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Very distressing to Christian. 85
* I saw then in my dream that when Christian was got to the borders of the Shadow of Death, there met him two men, children of them that brought up an evil report of the good land,” making haste to go back; to whom Christian spake as follows: Whither are you going P They said, Back! back! and we would have you to do so too, if either life or peace is prized by you. Why F what’s the matter P said Christian. Matter! said they, We were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we durst; and indeed we were alInost past coming back: for had we gone a little further we had not been here to bring the news to thee. But what have you met with R said Christian. .Men. Why we were almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death it but that by good hap we looked before us and saw the danger before we came to it. But what have you seen P said Christian. JMen. Seen o the Valley itself, which is as dark as pitch: we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit: we heard also in that Valley continual howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons; and over that Valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion : death also doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order. Then said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have said, but that this is my way to the desired haven. .Men. Be it thy way; we will not choose it for ours.
also, as disordered by nervous or hypochondriacal affections, gives energy to the distressing conclusions which men often draw from this dark state of mind: and indeed disease may operate as a direct cause of it; though the Holy Spirit will overcome this, and all other impediments to comfort, when “he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart."—The Seriptures also evidently teach us that fallen spirits never fail, when permitted, to take advantage of a disordered state, whether of body or mind, to mislead, perplex, or defile the soul. Persons of a melancholic temperature, when not aware of the particular causes whence their gloom originates, are apt to ascribe it wholly to the Lord's displeasure, on account of some peculiar sins they have committed; and to look upon it as a direct proof that they have been self-deluded hypocrites; which exceedingly enhances their distress. The author himself had been greatly harassed in this way; and therefore he has riven us a larger proportion of this shade than is generally met with by consistent belivers, or than the scriptures give us reason to expect. Indeed it is probable that he nueant to state the outlines of his own expericnce in the pilgrimage of Christian.
86 The Ditch and the Quag. Christian's Perplexity.
So they parted: and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted. (u) I saw then in my dream, so far as this, Valley reached there was on the right hand a very deep Ditch; that Ditch is it into which the blind hath led the blind in all ages, and have hoth there miserably perished. Again, behold, on the left hand there was a very dangerous Quag, into which if even a good man falls he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on : into that Quag king David once did fall, and had, no doubt, therein been smothered, had not he that is able plucked him out.” The path-way was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought in the dark to shun the Ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other: also when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the Ditch. Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly: for besides the dangers mentioned above, the path-way was here so dark, that osttimes when he list up o foot to set forward, he knew not where, nor upon what, he should set it next. About the midst of the Valley, I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the way-side. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for Christian's sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to * Psa. lxix. 14.
(i) These men were spies, not Pilgrims: and they related what they had observed at a distance, but had never experienced.—They represent those who have been conversant with godly people and ‘bring an evil report on the good land, to prejudice the minds of numbers against the right ways of the Lord. Such men pretend to have made trial of religion, and found it to be comfortless and dreary: they give a caricatured description of the sighs, groans, terrors and distresses of pious persons, and of all the dreadful things to be .* and heard among them; and they avail themselves of every unguarded or hyperbolical expression, which escapes a tempted believer, of the enthusiastic accounts which some people give of their experience; and even of the figurative language, which is often “mployed in speaking of inward conflicts under images taken from external things. Thus ... o.. escue this own apostacy, and to expose to contempt the cause which to .hi . o * Noling they can say, however, concerning the disorder or confusion lic religion *Y*0m times give occasion, can induce the christian to conclude that he has mistaken his way, or that it would be advisable for him to turn back, or deviate into
any by- - - - - - - - * * * the contrary their representations are suited to excite his vigilance and circumspection.
..? band of Fiends approach Christian. 87
put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called, all-prayer: so he cried in my hearing, “O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul.” Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him : also he heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard, by him for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he
*> - heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he
stopt, and began to muse what he had best to do, "some. times, he had half a thought to go back; then again he . he might be half way through the Valley ; he re. membered also how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved to go on; yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer; but when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most ve. hement voice, “I will walk in the strength of the Lord God;” so they gave back, and came no further. (w)
(iv) The fatal presumption, into which men are soothed, through ignorance and false doctrine of various kinds, is intended by the ‘deep Ditch, into which, “the blind lead the blind” and perish with them.—"The dangerous Quag,” on the other side of the narrow way, represents the opposite extreme, despair of God's mercy: and the mire of it agrees with that of the Slough of Despond.—In these opposite ways multitudes continually perish ; some concluding that there is no fear, others that there is no hope. But the danger to which a real believer is exposed, of verging towards one of these extremes in times of inward darkness and disconsolation, is especially implied. They, who have had much opportunity of conversing with persons professing the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, have met with many who once were zealous and joyful: but their religious affections have doclined; their duties are comparatively scanty and formal; their walk unsteady, and their hearts cold and uncomfortable. They call themselves backsliders, and complain of desertion: y_t they have no heart to use proper means of recovering their vigour and cheerfulness; but love to be soothed in their present condition; and quiet themselves by presuning they are true believers, and abusing the doctrine of final perseverance.-Many of this cast are doubtless wholly deceived. But even the true Christian, when greatly discouraged, may be powerfully tempted to seek peace of mind, by arguing with himself on the safety of his state, or trying to be satisfied without his former zeal, activity, and consolation: and Satan will find prompters to suggest to him, that this is the case of all established believers, and that fervent love belongs only to young converts, who are strangers to their own hearts. This is the more plausible, because the increase of sound judgment and abiding spiritual affections abates that earnestness (often indiscreet and disproportioned, which sprang from mere selfish principles: and, when religious profession is so comnoon as not to expose a man to reproach or persecution, many retain it, who have scarcely any appearance of spirituality, and who infect others with their contagious converse and
88 Christian did not know his own Voice.
One thing I would not let slip: I took notice that now
poor Christian was so confounded that he did not know his
own voice; and thus I perceived it: just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than any thing that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme him that he loved so much before; yet if he could have helped it he would not have done it: but he had not the discretion
either to stop his ears, or to know from whence those blas
phemies came. (ac ... When Christian had travelled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of
example. But, while the well instructed consistent believer, under the deepest discouragement, dreads and shuns this presumption, he is liable to sink into despondency; and may be led to condemn all his past experience as delusion, to rank himself among the stoneyground hearers, to conclude that it is useless for him to pray or seek any more, and to lie down in enfeebling dejection. And again, perceiving this danger, he finds it very difficult in the present darlo state of his seul, so avoid it, withouse - :-e -- “trust use iree grace of the gospel. This state of mind is attended by much distress and perplexity, and makes way for many terrors and temptations: so that, though a man be not perplexed with doubts about the truth of the Scriptures, he may be unable to make much use of them for his direction aird confurt, and earnest instant prayer must be his only resource.Cases sometimes occur, in which, through a concurrence of circumstances, this trial continues and increases for some time: but the true Christian is, as it were, constrained to Press forward, and by faith he will at length put his enemies to flight.—some have thought that the general notions of apparitions also was here alluded to, as giving the tempter an
occasion of increasing the terror of such persons as are in that respect credulous and timorous.
(*) The case here intended is not uncommon among conscientious persons of strong imaginations, in circumstances of distressing temptation. Thoughts are suddenly excited in their minds, with which their previous reflections had no connexion, even as if words **Poken to them. These suggestions are suited to induce them to think hardly of God, or his service, or his decrees; and this they abhor as direct blasphemy: or to harass them with other hateful ideas; which they consider as unpardonably criminal, inconsistent with **tate of grace and a mark of final reprobation. Yet did these suggestions accord to the state of their hearts they would be dofiling but not distressing; and instead of rejeeting them at once with decided abhorrence, they would give them entertainment, and willingly employ their thoughts about them, as far as they dared : “for the carnal mid is enmity **t God,” and can only be deterred from blasphemy, on many occasions, by the dread of i. vengeance: so that the distress they experience is exactly proportioned to the degree "...o.o.o.o. by this stratagem of the tempt run. . -". o-oo: author had been so much baffled --> vi is ould have been extri
the subse - Rordinary had he omitted it: for subsetuent discovery he made of his mistake, and of the way of resisting the devil in
Christian is comforted by hearing one Speak. 89
a man, as going before him, saying, “Though I walk through
(y) Few things more effectually support the tempted, than to learn that others, whom they consider as b lievers, have been or are in similar circumstances: for the idea, that such a state of mind is inconsistent with true faith, gives the enemy his principal advantage. Indeed, this often proves the means of their deliverance: for in due season that light, affection, and consolation, for which they have long mourned, thirsted, prayed, and waited, will be vouchsafed them ; and the review of the dangers they have es: caped, now more clearly discerned than before, will chlage their hearts with admiting zratitude to their great and gracious Deliverer.