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THE SLOUGH OF
Then I stepped to bim that plucked him out, and said, Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the city of Destruction to yonder gate, is it, that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security? And he said unto me, This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended : what makes it is the descent whither the scum and filth
that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there arise in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.
It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad. His labourers also have, by the direction of his Majesty's surveyors, been for above these sixteen hundred years employed about this patch of ground, if perhaps it might have been mended : yea, and to my knowledge, said he, here have been swallowed up at least twenty thousand cart-loads, yea, millions of wholesome instructions, that have at all seasons been brought from all places of the King's dominions, (and they that can tell, say, they are the best materials to make good ground of the place,) if so be it might have been mended; but it is the slough of Despond still, and so will be when they have done what they can.*
True, there are, by the direction of the Lawgiver, THE PROMISE certain good and substantial steps, placed
even through the very midst of this slough ; but at such time as this place doth much
a Isa. XXXV. 3, 4, 8. * Signifying, that there is nothing but despondency and despair in the fallen nature of sinful man : the best that we can do, leaves us in the Slough of Despond, as to any hopes in ourselves.
VISITED BY HIS NEIGHBOURS.
spew out its filth, as it doth against change of weather, these steps are hardly seen; or if they be, men, through the dizziness of their heads, step beside; and then they are bemired to purpose, notwithstanding the steps be there : but the ground is good when they are once got in at the gate. *
Now I saw in my dream, that by this time Pliable was got home to his house. So his neighbours came to visit him; and some of them HOME AND IS called him wise man for coming back, and some called him fool for hazarding himself with Christian: others again did mock at his cowardliness, saying, Surely, since you began to venture, I would not have been so base as to have given out for a few difficulties: so Pliable sat sneaking among them. But at last he got more confidence, and then they all turned their tales, and began to deride poor Christian behind his back. And thus much concerning Pliable.
Now as Christian was walking solitarily by himself, he espied one afar off, come crossing over the field to meet him ; and their hap was to meet just as wis they were crossing the way of each other. WITH. CHR18The gentleman's name that met him was Mr. Worldly Wiseman : he dwelt in the town of Carnal Policy, a very great town, and also hard-by from whence Christian came. This man then, meeting with Christian, and having some inkling of him, (for Christian's setting forth from the city of Destruction was much noised abroad, not only in the town where he dwelt, but also
MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN MEETS WITH CHRISTIAN
b 1 Sam. xii. 21.
* That is the Lord Jesus Christ. We never find good ground, nor safe standing, nor comfortable walking, till we enter into possession of Christ by faith, and till our feet are set upon Christ, who is the Rock of Ages.
it began to be the town-talk in some other places, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, therefore, having some guess of him, by beholding his laborious going, by observing his sighs and groans, and the like, began thus to enter into some talk with Christian. TALK BETWEEN World. How now, good fellow, whither CHRISTIAN AND away after this burdened manner ?
Chr. A burdened manner indeed, as ever I think poor creature had! And whereas you ask me, Whither away? I tell you, sir, I am going to yonder wicketgate before me; for there, as I am informed, I shall be put into a way to be rid of my heavy burden.
WORLD. Hast thou a wife and children?
Chr. Yes; but I am so laden with this burden, that I cannot take that pleasure in them as formerly: methinks I am as if I had none.
WORLD. Wilt thou hearken to me, if I give thee counsel ?
Chr. If it be good, I will; for I stand in need of good counsel.
WORLD. I would advise thee, then, that thou with WORLDLY WISE- all speed get thyself rid of thy burden ; for TO CUristian. thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till then : nor canst thou enjoy the benefits of the blessings which God hath bestowed upon thee, till then.
Chr. That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden : but get it off myself I cannot ; nor is there any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders; therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of my burden.*
c I Cor. vü, 29. * A glimpse of the wicket-gate, or of deliverance from the guilt of sin by Christ, will make the sinner reject all other ways, and press on towards Christ only.
VISI MAX COX.
World. Who bid thee go this way to be rid of thy burdeu ?
Chr. A man that appeared to me to be a very great and honourable person : his name, as I remember, is Evangelist.
WORLD. I beshrew him for his counsel ! there is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the MR. WORLDLY world than is that into which he hath directed DEMNETH EVANthee; and that thou shalt find, if thou wilt SEL. be ruled by his counsel. Thou hast met with something, as I perceive, already; for I see the dirt of the Slough of Despond is upon thee: but that slongh is the beginning of the sorrows that do attend those that go on in that way. Hear me; I am older than thou: thou art like to meet with, in the way which thou goest, wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and what not. These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And should a man so carelessly cast away himself, by giving heed to a stranger ?
Chr. Why, sir, this birden upon my back is more terrible to me than are all these things which you have mentioned: nay, methinks I care not what I meet with in the way, if so TIAN. be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden.*
WORLD. How camest thou by thy burden at first ? Chr. By reading this book in my hand.
WORLD. I thought so ;t and it is happened unto thee as to other weak men, who, meddling with things too high for them, do suddenly fall into thy distractions ;
THE FRAME OF THE HEART OF A YOUNG CHRIS
* Such is the frame of the heart of a young Christian.
+ Mr. Worldly-Wiseman does not like that men should be serious in reading the Bible.
LIKE THAT MEN
OUS IN READING
He does not which distractions do not only unman men, SHOULD BE SERI: as thine I perceive have done thee, but they THE BIBLE. run them upon desperate ventures, to obtain they know not what.
Chr. I know what I would obtain ; it is ease from my heavy burden.
World. But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it ? especially since (hadst thou but patience to hear me) I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this way wilt run thyself into. Yea, and the remedy is at hand. Besides, I will add, that, instead of those dangers, thou shalt meet with much safety, friendship, and content.
Chr. Sir, I pray open this secret to me.
World. Why, in yonder village (the village is named Morality) there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality, a very judicious man, and a man of a very
is good name, that has skill to help men off STRAIT-GATE. with such burdens as thine is from their shoulders ; yea, to my knowledge, he hath done a great deal of good this way; ay, and besides, he hath skill to cure those that are somewhat crazed in their wits with their burdens.* To him, as I said, thou mayst go, and be helped presently. His house is not quite a mile from this place; and if he should not be at home himself, he hath a pretty young man to his son, whose name is
HE PREFERS MORALITY BBPORE THE
* Mr. Worldly Wiseman prefers Morality to Christ the strait-gate. This is the exact reasoning of the flesh. Carnal reason ever opposes spiritual truth. The notion of justification by our own obedience to God's law, ever works in us, contrary to the way of justification by the obedience of Christ. Self-righteousness is as contrary to the faith of Christ, as indulging the lusts of the flesh. The former is the white devil of pride, the latter the black devil of rebellion and disobedience. See the awful consequences of listening to the reasonings of the flesb!