Christian struggles to the other side. side of the Slough that was still further from his own house, and next to the Wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out, because of the burden that was upon his back. But I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him, “What he did there ??

“Sir,' said Christian, 'I was bid go this way, by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder Gate, that I might escape the wrath to come : and as I was going thither I fell in here.'

Help. But why did you not look for the steps ?

Chr. Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in. (1).

“Then,' said he, 'give me thy hand.' So he gave him his hand, and he drew him out, and set him on sound ground, and let him go on his way.

Then I stept to him that pluckt him out, and said, “Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the city of Destruction to yonder Gate, is it, that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security ? And he said to me, this miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended. It is the descent, whither the scum and filth that attends conviction of sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond : for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.*

It is not the pleasure of the king, that this place should remain so bad. His labourers also have, by the directions of his Majesty's surveyors, been, for above this sixteen hundred years, employed about this patch of ground, if perhaps it

* Psal. xl. 2. Isa. xxxv. 3, 4.

(1) Christian dreaded the doom of his city more than the Slough. Many persons, under deep distress of conscience, are afraid of relief, lest it should prove delasive, Deliverance from wrath and the blessings of salvation appear to them so valuable, that all else is com paratively trivial. Desponding fears may connect with their religious diligence ; but der pair would be the consequence of a return to their former course of sin. If they perish, therefore, it shall be, while earnestly struggling, under deep discouragement, after that salvation for which their souls even faint within them. Their own efforts indeed fail to ex tricate them ; but in due time the Lord sends them assistance. This is described by the al. legorical person named Help, who may represent the instruments by which they receive encouragement ; a service in which it is a privilege to be employed : or the Holy Spirit, the giver of hope and peace.-Fear also is personified ; in the midst of the new convert's discourse on the joys of heaven, fears of wrath often cast him into despondency, while he so pasditates on the terrors of the Lord as to overlook his precious proraises,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

might be mended : yea, and to my knowledge, said he, here hath been swallowed up, at least, twenty thousand cartloads, yea millions of wholesome instructions, that have at all seasons been brought from all places of the King's dominions ; (and they that tell

say, that they are the best materials to make good ground of the place, if so be it might be mended ;) but it is the Slough of Despond still, and so will be, when they have done what they can.

True, there are,by the direction of the Lawgiver,certain good and substantial steps, placed even through the very midst of this Slough : but at such time as this place doth much spew out its filth, as it doth against change of weather, these steps are hardly seen, or if they be, men through the dizziness of their heads step beside ; and then they are bemired to purpose, notwithstanding the steps be there : but the ground is good when they are once got in at the Gate.*(m)

Now I saw in my dream that by this time Pliable was got home to his house. So his neighbours came to visit him ; and some of them called him wise man for coming back ; and some called him fool for hazarding himself with Christian : others again did mock at his cowardliness, saying, "Surely, since you began to venture, I would not have been so base to have given out for a few difficulties :' so Pliable sat sneaking among them. But at last he got more confidence,

* 1 Sam. xii. 22 (m) This account of the Slough, which our author in his vision received from Help, esincides with the preceding explanation.-Increasing knowledge produces deeper self-abasement : hence discouraging fears arise in men's minds lest they should at last perish, and objections against themselves continually accumulate, till they fall into habitual desport deney, unless they constantly attend to the encouragements of the Scripture, or, in the apostle's language, have "their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."-AS thois state of mind is distressing and enfeebling in itself, and often furnishes enemies with a płausible objection to religion, the servants of God have always attempted to preserve the serious inquirers after salvation from it, by various scriptural instructions, and consolatory topics : yet their success is not adequate to their wishes ; for the Lord is pleased to permit numbers to be thus discouraged in order to detect false professors, and to render the upright more watchful and humble. Our author, in a marginal note, explains the steps to mean, the promises of forgiveness and acceptance to life by faith in Christ ;' which include the general invitations, and the various encouragements given in Scripture to all who steh the salvation of the Lord, and diligently use the appointed means.-It was evidently his opinion, that the path from destruction to life lies by this Slough ; and that none art ind ed in the narrow way, who have neither struggled through it, nor gone over it by means of the steps. -The change of weat her' seems to denote those seasons, when peculiar terptations, excite ing sinful passions, perplex the minds of new converts ; and so, losing vigłt of the promises, they sink into despondency during bumiliating experiences ; but faith in Christ, and in the mercy of God through him, sets the Pilgrim's feet on good ground.


Worldly-Wiseman meets Christian, and then they all turned their tales and began to deride poor Christian behind his back. And thus much concerning Pliable. (n)

Now as Christian was walking solitarily by himself, he espied one afar off come crossing over the field to meet him, and their hap was to meet just as they were crossing the way of each other. The gentleman's name was Mr. Worldlywiseman; he dwelt in the town of Carnal-policy ; a very great town, and also hard by from whence Christian came. This man then meeting with Christian, and having some ink. ling of him, for Christian's setting forth from the City of Destruction was much noised abroad, not only in the town where he dwelt, but also it began to be the town talk in some other places ; Master Worldly-wiseman therefore having some guess of him by beholding his laborious going, by observing his sighs and groans, and the like, began thus to enter into some talk with Christian. (0)

World. How now, good fellow; whither away after this burdened manner ?

Chr. A burdened manner indeed, as ever, I think, poor creature had ! And whereas you ask me, Whither away ? I tell you, Sir, I am going to yonder Wicket-gate before me; for there, as I am informed, I shall be put in a way to be rid of my heavy burden.

World. Hast thou a wife and children ?

(n) They, who affect to despise real christians, often feel and express great contempt for those that cast off their profession : such men are unable, for a time, to resume their wonted confidence among their former companions ; and this excites them to pay court to them by reviling and deriding those whom they have forsaken.

() The wise men of this world carefully notice those who begin to turn their thoughts to religion, and attempt to counteract their convictions before the case becomes desperate : from their desponding fears they take occasion to insinuate that they are deluded or disordered in their minds; that they make too much ado about religion; and that a decent regard to it is all that is requisite, which consists with the enjoyment of this life, and even conduces to secular advantage.-Worldly-wiseman, therefore, is a person of consequence, whose superiority gives him influence over poor pilgrims : he is a reputable and successful man; prudent, sagacious, and acquainted with mankind; moral, and religious in his way, and qualified to give the very best counsel to those who wish to serve both God and Mammon : but he is decided in his judgment against all kinds and degrees of religion, which in terfere with a man's worldly interest, disquiet his mind, or spoil his relish for outward enjoyments.--He resides at Carnal-policy, a great town near the City of Destruction : for worldly prudence, modelling a man's religion, is as ruinous as open vice and impiety ; though it be very prevalent among decent and virtuous people. Such men attend to the reports that are circulated about the conversion of their neighbours, and often watch their opporic. nity of entering into discourse with them.

He questions him, and blames Evangelists Counsel. 3S

Chr. Yes ; but I am so'laden with this burden, that I cannot take that pleasure in them as formerly : methinks I am as if I had none.*

World. Wilt thou hearken to me if I give thee counsel ?

Chr. If it be good I will ; för I stand in need of good counsel.

World. I would advise thee, then, that thou with all speed get thyself rid of thy burden; for thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till then ; nor canst thou enjoy the benefits of the blessings which God hath bestowed upon thee till then.

Chr. That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden; but get it off myself I cannot : nor is there any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders : therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of my burden.

World. Who bid thee go this way to be rid of thy burden ?

Chr. A man that appeared to me to be a very great and konourable person : his name, as I remember, is Evangelist.

World. I beshrew him for his counsel ; there is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than is that unto which he hath directed thee; and that thou shalt find, if thou wilt be ruled by his counsel. Thou hast met with something, as I perceive, already; for I see the dirt of the Slough of Despond is upon thee; but that Slough is the beginning of the sorrows that do attend those that go on in that way. Hear me, I am older than thou ! thou art like to meet with on the way which thou goest, wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and what not! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should a man so carelessly cast away himself by giving heed to a stranger ?

Chr. Why, Sir, this burden on my back is more terrible to me than are all these things which you

have mentioned : nay, methinks I care not what I meet with in the way, so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden.

World. How camest thou by thy burden at first ?
Chr. By reading this book in my hand.

World. I thought so; and it is happened unto thee as to other weak men, who, meddling with things too high for them, do suddenly fall into thy distractions ; which distractions do not only unman men, (as thine I perceive has done 1 Cor, vä. 29.

34 Worldly-Wiseman counsels Christian, thee,) but they run them upon desperate ventures to obtain they know not what.

Chr. I know what I would obtain; it is ease from my heavy burden.

World. But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it ? Especially since, hadst thou patience to hear me, I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this wilt run thyself into. Yea, and the remedy is at hand. Besides, I will add, that, instead of these dangers, thou shalt meet with much safety, friendship, and content. (p)

Chr. Pray, Sir, open this secret to me. World. Why in yonder village, (the village is named Morality) there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality, a very judicious man, and a man of a very good name, that has skill to help men off with such burdens as thine are from

(D) There is great beauty in this dialogue, arising from the exact regard to character preserved throughout. Indeed this forms one of our author's peculiar excellencies ; as it is a very difficult attainment, and always manifests a superiority of genius.—The self-satisfaction of Worldly-wiseman; his contempt of Christian's sentiments and pursuits ; his sneer. ing compassion, and censure of Evangelist's advice ; his representation of the dangers and hardships of the way, and of the desperate ventures of religious people 'to obtain they know not what ; and his confident assumption, that Christian's concern arose from weakness of intellect, 'meddling with things too high for him, and harkening to bad counsel, (that is, reacting the word of God, and attending to the preaching of the gospel) and from distraction as the natural consequence, are most admirably characteristic. His arguments also are very specious. He does not say, that Evangelist had not pointed out the way of balvation, or that wicked men are not in danger of future misery : but he urges, that so · much concern about sin and the eternal world takes men off from a proper regard to their secular concerns, and injures their families ; that it prevents their enjoying comfort in domestic life, or in other providential blessings ; that it leads them into perilous and distressing situations, of which their first terrors and despondings are only an earnest ; that a troca bled conscience may be quieted in a more expeditious and easy manner ; and that they may obtain credit, comfort, and manifold advantages, by following prudent counsel.-On the other hand, Christian speaks in the character of a young convert. He makes no secret of his distress and terrors, and declares without reserve the method in which he sought relief. He owns he has lost his relish for every earthly comfort, and desires to receive good counsel : but while he is prepared to withstand all persuasions to return home, he is not upon his guard against the insidious advice of Worldly-wiseman. He fears the wrath to come more than all the dreadful things which had been mentioned : but his earnestness to get iminediate relief exposes him to the danger of seeking it in an unwarranted way. Searching the Scriptures has shewn him his guilt and danger ; but, not having learned likewise the instructions of life, he does not discern the fatal tendency of the plausible ad. vice given him, especially as his counsellor is a person of great reputation and sagacity. Every one, who has been in the way of making observations on these matters, must perseive how exactly this suits the case of pumbars, when first brought to mind "the one thing Agedful."

« ForrigeFortsett »