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Obstinate and Pliable attempt to fetch him back. 25
The neighbours also came out to see him run : and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the man was got a good distance from them ; but however they were ... to pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, Neighbours, wherefore are you come P. They said, To persuade you to go back with us; but he said, That can by no means be : you dwell, said he, in the City of Destruction, the place also where I was born ; I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone : be content, good neighbours, and go along with me. (g)
What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us !
Yes, said Christian, (for that was his name,) because, that all is not worthy to be compared with a little of that that I am seeking to enjoy; and if you will go along with me, and hold it, you shall * as I myself; for there, where I go, is enough and to spare :* come away, and prove my words.
* Luke xv. 17. ments of Scripture, and the declarations of the pardoning mercy of God, which by degrees lead them to the knowledge of Christ and to faith in him; as our author says in a marginal note, ‘Christ, and the way to him, cannot be found without the Word.”—The Pilgrim being thus instructed, began to run o' for no persuasions or considerations can induce the man, who is duly in earnest about salvation, to neglect those things which he knows to be his present duty : yet when this is the case, it must be expected that carnal relations will oppose this new course of conduct; especially as it appears to them destructive of all pros. pects of worldly advantage. The following lines are here subjoined to a very rude engraving :‘Christian no sooner leaves the world, but meets Evangelist, who lovingly him greets With tidings of another; and doth show Him how to mount to that from this below.” (g) The attention of whole circles of careless sinners is generally excited, when one of their companions engages in religion, and forsakes the party. He soon becomes the topic of conversation ; some ridicule, others rail or threaten, others use force or artifice to withdraw him from his purpose; according to their different dispositions, situations, or relations to him. Most of them, however, soon desist, and leave him to his choice.—But two charac. ters are not so easily shaken off: these our author has named Obstinate and pliable, to denote their opposite propensities. The former, through a resolute pride and stoutness of heart persists in attempting to bring back the new convert to his worldly pursuits; the latter, from a natural easiness of temper and susceptibility of impression, is plant to per. stasion, and readily consents to accompany him.
26 Obstimate returns home.
Obst. What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them P Chr. I seek an “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away;” and it is “laid up in heaven,” and safe there, to be bestowed at the time appointed on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my book. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your book ; will you go back with us, or no P No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the plough.t Obst. Come then, neighbour Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him : there is a company of these craz’dheaded coxcombs, that when they take a fancy by the end are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason. Then said Pliable, Don’t revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours ; my heart inclines to go with my neighbour. Obst. What! more fools still be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you ? Go back, go back, and be wise. Chr. Come with me, neighbour Pliable, there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories besides: if you believe not me, read here in this book; and, for the truth of what is expressed therein, behold all is confirmed by the blood of him that made it.} Well, neighbour Obstinate, saith Pliable, I begin to come to a point: I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him. But, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place F Chr. I am directed by a man, whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a little Gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the way. Pli. Come then, good neighbour, let us be going. Then they went both together. And I will go back to my place, said Obstinate : I will be no companion of such misled fantastical fellows. (h)
*1 Pet. i. 4–6. Heb. xi. 6, 16. t Luke ix. 62. # Heb. ix. 17–22.
(h) This dialogue admirably illustrates the characters of the speakers. Christian, (for so lie is henceforth called.) is firm, decided, bold, and sanguine: Obstinate is profane, scornful, self-sufficient, and disposed to contemn even the Word of God, when it interferes with his worldly interests : Pliable is yielding, and easily induced to engage in things of which he understands neither the nature nor the consequences, Christian's plain warnings and ear.
Christian discourses with Pliable. 27
Now I saw in my dream that when Obstinate was gone back, Christian and Pliable went talking over the plain: and thus they began their discourse. Chr. Come, neighbour Pliable, how do you do P I am glad you are persuaded to go along with me; had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt, of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given us the back. Pli. Come, neighbour Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me now further, what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going. Chr. I can better conceive of them with my mind than speak of them with my tongue; but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my book. Pli. And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true F Chr. Yes verily, for it was made by him that cannot lie.” Pli. Well said ; what things are they P Chr. There is an endless †. to be inhabited, and everlasting life to be given us, that we may inhabit that kingdom for ever.t Pli. Well said ; and what else P Chr. There are crowns of glory to be given us; and garments that will make us shine like the sun in the firmament of heaven.f Pli. This is excellent : and what else P Chr. There shall be no more crying nor sorrow ; for he that is owner of the place will wipe i. from our eyes.} Pli. And what company shall we have there P Chr. There we shall be with Seraphims and Cherubims, creatures that will dazzle your eyes to look on them. There also you shall meet with thousands and ten thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are hurtful, but loving and holy ; every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. In a word, there we shall see the elders with their golden crowns;" there we shall see holy virgins with their | 2s Christian and Pliable fall into the Slough of Despond.
- tit. i. 2. t Isa. xlv. 17. John x. 27–29. # 2 Tim. iv. 8. Rev.iii.4. Matt. xiii.43. : Isa. xxv. 8. Rev. vii. 16, 17. xxi. 4. || Isa. vi. 2. 1 Thess. iv.16, 17. Rev. iv. 4.
nest entreaties; and Obstinate's contempt of believers, as 'craz'd-headed coacombs, and his exclamation when Pliable inclines to be a Pilgrim, ‘What! more fools still to are admirably characteristic ; and shew that such sarcasms and scornful abuse are peculiar to no age cr place, but always follow serious godliness as the shadow does the substance.
golden harps;” there weshall see men that by the world were cut in pieces, burnt in flames, eaten of beasts, drowned in the seas, for the love that they bear to the Lord of the place, all well, and clothed with immortality as with a garment.f Pli. The hearing of this is enough to ravish one's heart : but are these things to be enjoyed how shall we get to be sharers hereof P Chr. The Lord, the Governor of the country, hath recorded that in this book; the substance of which is, if we be truly willing to have it he will bestow it upon us freely.f o Pli. Well, my good companion, glad am I to hear of these things. Come on, let us mend our pace. Chr. I cannot go so fast as I would, by reason of this burden that is upon my back. (i) Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry Slough, that was in the midst of the plain, and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the Slough was Despond. Here therefore they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because oft the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire. Then said Pliable, Ah! neighbour Christian, where are you now P Truly, said Christian, I do not know. At that, Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to
* Rev. xiv. 1–5. t John xii. 25. 2 Cor. v. 2–5.
*(i) The conversation between Christian aud Pliable marks the difference in their characters, as well as the measure of the new convert's attainments—The want of a due apprehension of eternal things is evidently the primary defect of all who oppose or neglect religion; but more maturity of judgment and experience are requisite to discover, that many professors are equally strangers to a realizing view of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen.’ The men represented by Pliable disregard these subjects: they inquire eagerly about the good things to be enjoyed; but not in any due proportion about the way of salvation, the difficulties to be encountered, or the danger of coming short; and new converts, being zealous, sanguine, and unsuspecting, are naturally led to enlarge on the descriptions of heavenly felicity given in Scripture. These are generally figurative or negative; so that unregenerate persons annexing carnal ideas to them, are greatly delighted; and, not being retarded by any distressing remorse and terror, or feeling the opposition of corrupt nature, (which is gratified in some respects, though thwarted in others) they are often more zealous, and seem to proceed faster in external duties than true converts. They take it for granted, that all the privileges of the gospel belong to them; and, being very confident, zealous, and joyful, they often censure those who are really fighting the good fight of faith, as deficient in zeal and alacrity.—There are also systems diligently propagated, which greatly encourage this delusion, excite a high flow of false affections, (especially of a mere selfish gratitude to a supposed benefactor for imaginary benefits:) till the event proves the whole to be like the Israelites at the Red Sea, who “believed the Lord's word, and sang his praise; but soon forgat his works, and waited not for his counsel.” Psal, gyi, 12–24,
Pliable goes home. 29
his fellow, ‘Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of 2 If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect 'twixt this and our journey's end ? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave . alone for me.’ And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire, on that side of the Slough which was next to his own house. So away he went, and Christian saw him no more. (k) Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone: but still he endeavoured to struggle to that
(k) The Slough of Despond represents those discouraging fears which often harass new converts. It is distinguished from the alarms which induced Christian to leave the city, and “flee from the wrath to come:” for the anxious apprehensions of one who is diligently seeking salvation are very different from those which excited him to inquire after it. The latter are reasonable and useful, and arise from faith: but the former are groundless; they result from remaining ignorance, inattention and unbelief, and greatly retard the Pilgrim. They must also be carefully distinguished from those doubts and discouragements, which assault the established christian: for these are generally the consequence of negligence, or yielding to temptation: whereas new converts fall into their despondings, when most diligent according to the light they have received: and, if some conscientious persons seem to meet with this Slough in every part of their pilgrimage, it arises from an immature judgment, erroneous sentiments, or peculiar temptations. When the diligent student of the Scriptures obtains such an acquaintance with the perfect holiness of God, the spirituality of his law, the inexpressible evil of sin, and his own obligations and transgressions, as greatly exceeds the measure in which he discerns the free and full salvation of the gospel, his humiliation will of course verge nearer and nearer to despondency. This, however, is not essential to repentance, but arises from misapprehension; though few in proportion wholly escape it—The mire of the Slough represents that idea which desponding persons entertain of themselves and their situation, as altogether vile and loathsome ; and their confessions and self-abasing complaints, which render them contemptible in the opinion of others.
. As every attempt to rescue themselves discovers to them more of the latent evil of their
hearts, they seem to grow worse and worse ; and, for want of a clear understanding of the gospel, they have no firm ground to tread on, and know neither where they are, nor what they must do.—But how could Pliable fall into this Slough, seeing he had no such views of God, or his law, of himself, or of sin, as this condition seems to pre-suppose? To this it may be answered, that men can hardly associate with religious persons, and hear their discourse, confessions, and complaints, or become acquainted with any part of Scripture, without making some alarming and mortifying discoveries concerning themselves. These transient convictions taking place when they fancied they were about to become very good, and succeeding to great self-complacency, constitute a grievous disappointment; and they ascribe their uneasiness to the new doctrine they have heard.—But though Pliable fell into the Slough, Christian by reason of his burden'sunk the deepest; for the true believer's humiliation for sin tends greatly to increase his fear of wrath.-Superficial professors, expecting the promised happiness without trouble or suffering, are often very angry at those who were the means of leading them to think of religion; as if they had deceived them : and, being destitute of true faith, their only object is, at any rate to get rid of their uneasiness. This is a species of stony-ground hearers abounding in every part of the church, who are offended and fail away, by means of a little inward disquietude, butore any outward tribulation arises bewause of the word.