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dungeon of Giant Despair's Castle, was in this condition, and he must then have remembered this picture of the man in the iron cage with fearful vividness and keenness. The full sight and sense of any man's sins, without the sight and sense of a Saviour's mercy at the same time, would be sufficient to cast the soul at any time into utter despair ; and we are inclined to think that Bunyan had in his memory, at the time of writing this description, that book, which had so powerful an effect once upon his own mind, the despairing death of Francis Spira, the apostate, and especially that sentence, Man knows the beginning of sin, but who can bound the issues thereof? And Bunyan intended not to represent this man as actually beyond the reach of mercy, but to show the dreadful consequences of departing from God, and of being abandoned of him to the misery of unbelief and despair.
So Christian, as the Interpreter bade him, accosted the man. Is there no hope, said he, but you must be kept in the Iron Cage of Despair ? No, none at all, said the man. Why, said Christian, the Son of the Blessed is very merciful. Then said the man, I have crucified him to myself afresh; I have despised his person ; I have despised his righteousness; I have counted his blood an unholy thing ; I have done despite to the Spirit of Grace; therefore I shut myself out of all the promises ; and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, faithful threatenings, of certain judgments and fiery indignation, which shall devour me as an adversary.
For what did you bring yourself into this condition! asked Christian. For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world, in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight; but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me like a burning worm.
But canst thou not now repent and turn? asked Christian. The man persevered in his gloomy awful answer. It is indeed, a picture to the life, of a soul in incurable despair. God hath denied me repentance. His Word gives me no encouragement to believe. Yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage, nor can all the men in the world let me out. O Eernity! Eternity! How shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity!
Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Let this man's misery be remembered by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee. Well, said Christian, this is fearful ! God help me to watch and be sober, and to pray that I may shun the cause of this man's misery. This was indeed a fearful lesson. The sight of this man in the iron cage was likely to remain with Christian at least as long as the preceding sight of the venturous man cutting his way to eternal glory. And the one sight is judged as important by the holy Spirit as the other. This, after all, is nothing more than the reality must be, supposing a soul in the case described by Paul, For it is impossible for those once enlightened, &c., if they. shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. Wo unto them, says God, when I depart from them. There is no stoicism or phi
losophy can stand against God's departure. There is no harm can happen to a man, who has God for his friend; but there is no good can happen to a man abandoned of God. When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble ? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him ! whether it be done against a nation or against a man only.
Sir, said Christian, is it not time for me to be on my way now! The Interpreter would have him tarry to see one thing more. So he took him by the hand, and led him into a chamber, where there was one rising out of bed ; and as he put on his raiment he shook and trembled. This night, said he, as I was in my sleep, I dreamed, and behold the heavens grew exceeding black; also, it thundered and lightened in most fearful wise, that it put me into an agony. So I looked
my dream, and saw the clouds rack at an unusual rate; upon which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a man sitting upon a cloud, attended with ten thousands of heaven. They were all in flaming fire ; also, the heavens were on a burning flame. I heard then a great voice, saying, “ Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment !” and with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth, some of them were exceeding glad, and looked upward ; and some sought to hide themselves under the mountains. Then I saw the Man that sat upon the cloud open
the book, and bid the world draw near; yet, there was, by reason of a fierce flame which issued out, and came before him, a convenient distance
betwixt him and them, as betwixt the judge and the prisoners at the bar. I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended on the Man that sat on the cloud, “ Gather together the tares, the chaff, and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake ;" and with that the bottomless pit opened just whereabout I stood; out of the mouth of which there came, in an abundant manner, smoke and coals of fire, with hideous noises. It was also said to the same persons, “ Gather my wheat into the garner.” And with that I saw many catched up and carried away into the clouds ; but I was left behind. I also sought to hide myself, but I could not; for the Man that sat upon the cloud still kept his eye upon me. My sins also came into my mind, and my conscience did accuse me on
In this terrific dream, what terrified the Dreamer was the thought that the Day of Judgment had come, and that he was not ready for it ; and also that the angels gathered up some for glory close by his side, but left him ; and also that the pit of hell there opened where he stood ; while conscience roused up and tormented him, and the Judge, with indignation in his countenance, always had his eye upon him.
This dream, so sublimely told, with such severe faithfulness to Scripture, there being no image in it but such as you may find in the Bible, was the recurrence of Bunyan's own early experience, chastened by Divine Truth. One of Bunyan's biographers has given us the record of some of his actual early dreams in such language as carries
the stamp of Bunyan's own imagination upon it, and shows that the imagery in the Pilgrim's Progress was the combination anew, with a ripened art and wisdom, of realities which his own soul had experienced. Once he dreamed he saw the face of the heavens as it were all on fire, the firmament crackling and shivering as it were with the noise of mighty thunders, and an archangel flew in the midst of heaven, sounding a trumpet, and a glorious throne was seated on the east, whereon sat one in brightness like the morning star, upon which he, thinking it was the end of the world, fell upon his knees, and with uplifted hands towards heaven, cried, O Lord God, have mercy
What shall I do? the day of judgment is come, and I am not prepared! Then he immediately heard a voice behind him, exceeding loud, saying, REPENT. Whereupon he awoke, and found it was a dream. Another time he dreamed that he was in a pleasant place, jovial and rioting, banqueting and feasting his senses, when immediately a mighty earthquake rent the earth, and made a wide gape, out of which came bloody flames, and the figures of men tossed up in globes of fire, and falling down again with horrible cries, shrieks and execrations, while some devils that were mingled with them laughed aloud at their torments; and whilst he stood trembling at this sight, he thought the earth sank under him, and a circle of flame enclosed him ; but when he fancied he was just at the point to perish, one in white shining raiment descended, and plucked him out of that dreadful place, while the devils cried after