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Evangelist reproves Christian.
of Egypt.” (Heb. xi. 25, 26.) Besides, the King of Glory hath told thee, that “he that will save his life shall lose it.” (Mark viii. 38. John xii. 25. Matt. x. 39.) And he that comes after him, “and hates not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke xiv. 26.) I say, therefore, for man to labour to persuade thee, that that shall be thy death, without which, the Truth hath said, thou canst not have eternal life, this doctrine thou must abhor.
Thirdly, Thou must hate his setting of thy feet in the way that leadeth to the ministration of death. And for this thou must consider to whom he sent thee, and also how unable that person was to deliver thee from thy burden.
He to whom thou wast sent for ease, being by name Legality (Gal. iv. 21–27.), is the son of that Bond-Woman, which now is, and is in bondage with her children, and is in a mystery this Mount Sinai, which thou hast feared will fall on thy head. Now, if she with her children are in bondage, how canst thou expect by them to be made free? This Legality, therefore, is not able to set thee free from thy burden. No man was as yet ever rid of his burden by him; no, nor ever is like to be: ye cannot be justified by the works of the law;" for by the deeds of the law no man living can be rid of his burden: therefore Mr. Worldly Wiseman is an alien, and Mr. Legality is a cheat: and for his son Civility, notwithstanding his simpering looks, he is but a hypocrite, and cannot help thee. Believe me, there is nothing in all this noise that thou hast heard of these sottish men, but a design to beguile thee of thy salvation, by turning thee from the
way in which I had set thee. After this, Evangelist called aloud to the Heavens for confirmation of what he had said; and with that there came words and fire out of the mountain under which poor Christian stood, which made the hair of his flesh stand up. The words were thus pronounced: “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” (Gal. iii. 10.)
Now Christian looked for nothing but death, and began to cry
1 See note 2, p. 12.
Christian arrives at the Gate.
out lamentably, even cursing the time in which he met with Mr. Worldly Wiseman, still calling himself a thousand fools for hearkening to his counsel: he also was greatly ashamed to think that this gentleman's arguments, flowing only from the flesh, should have the prevalency with him so far as to cause him to forsake the right way. This done, he applied himself again to Evangelist in words and sense as follows:
Chr. Sir, what think you? is there any hope? May I now go back, and go up to the Wicket-Gate? Shall I not be abandoned for this, and sent back from thence ashamed? I am sorry I have hearkened to this man's counsel: But may my sin be forgiven?
Then said Evangelist to him, Thy sin is very great, for by it thou hast committed two evils: Thou hast forsaken the way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths; yet will the Man at the Gate receive thee, for he has good-will for men; only, said he, take heed that thou turn not aside again, “lest thou perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” (Psalm ii. 12.) Then did Christian address himself to go back: and Evangelist, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bid him God speed. So he went on with haste, neither spake he to any man by the way; nor, if any asked him, would he vouchsafe then an answer. He went like one that was all the while treading on forbidden ground; and could by no means think himself safe, till again he was got into the way which he had left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman's counsel. So, in process of time, Christian got up to the Gate. Now over the Gate there was written, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”! (Matt. vii. 8.) He knocked, therefore, more than once or twice, saying,
May I now enter here? Will he within
1 This Gate represents Christ himself, as received by the penitent sinner for all the purposes of salvation. The following lines are here inserted under an engraving,
“ He that would enter in, must first without
Stand knocking at the gate, nor need he doubt
Christian and Good-WMill.
At last there came a grave person to the Gate, named Good-will, who asked, Who was there? and whence he came? and what he would have?
Chr. Here is a poor burdened sinner; I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I
be delivered from the wrath to come: I would therefore, Sir, since I am informed that by this Gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.
I am willing with all my heart, said he: and with that he opened
te mare hat the is one
So, when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull: Then said Christian, What means that? The other told him, a little distance from this Gate there is erected a strong Castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain: from thence both he and them that are with him shoot arrows at those that come up to this Gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in.?
Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So, when he was got in, the Man at the Gate asked him, Who directed him thither?
Chr. Evangelist bid me come hither and knock (as I did): and he said that you, Sir, would tell me what I must do.
Good. An open Door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.
Chr. Because none of my neighbours saw their danger, as I saw mine.
Good. Did any of them know of your coming?
Chr. Yes, my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again: also some of my neighbours stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way.
Good. But did none of them follow you to persuade you to go back?
1 Good-will seems to be an allegorical person, the emblem of the compassionate love of God to sinners through Jesus Christ. Luke ii. 14.
2 As sinners become more assiduous in the means of grace, Satan, who is represented here by Beelzebub, will be more vehement in his endeavours to discourage them; and disturb them by various suggestions to which they were wholly strangers while satisfied with a form of godliness.
Christian and Good-UWILI.
Chr. Yes; both Obstinate and Pliable. But when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back, but Pliable came with me a little way.
Chr. We indeed came both together until we came to the Slough of Despond, into the which we also suddenly fell; and then was my neighbour Pliable discouraged, and would not adventure farther. Wherefore, getting out again, on the side next to his own house, he told me I should possess the brave country alone for him; so he went his way, and I came mine; he after Obstinate, and I to this Gate.
Then said Good-will, Alas! poor man: is the celestial glory of so little esteem with him, that he counted it not worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?
Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment! twixt him and myself. "Tis true, he went back to his own house; but I also turned aside to go into the Way of Death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal argument of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
Good. Oh, did he light upon you? What, he would have had you seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality? they are both of them
But did you take his counsel? Chr. Yes, as far as I durst: I went to find out Mr. Legality, until I thought that the Mountain that stands by his house would have fallen upon my head; wherefore there I was forced to stop.
Good. That Mountain has been the death of many, and will be the death of many more; 'tis well you escaped being by it dashed in pieces.
Chr. Why, truly, I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me again, as I was musing in the midst of my dumps; but 'twas God's mercy that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that Mountain, than thus to
a very cheat.
1 Our author here puts a very emphatical word into Christian's mouth, “there is no betterment 'twixt him and myself,” which late editors have changed for difference. This is by no means an improvement, though the word may be more classical: for grace had made an immense difference between Christian and Pliable; but the former thought his conduct equally criminal, and therefore in respect of deservings there was no betterment betwixt them.
The straight and narrow (May.
stand talking with my Lord: but oh! what a favour is this to me, that yet
I am admitted entrance here! Good. We make no objections against any; notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither, they “in no wise are cast out” (John vi. 37.); and therefore, good Christian, come a little way with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee, dost thou see this narrow way?' THAT is the way thou must go: It was cast up by the Patriarchs, Prophets, Christ, and his Apostles; and it is as straight as a rule can make it: this is the Way thou must go.
But, said Christian, are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way?
Good. Yes, there are many ways butt down upon this; and they are crooked and wide: but thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong: the right only being straight and narrow." (Matt. vii. 14.) Then I
in my dream, that Christian asked him further, if he could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back; for as yet he had not got rid thereof, nor could he by any means get it off without help
He told him, As to thy burden, be content to bear it, until thou comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from thy back of itself.:
Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his journey. So the other told him that, by that he was gone some distance from the Gate, he would come at the house of the
1 Christian, when admitted at the strait gate, is directed in the narrow way. In the broad road every man may choose a path suited to his inclinations. But Christians must follow one another in the narrow way on the same track, facing enemies, and bearing hardships, without attempting to évade them; nor is any indulgence given to different tastes, habits, or propensities.
2 Good-will's answer, that many ways butted down on it, or opened into it in various directions, shows, that the careless and self-willed are extremely liable to be deceived. But all these ways are crooked and wide; they turn aside from the direct line of living faith and holy obedience which lies straight forward.
A general reliance on the mercy of God by faith in Christ, accompanied with a con. sciousness of sincerity in seeking his salvation, gives some encouragement to the convinced sinner's hope; and transient lively joys are often vouchsafed to unestablished believers; but more distinct views of the glory of the gospel are necessary to abiding peace.