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stop his ears, or to know from whence these blasphemies came.
Here is a marked feature, drawn, as we have seen, directly from Bunyan's experience. This, with many other things, “ did tear and rend" Bunyan himself in this Valley, out of which none but God could have delivered him. “ These things would so break and confound my spirit,” says Bunyan, “ that I could not tell what to do ; I thought at times they would have broken my wits ; and still, to aggravate my misery, that would run in my mind, You know how that afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected. Oh, no one knows the terrors of those days, but myself.” Yet others, doubtless, unknown to any but God and the soul's great Adversary, have passed through much the same conflicts. What battles are fought with Apollyon, and what victories gained though the blood of the Lamb, what dreary passages are made in every generation through this Valley of the Shadow of Death, will never be known till amidst the disclosures of Eternity, the saints saved shall reveal to each other, for the glory of the Redeemer, the wonders of his grace in their individual experience. It is but here and there that the trials and triumphs of faith come to view in this world in such instances as those of Bunyan and Luther; but Eternity will be full of such spiritual epics. And in every man's experience, however humble, there will be something of peculiar glory to the Redeemer. Many are the pictures, unseen here, that are to be set in array in the eternal world, with the light of the Divine Attri
butes in Christ shining in and through them, to be studied and admired forever and ever.
One of the earliest recorded instances of a passage through this dark Valley is that of Job; and one of the sublimest instances of Faith in the midst of it is his ; for in almost the same breath in which he spake of the darkness in his paths, and of his hope removed like a tree, he exclaimed, I know that my Redeemer liveth! While
While you listen to the experience of Job, it seems as if you heard Bunyan himself bemoaning his spiritual distresses; and indeed the book of Job might, as well as the experience of Bunyan, be entitled “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners." Who is this that is speaking? Is it nột Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death ? «He teareth me in his wrath who hateth me; he gnasheth upon me with his teeth ; mine enemies sharpen their eyes upon me. They have gaped upon me with their inouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully, they have gathered themselves together against me. God hath delivered me over to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder; he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. His archers coropass me round about; he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare ; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach; he runneth upon me like a giant. My face is foul with weeping, and on mine eyelids is the shadow of death. My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready
for me!” But what is the end of all this? “I know that my Redeemer liveth!" Fearful was the trial, glorious the triumph of this eminent servant of God!
There was another recorded instance of a journey through this Valley, which Bunyan followed, and that was King David's. For the bars of death were round about him also, laid in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. When he remembered God, he was troubled. “ Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. I am shut up, I cannot come forth. I am afflicted and ready to die. While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me ; thy terrors have cut me off.” But what was the end in the case of David ! Deliverance and light, so signal and manifest in answer to prayer, that his example should be for encouragement to all that ever after him should have to pass through that Valley. “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found. I was brought low, and the Lord helped me. He restoreth my soul. Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."
This was a real Valley, and no imaginary evil, but there were also real deliverances. The men whom Christian met making haste to go back did not at all exaggerate in their descriptions of its terrors ; but they knew nothing of Him who would walk with all his true pilgrims through the midst of those terrors. They could see the fire of the fur
nace, and dared not think of entering into it ; but they could not see the form like unto the Son of God walking with his people in the very flames. . Why, what have you seen, said Christian?
“Seen! Why, the Valley itself, which is as dark as pitch : we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit : we heard also in that Valley a continued howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons ; and over that Valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion : Death, also, doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order."
This is almost a description of hell. And how much more afraid men are of the image of hell in this world, of the evils which here are a type of it, than they are of its reality in an eternal world! If these men had been as much afraid of losing the favor of God, and of being shut up in the prison of his wrath forever, as they were of the terrors of this Valley, they would have gone through it, singing with David, I will fear no evil. For what are all the difficulties that can be met with in this life, if in the end we may have the light of God's countenance ? A hearty desire after God, and a right fear of hell, will put to flight every other fear, will make every evil comparatively easy to be conquered, or light to be borne.
In this disconsolate situation, Christian was greatly encouraged, because he thought he heard the voice of another pilgrim singing before him, which turned out afterwards to be Faithful. He
called out, but got no answer, for this other pilgrim deemed himself also to have been alone, and knew not what to make of it. In truth, when the soul is in this experience, it seems as though never a living creature had been in it before ; it seems to itself utterly alone, and desolate. Nevertheless, that sound of singing was a great comfort to Christian; for he said within himself, Whoever this be, it is clear that he fears God, and that God is with him, for he could not otherwise go singing through this horrid Valley; and if God is with him, why may not be with me, though it is now so deep dark that I cannot perceive him; yet, by the time I have gone a little farther I may find him. By and by the day broke; then said Christian, He hath turned the Shadow of Death into the morning.
Now, if you wish to trace Bunyan's own experience in a very striking manner in this powerful sketch, you must turn to his own account in the Grace Abounding, of the first breaking of the dawn in his own soul after his dismal night in the pit, the prison, and the Death Valley; you must note the manner in which he looked back upon the dangers through which he had been passing, the manner in which he began to approach and examine by the daylight, the fears and temptations that had been so terrible to him, that had so shaken and well nigh distracted his soul. Just so did Christian look back upon the ditches and the quags, the hobgoblins, dragons, and satyrs of the pit, discoverable by the daylight; according to that Scripture, He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth to light the Shadow of Death.