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it is slow work. Every thing within and without seems to be against us. We wait upon the Lord, but the heart is still heavy, the air seems heavy, and we do not mount up on wings as eagles, and though we walk we are weary, and we faint if we run. Many a Christian
Christian is climbing the Hill Difficulty when you cannot see his troubles.
But the Lord does not forget to be gracious. About midway of the Hill there was a pleasant arbor, for the refreshment of weary travellers, where Christian with thankfulness sat down to rest him. And now he began to look over his evidences, and to regard with great comfort and delight the garment that the Shining Ones had given him, so that he almost forgot that he was to go any farther, or that there was any more work for him to do. He forgot the exhortation to grow in
grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, and to press forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ; and he was so well satisfied with himself, his roll, his robe, his acceptance with God, that while he was resting, the spirit of slumber came over him, and what at first he intended should only be a moment's nap, like a man asleep during sermon time in church, became a thorough deep sleep, which endured even till the twilight ; and in this sleep, Christian's roll fell out of his hand. Ah, if the great adversary had been there, ill would it have fared then with poor Christian. He is fast asleep, and his roll has fallen, and the night is coming, and he is only half way up the hill, and still he sleeps on. He that sleeps is a loser, says
Bunyan in the margin ; that arbor was never designed to sleep in, but to rest in. But there is One who watches over him, who will not leave him, who helpeth our infirmities. This gracious Being whispered in his ear, Go to the ant, thou sluggard ; consider her ways and be wise! Ay, that was a timely awakening and warning-so great is the Holy Spirit's faithfulness and mercy, even when we lose ourselves in slumber.
Christian could now say, in that very striking verse of Watts, which those who have such a passion for altering our familiar hymns to make them correspond to their self-constituted musical judgment, have dephlogisticated in the hymn-book :
The little ants, for one poor grain,
Labor, and tug, and strive;
How negligent we live!
Awakened thus by the Spirit of God, Christian started up, and ran as fast as he could, not yet knowing that he had lost his roll, till he came to the top of the hill. We sometimes fall into a state through our own heedlessness, in which assurance is gone, and the way is prepared for great gloom and anguish, if circumstances of trial come on. And yet we may run well, even without our roll, so long as there is nothing special to alarm
Poor Christian had to endure a great deal of sorrow by that indulgence in sleep. As he was running on, Timorous and Mistrust met him, running full of terror the other way. What is the matter, said Christian, you run the wrong way
? Why, said Timorous and Mistrust, the farther we
go, the more danger we meet; we had but just conquered the Hill Difficulty, when just before us we discovered two lions in the way; so we turned, and are hurrying back as fast as possible. With that they ran down the hill.
Now was Christian himself greatly afraid, for there is nothing so takes away the courage as the consciousness of guilt ; and Christian, on feeling for his roll, that he might have that to comfort and sustain him amidst these dangers, found that he
had lost it. And now what should he do? What • had become of it? Examining himself on this
point, he remembered that he had slept in the arbor, and then at once falling on his knees, he asked of God forgiveness for that foolish sleep, and then with great heaviness and sorrow of heart went back to look for his roll. Thus, when the Holy Spirit brings to mind the sins of the Christian, as he is asking himself why he has so little heavenly evidence, there is no way for him to do but to seek forgiveness, confessing his guilt. But it is a fearful thing, when the night comes on, when danger and perhaps death are drawing near, and you need all the comfort, consolation and support that you can possibly derive from a good hope in Christ, to find that that hope is gone from the soul, to find darkness where there ought to be light.
It is not to be doubted that Bunyan was writing this experience of Christian out of his own heart; it is almost the counterpart of his own inward trials about the time of his commitment to prison, when you will remember there was great gloom upon his soul, and the things of God were hidden from him,
and neither sun nor stars appeared for many days. Then there were dreadful lions in the way, nor could he see that they were chained ; then he felt afraid to die, because he had no spiritual comfort. Bunyan resolved to die for Christ, whether cornfort came or not, whether he found his roll or did not find it. But Christian could not go on without his roll. Oh how did he chide himself for being so foolish as to fall asleep in that place, which was erected only for a little refreshment of his weari
When he came back to the arbor, the very sight of it renewed his sorrow and shame for that foolish sleep in the day-time and in the midst of difficulty ; that he should have used that arbor of rest for ease to the flesh, which the Lord of the hill had erected only for the relief of the spirits of the Pilgrims. Alas, cried he, that I should have to tread those steps with sorrow, and thrice over, which I might have trodden but once, and with delight? This is what Christians are often doing, and this evil is certainly a great one, of using for indulgence and ease to the flesh what God has given us to minister to the advancement of our spirits. We are not anxious enough to be making progress towards heaven ; we are too fond of comfort, and too averse from labor.
Oh, said Christian, that I had not slept ! Oh that God would have mercy on me! And now the fifty-first Psalm came into his mind, and he cried out with David, Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit ; then will I teach trans
gressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee. But oh, thought Christian, without my roll I can never have the heart to speak to another person as long as I live. What shall I do? what shall I do! He knew now that it was an evil and bitter thing to depart from the living God; yea, this experience was as dreadful to him as that under Mount Sinai. Yea, says Doddridge, in his Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, the anguish of broken bones is not to be compared with the wretchedness of a soul that has departed from God, when it comes to be filled with its own way. Oh that God would have mercy upon me, said Christian. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!
Oh that I knew where I might find him, said Christian. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him. This must always be the case, when a child of God departs from God; and if it be not so, then there is great reason to believe that the person so wandering, and yet not troubled on account of it, is not a child of God. If Christian had said within himself, when he found his roll was missing, Well, it is not essential, or I shall find it again by and by, and so had gone on, indifferent and easy, it had been enough to show that either he was not Christian, or that much sorer evil awaited him, and sharper discipline to bring him to repentance. But he could not go on in this manner, his con