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169 By-way to Hell.
that they smelt the scent of brimstone. Then said Christian, What means this P. The Shepherds told them, This is a byway to hell, a way that o go in at: namely, such as sell their birthright, with Esau; such as sell their Master, with Judas; such as blaspheme the gospel, with Alexander; and that lie and dissemble, with Amanias and Sapphira his wife. Then said Hopeful to the Shepherds, I perceive that these had on them, even every one, a shew of pilgrimage, as we have now, had they not? Shep. Yes, and held it a long time too. Hope. How far might they goon in pilgrimage in their days, since they notwithstanding were thus miserably cast away P Shep. Some further, and some not so far as these Mountains. Then said the Pilgrims one to another, We had need cry to the strong for strength, Shep. Ah, and you will have need to use it when you have it, too. (z) By this time the Pilgrims had a desire to go forwards, and the Shepherds a desire they should ; so they walked together towards the end of the Mountains. Then said the Shepherds one to another, Let us here shew to the Pilgrims the gates of the Celestial City, if they have skill to look through our perspective glass. The Pilgrims then !. accepted the motion: so they had them to the top of an hi Hill, called Clear, and gave them their glass to look. Then they essayed to look, but the remembrance of that last thing that the Shepherds had shewed them made their hands shake; (a) by means of which impediment they could
(z) No man can see the heart of another, or certainly know him to be a true believer: it is, therefore, proper to warn the most approved persons, “while they think they stand, to take heed lest they fall.” Such cautions, with the diligence, self-examination, watchfulness, and prayer which they excite, are the means of perseverance and establishment to the upright—An event may be certain in itself, and yet inseparable from the method in which it is to be accomplished;" and it may appear very uncertain to the persons concerned, especially if they yield to remissness of so that prayer to the Almighty God for strength, with continual watchfulness and attention to every part of practical religion, is absolutely neces. sary to “the full assurance of hope unto the end.”t
(a) Such is the infirmity of our nature, even when in a measure renovated, that it is almost impossible for us vigorously to exercise one holy affection, without failing in some other. When we confide in God, with assured faith and hope, we commonly are defective in reverence, humility and caution : on the other hand, a jealousy of ourselves, and a salutary fear of coming short or drawing back, generally weaken eonfidence in God, and interfere with a joyful anticipation ofour future inheritance. But, notwithstanding this deduction, through * remaining unbelief, such experiences are very advantageous—"Be not high-minded, but fear " for “blessed is he that feareth always.”
..? Fouth named Ignorance. 161
not look steadily through the glass; yet they thought they saw something like the Gate, and also some of the glory of the place.
- “Thus by the Shepherds secrets are reveal’d, Which from all other men are kept conceal’d : Come to the Shepherds then, if you would see Things deep, things hid, and that mysterious be.’ When they were about to depart, one of the Shepherds: #. them off note of the way. Another of them bid them, eware of the Flatterer. The third bid them, Take heed that they sleep not upon the enchanted Ground. And the fourth bid them God speed. So I awoke from my dream. And I slept and dreamed again, and saw the same two Pilgrims going doing the Mountains along the highway towards the City. Now a little below these Mountains on the left hand lieth the Country of Conceit, from which Country there comes into the way in which the Pilgrims walked a little crooked lane. Here therefore they met with a very brisk lad that came out of that Country, and his name was Ignorance. (b) So Christian asked him from what parts he came, and whither he was going? (5) Multitudes of ignorant persons entirely disregard God and religion; and others have a shew of piety, which is grave, reserved, austere, distant, and connected with contemptu162 Christian discourses with Ignorance.
ous enmity to evangelical truth. But there are some persons of a sprightly disposition, who are more conceited and vain-glorious than haughty and arrogant: who think well of them
selves, and presume on the good opinion of their acquaintance; who are open and commu
nicative, though they expose their ignorance continually ; who fancy themselves very religious, and expect to be thought so by others; who are willing to associate with evangelical professors, as if they all meant the same thing; and who do not express contempt or enmity unloss urged to it in self-defence. This description of men seems to be represented by the character next introduced, about which the author has repeatedly bestowed much pains.— Christian had soon done with Obstimate and Worldly-wise-man: for such men, being outrageous against the gospel, shun all intercourse with established believers, and little can be done to warn or undeceive them: but brisk, conceited, shallow persons, who are ambitious of being thought religious, are shaken off with great difficulty; and they are continually found among the hearers of the gospel. They often intrude themselves at the most sacred ordinances, when they have it in their power ; and sometimes are favourably thought of till further acquaintance proves their entire ignorance—Pride, in one form or another, is the universal fault of human nature; but the frivolous vain-glory of empty-talkers diors exceedingly from the arrogance and formal self-importance of Scribes and Pharisees, and ariss from a different constitution and education, and other habits and associations. This in the Town of Conceit, where Ignorance resided. A lively disposition, a weak capacity, a confused judgment, the want of information about religion and almost every other subject, a pro;ortionalie blindness to all these d focts. and a pert forward self-sufficiency, are the Prominents...tures in this portrait: and if a full purse secular influence, the ability of color-ring favours, and the power to excite fears, be added, the whole receives its highest finishiowith the observations on this peculiar character, and a few hints as we proceei, the so in **nguage of the author ol, this subject will be perficily intelligible to the attentive reader
Ignor. Sir, I was born in the Country that lieth off there a little to the left hand, and I am going to the Celestial City. Chr. But how do you think to get in at the Gate P for you may find some difficulty there. *s ‘As other good people do,” said he. * * Chr. But what have you to shew at that Gate, that may cause that the Gate should be opened to you ? Ignor. I know my Lord's will, and have been a good liver; I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, o tithes, and give alms, and have left my Country for whither I am going. Chr. But thou camest not in at the Wicket-gate that is at the head of this way; thou gamest in hither through that same crooked lane; and therefore I fear, however thou mayest think of thyself, when the reckoning-day shall come, thou wilt have laid to thy charge that thou art a thief and a robber, instead of getting admittance into the City. Ignor. Gentlemen, ye be utter strangers to me, I know you not; be content to follow the religion of your Country, and I will follow the religion of mine. I hope all will be well. And, as for the Gate that you talk of, all the world knows that that is a great way off of our Country. I cannot think that any man in all our parts doth so much as know the way to it, nor need they matter whether they do or no ; since we have, as you see, a fine pleasant green lane that comes down from our Country the next way into it.
When Christian saw that the man was wise in his own
conceit, he said to Hopeful whisperingly, “There is more hopes of a fool than of him;” and said moreover, “When he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.”t What, shall we talk further with him, or outgo him at present, and so leave him to think of what he hath heard already, and then stop again for him afterwards, and see if by degrees we can do any good of him 2 Then said Hopeful,
‘Let Ignoranee alittle while now muse
He further added, It is not good, I think, to say all to
* Prov, xxvi, 12. t Eccles. X. 3,
Turn-away carried off by Devils. 163
him at once; let us pass him by, if you will, and talk to him anon, even as he is “able to bear it.” (c) So they both went on, and Ignorance he came after. Now when they had passed him a #. way they entered into a very dark lane, where they met a man whom seven devils j'bound with seven strong cords, and were carrying of him back to the door that they saw on the side of the hill.” Now good Christian began to tremble, and so did Hopeful his companion; yet as the devils led away the man, Christian looked to see if he knew him; and he thought it might be one Turn-away that dwelt in the Town of Apostacy. But he did not perfectly see his face, for he did hang his head like a thief that is found. But being gone past, #. ful looked after him, and spied on his . a paper with this inscription, ‘Wanton professor and damnable apostate.” (d) Then said Christian to his fellow, Now I call to remembrance that which was told me, of a thing that happened to a od man hereabout. The name of the man was Little-faith; ut a good man, and he dwelt in the Town of Sincere. The thing was this:—at the entering in at this passage, there comes down from Broad-way Gate a lane called Dead Man’slane; so called, because of the murders that are commonly done there ; and this Little-faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there and slept ; now there happened at that time to come down the lane from Broad-way Gate three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-heart, 164 Christian relates how Little-faith was robbed.
* Matt. xii. 45. Prov. v. 22.
(c) It is best not to converse much at once with persons of this character: but after a few warnings to leave them to their reflections: for their self-conceit is often cherished by altercations, in which they deem themselves very expert, however disgusting their discourse may prove to others.
(d) The dark lane seems to mean a season of prevalent impiety, and of great affliction to the people of God.—Here the impartial author takes occasion to contrast the character of Ignorance with that of Turn-away. Loose evangelical professors look down with supercilious disdain on those who do not understand the doctrines of grace; and think themselves more enlightened, and better acquainted with the liberty of the gospel, than more practical Christians: but in dark times wanton professors often turn out damnable apostates, and the detection of their hypocrisy makes them ashaned to shew their faces among those believers, over whom they before affected a kind of superiority. When convictions subside, and Christ has not set up his kingdom in the heart, the unclean spirit resumes his former habitation, and “takes to himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself,” who bind the poor wretch faster than ever in the cords of sin and delusion ; so that his last state is more hopeless than the first. Such apostasies nake the hearts of the upright to tremble; but a recollection of the nature of Turn-away's profession and confidence gradually removes their dishcultics, and they recover their hope, and learn to take he'd to then,so ivos.
Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying Little-faith where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey. So they came up all to him, and with threatening language bid him stand. . At this Little-faith looked as white as a clout, and had neither power to fight nor flee. Then said Faint-heart, “Deliver thy purse;’ but he making no haste to do it, (for he was loth to Jose his money,) Mistrust ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out ‘Thieves' thieves' With that Guilt, with a great club that was in his hand, struck Little-faith on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the ground, where he lay bleeding as one that would bleed to death. (e) All this Wi. the thieves stood by. But at last, they hearing that some were upon the road, and fearing lest it should be one Great-grace, that dwells in the city of Good-confidence, they betook themselves to their heels, and left this good man to shift for himself. (f) Now after a while Little-faith came
to himself, and getting up, made shift to scrabble on his way.
This was the story.
(e) The ensuing episode concerning Little-faith was evidently intended, to prevent weak Christians being dismayed by the awful things spoken of hypocrites and apostates. In times of persecution, many who seemed to be religious openly return into the broad way to destruction; and thus Satan murders the souls of men, by threatening to kill their bodies. This is Dead-man's-lane, leading back to Broad-way-gate. All true believers are indeed preserved from drawing back to perdition: but the weak in faith, being finishearted, and mistrusting the promises and faithfulness of God, are betrayed into sinful compliances or negligences; they lie down to sleep when they have special need to watch and be sober; they conceal or perhaps deny their profession, are timid and negligent in duty; or in other respects act contrary to their consciences, and thus contract guilt. So that Faint-heart threatens and assaults them ; Mistrust plunders them; and Guilt beats them down, and makes them almost despair of life. As the robbery was committed in the dark lane before mentioned, this seems to have been the anthor's precise meaning : but any unbelieving fears, that induce men to neglect the means of grace, or to adopt sinful expedients of securing themselves, which on the review bring guilt and terror to their consciences, may also be intended.
(f) As these robbers represent the inward effects of unbelief and disobedience, and not any outward enemies, Great-grace may be the emblem of those believers or ministers, who having honourably stood their ground, endeavour to restore the fallen in the spirit of meekness, by suitable encouragements. The compassiciate exhortations or honourable examples
of such eminent Christians keep the fallen from entired, spondency, and both tend to bring
them to repontance, and to inspire them when politent, and tren.bling at the word of God, with some hope of finding mercy and grace in this time of urgent need; which seems to
be all Korically r"prescuted by the flight of the robors, when they heard that Great-grace was on the road.