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science was too tender, and his sense of divine things too vivid ; and so the sorrows of death compassed him, and the pains of hell gat hold upon him; he found trouble and sorrow; and back did he go, weeping and looking for his roll, and crying, O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul.
Now God sees all this in his children, and permits them to endure this distress, that they may gain a lesson from it, which will last them as long as they live. But he knows what he does unto them, and just what they need. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my way. And just so, when Christian had well nigh given up in despair, and was sitting himself down to weep, disconsolate and broken-hearted, as kind Providence would have it, looking through his tears beneath the settle, there he espied the roll, and with what trembling, eager haste did he catch it up and secure it again in his bosom! Oh, who can tell how joyful he was when he had gotten his roll again! And now returning thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, (and ever should the Christian who has been wandering from God, and so has gotten into darkness, be thankful for the least ray of returning light, and ever will he, for no deliverance is so grateful to the soul as that,) Christian did with joy and tears betake himself again to his journey. But he had lost a great deal of time, and it was now growing dark, and now he began again to think of what Mistrust and Timorous had told him about the lions, a thing which his misery in the loss of his roll had driven at first from his mind, just as great griefs medicine
the less. Now, said Christian to himself, these beasts range abroad in the night for their if I should meet them in the dark, how should I escape being torn in pieces?
So he went on, troubling himself greatly with these thoughts, when suddenly there rose before him like a dream a very stately palace, close by the highway side, which being within the walls of salvation, and directly where he must pass by, he knew to belong to the Lord of the way, and therefore to the Pilgrims ; or at any rate that the Pilgrims would there be welcome. Now if he might get to that palace, and be lodged there, he would care little for the lions ; but as he went forward towards the narrow passage which led up to the gate, being very closely on the watch to see the lions of Mistrust and Timorous' description, there they were, sure enough, grim and terrible; and now he thought of going back, but the porter cried out to him, reproving him for his want of strength and faith, and telling him that the lions were chained, and were suffered to be there to try the faith of pilgrims, if they 'had it, and to discover if they had
With this was Christian greatly encouraged; but with all this he went trembling and afraid, and keeping to the middle of the path ; and though he heard the lions roar on him, yet they did him no harm, and when he got passed them he clapped his hands, and made haste up to the porter at the entrance to the Palace Beautiful. May I lodge here to-night ? said he. So he was told that the Lord of the Hill himself had built this house for the relief and security of pilgrims. The
porter asked Christian several questions, as who he was, and where from, and what was his name, and whither he was going, and why he came so late, all which interrogatories Christian ingenuously answered, especially the last, confessing his sinful, sorrowful sleep.
There are some important lessons to be learned from this Hill Difficulty, as first, the folly of thinking to gain heaven without trouble and self-denial. In nothing else in this world do men ever act on this principle. If there be any great thing to be gained in this life, all men are sure that it is going to cost great effort, and they are ready to make such effort ; nor is it a light thing that will turn them aside. They will go up a Hill Difficulty, without drinking at any spring but that of their own sanguine expectation, and without deigning to rest in any arbor by the way, much more without losing time by sleeping in it. And if there be lions in the way, they will go at them at once ; yea, if a loaded cannon stood in their path, and a bag of gold beyond it, or the cup of sinful pleasure, they would go on.
If there be mountains which they cannot overtop, they will dig through them; and they will suffer days of weariness and nights of pain, they will make long pilgrimages, will expatriate themselves for years, and suffer banishment from families, friends, firesides, into strange lands, will cross oceans, and encounter perils of every name and shape, to accomplish and realize the object of their earthly ambition ; and after all, what is it? A dream, a straw, a bauble, a flake of foam on the surface of a river. They pluck it, it
gone, and they are gone with it. While they snatch at it they pass into eternity, and death finishes their plans forever.
But even the poor things they seek for in this life, they do not expect to gain without labor. And shall we expect to gain heaven without labor ? Is not heaven worth laboring after? And is it not the part of wisdom so to run not as uncertainly, so to fight, not as one that beateth the air ? Now we ought soberly to say, I expect difficulties, and I mean, by God's grace, not to be discouraged when I meet with them. They are, in truth, the very means which God must use for my discipline. It is only by meeting and overcoming them that I can be fitted for heaven. And as to the dangers in the way, the best way of safety from them is to come up boldly to them. If we stand afar off and tremble, they seem much greater than they are. If we march strait on, confiding in Christ, we always find that the lions are chained, and can only roar at us, and do no harm. At all events, it is better to go forward than backward. Be not like Mistrust and Timorous. It is more dangerous to run down the Hill Difficulty than to clamber up. And he that putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven.
We see here, likewise, the repetition of that lesson that nothing is so hard to bear as a wounded conscience, a mind not at peace with God, There is nothing so hard for the Christian to bear as that; and when the light of God's countenance is hidden from him by reason of sin, be you sure that there is not a creature in the world so misera
ble as he. But if sin and conscience can make him so miserable, who has only fallen for a season into its power, as Christian did in the arbor, and who has a Saviour to go to, and will go to him, and stay at the foot of the cross even amidst the darkness, what work must it make in that man's soul who never asked forgiveness, never went to Christ-what work will it make, when sin and conscience, long hidden, concealed, sleeping, are developed, roused up and busy in the soul? Oh, if the fire that is thus kindled begins to be noticed first, not until the soul enters on the eternal world, then it will never go out.
So beware how you have conscience for an enemy.
O Conscience! who can stand before thy power?
Call for the pleasant timbrel, lute, and harp: