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Were it not better to bestow
Some place and power on me ?
And share in my degree.
But when I thus dispute and grieve,
I do resume my sight;
Disseize thee of thy right.
How know I, if thou shouldst me raise,
That I should then raise thee?
Do not so well agree.
Wherefore unto my gift I stand ;
I will no more advise :
This is all we need,—the Lord's guidance ; then like little children to follow him, whether it be up the Hill Difficulty, or through the Valley of Humiliation. If it be he who raises us high, he also will keep us from falling ; if it be he who lays us low, then we have no business to murmur, but simply to say to ourselves,
How know I, if thou shouldst me raise,
That I should then raise thee?
Now, good Christian, thou art no longer on the mount, and here, in the depth of this Valley, thou art to meet thine enemy, and try thine armor. Bunyan knew this from experience; and here, for the much better understanding of this conflict of Christian with Apollyon, the reader of the Pilgrim's Progress ought to turn to the history of Bunyan's own temptations in the Grace Abounding; for this passage, and that which follows it, of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, are written, as it
were, out of Bunyan's own heart, and describe things which some Christians know not how to understand, but by the experience of others. You will find, from the perusal of Bunyan's own spiritual life, that he has here brought together, in the assault of Apollyon upon Christian, many of the most grievous temptations with which his own soul was beset, as also in Christian's answers against them, the very method of defence which he himself was taught by divine grace in the midst of the conflict. It is here condensed into a narrow and vivid scene, but it extended over years of Bunyan's life; and the wisdom that is in it, and the points of experience illustrated, were the fruit of many months of painfulness, danger, and desperate struggle with the adversary, which he had to go through.
This foul fiend, Apollyon, came across the field to meet Christian, just after he had had sweet evidence of his salvation from heaven, with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in his sight.
God, says Bunyan, can tell how to abase us, and to hide pride from man. For after the Lord had in this manner thus graciously delivered me, and had set me down so sweetly in the faith of his holy gospel, and had given me such strong consolation and blessed evidence from heaven, touching my interest in his love through Christ, the Tempter came upon me again, and that with a more grievous and dreadful temptation than before." Now then, the question with Christian was, whether to go back or to stand his ground; but he considered, what it were well every Chris
tian should remember, especially in times of danger, that though he was well armed in front, he had no armor for his back. God has given us a shield and a breast-plate, and the command to stand; but no provision for flight, no defence in running, nor any safety even in looking back. So thought Christian, if it were only to save my life, I had better face my enemy; for if I run he is sure to follow, and so to pierce me. So forward he went, and Apollyon met him with his dragon wings and a disdainful smile, and a rough question where he came from, and whither he was going. Christian told him plainly that he came from the City of Destruction, which was the place of all evil, and that he was going to Mount Zion above. Apollyon told him he was a reprobate, and one of his subjects, and that he would certainly have him in his service.
Christian told him that his wages were such as a man could not live on, for that the wages of sin is death, and therefore he would not serve him. Apollyon told him that he would give him better wages, if he would go back and serve him. “ Sometimes,” says Bunyan of his own meeting with the Adversary, “ he would cast in such wicked thoughts as these, that I must pray to him, or for him; I have thought sometimes of that, Fall down, or if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Christian told him that whereas he once walked according to the God of this world, he now, by divine grace, had become the servant of Christ, the Lord's freeman. Apollyon told him a great many had professed to do so, but had turned back,
and if he would, then it should go well with him. Bunyan was, at one time, tempted to content himself with false opinions, as that there should be no day of judgment, that sin was no such grievous thing, and that present ease was all he need seek after. But then the thoughts of death and the judgment would come upon him. Christian told Apollyon that he could not go back from Christ's service and be forgiven; but that Christ would forgive all his sins in Satan's service; and in fine, said Christian, I am his servant, and I love him, and will follow him. Then did Apollyon plead the hard lot and grievous ends of Christians in this life; but Christian told him they had their glory in the life to come. Then did Apollyon accuse Christian of all the sins he had committed since setting out to be a Pilgrim ; and this distressed Christian greatly, but still he had faith to say that he had heartily repented of those sins, and that they would certainly be forgiven by the Prince of glory.
Then did Apollyon, with dreadful rage and blasphemies, set upon Christian, and launched a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian caught it on his shield. And now the fiery darts of the Wicked One fell as thick as hail, and poor Christian, wounded in many places, grew weaker and weaker, and was almost spent, his Enemy still pressing upon him, but still kept at bay by the Sword of the Spirit in Christian's hand. Among the flaming darts which Apollyon cast in, were whole floods of blasphemies against God, Christ, and the Holy Scriptures ; and many accursed
suggestions, with such a fast seisure upon Christian's spirit, and so overweighing his heart, with their number, continuance and fiery force, that he felt as if there were nothing else but these from hour to hour within him, and as though there could be no room for any thing else ; and they made him conclude that God had, in very wrath to his soul, given him up to them, to be carried away with them, as with a mighty whirlwind. The only thing that prevented utter desperation was, that Christian could still perceive, by the hatefulness of these suggestions to his soul, that there was something in him that refused to embrace them. But this consideration he then only had, when Apollyon relaxed a little, for otherwise the noise, strength and force of these temptations did drown, overflow, and as it were, bury all such thoughts, or the remembrance of any such thing.
What made the fight a thousand times worse for poor Christian, was that many of these hellish darts were tipped by Apollyon's malignant ingenuity with sentences from Scripture, made to flame just like the fiery darts of the Wicked One, so that Christian could see no difference, and thought that all the sentences of scripture stood against him. Yea, it seemed as if the air was full of wrathful passages of God's word, showering down as a fiery storm into Christian's soul. And now Apollyon, following up his advantage, threw a fiery dart, which made Christian think that he had committed the unpardonable sin ; and the dart was tipped with this passage, For you know how that afterwards he found no place of repentance, though he