Gambar halaman

The Pilgrims meet with Spiritual-Man.

they guessed he was no ordinary man; as certain wise men ob. served, “By a man's gait you may know what he is.” So when they came up to him, they saluted him courteously, and he returned their salutation with an air that discovered the tranquillity and peace of his soul.

Then Tender-Conscience said to him, Sir, if a stranger may take the liberty to ask you a question, I entreat you to tell me whether your name be not Spiritual-Man, for I think I have seen you before, and was told that you were called by that name?

SPIRITUAL. Yes, said Spiritual-Man, I am the same you take me for; and though your knowledge of me be but as yet imperfect, yet I very well know you and all your company, and am glad to see you so far on your journey towards the heavenly City, whither we are all going.

TENDER. I do not wonder that you know me, and my fel. low travellers here with me, for I have heard a very learned and holy man, one Paul the apostle, say, That you know all things, and judge all things, 1 Cor. ii. 15; and therefore I am very glad that we are so happy as to overtake you on the road : I hope we shall have your good company to our journey's epd.

SPIRITUAL. With a very good will; for it is my delight to keep company with those who set their faces Sion-ward, and are going thither, as I perceive you are at this time. But I spy a young man in your company, who, I doubt, will not be able to go through this tedious journey, but will either faint by the way or turn aside with the Flatterer, or take up his abode at Vanity Fair. Then turning aside to Yielding, he said unto him, Young man, you are the man I mean: do you think you shall be able to hold out to the heavenly Jerusalem ?

YIELDING. I make no doubt of it, Sir, for I find myself in good health, and as able to foot it as any of the company.

Then they went on together till they came to a great wilder. ness, where were several paths leading divers ways: so that had

it not been for Spiritual-Man (who alone knew the right way) · they had wandered no doubt into some dangerous path or other,

and either been devoured by wild beasts, or taken prisoners by some cruel giants, whose castles stood in the remote corners of this wilderness.

This made them all shew a great deal of respect and obedi. ence to Spiritual-Man, and esteem him as their guide and pa tron: so tiey went along together till they came to a place where was an altar built, and there was incense burning there. on, and the sinell of the incense was very fragrant, refreshing

Conversation of the Pilgrims

the spirits of the pilgrims.-- Then Spiritual-Man spake to this effect : My brethren, you must know, that this wilderness is much haur ted with wild beasts, as also by thieves and murderers, spirie and hobgoblins, which oftentimes assault poor pilgrims in the night time, and sometimes by day: now, had we taken any other path, we had been in danger of falling into their clutches; but now I hope there is no danger, if you will follow my counsel.

TENDER. We will readily obey thee in all things, for we see that thou art a man of God, and hast the mind of Christ: tell us therefore what we should do to be safe from the dangers that threaten us in this place.

SPIRITUAL. You see this altar of incence here perpetually smoking, and sending up clouds of sweet-smelling savour to heaven. Now the smoke of this incense keeps off all spirits and hobgoblins, and the fire upon the altar keeps off all wild beasts. If then you would be free from the danger of wild beasts, let every man take a coal from the altar, and carry it along with him; and if he would likewise be free from the spirits and hobgoblins, let him take the incense that is in the treasury of the altar, and carry it along with him, and as he travels through the wilderness, let him often kindle a fire with a coal from the altar, and burn incense thereon, so shall he be protected from all evil. Let him awaken the spirit of prayer, and kindle true devotion in himself by making good use of the grace of God; for the heart of a devout man, and one that fears God, is an altar of incense, always sending up holy ejaculations, which are a sweet savour or perfume before God: such a man attracts the Divine blessing and protection.

TENDER. But how shall a man pray? In form, or without? With words, or in silence ?

SPIRITUAL. That you may be the better satisfied in this point, you ought to consider, that prayer is the soul's discourse or conversation with God. Now seeing that God knoweth all things, and discerneth the secret thoughts of our hearts, it is a thing indifferent, in private prayer, whether we use words or no; for the soul may discourse and converse with God as well in silence as with words, nay, better sometimes, because silence preserves her attention, and prevents wandering thoughts: whereas, when the soul is occupied in verbal prayer, it ofted proves little better than lip service; as God complained of old, “ This people serve me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me:" but, however, this silent or mental prayer is a gilt which all men are not capable of. Some have not that recollec

respecting extempore Prayer.


tion of spirit, that composedness of mind, as to pray in this manner, and it is convenient that such men should use words: but whether they use a set form or no in private, is not material, only let me give this seasonable caution, that those who use extemporary prayer, be careful of committing any indecency, by uttering improper expressions, vain repetitions, or using too many words, which must needs be offensive to the Divine Majesty, who knows our necessities before we declare them, and only requires a humble and fervent application of our hearts to him for what we stand in need of. All the fine words in the world without this, all the rhetorical flourishes, the elegant cadences, and the softest periods, without this, are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal in the ears of God; and therefore good was the advice of Solomon, “When thou comest into the house of God, let thy words be few, and be more ready to hear, than to offer the sacrifice of fools ;” intimating hereby, that multiplicity of words in prayer is but the sacrifice of fools: and a greater man than Solomon has said,

« When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathens do; for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking : be ye

not therefore like unto them, for your father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him,” Matt. vi. 7, 8.

And therefore the form of prayer which Christ here prescribed them as a pattern, was very short, but comprehensive, including in less than a hundred words all the several parts of prayer, as thanksgiving, petition, oblation, intercession, &c. And this, no doubt, he prescribed for a pattern to others, that all who call

may do it in reverence and godly modesty, using but few words, and those pithy, significant, comprehensive, and full, proper and becoming the Majesty we address ourselves unto.

TENDER. You have given me great satisfaction as to this matter, which has often disturbed my mind, and kept me at too remote a distance from God, not knowing certainly how to pray acceptably: but now I am convinced that God requires chiefly the heart; for it is but reason that he who is a spirit, and the purest of all spirits, should be served in spirit and in truth; which cannot be done where the heart goes not along with the lips; and if it does, then it matters not whether it be in a set form of words or no; the fervency and attention of the mind, the regularity of the actions, and the lawfulness of our petitions, being the chief things regarded by the sovereign Majesty of heaven,

SEEK. How happy am I that I fell into such good company! I have been long a searching and inquiring into the nature and

upon God

The Pilgrims discourse respecting extemporary Prayer.

obligation of Christian duties, and particularly this of prayer, which puzzles a great many good well-meaning people; but I never met with so much comfort and satisfaction as now I have found in your discourse.

WEARY. I approve of what has been said concerning prayer; for I find so many defects in the best of my devotions, that I have no heart to venture on vocal prayer at sometimes; for if I should, my heart would afterwards check me with putting an affront on God, wbile, in the midst of passionate words and devout expressions, my thoughts were employed quite another way; while my tongue chattered like a magpie to God, my heart was upon the devil's ramble, starting a thousand vain and foolish thoughts, amidst the most serious and religious, the most fervent and pious words in the world. I know not how it fares with other people, or what advantages they may find; but for my own part, so long as I carry flesh and blood about me, I cannot presume to be free from distractions, alienation of mind, coldness, indifference, and impertinent suggestions, even in the calmest minutes, the most recollected seasons, and the severest application of my mind to the duty I am engaged in: much less can I hope for an immunity from such failings, when I give the reins to my tongue, and suffer my lips to prate over a multitude of formal words; for then I find it fall out to me, as I have heard say it does to musicians, who, by long accus. toming themselves to play on any instrument, at length get such a habit, that they can run over their farniliar lunes without minding or giving attention to what they are doing. Not that I hereby condemn the use of vocal prayer, for without doubt it is expedient for some people, and in a manner necessary in the public worship of God, where many people are to join together in offering up the same petitions, thanksgivings, intercessions, &c. which cannot be perforined without a form of words, which are the only proper means of conveying our conceptions and thoughts one to another, and consequently making each other sensible of what we all pray for. In short, my judgment is, that it is all one, in respect of God's hearing us, whether we use words or not, in public or in private: but for the sake of human necessities, words are necessary in pub. lic, and a fervent attention of mind is absolutely required, both in public and private, as the only efficacious means to render our prayers acceptable to the Divine Majesty.

Then I heard in my dream, that as they walked along the wilderness, the wild beasts roared, and sent forth hideous noises, which put some of them into no small disorder and con.

The Pilgrims pass though the Town of Vanity.

for ever.

sternation; but the rest who had more courage heartened them on. So at last they got out of the wilderness, and came in the sight of the town of Vanity, where Faithful was put to death for his testimony to the truth. Now the town was very magnificent and stately to the eye, full of temples and other public structures, whose lofty towers, being adorned with gold and other costly embellishments, made a glittering show in the sun shine ; likewise, it was exceeding large and populous, so that there was a perpetual noise to be heard at a distance like the roaring of the sea, because of the multitude of people that were in it, and the chariots and the horses that were always running up and down the streets; which made poor Yielding think it was the city whither they were all going. He was so taken with the glorious figure this town made, that he could hardly contain himself from running thither before the rest of the company; which when Spiritual-Man perceived, he said,

SPIRITUAL. Young man, mistake not this place, for it is not the heavenly City, as you imagine, but a mere counterfeit: it is Babylon, the town of Confusion and Vanity: though our way lies through it, yet we are not to take up our rest there : we may abide a while, but we must not think of settling there

YIELDING. Sir, I thought by the description that had been given me of the heavenly Jerusalem, that this had been the very place indeed; but now you have satisfied me to the con. trary.

So the pilgrims went forward, and entered into the town; but they met with a great many affronts and injuries by the way, by reason of the strange dress that they were in, and be. cause they had not the mark of the beast in their foreheadw nor in their hands, as all the inhabitants of the town hade therefore the boys hooted and hallooed at them, and gathered a rabble about them; nay some of the graver sort threw dirt upon them as they went by their doors; they mocked and derided them, they fastened all manner of slanders and reproaches upon them, and very few there were in all that place that shewed any compassion or common civility to them. But this did not dishearten any of them, saving the young man to whom Spiritual-Man spoke last, whose name was Yielding: he in. deed, being discouraged by the inhospitable humour and carriage of the townsmen towards his companions, and being strongly invited by a very courteous-spoken man to leave tha giddy-brained company of fools (for so he termed the pilgrims) and come and dwell with him, and he should find all things to

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »