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The surest guide a wanderer prove;
Death only binds us fast
To the bright shore of love.”

4. “She highly commends the rich,” the guide goes on about Madam Bubble, “and if there be one cunning to get money in any place she will speak well of him from house to house.” “The world,” says Faber, “is not altogether matter, nor yet altogether spirit. It is not man only, nor Satan only, nor is it exactly sin. It is an infection, an inspiration, an atmosphere, a life, a colouring matter, a pageantry, a fashion, a taste, a witchery. None of all these names suit it, and all of them suit it. Meanwhile its power over the human creation is terrific, its presence ubiquitous, its deceitfulness incredible. It can find a home under every heart beneath the poles. It is wider than the catholic church, and it is masterful, lawless, and intrusive within it. We are all living in it, breathing it, acting under its influence, being cheated by its appearances, and unwarily admitting its principles.” Let young ministers who wish to preach to their people on the World–after studying what the Preacher, and the Saviour, and John, and John Bunyan say about the World,–still read Faber’s powerful chapter in his Creator and Creature. Yes; Madam Bubble finds a home for herself in every heart beneath the poles. The truth is Madam Bubble has no home, as she has no existence, but in human hearts. And all that Solomon, and our Saviour, and John, and John Bunyan, and Frederick Faber say about the world and about Madam Bubble they really say about the heart of man. It is we, you and I, my brethren, who so highly commend the rich. It is we ourselves here who speak well from house to house of him whose father or whose self has been cunning to get money. We either speak well or ill of them. We either are sick with envy at them, or we fawn upon them and fall down before them. How men rise in our esteem in the degree that their money increases! With what reverence and holy awe we look up at them as if they were gods and the sons of gods! They become more than mortal men to our reverent imaginations. How happy, how all but blessed they must be! we say to ourselves. Within those park gates, under those high towers, in that silver- mounted carriage, surrounded with all those liveried servants, and loved and honoured by all those arriving and leaving guests–what happiness that rich man must have! We are either eaten up of lean- eyed envy of this and that rich man, or we positively worship them as other men worship God and His saints. Yes; Madam Bubble is our very mother. She conceived us and she suckled us. We were brought up in her nurture and admonition. We learned her Catechism, and her shrine is in our heart tonight. Like her, if only a pilgrim is poor, we scorn him. We will not know him. But if there be any one, pilgrim or no, cunning to get money, we honour him, and we claim him as our kindred and relation, our acquaintance and our friend. We will speak often of him as such from house to house. Just see if we will not. There is room in our hearts, Madam Bubble, there is room in our hearts for thee!

5. “She loves them most that think best of her.” But, surely, surely, the guide goes quite too far in blaming and being hard upon poor Madam Bubble for that? For, to give her fair play, she is not at all alone in that. Is the guide himself wholly above that? Do we not all do that? Is there one in ten, is there one in a thousand, who hates and humiliates himself because his love of men and women goes up or down just as they think of him? Yes; Greatheart is true to his great name in his whole portrait of Madam Bubble also, and nowhere more true than in this present feature. For when any man comes to have any true greatness in his heart–how he despises and detests himself as he finds himself out in not only claiming kindred and acquaintance with the rich and despising and denying the poor; but, still more, in loving or hating other men just as they love or hate him! The world loves her own. Yes; but he who has been taken out of the world, and who has had the world taken out of him, he loves–he strives to love, he goes to his knees every day he lives to love–those who not only do not think well of him, but who both think ill of him and speak ill of him. “Humility,” says William Law, “does not consist in having a worse opinion of ourselves than we deserve, or in abasing ourselves lower than we really are. But as all virtue is founded in truth, so humility is founded in a true and just sense of our weakness, misery, and sin. He who rightly feels and lives in this sense of his condition lives in humility. And, it may be added, when our hearts are wholly clothed with humility we shall be prompt to approve the judgment and to endorse the sentence of those who think and speak the least good of us and the most evil.

6. “‘Twas she,” so the guide at last wound up, “that set Absalom against his father, and Jeroboam against his master. ‘Twas she that persuaded Judas to sell his Lord, and that prevailed with Demas to forsake the godly pilgrim’s life. None can tell all the mischief that Madam Bubble does. She makes variance between rulers and subjects, between parents and children, ‘twixt neighbour and neighbour, ‘twixt a man and his wife, ‘twixt a man and himself, ‘twixt the flesh and the heart.” Now, I shall leave that last indictment and its lessons and its applications to yourselves, my brethren. You will get far more good out of this accumulated count against Madam Bubble if you explain it, and open it up, and prove it, and illustrate it to yourselves. Explain, then, in what way this sorceress set Absalom against his father and Jeroboam against his master. Point out in what way she makes variance between a ruler and his subjects, and give illustrations. Put your finger on a parent and on a child between whom there is variance at this moment on her account. And, if you are that parent or that child, what have you done to remove that variance? Name two neighbours that to your knowledge Madam Bubble has come between; and say what you have done to be a peacemaker there. Set down what you would say to a man and his wife so as to put them on their guard against Madam Bubble ever coming in between them. And, last and best of all, point out to yourself at what times and in what ways this wicked witch tries to make variance between God’s Holy Spirit striving within you and your own evil heart still strong within you. When you are weary and sleepy and hungry as a howlet, and, Madam Bubble and her three daughters make a ring round you, what do you do? Do you ever take to your knees? Really and honestly, do you? When you find yourself out looking with holy fear on a rich and lofty relation, and with insufferable contempt on a poor and intrusive relation, by what name do you call yourself? Write it down. And when she would fain put variance between you and those who do not think well of you, what steps do you take to foil her? Where and how do you get strength at that supreme moment to think of others as you would have them think of you? “Oh,” said Standfast, “what a mercy it is that I did resist her! for to what might she not have drawn me?”


“Gaius, mine host.”–Paul.

Goodman Gaius was the head of a hostel that stood on the side of the highway well on to the Celestial City. The hostess of the hostel was no more, and the old hostel-keeper did all her once well-done work and his own proper work into the bargain. Every day he inspected the whole house with his own eyes, down even to the kitchen and the scullery. The good woman had left our host an only daughter; but, “Keep her as much out of sight as is possible,” she said, and so fell asleep. And Gaius remembered his wife’s last testament every day, till none of the hostel customers knew that there was so much as a young hostess in all the house. “Yes, gentlemen,” replied the old innkeeper. “Yes, come in. It is late, but I take you for true men, for you must know that my house is kept open only for such.” So he took the large pilgrim party to their several apartments with his own eyes, and then set about a supper for those so late arrivals. Stamping with his foot, he brought up the cook with the euphonious and eupeptic name, and that quick-witted domestic soon had a supper on the table that would have made a full man’s mouth water. “The sight of all this,” said Matthew, as the under-cook laid the cloth and the trenchers, and set the salt and the bread in order–“the sight of this cloth and of this forerunner of a supper begetteth in me a greater appetite to my food than I thought I had before.” So supper came up; and first a heave-shoulder and a wave-breast were set on the table before them, in order to show that they must begin their meal with prayer and praise to God. These two dishes were very fresh and good, and all the travellers did eat heartily well thereof. The next was a bottle of wine red as blood. So Gaius said to them, “Drink freely; this is the juice of the true vine that makes glad the heart of God and man.” And they did drink and were very merry. The next was a dish of milk well crumbed. At the sight of which Gaius said, “Let the boys have that, that they may grow thereby.” And so on, dish after dish, till the nuts came with the recitations and the riddles and the saws and the stories over the nuts. Thus the happy party sat talking till the break of day.

1. Now, it is natural to remark that the first thing about a host is his hospitality. And that, too, whether our host is but the head of a hostel like Goodman Gaius, or the head of a well- appointed private house like Gaius’s neighbour, Mr. Mnason. The first and the last thing about a host is his hospitality. “Say little and do much” is the example and the injunction to all our housekeepers that Rabban Shammai draws out of the eighteenth of Genesis. “Be like your father Abraham,” he says, “on the plains of Mamre, who only promised bread and water, but straightway set Sarah to knead three measures of her finest meal, while he ran to the herd and fetched a calf tender and good, and stood by the three men while they did eat butter and milk under the tree. Make thy Thorah an ordinance: say little and do much: and receive every man with a pleasant expression of countenance.” Now, this was exactly what Gaius our goodman did that night, with one exception, which we shall be constrained to attend to afterwards. “It is late,” he said, “so we cannot conveniently go out to seek food; but such as we have you shall be welcome to, if that will content.” At the same time Taste-that-which-is-good soon had a supper sent up to the table fit for a prince: a supper of six courses at that time in the morning, so that the sun was already in the sky when Old Honest closed his casement.

“Dining in company is a divine institution,” says Mr. Edward White, in his delightful Minor Moralities of Life. “Let Soyer’s art be honoured among all men,” he goes on. “Cookery distinguishes mankind from the beasts that perish. Happy is the woman whose daily table is the result of forethought. Her husband shall rise up and call her blessed. It is piteous when the culinary art is neglected in our young women’s education. Let them, as St. Peter says, imitate Sarah. Let them see how that venerable princess went quickly to her kneading-trough and oven and prepared an extempore collation of cakes and pilau for the angels. How few ladies, whether Gentiles or Jewesses, could do the like in the present day!”

2. The wistful and punctilious attention that Goodman Gaius paid to each individual guest of his was a fine feature in his munificent hospitality. He made every one who crossed his doorstep, down even to Mr. Fearing, feel at once at home, such was his exquisite as well as his munificent hospitality. “Come, sir,” he said, clapping that white-faced and trembling pilgrim on the shoulder, “come, sir, be of good cheer, you are welcome to me and to my house; and what thou hast a mind to, that call for freely: for what thou wouldst have my servants will do for thee, and they will do it for thee with a ready mind.” All the same, for a long time Mr. Fearing was mortally afraid of the servants. He would as soon have thought of stamping his foot for a duchess to come up as for any of Gaius’s serving-maids. He was afraid to make any noise in his room lest all the house should hear it. He was afraid to touch anything in the room lest it should fall and be broken. We ourselves, with all our assumed ease and elaborate abandon, are often afraid to ring our bell even in an inn. Mr. Fearing would as soon have pulled the tail of a rattlesnake. But before their sojourn was over, the Guide was amazed at Mr. Fearing, for that hare-hearted pilgrim would be doing things in the house that he himself would scarcely do who had been in the house a thousand times. It was Gaius’s exuberant heartiness that had demoralised Mr. Fearing and made him almost too forward even for a wayside inn. In little things also Gaius, mine host, showed his sensitive and solicitous hospitality. We all know housekeepers, not to say innkeepers, and not otherwise ungenerous housekeepers either who will grudge us a sixpennyworth of sticks and coals in a cold night, and that, too, in a room furnished to overflowing by Morton Brothers or the Messrs. Maple. We take a candlestick and a dozen candles with us in the boot of the carriage when we wish to read or write late into the night in that great house. Another housekeeper, who would give you her only daughter with her wealthy dowry, will sometimes be seen by all in her house to grudge you a fresh cup of afternoon tea when you drop in to see her and her daughter. She says to herself that it is to spare the servants the stairs; but, all the time, under the stairs, the servants are blushing for the sometimes unaccountable stinginess of their unusually munificent mistress. I shall give you “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” of Aristotle upon munificence in little things till you come up to his pagan standard. “There is a real greatness,” he says, “even in the way that some men will buy a toy to a child. Even in the smallest matters the munificent man will act munificently!” As Gaius, mine host, munificently did.

3. Speaking of children, what a night of entertainment good old Gaius gave the children of the pilgrim party! “Let the boys have the crumbed milk,” he gave orders. “Butter and honey shall they eat,” he exclaimed over them as that brimming dish came up. “This was our Lord’s dish when He was a child,” he said to the mother of the boys, “that He might know to refuse the evil and to choose the good.” Then they brought up a dish of apples, and they were very good-tasted fruit. Then said Matthew, “May we eat apples, since they were such by and with which the serpent beguiled our first mother?” Then said Gaius,

“Apples were they by which we were beguiled, Yet sin, not apples, hath our souls defiled. Apples forbid, if eat, corrupt the blood. To eat such, when commanded, does us good. Drink of His flagons then, thou Church, His Dove, And eat His apples who are sick of love.”

Then said Matthew, “I make the scruple because I awhile since was sick with eating of fruit.” “Forbidden fruit,” said the host, “will make you sick, but not what our Lord hath tolerated.” While they were thus talking they were presented with another dish, and it was a dish of nuts. Then said some at the table, “Nuts spoil tender teeth, especially the teeth of children,” which when Gaius heard, he said,

“Hard texts are nuts (I will not call them cheaters) Whose shells do keep their kernels from the eaters; Ope then the shells and you shall have the meat; They here are brought for you to crack and eat.”

Then Samuel whispered to his mother and said, “Mother, this is a very good man’s house; let us stay here a good while before we go any farther.” The which Gaius the host overhearing, said, “With a very good will, my child.”

4. Widower as old Gaius was, and never for a single hour forgot that he was, there was a certain sweet and stately gallantry awakened in his withered old heart at the sight of Christiana and Mercy, and especially at the sight of Matthew and Mercy when they were seen together. He seems to have fallen almost in love with that aged matron, as he called her, and the days of his youth came back to him as he studied the young damsel, who was to her as a daughter. And this set the loquacious old inn-keeper upon that famous oration about women which every man who has a mother, or a wife, or a sister, or a daughter has by heart. And from that he went on to discourse on the great advantages of an early marriage. He was not the man, nor was he speaking to a mother who was the woman, ever to become a vulgar and coarse-minded match-maker; at the same time, he liked to see Matthew and Mercy sent out on a message together, leaving it to nature and to grace to do the rest. The pros and cons of early marriage were often up at his hearty table, but he always debated, and Gaius was a great debater, that true hospitality largely consisted in throwing open the family circle to let young people get well acquainted with one another in its peace and sweetness. And Gaius both practised what he preached, and at the same time endorsed his watchful wife’s last testament, when he gave his daughter Phebe to James, Christiana’s second son, and thus was left alone, poor old Gaius, when the happy honeymoon party started upward from his hostel door.

5. Their next host was one Mr. Mnason, a Cyprusian by nation, and an old disciple. “How far have you come to-day?” he asked. “From the house of Gaius our friend,” they said. “I promise you,” said he, “you have gone a good stitch; you may well be weary; sit down.” So they sat down. “Our great want a while since,” said Old Honest, “was harbour and good company, and now I hope we have both.” “For harbour,” said the host, “you see what it is, but for good company that will appear in the trial.” After they were a little rested Old Honest again asked his host if there were any store of good people in that town; and, “How,” he said, “shall we do to see some of them? For the sight of good men to them that are going on pilgrimage is like to the appearing of the moon and stars to them that are sailing upon the seas.” Then Mr. Mnason stamped with his foot and his daughter Grace came up, when he sent her out for five of his friends in the town, saying that he had a guest or two in his house at present to whom he would like to introduce them.

Now, this is another of the good qualities of a good host, to know the best and the most suitable people in the town, and to be on such terms with them that on short notice they will step across to help to entertain such travellers as had come to Mr. Mnason’s table. And it is an excellent thing to be sure that when we are so invited we shall not only get a good dinner, but also, as good “kitchen” with our dinner, good company and good conversation. It is nothing short of a fine art to gather together and to seat suitably beside one another good and suitable people as Mr. and Miss Mnason did in their hospitable house that afternoon. And then, as to the talk: let the host and the hostess introduce the guests, and then let the guests introduce their own topics. And as far as possible, in a city and a day like this, let our topics be books rather than people. And let the books be the books that the guests have read rather than those that the host and the hostess have read. Books are a fine subject for a talk at table. Only, let great readers order their learned and literary talk so as not to lead the less learned into temptation. There is no finer exercise of fine feeling than to be able to carry on a conversation about matters that other people present are ignorant of, and at the same time to interest them, to set them at ease, and to make them forget both you and themselves. I had a letter the other day from an English Church clergyman, in which he tells me that his bishop is coming this month to his vicarage for a kind of visitation and retreat, and that they are to have William Law’s Characters and Characteristics read aloud to them when the bishop and the assembled clergy are at their meals. For my part, I would rather hear a good all-round talk on that book by the bishop and his clergy after they had all read the book over and over again at home. But such readings at assembled meals have all along been a feature of the best fraternal life in the Church of England and in some of the sister churches.

6. Now, after dining and supping repeatedly with garrulous old Gaius, and with the all-but-silent Mr. Mnason, I have come home ruminating again and again on this–that a good host, the best host, lets his guests talk while he attends to the table. If the truth may even be whispered to one’s-self about a table that one has just left, Gaius did his best to spoil his good supper by his own over-garrulity. It was good talk that he entertained his waiting guests with, but we may have too much of a good thing. His oration in praise of women was an excellent oration, had it been delivered in another house than his own; and, say, when he was asked to give the health of Christiana, or of Matthew the bridegroom and Mercy the bride, it would then have been perfect; but not in his own house, and not when his guests were waiting for their supper. On the other hand, you should have seen that perfect gentleman, Mr. Mnason. For that true old Christian and old English gentleman never once opened his mouth after he had set his guests a-talking. He was too busy watching when any man’s dish was again empty. He was too much delighted to see that every one of his guests was having his punctual share of the supper, and at the same time his full share of the talk. Mr. Fearing’s small voice was far more pleasant to Mr. Mnason than his own voice was in his own best story. As I opened my own door the other night after supping with Mr. and Miss Mnason, I said to myself–One thing I have again seen and learned to-night, and that is, that a host, and still more a hostess, should talk less at their own table than their most silent, most bashful, and most backward guest. “Make this an ordinance for thee,” said Rabban Shammai to his sons in the law; “receive all thy guests with a pleasant expression of countenance, and then say little and do much.”


“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”–Luke.

“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”–King Agrippa.

“Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”–Paul.

All the other personages in the Pilgrim’s Progress come and go; they all ascend the stage for a longer or shorter time, and then pass off the stage and so pass out of our sight; but Christian in the First Part, and Christiana in the Second Part, are never for a single moment out of our sight. And, accordingly, we have had repeated occasion and opportunity to learn many excellent lessons from the chief pilgrim’s upward walk and heavenly conversation. But so full and so rich are his life and his character, that some very important things still remain to be collected before we finally close his history. “Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost,” said our Lord, after His miraculous meal of multiplied loaves and fishes with His disciples. And in like manner I shall now proceed to gather up some of the remaining fragments of Christian’s life and character and experience. And I shall collect these fragments into the three baskets of his book, his burden, and his sealed roll and certificate.

1. And first, a few things as to his book. “As I slept I dreamed, and behold I saw a man clothed in rags standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked and saw him open the book and read therein; and as he read he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain he broke out with a lamentable cry, saying, What shall I do?” We hear a great deal in these advertising days, and not one word too much, about the books that have influenced and gone largely to the making of our great men; but Graceless, like John Bunyan, his biographer, was a man of but one book. But, then, that book was the most influential of all books; it was the Book of books; it was God’s very own and peculiar Book. And those of us who, like this man, have passed out of a graceless into a gracious state will for ever remember how that same Book at that time influenced us till it made us what we are and shall yet be. We read many other good books at that epoch in our life, but it was the pure Bible that we read and prayed over out of sight the most. We needed no commentators or exegetes on our simple Bible in those days. The great texts stood out to our eyes in those days as if they had been written with a sunbeam; while all other books (and we read nothing but the best books in those days) looked like twilight and rushlight beside our Bible. In those immediate, direct, and intense days we would have satisfied Wordsworth and Matthew Arnold themselves in the way we read our Bible with our eye never off the object. The Four Last Things were ever before us–death and judgment, heaven and hell. “O my dear wife,” said Graceless, “and you the children of my bowels, I your dear friend am in myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am for certain informed that this our city will be burned with fire from heaven, in which fearful overthrow both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.” He would walk also solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and sometimes praying; and thus for some days he spent his time. Graceless at that time and at that stage would have satisfied the exigent author of the Practical Treatise upon Christian Perfection where he says that “we are too apt also to think that we have sufficiently read a book when we have so read it as to know what it contains. This reading may be quite sufficient as to many books; but as to the Bible we are not to think that we have read it enough because we have often read and heard what it teaches. We must read our Bible, not to know what it contains, but to fill our hearts with the spirit of it.” And, again, and on this same point, “There is this unerring key to the right use of the Bible. The Bible has only one intent, and that is to make a man know, resist, and abhor the working of his fallen earthly nature, and to turn the faith, hope, and longing desire of his heart to God; and therefore we are only to read our Bibles with this view and to learn this one lesson from it . . . The critic looks into his books to see how Latin and Greek authors have used the words “stranger” and “pilgrim,” but the Christian, who knows that man lives in labour and toil, in sickness and pain, in hunger and thirst, in heat and cold among the beasts of the field, where evil spirits like roaring lions seek to devour him–he only knows in what truth and reality man is a poor stranger and a distressed pilgrim upon the earth.” John Bunyan read neither Plato nor Aristotle, but he read David and Paul till he was the chief of sinners, and till he was first the Graceless and then the Christian of his own next-to-the-Bible book.

2. In the second place, and as to his burden. We are supplied with no particulars as to the first beginnings, the gradual make- up, and at last the terrible size of Christian’s burden. What this pilgrim’s youthful life must have been in such a city as his native city was, and while he was still a young man of such a name and such a character in such a city, we are left to ourselves to think and consider. Graceless was his name by nature, and his life was as his name and his nature were. Still, as I have said, we have no detailed and particular account of his early life when his burden was still day and night in the making up. How long into your life were you graceless, my brother? And what kind of life did you lead day and night before you were persuaded or alarmed, as the case may have been with you, into being a Christian? What burdens do you carry on your broken back to this day that were made up in the daylight or in the darkness by your own hands in your early days? Were you early or were you too late in your conversion? Or are you truly converted to God and to salvation even yet? And are you at this moment still binding a burden on your back that you shall never lay down on this side your grave–it may be, not on this side your burning bed in hell? Ask yourselves all that before God and before your own conscience, and make yourselves absolutely sure that God at any rate is not mocked; and, therefore that you, too, shall in the end reap exactly as you from the beginning have sown. “How camest thou by thy burden at first?” asked Mr. Worldly-Wiseman at the trembling pilgrim. “By reading this book in my hand,” he answered. And, in the long run, it is always the Bible that best creates a sinner’s burden, binds it on his back, and makes it so terribly heavy to bear. Fear of death and judgment will sometimes make up and bind on a sinner’s burden; and sometimes the fear of man’s judgment on this side of death will do it. Fear of being found out in some cases will make a man’s secret sin far too heavy for him to bear. The throne of public opinion is not a very white throne; at the same time, it is a coarse forecast and a rough foretaste of the last judgment; and the fear of it not seldom makes a man’s burden simply intolerable to him. Sometimes a great sinner’s burden leads him to flight and outlawry; sometimes to madness and self-murder; and sometimes, by the timeous and sufficient grace of God, to the way of escape that our pilgrim took. Tenderness of conscience, also, simple softness of heart and conscience, will sometimes make a terrible burden out of what other men would call a very light matter. Bind a burden on that iron pillar standing there, and it will feel nothing and say nothing. But, bind the same burden on that man in whose seat that dead pillar takes up a sitter’s room, and he will make all that are in the house hear his sighs and his groans. And lay an act of sin–an evil word or evil work or evil thought–on one man among us, and he will walk about the streets with as erect a head and as smiling a countenance and as light a step as if he were an innocent child; while, lay half as much on his neighbour, and it will so bruise him to the earth that all men will take knowledge of him that he is a miserable man. Our Lord could no doubt have carried His cross from the hall of judgment to the hill-top without help had His back not been wet with blood. What with a whole and an unwealed body, a well-rested and well-nourished body, He could easily have carried, with His broken body and broken heart He quite sank under. And so it is with His people. One of His heart-broken, heart-bleeding people will sink down to death and hell under a burden of sin and corruption that another of them will scarcely feel or know or believe that it is there. Some sins again in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are far more heavy to bear than others, and by some sinners than others. I was reading Bishop Andrewes to myself last night and came upon this pertinent passage. “Sin: its measure, its harm, its scandal. Its quality: how often–how long. The person by whom: his age, condition, state, enlightenment. Its manner, motive, time, and place. The folly of it, the ingratitude of it, the hardness of it, the presumptuousness of it. By heart, by mouth, by deed. Against God, my neighbours, my own body. By knowledge, by ignorance. Willingly and unwillingly. Of old and of late. In boyhood and youth, in mature and old age. Things done once, repeated often, hidden and open. Things done in anger, and from the lust of the flesh and of the world. Before and after my call. Asleep by night and awake by day. Things remembered and things forgotten. Through the fiery darts of the enemy, through the unclean desires of the flesh–I have sinned against Thee. Have mercy on me, O God, and forgive me!” That is the way some men’s burdens are made up to such gigantic proportions and then bound on by such acute cords. That is the way that Lancelot Andrewes and John Bunyan walked solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and sometimes praying, till the one of them put himself into his immortal Devotions, and the other into his immortal Grace Abounding and Pilgrim’s Progress.

“Then I saw in my dream that Christian asked the Gate-keeper further if he could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back, for as yet he had not got rid of it, nor could he by any means get it off without help. He told him, “As to thy burden, be content to bear it until thou comest to the place of deliverance, for there it will fall from off thy back itself.” Now I saw in my dream that the highway up which Christian was to go was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall is Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below in the bottom a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up with the cross his burden loosed from off his back, and began to tumble and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death!”

“Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! Blest rather be The Man that there was put to shame for me.”

But, then, how it could be that this so happy man was scarcely a stone-cast past the cross when he had begun again to burden himself with fresh sin, and thus to disinter all his former sin? How a true pilgrim comes to have so many burdens to bear, and that till he ceases to be any longer a pilgrim,–a burden of guilt, a burden of corruption, and a burden of bare creaturehood,–I must leave all that, and all the questions connected with all that, for you all to think out and work out for yourselves; and you will not say any morning on this earth, like Mrs. Timorous, that you have little to do.

3. The third of the three Shining Ones who saluted Christian at the cross set a mark on his forehead, and put a roll with a seal set upon it into his hand. A roll and a seal which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give that roll in at the Celestial Gate. Bunyan does not in all places come up to his usual clearness in what he says about the sealed roll. We must believe that he understood his own meaning and intention in all that he says, first and last, about the roll, but he has not always made his meaning clear, at least to one of his readers. Theological students, and, indeed, all thoughtful Christian men, are invited to read Dr. Cunningham’s powerful paper on Assurance in his Reformers. The whole literature of Assurance is there taken up and weighed and sifted with all that great writer’s incomparable learning and power and judgment. Our Larger Catechism, also, is excellent on this subject; and this subject is a favourite commonplace with all our best Calvinistic, Puritan, and Evangelical authors. Let us take two or three passages out of those authors just as a specimen, and so close.

“Can true believers”–Larger Catechism, Question 80–“Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in an estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein to the end? Answer: Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promise, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of eternal life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, they may be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.” Question 81: “Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in a state of grace, and that they shall be saved? Answer: Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain it, and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions; yet are they never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.” “A Christian’s assurance,” says Fraser of Brea, “though it does not firstly flow from his holiness, yet is ever after proportionable to his holy walking. Faith is kept in a pure conscience. Sin is like a blot of ink fallen upon our evidence. This I found to be a truth.” “It was the speech of one to me,” says Thomas Shepard of New England, “next to the donation of Christ, no mercy like this, to deny assurance long; and why? For if the Lord had not, I should have given way to a loose heart and life. And this is a rule I have long held–long denial of assurance is like fire to burn out some sin and then the Lord will speak peace.” “Serve your God day and night faithfully,” says Dr. Goodwin. “Walk humbly; and there is a promise of the Holy Ghost to come and fill your hearts with joy unspeakable and glorious to rear you up to the day of redemption. Sue this promise out, wait for it, rest not in believing only, rest not in assurance by graces only; there is a further assurance to be had.” “I would not give a straw for that assurance,” says John Newton, “which sin will not damp. If David had come from his adultery and still have talked of his assurance, I should have despised his speech.” “When we want the faith of assurance,” says Matthew Henry, “let us live by the faith of adherence.” And then the whole truth is in a nutshell in Isaiah and in John: “The effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever,” and “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we shall know that we are of the truth, and so shall assure our hearts before Him.”


“Honour widows that are widows indeed.”–Paul.

We know next to nothing of Christiana till after she is a widow indeed. The names of her parents, and what kind of parents they were, the schools and the boarding-schools to which they sent their daughter, her school companions, the books she read, if she ever read any books at all, the amusements she was indulged in and indulged herself in–on all that her otherwise full and minute biographer is wholly silent. He does not go back beyond her married life; he does not even go back to the beginning of that. The only thing we are sure of about Christiana’s early days is that she was an utterly ungodly woman and that she married an utterly ungodly man. “Have you a family? Are you a married man?” asked Charity of Christian in the House Beautiful. “I have a wife and four small children,” he replied. “And why did you not bring them along with you?” Then Christian wept, and said: “Oh, how willingly would I have done it; but they were all utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage.” “But you should have talked to them,” said Charity, “and have endeavoured to have shown them the danger of being behind.” “So I did,” answered Christian. “And did you pray to God that He would bless your counsel to them?” “Yes, and with much affection; for you must think that my wife and poor children were very dear unto me.” “But what could they say for themselves why they came not?” “Why, my wife was afraid of losing the world, and my children were given over to the foolish delights of youth; so what with one thing and what with another, they left me to wander in this manner alone.”

But what her husband’s conversion, good example, and most earnest entreaties could not all do for his worldly wife, that his sudden death speedily did. And thus it is that both Christiana’s best life, all our interest in her, and all our information about her, dates, sad to say, not from her espousal, nor from her marriage day, nor from any part of her married life, but from her husband’s death. Her maidenhood has no interest for us; all our interest is fixed on her widowhood. This work of fiction now in our hands begins where all other works of fiction end; for in the life of religion, you must know, our best is always before us. Well, scarcely was her husband dead when Christiana began to accuse herself of having killed him. To take her own bitter words for it, the most agonising and remorseful thoughts about her conduct to her husband stung her heart like so many wasps. Ah yes! A wasp’s sting is but a blade of innocent grass compared with the thoughts that have stung us all as we recalled what we said and did to those who are now no more. There are graves in the churchyard we dare not go near. “I have sinned away your father!” she cried, as she threw herself on the earth at the feet of her astounded children. “I have sinned away your father and he is gone!” And yet there was no mark of a bullet and no gash of a knife on his dead body, and no chemistry could have extracted one grain of arsenic or of strychnine out of his blood. But there are many ways of taking a man’s life besides those of poison or a knife or a gunshot. Constant fault-finding, constant correction and studied contempt before strangers, total want of sympathy and encouragement, gloomy looks, rough remarks, all blame and never a word of praise, things like these between man and wife will kill as silently and as surely as poison or suffocation. Look at home, my brethren, and ask yourselves what you will think of much of your present conduct when it has borne its proper fruit. “Upon this came into her mind by swarms all her unkind, unnatural, and ungodly carriages to her dear friend, which also clogged her conscience and did load her with guilt. It all returned upon her like a flash of lightning, and rent the caul of her heart asunder.” “That which troubleth me most,” she would cry out, “is my churlish carriages to him when he was under distress. I am that woman,” she would cry out and would not be appeased–“I am that woman that was so hardhearted as to slight my husband’s troubles, and that left him to go on his journey alone. How like a churl I carried myself to him in all that! And so guilt took hold of my mind,” she said to the Interpreter, “and would have drawn me to the pond!”

A minister’s widow once told me that she had gone home after hearing a sermon of mine on the text, “What profit is there in my blood?” and had destroyed a paper of poison she had purchased in her despair on the previous Saturday night. It was not a sermon from her unconscious minister, but it was far better; it was a conversation that Christiana held with her four boys that fairly and for ever put all thought of the pond out of their mother’s remorseful mind. “So Christiana,” as we read in the opening of her history–“so Christiana called her sons together and began thus to address herself unto them: My sons, I have, as you may perceive, been of late under much exercise in my soul about the death of your father. My carriages to your father in his distress are a great load on my conscience. Come, my children, let us pack up and be gone to the gate, that we may see your father and be with him, according to the laws of that land.” I like that passage, I think, the best in all Christiana’s delightful history–that passage which begins with these words: “So she called her children together.” For when she called her children together she opened to them both her heart and her conscience; and from that day there was but one heart and one conscience in all that happy house. I was walking alone on a country road the other day, and as I was walking I was thinking about my pastoral work and about my people and their children, when all at once I met one of my people. My second sentence to him was: “This very moment I was thinking about your sons. How are they getting on?” He quite well understood me. He knew that I was not indifferent as to how they were getting on in business, but he knew that I was alluding more to the life of godliness and virtue in their hearts and in their characters. “O sir,” he said, “you may give your sons the skin off your back, but they will not give you their confidence!” So had it been with Christian and his sons. He had never managed, even in his religion, to get into the confidence of his sons; but when their mother took them into her agonised confidence, from that day she was in all their confidences, good and bad. You who are in your children’s confidences will pray in secret for my lonely friend with the skin off his back, will you not? that he may soon be able to call his sons together so as to start together on a new life of family love, and family trust, and family religion. That was a fine sight. Who will make a picture of it? This widow indeed at the head of her family council-table, and Matthew at the foot, and James and Joseph and Samuel all in their places. “Come, my children, let us pack up that we may see your father!” Then did her children burst into tears for joy that the heart of their mother was so inclined.

From that first family council let us pass on to Christiana’s last interview with her family and her other friends. Her biographer introduces her triumphant translation with this happy comment on the margin: “How welcome is death to them that have nothing to do but die!” Well, that was exactly Christiana’s case. She had so packed up at the beginning of her journey; she had so got and had so kept the confidences of all her sons; she had seen them all so married in the Lord, and thus so settled in a life of godliness and virtue; she had, in short, lived the life of a widow indeed, till, when the post came for her, she had nothing left to do but just to rise up and follow him. His token to her was an arrow with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her that at the time appointed she must be gone. We have read of arrows of death sharpened sometimes with steel and sometimes with poison; but this arrow, shot from heaven, was sharpened to a point with love. Indeed, that arrow, or the very fellow of it, had been shot into Christiana’s heart long ago when she stood at that spot somewhat ascending where was a cross and a sepulchre; and, especially, ever since the close of Greatheart’s great discourse on pardon by deed. For the hearing of that famous discourse had made her exclaim: “Oh! Thou loving One, it makes my heart bleed to think that Thou shouldest bleed for me! Oh! Thou blessed One, Thou deservest to have me, for Thou hast bought me! Thou deservest to have me all, for Thou hast paid for me ten thousand times more than I am worth!” Now it was with all that love working effectually in her heart that Christiana called for her children to give them her blessing. And what a comfort it was to her to see them all around her with the mark of the kingdom on their foreheads, and with their garments white. “My sons and my daughters,” she said, “be you all ready against the time His post calls for you.” Then she called for Mr. Valiant-for-truth, and entreated him to have an eye on her children, and to speak comfortably to them if at any time he saw them faint. And then she gave Mr. Standfast her ring. “Behold,” she said, as Mr. Honest came in–“Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Then Mr. Ready-to-halt came in, and then Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid, and then Mr. Feeble-mind. Now the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But, behold! all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots which were come down from above to accompany her to the City gates, so she came forth and entered the river with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the riverside. The last word she was heard to say here was, “I come, Lord, to be with Thee, and to bless Thee.”

But with all this, you must not suppose that this good woman, this mother in Israel, had forgotten her grandchildren. She would sooner have forgotten her own children. But she was too good a woman to forget either. For long ago, away back at the river on this side the Delectable Mountains, she had said to her four daughters–I must tell you exactly what she has said: “Here,” she said, “in this meadow there are cotes and folds for sheep, and an house is built here also for the nourishing and bringing up of those lambs, even the babes of those women that go on pilgrimage. Also there is One here who can have compassion and that can gather these lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom. This Man, she said, will house and harbour and succour the little ones, so that none of them shall be lacking in time to come. This Man, if any of them go astray or be lost, He will bring them again, He will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen them that are sick. So they were content to commit their little ones to that Man, and all this was to be at the charge of the King, and so it was as a hospital to young children and orphans.”

And now I shall sum up my chief impressions of Christiana under the three heads of her mind, her heart, and her widowhood indeed.

1. The mother of Christian’s four sons was a woman of real mind, as so many of the maidens, and wives, and widows of Puritan England and Covenanting Scotland were. You gradually gather that impression just from being beside her as the journey goes on. She does not speak much; but, then, there is always something individual, remarkable, and memorable in what she says. I have a notion of my own that Christiana must have been a reader of that princely Puritan, John Milton. And if that was so, that of itself would be certificate enough as to her possession of mind. There is always a dignity and a strength about her utterances that make us feel sure that she had always had a mind far above her neighbours, Mrs. Bat’s-eyes, Mrs. Light-mind, and Mrs. Know-nothing. The first time she opens her mouth in our hearing she lets fall an expression that Milton had just made famous in his Samson –

“Ease to the body some, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm Of hornets armed no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present Times past, what once I was, and what am now.”

Nor can I leave this point without asserting it to you that no church and no school of theology has ever developed the mind as well as sanctified the heart of the common people like the preaching of the Puritan pulpit. Matthew Arnold was not likely to over-estimate the good that Puritanism had done to England. Indeed, in his earlier writings he sometimes went out of his way to lament the hurt that the Puritan spirit had done to liberality of life and mind in his native land. But in his riper years we find him saying: “Certainly,” he says, “I am not blind to the faults of the Puritan discipline, but it has been an invaluable discipline for that poor, inattentive, and immoral creature, man. And the more I read history and the more I see of mankind, the more I recognise the value of the Puritan discipline.” And in that same Address he “founded his best hopes for that so enviable and unbounded country in which he was speaking, America, on the fact that so many of its millions had passed through the Puritan discipline.” John Milton was a product of that discipline on the one hand, as John Bunyan was on the other. Christiana was another of its products in the sphere of the family, just as Matthew Arnold himself had some of his best qualities out of the same fruitful school.

2. Her heart, her deep, strong, tender heart, is present on every page of Christiana’s noble history. Her heart keeps her often silent when the water in her eyes becomes all the more eloquent. When she does let her heart utter itself in words, her words are fine and memorable. As, for one instance, after Greatheart’s discourse on redemption. “O Mercy, that thy father and mother were here; yea, and Mrs. Timorous also. Nay, I wish with all my heart now that here was Madam Wanton, too. Surely, surely, their hearts would be affected, nor could the fear of the one, nor the powerful lusts of the other, prevail with them to go home again, and to refuse to become good pilgrims.” But it was not so much what she said herself that brought out the depth and tenderness of Christiana’s heart, it was rather the way her heart loosened other people’s tongues. You must all have felt how some people’s presence straitens your heart and sews up your mouth. While there are other people, again, whose simple presence unseals your heart and makes you eloquent. We ministers keenly feel that both in our public and in our private ministrations. There are people in whose hard and chilling presence we cannot even say grace as we should say it. Whereas, we all know other people, people of a heart, that is, whose presence somehow so touches our lips that we always when near them rise far above ourselves. Christiana did not speak much to her guides and instructors and companions, but they always spoke their best to her, and it was her heart that did it.

3. And then a widow indeed is just a true and genuine widow; a widow not in her name and in her weeds only, but still more in her deep heart, in her whole life, and in her garnered experience. “Honour widows that are widows indeed. Now, she that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and in prayers night and day. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” These are the true marks and seals and occupations of a widow indeed. And if she has had unparalleled trials and irreparable losses, she has her corresponding consolations and compensations. For she has a freedom to go about and do good, a liberty and an experience that neither the unmarried maiden nor the married wife can possibly have. She can do multitudes of things that in the nature of things neither of them can attempt to do. Things that would be both unseemly and impossible for other women to say or to do are both perfectly seemly and wholly open for her to say and to do. Her widowhood is a sacred shield to her. Her sorrow is a crown of honour and a sceptre of authority to her. She is consulted by the young and the inexperienced, by the forsaken and by the forlorn, as no other human being ever is. She has come through this life, and by a long experience she knows this world and the hearts that fill it and make it what it is. A widow indeed can show a sympathy, and give a counsel, and speak with a weight of wisdom that one’s own mother cannot always do. All you who by God’s sad dispensation are now clothed in the “white and wimpled folds” of widowhood, let your prayer and your endeavour day and night be that God would guide and enable you to be widows indeed. And, if you do, you shall want neither your occupation nor your honour.


“Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.”–Balaam.

“I saw then in my dream that they went till they came into a certain country whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy if he came a stranger to it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull and heavy of sleep, wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes; let us lie down here and take one nap.” And then when we turn to the same place in the Second Part we read thus: “By this time they were got to the Enchanted Ground, where the air naturally tended to make one drowsy. And that place was all grown over with briars and thorns, excepting here and there, where was an enchanted arbour, upon which, if a man sits, or in which if a man sleeps, ’tis a question, say some, whether they shall ever rise or wake again in this world. Now, they had not gone far, but a great mist and darkness fell upon them all, so that they could scarce, for a great while, see the one the other. Wherefore they were forced for some time to feel for one another by words, for they walked not by sight. Nor was there on all this ground so much as one inn or victualling-house wherein to refresh the feebler sort. Then they came to an arbour, warm, and promising much refreshing to the pilgrims, for it was finely wrought above head, beautified with greens, and furnished with couches and settles. It also had a soft couch on which the weary might lean. This arbour was called The Slothful Man’s Friend, on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims there to take up their rest when weary. This, you must think, all things considered, was tempting. I saw in my dream also that they went on in this their solitary way till they came to a place at which a man is very apt to lose his way. Now, though when it was light, their guide could well enough tell how to miss those ways that led wrong, yet in the dark he was put to a stand. But he had in his pocket a map of all ways leading to or from the Celestial City, wherefore he struck a light (for he never goes also without his tinder-box), and takes a view of his book or map, which bids him be careful in that place to turn to the right-hand way. Then I thought with myself, who that goeth on pilgrimage but would have one of those maps about him, that he may look when he is at a stand, which is the way to take?”

1. “But what is the meaning of all this?” asked Christiana of the guide. “This Enchanted Ground,”–her able and experienced friend answered her, “this is one of the last refuges that the enemy to pilgrims has; wherefore it is, as you see, placed almost at the end of the way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage. For when, thinks the enemy, will these fools be so desirous to sit down as when they are weary, and when so like to be weary as when almost at their journey’s end? Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted Ground is placed so nigh to the land Beulah and so near the end of their race; wherefore let pilgrims look to themselves lest they fall asleep till none can waken them.” “That masterpiece of Bunyan’s insight into life, the Enchanted Ground,” says Mr. Louis Stevenson, “where his allegory cuts so deep to people looking seriously on life.” Yes, indeed, Bunyan’s insight into life! And his allegory that cuts so deep! For a neophyte, and one with little insight into life, or into himself, would go to look for this land of darkness and thorns and pitfalls, alternated with arbours and settles and soft couches–one new to life and to himself, I say, would naturally expect to see all that confined to the region between the City of Destruction and the Slough of Despond; or, at the worst, long before, and never after, the House Beautiful. But Bunyan looked too straight at life and too unflinchingly into his own heart to lay down his sub-Celestial lands in that way; and when we begin to look with a like seriousness on the religious life, and especially when we begin to look bold enough and deep enough into our own heart, then we too shall freely acknowledge the splendid master-stroke of Bunyan in the Enchanted Ground. That this so terrible experience is laid down almost at the end of the Celestial way–the blaze of light that pours upon our heads fairly startles us, while at the same time it comforts us and assures us. That this Enchanted Ground, which has proved so fatal to so many false pilgrims, and so all but fatal to so many true pilgrims, should lie around the very borders of Beulah, and should be within all but eye-shot of the Celestial City itself,–that is something to be thankful for, and something to lay up in the deepest and the most secret place in our heart. That these pilgrims, after all their feastings and entertainments– after the Delectable Mountains and the House Beautiful–should all be plunged upon a land where there was not so much as a roadside inn, where the ways were so dark and so long that the pilgrims had to shout aloud in order to keep together, where, instead of moon or stars, they had to walk in the spark of a small tinder-box–what an encouragement and assurance to us is all that! That is no strange thing, then, that is now happening to us, when, after our fine communion season, we have suddenly fallen back into this deep darkness, and are cast into these terrible temptations, and feel as if all our past experiences and attainments and enjoyments had been but a self-delusion and a snare. That we should all but have fallen fast asleep, and all but have ceased both from watching against sin and from waiting upon God–well, that is nothing more than Hopeful himself would have done had he not had a wary old companion to watch over him, and to hold his eyes open. Let all God’s people present who feel that they are nothing better of all they have enjoyed of Scriptures and sacraments, but rather worse; let all those who feel sure that they have wandered into a castaway land, so dark, so thorny, so miry, and so lonely is their life–let them read this masterpiece of John Bunyan again and again and take heart of hope.

“When Saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither And hear how these two pilgrims talk together; Yea, let them hear of them, in any wise, Thus to keep ope their drowsy slumb’ring eyes; Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well, Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.”

2. But far worse than all its briars and thorns, far more fatal than all its ditches and pitfalls, were the enchanted arbours they came on here and there planted up and down that evil land. For those arbours are all of this fatal nature, that if a man falls asleep in any of them it arises a question whether he shall ever come to himself again in this world. Now, where there are no inns nor victualling-houses, no Gaius and no Mr. Mnason, what a danger all those ill-intended arbours scattered all up and down that country become! Well, then, the first enchanted arbour that the pilgrims came to was built just inside the borders of the land, and it was called The Stranger’s Arbour–so many new-comers had lain down in it never to rise again. The young and the inexperienced, with those who were naturally of a believing, buoyant, easy mind, lay down in hundreds here. Hopeful’s mind was naturally a mind of a soft and easy and self-indulgent cast; and had he been alone that day, or had he had for a companion a man of a less wary, less anxious, and less urgent mind than Christian was, Hopeful had taken a nap, as he so confidingly called it–a fatal nap in that arbour built by the enemy of pilgrims, just on purpose for the young and the ignorant, the inexperienced and the self-indulgent.

3. The Slothful Man’s Arbour has been already described. It was a warm arbour, and it promised much refreshing to the pilgrims. It also had in it a soft couch on which the weary might lean. “Let us lie down here and take just one nap; we shall be refreshed if we take a nap!” “Do you not remember,” said the other, “that one of the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? And he meant by that that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” Now, what is a nap? And what is it to take a nap in our religion? The New Testament is full of warnings to those who read it and go by it– most solemn and most fearful warnings–against SLEEP. Now, have you any clear idea in your minds as to what this divinely denounced sleep is? Sleep is good and necessary in our bodily life. We would not live long if we did not sleep; we would soon go out of our mind; we would soon lose our senses if we did not sleep. Insomnia is one of the worst symptoms of our eager, restless, over- worked age. “He giveth His beloved sleep”; and while they sleep their corn grows they know not how. But sleep in the great exhortation-passages of the Holy Scriptures does not mean rest and restoration; it means in all those passages insensibility, stupidity, danger, and death. In our nightly sleep, and in the measure of its soundness, we are utterly dead to the world around us. Men may come into our house and rob us of our most precious possessions; they may even come up to our bed and murder us; our whole house may be in a blaze about us; we may only awaken to leap out of sleep into eternity. Now, we are all in a sleep like that in our souls. There is above us, and around us, and beneath us, and within us the eternal world, and we are all sound asleep; we are all stone-dead in the midst of it. Devils and wicked men are stealing our treasures for eternity, and we are sound asleep; hell is already kindling our bed beneath us, but we smell not its flames, or we only catch the first gasp of them before we make our everlasting bed among them. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober. What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise and call upon thy God! When the guide shook Heedless and Too-bold off their settles in that slothful arbour, the one of them said with his eyes still shut, “I will pay you when I take my money,” and the other said, “I will fight so long as I can hold my sword in my hand.” At that one of the children laughed. “What is the meaning of that?” asked Christiana. The guide said: “They talk in their sleep.” So they did, and so do all men. For this whole world is full of settles on which men sleep and talk in their sleep. The newspapers to-morrow morning will all be full to overflowing of what men have said and written to-day and yesterday in their sleep. The shops and the banks and the exchanges will all be full of men making promises and settling accounts in their sleep. They will finger their purses, and grasp their swords, and all in their sleep. And not children but devils will laugh as they hear the folly that falls from men’s lips who are besotted with spiritual sleep and drugged with spiritual and fleshly sin. A dream cometh through the multitude of business. I had just got this length in this lecture the other night when I went to sleep. And in my sleep one of my people came to me and asked me if I could make it quite clear and plain to him what it would be for a man like him after a communion-time to begin to walk with God. And I just wish I could make the things of the Enchanted Ground as plain to myself and to you to-night as I was able to make a walk with God plain to myself and to my visitor that night in my ministerial dream. I often wish that my business mind worked as well in my study chair and in my pulpit as it sometimes does in my bed and in my sleep. “Now, I beheld in my dream that they talked more in their sleep at this time than ever they did in all their journey. And being in a muse thereabout, the gardener said even to me: Wherefore musest thou at the matter? It is the nature of the fruit of the grapes of those vineyards to go down so sweetly as to cause the lips of them that are asleep to speak.” The reason my poor lips spake so sweetly about a walk with God that night most have been because I spent all the summer evening before walking with God and with you in the vineyards of Beulah.

4. Listen to Samson, shorn of his locks, as he shakes himself off a soft and sweetly-worked couch in The Sensual Man’s Arbour:

“No, no;
It fits not; thou and I long since are twain; Nor think me so unwary or accurst
To bring my feet again into the snare Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains, Though dearly to my cost, thy gins, and toils; Thy fair enchanted cup and warbling charms No more on me have power, their force is null’d; So much of adder’s wisdom have I learnt
To fence my ear against thy sorceries. If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men Loved, honour’d, fear’d me, thou alone couldst hate me, Thy husband, slight me, sell me, and forego me; How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby Deceivable, in most things as a child,
Helpless, thence easily contemn’d, and scorn’d, And last neglected? How wouldst thou insult, When I must live uxorious to thy will
In perfect thraldom! How again betray me, Bearing my words and doings to the lords To gloss upon, and censuring, frown or smile! This jail I count the house of liberty
To thine, whose doors my feet shall never enter.”

5. The love of money to some men is the root of all evil. There came once a youth to St. Philip Neri and, flushed with joy, told him that his parents after much entreaty had at length allowed him to study law. St. Philip was not a man of many words. “What then?” the saint simply asked the shining youth. “Then I shall become a lawyer!” “And then?” pursued Philip. “Then,” said the young man, “I shall earn a nice sum of money, and I shall purchase a fine country house, procure a carriage and horses, marry a handsome and rich wife, and lead a delightful life!” “And then?” “Then,”–the youth reflected as death and eternity arose before his eyes, and from that day he began to take care of his immortal soul. Philip with one word snatched that young man’s soul off The Rich Man’s Settle.

6. The Vain Man’s Settle draws down many men to shame and everlasting contempt. Praise a vain man or a vain woman aright and enough and you will get them to do anything you like. Give a vain man sufficient publicity in your paper or on your platform and he will become a spy, a traitor, and cut-throat in your service. The sorcerer’s cup of praise–keep it full enough in a vain man’s hand, and he will sleep in the arbour of vanity till he wakens in hell. Madam Bubble, the arch-enchantress, knows her own, and she has, with her purse, her promotion, and her praise, bought off many a promising pilgrim.

7. And then she, by virtue of whose sorceries this whole land is drugged and enchanted, is such a bold slut that she will build a Sacred Arbour even, and will fill it full of religious enchantment for you rather than lose hold of you. She will consecrate places and persons and periods for you if your taste lies that way; she will build costly and stately churches for you; she will weave rich vestments and carve rich vessels; she will employ all the arts; she will even sanctify and set apart and seat aloft her holy men–what will she not do to please you, to take you, to intoxicate and enchant you? She will juggle for your soul equally well whether you are a country clown in a feeing-market or a fine lady of aesthetic tastes and religious sensibilities in the capital and the court. But I shall let Father Faber speak, who can speak on this subject both with authority and with attraction. “She can open churches, and light candles on the altar, and intone Te Deums to the Majesty on high. She can pass into the beauty of art, into the splendour of dress, and into the magnificence of furniture. She can sit with high principles on her lips discussing a religious vocation and praising God and sanctity. On the benches of bishops and in the pages of good books you will find her, and yet she is all the while the same huge evil creature.” Yes; she is all the time the same Madam Bubble who offered to Standfast her body, her purse, and her bed.

Now, would you know for yourself, like the communicant who came to me in my sleep, how you are ever to get past all those arbours, and settles, and seats, and couches, with all their sweet sorceries and intoxicating enchantments–would you in earnest know that? Then study well the case of one Standfast. Especially the time when she who enchants this whole ground hereabouts set so upon that pilgrim. In one word, it was this: he remembered his Lord; and, like his Lord, he fell on his face; and as his Lord would have it, His servant’s lips as they touched the ground touched also the healing plant harmony and he was saved.

“A small unsightly root,
But of divine effect.
Unknown, and like esteem’d, and the dull swain Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon; And yet more med’cinal is it than that moly That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
He call’d it haemony, and gave it me, And bade me keep it as of sovran use
‘Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp, Or ghastly furies’ apparition.
And now I find it true; for by this means I knew the foul enchantress, though disguised, Enter’d the very lime-twigs of her spells, And yet came off. If you have this about you (As I will give you when you go) you may Boldly assault the necromancer’s hall:
Where if she be, with dauntless hardihood, And brandished blade, rush on her, break her glass, And shed her luscious liquor on the ground, And seize her wand.”

Prayer, my sin-beset brethren, standfast prayer, is the otherwise unidentified haemony whose best habitat was the Garden of Gethsemane; and with that holy root in your heart and in your mouth, there is “no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.”


“Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah.”–Isaiah.

The first thing that John Bunyan tells us about the land of Beulah is this–that the shortest and the best way to the Celestial City lies directly through that land. The land of Beulah has its own indigenous inhabitants indeed. Old men dwell in the streets of Beulah, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. The streets of the city also are full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. The land of Beulah has its frequent visitors also, and its welcome guests from the regions above. Some of the shining ones come down from time to time and make a short sojourn in Beulah. The angels in heaven have such a desire to see the lands from which God’s saints come up that at certain seasons all the suburbs of the Celestial City are full of those shining servants of God and of the Lamb.

But what made the dreamer to smile and to talk so in his sleep was when he saw that all the upward ways to the Celestial City ran through the land of Beulah. He saw also in his dream how all the pilgrims blamed themselves so bitterly now because they had misspent so much of their time and strength in the ways below, and so had not come sooner to see and to taste this blessed land. But, at the same time, as it was, they all rejoiced with a great joy because that, after all their delays and all their wanderings, their way still led them through the borders of Beulah. Now, my dear fellow-communicants, how shall we find our way at once, and without any more wanderings, into that so desirable land? How shall we attain to walk its streets all the rest of our days with our staff in our hand? How shall we hope to see our boys and our girls playing in the streets of Beulah, and eating all their days of its sweet and its healing fruits? How shall we and our children with us henceforth escape the Slough of Despond, and Giant Despair’s dungeon, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death? The word, my brethren, the answer to all that, is nigh unto us, even in our mouth and in our heart. For faith, simple faith, will do all that both for us and for our children beside us. A heart-feeding faith in God, in the word of God, and in the Son of God, will do it. Faith, and then obedience. For obedience, my brethren, is Beulah. All obedience is already Beulah. Holy obedience will bring the whole of Beulah into your heart and into mine at any moment. It is disobedience that makes so many of those who otherwise are true pilgrims to miss so much of the land of Beulah. Ask any affable old man with his staff in his hand for very age, and he will tell you that it was his disobedience that kept him so long out of the land of Beulah. While, let any man, and above all, let any young man, begin early to live a life of believing obedience, and he will grow up and grow old and see his children’s children playing around his staff in the streets of Beulah. Let any young man make the experiment for himself upon obedience and upon Beulah. Let him not too easily believe any dreamer or even any seer about obedience and about the land of Beulah. It is his own matter and not theirs; and let him make experiment upon it all for his own satisfaction and assurance. Let any young man, then, try prayer as his first step into obedience, and especially secret prayer. Let him shut his door to-night, and let him see if he is not already inside one of the gates of Beulah. Let him deny himself every day also, if it is only in a very little thing. Let him say sternly to his own heart every hour of temptation, No! never! and on the spot a sweet waft of Beulah’s finest spices will fall upon his face. “The ineffable joy of renouncing joy” will every day make the lonely wilderness of this world a constant Beulah to such a man. For, to live at all times, in all places, and in all things for other men, and never and in nothing for yourself–that is the deepest secret of Beulah. To say it, if need be, three times to-night on your face and in a sweat of blood, “Not my will, but Thine be done!”–that will to-night turn the garden of Gethsemane itself into the very garden of Glory. Do you doubt it? Are you not yet able to believe it? Then hear about it from One who has Himself come through it. Hear His word upon the whole matter who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “Come unto Me,” says the King of Beulah, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments and was set down again, He said unto them, “Know ye what I have done to you? For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever. If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and will make Our abode with him. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” And thus I saw in my dream that their way lay right through the land of Beulah, in which land they solaced themselves for a season.

2. “They solaced themselves.” Now, solace is just the Latin solatium, which, again, is just a soothing, an assuaging, a compensation, an indemnification. Well, that land into which the pilgrims had now come was very soothing to their ruffled spirits and to their weary hearts. It assuaged their many and sore griefs also. It more than compensated them for all their labours and all their afflictions. And it was a full indemnification to them for all that they had forsaken and lost both in beginning to be pilgrims and in enduring to the end. The children of Israel had their first solace in their pilgrimage at Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and threescore and ten palm-trees; and they encamped there by the waters. And then they had their last and crowning solace when the spies came back from Eshcol with a cluster of grapes that they bare between two upon a staff, with pomegranates and figs. And Moses kept solacing his charge all the way through the weary wilderness with such strong consolations as these: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig- trees; a land of oil-olive and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.” Our Lord spake solace to His doubting and fainting disciples also in many such words as these: “Verily, I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” The Mount of Transfiguration also was His own Beulah-solace; and the Last Supper and the prayer with which it wound up were given to our Lord and to His disciples as a very Eshcol-cluster from the Paradise above. Now, I saw in my dream that they solaced themselves in the land of Beulah for a season. Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds. (The Latin poets called the birds solatia ruris, because they refreshed and cheered the rustic labourers with their sweet singing.) And every day the flowers appeared in the earth, and the voice of the turtle was heard in the land. In this country the sun shineth night and day, for there is no night there.

3. “In this country the sun shineth night and day.” How much Standfast must have enjoyed that land of light you may guess when you recollect that he came from Darkland, which lies in the hemisphere right opposite to the land of Beulah. In Darkland the sun never shines to be called sunshine at all. All the days of his youth, Standfast told his companions, he had sat beside his father and his mother in that obscure land where to his sorrow his father and his mother still sat. But in Beulah “the rose of evening becomes silently and suddenly the rose of dawn.” This land lies beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death, neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle. Now, Doubting Castle is a dismal place for any soul of man to be shut up into. And in that dark hold there are dungeons dug for all kinds of doubting souls. There are dungeons dug for the souls of men whose doubts are in their intellects, as well as for those also whose doubts arise out of their hearts. Some men read themselves into Doubting Castle, and some men sin and sell themselves to its giant. God casts some of His own children all their days into those dungeons as a punishment for their life of disobedience; He casts others down into chains of darkness because of their idleness and unfruitfulness. But Beulah is far away from Doubting Castle. Beulah is a splendid spot for a studious man to lodge in. For what a clear light shines night and day in Beulah! To what far horizons a man’s eye will carry him in Beulah! What large speculations rise before him who walks abroad in Beulah! How clear the air is in Beulah, how clean the heart and how unclouded the eye of its inhabitants! The King’s walks are in Beulah, and the arbours where He delighteth to be. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall be admitted to see God in the land of Beulah. In the land of Beulah the sun shall no more be thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and thy God thy glory!

4. “In this land also the contract between the bride and the bridegroom is renewed.” Now, there is no other day so bitter in any man’s life as that day is on which his bridal contract is broken off. And it is the very perfection and last extremity of bitterness when his contract is broken off because of his own past life. Let all those, then, who would fain enter into that sweet contract think well about it beforehand. Let them look back into all their past life. For all their past life will be sure to find them out on the day of their espousals. If they have their enemies–as all espoused men have–this is the hour and the power of their enemies. The day on which any man’s espousals are published is a small and local judgment-day to him. For all the men, and, especially, all the women, who have ever been injured by him, or who have injured themselves upon him; all the men and all the women who for any reason, and for no reason, hate both him and his happiness,–their tongues and their pens will take no sleep till they have got his contract if they can, broken off. And even when the bridegroom is too innocent, or the bride too true, or God too good to let the contract continue long to be broken off, that great goodness of God and that great trust of his contracted bride will only make the bridegroom walk henceforth more softly and rejoice with more trembling. And that is a most excellent mind. I know no better mind in which any man, guilty or innocent, can enter on a married life. I sometimes tell the bridegrooms that I can take a liberty with to keep saying to themselves all the way up to the marriage altar the tenth verse of the 103rd psalm; as well as when they come up afterwards to the baptismal font: “He hath not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us after our iniquities.” And it is surely Beulah itself, at its very best, it is surely Beulah above itself, when a happy bridegroom is full of that humble and happy mind, and when he is in one and the same moment reconciled both to his bride on earth and to his God and Father in heaven. In this land, therefore, in the land of Beulah, the contract between the bride and the bridegroom is renewed; yea, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

5. The salaams and salutations also that they were met with as often as they went out to walk in the streets thereof were a constant surprise, satisfaction, and sweetness to the fearful pilgrims. No passer-by ever once frowned or scowled upon them because their faces were Zionward, as they do in our cities. No one ever treated them with scorn or contempt because they were poor or unlettered. No man’s face either turned dark at them or was turned away from them as they passed up the street. They never, all the time they abode in Beulah, took to the lanes of the city to escape the unkind looks of any of its citizens. Greatheart’s hand was never away from his helmet. His helmet was never well on his head. His always bare and unhelmeted head said to all the men of Beulah, I love and honour and trust you. You would not hurt a hair of my head. And so on, till all the streets of Beulah were one buzz of salutation, congratulation, and benediction. Here they heard voices from out of the city, loud voices, saying, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him. Here all the inhabitants of the country called them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, sought out, a city not forsaken.

6. Now, as they walked in this land they had more rejoicing than in parts more remote from the kingdom to which they were bound. And still drawing nigh to that city they had yet a more perfect view thereof. It was builded of pearls and precious stones, also the street thereof was paved with gold, so that by reason of the natural glory of the city and the reflection of the sunbeams upon it, Christian with desire fell sick. Hopeful also had a fit or two of the same disease. Wherefore here they lay by it awhile, crying out because of their pangs, If you see my beloved, tell him that I am sick of love. There are in all good cases of recovery three successive stages of soul-sickness. True, soul-sickness always runs its own course, and it always runs its own course in its own order. This special sickness first shows itself when the soul becomes sick with sin. We have that sickness set forth in many a psalm, notably in the thirty-eighth psalm; and in a multitude of other scriptures, both old and new, this evil disease is dealt with if we had only the eyes and the heart to read such scriptures. The second stage of this sickness is when a sinner is not so much sick with the sin that dwelleth in him as sick of himself. Sinfulness in its second stage becomes so incorporate with the sinner’s whole life–sin so becomes the sinner’s very nature, and, indeed, himself,–that all his former loathing of sin passes over henceforth into loathing of himself. This is the most desperate stage in any man’s sickness; but, bad as it is, incurable as it is, it must be passed into before the third stage of the healing process can either be experienced or understood. In the case in hand, by the time the pilgrims had come to Beulah they had all had their full share of sin and of themselves till they here entered on an altogether new experience. “Christian with desire fell sick,” we read, “and Hopeful also had a fit or two of the same disease. Wherefore here they lay by it a while, crying out because of their pangs, If you see my beloved, tell him that I am sick of love.” David, Paul, Bernard, Bunyan himself, Rutherford, Brainerd, M’Cheyne, and many others crowd in upon the mind. I shall but instance John Flavel and Mrs. Jonathan Edwards, and so close. John Flavel being once on a journey set himself to improve the time by meditation, when his mind grew intent, till at length he had such ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such a full assurance of his interest therein, that he utterly lost the sight and sense of this world and all its concerns, so that for hours he knew not where he was. At last, perceiving himself to be faint, he sat down at a spring, where he refreshed himself, earnestly desiring, if it were the will of God, that he might there leave the world. His spirit reviving, he finished his journey in the same delightful frame, and all that night the joy of the Lord still overflowed him so that he seemed an inhabitant of the other world. The only other case of love-sickness I shall touch on to-night I take from under the pen of a sin-sick and love-sick author, who has been truthfully described as “one of the first, if not the very first, of the masters of human reason,” and, again, as “one of the greatest of the sons of men.” “There is a young lady in New-haven,” says Edwards, “who is so loved of that Great Being who made and rules the world, that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being in some way or other invisible comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, so that she hardly cares for anything but to meditate upon Him. She looks soon to dwell wholly with Him, and to be ravished with His love and delight for ever. Therefore, if you present all this world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and a singular piety in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her the whole world. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always communing with her.” And so on, all through her seraphic history. “Now, if such things are too enthusiastic,” says the author of A Careful and a Strict Enquiry into the Freedom of the Will, “if such things are the offspring of a distempered brain, let my brain be possessed evermore of that blessed distemper! If this be distraction, I pray God that the whole world of mankind may all be seized with this benign, meek, beneficent, beatific, glorious distraction! The peace of God that passeth all understanding; rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory; God shining in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ; with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of God, and being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord; being called out of darkness into marvellous light, and having the day-star arise in our hearts! What a sweet distraction is that! And out of what a heavenly distemper and out of what a sane enthusiasm has all that come to us!”

“More I would speak: but all my words are faint; Celestial Love, what eloquence can paint? No more, by mortal words, can be expressed, But all Eternity shall tell the rest.”


“The swelling of Jordan.”–Jeremiah.

“Fore-fancy your deathbed,” says Samuel Rutherford. “Take an essay,” he says in his greatest book, that perfect mine of gold and jewels, Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself–“Take an essay and a lift at your death, and look at it before it actually comes to your door.” And so we shall. Since it is appointed to all men once to die, and after death the judgment; and since our death and our judgment are the only two things that we are absolutely sure about in our whole future, we shall henceforth fore-fancy those two events much more than we have done in the past. And to assist us in that; to quicken our fancy, to kindle it, to captivate it, and to turn our fancy wholly to our salvation, we have all the entrancing river-scenes in the Pilgrim’s Progress set before us; a succession of scenes in which Bunyan positively revels in his exquisite fancies, clothing them as he does, all the time, in language of the utmost beauty, tenderness, pathos, power, and dignity. Let us take our stand, then, on the bank of the river and watch how pilgrim after pilgrim behaves himself in those terrible waters. We are all voluntary spectators to-night, but we shall all be compulsory performers before we know where we are.

1. On entering the river even Christian suddenly began to sink. Fore-fancy that. All the words he spake still tended to discover that he had great horror of mind and hearty fears that he would die in that river; here also he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins he had committed both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. Fore-fancy that also, all you converted young men. Hopeful, therefore, had much to do to keep his brother’s head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then in a while he would rise up again half-dead. Then I saw in my dream that Christian was in a muse a while; to whom also Hopeful added this word, “Be of good cheer; Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” And with that Christian broke out with a loud voice, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee.” Then they both took courage and the enemy was after that as still as a stone till they were gone over. Fore-fancy that also. There is one other thing out of that crossing that I hope I shall remember when I am in the river: “Be of good cheer,” said Hopeful to his sinking fellow–“Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel the bottom, and it is good.” “Hold His hand fast,” wrote Samuel Rutherford to Lady Kenmure. “He knows all the fords. You may be ducked in His company but never drowned. Put in your foot, then, and wade after Him. And be sure you set your feet always upon the stepping-stones.” Yes; fore-fancy those stepping-stones, and often practise your feet upon them before the time.

2. “Good woman,” said the post to Christiana, the wife of Christian the pilgrim; “Hail, good woman, I bring thee tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth thee to stand in His presence in clothes of immortality within this ten days.” Fore- fancy that also. Now the day was come that she must be gone. And so the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But, behold, all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots which were come down from above to accompany her to the city gate. So she came forth and entered the river with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the river-side. And thus she went and entered in at the gate with all the ceremonies of joy that her husband had done before her. Fore-fancy, if you can, some of those ceremonies of joy.

3. When Mr. Fearing came to the river where was no bridge, there again he was in a heavy case. Now, he said, he should be drowned for ever and never see that Face with comfort he had come so many miles to behold. And here also I took notice of what was very remarkable; the water of that river was lower at this time than ever I saw it in all my life. So he went over at last not much above wet-shod. Fore-fancy and fore-arrange, if it be possible, for a passage like that. When he was going tip to the gate Mr. Greatheart began to take his leave of him, and to wish him a good reception above. “I shall,” he said, “I shall.” Be fore-assured, also, of a reception like that.

4. In process of time there came a post to the town again, and his business was this time with Mr. Ready-to-halt. So he inquired him out and said to him, “I am come to thee in the name of Him whom thou hast loved and followed, though upon crutches. And my message is to tell thee that He expects thee at His table to sup with Him in His kingdom the next day after Easter.” After this Mr. Ready- to-halt called for his fellow-pilgrims and told them, saying, “I am sent for, and God shall surely visit you also. These crutches,” he said, “I bequeath to my son that he may tread in my steps, with a hundred warm wishes that he may prove better than I have done.” When he came to the brink of the river, he said, “Now I shall have no more need of these crutches, since yonder are horses and chariots for me to ride on.” The last words he was heard to say were, “Welcome life!” Let all ready-to-halt hearts fore-fancy all that.

5. Then Mr. Feeble-mind called for his friends and told them what errand had been brought to him, and what token he had received of the truth of the message. “As for my feeble mind,” he said, “that I shall leave behind me, for I shall have no need of that in the place whither I go. When I am gone, Mr. Valiant, I desire that you would bury it in a dunghill.” This done, and the day being come in which he was to depart, he entered the river as the rest. His last words were, “Hold out faith and patience.” Fore-fancy such an end as that to your feeble mind also.

6. Did you ever know a family, or, rather, the relics of a family, where there was just a decrepit old father and a lone daughter left to nurse him through his second childhood? All his other children are either married or dead; but both marriage and death have spared Miss Much-afraid to watch over the dotage-days of Mr. Despondency; till one summer afternoon the old man fell asleep in his chair to waken where old men are for ever young. And in a day or two there were two new graves side by side in the old churchyard. Even death could not divide this old father and his trusty child. And so when the time was come for them to depart, they went down together to the brink of the river. The last words of Mr. Despondency were, “Farewell night and welcome day.” His daughter went through the river singing, but none could understand what it was she said. Fore-fancy that, all you godly old men, with a daughter who has made a husband and children to herself of her old father.

7. As I hear Old Honest shouting “Grace reigns!” I always remember what a lady told me about a saying of her poor Irish scullery-girl. The mistress and the servant were reading George Eliot’s Life together in the kitchen, and when they came to her deathbed, on the pillow of which Thomas A’Kempis lay open, “Mem,” said the girl, “I used to read that old book in the convent; but it is a better book to live upon than to die upon.” Now, that was exactly Old Honest’s mind. He lived upon one book, and then he died upon another. He lived according to the commandments of God, but he died according to the comforts of the Gospel. Now, we read in his history how that the river at that time overflowed its banks in some places. But Mr. Honest had in his lifetime spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him at the river, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. All the same, the last words of Mr. Honest still were, “Grace reigns!” And so he left the world. Fore-fancy whether or no you are making, as one has said, “an assignation with terror” at that same river-side.

8. Standfast was the last of the pilgrims to go over the river. Standfast was left longest on this side the river because his Master could best trust him here. His Master had to take away many of His other servants from the evil to come, but He could trust Standfast. You can safely trust a man who takes to his knees in every hour of temptation, as Standfast was wont to do. “This river,” he said, “has been a terror to many. Yea, the thoughts of it have often frighted me also. The waters, indeed, are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thoughts of what I am going to, and of the conduct that awaits me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing coal at my heart. I see myself now at the end of my journey, and my toilsome days are all ended. I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. His name has been to me as a civet-box, yea, sweeter than all perfumes. His word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He has held me up, and I have kept myself from mine iniquities. Yea, my steps hath He strengthened in the way.” Now, while he was thus in discourse his countenance changed, his strong man bowed down under him, and after he had said, “Take me, for I come to Thee,” he ceased to be seen of them. Fore-fancy, if you have the face, an end like that for yourself.

This, then, is how Christian and Hopeful and Christiana and Old Honest and all the rest did in the swelling river. But the important point is, HOW WILL YOU DO? Have you ever fore-fancied how you will do? Have you ever, among all your many imaginings, imagined yourself on your death-bed? Have you ever thought you heard the doctor whisper, “To-night”? Have you ever lain low in your bed and listened to the death-rattle in your own throat? And have you still listened to the awful silence in the house after all was over? Have you ever shot in imagination the dreadful gulf that stands fixed between life and death, and between time and eternity? Have you ever tried to get a glimpse beforehand of your own place where you will be an hour after your death, when they are putting the grave-clothes on your still warm body, and when they are measuring your corpse for your coffin? Where will you be by that time? Have you any idea? Can you fancy it? Did you ever try? And if not, why not? “My lord,” wrote Jeremy Taylor to the Earl of Carbery, when sending him the first copy of the Holy Dying,–“My lord, it is a great art to die well, and that art is to be learnt by men in health; for he that prepares not for death before his last sickness is like him that begins to study philosophy when he is going to dispute publicly in the faculty. The precepts of dying well must be part of the studies of them that live in health, because in other notices an imperfect study may be supplied by a frequent exercise and a renewed experience; but here, if we practise imperfectly once, we shall never recover the error, for we die but once; and therefore it is necessary that our skill be more exact since it cannot be mended by another trial.” How wise, then, how far-seeing, how practical, and how urgent is the prophet’s challenge and demand. “How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

1. Well, then, let us be practical before we close, and let us descend to particulars. Let us take the prophet’s question and run it through some parts and some practices of our daily life as already dying men. And, to begin with, I have such a great faith in good books, whether we are to live or die, that I am impelled to ask you all at this point, and under shelter of this plain-spoken prophet, What books have you laid in for your deathbed, and for the weeks and months and even years before your death bed? What do you look forward to be reading when Jordan is beginning to swell and roll for you and to leap up toward your doorstep? If you get good from good books–everybody does not–but supposing you are one of those who do, what books can you absolutely count upon, without fail, to put you in the best possible frame for the river, and for the convoy across, and for the ceremonies of joy on the other side? What special Scriptures will you have read every day to you? “Read,” said John Knox to his weeping wife, “read where I first cast my anchor.” An old lady I once knew used to say to me at every visit, “The Fifty-first Psalm.” She was the daughter of a Highland minister, and the wife of a Highland minister, and the mother of a Highland minister, and of an elder to boot. “The Fifty-first Psalm,” she said, and sometimes, “One of Hart’s hymns also.” What is your favourite psalm and hymn? Mr. James Taylor of Castle Street has several large-type libraries in his catalogue. Mr. Taylor might start a much worse paying speculation than a large-type library for the river-side; or, some select booklets for deathbeds. The series might well open with “The Ninetieth Psalm” in letters an inch deep. Scholars die as well as illiterates, and there might be provided for them, among other things, The Phaedo in two languages, Plato’s and Jowett’s. Then The Seven Sayings from the Cross. Bellarmine’s Art of Dying Well would stand well beside John Bunyan’s Dying Sayings. And, were I the editor, I would put in Bishop Andrewes’ Private Devotions, if only for my own last use. Then Richard Baxter’s Saint’s Rest, and John Howe’s Platonico- Puritan book, Blessedness of the Righteous. Then Bernard’s “New Jerusalem,” “The Sands of Time are sinking,” “Rock of Ages,” and such like. These are some of the little books I have within reach of my bed against the hour when the post blows his first horn for me. You might tell me some of your deathbed favourites.

2. Who will be your most welcome minister during your last days on earth? For whom would you send to-night if the post were suddenly to sound his horn at your side on your way home from church? I can well believe it would not be your own minister. I have known fathers and mothers in this congregation to send for other ministers than their own minister when terrible trouble came upon them, and both my conscience and my common sense absolutely approved of the step they took. Five students were once sitting and talking together in a city in which there was to be an execution to-morrow morning. They were talking about the murderer who was to be executed in the morning, and about the minister he had sent for to come to see him. And, like students, they began to put it to one another–Suppose you were to be executed to-morrow, for what minister in the city, or even in the whole land, would you send? And, like students again, they said–Let each one write down on a piece of paper the name of the minister he would choose to be beside him at the last, and we shall see each man’s last choice. They did so, when to their astonishment it was discovered that they had all written the same minister’s name! I do not know that they all went to his church every Sabbath while they were young and, well, and not yet under sentence of death. I do not think they did. For when I was in his church there was only a handful of old and decayed-looking people in it. The chief part of the congregation seemed to me to be a charity school. And I gathered from all that a lesson–several lessons, and this among the rest– that crowded passages do not always wait upon the best pastors; and this also, that a waft of death soon discovers to us a true minister from an incompetent and a counterfeit minister.

3. Writing to one of his correspondents about his correspondent’s long-drawn-out deathbed, Samuel Rutherford said to him, “It is long-drawn-out that you may have ample time to go over all your old letters and all your still unsettled accounts before you take ship.” Have you any such old letters lying still unanswered? Have you any such old accounts lying still unsettled? Have you made full reparation and restitution for all that you and yours have done amiss? Fore-fancy that you will soon be summoned into His presence who has said: Therefore, if thou bring thy gift before the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him.” You know all about Zacchaeus. I need not tell his story over again. But as I write these lines I take up a London newspaper and my eyes light on these lines: “William Avary was a man of remarkable gifts, both of mind and character. He dedicated the residue of his strength wholly to works of piety. In middle age he failed in business, and in his old age, when better days came, he looked up such of his old creditors as could be found and divided among them a sum of several thousand pounds.” Look up such of your old creditors as you can find, and that not in matters of money alone. And, be sure you begin to do it now, before the horn blows. For, as sure as you take your keys and open your old repositories, you will come on things you had completely forgotten that will take more time and more strength, ay, and more resources, than will then be at your disposal. Even after you have begun at once and done all that you can do, you will have to do at last as Samuel Rutherford told George Gillespie to do: “Hand over all your bills, paid and unpaid, to your Surety. Give Him the keys of the drawer, and let Him clear it out for Himself after you are gone.”

4. And then, pray often to God for a clear mind between Him and you, and for a quick, warm, and heaven-hungry heart at the last. And take a promise from those who watch beside your bed that they will not drug and stupefy you even though you should ask for it. Whatever your pain, and it is all in God’s hand, make up your mind, if it be possible, to bear it. It cannot be greater than the pain of the cross, and your Saviour would not touch their drugs, however well-intended. He determined to face the swelling of Jordan and to enter His Father’s house with an unclouded mind. Try your very uttermost to do the same. I cannot believe that the thief even would have let the gall so much as touch his lips after Christ had said to him, “Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise!” Well, if your mind was ever clear and keen, let it be at its clearest and its keenest at the last. Let your mind and your heart be full of repentance, and faith, and love, and hope, and all such saying graces, and let them all be at their fullest and brightest exercise, at that moment. Be on the very tip-toe of expectation as the end draws near. Another pang, another gasp, one more unutterable sinking of heart and flesh as if you were going down into the dreadful pit–and then the abundant entrance, and the beatific vision! What wilt thou do then? What wilt thou say then? Hast thou thy salutation and thy song ready? And what will it be?


{1} Delivered November 27th, 1892.

{2} January 1st, 1893.

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