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The Pilgrims are welcomed by the Shepherds,
Mr. Great-heart, (for with him they were well acquainted,) said unto him, “ Good Sir, you have got a goodly company here; pray where did you find all these?" · Then Mr. Great-heart replied:
“First, here are Christiana and her train,
Then said the Shepherds, “This is a comfortable company. You are welcome to us; for we have for the feeble, as well as for the strong. Our Prince has an eye to what is done to the least of these ; therefore infirmity must not be a block to our entertain. ment.” (Matt. xxv. 40.) So they had them to the palace-door, and then said unto them, “ Come in, Mr. Feeble-mind, come in Mr. Ready-to-halt, come in Mr. Despondency, and Mrs. Much-afraid his daugh. ter. These, Mr. Great-heart," said the Shepherds to the guide, “ we call in by name, for that they are most subject to draw back; but as for you, and the resi that are strong, we leave you to your wonted liberty." Then said Mr. Great-heart, “ This day I see that grace doth shine in your faces, and that you are my Lord's shepherds indeed; for that you have not pushed these diseased either with side or shoulder, but have rather strowed their way into the pa.. lace with flowers, as you should.” (Ezek. xxxiv. 21.)
• We now behold the pilgrims applying to a church of Christ for the privilege of holding transient communion with then., in the ordinances of God's house, that they may enjoy those plea
The Piigrios are entertained by the Shopberdo.
So the feeble and weak went in, and Mr. Greatheart and the rest did follow. When they were all seated, the Shepherds said to those of the weaker sort, What is it that you would have? for, said they, all things must be managed here for the supporting of the weak, as well as the warning of the unruly. So they made them a feast of things easy of digestion, and that were pleasant io the palate, and nourish. ing; the which when they had received, they went to their rest, each one respectively unto his proper place.
When morning was come, because the mountains were high and the day clear, and because it was the custom of the Shepherds to shew the pilgrims before their departure some rarities, therefore, after they were ready, and bad refreshed themselves, the Shepherds took them out into the fields, and showed them first what they had showed to Christian before, a
oures and delights which are experienced by real christians in the public services of religion. The kind and affectionate manner in which the Shepherds welcomed trembling, halting, desponding, and fearing believers, is a lesson for pastors, teaching them how they should conduct themselves towards persons of weak minde and confused judgments, who are timid and hesitating respecting making a public profession of their faith in Christ. - Those christians who are already members of christian churches need no such encouragements and entreaties, but may with safety be left to exercise their own judgment, and either to have occasional communion with sister churches or not, according to their own wish. They are accordingly left at liberty, and are to decide for themselves. Those ministers who exercise the greatest affection towards weak and upright christians, are inost according to the description of paslors after God's own heart given in the scriptures of truth.
d In order that weak christians may be supported by the public niinistry, the inost plain and familiar representations should be given of the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ towards all who hope in his mercy. By feeding on these truths, they may, however feeble, find rest to their souls. But there are things taught by the gospel, here called “rarities," which, though high and mysterious, will yet, when clearly stated, prove the means of exciting christians to live by faith, and to cultivate wbatsoever things are lorely and of good report.
Tibe Shepherds shew ibem Mount Marvel.
Then they had them to some new places. The first was mount Marvel, where they looked, and beheld a man at a distance, who tumbled the hills about with words. Then they asked the Shepherds what that meant. Upon which they told them, that that man was the son of one Mr. Great-grace, of whom you read in the first part of the records of the Pil. grin's Progress ; and that he was set there to teach pilgrims how to believe down, or to tuinble out of their way by faith, whatever difficulties they should ineet with. (Mark. xi. 23, 24.). Then said Mr. Great heart, “I know him he is a man above many.''
Then they had them to another place, called mount Innocence. And there they saw a man clothed all in white; and two men, Prejudice and Ill-will continually casting dirt upon bim. Now behold, the dirt, whatsoever they cast at him, would in a little tiine fall off again, and his garment would look as clear as if no dirt had been cast thereat. Then said the pilgrims, “What means this?" The Shepherds auswered, “ This man is named Godly.man, and the garment is to show the innocency of his life. Now they that throw dirt at hiin, are such as bate his well-doing ; but, as you see that the dirt will not stick upon his clothes, so it shall be with him that
all in white. And there theher place, calles
e They who attend upon an evangelical ministry, will be led to see the danger of erroneous sentiments, and to act with great caution, lest they wander out of the way of understanding. They will also learn the marvellous use of faith, in enabling christians to remove mountains of difficulties, though it requires great grace to rise above the trials of the way. Our Lord has said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world," Jobn xvi. 33. Faith in him, if it be living faith, bowever small, will enable believers to persevere notwithstanding all the difficulties they may meet with.-Strong faith in the words of Christ will “believe down" inountains of afflictions, or “tumble them out of the christian's way." Note. It was the faith of miracles of which our Lord spake, Mark xi. 23, 24. Yet it is true, that faith, in the present age, though it will not perform iniracles, will remove difficulties resembling mountains
Tre Spenherds shew the Pilgrims
lives innocently in the world. Whoever they be that would make such men dirty, they labour in vain : for God, by that little time is spent, will cause that their innocence shall break forth as the light, and their righteousness as the noondav.''
Then they took them, and bad ihem to mount Charity, where they showed them a man that had a bundle of cloth lying before him, out of which he cut coats and garments for the poor that stood about him; yet his bundle or roll of cloth was never the less. Then said they, “ What should this be :” “ This is,” said the Shepherds, “ to show you, that he that has a heart to · give of his labour to the poor, shall never want wherewithal. He that watereth, shall be watered himself. And the cake that the widow gave to the prophet, did not cause that she had ever the less in her barrel.
" Many a godly man of blameless and upright conversation, bas been aspersed and defamed by prejudice and ill-will. Such maJignant persons generally act upon the maxim, “Throw a good deal of dirt, and some will be sure to stick.” Their hatred to well doing is the cause of their enmity. Because the brethren of Joseph hated him, they could not speak peaceably to him : and to the same malignant disposition the infamous reports which were raised against Mr. Bunyan, and which he has mentioned in his life, are to be traced. Evil reports may for a little time sully the reputation of even an innocent man, but it is only like dirt sticking to his clothes. It will not injure his character; for God will interfere by his providence, and will ultimately“ bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his judgment as the noonday," Psalm xxxvii. 6. The history of Joseph, with that of Mr. Bunyan, and of thousands besides, proves, that charges against a godly innocent man, arising from the prejudice, ill-will, and malice of his enemies, shall eventually turn out to his honour, and to their confusion.
& Charity exercised towards the poor and needy is well-pleasing to God, and will secure the blessing of his providence. “He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth to the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again," Prov. xix. 17. “ Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble," Psal. xli. I. God may suffer such public-minded christians to be brought into difficulties for the trial of their faith; but he will by his providence preserve them from want.
Mount-Charity and the By-way to Hell.
They had them also to a place where they saw one Fool, and one Want-wit, washing an Ethiopian, with an intention to make him white; but the more they washed him, the blacker he was. They then asked the Shepherds, what that meant. Upon which they told them, saying, Thus it is with the vile person ; all ineans used to get such an one a good name, shall in conclusion tend but to make himn more aboinina. ble. Thus it was with the Pharisees; and so it shall be with all hypocrites."
Then said Mercy, the wife of Matthew, to Chris. tiana her mother, " I would, if it might be, see the hole on the side of a hill, or that commonly called the byway to hell.” So her mother brake her mind to the Shepherds. Then they went to the door ; and opening it, bid Mercy hearken a wbile. So she hearkened, and heard one saying, “ Cursed be my father for holding my feet back from the way of peace and life." Another said, “Oh, that I had been torn in pieces, before I had, to save my life, lost my soul !” And another said, “If I were to live again, how would I deny myself rather than come to this place !" Then there was, as if the very earth groaned and quaked under the feet of this young woman for fear; so she looked white, and care trembling away, say.
There are many ways by which he can cause a small supply to prove sufficient for all necessary purposes. It is a good proverb; • None were ever the poorer on account of what they gave to the poor and distressed." The word of God confirms the truth of the principle, and the providence of God has given proof to those who have watched the operation of his hand, that they who have watered others have been watered also themselves.
# If men continue in a course of wickedness while members of a church of Christ, it is extreme folly to attempt to procure for them the reputation of virtue and holiness : “ for the vile person will speak villany," Isa. xxxii. 6. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the Icopard his spots," Jer. xiii. 23. All such endeavours wiii be like " trying,” as the proverb says, "to wash the biacis. Atvor white."