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Apollyon reproaches Christian, glory, and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels. (P).
Apol. Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him: and how dost thou think to receive wages of him?
Chr. Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?
Apol. Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the gulph of Despond; thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off': thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice thing: thou wast also almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions : and when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou sayest or doest.
Chr. All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out: but the Prince, whom I serve and honour', is merciful and ready to forgive. But besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country: for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, being sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince. (9)
(p) As all have been overcome by the temptations of the devil; and "of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage ;" so, by usurpation, he is become the god and prince of this world, and we have all been his slaves. But believers, having been redeemed by the blood of Christ, "are made free from sin and become the servants of God:“ and the abiding conviction, that all the subjects of sin and Satan must perish, concurs with their experience that it is an hard bondage, in fortifying them against every temptation te return. Sensible of their obligations to God as their Creator and Governor, they have deeply repented of past rebellions; and, having obtained mercy, feel themselves bound by gratitude and the most solemn engagements to cleave to him and his service. Their difficulties and discouragements cannot induce them to believe that they have changed a bad for a worse ; nor will they be influenced by the numbers who apostatize, from love to the world and dread of the cross ; for they are “rooted and grounded in Love," and not merely moved by fears and hopes. They are sure that the Lord is able to deliver them from their enemies: and, should the wicked be permitted to prosper in their malicious devices against them, they know enough of his plan, to rely on his wisdom, truth, and love, in the midst of sufferings. Thus they have answers ready for every suggestion; even such answers as Christian had been furnishte with at the house of the Interpreter.
(9) If the suggestions before described be rejected, Satan will perhaps assault the belier er, by representing to his naind, with every possible aggravation, the several instances of his misconduct since he professed the gospel ; in crder tv heighten his apprehensions of being found at last a hypocrite : for when the soul is discouraged and gloomy, he will be as assiduous in representing every false step to be a horrid crime inconsistent with the hope of salvation, as he is at othur times in persuading men, that the most flagrant violations of the divine law are mere trifles.-In repelling such suggestions, the well-instructed believer will neither di ny the charge, nor extenuate his guilt; but he will fict for refuge to the fire grace of the gospel, and take comfort from the consciousness that he now hates and groans under the remains of those evils, which once he whylly lived in without remorse ; three imferring, that "his sips, though many, are forgiven."
And violently assaults Hiu.
81 Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate his person, his laws, and people. I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.
Chr. Apollyon, beware what you do; for I am in the King's highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.
Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter; prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go no further: here will I spill thy soul.
And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that. Then did Christian draw; for he saw 'twas time to bestir
and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Chris.. tian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his band, and foot. This made Christian give a little back Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent; for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.
Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian's sword few out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now: and with that he had almost prest him to death ; so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy! when I fall, I shall arise;"* and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back as one that bad received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us ;'t and with that Apollyon spread forth his drag. on's wings and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more.
Christian overcomes Apollyon,
In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apol. lyon made all the time of the fight; he spake like a dragon: and on the other side, what siglis and groans burst from Christian's heart. I never saw him all the wi ile give so much as one pieasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then indeed he did smile and look upward ! but 'twas thie dreadfullest sight that ever I saw. (r)
(1) The preceding part of Christian's contest with Apollyon is instructive to every expe rienced by liever; but this is far more difficult : yet if we duly reflect upon the Lord's per. mission to Satan, in respect of Job, with the efforts and effects that followed, and compare it with the tempter's desire of sifting Peter and the Apostles as wheat ; we shall not be greatly at a loss about the author's meaning. This enemy is sometimes gratified by an arrangement of outward dispensations exactly suited to favour his assaults: so that the belicyer's path seems wholly obstructed. The Lord himself appears to have forsaken him, or even to fight against him ; and his appoiz..ments are thought contrary to his promises ! This gives Satan an opportunity of suggesting hard thoughts of God and his ways, doubts about the truth of the Scriptures, and desponding fears of a fatal events Many such "fiery darts” may be repelled or quenched by the shiell of faith : but there are seasons (as some of us well know.) when they are poured in so incessantly, and receive such plausibility from facts; and when they so interrupt a man while praying, reading, or meditating, that he is tempted to intermit religious duties, that he may avoid these most distressing attendants on them. The evils of the heart, which seemed before subdued, are so excited by means of the imagination, that they apparemiy prevail more than ever, rendering every service an abomination, as well as a burden ; so that the harassed soul, alarmed, baffled, defiled, self-detested, and thinking that God and his servants unite in abhorring him, is ready to give up all hope, to doubt all his former principles, to seek refuge in some huretical or antinomian system, or to attempt the dissipating of his melancholy gloom, by joining again in the vanities of the work. Thus the enemy “wounds him in his understanding, faith, and conversation,' (according to the author's marginal interpretation of his meaning :) yet he cannot in this way find relies; but is inwazily constrained, with renewed efforts, to return to the conflict. When such temptations, however, are long continued, resistance will gradually become more feeble; the distressed believer will be ready to give up every thing; and, when the enemy phes him closely with infiddl suggestions, to which his circumstances give a specious occasion, he may be thrown down, and “his sword fly out of his hand :" so * that for a time he may be unable to give any credit to the truth of the Scriptures, by which alone he was before enabled to repel the tempter. This is a dreadful case : and could true faith thus finally fail, even real Christians must perish : Satan hath succeeded against many professors, with half these advantages ; and he may be supposed at least to boast that he is sure of such as are thus cast down. But the Advocate above isprays” for his disciples, "that their faith should not fail:*** so that, though Peter fell with Judas, he was not left to : perish with him. The Christian, therefore, though “almost pressed to death,' and ready 'to despair of life,' will, by the special grace of God, be helped again to seize his sword, and to use it with more effect than ever. The Holy Spirit will bring to his mind, with the most convincing energy, the evidences of the divine inspiration of the Scripture, and enable him to rely on the promises : and thus at length the enemy will be put to flight, by testimonies of holy writ pertinently adduced, and more clearly understood than before, Experience
* Luke xxii, 31, 32,
And returns Thanks to his Gracious Deliverer.
“So when the battle was over, Christian said, I will here give thanks to him that hath delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that did help me against Apollyon. And so he did; saying,
'Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,
And thank and bless his holy name always.' Then there came to him an hand with some of the leaves of the Tree of Life, the which Christian took, and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of that bottle that was given him a little before: so being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from Apollyon quite through this valley. (s) will teach some readers to understand these things, and they will know how to compassionate and make allowances for the mistakes of the tempted : and others, who have been gråciously exempted from perhaps the deepest anguish known on earth, (though commonly not of long duration) should learn from the testimony of their brethren, to allow the reality of these distresses, and sympathize with the sufferers ; and not (like Job's friends) to join with Satan in aggravating their sorrows.-We may allow, that constitutional, partial disease, and errors in judgment, expose some men more than others to such assaults : yet these are only occasions, and evil spirits are assuredly the agents in thus barassing serious persons. It is indeel of the greatest importance to be well established in the faith: they, who in ordinary cases are satisfied with general convictions and comfortable feelings, without being able to give a reason for their hope, may be driven to the most tremendous extremities, should God permit them to be thus assaulted : for they have no fixed principles to which they may resort in such an emergency ; and perhaps some degree of mistake always gives Satan his principal advantage on these occasions. Yet men of the most sober mind and sound judgment, when in a better state of bolily health than usual, and in all other respects most rational, have experienced such distressing temptations of this kind, as they could scareely have believed on the report of others ; and, when delivered, they cannot look back on the past without the greatest consternation.
Besides the verses, by which Christian gave thanks to his great Deliverer, we meet in the old copies with these lines :
A more unequal match can hardly le,
Doth make hiin, thougta a dragon, quit the fuld.' (w) When the believer has obtaineil the victory over temptation, the Lord will graciously heal all bis wounds; pardoning liis sins, and renewing bio strength and comfort; so that
84 The Valley of the Shadow of Death,
Now at the end of this Valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and Christian must veeds ge through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now this Valley is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: "A wilderness, a land of deserts and of pits; a land of drought, and of the shadow of death ; a land that no man” (but a Christian) "passeth through, and where no man dwelt.
Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon; as by the sequel you shall see. (1)
Jer. ii. 6.
the most distressing experiences are often succeeded by the sweetest confidence and serenity of mind, and the greatest alacrity in the ways of God. The leaves of the Tree of life,'* represent the present benefits of the redemption of Christ : 'the hand may be the emblem of the instruments he employs in restoring to his discouraged servants "the joy of his salvatio." The believer thus healed, and refreshed by meditation on the death of Christ, and other religious exercises, rests not in one victory, but prepares for new conflicts : yet the enemy once decidedly put to flight, seldom repeats the same assaults, at least for some time; because he will generally find the victor upon his guard on that side, though liable to be surprised in some other way.
(t) The Valley of the Shadow of Death seems intended to represent a variation of inward discourageinent, distress, conflict and alarm, which arises from prevailing darkness of mind, and want of lively spiritual affections; by which a man is rendered reluctant to religious duties, and heartless in performing them ; and this makes way for manifold ft ars, dangers and temptations. The words, quoted from Jeremiah, describe the waste howling wilderness, through which Israel journeyed to Canaan ; which typified the believer's pilgrimage through this world to heaven. The author therefore meant in general, that such dreary seasons may be expected; and that few believers wholly escape them: but not that all experience these various trials in the same order or degree as Christian did-While men rest in forms and notions, they think of little in ruligious ordinances but performing a task, and the satisfaction of having done their supposed duty : but the spiritual worshipper, at some seasons, finds his soul filled with clear light and holy aftection ; "It is then good for him to draw nigh to God;" and "his soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, while he praises his God with joyful lips :" but at other tiines, dulness and heaviness oppress him ; faith, hope, reverence and love, are at a low ebb; he seems to address an unknown or absent God, and rather to mock than to worship him; divine things appear obscure and almost unreal;
and each returning season of devotion, or reiterated effort to lift up his heart to God, ends in disappointment, so that religion becomes his burden instead of his delight. Self-knowledge is increased, and he now perceives evils before unnoticed corrupting his -services : his remedy seems to increase his disease : he suspects that his former joy was a delusion, and is ready to conclule, that “God hath forgotten to be gracious, and hath shut up his loving kindness in displeasure." These experiences, sufficiently painful in themselves, are often rendered more distressing, by nistaken expectations of uninterrupted comfort ; or by unscriptural instructions, which represent comfort as the evidence of aceeptance, assurance as the essence of faith, impressions or visions as the witness of the Spirit, or perfection as attainable in this life, nay actually attained by all the regenerate ;-as if this were the church triumphant, and not the church militant.---The state of the body
* Rev. xxii. 2.