Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

266 - The Pilgrims depart.

fresh again into their minds, how but a while ago he had slain old Grim Bloody-man the Giant, and had delivered then from the Lions. Then said Mr. Great-heart to Christiana, and to Mercy, “My Lord hath sent each of you a bottle of wine, and also some parched corn, together with a couple of pomegranates ; he also sent the boys some figs and raisins; to refresh you in your way.” Then they addressed themselves to their journey; and . Prudence and Piety went along with them. When they came at the Gate, Christiana asked the Porter, if any of late. went by. He said, ‘No, only one, some time since, who also told me, that of late there i. been a great robbery committed on the King's highway, as you go : but, said he, the thieves are taken, and will shortly be tried for their lives.” Then Christiana and Mercy were afraid; but Matthew said, Mother, fear nothing, as long as Mr. Great-heart is to go with us, and to be our Conductor. Then said Christiana to the Porter, ‘Sir, I am much obliged to you for all the kindnesses that you have shewed to me since I came hither; and also that you have been so loving and kind to my children; I know not how to gratify your kindness; wherefore, pray, as a token of my respects to you, accept of this small mite.” So she put a gold angel in his hand ; and he made her a low obeisance, and said, “Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head want no ointment.” “Let Mercy live and not die, and let not her works be few.’ And to the boys he said, “Do you flee youthful lusts, and follow after godliness with them that are grave and wise ; so shall you put gladness into your mother's heart, and obtain praise of all that are sober-minded.”—So they thanked the Porter, and departed. - Now I saw in my dream, that they went forward, until they were come to the brow of the hill, where Piety, bethink: ing herself, cried out, ‘Alas! I have forgot what I intended to bestow upon Christiana and her companions; I will go back and fetch it.” So she ran and fetched it. When she was gone, Christiana thought she heard in a grove, a little way off on the right hand, a most curious melodious note, with words much like these : “Through all my life thy favour is So frankly shew'd to me, That in thy house forevermore “My dwelling place shall be."

The Valley of Humiliation. 267

And listening still she thought she heard another answer

it, saying,
“For why? The Lord our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure :
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.”

So Christiana asked Prudence what it was that made those curious notes. They are, said she, our country-birds : they sing these notes but seldom, except it be at the spring when the flowers appear, and the sun shines warm, and then you may hear them all the day long... I often, said she, go to hear them ; we also oft-times keep them tame in our house. They are very fine company for us when we are melancholy ; also they make the woods and groves, and solitary places, places desirous to be in.” -

By this time Piety was come again ; so she said to Christiana, Look here, I have brought thee a scheme of all those things that thou hast seen at our house, upon which thon mayest look when thou findest thyself forgetful, and call those things again to remembrance, for thy edification and comfort.

Now they began to go down the hill to the Valley of Humiliation. It was a steep hill, and the way was slippery; but they were very careful ; so they got down pretty well. When they were down in the Valley, Piety said to Christiana, this is the place where your husband met with the foul fiend Apollyon, and where they had the great fight that they had : I know you cannot but have heard thereof. But be of good courage, as long as you have here Mr. Great-heart to be your Guide and Conductor, we hope you will fare the better.—So

when these two had committed the Pilgrims unto the conduct

of their Guide, he went forward, and they went after. Then said Mr. Great-heart, We need not be so afraid of this Valley, for here is nothing to hurt us, unless we procure it ourselves. . It is true, Christian did here meet with Apollyon, with whom he had also a sore combat; but that fray was the fruit of those slips that he got in his going down the hill: for they that get slips there, must look for combats here.t And hence it is that this Valley has got so hard a name. For the common people, when they hear that some frightful thing has befallen such an one, in such a place, are of opinion that that place is haunted, with some soul fiend, ot. * Sol. Song ii. 11, 13. t Part i. p. 78–83.

268 Slips are the occasion of Conflicts.

evil spirit; when, alas! it is for the fruit of their doing, that such things do befall them there. This Valley of Humiliation is of itself as fruitful a place as any the crow flies over 3, and I am persuaded, if we could hit upon it, we might find somewhere hereabout something that might give us an account, why Christian was so hardly beset in this place. . Then James said to his mother, ‘Lo, yonder stands a pillar, and it looks as if something was written thereon; let us go and see what it is.’....So they went, and found there writfen, ‘Let Christian's slips, before he came hither, and the burden that he met with in this place, be a warning to those that come aster.” “Lo,” said their Guide, ‘did I not tell you that there was something hereabouts that would give intimation of the reason why Christian was so hard beset in this place " Then, turning to Christiana, he said, ‘No disparagement to Christian, more than to many others whose hap and lot it was. For it is easier going up than down this Hill, and that ean be said but of #. hills in all these parts of the world. But we will leave the good man, he is at rest, he also had a brave victory over his enemy : let Him grant

that dwelleth above, that we fare no worse, when we come 2

to be tried, than he s” (g)

But we will come again to this Valley of Humiliation. It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts. It is a fat ground; and, as you see, consisteth much in mead

(g) As the author here evidently alluded to some particulars in his own experience, a more explicit account of these slips would have been very interesting and instructive; but as it is, we can only conjecture his meaning—He probably referred to some erroneous conclusions which he had formed, concerning the measure of the Lord's dealings with his people, and the nature of their situation in this world,—Having obtained peace and comfort, and enjoyed sweet satisfaction in communion with his brethren, he expected the continuance of this happy frame, and considered it as the evidence of his acceptance: so that afflictions and humiliating discoveries of the evils of his heart, by interrupting his comforts, induced him to conclude that his past experience was a delusion, and that God was become his enemy; and this unscriptural way of judging concerning his state seems to have made way for the dark temptations that followed.—Were it not for such mistakes, humiliating dispensations and experiences would not have any necessary connexion with terror; and they would give less occasion to temptations, than prosperity and comfort do : while a lowly condition is exempted from the numberless snares, incumbrances, and anxieties of a rmore exalted station ; and humility is the parent of patience, meekness, contentment, thankfulness, and every holy disposition that can enrich and adorn the soul. Afar greater proportion of believers are found in inferior circumstances, than among the wealthy; and they who are kept low commonly thrive the best, and are most simple and diligent. With. out poverty of spirit, we cannot possess “the unsearchable riches of Christ:” and more rforuises are made to the humble, than to any other character whatsoever.

The Shepherd's Boy, mean but cheerful. 269

ows; and if a man was to come here in the summer-time, as

we do now, if he knew not any thing before thereof, and if

he also delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might

see that which would be delightful to him. Behold, how green this Valley is; also how beautiful with lilies.” I have also known many labouring men that have got good estates in this Valley of Humiliation; (for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth more grace to the humble;”), for indeed it is a very fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. Some also have wished, that the next Way to their Father's house were here, that they might be troubled no more with either hills or mountains to go over: but the Way is the way, and there is an end. (h) 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 fresh and well-favoured countenance; and as he sat by himself he sung. ‘Hark,” said Mr. Great-heart, ‘to what the shepherd's 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.”f

Then said the Guide, “Do you hear him # I will dare to say, this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of the herb called heart’s-ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk »

and velvet. But we will proceed in our discourse.” (i)

* Sol. Song ii. 1. James iv. 6, 1 Pet. v. 5. f Heb. xiii. 5.

(h) The consolations of humble believers, even in their lowest abasement, when favourcq by the exhilarating and fertilizing beams of the Sun of Righteousness, are represented under this emblem. The lilies are the harmless and holy disciples of Christ, who adorn a poor and obscure condition of life; and who are an ornament to religion, being “clothed with humility.” Many grow rich in faith and good works in retirement and obscurity ; and become averse, even at the call of duty, to emerge from it, lest any advancement should lead them into temptation, stir up their pride, or expose them to envy and contention.

(i) Perhaps the Shepherd's boy may refer to the obscure but quiet station of some pastors over small congregations, who live almost unknown to their brethren, but are in a more useful, and very comfortable.

an
-

279 .Advantages of a lowly Condition.

In this Valley our Lord formerly had his country-house, he loved much to be here : he loved also to walk in these meadows, and he found the air was pleasant. Besides, here a man shall be free from the noise, and from the hurryings of this life : all states are full of noise and confusion, only the Valley of Humiliation is that empty and solitary place. Here a man shall not be let and hindered in his contemplation, as in other places, he is apt to be. This is a Valley that nobody walks in, but those that love a Pilgrim’s life. And though Christian had the hard hap to meet with Apollyon, and to enter with him in a brisk encounter: yet I must tell you, that in former times men have met with Angels here, have found pearls here, and have in this place found the words of life.* Did I say our Lord had here in former days his countryhouse, and that he loved here to walk P I will add, in this place, and to the people that live and trace these grounds, be has 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 their pilgrimage. (k) Now, as they went on, Samuel said to Mr. Great-heart, 'Sir, I perceive that in this Valley my father and Apollyon had their battle; but whereabout was the fight F for I perceive this Valley is large.” - Gr.-H. Your father had the battle with Apollyon, at a place yonder before us, in a narrow passage, just beyond Forgetful Green. And indeed that place is the most dangerous place in all these parts: for if at any time Pilgrims meet with any brunt, it is when they forget what favours they have received, and how unworthy they are of them. (l) * * Hos, zii. 4, 5. (k) Our Lord chose retirement, poverty, and an obscure station, as the rest and delight &f his own mind; as remote from bustle and contention, and favourable to contemplation and devotion: so that his appearance in a public character, and in crowded scenes, for the good of mankind and the glory of the Father, was a part of his self-denial, in which “he pleased not himself.”-Indeed there is a peculiar congeniality between a lowly mind, and a lowly condition: and as much violence is done to the inelinations of the humble, when they are rendered conspicuous and advanced to high stations, as to those of the haughty, when they are thrust down into obscurity and negleet. Other men seem to be banished into this Valley ; but the poor in spirit love to walk in it : and, though some believers here struggle with distressing temptations, others in passing through it enjoy much com: munion with God. (9 When consolations and privileges betray us into forgetfulness of our entire unworthi. *of such special favours, humiliating dispensations commonly ensue; and these some. **śrocal'yeseite murmurs and forgetfulness of past mercies. Thus satan gains at

« ZurückWeiter »