Bunyan Characters – Third Series by Alexander Whyte

This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk from the 1895 Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier edition. BUNYAN CHARACTERS (THIRD SERIES) by Alexander Whyte CHAPTER I–THE BOOK ‘–the book of the wars of the Lord.’–Moses. John Bunyan’s Holy War was first published in 1682, six years before its illustrious author’s death. Bunyan wrote this great
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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk from the 1895 Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier edition.


by Alexander Whyte


‘–the book of the wars of the Lord.’–Moses.

John Bunyan’s Holy War was first published in 1682, six years before its illustrious author’s death. Bunyan wrote this great book when he was still in all the fulness of his intellectual power and in all the ripeness of his spiritual experience. The Holy War is not the Pilgrim’s Progress–there is only one Pilgrim’s Progress. At the same time, we have Lord Macaulay’s word for it that if the Pilgrim’s Progress did not exist the Holy War would be the best allegory that ever was written: and even Mr. Froude admits that the Holy War alone would have entitled its author to rank high up among the acknowledged masters of English literature. The intellectual rank of the Holy War has been fixed before that tribunal over which our accomplished and competent critics preside; but for a full appreciation of its religious rank and value we would need to hear the glad testimonies of tens of thousands of God’s saints, whose hard-beset faith and obedience have been kindled and sustained by the study of this noble book. The Pilgrim’s Progress sets forth the spiritual life under the scriptural figure of a long and an uphill journey. The Holy War, on the other hand, is a military history; it is full of soldiers and battles, defeats and victories. And its devout author had much more scriptural suggestion and support in the composition of the Holy War than he had even in the composition of the Pilgrim’s Progress. For Holy Scripture is full of wars and rumours of wars: the wars of the Lord; the wars of Joshua and the Judges; the wars of David, with his and many other magnificent battle-songs; till the best known name of the God of Israel in the Old Testament is the Lord of Hosts; and then in the New Testament we have Jesus Christ described as the Captain of our salvation. Paul’s powerful use of armour and of armed men is familiar to every student of his epistles; and then the whole Bible is crowned with a book all sounding with the battle-cries, the shouts, and the songs of soldiers, till it ends with that city of peace where they hang the trumpet in the hall and study war no more. Military metaphors had taken a powerful hold of our author’s imagination even in the Pilgrim’s Progress, as his portraits of Greatheart and Valiant-for- truth and other soldiers sufficiently show; while the conflict with Apollyon and the destruction of Doubting Castle are so many sure preludes of the coming Holy War. Bunyan’s early experiences in the great Civil War had taught him many memorable things about the military art; memorable and suggestive things that he afterwards put to the most splendid use in the siege, the capture, and the subjugation of Mansoul.

The Divine Comedy is beyond dispute the greatest book of personal and experimental religion the world has ever seen. The consuming intensity of its author’s feelings about sin and holiness, the keenness and the bitterness of his remorse, and the rigour and the severity of his revenge, his superb intellect and his universal learning, all set ablaze by his splendid imagination–all that combines to make the Divine Comedy the unapproachable masterpiece it is. John Bunyan, on the other hand, had no learning to be called learning, but he had a strong and a healthy English understanding, a conscience and a heart wholly given up to the life of the best religion of his religious day, and then, by sheer dint of his sanctified and soaring imagination and his exquisite style, he stands forth the peer of the foremost men in the intellectual world. And thus it is that the great unlettered religious world possesses in John Bunyan all but all that the select and scholarly world possesses in Dante. Both Dante and Bunyan devoted their splendid gifts to the noblest of services–the service of spiritual, and especially of personal religion; but for one appreciative reader that Dante has had Bunyan has had a hundred. Happy in being so like his Master in so many things, Bunyan is happy in being like his unlettered Master in this also, that the common people hear him gladly and never weary of hearing him.

It gives by far its noblest interest to Dante’s noble book that we have Dante himself in every page of his book. Dante is taken down into Hell, he is then led up through Purgatory, and after that still up and up into the very Paradise of God. But that hell all the time is the hell that Dante had dug and darkened and kindled for himself. In the Purgatory, again, we see Dante working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, God all the time working in Dante to will and to do of His good pleasure. And then the Paradise, with all its sevenfold glory, is just that place and that life which God hath prepared for them that love Him and serve Him as Dante did. And so it is in the Holy War. John Bunyan is in the Pilgrim’s Progress, but there are more men and other men than its author in that rich and populous book, and other experiences and other attainments than his. But in the Holy War we have Bunyan himself as fully and as exclusively as we have Dante in the Divine Comedy. In the first edition of the Holy War there is a frontispiece conceived and executed after the anatomical and symbolical manner which was so common in that day, and which is to be seen at its perfection in the English edition of Jacob Behmen. The frontispiece is a full-length likeness of the author of the Holy War, with his whole soul laid open and his hidden heart ‘anatomised.’ Why, asked Wordsworth, and Matthew Arnold in our day has echoed the question–why does Homer still so live and rule without a rival in the world of letters? And they answer that it is because he always sang with his eye so fixed upon its object. ‘Homer, to thee I turn.’ And so it was with Dante. And so it was with Bunyan. Bunyan’s Holy War has its great and abiding and commanding power over us just because he composed it with his eye fixed on his own heart.

My readers, I have somewhat else to do, Than with vain stories thus to trouble you; What here I say some men do know so well They can with tears and joy the story tell . . . Then lend thine ear to what I do relate, Touching the town of Mansoul and her state: For my part, I (myself) was in the town, Both when ’twas set up and when pulling down. Let no man then count me a fable-maker,
Nor make my name or credit a partaker Of their derision: what is here in view
Of mine own knowledge, I dare say is true.

The characters in the Holy War are not as a rule nearly so clear- cut or so full of dramatic life and movement as their fellows are in the Pilgrim’s Progress, and Bunyan seems to have felt that to be the case. He shows all an author’s fondness for the children of his imagination in the Pilgrim’s Progress. He returns to and he lingers on their doings and their sayings and their very names with all a foolish father’s fond delight. While, on the other hand, when we look to see him in his confidential addresses to his readers returning upon some of the military and municipal characters in the Holy War, to our disappointment he does not so much as name a single one of them, though he dwells with all an author’s self-delectation on the outstanding scenes, situations, and episodes of his remarkable book.

What, then, are some of the more outstanding scenes, situations, and episodes, as well as military and municipal characters, in the book now before us? And what are we to promise ourselves, and to expect, from the study and the exposition of the Holy War in these lectures? Well, to begin with, we shall do our best to enter with mind, and heart, and conscience, and imagination into Bunyan’s great conception of the human soul as a city, a fair and a delicate city and corporation, with its situation, surroundings, privileges and fortunes. We shall then enter under his guidance into the famous and stately palace of this metropolitan city; a palace which for strength might be called a castle, for pleasantness a paradise, and for largeness a place so copious as to contain all the world. The walls and the gates of the city will then occupy and instruct us for several Sabbath evenings, after which we shall enter on the record of the wars and battles that rolled time after time round those city walls, and surged up through its captured gates till they quite overwhelmed the very palace of the king itself. Then we shall spend, God willing, one Sabbath evening with Loth-to-stoop, and another with old Ill-pause, the devil’s orator, and another with Captain Anything, and another with Lord Willbewill, and another with that notorious villain Clip-promise, by whose doings so much of the king’s coin had been abused, and another with that so angry and so ill-conditioned churl old Mr. Prejudice, with his sixty deaf men under him. Dear Mr. Wet-eyes, with his rope upon his head, will have a fit congregation one winter night, and Captain Self-denial another. We shall have another painful but profitable evening before a communion season with Mr. Prywell, and so we shall eat of that bread and drink of that cup. Emmanuel’s livery will occupy us one evening, Mansoul’s Magna Charta another, and her annual Feast-day another. Her Established Church and her beneficed clergy will take up one evening, some Skulkers in Mansoul another, the devil’s last prank another, and then, to wind up with, Emmanuel’s last speech and charge to Mansoul from his chariot-step till He comes again to accomplish her rapture. All that we shall see and take part in; unless, indeed, our Captain comes in anger before the time, and spears us to the earth when He finds us asleep at our post or in the act of sin at it, which may His abounding mercy forbid!

And now take these three forewarnings and precautions.

1. First:- All who come here on these coming Sabbath evenings will not understand the Holy War all at once, and many will not understand it at all. And little blame to them, and no wonder. For, fully to understand this deep and intricate book demands far more mind, far more experience, and far more specialised knowledge than the mass of men, as men are, can possibly bring to it. This so exacting book demands of us, to begin with, some little acquaintance with military engineering and architecture; with the theory of, and if possible with some practice in, attack and defence in sieges and storms, winter campaigns and long drawn-out wars. And then, impossible as it sounds and is, along with all that we would need to have a really profound, practical, and at first-hand acquaintance with the anatomy of the human subject, and especially with cardiac anatomy, as well as with all the conditions, diseases, regimen and discipline of the corrupt heart of man. And then it is enough to terrify any one to open this book or to enter this church when he is told that if he comes here he must be ready and willing to have the whole of this terrible and exacting book fulfilled and experienced in himself, in his own body and in his own soul.

2. And, then, you will not all like the Holy War. The mass of men could not be expected to like any such book. How could the vain and blind citizen of a vain and blind city like to be wakened up, as Paris was wakened up within our own remembrance, to find all her gates in the hands of an iron-hearted enemy? And how could her sons like to be reminded, as they sit in their wine gardens, that they are thereby fast preparing their city for that threatened day when she is to be hung up on her own walls and bled to the white? Who would not hate and revile the book or the preacher who prophesied such rough things as that? Who could love the author or the preacher who told him to his face that his eyes and his ears and all the passes to his heart were already in the hands of a cruel, ruthless, and masterful enemy? No wonder that you never read the Holy War. No wonder that the bulk of men have never once opened it. The Downfall is not a favourite book in the night- gardens of Paris.

3. And then, few, very few, it is to be feared, will be any better of the Holy War. For, to be any better of such a terrible book as this is, we must at all costs lay it, and lay it all, and lay it all at once, to heart. We must submit ourselves to see ourselves continually in its blazing glass. We must stoop to be told that it is all, in all its terrors and in all its horrors, literally true of ourselves. We must deliberately and resolutely set open every gate that opens in on our heart–Ear-gate and Eye-gate and all the gates of sense and intellect, day and night, to Jesus Christ to enter in; and we must shut and bolt and bar every such gate in the devil’s very face, and in the face of all his scouts and orators, day and night also. But who that thinks, and that knows by experience what all that means, will feel himself sufficient for all that? No man: no sinful man. But, among many other noble and blessed things, the Holy War will show us that our sufficiency in this impossibility also is all of God. Who, then, will enlist? Who will risk all and enlist? Who will matriculate in the military school of Mansoul? Who will submit himself to all the severity of its divine discipline? Who will be made willing to throw open and to keep open his whole soul, with all the gates and doors thereof, to all the sieges, assaults, capitulations, submissions, occupations, and such like of the war of gospel holiness? And who will enlist under that banner now?

‘Set down my name, sir,’ said a man of a very stout countenance to him who had the inkhorn at the outer gate. At which those who walked upon the top of the palace broke out in a very pleasant voice,

‘Come in, come in;
Eternal glory thou shalt win.’

We have no longer, after what we have come through, any such stoutness in our countenance, yet will we say to-night with him who had it, Set down my name also, sir!


‘–a besieged city.’–Isaiah.

Our greatest historians have been wont to leave their books behind them and to make long journeys in order to see with their own eyes the ruined sites of ancient cities and the famous fields where the great battles of the world were lost and won. We all remember how Macaulay made a long winter journey to see the Pass of Killiecrankie before he sat down to write upon it; and Carlyle’s magnificent battle-pieces are not all imagination; even that wonderful writer had to see Frederick’s battlefields with his own eyes before he could trust himself to describe them. And he tells us himself how Cromwell’s splendid generalship all came up before him as he looked down on the town of Dunbar and out upon the ever- memorable country round about it. John Bunyan was not a great historian; he was only a common soldier in the great Civil War of the seventeenth century; but what would we not give for a description from his vivid pen of the famous fields and the great sieges in which he took part? What a find John Bunyan’s ‘Journals’ and ‘Letters Home from the Seat of War’ would be to our historians and to their readers! But, alas! such journals and letters do not exist. Bunyan’s complete silence in all his books about the battles and the sieges he took his part in is very remarkable, and his silence is full of significance. The Puritan soldier keeps all his military experiences to work them all up into his Holy War, the one and only war that ever kindled all his passions and filled his every waking thought. But since John Bunyan was a man of genius, equal in his own way to Cromwell and Milton themselves, if I were a soldier I would keep ever before me the great book in which Bunyan’s experiences and observations and reflections as a soldier are all worked up. I would set that classical book on the same shelf with Caesar’s Commentaries and Napier’s Peninsula, and Carlyle’s glorious battle-pieces. Even Caesar has been accused of too great dryness and coldness in his Commentaries, but there is neither dryness nor coldness in John Bunyan’s Holy War. To read Bunyan kindles our cold civilian blood like the waving of a banner and like the sound of a trumpet.

The situation of the city of Mansoul occupies one of the most beautiful pages of this whole book. The opening of the Holy War, simply as a piece of English, is worthy to stand beside the best page of the Pilgrim’s Progress itself, and what more can I say than that? Now, the situation of a city is a matter of the very first importance. Indeed, the insight and the foresight of the great statesmen and the great soldiers of past ages are seen in nothing more than in the sites they chose for their citadels and for their defenced cities. Well, then, as to the situation of Mansoul, ‘it lieth,’ says our military author, ‘just between the two worlds.’ That is to say: very much as Germany in our day lies between France and Russia, and very much as Palestine in her day lay between Egypt and Assyria, so does Mansoul lie between two immense empires also. And, surely, I do not need to explain to any man here who has a man’s soul in his bosom that the two armed empires that besiege his soul are Heaven above and Hell beneath, and that both Heaven and Hell would give their best blood and their best treasure to subdue and to possess his soul. We do not value our souls at all as Heaven and Hell value them. There are savage tribes in Africa and in Asia who inhabit territories that are sleeplessly envied by the expanding and extending nations of Europe. Ancient and mighty empires in Europe raise armies, and build navies, and levy taxes, and spill the blood of their bravest sons like water in order to possess the harbours, and the rivers, and the mountains, and the woods amid which their besotted owners roam in utter ignorance of all the plots and preparations of the Western world. And Heaven and Hell are not unlike those ancient and over-peopled nations of Europe whose teeming millions must have an outlet to other lands. Their life and their activity are too large and too rich for their original territories, and thus they are compelled to seek out colonies and dependencies, so that their surplus population may have a home. And, in like manner, Heaven is too full of love and of blessedness to have all that for ever shut up within itself, and Hell is too full of envy and ill-will, and thus there continually come about those contentions and collisions of which the Holy War is full. And, besides, it is with Mansoul and her neighbour states of Heaven and Hell just as it is with some of our great European empires in this also. There is no neutral zone, no buffer state, no silver streak between Mansoul and her immediate and military neighbours. And thus it is that her statesmen, and her soldiers, and even her very common-soldier sentries must be for ever on the watch; they must never say peace, peace; they must never leave for one moment their appointed post.

And then, as for the wall of the city, hear our excellent historian’s own words about that. ‘The wall of the town was well built,’ so he says. ‘Yea, so fast and firm was it knit and compact together that, had it not been for the townsmen themselves, it could not have been shaken or broken down for ever. For here lay the excellent wisdom of Him that builded Mansoul, that the walls could never be broken down nor hurt by the most mighty adverse potentate unless the townsmen gave their consent thereto.’ Now, what would the military engineers of Chatham and Paris and Berlin, who are now at their wits’ end, not give for a secret like that! A wall impregnable and insurmountable and not to be sapped or mined from the outside: a wall that could only suffer hurt from the inside! And then that wonderful wall was pierced from within with five magnificently answerable gates. That is to say, the gates could neither be burst in nor any way forced from without. ‘This famous town of Mansoul had five gates, in at which to come, out of which to go; and these were made likewise answerable to the walls; to wit, impregnable, and such as could never be opened or forced but by the will and leave of those within. The names of the gates were these: Ear-gate, Eye-gate, Mouth-gate; in short, ‘the five senses,’ as we say.

In the south of England, in the time of Edward the Confessor and after the battle of Hastings, there were five cities which had special immunities and peculiar privileges bestowed upon them, in recognition of the special dangers to which they were exposed and the eminent services they performed as facing the hostile shores of France. Owing to their privileges and their position, the ‘Cinque Ports’ came to be cities of great strength, till, as time went on, they became a positive weakness rather than a strength to the land that lay behind them. Privilege bred pride, and in their pride the Cinque Ports proclaimed wars and formed alliances on their own account: piracies by sea and robberies by land were hatched within their walls; and it took centuries to reduce those pampered and arrogant ports to the safe and peaceful rank of ordinary English cities. The Revolution of 1688 did something, and the Reform Bill of 1832 did more to make Dover and her insolent sisters like the other free and equal cities of England; but to this day there are remnants of public shows and pageantries left in those old towns sufficient to witness to the former privileges, power, and pride of the famous Cinque Ports. Now, Mansoul, in like manner, has her cinque ports. And the whole of the Holy War is one long and detailed history of how the five senses are clothed with such power as they possess; how they abuse and misuse their power; what disloyalty and despite they show to their sovereign; what conspiracies and depredations they enter into; what untold miseries they let in upon themselves and upon the land that lies behind them; what years and years of siege, legislation, and rule it takes to reduce our bodily senses, those proud and licentious gates, to their true and proper allegiance, and to make their possessors a people loyal and contented, law-abiding and happy.

The Apostle has a terrible passage to the Corinthians, in which he treats of the soul and the senses with tremendous and overwhelming power. ‘Your bodies and your bodily members,’ he argues, with crushing indignation, ‘are not your own to do with them as you like. Your bodies and your souls are both Christ’s. He has bought your body and your soul at an incalculable cost. What! know ye not that your body is nothing less than the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and ye are not any more your own? know ye not that your bodies are the very members of Christ?’ And then he says a thing so terrible that I tremble to transcribe it. For a more terrible thing was never written. ‘Shall I then,’ filled with shame he demands, ‘take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot?’ O God, have mercy on me! I knew all the time that I was abusing and polluting myself, but I did not know, I did not think, I was never told that I was abusing and polluting Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Oh, too awful thought. And yet, stupid sinner that I am, I had often read that if any man defile the temple of God and the members of Christ, him shall God destroy. O God, destroy me not as I see now that I deserve. Spare me that I may cleanse and sanctify myself and the members of Christ in me, which I have so often embruted and defiled. Assist me to summon up my imagination henceforth to my sanctification as Thine apostle has here taught me the way. Let me henceforth look at my whole body in all its senses and in all its members, the most open and the most secret, as in reality no more my own. Let me henceforth look at myself with Paul’s deep and holy eyes. Let me henceforth seat Christ, my Redeemer and my King, in the very throne of my heart, and then keep every gate of my body and every avenue of my mind as all not any more mine own but His. Let me open my eye, and my ear, and my mouth, as if in all that I were opening Christ’s eye and Christ’s ear and Christ’s mouth; and let me thrust in nothing on Him as He dwells within me that will make Him ashamed or angry, or that will defile and pollute Him. That thought, O God, I feel that it will often arrest me in time to come in the very act of sin. It will make me start back before I make Christ cruel or false, a wine-bibber, a glutton, or unclean. I feel at this moment as if I shall yet come to ask Him at every meal, and at every other opportunity and temptation of every kind, what He would have and what He would do before I go on to take or to do anything myself. What a check, what a restraint, what an awful scrupulosity that will henceforth work in me! But, through that, what a pure, blameless, noble, holy and heavenly life I shall then lead! What bodily pains, diseases, premature decays; what mental remorses, what shames and scandals, what self-loathings and what self- disgusts, what cups bitterer to drink than blood, I shall then escape! Yes, O Paul, I shall henceforth hold with thee that my body is the temple of Christ, and that I am not my own, but that I am bought with a transporting price, and can, therefore, do nothing less than glorify God in my body and in my spirit which are God’s. ‘This place,’ says the Pauline author of the Holy War–‘This place the King intended but for Himself alone, and not for another with Him.’

But, my brethren, lay this well, and as never before, to heart– this, namely, that when you thus begin to keep any gate for Christ, your King and Captain and Better-self,–Ear-gate, or Eye-gate, or Mouth-gate, or any other gate–you will have taken up a task that shall have no end with you in this life. Till you begin in dead earnest to watch your heart, and all the doors of your heart, as if you were watching Christ’s heart for Him and all the doors of His heart, you will have no idea of the arduousness and the endurance, the sleeplessness and the self-denial, of the undertaking.

‘Mansoul! Her wars seemed endless in her eyes; She’s lost by one, becomes another’s prize. Mansoul! Her mighty wars, they did portend Her weal or woe and that world without end. Wherefore she must be more concern’d than they Whose fears begin and end the self-same day.’

‘We all thought one battle would decide it,’ says Richard Baxter, writing about the Civil War. ‘But we were all very much mistaken,’ sardonically adds Carlyle. Yes; and you will be very much mistaken too if you enter on the war with sin in your soul, in your senses and in your members, with powder and shot for one engagement only. When you enlist here, lay well to heart that it is for life. There is no discharge in this war. There are no ornamental old pensioners here. It is a warfare for eternal life, and nothing will end it but the end of your evil days on earth.


‘Take heed what ye hear.’–Our Lord in Mark. ‘Take heed how you hear.’–Our Lord in Luke.

This famous town of Mansoul had five gates, in at which to come, out at which to go, and these were made likewise answerable to the walls–to wit, impregnable, and such as could never be opened nor forced but by the will and leave of those within. ‘The names of the gates were these, Ear-gate, Eye-gate,’ and so on. Dr. George Wilson, who was once Professor of Technology in our University, took this suggestive passage out of the Holy War and made it the text of his famous lecture in the Philosophical Institution, and then he printed the passage on the fly-leaf of his delightful book The Five Gateways of Knowledge. That is a book to read sometime, but this evening is to be spent with the master.

For, after all, no one can write at once so beautifully, so quaintly, so suggestively, and so evangelically as John Bunyan. ‘The Lord Willbewill,’ says John Bunyan, ‘took special care that the gates should be secured with double guards, double bolts, and double locks and bars; and that Ear-gate especially might the better be looked to, for that was the gate in at which the King’s forces sought most to enter. The Lord Willbewill therefore made old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow, captain of the ward at that gate, and put under his power sixty men, called Deafmen; men advantageous for that service, forasmuch as they mattered no words of the captain nor of the soldiers. And first the King’s officers made their force more formidable against Ear- gate: for they knew that unless they could penetrate that no good could be done upon the town. This done, they put the rest of their men in their places; after which they gave out the word, which was, Ye must be born again! And so the battle began. Now, they in the town had planted upon the tower over Ear-gate two great guns, the one called High-mind and the other Heady. Unto these two guns they trusted much; they were cast in the castle by Diabolus’s ironfounder, whose name was Mr. Puff-up, and mischievous pieces they were. They in the camp also did stoutly, for they saw that unless they could open Ear-gate it would be in vain to batter the wall.’ And so on, through many allegorical, and, if sometimes somewhat laboured, yet always eloquent, pungent, and heart-exposing pages.

With these for our text let us now take a rapid glance at what some of the more Bunyan-like passages in the prophets and the psalms say about the ear; how it is kept and how it is lost; how it is used and how it is abused.

1. The Psalmist uses a very striking expression in the 94th Psalm when he is calling for justice, and is teaching God’s providence over men. ‘He that planted the ear,’ the Psalmist exclaims, ‘shall he not hear?’ And, considering his church and his day, that is not a bad remark of Cardinal Bellarmine on that psalm,–‘the Psalmist’s word planted,’ says that able churchman, ‘implies design, in that the ear was not spontaneously evolved by an act of vital force, but was independently created by God for a certain object, just as a tree, not of indigenous growth, is of set purpose planted in some new place by the hand of man.’ The same thing is said in Genesis, you remember, about the Garden of Eden,–the Lord planted it and put the man and the woman, whose ears he had just planted also, into the garden to dress it and keep it. How they dressed the garden and kept it, and how they held the gate of their ear against him who squatted down before it with his innuendoes and his lies, we all know to our as yet unrepaired, though not always irreparable, cost.

2. One would almost think that the scornful apostle had the Garden of Eden in his eye when he speaks so bitterly to Timothy of a class of people who are cursed with ‘itching ears.’ Eve’s ears itched unappeasably for the devil’s promised secret; and we have all inherited our first mother’s miserable curiosity. How eager, how restless, how importunate, we all are to hear that new thing that does not at all concern us; or only concerns us to our loss and our shame. And the more forbidden that secret is to us, and the more full of inward evil to us–insane sinners that we are–the more determined we are to get at it. Let any forbidden secret be in the keeping of some one within earshot of us and we will give him no rest till he has shared the evil thing with us. Let any specially evil page be published in a newspaper, and we will take good care that that day’s paper is not thrown into the waste-basket; we will hide it away, like a dog with a stolen bone, till we are able to dig it up and chew it dry in secret. The devil has no need to blockade or besiege the gate of our ear if he has any of his good things to offer us. The gate that can only be opened from within will open at once of itself if he or any of his newsmongers but squat down for a moment before it. Shame on us, and on all of us, for our itching ears.

3. Isaiah speaks of some men in his day whose ears were ‘heavy’ and whose hearts were fat, and the Psalmist speaks of some men in his day whose ears were ‘stopped’ up altogether. And there is not a better thing in Bunyan at his very best than that surly old churl called Prejudice, so ill-conditioned and so always on the edge of anger. By the devil’s plan of battle old Prejudice was appointed to be warder of Ear-gate, and to enable him to keep that gate for his master he had sixty deaf men put under him, men most advantageous for that post, forasmuch as it mattered not to them what Emmanuel and His officers said. There could be no manner of doubt who composed that inimitable passage. There is all the truth and all the humour and all the satire in Old Prejudice that our author has accustomed us to in his best pieces. The common people always get the best literature along with the best religion in John Bunyan. ‘They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, and which will not hearken to the voice of charmers charming never so wisely,’ says the Psalmist, speaking about some bad men in his day. Now, I will not stand upon David’s natural history here, but his moral and religious meaning is evident enough. David is not concerned about adders and their ears, he is wholly taken up with us and our adder-like animosity against the truth. Against what teacher, then; against what preacher; against what writer; against what doctrine, reproof, correction, has your churlish prejudice adder-like shut your ear? Against what truth, human or divine, have you hitherto stopped up your ear like the Psalmist’s serpent? To ask that boldly, honestly, and in the sight of God, at yourself to-night, would end in making you the lifelong friend of some preacher, some teacher, some soul-saving truth you have up till to- night been prejudiced against with the rooted prejudice and the sullen obstinacy of sixty deaf men. O God, help us to lay aside all this adder-like antipathy at men and things, both in public and in private life. Help us to give all men and all causes a fair field and no favour, but the field and the favour of an open and an honest mind, and a simple and a sincere heart. He that hath ears, let him hear!

4. As we work our way through the various developments and vicissitudes of the Holy War we shall find Ear-gate in it and in ourselves passing through many unexpected experiences; now held by one side and now by another. And we find the same succession of vicissitudes set forth in Holy Scripture. If you pay any attention to what you read and hear, and then begin to ask yourselves fair in the face as to your own prejudices, prepossessions, animosities, and antipathies,–you will at once begin to reap your reward in having put into your possession what the Scriptures so often call an ‘inclined’ ear. That is to say, an ear not only unstopped, not only unloaded, but actually prepared and predisposed to all manner of truth and goodness. Around our city there are the remains, the still visible tracks, of roads that at one time took the country people into our city, but which are now stopped up and made wholly impassable. There is no longer any road into Edinburgh that way. There are other roads still open, but they are very roundabout, and at best very up-hill. And then there are other roads so smooth, and level, and broad, and well kept, that they are full of all kinds of traffic; in the centre carts and carriages crowd them, on the one side horses and their riders delight to display themselves, and on the other side pedestrians and perambulators enjoy the sun. And then there are still other roads with such a sweet and gentle incline upon them that it is a positive pleasure both to man and beast to set their foot upon them. And so it is with the minds and the hearts of the men and the women who crowd these roads. Just as the various roads are, so are the ears and the understandings, the affections and the inclinations of those who walk and ride and drive upon them. Some of those men’s ears are impassably stopped up by self-love, self-interest, party-spirit, anger, envy, and ill- will,–impenetrably stopped up against all the men and all the truths of earth and of heaven that would instruct, enlighten, convict or correct them. Some men’s minds, again, are not so much shut up as they are crooked, and warped, and narrow, and full of obstruction and opposition. Whereas here and there, sometimes on horseback and sometimes on foot; sometimes a learned man walking out of the city to take the air, and sometimes an unlettered countryman coming into the city to make his market, will have his ear hospitably open to every good man he meets, to every good book he reads, to every good paper he buys at the street corner, and to every good speech, and report, and letter, and article he reads in it. And how happy that man is, how happy his house is at home, and how happy he makes all those he but smiles to on his afternoon walk, and in all his walk along the roads of this life. Never see an I incline’ on a railway or on a driving or a walking road without saying on it before you leave it, ‘I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined His ear unto me and heard my cry. Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with them that work iniquity. Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. I have inclined mine heart to perform Thy statutes alway, even unto the end.’

5. Shakespeare speaks in Richard the Second of ‘the open ear of youth,’ and it is a beautiful truth in a beautiful passage. Young men, who are still young men, keep your ears open to all truth and to all duty and to all goodness, and shut your ears with an adder’s determination against all that which ruined Richard–flattering sounds, reports of fashions, and lascivious metres. ‘Our souls would only be gainers by the perfection of our bodies were they wisely dealt with,’ says Professor Wilson in his Five Gateways. ‘And for every human being we should aim at securing, so far as they can be attained, an eye as keen and piercing as that of the eagle; an ear as sensitive to the faintest sound as that of the hare; a nostril as far-scenting as that of the wild deer; a tongue as delicate as that of the butterfly; and a touch as acute as that of the spider. No man ever was so endowed, and no man ever will be; but all men come infinitely short of what they should achieve were they to make their senses what they might be made. The old have outlived their opportunity, and the diseased never had it; but the young, who have still an undimmed eye, an undulled ear, and a soft hand; an unblunted nostril, and a tongue which tastes with relish the plainest fare–the young can so cultivate their senses as to make the narrow ring, which for the old and the infirm encircles things sensible, widen for them into an almost limitless horizon.’

Take heed what you hear, and take heed how you hear.


‘Mine eye affecteth mine heart.’–Jeremiah.

‘Think, in the first place,’ says the eloquent author of the Five Gateways of Knowledge, ‘how beautiful the human eye is. The eyes of many of the lower animals are, doubtless, very beautiful. You must all have admired the bold, fierce, bright eye of the eagle; the large, gentle, brown eye of the ox; the treacherous, green eye of the cat, waxing and waning like the moon; the pert eye of the sparrow; the sly eye of the fox; the peering little bead of black enamel in the mouse’s head; the gem-like eye that redeems the toad from ugliness, and the intelligent, affectionate expression which looks out of the human-like eye of the horse and dog. There are many other animals whose eyes are full of beauty, but there is a glory that excelleth in the eye of a man. We realise this best when we gaze into the eyes of those we love. It is their eyes we look at when we are near them, and it is their eyes we recall when we are far away from them. The face is all but a blank without the eye; the eye seems to concentrate every feature in itself. It is the eye that smiles, not the lips; it is the eye that listens, not the ear; it is the eye that frowns, not the brow; it is the eye that mourns, not the voice. The eye sees what it brings the power to see. How true is this! The sailor on the look-out can see a ship where the landsman can see nothing. The Esquimaux can distinguish a white fox among the white snow. The astronomer can see a star in the sky where to others the blue expanse is unbroken. The shepherd can distinguish the face of every single sheep in his flock,’ so Professor Wilson. And then Dr. Gould tells us in his mystico-evolutionary, Behmen-and-Darwin book, The Meaning and the Method of Life–a book which those will read who can and ought– that the eye is the most psychical, the most spiritual, the most useful, and the most valued and cherished of all the senses; after which he adds this wonderful and heart-affecting scientific fact, that in death by starvation, every particle of fat in the body is auto-digested except the cream-cushion of the eye-ball! So true is it that the eye is the mistress, the queen, and the most precious, to Creator and creature alike, of all the five senses.

Now, in the Holy War John Bunyan says a thing about the ear, as distinguished from the eye, that I cannot subscribe to in my own experience at any rate. In describing the terrible war that raged round Ear-gate, and finally swept up through that gate and into the streets of the city, he says that the ear is the shortest and the surest road to the heart. I confess I cannot think that to be the actual case. I am certain that it is not so in my own case. My eye is very much nearer my heart than my ear is. My eye much sooner affects, and much more powerfully affects, my heart than my ear ever does. Not only is my eye by very much the shortest road to my heart, but, like all other short roads, it is cram-full of all kinds of traffic when my ear stands altogether empty. My eye is constantly crowded and choked with all kinds of commerce; whole hordes of immigrants and invaders trample one another down on the congested street that leads from my eye to my heart. Speaking for myself, for one assault that is made on my heart through my ear there are a thousand assaults successfully made through my eye. Indeed, were my eye but stopped up; had I but obedience and courage and self-mortification enough to pluck both my eyes out, that would be half the cleansing and healing and holiness of my evil heart; or at least, the half of its corruption, rebellion, and abominable wickedness would henceforth be hidden from me. I think I can see what led John Bunyan in his day and in this book to make that too strong statement about the ear as against the eye; but it is not like him to have let such an over-statement stand and continue in his corrected and carefully finished work. The prophet Jeremiah, I feel satisfied, would not have subscribed to what is said in the Holy War in extenuation of the eye. That heart-broken prophet does not say that it has been his ear that has made his head waters. It is his eye, he says, that has so affected his heart. The Prophet of the Captivity had all the Holy War potentially in his imagination when he penned that so suggestive sentence. And the Latin poet of experience, the grown-up man’s own poet, says somewhere that the things that enter by his eye seize and hold his heart much more swiftly and much more surely than those things that but enter by his ear. I shall continue, then, to hold by my text, ‘Mine eye affecteth mine heart.’

1. Turning then, to the prophets and proverb-makers of Israel, and then to the New Testament for the true teaching on the eye, I come, in the first place, on that so pungent saying of Solomon that ‘the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.’ Look at that born fool, says Solomon, who has his eyes and his heart committed to him to keep. See him how he gapes and stares after everything that does not concern him, and lets the door of his own heart stand open to every entering thief. London is a city of three million inhabitants, and they are mostly fools, Carlyle once said. And let him in this city whose eyes keep at home cast the first stone at those foreign fools. I will wager on their side that many of you here to-night know better what went on in Mashonaland last week than what went on in your own kitchen downstairs, or in your own nursery or schoolroom upstairs. Some of you are ten times more taken up with the prospects of Her Majesty’s Government this session, and with the plots of Her Majesty’s Opposition, than you are with the prospects of the good and the evil, and the plots of God and the devil, all this winter in your own hearts. You rise early, and make a fight to get the first of the newspaper; but when the minister comes in in the afternoon you blush because the housemaid has mislaid the Bible. Did you ever read of the stargazer who fell into an open well at the street corner? Like him, you may be a great astronomer, a great politician, a great theologian, a great defender of the faith even, and yet may be a stark fool just in keeping the doors and the windows of your own heart. ‘You shall see a poor soul,’ says Dr. Goodwin, ‘mean in abilities of wit, or accomplishments of learning, who knows not how the world goes, nor upon what wheels its states turn, who yet knows more clearly and experimentally his own heart than all the learned men in the world know theirs. And though the other may better discourse philosophically of the acts of the soul, yet this poor man sees more into the corruption of it than they all.’ And in another excellent place he says: ‘Many who have leisure and parts to read much, instead of ballasting their hearts with divine truth, and building up their souls with its precious words, are much more versed in play-books, jeering pasquils, romances, and feigned staves, which are but apes and peacocks’ feathers instead of pearls and precious stones. Foreign and foolish discourses please their eyes and their ears; they are more chameleons than men, for they live on the east wind.’

2. ‘If thine eye offend thee’–our Lord lays down this law to all those who would enter into life–‘pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell-fire.’ Does your eye offend you, my brethren? Does your eye cause you to stumble and fall, as it is in the etymology? The right use of the eye is to keep you from stumbling and falling; but so perverted are the eye and the heart of every sinner that the city watchman has become a partaker with thieves, and our trusted guide and guardian a traitor and a knave. If thine eye, therefore, offends thee; if it places a stone or a tree in thy way in a dark night; if it digs a deep ditch right across thy way home; if it in any way leads thee astray, or lets in upon thee thine enemies–then, surely, thou wert better to be without that eye altogether. Pluck it out, then; or, what is still harder to go on all your days doing, pluck the evil thing out of it. Shut up that book and put it away. Throw that paper and that picture into the fire. Cut off that companion, even if he were an adoring lover. Refuse that entertainment and that amusement, though all the world were crowding upto it. And soon, and soon, till you have plucked your eye as clean of temptations and snares as it is possible to be in this life. For this life is full of that terrible but blessed law of our Lord. The life of all His people, that is; and you are one of them, are you not? You will know whether or no you are one of them just by the number of the beautiful things, and the sweet things, and the things to be desired, that you have plucked out of your eye at His advice and demand. True religion, my brethren, on some sides of it, and at some stages of it, is a terribly severe and sore business; and unless it is proving a terribly severe and sore business to you, look out! lest, with your two hands and your two feet and your two eyes, you be cast, with all that your hands and feet and eyes have feasted on, into the everlasting fires! Woe unto the world because of offences, but woe much more to that member and entrance-gate of the body by which the offence cometh! Wherefore, if thine eye offend thee -!

3. ‘Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.’ Now, if you wish both to preserve your eyes, and to escape the everlasting fires at the same time, attend to this text. For this is almost as good as plucking out your two eyes; indeed, it is almost the very same thing. Solomon shall speak to the man in this house to-night who has the most inflammable, the most ungovernable, and the most desperately wicked heart. You, man, with that heart, you know that you cannot pass up the street without your eye becoming a perfect hell-gate of lust, of hate, of ill-will, of resentment and of revenge. Your eye falls on a man, on a woman, on a house, on a shop, on a school, on a church, on a carriage, on a cart, on an innocent child’s perambulator even; and, devil let loose that you are, your eye fills your heart on the spot with absolute hell-fire. Your presence and your progress poison the very streets of the city. And that, not as the short-sighted and the vulgar will read Solomon’s plain-spoken Scripture, with the poison of lewdness and uncleanness, but with the still more malignant, stealthy, and deadly poison of social, professional, political, and ecclesiastical hatred, resentment, and ill-will. Whoredom and wine openly slay their thousands on all our streets; but envy and spite, dislike and hatred their ten thousands. The fact is, we would never know how malignantly wicked our hearts are but for our eyes. But a sudden spark, a single flash through the eye falling on the gunpowder that fills our hearts, that lets us know a hundred times every day what at heart we are made of. ‘Of a verity, O Lord, I am made of sin, and that my life maketh manifest,’ prays Bishop Andrewes every day. Why, sir, not to go to the street, the direction in which your eyes turn in this house this evening will make this house a very ‘den,’ as our Lord said–yes, a very den to you of temptation and transgression. My son, let thine eyes look right on. Ponder the path of thy feet, turn not to the right hand nor to the left–remove thy foot from all evil!

4. There is still another eye that is almost as good as an eye out altogether, and that is a Job’s eye. Job was the first author of that eye and all we who have that excellent eye take it of him. ‘I have made a covenant with mine eyes,’ said that extraordinary man– that extraordinarily able, honest, exposed and exercised man. Now, you must all know what a covenant is. A covenant is a compact, a contract, an agreement, an engagement. In a covenant two parties come to terms with one another. The two covenanters strike hands, and solemnly engage themselves to one another: I will do this for you if you will do that for me. It is a bargain, says the other; let us have it sealed with wax and signed with pen and ink before two witnesses. As, for instance, at the Lord’s Table. I swear, you say, over the Body and the Blood of the Son of God, I swear to make a covenant with mine eyes. I will never let them read again that idle, infidel, scoffing, unclean sheet. I will not let them look on any of my former images or imaginations of forbidden pleasures. I swear, O Thou to whom the night shineth as the day, that I will never again say, Surely the darkness shall cover me! See if I do not henceforth by Thy grace keep my feet off every slippery street. That, and many other things like that, was the way that Job made his so noble covenant with his eyes in his day and in his land. And it was because he so made and so kept his covenant that God so boasted over him and said, Hast thou considered my servant Job? And then, every covenant has its two sides. The other side of Job’s covenant, of which God Himself was the surety, you can read and think over in your solitary lodgings to-night. Read Job xxxi. 1, and then Job xl. to the end, and then be sure you take covenant paper and ink to God before you sleep. And let all fashionable young ladies hear what Miss Rossetti expects for herself, and for all of her sex with her who shall subscribe her covenant. ‘True,’ she admits, ‘all our life long we shall be bound to refrain our soul, and keep it low; but what then? For the books we now refrain to read we shall one day be endowed with wisdom and knowledge. For the music we will not listen to we shall join in the song of the redeemed. For the pictures from which we turn we shall gaze unabashed on the Beatific Vision. For the companionship we shun we shall be welcomed into angelic society and the communion of triumphant saints. For the amusements we avoid we shall keep the supreme jubilee. For all the pleasures we miss we shall abide, and for evermore abide, in the rapture of heaven.’

5. And then there is the Pauline eye. An eye, however, that Job would have shared with Paul and with the Corinthian Church had the patriarch been privileged to live in our New Testament day. Ever since the Holy Ghost with His anointing oil fell on us at Pentecost, says the apostle, we have had an eye by means of which we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen. Now, he who has an eye like that is above both plucking out his eyes or making a covenant with them either. It is like what Paul says about the law also. The law is not made for a righteous man. A righteous man is above the law and independent of it. The law does not reach to him and he is not hampered with it. And so it is with the man who has got Paul’s splendid eyes for the unseen. He does not need to touch so much as one of his eye-lashes to pluck them out. For his eyes are blind, and his ears are deaf, and his whole body is dead to the things that are temporal. His eyes are inwardly ablaze with the things that are eternal. He whose eyes have been opened to the truth and the love of his Bible, he will gloat no more over your books and your papers filled with lies, and slander, and spite, and lewdness! He who has his conversation in heaven does not need to set a watch on his lips lest he take up an ill report about his neighbour. He who walks every day on the streets of gold will step as swiftly as may be, with girt loins, and with a preoccupied eye, out of the slippery and unsavoury streets of this forsaken earth. He who has fast working out for him an exceeding and eternal weight of glory will easily count all his cups and all his crosses, and all the crooks in his lot but as so many light afflictions and but for a moment. My Lord Understanding had his palace built with high perspective towers on it, and the site of it was near to Eye-gate, from the top of which his lordship every day looked not at the things which are temporal, but at the things which are eternal, and down from his palace towers he every day descended to administer his heavenly office in the city.

Your eye, then, is the shortest way into your heart. Watch it well, therefore; suspect and challenge all outsiders who come near it. Keep the passes that lead to your heart with all diligence. Let nothing contraband, let nothing that even looks suspicious, ever enter your hearts; for, if it once enters, and turns out to be evil, you will never get it all out again as long as you live. ‘Death is come up into our windows,’ says our prophet in another place, ‘and is entered into our palaces, to cut off our children in our houses and our young men in our streets.’ Make a covenant, then, with your eyes. Take an oath of your eyes as to which way they are henceforth to look. For, let them look this way, and your heart is immediately full of lust, and hate, and envy, and ill- will. On the other hand, lead them to look that way and your heart is as immediately full of truth and beauty, brotherly kindness and charity. The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body is full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!


‘The palace is not for man, but for the Lord God.’–David.

‘Now, there is in this gallant country a fair and delicate town, a corporation, called Mansoul: a town for its building so curious, for its situation so commodious, for its privileges so advantageous, that I may say of it, there is not its equal under the whole heaven. Also, there was reared up in the midst of this town a most famous and stately palace: for strength, it might be called a castle; for pleasantness, a paradise; and for largeness, a place so copious as to contain all the world. This place the King intended for Himself alone, and not for another with Him, so great was His delight in it.’ Thus far, our excellent allegorical author. But there are other authors that treat of this great matter now in hand besides the allegorical authors. You will hear tell sometimes about a class of authors called the Mystics. Well, listen at this stage to one of them, and one of the best of them, on this present matter–the human heart, that is. ‘Our heart,’ he says, ‘is our manner of existence, or the state in which we feel ourselves to be; it is an inward life, a vital sensibility, which contains our manner of feeling what and how we are; it is the state of our desires and tendencies, of inwardly seeing, tasting, relishing, and feeling that which passes within us; our heart is that to us inwardly with regard to ourselves which our senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, and such like are with regard to things that are without or external to us. Your heart is the best and greatest gift of God to you. It is the highest, greatest, strongest, and noblest power of your nature. It forms your whole life, be it what it will. All evil and all good come from your heart. Your heart alone has the key of life and death for you.’ I was just about to ask you at this point which of our two authors, our allegorical or our mystical author upon the heart, you like best. But that would be a stupid and a wayward question since you have them both before you, and both at their best, to possess and to enjoy. To go back then to John Bunyan, and to his allegory of the human heart.

1. To begin with, then, there was reared up in the midst of this town of Mansoul a most famous and stately palace. And that palace and the town immediately around it were the mirror and the glory of all that its founder and maker had ever made. His palace was his very top-piece. It was the metropolitan of the whole world round about it; and it had positive commission and power to demand service and support of all around. Yes. And all that is literally, evidently, and actually true of the human heart. For all other earthly things are created and upheld, are ordered and administered, with an eye to the human heart. The human heart is the final cause, as our scholars would say, of absolutely all other earthly things. Earth, air, water; light and heat; all the successively existing worlds, mineral, vegetable, animal, spiritual; grass, herbs, corn, fruit-trees, cattle and sheep, and all other living creatures; all are upheld for the use and the support of man. And, then, all that is in man himself is in him for the end and the use of his heart. All his bodily senses; all his bodily members; every fearfully and wonderfully made part of his body and of his mind; all administer to his heart. She is the sovereign and sits supreme. And she is worthy and is fully entitled so to sit. For there is nothing on the earth greater or better than the heart, unless it is the Creator Himself, who planned and executed the heart for Himself and not for another with Him. ‘The body exists,’ says a philosophical biologist of our day, ‘to furnish the cerebral centres with prepared food, just as the vegetable world, viewed biologically, exists to furnish the animal world with similar food. The higher is the last formed, the most difficult, and the most complex; but it is just this that is most precious and significant–all of which shows His unrolling purpose. It is the last that alone explains all that went before, and it is the coming that will alone explain the present. God before all, through all, foreseeing all, and still preparing all; God in all is profoundly evident.’ Yes, profoundly evident to profound minds, and experimentally and sweetly evident to religious minds, and to renewed and loving and holy hearts.

2. For fame and for state a palace, while for strength it might be called a castle. In sufficiently ancient times the king’s palace was always a castle also. David’s palace on Mount Zion was as much a military fortress as a royal residence; and King Priam’s palace was the protection both of itself and of the whole of the country around. In those wild times great men built their houses on high places, and then the weak and endangered people gathered around the strongholds of the powerful, as we see in our own city. Our own steep and towering rock invited to its top the castle-builder of a remote age, and then the exposed country around began to gather itself together under the shelter of the bourg. And thus it is that the military engineering of the Holy War makes that old allegorical book most excellent to read, not only for common men like you and me, who are bent on the fortification and the defence of our own hearts, but for the military historians of those old times also, for the experts of to-day also, and for all good students of fortification. And the New Testament of the Divine peace itself, as well as the Old Testament so full of the wars of the Lord–they both support and serve as an encouragement and an example to our spiritual author in the elaboration of his military allegory. Every good soldier of Jesus Christ has by heart the noble paradox of Paul to the Philippians–that the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Let God’s peace, he says, be your man of war. Let His surpassing peace do both the work of war and the work of peace also in your hearts and in your minds. Let that peace both fortify with walls, and garrison with soldiers, and watch every gate, and hold every street and lane of your hearts and of your minds all around your hearts. And all through the Prince of Peace, the Captain of all Holy War, Jesus Christ Himself. No wonder, then, that in a strength–in a kind and in a degree of strength–that passeth all understanding, this stately palace of the heart is also here called a well-garrisoned castle.

3. And then for pleasantness the human heart is a perfect paradise. For pleasantness the human heart is like those famous royal parks of Nineveh and Babylon that sprang up in after days as if to recover and restore the Garden of Eden that had been lost to those eastern lands. But even Adam’s own paradise was but a poor outside imitation in earth and water, in flowers and fruits, of the far better paradise God had planted within him. Take another Mystic at this point upon paradise. ‘My dear man,’ exclaims Jacob Behmen, ‘the Garden of Eden is not paradise, neither does Moses say so. Paradise is the divine joy, and that was in their own hearts so long as they stood in the love of God. Paradise is the divine and angelical joy, pure love, pure joy, pure gladness, in which there is no fear, no misery, and no death. Which paradise neither death nor the devil can touch. And yet it has no stone wall around it; only a great gulf which no man or angel can cross but by that new birth of which Christ spoke to Nicodemus. Reason asks, Where is paradise to be found? Is it far off or near? Is it in this world or is it above the stars? Where is that desirable native country where there is no death? Beloved, there is nothing nearer you at this moment than paradise, if you incline that way. God beckons you back into paradise at this moment, and calls you by name to come. Come, He says, and be one of My paradise children. In paradise,’ the Teutonic Philosopher goes on, ‘there is nothing but hearty love, a meek and a gentle love; a most friendly and most courteous discourse: a gracious, amiable, and blessed society, where the one is always glad to see the other, and to honour the other. They know of no malice in paradise, no cunning, no subtlety, and no sly deceit. But the fruits of the Spirit of God are common among them in paradise, and one may make use of all the good things of paradise without causing disfavour, or hatred, or envy, for there is no contrary affection there, but all hearts there are knit together in love. In paradise they love one another, and rejoice in the beauty, loveliness, and gladness of one another. No one esteems or accounts himself more excellent than another in paradise; but every one has great joy in another, and rejoices in another’s fair beauty, whence their love to one another continually increases, so that they lead one another by the hand, and so friendly kiss one another.’ Thus the blessed Behmen saw paradise and had it in his heart as he sat over his hammer and lapstone in his solitary stall. For of such as Jacob Behmen and John Bunyan is the kingdom of heaven, and all such saintly souls have paradise restored again and improved upon in their own hearts.

4. And for largeness a place so copious as to contain all the world. Over against the word ‘copious’ Bunyan hangs for a key, Ecclesiastes third and eleventh; and under it Miss Peacock adds this as a note–‘Copious, spacious. Old French, copieux; Latin, copiosus, plentiful.’ The human heart, as we have already read to- night, is the highest, greatest, strongest, and noblest part of human nature. And so it is. Fearfully and wonderfully made as is the whole of human nature, that fear and that wonder surpass themselves in the spaciousness and the copiousness of the human heart. For what is it that the human heart has not space for, and to spare? After the whole world is received home into a human heart, there is room, and, indeed, hunger, for another world, and after that for still another. The sun is–I forget how many times bigger than our whole world, and yet we can open our heart and take down the sun into it, and shut him out again and restore him to his immeasurable distances in the heavens, and all in the twinkling of an eye. As for instance. As I wrote these lines I read a report of a lecture by Sir Robert Ball in which that distinguished astronomer discoursed on recent solar discoveries. A globe of coal, Sir Robert said, as big as our earth, and all set ablaze at the same moment, would not give out so much heat to the worlds around as the sun gives out in a thousandth part of a second. Well, as I read that, and ere ever I was aware what was going on, my heart had opened over my newspaper, and the sun had swept down from the sky, and had rushed into my heart, and before I knew where I was the cry had escaped my lips, ‘Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty! Who shall not fear Thee and glorify thy name?’ And then this reflection as suddenly came to me: How good it is to be at peace with God, and to be able and willing to say, My Father! That the whole of the surging and flaming sun was actually down in my straitened and hampered heart at that idle moment over my paper is scientifically demonstrable; for only that which is in the heart of a man can kindle the passions that are in the heart of that man; and nothing is more sure to me than that the great passions of fear and love, wonder and rapture were at that moment at a burning point within me. There is a passage well on in the Holy War, which for terror and for horror, and at the same time for truth and for power, equals anything either in Dante or in Milton. Lucifer has stood up at the council board to second the scheme of Beelzebub. ‘Yes,’ he said, amid the plaudits of his fellow-princes–‘Yes, I swear it. Let us fill Mansoul full with our abundance. Let us make of this castle, as they vainly call it, a warehouse, as the name is in some of their cities above. For if we can only get Mansoul to fill herself full with much goods she is henceforth ours. My peers,’ he said, ‘you all know His parable of how unblessed riches choke the word; and, again, we know what happens when the hearts of men are overcharged with surfeiting and with drunkenness. Let us give them all that, then, to their heart’s desire.’ This advice of Lucifer, our history tells us, was highly applauded in hell, and ever since it has proved their masterpiece to choke Mansoul with the fulness of this world, and to surfeit the heart with the good things thereof. But, my brethren, you will outwit hell herself and all her counsellors and all her machinations, if, out of all the riches, pleasures, cares, and possessions, that both heaven and earth and hell can heap into your heart, those riches, pleasures, cares, and possessions but produce corresponding passions and affections towards God and man. Only let fear, and love, and thankfulness, and helpfulness be kindled and fed to all their fulness in your heart, and all the world and all that it contains will only leave the more room in your boundless heart for God and for your brother. All that God has made, or could make with all His counsel and all His power laid out, will not fill your boundless and bottomless heart. He must come down and come into your boundless and bottomless heart Himself. Himself: your Father, your Redeemer, and your Sanctifier and Comforter also. Let the whole universe try to fill your heart, O man of God, and after it all we shall hear you singing in famine and in loneliness the doleful ditty:

‘O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5. ‘Madame,’ said a holy solitary to Madame Guyon in her misery– ‘Madame, you are disappointed and perplexed because you seek without what you have within. Accustom yourself to seek for God in your own heart and you will always find Him there.’ From that hour that gifted woman was a Mystic. The secret of the interior life flashed upon her in a moment. She had been starving in the midst of fulness; God was near and not far off; the kingdom of heaven was within her. The love of God from that hour took possession of her soul with an inexpressible happiness. Prayer, which had before been so difficult, was now delightful and indispensable; hours passed away like moments: she could scarcely cease from praying. Her domestic trials seemed great to her no longer; her inward joy consumed like a fire the reluctance, the murmur, and the sorrow, which all had their birth in herself. A spirit of comforting peace, a sense of rejoicing possession, pervaded all her days. God was continually with her, and she seemed continually yielded up to God. ‘Madame,’ said the solitary, ‘you seek without for what you have within.’ Where do you seek for God when you pray, my brethren? To what place do you direct your eyes? Is it to the roof of your closet? Is it to the east end of your consecrated chapel? Is it to that wooden table in the east end of your chapel? Or, passing out of all houses made with hands and consecrated with holy oil, do you lift up your eyes to the skies where the sun and the moon and the stars dwell alone? ‘What a folly!’ exclaims Theophilus, in the golden dialogue, ‘for no way is the true way to God but by the way of our own heart. God is nowhere else to be found. And the heart itself cannot find Him but by its own love of Him, faith in Him, dependence upon Him, resignation to Him, and expectation of all from Him.’ ‘You have quite carried your point with me,’ answered Theogenes after he had heard all that Theophilus had to say. ‘The God of meekness, of patience, and of love is henceforth the one God of my heart. It is now the one bent and desire of my soul to seek for all my salvation in and through the merits and mediation of the meek, humble, patient, resigned, suffering Lamb of God, who alone has power to bring forth the blessed birth of those heavenly virtues in my soul. What a comfort it is to think that this Lamb of God, Son of the Father, Light of the World; this Glory of heaven and this Joy of angels is as near to us, is as truly in the midst of us, as He is in the midst of heaven. And that not a thought, look, or desire of our heart that presses toward Him, longing to catch one small spark of His heavenly nature, but is as sure a way of finding Him, as the woman’s way was who was healed of her deadly disease by longing to touch but the border of His garment.’

To sum up. ‘There is reared up in the midst of Mansoul a most famous and stately palace: for strength, it may be called a castle; for pleasantness, a paradise; and for largeness, a place so copious as to contain all the world. This palace the King intends but for Himself alone, and not another with Him, and He commits the keeping of that palace day and night to the men of the town.’


– ‘to will is present with me.’–Paul

There is a large and a learned literature on the subject of the will. There is a philosophical and a theological, and there is a religious and an experimental literature on the will. Jonathan Edwards’s well-known work stands out conspicuously at the head of the philosophical and theological literature on the will, while our own Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State is a very able and impressive treatise on the more practical and experimental side of the same subject. The Westminster Confession of Faith devotes one of its very best chapters to the teaching of the word of God on the will of man, and the Shorter Catechism touches on the same subject in Effectual Calling. Outstanding philosophical and theological schools have been formed around the will, and both able and learned and earnest men have taken opposite sides on the subject of the will under the party names of Necessitarians and Libertarians. This is not the time, nor am I the man, to discuss such abstruse subjects; but those students who wish to master this great matter of the will, so far as it can be mastered in books, are recommended to begin with Dr. William Cunningham’s works, and then to go on from them to a treatise that will reward all their talent and all their enterprise, Jonathan Edwards’s perfect masterpiece.

1. But, to come to my Lord Willbewill, one of the gentry of the famous town of Mansoul:- well, this Lord Willbewill was as high- born as any man in Mansoul, and was as much a freeholder as any of them were, if not more. Besides, if I remember my tale aright, he had some privileges peculiar to himself in that famous town. Now, together with these, he was a man of great strength, resolution, and courage; nor in his occasion could any turn him away. But whether he was too proud of his high estate, privileges, and strength, or what (but sure it was through pride of something), he scorns now to be a slave in Mansoul, as his own proud word is, so that now, next to Diabolus himself, who but my Lord Willbewill in all that town? Nor could anything now be done but at his beck and good pleasure throughout that town. Indeed, it will not out of my thoughts what a desperate fellow this Willbewill was when full power was put into his hand. All which–how this apostate prince lost power and got it again, and lost it and got it again–the interested and curious reader will find set forth with great fulness and clearness in many powerful pages of the Holy War.

John Bunyan was as hard put to it to get the right name for this head of the gentry of Mansoul as Paul was to get the right name for sin in the seventh of the Romans. In that profoundest and intensest of all his profound and intense passages, the apostle has occasion to seek about for some expression, some epithet, some adjective, as we say, to apply to sin so as to help him to bring out to his Roman readers something of the malignity, deadliness, and unspeakable evil of sin as he had sin living and working in himself. But all the resources of the Greek language, that most resourceful of languages, utterly failed Paul for his pressing purpose. And thus it is that, as if in scorn of the feebleness and futility of that boasted tongue, he tramples its grammars and its dictionaries under his feet, and makes new and unheard-of words and combinations of words on the spot for himself and for his subject. He heaps up a hyperbole the like of which no orator or rhetorician of Greece or Rome had ever needed or had ever imagined before. He takes sin, and he makes a name for sin out of itself. The only way to describe sin, he feels, the only way to characterise sin, the only way to aggravate sin, is just to call it sin; sinful sin; ‘sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful.’ And, in like manner, John Bunyan, who has only his own mother tongue to work with, in his straits to get a proper name for this terrible fellow who was next to Diabolus himself, cannot find a proud enough name for him but just by giving him his own name, and then doubling it. Add will to will, multiply will by will, and multiply it again, and after you have done all you are no nearer to a proper name for that apostate, who, for pride, and insolence, and headstrongness, in one word, for wilfulness, is next to Diabolus himself. But as Willbewill, if he is to be named and described at all, is best named and described by his own naked name; so Bunyan is always best illustrated out of his own works. And I turn accordingly to the Heavenly Footman for an excellent illustration of the wilfulness of the will both in a good man and in a bad; as, thus: ‘Your self- willed people, nobody knows what to do with them. We use to say, He will have his own will, do all we can. If a man be willing, then any argument shall be matter of encouragement; but if unwilling, then any argument shall give discouragement. The saints of old, they being willing and resolved for heaven, what could stop them? Could fire and fagot, sword or halter, dungeons, whips, bears, bulls, lions, cruel rackings, stonings, starvings, nakedness? So willing had they been made in the day of His power. And see, on the other side, the children of the devil, because they are not willing, how many shifts and starting-holes they will have! I have married a wife; I have a farm; I shall offend my landlord; I shall lose my trade; I shall be mocked and scoffed at, and therefore I cannot come. But, alas! the thing is, they are not willing. For, were they once soundly willing, these, and a thousand things such as these, would hold them no faster than the cords held Samson when he broke them like flax. I tell you the will is all. The Lord give thee a will, then, and courage of heart.’

2. Let that, then, suffice for this man’s name and nature, and let us look at him now when his name and his nature have both become evil; that is to say, when Willbewill has become Illwill. You can imagine; no, you cannot imagine unless you already know, how evil, and how set upon evil, Illwill was. His whole mind, we are told, now stood bending itself to evil. Nay, so set was he now upon sheer evil that he would act it of his own accord, and without any instigation at all from Diabolus. And that went on till he was looked on in the city as next in wickedness to very Diabolus himself. Parable apart, my ill-willed brethren, our ill-will has made us very fiends in human shape. What a fall, what a fate, what a curse it is to be possessed of a devil of ill-will! Who can put proper words on it after Paul had to confess himself silent before it? Who can utter the diabolical nature, the depth and the secrecy, the subtlety and the spirituality, the range and the reach-out of an ill-will? Our hearts are full of ill-will at those we meet and shake hands with every day. At men also we have never seen, and who are totally ignorant even of our existence. Over a thousand miles we dart our viperous hearts at innocent men. At great statesmen we have ill-will, and at small; at great churchmen and at small; at great authors and at small; at great, and famous, and successful men in all lines of life; for it is enough for ill- will that another man be praised, and well-paid, and prosperous, and then placed in our eye. No amount of suffering will satiate ill-will; the very grave has no seal against it. And, now and then, you have it thrust upon you that other men have the same devil in them as deeply and as actively as he is in you. You will suddenly run across a man on the street. His face was shining with some praise he had just had spoken to him, or with some recognition he had just received from some great one; or with some good news for himself he had just heard, before he caught sight of you. But the light suddenly dies on his face, and darkness comes up out of his heart at his sudden glimpse of you. What is the matter? you ask yourself as he scowls past you. What have you done so to darken any man’s heart to you? And as you stumble on in the sickening cloud he has left behind him, you suddenly recollect that you were once compelled to vote against that man on a public question: on some question of home franchise, or foreign war, or church government, or city business; or perchance, a family has left his shop to do business in yours, or his church to worship God in yours, or such like. It will be a certain relief to you to recollect such things. But with it all there will be a shame and a humiliation and a deep inward pain that will escape into a cry of prayer for him and for yourself and for all such sinners on the same street. If you do not find an escape from your sharp resentment in ejaculatory prayer and in a heart-cleansing great good-will, your heart, before you are a hundred steps on, will be as black with ill-will as his is. But that must not again be. Would you hate or strike back at a blind man who stumbled and fell against you on the street? Would you retaliate at a maniac who gnashed his teeth and shook his fist at you on his way past you to the madhouse? Or at a corpse being carried past you that had been too long without burial? And shall you retaliate on a miserable man driven mad with diabolical passion? Or at a poor sinner whose heart is as rotten as the grave? Ill-will is abroad in our learned and religious city at all hours of the day and night. He glares at us under the sun by day, and under the street lamps at night. We suddenly feel his baleful eye on us as we thoughtlessly pass under his overlooking windows: it will be a side street and an unfrequented, where you will not be ashamed and shocked and pained at heart to meet him. Public men; much purchased and much praised men; rich and prosperous men; men high in talent and in place; and, indeed, all manner of men,–walk abroad in this life softly. Keep out of sight. Take the side streets, and return home quickly. You have no idea what an offence and what a snare you are to men you know, and to men you do not know. If you are a public man, and if your name is much in men’s mouths, then the place you hold, the prices and the praises you get, do not give you one-tenth of the pleasure that they give a thousand other men pain. Men you never heard of, and who would not know you if they met you, gnaw their hearts at the mere mention of your name. Desire, then, to be unknown, as A Kempis says. O teach me to love to be concealed, prays Jeremy Taylor. Be ambitious to be unknown, Archbishop Leighton also instructs us. And the great Fenelon took Ama nesciri for his crest and for his motto. No wonder that an apostle cried out under the agony and the shame of ill-will. No wonder that to kill it in the hearts of men the Son of God died under it on the cross. And no wonder that all the gates of hell are wide open, day and night, for there is no day there, to receive home all those who will entertain ill-will in their hearts, and all the gates of heaven shut close to keep all ill-will for ever out.

3. But, bad enough as all that is, the half has not been told, and never will be told in this life. Butler has a passage that has long stumbled me, and it stumbles me the more the longer I live and study him and observe myself. ‘Resentment,’ he says, in a very deep and a very serious passage–‘Resentment being out of the case, there is not, properly speaking, any such thing as direct ill-will in one man towards another.’ Well, great and undisputed as Butler’s authority is in all these matters, at the same time he would be the first to admit and to assert that a man’s inward experience transcends all outward authority. Well, I am filled with shame and pain and repentance and remorse to have to say it, but my experience carries me right in the teeth of Butler’s doctrine. I have dutifully tried to look at Butler’s inviting and exonerating doctrine in all possible lights, and from all possible points of view, in the anxious wish to prove it true; but I dare not say that I have succeeded. The truth for thee–my heart would continually call to me–the best truth for thee is in me, and not in any Butler! And when looking as closely as I can at my own heart in the matter of ill-will, what do I find–and what will you find? You will find that after subtracting all that can in any proper sense come under the head of real resentment, and in cases where real resentment is out of the question; in cases where you have received no injury, no neglect, no contempt, no anything whatsoever of that kind, you will find that there are men innocent of all that to you, yet men to whom you entertain feelings, animosities, antipathies, that can be called by no other name than that of ill-will. Look within and see. Watch within and see. And I am sure you will come to subscribe with me to the humbling and heart-breaking truth, that, even where there is no resentment, and no other explanation, excuse, or palliation of that kind, yet that festering, secret, malignant ill-will is working in the bottom of your heart. If you doubt that, if you deny that, if all that kind of self-observation and self-sentencing is new to you, then observe yourself, say, for one week, and report at the end of it whether or no you have had feelings and thoughts and wishes in your secret heart toward men who never in any way hurt you, which can only be truthfully described as pure ill-will; that is to say, you have not felt and thought and wished toward them as you would have them, and all men, feel and think and wish toward you.

4. ‘To will is present with me, but how to perform I find not,’ says the apostle; and again, ‘Ye cannot do the things that ye would.’ Or, as Dante has it,

‘The power which wills
Bears not supreme control; laughter and tears Follow so closely on the passion prompts them, They wait not for the motion of the will In natures most sincere.’

Now, just here lies a deep distinction that has not been enough taken account of by our popular, or even by our more profound, spiritual writers. The will is often regenerate and right; the will often bends, as Bunyan has it, to that which is good; but behind the will and beneath the will the heart is still full of passions, affections, inclinations, dispositions that are evil; instinctively, impulsively, involuntarily evil, even ‘in natures most sincere.’ And hence arises a conflict, a combat, a death- grip, an agony, a hell on earth, that every regenerate and advancing soul of man is full of His will is right. If his will is wrong; if he chooses evil; then there is no mystery in the matter so far as he is concerned. He is a bad man, and he is so intentionally and deliberately and of set purpose; and it is a rule in divine truth that ‘wilfulness in sinning is the measure of our sinfulness.’ But his will is right. To will is present with him. He is every day like Thomas Boston one Sabbath-day: ‘Though I cannot be free of sin, God Himself knows that He would be welcome to make havoc of my sins and to make me holy. I know no lust that I would not be content to part with to-night. My will, bound hand and foot, I desire to lay at His feet.’ Now, is it not as clear as noonday that in the case of such a man as Boston his mind is one thing and his heart another? Is it not plain that he has both a good-will and an ill-will within him? A will that immediately and resolutely chooses for God, and for truth, and for righteousness, and for love; and another law in his members warring against that law of his mind? ‘Before conversion,’ says Thomas Shepard, ‘the main wound of a man is in his will. And then, after conversion, though his will is changed, yet, ex infirmitate, there are many things that he cannot do, so strong is the remnant of malignity that is still in his heart. Let him get Christ to help him here.’ In all that ye see your calling, my brethren.

5. ‘Now, if I do that I would not,’ adds the apostle, extricating himself and giving himself fair-play and his simple due among all his misery and self-accusation–‘Now, if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.’ Or, again, as William Law has it: ‘All our natural evil ceases to be our own evil as soon as our will turns away from it. Our natural evil then changes its nature and loses all its poison and death, and becomes an holy cross on which we die to self and this life and enter the kingdom of heaven.’ My dear brethren, tell me, is your sin your cross? Is your sinfulness your cross? Is the evil that is ever present with you your holy cross? For, every other cross beside sin is a cross of straw, a cross of feathers, a paste-board and a painted cross, and not a real and genuine cross at all. The wood and the nails and the spear all taken together were not our Lord’s real cross. His real cross was sin; our sin laid on His hands, and on His heart, and on His imagination, and on His conscience, till it was all but His very own sin. Our sin was so fearfully and wonderfully laid upon Christ that He was as good as a sinner Himself under it. So much so that all the nails and all the spears, all the thirst and all the darkness that His body and His soul could hold were as nothing beside the sin that was laid upon Him. And so it is with us; with as many of us as are His true disciples. Our sin is our cross; not our actual transgressions, any more than His; but our inward sinfulness. And not the sinfulness of our will; that is no real cross to any man; but the sinfulness of our hearts against our will, and beneath our will, and behind our will. And this is such a cross that if Christ had something in His cross that we have not, then we have something in ours that He had not. He made many sad and sore Psalms His own; but even if He had lived on earth to read the seventh of the Romans, He could not have made it His own. His true people are beyond Him here. The disciple is above his Master here. The Master had His own cross, and it was a sufficient cross; but we can challenge Him to come down and look and say if He ever saw a cross like our cross. He was made a curse. He was hanged on the tree. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. But his people are beyond Him in the real agony and crucifixion of sin. For He never in Gethsemane or on Calvary either cried as Paul once cried, and as you and I cry every day–To will is present with me! But the good that I would I do not! And, oh! the body of this death!

6. Now, if any total stranger to all that shall ask me: What good there is in all that? and, Why I so labour in such a world of unaccustomed and unpleasant things as that? I have many answers to his censure. For example, and first, I labour and will continue to labour more and more in this world of things, and less and less in any other world, because here we begin to see things as they are– the deepest things of God and of man, that is. Also, because I have the precept, and the example, and the experience of God’s greatest and best saints before me here. Because, also, our full and true salvation begins here, goes on here, and ends here. Because, also, teaching these things and learning these things will infallibly make us the humblest of men, the most contrite, the most self-despising, the most prayerful, and the most patient, meek, and loving of men. And, students, I labour in this because this is science; because this is the first in order and the most fruitful of all the sciences, if not the noblest and the most glorious of all the sciences. There is all that good for us in this subject of the will and the heart, and whole worlds of good lie away out beyond this subject that eye hath not seen nor ear heard.


‘This know, that men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, unthankful, without natural affection, truce- breakers, false accusers, traitors, heady, high-minded: from all such turn away.’–Paul.

‘Pray, sir, said Academicus, tell me more plainly just what this self of ours actually is. Self, replied Theophilus, is hell, it is the devil, it is darkness, pain, and disquiet. It is the one and only enemy of Christ. It is the great antichrist. It is the scarlet whore, it is the fiery dragon, it is the old serpent that is mentioned in the Revelation of St John. You rather terrify me than instruct me by this description, said Academicus. It is indeed a very frightful matter, returned Theophilus; for it contains everything that man has to dread and to hate, to resist and to avoid. Yet be assured, my friend, that, careless and merry as this world is, every man that is born into this world has all those enemies to overcome within himself; and every man, till he is in the way of regeneration, is more or less governed by those enemies. No hell in any remote place, no devil that is separate from you, no darkness or pain that is not within you, no antichrist either at Rome or in England, no furious beast, no fiery dragon, without you or apart from you, can do you any real hurt. It is your own hell, your own devil, your own beast, your own antichrist, your own dragon that lives in your own heart’s blood that alone can hurt you. Die to this self, to this inward nature, and then all outward enemies are overcome. Live to this self, and then, when this life is out, all that is within you, and all that is without you, will be nothing else but a mere seeing and feeling this hell, serpent, beast, and fiery dragon. But, said Theogenes, a third party who stood by, I would, if I could, more perfectly understand the precise nature of self, or what it is that makes it to be so full of evil and misery. To whom Theophilus turned and replied: Covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath are the four elements of self. And hence it is that the whole life of self can be nothing else but a plague and torment of covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath, all of which is precisely sinful nature, self, or hell. Whilst man lives, indeed, among the vanities of time, his covetousness, his envy, his pride, and his wrath, may be in a tolerable state, and may help him to a mixture of peace and trouble; they may have their gratifications as well as their torments. But when death has put an end to the vanity of all earthly cheats, the soul that is not born again of the supernatural Word and Spirit of God must find itself unavoidably devoured by itself, shut up in its own insatiable, unchangeable, self-tormenting covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath. O Theogenes! that I had power from God to take those dreadful scales off men’s eyes that hinder them from seeing and feeling the infinite importance of this most certain truth! God give a blessing, Theophilus, to your good prayer. And then let me tell you that you have quite satisfied my question about the nature of self. I shall never forget it, nor can I ever possibly after this have any doubt about the truth of it.’

1. ‘All my theology,’ said an old friend of mine to me not long ago–‘all my theology is out of Thomas Goodwin to the Ephesians.’ Well, I find Thomas Goodwin saying in that great book that self is the very quintessence of original sin; and, again, he says, study self-love for a thousand years and it is the top and the bottom of original sin; self is the sin that dwelleth in us and that doth most easily beset us. Now, that is just what Academicus and Theophilus and Theogenes have been saying to us in their own powerful way in their incomparable dialogue. All sin and all misery; all covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath,–trace it all back to its roots, travel it all up to its source, and, as sure as you do that, self and self-love are that source, that root, and that black bottom. I do not forget that Butler has said in some stately pages of his that self-love is morally good; that self-love is coincident with the principle of virtue and part of the idea; and that it is a proper motive for man. But the deep bishop, in saying all that, is away back at the creation-scheme and Eden-state of human nature. He has not as yet come down to human nature in its present state of overthrow, dismemberment, and self- destruction. But when he does condescend and comes close to the mind and the heart of man as they now are in all men, even Butler becomes as outspoken, and as eloquent, and as full of passion and pathos as if he were an evangelical Puritan. Self-love, Butler startles his sober-minded reader as he bursts out–self-love rends and distorts the mind of man! Now, you are a man. Well, then, do you feel and confess that rending and distorting to have taken place in you? Butler is a philosopher, and Goodwin is a preacher, but you are more: you are a man. You are the owner of a human heart, and you can say whether or no it is a rent and a distorted heart. Is your mind warped and wrenched by self-love, and is your heart rent and torn by the same wicked hands? Do you really feel that it needs nothing more to take you back again to paradise but that your heart be delivered from self-love? Do you now understand that the foundations of heaven itself must be laid in a heart healed and cleansed and delivered from self-love? If you do, then your knowledge of your own heart has set you abreast of the greatest of philosophers and theologians and preachers. Nay, before multitudes of men who are called such. It is my meditation all the day, you say. I have more understanding now than all my teachers; for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients; because now I keep Thy precepts.

2. ‘Self-love has made us all malicious,’ says John Calvin. We are Calvinists, were we to call any man master. But we are to call no man master, and least of all in the matters of the heart. Every man must be his own philosopher, his own moralist, and his own theologian in the matters of the heart. He who has a heart in his bosom and an eye in his head can need no Calvin, no Butler, no Goodwin, and no Law to tell him what goes on in his own heart. And, on the other hand, his own heart will soon tell him whether or no Calvin, and Butler, and Goodwin, and Law know anything about those matters on which some men would set them up as our masters. Well, come away all of you who own a human heart. Come and say whether or no your heart, and the self-love of which it is full, have made you a malicious man. I do not ask if you are always and to everybody full of maliciousness. No; I know quite well that you are sometimes as sweet as honey and as soft as butter. For, has not even Theophilus said that whilst a man still lives among the vanities of time, his covetousness, his envy, his pride, and his wrath may be in a tolerable state, and may help him to a mixture of peace and trouble; these vices may have their gratifications as well as their torments. No; I do not trifle with you and with this serious matter so as to ask if you are full of malice at all times and to all men. No. For, let a man be fortunate enough to be on your side; let him pass over to your party; let him become profitable to you; let him be clever enough and mean enough to praise and to flatter you up to the top of your appetite for praise and flattery, and, no doubt, you will love that man. Or, if that is not exactly love, at least it is no longer hate. But let that man unfortunately be led to leave your party; let him cease being profitable to you; let him weary of flattering you with his praise; let him forget you, neglect you, despise you, and go against you, and then look at your own heart. Do you care now to know what malice is? Well, that is malice that distorts and rends your heart as often as you meet that man on the street or even pass by his door. That is malice that dances in your eyes when you see his name in print. That is malice with which you always break out when his name is mentioned in conversation. That is malice that heats your heart when you suddenly recollect him in the multitude of your thoughts within you. And you are in good company all the time. ‘We, ourselves,’ says Paul to Titus, ‘we also at one time lived in malice and in envy. We were hateful and we hated one another.’ ‘Hateful,’ Goodwin goes on in his great book, ‘every man is to another man more or less; he is hated of another and he hateth another more or less; and if his nature were let out to the full, there is that in him, “every man is against every man,” as is said of Ishmael. Homo homini lupus,’ adds our brave preacher. And Abbe Grou speaks out with the same challenge from the opposite church pole, and says: ‘Yes; self-love makes us touchy, ready to take offence, ill-tempered, suspicious, severe, exacting, easily offended; it keeps alive in our hearts a certain malignity, a secret joy at the mortifications which befall our neighbour; it nourishes our readiness to criticise, our dislike at certain persons, our ill-feeling, our bitterness, and a thousand other things prejudicial to charity.’

3. ‘Myself is my own worst enemy,’ says Abbe Grou. That is to say, we may have enemies who hate us more than we hate ourselves, and enemies who would hurt us, if they could, as much as we hurt ourselves; but the Abbe’s point is that they cannot. And he is right. No man has ever hurt me as I have hurt myself. There are men who hate me so much that they would poison my life of all its peace and happiness if they could. But they cannot. They cannot; but let them not be cast down on that account, for there is one who can do, and who will do as long as he lives, what they cannot do. A man’s foes, to be called foes, are in his own house: they are in his own heart. Let our enemies attend to their own peace and happiness, and our self-love will do all, and more than all, that they would fain do. At the most, they and their ill-will can only give occasion to our self-love; but it is our self-love that seizes upon the occasion, and through it rends and distorts our own hearts. And were our hearts only pure of self-love, were our hearts only clothed with meekness and humility, we could laugh at all the ill-will of our enemies as leviathan laughs at the shaking of a spear. ‘Know thou,’ says A Kempis to his son, ‘that the love of thyself doth do thee more hurt than anything in the whole world.’ Yes; but we shall never know that by merely reading The Imitation. We must read ourselves. We must study, as we study nothing else, our own rent and distorted hearts. Our own hearts must be our daily discovery. We must watch the wounds our hearts take every day; and we must give all our powers of mind to tracing all our wounds back to their true causes. We must say: ‘that sore blow came on my mind and on my heart from such and such a quarter, from such and such a hand, from such and such a weapon; but this pain, this rankling, poisoned, and ever-festering wound, this sleepless, gnawing, cancerous sore, comes from the covetousness, the pride, the envy, and the wrath of my own heart.’ When we begin to say that, we shall then begin to understand and to love Thomas; we shall sit daily at his feet and shall be numbered among his sons.

4. And this suffering at our own hands goes on till at last the tables are completely turned against self-love, and till what was once to us the dearest thing in the whole world becomes, as Pascal says, the most hateful. We begin life by hating the men, and the things, who hurt us. We hate the men who oppose us and hinder us; the men who speak, and write, and act, and go in any way against us. We bitterly hate all who humble us, despise us, trample upon us, and in any way ill-use us. But afterwards, when we have become men, men in experience of this life, and, especially, of ourselves in this life; after we gain some real insight and attain to some real skill in the life of the heart, we come round to forgive those we once hated. We have come now to see why they did it. We see now exactly how much they hurt us after all, and how little. And, especially, we have come to see,–what at one time we could not have believed,–that all our hurt, to be called hurt, has come to us from ourselves. And thus that great revolution of mind and that great revulsion of feeling and of passion has taken place, after which we are left with no one henceforth to hate, to be called hating, but ourselves. We may still continue to avoid our enemies, and we may do that too long and too much; we may continue to fear them and be on the watch against them far too much; but to deliberately hate them is henceforth impossible. All our hatred,– all our deliberate, steady, rooted, active hatred,–is now at ourselves; at ourselves, that is, so far and so long as we remain under the malignant and hateful dominion of self-love. When Butler gets our self-love restored to reasonableness, and made coincident with virtue and part of the idea; when our self-love becomes uniformly coincident with the principle of obedience to God’s commands, then we shall love ourselves as our neighbour, and our neighbour as ourselves, and both in God. But, till then, there is nothing and no one on earth or in hell so hateful to us as ourselves and our own hateful hearts. And if in that we are treading the winepress alone as far as our fellow-men are concerned, all the more we have Him with us in all our agony who wept over the heart of man because He knew what was in it, and what must always come out of it. Evil thoughts, He said, and fornications, and murders, and thefts, and covetousness, and wickedness, and deceit, and an evil eye, and pride, and folly, and what not. And Paul has the mind of Christ with him in the text. I do not need to repeat again the hateful words. Now, what do you say? was Pascal beyond the truth, was he deeper than the truth or more deadly than the truth when he said with a stab that self is hateful? I think not.

5. ‘Oh that I were free, then, of myself,’ wrote Samuel Rutherford from Aberdeen in 1637 to John Ferguson of Ochiltree. ‘What need we all have to be ransomed and redeemed from that master-tyrant, that cruel and lawless lord, ourself! Even when I am most out of myself, and am best serving Christ, I have a squint eye on myself.’ And to the Laird of Cally in the same year and from the same place: ‘Myself is the master idol we all bow down to. Every man blameth the devil for his sins, but the house devil of every man that eateth with him and lieth in his bosom is himself. Oh blessed are they who can deny themselves!’ And to the Irish ministers the year after: ‘Except men martyr and slay the body of sin in sanctified self-denial, they shall never be Christ’s. Oh, if I could but be master of myself, my own mind, my own will, my own credit, my own love, how blessed were I! But alas! I shall die only minting and aiming at being a Christian.’


‘Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?’–Naaman.

‘Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’–Nathanael.

‘ . . observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality.’–Paul.

Old Mr. Prejudice was well known in the wars of Mansoul as an angry, unhappy, and ill-conditioned old churl. Old Mr. Prejudice was placed by Diabolus, his master, as keeper of the ward at the post of Ear-gate, and for that fatal service he had sixty completely deaf men put under him as his company. Men eminently advantageous for that fatal service. Eminently advantageous,– inasmuch as it mattered not one atom to them what was spoken in their ear either by God or by man.

1. Now, to begin with, this churlish old man had already earned for himself a very evil name. For what name could well be more full of evil memories and of evil omens than just this name of Prejudice? Just consider what prejudice is. Prejudice, when we stop over it and take it to pieces and look well at it,–prejudice is so bad and so abominable that you would not believe it could be so bad till you had looked at it and at how it acts in your own case. For prejudice gives judgment on your case and gives orders for your execution before your defence has been heard, before your witnesses have been called, before your summons has been served, ay, and even before your indictment has been drawn out. What a scandal and what an uproar a malfeasance of justice like that would cause if it were to take place in any of our courts of law! Only, the thing is impossible; you cannot even imagine it. We shall have Magna Charta up before us in the course of these lectures. Well, ever since Magna Charta was extorted from King John, such a scandal as I have supposed has been impossible either in England or in Scotland. And that such cases should still be possible in Russia and in Turkey places those two old despotisms outside the pale of the civilised world. And yet, loudly as we all denounce the Czar and the Sultan, eloquently as we boast over Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus, and what not, every day you and I are doing what would cost an English king his crown, and an English judge his head. We all do it every day, and it never enters one mind out of a hundred that we are trampling down truth, and righteousness, and fairplay, and brotherly love. We do not know what a diabolical wickedness we are perpetrating every day. The best men among us are guilty of that iniquity every day, and they never confess it to themselves; no one ever accuses them of it; and they go down to death and judgment unsuspicious of the discovery that they will soon make there. You would not steal a stick or a straw that belonged to me; but you steal from me every day what all your gold and mine can never redeem; you murder me every day in my best and my noblest life. You me, and I you.

2. Old Mr. Prejudice. Now, there is a golden passage in Jonathan Edwards’s Diary that all old men should lay well to heart and conscience. ‘I observe,’ Edwards enters, ‘that old men seldom have any advantage of new discoveries, because these discoveries are beside a way of thinking they have been long used to. Resolved, therefore, that, if ever I live to years, I will be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries, and receive them, if rational, how long soever I have been used to another way of thinking. I am too dogmatical; I have too much of egotism; my disposition is always to be telling of my dislike and my scorn.’ What a fine, fresh, fruitful, progressive, and peaceful world we should soon have if all our old and all our fast-ageing men would enter that extract into their diary! How the young would then love and honour and lean upon the old; and how all the fathers would always abide young and full of youthful life like their children! Then the righteous should flourish like the palm-tree; he should grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. What a free scope would then be given to all God’s unfolding providences, and what a warm welcome to all His advancing truths! What sore and spreading wounds would then be salved, what health and what vigour would fill all the body political, as well as all the body mystical! May the Lord turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest the earth be smitten with a curse!

3. Mr. Prejudice was an old man; and this also has been handed down about him, that he was almost always angry. And if you keep your eyes open you will soon see how true to the life that feature of old Mr. Prejudice still is. In every conversation, discussion, debate, correspondence, the angry man is invariably the prejudiced man; and, according to the age and the depth, the rootedness and the intensity of his prejudices, so is the ferocity and the savagery of his anger. He has already settled this case that you are irritating and wronging him so much by your still insisting on bringing up. It is a reproach to his understanding for you to think that there is anything to be said in that matter that he has not long ago heard said and fully answered. Has he not denounced that bad man and that bad cause for years? You insult me, sir, by again opening up that matter in my presence. He will have none of you or of your arguments either. You are as bad yourself as that bad man is whose advocate you are. We all know men whose hearts are full of coals of juniper, burning coals of hate and rage, just by reason of their ferocious prejudices. Hate is too feeble a word for their gnashing rage against this man and that cause, this movement and that institution. There is an absolutely murderous light in their eye as they work themselves up against the men and the things they hate. Charity rejoices not in iniquity; but you will see otherwise Christian and charitable men so jockeyed by the devil that they actually rejoice in iniquity and do not know what they are doing, or who it is that is egging them on to do it. You will see otherwise and at other times good men so full of the rage and madness of prejudice and partiality that they will storm at every report of goodness and truth and prosperity in the man, or in the cause, or in the church, or in the party, they are so demented against. Jockey is not the word. There is the last triumph of pure devilry in the way that the prince of the devils turns old Prejudice’s very best things–his love of his fathers, his love of the past, his love of order, his love of loyalty, his love of the old paths, and his very truest and best religion itself–into so much fat fuel for the fires of hate and rage that are consuming his proud heart to red-hot ashes. If the light that is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness; and if the life that is in us be death, how deadly is that death!

4. Old, angry, and ill-conditioned. Ill-conditioned is an old- fashioned word almost gone out of date. But, all the same, it is a very expressive, and to us to-night a quite indispensable word. An ill-conditioned man is a man of an in-bred, cherished, and confirmed ill-nature. His heart, which was a sufficiently bad heart to begin with, is now so exercised in evil and so accustomed to evil, that,–how can he be born again when he is so old and so ill-natured? All the qualities, all the passions, all the emotions of his heart are out of joint; their bent is bad; they run out naturally to mischief. Now, what could possibly be more ill- conditioned than to judge and sentence, denounce and execute a man before you have heard his case? What could be more ill-conditioned than positively to be afraid lest you should be led to forgive, and redress, and love, and act with another man? To be determined not to hear one word that you can help in his defence, in his favour, and in his praise? Could a human heart be in a worse state on this side hell itself than that? Nay, that is hell itself in your evil heart already. Let prejudice and partiality have their full scope among the wicked passions of your ill-conditioned heart, and lo! the kingdom of darkness is already within you. Not, lo, here! or, lo, there! but within you. Look to yourselves, says John to us all, full as we all are of our own ill-conditions. Look to yourselves. But we have no eyes left with which to see ourselves; we look so much at the faults and the blames of our neighbour. ‘Publius goes to church sometimes, and reads the Scriptures; but he knows not what he reads or prays, his head is so full of politics. He is so angry at kings and ministers of state that he has no time nor disposition to call himself to account. He has the history of all parliaments, elections, prosecutions, and impeachments by heart, and he dies with little or no religion, through a constant fear of Popery.’ Poor, old, ill-conditioned Publius!

5. And, then, his sixty deaf men under old, angry, ill-conditioned Prejudice. We read of engines of sixty-horse power. And here is a man with the power of resisting and shutting out the truth equal to that of sixty men like himself. We all know such men; we would as

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