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The Town of Vanity: And Vanity-Fair. 115
mit the keeping of your souls to your God, as unto a faithful Creator.” (y) Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the Wilderness, they presently saw a Town before them; the name of that Town is Vanity; and at the Town there is a Fair kept, called Vanity-Fair, it is kept all the year long : it beareth the name of Vanity-Fair, because the Town where it is kept is “lighter than vanity,” and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is Vanity. As is the saying of the wise, “All that cometh is vanity.” This Fair is no new-erected ot a thing of ancient standing: I will shew you the original of it. Almost five thousand years agone there were Pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two honest persons are ; and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving, by the path that the Pilgrims made, that their way to the City lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a Fair; a Fair, wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity; and that it should last all the year long : therefore at this Fair are all such merchandize sold, as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures ; and delights of all sorts, as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not And moreover, at this Fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red colout.
*Eccles. i. 2, 14. ii. 11, 17. xi. 8. Isa. xl. 17.
(y) The able and faithful minister can foretel many things, from his knowledge of the Scriptures, and enlarged experience and observation, of which his people are not aware, He knows beforehand, that “through much tribulation they must enter into the kingdom of God;" and the circumstances of the times aid him in discerning what trials and difficulties more especially await them. A retired life shelters a believer from the enmity of the world : and timid men are often tempted on this account to abide in the wilderness ; to choose obscurity and solitude for the sake of quiet and safety, to the neglect of those active services for which they are qualified. But when Christians are called forth to more public situations, they need peculiar cautions and instructions: for inexperience renders men inattentive to the words of Scripture; and they often do not at all expect, or prepare for, the orials which are inseparable from those scenes, on which whey are perhaps even impatient *9 winter.
116 Things seen and sold in Vanity-Fair.
And as in other Fairs of less moment there are several rows and streets under their proper names, where such and such wares are vended, so here likewise you have the proper places, rows, streets, (viz. countries and kingdoms) where the wares of this Fair are soonest to be found. Here is the Britain Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the Spanish Row, the German Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be sold. But as in other Fairs some one commodity is as the chief of all the Fair, so the ware of Rome and her merchandize is greatly promoted in this Fair; only our English nation, with some others, have taken a dislike thereat. (z)
(z) Our author evidently designed to exhibit in his allegory the grand outlines of the difficulties, temptations, and sufferings, to which believers are exposed in this evil world ; which, in a work of this nature, must be related as if they came upon them one after another in regular succession; though in actual experience several may meet together, many may molest the same person again and again, and some harass him inevery stage of his journey. We should, therefore, singly consider the instruction conveyed by every allegorical incident, without measuring our experience, or calculating our progress, by comparing them with circumstances, which might be reversed or altered with almost endless variety.—In general Vanity-Fair represents the wretched state of things, in those populous places especially where true religion is neglected and persecuted; and indeed of “the whole world lying in wickedness,” as distinguished from the church of redeemed sinners. This oontinues the same (in respect of the general principles, conduct, and pursuits of mankind,) through all ages and nations: but Christians are called to mix more with it, at some times than at others; and Satan, the god and prince of it, is permitted to excite fierce persecution in some places and on some occasions, while at other times he is restrained. Many; therefore, seem to spend all their days in the midst of Vanity-Fair, and of continual insults or injuries ; while others are only sometimes thus exposed, and pass most of their lives unmolested : and a few are favoured with so obseure a situation, and such peaceable times, that they are very little acquainted with these trials—Mr. Bunyan, living in the country, had frequent opportunities of witnessing those Fairs, which are held first in one town and then - in another; and of observing the permicious effects produced on the principles, morals, health, and circumstances of young persons especially, by thus drawing together a multitude, from motives of interest, dissipation, and excess. He must also, doubtless, have found them to be a very dangerous share to serious or hopeful persons: so that his delineation of this case under allusions taken from this seene, will be more interesting and affecting to those who have been spectators of it, than to such as have moved in higher circles, or dwelt chiefly in populous cities—Worldly men covet, pursue, grasp at and contend for, the things of time and sense, with eagerness and violence, so that their conduct aptly resembles the bustle, selfishness, artifice, dissipation, riot, and tumult of a large crowded Fair. The profits, pleasures, honours, possessions, and distinctions of the world, are as transient and frivolous as the events of the fair-day; with which the children are delighted, but which every man of sense contemns. Solomon, after a complete experiment, pronounced the whole to be “vality of vanities;” the veriest vanity imaginable, a complex vanity, an accumulation of cyphers, a lottery consisting entirely of blanks; every earthly object being unsuitable to the wants of the rational soul, unsubstantial. unsatisfactory, disappointing, and perishing— Yet this traffie of varities is kept up all the year : because the carnal mind always hankers after one work!!y trifle or other, and longs for change of follies and relays of joy ; while objects suited to its feverish thirst are always at had to allure it, deriving their efficacy
The Way to the City through the Fair. 117
Now, as I said, the way to the Celestial City lies just through this Town where this lusty Fair is kept ; and he that will go to the §: and yet not go through this Town, “must needs go out of the world.”. The Prince of Princes himself, when here, went through this Town, to his own country, and that upon a Fair-day too : }. and as I think, it was Beelzebub the chief lord of this Fair that invited him to buy of his vanities : yea, he would have made him Lord of the Fair, would he but have done him reverence as he went through the Town : yea, because he was such a Person of honour, Beelzebub had him from street to street, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time, that he might if p. allure that Blessed One to cheapen and buy some of is vanities. But he had no mind to the merchandize, and therefore left the Town without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities.* This Fair, therefore, is an ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great Fair. (a) * Matt. iv. 8, 9. Luke iv. 5–7.
from continually pressing, as it were, on the senses.—When our first parents were fatally prevailed on to join Satan's apostacy, they “forsook the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves broken cisterns;” and the idolatry, of seeking happiness from the creature instead of the Creator, has been universal among all their posterity. Since the promise of a Saviour opened to fallen men a door of hope, the tempter has continually tried to allure them by outward objects, or induce them by the dread of pain and suffering to “neglect so great salvation.” Thus the prince of the devils sets up this Fair; and by teaching men to abuse the good creatures of God to vile purposes, or to expect from them such satisfaction as they were never meant to afford, he has used them as baits to the ambition, avarice, levi. ty, and sensuality of the carnal mind. No crime has ever been committed on earth, or coneeived in the heart of man, which did not arise from this universal apostacy and idolatry; from the excess, to which the insufficiency of the object to answer the proposed end, gives rise; and from the vile passions which the jarring interests or inclinations of numberless competitors for honour, power, wealth and pleasure camot fail to excite. As the streams of impiety and vice, which flow from this source, are varied, according to men's constitutions, educations, habits and situations; so different worldly pursuits predominate in divers nations, or stages of civilization. Hence the manifold variations in the human character, which equal the diversity of their complexions, shape or capacities, though they be all of one nature. To this an allusion is made by “the rows' in this Fair.—The merchandize of Rome, which suited a rude and ignorant age, has now given place to the more plausible wares of sceptical philosophers, which are more agreeable to the pride of learning and human reasoning. Even things lawful in themselves, when sought, or possessed in a manner which is not consistent with “seeking first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” be oome allurements of Satan to draw sinners into his fatal snare. (a) Christianity does not allow men to “bury their talent in the earth,” or to put “their light under a bushel :" they should not “go out of the world,” or retire into cloisters and deserts: and, therefore, they must all go through this Fair. Thus our Lord and Saviour endured all the temptations and sufferings of this evil world, without being at all impeded or entangled by them, or stepping in the least aside to avoid them. The age in which ho lived peculiarly abounded in all possible allurements; and he was exposed to such enmity, •ontempt and sufferings, as could never be exceeded or equalled. But “he went about doing good " and his whole conduct, as well as his indignant repulse of the tempter's insolent of. fer, hath emphatically shown his judgment of all earthly things, and exhibited to us “an example that we should follow his steps.”
118 J. Hubbub in the Fair,
Now these Pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this Fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the Fair, all the people in the Fair were moved, and the Town itself. as it were, in a hubbub about them ; and that for several reasons: for, First, The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the rainent of any that traded in that Fair. The people, therefore, of the Fair made a great gazing upon them : some said they were fools;” some, they were bedlams, and some, they were outlandish men. , Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech : for few could understand what they said; they naturally spoke the language of Canaan; but they that kept the Fair were the men of this world; so that from one end of the Fair to the other they seemed barbarians each to the other." Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandizers was, that these Pilgrims set very light by all their wares: they cared not so much as to look upon them : and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity ;”f and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.j () "I Cor. iv. 9, 10. t Psa.cxix. 37. # Phil. iii. 20, 21.
Here are inserted the following lines:–
‘Behold Vanity-Fair : The Pilgrims there
Even so it was our Lord past here,
(b) The Presence of real Christians in those places, where a large concourse of worldly *** **ted for sinful purposes, must produce a disturbance and effervescence; and the ** the number is of those, who by their actions, words or silence, protest against Vice and impi ty, the fiercer the opposition that will be excited. A pious clergyman, on board a vessel, where he was a single exception to the general ungodliness that prevailed, gave goat offence by constantly but sil intly withdrawing, when oaths or unseemly discourse made his situation ***Y : and he was called to account for so assuming a singularity – content * vers, appearing in character among worldly people, and not disguising *"Noso this opposition ; but more accommodating professors escape on the righteousness and atonement of Christ for acceptance,
gives vast offence to those who rely on their own good works for justification: and con* Prov. xxiii. 23. t Heb. xi. 13–16.
.1t the Sight of the Pilgrims. 119
One chanced, mockingly, beholding the carriages of the men, to say unto them, ‘What will ye buy P but they looking gravely upon him, said, “We buy the truth.” . At that, there was an occasion taken to despise the men the more: some mocking, some taunting, some speaking reproachfully, and some calling upon others to smite them. At last things caume to an hubbub and great stir in the Fair, insomuch that all order was confounded. . Now was word presently brought to the great One of the Fair, who quickly came down, and deputed some of his most trusty friends to take those men into examination about whom the Fair was almost overturned. So the men were brought to examination; and they that sat upon them, asked them whence they came, whither they went, and what they did there in such an unusual garb P The men told them that they were Pilgrims and strangers in the world; and that they were going to their own Country, which was the heavenly Jerusalem;f and that they had given no occasion to the men of the Town, nor yet to the merchandizers, thus to abuse them, and to let them in their journey; except it was for that, when one asked them what they would buy, they said they would “buy the truth.”— But they that were appointed to examine them, did not believe them to be any other than bedlams and mad, or else such as came to put all things into a confusion in the Fair. Therefore they took them and beat them, and besmeared them with dirt, and then put them into the cage, that they might be made a spectacle to all the men of the Fair. (c)
formity to the example, and obedience to the commandments, of the Redeemer, are deemed precise and uncouth in the judgment of those who “walk according to the course of this world;” and they deem the Christian insane or outlandish for his peculiarities. His discourse, seasoned with piety, humility'and spirituality, so differs from the “filthy conversation of the wicked,” and the polite simulation of the courtly, that they can have no intercourse with him, or he with them: and when he speaks of the love of Christ, and the satisfaction of communion with him, while they “blaspheme the worthy name by which he is called;" they must seem barbarians each to the other. But above all, the believer's contempt of worldly things, when they interfire with the will and glory of God, forms such a testimony against all the pursuits and conduct of carnal men, as must excite their greatest astonishment and indignation; while he shuns with dread and abhorrence, as incompatible with salvation, those verythings to which they wholly addict themselves without the least remorse.
(r) When the scoffs of those, “who think it strange that Christians will not run with them to the same excess of riot,” extort from them a full and explicit declaration of their principles, it maybe expected that the reproaches and insults of their despisers will be increased; and then all the mischief and confusion which sollow will be laid to their charge—“There were no such disputes about religion before they came ; “These men who turn the world