me also.  The waters,
indeed, are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the
thoughts of what I am going to, and of the conduct that awaits me on the
other side, doth lie as a glowing coal at my heart.  I see myself now at
the end of my journey, and my toilsome days are all ended.  I am going
now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was
spit upon for me.  His name has been to me as a civet-box, yea, sweeter
than all perfumes.  His word I did use to gather for my food, and for
antidotes against my faintings.  He has held me up, and I have kept
myself from mine iniquities.  Yea, my steps hath He strengthened in the
way."  Now, while he was thus in discourse his countenance changed, his
strong man bowed down under him, and after he had said, "Take me, for I
come to Thee," he ceased to be seen of them.  Fore-fancy, if you have the
face, an end like that for yourself.

This, then, is how Christian and Hopeful and Christiana and Old Honest
and all the rest did in the swelling river.  But the important point is,
HOW WILL YOU DO?  Have you ever fore-fancied how you will do?  Have you
ever, among all your many imaginings, imagined yourself on your deathbed?
Have you ever thought you heard the doctor whisper, "To-night"?  Have you
ever lain low in your bed and listened to the death-rattle in your own
throat?  And have you still listened to the awful silence in the house
after all was over?  Have you ever shot in imagination the dreadful gulf
that stands fixed between life and death, and between time and eternity?
Have you ever tried to get a glimpse beforehand of your own place where
you will be an hour after your death, when they are putting the grave-
clothes on your still warm body, and when they are measuring your corpse
for your coffin?  Where will you be by that time?  Have you any idea?  Can
you fancy it?  Did you ever try?  And if not, why not?  "My lord," wrote
Jeremy Taylor to the Earl of Carbery, when sending him the first copy of
the _Holy Dying_,--"My lord, it is a great art to die well, and that art
is to be learnt by men in health; for he that prepares not for death
before his last sickness is like him that begins to study philosophy when
he is going to dispute publicly in the faculty.  The precepts of dying
well must be part of the studies of them that live in health, because in
other notices an imperfect study may be supplied by a frequent exercise
and a renewed experience; but here, if we practise imperfectly once, we
shall never recover the error, for we die but once; and therefore it is
necessary that our skill be more exact since it cannot be mended by
another trial."  How wise, then, how far-seeing, how practical, and how
urgent is the prophet's challenge and demand.  "How wilt thou do in the
swelling of Jordan?"

1.  Well, then, let us be practical before we close, and let us descend
to particulars.  Let us take the prophet's question and run it through
some parts and some practices of our daily life as already dying men.
And, to begin with, I have such a great faith in good books, whether we
are to live or die, that I am impelled to ask you all at this point, and
under shelter of this plain-spoken prophet, What books have you laid in
for your deathbed, and for the weeks and months and even years before
your death bed?  What do you look forward to be reading when Jordan is
beginning to swell and roll for you and to leap up toward your doorstep?
If you get good from good books--everybody does not--but supposing you
are one of those who do, what books can you absolutely count upon,
without fail, to put you in the best possible frame for the river, and
for the convoy across, and for the ceremonies of joy on the other side?
What special Scriptures will you have read every day to you?  "Read,"
said John Knox to his weeping wife, "read where I first cast my anchor."
An old lady I once knew used to say to me at every visit, "The
Fifty-first Psalm."  She was the daughter of a Highland minister, and the
wife of a Highland minister, and the mother of a Highland minister, and
of an elder to boot.  "The Fifty-first Psalm," she said, and sometimes,
"One of Hart's hymns also."  What is your favourite psalm and hymn?  Mr.
James Taylor of Castle Street has several large-type libraries in his
catalogue.  Mr. Taylor might start a much worse paying speculation than a
large-type library for the river-side; or, some select booklets for
deathbeds.  The series might well open with "The Ninetieth Psalm" in
letters an inch deep.  Scholars die as well as illiterates, and there
might be provided for them, among other things, _The Phaedo_ in two
languages, Plato's and Jowett's.  Then _The Seven Sayings from the
Cross_.  Bellarmine's _Art of Dying Well_ would stand well beside John
Bunyan's _Dying Sayings_.  And, were I the editor, I would put in Bishop
Andrewes' _Private Devotions_, if only for my own last use.  Then Richard
Baxter's _Saint's Rest_, and John Howe's Platonico-Puritan book,
_Blessedness of the Righteous_.  Then Bernard's "New Jerusalem," "The
Sands of Time are sinking," "Rock of Ages," and such like.  These are
some of the little books I have within reach of my bed against the hour
when the post blows his first horn for me.  You might tell me some of
your deathbed favourites.

2.  Who will be your most welcome minister during your last days on
earth?  For whom would you send to-night if the post were suddenly to
sound his horn at your side on your way home from church?  I can well
believe it would not be your own minister.  I have known fathers and
mothers in this congregation to send for other ministers than their own
minister when terrible trouble came upon them, and both my conscience and
my common sense absolutely approved of the step they took.  Five students
were once sitting and talking together in a city in which there was to be
an execution to-morrow morning.  They were talking about the murderer who
was to be executed in the morning, and about the minister he had sent for
to come to see him.  And, like students, they began to put it to one
another--Suppose you were to be executed to-morrow, for what minister in
the city, or even in the whole land, would you send?  And, like students
again, they said--Let each one write down on a piece of paper the name of
the minister he would choose to be beside him at the last, and we shall
see each man's last choice.  They did so, when to their astonishment it
was discovered that they had all written the same minister's name!  I do
not know that they all went to his church every Sabbath while they were
young and, well, and not yet under sentence of death.  I do not think
they did.  For when I was in his church there was only a handful of old
and decayed-looking people in it.  The chief part of the congregation
seemed to me to be a charity school.  And I gathered from all that a
lesson--several lessons, and this among the rest--that crowded passages
do not always wait upon the best pastors; and this also, that a waft of
death soon discovers to us a true minister from an incompetent and a
counterfeit minister.

3.  Writing to one of his correspondents about his correspondent's long-
drawn-out deathbed, Samuel Rutherford said to him, "It is long-drawn-out
that you may have ample time to go over all your old letters and all your
still unsettled accounts before you take ship."  Have you any such old
letters lying still unanswered?  Have you any such old accounts lying
still unsettled?  Have you made full reparation and restitution for all
that you and yours have done amiss?  Fore-fancy that you will soon be
summoned into His presence who has said: "herefore, if thou bring thy
gift before the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught
against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way;
first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him."
You know all about Zacchaeus.  I need not tell his story over again.  But
as I write these lines I take up a London newspaper and my eyes light on
these lines: "William Avary was a man of remarkable gifts, both of mind
and character.  He dedicated the residue of his strength wholly to works
of piety.  In middle age he failed in business, and in his old age, when
better days came, he looked up such of his old creditors as could be
found and divided among them a sum of several thousand pounds."  Look up
such of your old creditors as you can find, and that not in matters of
money alone.  And, be sure you begin to do it now, before the horn blows.
For, as sure as you take your keys and open your old repositories, you
will come on things you had completely forgotten that will take more time
and more strength, ay, and more resources, than will then be at your
disposal.  Even after you have begun at once and done all that you can
do, you will have to do at last as Samuel Rutherford told George
Gillespie to do: "Hand over all your bills, paid and unpaid, to your
Surety.  Give Him the keys of the drawer, and let Him clear it out for
Himself after you are gone."

4.  And then, pray often to God for a clear mind between Him and you, and
for a quick, warm, and heaven-hungry heart at the last.  And take a
promise from those who watch beside your bed that they will not drug and
stupefy you even though you should ask for it.  Whatever your pain, and
it is all in God's hand, make up your mind, if it be possible, to bear
it.  It cannot be greater than the pain of the cross, and your Saviour
would not touch their drugs, however well-intended.  He determined to
face the swelling of Jordan and to enter His Father's house with an
unclouded mind.  Try your very uttermost to do the same.  I cannot
believe that the thief even would have let the gall so much as touch his
lips after Christ had said to him, "To-day thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise!"  Well, if your mind was ever clear and keen, let it be at its
clearest and its keenest at the last.  Let your mind and your heart be
full of repentance, and faith, and love, and hope, and all such saying
graces, and let them all be at their fullest and brightest exercise, at
that moment.  Be on the very tip-toe of expectation as the end draws
near.  Another pang, another gasp, one more unutterable sinking of heart
and flesh as if you were going down into the dreadful pit--and then the
abundant entrance, and the beatific vision!  What wilt thou do then?  What
wilt thou say then?  Hast thou thy salutation and thy song ready?  And
what will it be?



FOOTNOTES


{1}  Delivered November 27th, 1892.

{2}  January 1st, 1893.





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