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JMercy goes with Christiana. 215
there also, Christiana began to discourse. “And, Mercy,”
(i) There are remarkable circumstances attending the conversion of some persons, with which others are wholly unacquainted. The singular dispensations of Providence, and the strong impressions made by the word of God upon their minds, seem in their own appreliension almost to amount to a special invitation: whereas others are gradually and gently brought to think on religious subjects, and to embrace the proposals of the gospel; who are therefore sometimes apt to conclude, that they have never been truly awakened to a concern about their souls: and this discouragement is often increased by the discourse of such religious characters, as lay great stress on the circumstances attending conversion. These misapprohensions, however, are best obviated, by shewing that “the Lord d lighteth in mercy;” that Christ “will in no wise cast out any that come to him ;" and that they who leave all earthly pursuits to seek salvation, and renounce all other confidence to trust in the merey of God through the redemption of his Soo, shall assuredly be saved.
216 JMercy weeps over her careless Relations.
maid to fall in love with her own salvation. So they went on together, and Mercy began to weep. Then said Christiana, ‘Wherefore weepeth my sister so o' * ‘Alas!” said she, “who can but lament, that shall but rightly consider what a state and condition my poor relations are in, that yet remain in our sinful Town ; and that which makes my grief the more, is, because they have no instruction, nor any to tell them what is to come. Chr. Bowels become, Pilgrims; and thou doest for thy friends, as my good Christian did for me when he left me; he mourned for that I would not heed nor regard him ; but his Lord and our's did gather up his tears, and put them into his bottle ; and now both I and thou, and these my sweet babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, that these tears of thine will not be lost; for the Truth hath said, that, “They that sow in tears shall reapin joy” and singing. And “He that goeth forth and weepeth, earing precious seed, shall doubtsess come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Then sai Mercy, ‘Let the most Blessed be my Guide, If't be his blessed will, Unto his Gate, into his Fold, Up to his holy Hill: And let him never suffer me
To swerve or turn aside
Whate'er shall me betide. - -
Lord, make them pray they may be thine,
Now my old friend proceeded, and said, But, when Christiana came to the Slough of Despond,t she began to be at a stand ; “For,” said she, “this is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with mud.” She perceived also, that, notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for Pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly. So I asked if that was true P. Yes, said the old gentleman, too true ; for many there be, that pretend to #. the King's labourers, and say they are for mending the King's highways, that bring dirt and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mend
*Psa, coxvi. 5, 6, t Part i. p. 28–31.
Slough of Despond worse than before. 217
ing. (k) Here Christiana therefore, and her boys, did make a stand : but, said Mercy, ‘Come, let us venture ; only let us he wary.’ Then they looked well to their steps, and made a shift to get staggering over. Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once or twice.—Now they had no sooner got over, but the thought they heard words that said unto them, “Blessed is she that believed, for there shall be a performance of what has been told her from the Lord.” Then they went on again ; and said Mercy to Christiana, “Had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the Wicket-gate, as you, I think no Slough of Despond could discourage me.” “Well,” said the other, “you know your sore, and I know mine; and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come to our journey's end. For it cannot be imagined,that the people that design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and that are so envied that happiness as we are ; but that we shall meet with what fears and snares, with what troubles and afflictions, they can possibly assault us with that hate us.” (!) * Luke i. 45. (k) The author seems to have observed a declension of evangelical religion, subsequent to the publication of his original Pilgrim. Probably he was grieved to find many renounce or adulterate the gospel, by substituting plausible speculations, or moral lectures in its stead; by narrowing and confining it within the limits of a nice system, which prevents the preacher from freely inviting sinners to come unto Christ; by representing the preparation of heart requisite to a sincere acceptance of free salvation, as a legal condition of being received by him; or by condemning all diligence, repentance, and tenderness of conscience, as interfering with an evangelical frame of spirit. By these, and various other misapprehensions, the passage over the Slough is made worse, and they occasion manifold discouragements to awakened sinners, even to this day. For, as the promiser, strictly speaking, belong only to believers; if invitations and exhortations be not freely given to sinners in general, a kind of gulph will be formed, over which no way can be seen : except as men take it for granted, without any kind of evidence, that they are true believers, which opens the door to manifold delusions and enthusiastic pretensions. But if all be invited, and encouraged to ask that they may receive; the awakened sinner will be animated to hope in God's mercy and use the means of grace, and thus giving diligence to make his calling and election sure, he will be enabled to rise superior to the discouragements, by which others are retarded.-Labourers enough indeed are ready to lend their assistance, in mending the road across this Slough; but let them take care that they use none but scriptural materials, or they will make bad worse. (s) Some persons are discouraged by recollecting past sins, and imagining them too heinous to be forgiven; while others disquiet themselves by the apprehension, that they have never been truly humbled and converted. Indeed all the var. tics in the experience of those, who upon the whole are walking in the same path, can never be enumerated; and some of them are not only unreasonable, but unaccountable, through the weakness of the human mind, the abiding effects of peculiar impressions, the remains of unbelief, and the artifices of Satan. T
218 Christiana and her Sens enter the Gaie.
And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, methought I saw Christiana,and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the Gate: to which when they came, they betook themselves to a short debate, about how they must manage their calling at the Gate; and what should be said unto him that did open unto them; so it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and that she should speak to him that did open for the rest. So Christiana began to knock, and, as her poor husband did, she knocked and knocked again.” But instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog came barking upon them ; a dog, and a great one too; and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for a while to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them. Now therefore they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds, and knew not what to do: knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not,for fear the Keeper of that Gate should espy them as they so went, and be offended with them; atlast they thought of knocking again, and knocking more vehemently than they did at first. Then said the Keeper of the Gate, ‘Who is there?’ So the dog left off to bark, and he opened upon them. (m)
Then Christiana umade low obeisance, and said, ‘Let not our Lord be offended with his handmaidens, for that we have knocked at his princely Gate.” Then said the Keeper, “Whence come ye? And what is it that you would have F’
Christiana answered, We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he ; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously admitted, by this Gate, into the way that leads unto the Celestial City. And I an
swer, my Lord, in the next place, that I am Christiana, once so
the wife of Christian, that now is gotten above.
With that the Keeper of the Gate did marvel, saying, “What, is she now become a Pilgrim, that but a while ago
abhorred that life P’ Then she bowed her head, and said, “Yea; and so are these my sweet babes also.”
* Part i. p. 41–45.
(m) The greater servency new converts manifest in prayer for themselves and each other, the more violent opposition will they experience from the powers of darkness. Many have felt such terrors whenever they attempted to pray,that they have for a time been induced whol. ly to desist: and doubtless numbers, whose convictions were superficial, have thus been finally
driven back to their former course of ungodliness. But when the star of God, and a real helief of his word possess the heart, such disturbances cannot long prevent earnest cries for
*mercy ; nay, they will eventually render them more fervent and importunate than ever. "
Then he took her by the hand, and let her in, and said also, “Suffer the little children to come unto me;” and with that he shut up the Gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above over the Gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting and sound of trumpet, for joy. So he obeyed, and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes. Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had gotten admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy. And she said, My Lord, I have a companion of mine that stands yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her mind, for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for : whereas I was sent to by my husband’s King to come. Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the Gate herself. And she knocked then so loud, that she made Christiana to start. Then, said the Keeper of the Gate, ‘Who is there P’ And Christiana said, ‘It is my friend.” So he opened the Gate and looked out, but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no Gate would be opened to her. Then he took her by the hand, and said, “Damsel, I bid thee arise.” ‘0 Sir,’ said she, “I am saint; there is scarce life left in me.” But he answered, that one said, “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came unto thee, into thy holy temple.”, “Fear not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come.” ..Mer. I am come for that unto which I was never invited. as my friend Christiana was... Her’s was from the King. and mine was but from her. Wherefore I presume. Good. Did she desire thee to come with her to this place 3 JMer. Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come ; and, if there is any grace and forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy handmaid may be partaker thereof. Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, ‘I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me.” Then said he to those that stood by, “Fetch something, and give it Mercy to smell * Jonah ii. 7.