Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

his forehead, as I talked with him, I saw there written, “ Put off the old man with his deeds."

CHR. And how then ?

FAITH. Then it came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house, he would sell me for a slave. So I bid him forbear to talk, for I would not come near the door of his house. Then he reviled me, and told me that he would send such a one after me that should make my way bitter to my soul. So I turned to go away from him ; but just as I turned myself to go thence, I felt him take hold of my flesh, and give such a deadly twitch back, that I thought he had pulled part of me after himself : this made me cry, "Oh wretched man that I am ; who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” So I went on my way up the hill.

Now when I had got about half way up, I looked behind me, and saw one coming after me, swift as the wind ; so he overtook me just about the place where the settle stands.

CHR. Just there, said Christian, did I sit down to rest me; but being overcome with sleep, I there lost this roll out of

my

bosom. Faith. But, good brother, hear me out. So soon as the man overtook me, he was but a word and a blow ; for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again, I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said, because of my secret inclining to Adam the first. And with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward ; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again, I cried him mercy ; but he said, I know not how to show mercy; and with that knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but one came by, and bid him forbear.

CHR. Who was that that bid him forbear ?

FAITH. I did not know him at first ; but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and his side: then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill.

CHR. That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none; neither knoweth he how to show mercy to those that transgress his law.

Faith. I know it very well ; it was not the first time that he has met with me. 'Twas he that came to me when I dwelt securely at home, and that told me he would burn my house over my head if I stayed there.

CHR. But did not you see the house that stood there, on the top of that hill on the side of which Moses met you ?

Faith. Yes, and the lions too, before I came at it. But for the lions, I think they were asleep, for it was about noon ; and because I had so much of the day before me, I passed by the porter, and came down the hill.

Chr. He told me, indeed, that he saw you go by ; but I wish that you had called at the house, for they would have showed you so many rarities, that you would scarce have forgot them to the day of your death. But pray tell me, did you meet nobody in the Valley of Humility ?

Faith. Yes, I met with one Discontent, who would willingly have persuaded me to go back again with him : his reason was, for that the valley was altogether without honour. He told me, moreover, that there to go was the way to disoblige all my friends, as Pride, Arrogancy, Self-Conceit, Worldly Glory, with others, who he knew, as he said, would be very much offended, if I made such a fool of myself as to wade through this valley.

CHR. Well, and how did you answer him ?

Faith. I told him, that although all these that he named might claim a kindred of me, and that rightly (for indeed they were my relations according to the flesh), yet since I became a pilgrim, they have disowned me, and I also have rejected them; and therefore they were to me now no more than if they had never been of my lineage. I told him, moreover, that as to this valley, he had quite misrepresented the thing; for before honour is humility, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Therefore, said I, I had rather go through this valley to the honour that was so accounted by the wisest, than choose that which he esteemed most worth our affections.

CHR. Met you with nothing else in that valley ?

FAITH. Yes, I met with Shame; but of all the men that I met with on pilgrimage, he, I think, bears the wrong name.

The others would be said nay, after a little argumentation, and somewhat else ; but this bold-faced Shame would never have done,

CHR. Why, what did he say to you?

Faith. What ? why, he objected against religion itself. He said it was a pitiful, low, sneaking business for a man to mind religion. He said, that a tender conscience was an unmanly thing; and that for a man to watch over his words and ways, so as to tie up himself from that hectoring liberty that the brave spirits of the times accustom themselves unto, would make him the ridicule of the times. He objected also, that but few of the mighty, rich, or wise were ever of my opinion ; nor any of them neither, before they were persuaded to be fools, and to be of a voluntary fondness to venture the loss of all, for nobody else knows what. He, moreover, objected the base and low estate and condition of those that were chiefly the pilgrims of the times in which they lived ; also their ignorance and want of understanding in all natural science. Yea, he did hold me to it at that rate also about a great many more things than here I relate ; as, that it was a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon, and a shame to come sighing and groaning home ; that it was a shame to ask my neighbour forgiveness for my petty faults, or to make restitution where I have taken from any. He said also, that religion made a man grow strange to the great, because of a few vices (which he called by finer names), and made him own and respect the base, because of the same religious fraternity: and is not this, said he, a shame ?

CHR. And what did you say to him ?

Faith. Say? I could not tell what to say at first. Yea, he put me so to it, that

my
blood came up

in
my

face ; even this Shame fetched it up, and had almost beat me quite off. But at last I began to consider, that that which is highly esteemed among men, is had in abomination with God. And I thought again, This Shame tells me what men are ; but he tells me nothing what God, or the word of God, is. And I thought, moreover, that at the day of doom we shall not be doomed to death or life, according to the hectoring spirits of the world, but according to the wisdom and law of the Highest. Therefore, thought I, what God says

is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it. Seeing, then, that God prefers his religion ; seeing God prefers a tender conscience ; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest, and that the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him ; Shame, depart, thou art an enemy to my salvation. Shall I entertain thee against my sovereign Lord; how then shall I look Him in the face at his coming ? Should I now be ashamed of his ways and servants, how can I expect the blessing? But indeed this Shame was a bold villain ; I could scarcely shake him out of my company ; yea, he would be haunting of me, and continually whispering me in the ear with some one or other of the infirmities that attend religion. But at last I told him 'twas but in vain to attempt farther in this business ; for those things that he disdained, in those did I see most glory : and so at last I got past this importunate one.

Chr. I am glad, my brother, that thou didst withstand this villain so bravely ; for of all, as thou sayest, I think he has the wrong name ; for he is so bold as to follow us in the streets, and to attempt to put us to shame before all men ; that is, to make us ashamed of that which is good. But if he was not himself audacious, he would never attempt to do as he does. But let us still resist him ; for notwithstanding all his bravadoes, he promoteth the fool, and none else. 6. The wise shall inherit glory," said Solomon ; “but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

Faith. I think we must cry to Him for help against Shame, that would have us to be valiant for truth upon the earth.

CHR. You say true ; but did you meet nobody else in that valley?

Faith. No, not I; for I had sunshine all the rest of the way through that, and also through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. CHR. 'Twas well for you ; I am sure it fared far otherwise with

I had for a long season, as soon almost as I entered into that valley, a dreadful combat with that foul fiend Apollyon ; yea, I thought verily he would have killed me, especially when he got me down, and crushed me under him, as if he would have crushed me to pieces ; for as he threw me, my sword flew out of my

hand; nay, he told me he was sure of me; but I cried to God, and he heard me, and delivered me out of all my troubles. Then I entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and had no light for almost half the way through it. I thought I should have been killed there over and over ; but at last day brake, and the sun rose, and I went through that which was behind with far more ease and quiet.

Pilgrim's Progress.

me.

PRAYER

JEREMY TAYLOR, 1613—1667. PRAYER is an action of likeness to the Holy Ghost, the spirit of gentleness and dove-like simplicity ; an imitation of the Holy Jesus, whose spirit is meek, up to the greatness of the biggest example ; and a conformity to God, whose anger is always just, and marches slowly, and is without transportation, and often hindered, and never hasty, and is full of mercy : prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest : prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts ; it is the daughter of charity, and the sister of meekness; and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and climb above the clouds ; but the poor bird was beaten back by the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconstant, descending more at every breath of the tempest, than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of its wings, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over ; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel, as he passed sometimes through the air, about his ministries here below. So is the prayer of a good man : when his affairs have required business, and his business was matter of discipline, and his discipline was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met with the infirmities of a man, and anger was its instrument; and the instrument became stronger than the prime agent, and raised a tempest, and overruled the man ; and then his prayer was broken, and his thoughts were troubled, and his words went up towards a cloud ; and his thoughts pulled them back again, and made them without intention ; and the good man sighs for his infirmity, but must be

« ПредишнаНапред »