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sought it carefully with tears.
Also another great and dreadful dart with this, It is impossible for those once enlightened, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. Also another flaming dart with this, He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, no, never.
Moreover, what weakened Christian more than any thing else, was the entrance into his soul of those dreadful suggestions against the Scriptures, so that by reason of unbelief he could not use with much power the Sword of the Spirit which was in his hand, notwithstanding that all this while these fearful sentences which Apollyon did cast at him burned in his soal like fire, so that Christian thought he should be bereft of his wits.
And now Apollyon, seeing his chance, gathered close to him, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall, so that his sword flew out of his hand. And now he was indeed gone ; and now, said Apollyon, I am sure of thee; and he so pressed upon him that Christian was in despair. Darkness came over him, and he could see nothing but the dreadful face of the Fiend. But, as God would have it; (mind this, as God would have it, for it was only God's sovereign interposing mercy that could help Christian now ;) as God would have it, just as Apollyon, with his knee on Christian's breast, was raising his arm to strike à dart quite through him, and make an end of him, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine Enemy! When I fall, I shall
arise! And with that he gave him so deadly and powerful a thrust, even while he was bending over him for his destruction, that Apollyon fell back, as one that had received his niortal wound. And then Christian sprang up, as a new man, and made at him again with this flaming promise, Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that hath loved us! Then Apollyon, with hideous yelling and roaring, spread his dragon wings, and Christian saw him no more.
This was indeed a most terrific conflict. May God shield us all from such encounters with the great Adversary! With the delineation of Christian's own fight, I have mingled the descriptions of Bunyan's conflicts with the same Adversary, as recorded in the Grace Abounding. Christian, as well as Bunyan, was certainly brought to the very verge of perdition, but it was for the sake of after glory, and One there was who would not suffer him to be tempted beyond what he was able to bear, but stood by him, though invisible, and delivered him out of the mouth of the lion. But oh the sighs and groans that burst from Christian's heart in the fierceness of this conflict !
- I never," says the Dreamer, “saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then indeed he did smile and look upward ; but 'twas the dreadfulest sight that ever I saw.” Oh, with what tears of gratitude did Christian thank God for his deliverance; and then there came to him a divine hand, with leaves from the Tree of Life for his. healing; and then having partaken of the
refreshments given him in the House Beautiful, he addressed himself to his journey, for this was no place for delay, where such enemies were to be met with. So on through the Valley he went, with his drawn sword in his hand, the which, though he lost it once, had done him such mighty and precious service in the battle with Apollyon. It was best to be prepared, for who knows, thought he, what other enemy may be at hand. And indeed the place whence Apollyon came was very near, but Christian met with no other fiend or dragon quite through the Valley of Humiliation.
Now, terrible as this conflict is, it will never do to regard it in any other light than as an example of what every immortal soul has to encounter, that resolutely sets out for heaven. There is a conflict in this world between heaven and hell, sin and holiness, life and death, Christ and Satan, good angels and bad, good men, reprobates, and demons. There is a conflict between the hosts of heaven and the hosts of hell for the soul, and a conflict between grace and nature, good and evil, the Spirit of God and the spirit of worldliness in the soul. Eternal life or eternal death depends upon the issue. The soul's great Adversary is one of inconceivable power, skill and malignity. There is but one other being who is able cope with him, and even that Almighty and glorious Being, to accomplish his wondrous plan and purpose, became like one of us, yet without sin, and in our nature became obedient unto death, that he might destroy him that had the power of death, even the devil. There is therefore no way for Christ's disciples to
overcome this Adversary but by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony in regard to redemption.
To some men Satan reveals himself more clearly than to others, assaults them more violently, and makes them feel more of his power and malignity. But all men know what it is to enter into temptation, and when that is done, Satan is not afar off. Apollyon is near.
Therefore our blessed Lord, in the prayer he has taught us, puts the two petitions in company, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. And Satan is called the Tempter, and the shield of faith is given to the Pilgrim for this very purpose, that he may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the Wicked One. Now there is enough of sin in every man's own heart to tempt him, and every man is tempted when he is led away
of his own lust and enticed. And when a man thus goes after his sins, he rather tempts Satan than Satan tempts him. There is no need for Apollyon to advance towards such a man, for such an one is coming over to Apollyon ; he rather enters into the devil, than the devil into him. A man is waited for of Satan, when he enters into temptation, and there is much in that expression, enter into. Our blessed Lord never said, Pray that ye be nat tempted, but Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation, that ye enter not within it, as a cloud surrounding you and taking away your light, and leading you to deceive you, that ye enter not into temptation, into its power, into its atmosphere, into its spirit, for when that
is done, the soul is weakened and easily conquered.
Men that are led away of their own lusts, that are under the power of a besetting sin, or that are utterly careless and insensible, do not need to be tempted of the devil; he can safely leave them to themselves, for he has a friend within the citadel. He need look after such men only once in a while, for, going on as they do, they are sure of ruin. But good men, and especially eminently good men, such as Bunyan and Luther, he well knows cannot be safely left, inasmuch as the grace of God in them overcomes ordinary temptation, and therefore such ones are made to feel the power of his fiery darts. Apollyon attaeked Christian, when Formalist and Hypocrisy, had they passed through that Valley, would have passed without any molestation at all. Moreover, Faithful passd through it without seeing or hearing any thing of Apollyon; and also all the Valley of the Shadow of Death beyond, Faithful passed in clear sunshine, so that Bunyan does not mean to represent every Christian as subject to such fierce temptations of the devil as he himself was called to endure. .
Besides, it is proper to compare this passage of Christian through the Valley of Humiliation, and the dread conflict with Apollyon in it, with the sweet and pleasant passage of Mercy, Christiana, and her children, under the care of Mr. Greatheart, through the same place. Bunyan evidently intends to represent that according to the degree of humility and contentedness with