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The Prigrims arrive at the River of the Water of Life.
yea, and that too in despite of such examples, which are set continually before them to caution them to the contrary, must be partakers of the severest judgments.
HOPE. Doubtless thou hast said the truth; but what a mercy is it that neither thou, but especially that I, am not made myself this example! This mi. nistereth occasion to us to thank God, to fear before him, and always to remember Lot's wife.P
I saw then that they went on their way to a pleasant river, which David the king called "the river of God;" but John, “the river of the water of life.” (Psa. lxv. 9. Rev. xxii. 1. Ezek. xlvii. 1-9.) Now their way lay just upon the bank of this river: here therefore Christian and his companion walked with great delight; they drank also of the water of the river, which was pleasant, and enlivening to their weary spirits. Besides on the banks of this river, on each side, were green trees for all manner of fruit; and the leaves they eat to prevent surfeits, and other diseases that are incident to those who heat their blood by travel. On each side of the river was also a meadow, curiously beautified with lilies; and it was green all the year long. In this meadow they lay down and slept : for here they might lie down safely. (Psa. xxiii. 2. Isa. xiv. 30.) When they awoke, they gathered again of the fruit of the
p The history of “Lot's wife," who, for hankering after Sodom when she had been delivered from destruction, was turned into a pillar of salt, is such a visible monument of the divine displeasure, that if covetous professors would but lift up their eyes from the earth, in which they are groveling as worms and moles, they could not avoid seeing the folly and danger of their conduct. When christians seriously reflect upon the many instances in which their souls have “cleaved unto the dust," they may well admire the abundant mercy of God in preserving them from the snares of the devil; while a sense of their weakness will induce them not to be “ high-minded, but fear :" and even, while they stand, from the awful examples of others, to “take heed, lest they fall," by similar temptations
The Pilgrims arrive at By-Path-Meadow.
trees, and drank again of the water of the river, and then lay down again to sleep. Thus they did several days and nights. Then they sang :
“ Behold ye how these crystal streams do glide,
Will soon sell all, that he may buy this field." So wben they were disposed to go on, (for they were not as yet at their journey's end,) they eat, and drank, and departed.
Now I beheld in my dream, that they had not journeyed far, but the river and the way for a time parted, at which they were not a little sorry; yet they durst not go out of the way. Now the way from the river was rough, and their feet tender by reason of their travels : so the souls of the pilgrims were much discouraged because of the way. (Nom. xxi. 4.) Wherefore still as they went oil, they wished for a better way. Now a little before them, there was on the left hand of the road a meadow and a style to go over into it, and that meadow is called By.path' meadow. Then said Christian to bis fellow, "If this meadow lieth along by our way-side, let us go over into it." Then he went to the stile to see, and behold a path lay along by the way on the other side of the fence. “It is according to my wish,” said Christian, “ here is the
9 The frame of a christian's mind is exceedingly different at different times. This may be accounted for occasionally from the different circumstances in which he is placed, as to the public means of grace, the state of his health, &c. &c. But the true reason is, that at one time he is under the influence of unbelief, which produces distress and darkness of soul, and, at another, is by the aid of the Holy Spirit, enabled to believe the promises of the gospel, and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. It was when Hopeful was the companion of Christian, and not till then, that he had such blessed enjoyments. “Everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,'' (2 Thess. ii. 16.) flow into the believer's mind, as streams from that “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb," the everlasting ove of God, through Jesus Christ, to all who believe in his name.
and Christirp is desirous to go orer.
easiest going ; come, good Hopeful, and let us go over.”
The scene described by Mr. Bunyan, is what the apostle prayed might be experienced by the christians at Rome ;-"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xv. 13. In such delightful exercises of mind, the whole creation smiles and is cheerful ; the worship of God is pleasant and animating; and the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, like the leaves of the tree of life, afford both food and medicine ; they strengthen the mind, and sanctify the heart. Our author, having his own experience in view, seems to refer to such a part of it as the following. “Now I had an evidence, as I thought, of my salvation, from heaven, with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight. Now could I remember this manifestation, and the other discovery of grace with comfort; and would often long and desire that the last day would come, that I might be for ever inflamed with the sight, and joy, and communion with him whose head was crowned with thorns, whose face was spit upon, and body broken, and soul made an offering for my sins : for whereas before I lay continually trembling at the mouth of hell, now methought I was got so far therefrom, that I could, when I looked back, scarce discern it.
And ah, thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that I might die quickly, that my soul might be gone to rest !" Life, 3rd. Edit. p. 52.
To intimate that the river, on the banks of which the pilgrims were now walking, represented the enjoyments communicated by the gospel to believers in the present life, though akin to the blessedness of heaven, the writer adds,-“ for they were not yet at their journey's end.” By the scene, too, which immediately follows, it should appear, that the ingenious author designed to give it as his opinion, that such extraordinary enjoyments are frequently the immediate precursors of overwhelming distress. It may be that our heavenly Father, knowing our frame, and remembering that we are but dust, grants these heavenly enjoyments to y repare us for passing through subsequent trials which he foresees are about to come upon us. It was immediately after Abraham had been favoured with the vision, to which the apostle refers as the time when he believed in the promised Messiah as “the Lord his righteousness," that “a deep sleep fell upun Abram, and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him," Gen. xv. 1-12. Rom. iv. 1-5. So likewise it was not long after Peter had been with his Lord on the “ holy mount," that, trusting to his own heart, he was drawn aside by the temptations of the devil, and would doubtless have been finally overcome, had not the Lord Jesus prayed for him that his faith should pot fail. Luke ix. 32. and xxii. 31, 32.
• One temptation makes way for another.
The Pilgrics, are misled by Vain-Connácuce.
Hope. But how if this path should lead us out of
Chr. That is not likely, said the other: look, doth it not go along by the way side? So Hopeful, being persuaded by his fellow, went after bim over the style. When they were gone over, and were got into the path, they found it very easy for their feet; and withal, they looking before them, espied a man walking as they did, whose name was Vain-Confidence: so they called after him, and asked him, whither that way
led. He said, “To the celestial gate.” “Look,” said Christian, “ did not I tell you so ? by this you may see we are right.” So they followed, and he went before them. But behold the night came on, and it grew very dark; so that they that were bebind lost sight of him that went before."
He therefore that went before, (Vain-Confidence by name,) not, seeing the way before him, fell into a deep pit, which had been on purpose there made by the prince of those grounds to catch vain-glorious fools withal, and was dashed in pieces with his fall. (Isaiab ix. 16.)
Now Christian and his fellow heard him fall. So they called to know the matter, but there was none to answer, only they heard a groaning. Then said Hope. ful, “ Where are we now?" Then was his fellow silent, as mistrusting that he had led him out of the way; and now it began to rain, and thunder and lighten in a most dreadful manner; and the waters rose amain.
Then Hopeful groaned in himself, saying, “Oh that I had kept on my way!"
Chr. Who would have thought that this path would lead us out of the way?
Hope. I was afraid of it at the very first, and there fore gave you that gentle caution. I would have spoke plainer, but that you are older than I.
I Strong christians may lead weak ones out of ine way.
una trespass on the Grounds of Giant Despair.
Crir. Good brother, be not offended; I am sorry I have brought thee out of the way, and that I have put thee into such imminent danger. Pray, my brotber, forgive me; I did not do it of an evil intent.
Hope. Be comforted, my brother, for I forgive thee; and I believe too that this shall be for our good.
Chr. I am glad I have met with a merciful brother: but we must not stand thus; let us try to go back again.
Hope. But, good brother, let me go before.
Chr. No, if you please, let me go first, that if there be any danger, I may be first therein, because by my means we are both gone out of the way.
HOPE. No, said Hopeful, you shall not go first; for your mind being troubled may lead you out of the way again. Then for their encouragement they beard the voice of one saying, “ Set thy heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest ; turn again." (Jer. xxxi. 21.) But by this time the waters were greatly risen, by reason of which the way of going back was very dangerous. (Then I thought that it is easier going out of the way when we are in, ihan going in when we are out.) Yet they adventured to go back ; but it was so dark, and the flood was so bigh, that in their going back they had like to have been drowned nine or ten times.
Neither could they, with all the skill they had, get again to the style that night. Wherefore at last, lighting under a little shelter, they sat down there till daybreak; but, being weary, they fell asleep. Now there was, not far from the place where they lay, a castle, called Doubting-castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in bis grounds they now were sleeping; wherefore he getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then with a grim and surly voice he bid them awake, and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him they were pilgrims, and