Gambar halaman

him to be left with them, to take the just punishment his sins had desired; yet he escaped the danger, and leaped for joy, when he awoke, and found it was a dream.

Now in these dreams of Bunyan's own soul you may see clearly the materials, afterwards put more visibly into the symmetrical mould of Scripture imagery, of that grand and awful Dream of the Judgment, which the Man related to Christian in the House of the Interpreter. Almost all men have at times passed through something of the same experience ; for conscience is often busy in the night-time, when the external business of the day prevented her work and claims from being attended to. We go about the world in the day time, we see pleasant companions, we are absorbed in earthly schemes, the things of sense are around us, the world is as bright as a rainbow, and it bears for us no marks or predictions of the judgment, or of our sins, and it holds no conversation with us on those subjects, and conscience is retired, as it were, within a far inner circle of the soul. But when it comes night, and the streets are empty, and the lights are out, and the business and dancing and gayety are over, and the pall of sleep is drawn over the senses, and reason and the will are no longer on the watch, then conscience comes out solemnly, and walks about in the silent chambers of the soul, and makes her survey and her comments, and sometimes sits down and sternly reads the record of a life that the waking man would never look into, and the catalogue of crimes that are gathering for the judgment. And as conscience

reads, and reads aloud, and soliloquizes, you may hear the still deep echo of her voice reverberated through the soul's most secret unveiled recesses. Imagination walks tremblingly behind her, and now they two alone pass though the open gate of the Scriptures into the future and eternal world; for thither all things in man's being naturally and irresistibly tend ; and there, as conscience is still dwelling upon sin, imagination draws the judgment, and the soul is presented at the bar of God, and the eye of the Judge is on it, and a hand of fire writes, as on the wall of the universe, Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting! Then, whatever sinful thoughts or passions, words or deeds, the conscience enumerates and dwells upon, the imagination with prophetic truth fills eternity with corresponding shapes of evil. Our dreams sometimes reveal our character, our sins, our destinies, far more clearly than our waking thoughts; for whereas by day the energies of our being are turned into artificial channels, by night our thoughts follow the bent that is most natural to them; and as man is both an immortal and a sinful being, the consequences both of his immortality and his sinfulness will sometimes be made to stand out in overpowering light, when the busy pursuits of day and of the world are not able to turn the soul from wandering towards eternity.

A morning is coming, when we shall all awake out of the sleep of this world, but the Dream of the Judgment will then be no longer a dream. The friendly warning of the dream will have passed forever, to give place to the reality. The thrones will be set,

the dead will be raised, and we shall be judged; the Great White Throne, and Him that sitteth thereon, and all nations gathered before him!

Oh to be ready, ready for that Day!
Who would not give earth's fairest toys away!

gird up

So thought Christian, when in mingled hope and fear on account of what he had seen, he began to

his loins, and to address hiniself to his journey. The Comforter be always with thee, said the Interpreter, to guide thee in the way that leads to the city! So he went musing on his way, grateful to the good Interpreter, meditating on what he had seen, drawing out the lessons, and soliloquizing over them, and praying for Divine Grace to make them profitable. In truth, the things which he had seen were some of the most precious fruits of Bunyan's sanctified genius and deep religious experience. Whoever has read Bunyan's Divine Emblems for Youth, will see at once the same hand that placed these varieties for his Pilgrim's instruction in the House of the Interpreter. Bunyan might have added to them in verses wrought with the art of a true poet, had it pleased him so to exercise his skill.

It is difficult to overstate the importance for the mind in childhood of a book that contains such pictures at once so alluring, so solemn and instructive. We speak from experience, and from what we have heard others describe of its effect

upon their minds in early yonth, when we suggest the importance of children early reading the Pilgrim's Progress. It never seems so beautiful, so fasci

nating a book, to those who read it first in later. life, as to those who, having read it in childhood, when its power over the imagination is unbounded, read it afterwards with a grave perception and understanding of its meaning. It becomes a series of holy pictures engraven on the soul in its early, simple, childlike state, and though these pictures may be afterwards covered with sin, yet some time or other their covering may be swept off, and then out shine the pictures, in all their freshness and beauty. And what is true of the Pilgrim's Progress is much more true of the Bible. Where such early impressions are made upon the mind, it would seem as if Satan works hard to destroy them ; he takes the tablet, and rubs out the inscription, just as the monks of old used to erase the classics, and write over them on the same parchment their own absurd legends ; but God can restore the original inscriptions, and can utterly efface the writing of the Wicked One. And sometimes the original Builder of the mind is pleased to write his own name so deep there, that though it may be covered with depravity, in which Satan afterwards engraves his, and thinks it is written in the solid rock, yet God has a previous writing, and the Holy Spirit, in a season of trouble and conviction upon the sinner, can break away that covering of depravity, and Satan's name along with it, and there shall be God's name shining, and the whole temple of the mind shall be God's Living Temple. See that you write God's name upon your children's minds; and in order to do this, you must use the graving tools, which God himself has given you,

the diamond pen of the Word of God, sharper to write with, and to cut with, than any two-edged sword, and always successful, when used with faith and prayer.

Refreshed and instructed in the House of the Interpreter, Christian sets forward on his journey. His burden is still wearisome, and some of the sights which he has seen, tend to make him feel it more sensibly, and to long for deliverance. Though the highway was fenced in on either side with the wall of Salvation, yet, as the way was ascending, Christian ran with great difficulty, because of the load on his back. But now he was near his deliverance, which indeed the instructions of the Holy Spirit had prepared him to experience and receive as a reality, a lasting, commanding reality, and not a mistaken, transitory, superficial joy. There is not a more important lesson taught in this book, than that growth in grace is not to be measured by sensible comfort, that joy is not to be sought as a test or proof of grace, and that a person may be in Christ, and yet a deep sense of the burden of sin may long remain upon the soul. The teachings of the Holy Spirit are needed, and new discoveries of the plan of salvation through Christ, and only in proportion as the soul sees clearly Christ and his Cross, and is filled and absorbed with the Saviour, does the burden of sin disappear, and the happiness of the soul become deep and lasting. All the direct efforts of Christian to get rid of his burden were of no avail, nor was it till he had the fullest view of the Cross, not till that salvation com

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »