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Christian passes by the mouth of Helt.
gerous 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 danger mentioned above, the path-way was here so dark, that ofttimes, when he lifted up his foot to set forward, he knew not where or upon what he should set it next.
About the midst of this 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 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.” (Eph. vi. 18. Psalm cxvi. 3.) 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 stopped, and began to muse what he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then, again, he thought he might be half-way through the valley; he remembered
1.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. 2 The following lines come in here, as before,
“ Poor man! where art thou now? thy day is night:
A wicked one suggests blasphemies.
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 vehement voice, "I will walk in the strength of the Lord God;" so they gave back, and came no farther.
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 stepped 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 these blasphemies came.
When Christian had travelled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man as going before him, saying, “Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear none ill; for thou art with me.” (Psalm xxiii. 4.)
Then was he glad, and that for these reasons:
First, Because he gathered from thence, that some who fear God were in this valley as well as himself.
Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state; and why not, thought he, with me! though, by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it. (Job ix. 10.)
Thirdly, For that he hoped, could he overtake them, to have company by and by
So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer; for that he also thought himself alone. And by
The case here intended is not uncommon among conscientious persons of strong imagination, in circumstances of distressing temptation. Thoughts are suddenly excited in their minds, suited to induce them to think hardly of God, or his service, or his decrees, with which their previous reflections had no connexion, even as if words were spoken to them.