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Fearing, a troublesome Pilgrim. 281
*Yes, very well,” said he, “He was a man that had the root of the matter in him; but he was one of the most troublesome Pilgrims that I ever met with in all my days.” Gr.-H. Iperceive §. knew him ; for you have given a very right character of him. on. Knew him 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. 6;r.-H. I was his Guide from my Master’s house to the Gate of the Celestial City. Hon. Then you knew him to be a troublesome one. Gr.-H. I did so ; but I could very well bear it; for men of my calling are oftentimes entrusted with the conduct of such as he was. (w) Hon. Well then, pray let us hear a little of him, and how he managed himself under your conduct. Gr.-H. Why, he was always afraid that he should come short whither he had a desire to go. Every thing frighted him that he heard any body of of, that had but the least appearance of opposition in it. I hear that he lay roaring at the Slough of Despond, for above a month together ; nor durst he, for all he saw several go over before him, venture, though they many of them offered to lend him their hand He would not go back again neither The Celestial City: he said, he should die if he came not to it; and yet was dejected at every difficulty, and stumbled at every straw that any body cast in his way.—Well, after he had lain at the Slough of Despond a great while, as I have told you, one sunshine morning, I don't know how, he ventured, and so got over : but when he was over he would scarce believe it. He
(w) The character and narrative of Fearing has been generally admired by experienced readers, as drawn and arranged with great judgment, and in a very affecting manner, Little-faith, mentioncil in the First Part, was faint-hearted, and distrustful; and thus he contracted guilt, and lost his comfort: but Fearing dreaded sin, and coming short of heaven, more than all that flesh could do unto him. He was alarmed at the least appearance or report of opposition; but this arose more from conscious weakness, and the fear of being overcome by temptation, than from a reluctance to undergo derision or persecution. The peculiarity of this description of Christians must be traced back to constitution, habit, first impressions, disproportionate and partial views of truth, and improper instructions: these, concurring with weakness of faith, and the common infirmitits of human nature, give a east to their experience and character, which renders them uncomfortable to themselves. and troublesome to others. Yet no competent judges doubt but they have the root of the matter in them ; and none are more entitled to the patient, sympathizing, and tender to : totition of ministry's and thristians,
282 Fearing's Conduct at first setting out:
had, I think, a Slough of Despond in his mind, a slough that he carried every where with him, or else he could never have been as he was. So he came up to the Gate (you know what I mean,) that stands at the head of this way; and there also he stood a good while, before he would venture to knock. When the Gate was opened, he would give back, and give place to others, and say, that he was not worthy: for alf he got before some to the Gate, yet many of them went in before him. There the poor man would stand shaking and shrinking; I dare say it would have pitied one's heart to have seen him :-nor would he go back again. At last he took the hammer that hanged at the Gate in his hand, and gave a small rap or two ; then one opened to him, but he shrunk back as before. He that opened, stepped out after him, and said, “Thou trembling one, what wantest thou P With that he fell down to the ground. He that spake to him, wondered to see him so faint. He said to him, “Peace to thee; up, for I have set open the door to thee; come in, for thou art blessed.” With that he got up, and went in trembling; and when that he was in, he was ashamed to shew his face. Well, after he had been entertained there awhile, (as you know how the manner is) he was bid go on his way, ... told the way he should take. So he went 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 thereabout in the cold a good while, before he would adventure to call; yet he would not go back: and the nights were long and cold them. Nay he had a note of necessity in his bosom to my Master, to receive him, and grant him the comfort of his house, and also to allow him a stout and valiant Conductor, because he was himself so chicken-heart
ed a man; and yet for all that, he was afraid to call at the
door. So he lay up and down thereabouts, till, poor man : he was almost starved : yea, so great was his dejection, that, though he saw several others for *. in, yet he was afraid to venture. 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 therefore in, and told it in the house, and we shewed the things 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 car
Jind at the Cross, 283
ried it wonderfully loving to him. There were but a few ood bits at the table, but some of it was laid upon his trencher. hen he presented the note; and my Lord looked thereon, and said his desire should be granted. So when he had been there a good while, he seemed to get some heart, and to be a little more comforted. For my Master, you must know, is one of very tender bowels, especially to them that are afraid : wherefore he carried it so towards him, as might tend most to his encouragement. Well, when he had a sight of the things of the place, and was ready to take his |. to go to the City, my Lord, as he did to Christian before, gave him a bottle of spirits, and some comfortable things to eat. Thus we set forward, and I went before him ; but the man was but of few words, only he would sigh aloud. When we were come to where the three fellows were hanged, he said, that he doubted that that would be his end also. Only he seemed glad when he saw the Cross and the Sepulchre. There I confess, he desired to stay a little to look, and he seemed for a while after to be a little comforted. When we came at the Hill Difficulty, he made no stick at that, nor did he much fear the Lions : for you must know, that his trouble was not about such things as these ; his fear was about his acceptance at last. I got him in at the House Beautiful, I think before he was willing; also when he was in, I brought him acquainted with the Dansels that were of the place, i. he was ashamed to make himself much for company : he desired much to be alone, yet he always loved good talk, and often would get behind the screen to hear it : he also loved much to see ancient things, and to be pondering them in his mind. He told me afterward, that he loved to be in those two houses from which he came last, to wit, at the Gate, and that of the Interpreter, but that he durst not be so bold as to ask. (a)
(r) Christians, who resemble Fearing, are greatly retarded in their progress by discomraging apprehensions; they are apt to spend too much time in unavailing complaints; they do not duly profit by the counsel and assistance of their brethren ; and they often neglect the proper means of getting relief from their terrors: yet they cannot think of giving up their feeble hopes, or of returning to their forsaken worldly pursuits and pleasures. They are, indeed, helped forward, through the mercy of God, in a very extraordinary manner: yet they still remain exposed to alarms and discouragements, in every stage of their pilgrimage: nor can they ever habitually rise superior to them. They are afraid even of relying on Christ for salvation; because they have not distinct views of his love, and the methods of his grace; and imagine some other qualification to be necessary, besides the willingness to seek, knock, and ask for the promised blessings, with a real desire of obtaining them. They imagine, that there has boeu something in their past life, or that there is
284. In the Valleys of Humiliation and Shadow of Death.
When we went also from the House Beautiful, down the hill, into the Valley of Humiliation, he went down as well as ever I saw a man in my life: for he cared not how mean he was, so he might be happy at last. Yea, Ithink there was a kind of sympathy betwixt that Valley and him : for I never saw him . in all his pilgrimage, than he was in that Valley.
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 the Wi.
But when he was come to the entrance of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I thought I should have lost my man; not for that he had inclination to go back, (that he always ab}.} but he was ready to die for fear. “Oh the hobgoblins will have me, the hobgoblins will have me!’ cried he ; and I could not beat him out on’t. He made such a noise, and such an outcry here, that had they but heard him, it was enough to encourage them to come and fall upon us. But this stook very great notice of, that this Valley was as quiet when he went through it, as ever I knew it before or since.
* Lam. iii. 27–29.
some peculiarity in their present habits and propensities, and way of applying to Christ, which may exclude them from the general benefit: so that they pray with diffidence; and being consciously unworthy, can hardly believe that the Lord regards them, or will grant their requests. They are also prone to overlook the most decisive evidences of their reconciliation to God; and to persevere in arguing with perverse ingenuity against their own manifest happiness-The same mixture of humility and unbelief renders persons of this description backward in associating with their brethren, and in frequenting those companies in which they might obtain further instruction : for they are afraid of being consider. ed as believers, or even serious inquirers; so that affectionate and earnest persuasion is requisite to prevail with them to join in those religious exercises, by which Christians especially receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Yet this arises not from disinelination, but diffidence; and though they are often peculiarly favoured with seasons of great comfort, to counterbalance their dejections; yet they never hear or read of those who “have drawn back to perdition,” but they are terrified with the idea, that they shall shortly resemble them : so that every warning given against hypocrisy and self-deception seems to point them out by name, and every new discovery of any fault or mistake in their views, temper, or conduct, seems to decide their doom. At the same time, they are often remarkably melted into humble admiring gratitude, by contemplating the love and sufferings of Christ, and seem to delight in hearing of that subject above all others. They do not peeuliarly fear difficulties, self-denial, reproaches or persecution, which deter numbers from making an open profession of religion : and yet they are more backward in this respect than others; because they deem themselves unworthy to be admitted to such privileges, and into such society ; or else are apprehensive of being finally separated from them, or becoming a disgrace to religion.
Remarks on Fearing's Character. - 285
I suppose those enemies here had now a special check from our E. and a command not to meddle until Mr. Fearing was passed over it. (y It would be too tedious to tell you of all ; we will therefore only mention a passage or two more. When he was come to Vanity-Fair, I thought he would have fought with all the men in the Fair; I feared there we should both have been knocked on the head, so hot was he against their fooleries. Upon the Enchanted Ground, he also was very wakeful. But, when he was come at the River where was no bridge, there again he was in a heavy case : “Now, 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. When he was going up to the Gate, I began to take my leave of him, and to wish him a good reception above ; so he said, ‘I shall, I shall : then parted we asunder, and I saw him no more. t Hon. Then, it seems, he was well at last P Gr.-H. Yes, yes, I never had 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 very 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 is lawful, because he would not offend.t Hon. But what should be the reason that such a good man should be all his days so much in the dark P Gr.-H. There are two sorts of reasons for it; one is, The wise God will have it so ; some must pipe, and some must weep :# now Mr. Fearing was one that played upon
(y) A low and obscure situation suits the disposition of the persons here described: they do not object to the most humiliating views of their own hearts, of human nature, or of the way of salvation; they are little tempted to covet eminence among their brethren, and find it easier “to esteem others better than themselves,” than persons of a different frame of mind can well conceive—On the other hand, their imaginations are peculiarly susceptible of impressions, and of the temptations represented by the Valley of the Shadow of Death ; so that in this respect they need more than others the tender and patient instruetions of faithful ministers: while they repeat the same complaints, and urge the same objections against themselves, that have already been obviated again and again. But the tender compassion of the Lord to then should suggest an useful instruction to his servants, on this part of their work.