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may, with loving force, and out of pure regard to the salvation of souls, and pure compassion to those who are wandering from their Holy Mother Church, compel them to come in, that there may be one visible fold and one Shepherd.
Now had this been the case with the House Beautiful, there would have been guards posted, and prisons erected, all along the way, to arrest self-willed dissenters, and bring them back into the house, saying to them, You are not permitted to be on the way to heaven, unless you go through the House Beautiful. There you must pay tithes, for it costs the servants of the Lord of the way a great deal to keep up this Establishment, and
you, under pretence of being a dissenter and yet a Christian, are not to be suffered to pass without paying toll at this Establishment. This would be the House Shameful and not the House Beautiful. It would be the house of pride, ambition, arrogance and persecution; and not the house of love. But blessed be God, there is no such house on the way of our pilgrimage. They arrested John Bunyan and threw him into prison, because he chose not to enter that house, but to worship with God's people among the Baptists.
The communion of saints was sweetly depicted, than in Christian's sojourning in the House Beautiful. But he staid not there for pleasure ; that was not the end of his journey, nor the object of it; nor did he there, as in the Arbor, use for an indulgence to the flesh what was meant for the encouragement and refreshment of the spirit. He was up by day-break singing and
praying, and then they had him into the study, to show him the rarities of the place; and the next day into the armory, to show him all manner of warlike furniture, which the Lord of the way had provided for pilgrims, where also he was made to see ancient things, which, if Bunyan could be here to interpret, he would doubtless tell us were intended to symbolize that divine grace by which the servants of the Lord have done so many wonderful things, that grace which, though to the world and the Goliahs in it, it looks as foolish as David's sling and pebble stones against a giant in full armor, is yet stronger than death, and shall overcome every thing; for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. And the liext day they showed him from the top of the house a far off view of the Delectable Mountains, Immanuel's land, woods, vineyards, fruits, flowers, springs and fountains, where from the mountain summits they told him he should see the gate of the Celestial City. Faith, said they to Christian, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; and the afflictions you meet with by the way will be but light things to you, if you keep the glories of heaven in your mind's eye, and the thoughts of what you are to meet with there warm in your heart.
I love, by faith, to take a view
Of brighter things in heaven;
When here by tempests driven.
This view Christian could enjoy with increasing
clearness, and found more and more the blessedness of it, the nearer he came to the Celestial City. For God, he could say,
For God has breathed upon a worm,
And given me from above,
The wings of joy and love.
And there delighted stand,
The spacious, promised land.
Has promised it to me,
As far as faith can see.
So when they had had much pleasant and profitable discourse with him, as Christian was eager to go on, they would detain him no longer, but had him again into the armory, where they clothed him from head to foot in the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out, according to faithful Paul's directions. “ Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, , take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall
be able to quench the fiery darts of the Wicked One ; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always and watching with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
So, in accordance with these directions, they harnessed Christian, and sent him away armed. But indeed, he needed all his armor, for the hour of danger was near. Great helps from the Lord, great and sweet experiences of grace, are ordinarily granted when God has some great trial for his people to pass through; so, when the Christian has been enjoying much sacred communion with Christ, and had much of the glory of God shining into his heart in the face of Jesus, he should say to himself, Now must I be watchful; this is not merely for my comfort, but to prepare me for what is to come, for labors and for conflicts, and if I be not wary, my very spiritual enjoyments will put me off my guard, and make me proud or self-indulgent. Now must I keep in my hand the weapon of ALL PRAYER. So was Christian in need, for Apollyon was near.
And first, he had to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, and this itself was hard and dangerous work, for the House Beautiful stood on a mount, as it were, even above the Hill Difficulty, and the humbling of the soul before God is as hard a work as climbing that hill. So Discretion, Piety, Prudence, and Charity, all must needs accompany Christian down into that Valley; he had need of them all, and of their sweet discourses by the way; and by their help, going warily, he got
down to the bottom of the hill. Here, therefore, kindly giving him refreshments for the way, they bade him God speed, and he went on.
On very many accounts, this going down into the Valley of Humiliation is extremely difficult; and few indeed there be, who do not, like Christian, get some slips by the way. Satan here also hath an advantage in representing that in going down so low, we are going out of the way of influence and usefulness. He tells us that great designs for God cannot be accomplished in the Valley, and he makes it appear as if we were going into darkness, or out of the world. He tells us that such a light as ours ought to be set on a very tall candlestick; and he sets that bold fellow Shame to work upon us, as upon Faithful, and sometimes to go with us quite through the Valley. And if he succeeds in creating an inward discontent and repining in Christian, then, a little further on, he is very likely to bestride the path as Apollyon, brandishing his flaming darts. So, in going down into this valley, a man must say within himself, What have I to do with dictating? It is God who knows what is best, and not I. He knows what is best for me, and what is most for his own glory. If I be submissive to him, he will make what use of me he can; and though I may miss my purpose, he will be sure not to miss his ; and what more can I ask or wish for? My business now is sub
But that thou art my wisdom, Lord,
And both mine eyes are thine,
For missing my design