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GOD THANKS FOR
the time of the fight: he spake like a dragon; and, on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian's heart. I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile and look upward !* But it was the dreadfullest sight that ever I saw.
So when the battle was over, Christian said, I will CHRISTIAN GIVES here give thanks to him that hath delivered
me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that did help me against Apollyon. And so he did, saying
Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,
Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which Christian took and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately.t He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before : so being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his
* Not a vainglorious and self-applauding, but an humble, thankful smile. He looked up, and smilingly gave the Lord all the glory of his victory.
+ No matter what wounds we get in our conflicts with Satan, for Jesus will heal them all. But who will heal those which we get by complying with the devil, instead of resisting him?
CHRISTIAN GOES ON
JOURNEY, WITH HIS SWORD DRAWN IN HIS HAND.
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OP DEATII.
sword drawn in his hand ;* for he said,
Now, at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death ;t and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now, this valley is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: “A wilderness, a land of deserts and of pits; a land of drought, and of the Shadow of Death; a land that no man (but a Christian) passeth through, and where no man dwelt.”i
Now, here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon; as by the sequel you shall see.
I saw then in my dream, that when Christian was got to the borders of the Shadow of Death, there met him two men, children of them that brought up an evil report of the good land, making haste to go back ;g to whom Christian spake as follows.
THE CHILDREN OF THE SPIES GO BACK.
* Conflicts with Satan make Christians wary, and value their sword, so as to walk with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, in their hands. + This signifies darkness and desertion of soul.
None but the heart of a Christian knows the bitterness of God's hiding his face. It is death to all his comforts : his mourning under a sense of it, manifests his love to the Lord, and delight in his presence.
§ Such we frequently meet with, who set out without a sense of sin, faith, real hope, and sincere love to Christ; and as sure as they go back from a profession, they bring up an evil report of the way to the kingdom of Christ.
Chr. Whither are you going ?
Men. They said, Back! back! and we would have you
do so too, if either life or peace is prized by you. Chr. Why, what's the matter ? said Christian.
Men. Matter! said they: we were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we durst; and indeed we were almost past coming back: for had we gone a little further, we had not been here to bring the news to thee.
Chr. But what have you met with ? said Christian.
Men. Why, we were almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death ;' but that by good hap we looked before us, and saw the danger before we came to it.
Chr. But what have you seen ? said Christian.
Men. Seen! why, the valley itself, which is as dark as pitch: we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit : we heard also in that valley a continual howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons : and over that valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion : death also doth always spread his wings over it." In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order.
Chr. Then said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have said, but that this is my way to the desired haven.
Men. Be it thy way; we will not choose it for
Psalm xliv. 19.
m Job iii. 5. x. 22.
See what it is, when men are left to will and choose for themselves; they prefer their own ways, though it be to destruction: their wills are averse to God's, and they choose death in the error of their life; but the faithful soul is under the reign of grace, and he chooses
So they parted; and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted.
I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished. * Again, behold, on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, into which if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on : into that quag king David once did fall, and had, no doubt, therein been smothered, had not he that is able plucked him out."
The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought in the dark to shun the ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other : also when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch.t Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly; for besides the danger mentioned above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes, when he
n Psalm lxix. 14.
to obey the will of God, and to walk in the ways of God, though they are not pleasing to flesh and blood : hence true faith is tried, and a mere empty profession made manifest.
* The ditch on the right-hand is error in principle, into which the blind—as to spiritual truths, blind guides-lead the blind, who were never spiritually enlightened. The ditch on the left hand, means outward sins and wickedness, which many fall into. Both are alike dangerous to pilgrims; but the Lord will keep the feet of his saints, 1 Sam. ii. 9.
+ A tender conscience is as much afraid of corrupt principles, as of sinful practices. This manifests the sincerity of the soul, even when a Christian walks in darkness.
lifted up his foot to set forward, he knew not where, or upon what, he should set it next.
About the midst of this valley, I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the wayside. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for Christian's sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer: so he cried in my hearing, “ O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my
Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him: also he heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him, for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of fiends* coming forward to meet
him, he stopped, and began to muse what
he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be half way through the valley ; he remembered also how he had already vanquished many a danger ; and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved to go on : yet
CHRISTIAN PUT TO A STAND FOR A WHILE.
o Psalm cxvi. 4. Eph. vi. 11. * But it may be asked, Why doth the Lord suffer his children to walk in such darkness ?
It is for his glory; it tries their faith in him, and excites prayer to him; but his love abates not in the least towards them, since he lovingly inquires after them: “ Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, and walketh in dar ess, and hath no light ?” Then he gives most precious advice to them: “ Let him trust in the Lord, and stay himself upon his God,” Isa. l. 10.