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Now, as we have compared the experience of Christian in the Valley of Humiliation with that of the pilgrims under guidance of Mr. Greatheart, so we ought to compare the two passages through the Valley of the Shadow of Death ; and much instruction may be gained thereby. Christiana and her company were at one time in great dark
“ Their conductor did go before them, till they came at a place, where was cast up a pit the whole breadth of the way; and before they could be prepared to go over that, a great mist and darkness fell upon them, so that they could not see. Then said the pilgrims, Alas, what now shall we do? But their guide made answer, Fear not, stand still, and see what an end will be put to this also.
So they staid there, because their path was marred. They then also thought that they did hear more apparently the noise and rushing of the enemies; the fire also and smoke of the pit was much easier to be discerned. Then, said Christiana to Mercy, Now I see what my poor husband went through; I have heard much of this place, but I never was here before now. Poor man! he went here all alone in the night ; he had night almost quite through the way; also, these fiends were busy about him, as if they would have torn him in pieces. Many have spoken of it, but none can tell what the Valley of the Shadow of Death should mean until they come in themselves. The heart knoweth its own bitterness; and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy. To be here is a fearful thing."
This, said Mr. Greatheart, is like doing busi
ness in great waters, or like going down into the deep ; this is like being in the heart of the sea, and like going down to the bottoms of the mountains ; now it seems as if the earth with its bars, were about us forever. But let them that walk in darkness, and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God.' For my part, as I have told you already, I have gone often through this valley, and have been much harder put to it, than now I am; and yet, you see I am alive. I would not boast, for that I am not my own Saviour. But I trust we shall have a good deliverance. Come, let us pray for light to Him that can lighten our darkness, and that can rebuke, not these only, but all the Satans in hell. So they cried and prayed, and God sent light and deliverance."
A remark pregnant with heavenly sense was dropped by one of the boys, which pilgrims beset with dangers and difficulties would do well to
“ It is not so bad," said he, “to go through here as it would be to abide here always; and for aught I know, one reason why we must go this way to the house prepared for us, is that ou home may be made the sweeter to us." In this remark is much Christian wisdom and beauty. I am reminded of Wesley's hymn, or something like it;
The rougher our way, the shorter our stay,
The ruder the blast,
also be reminded of those sweet expressive lines by Baxter,
Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than he went through before :
Must enter by that door.
But the best of all commentaries on the intent and meaning of this passage through the Valley of the Shadow of Death is to be found in Bunyan's thoughts and remarks upon other good men who have had to go through it, uttered while he himself was quite in darkness, and was looking to those bright examples, and wishing from the bottom of his soul that he also might thus be the favored one of God. Poor Bunyan! this very darkness, these very desperate distresses, proved, in the end, that he was himself to be ranked among those favored ones; for when his spirit was overwhelmed within him, then God knew his path ; then was God leading the blind by a way that he knew not. “Oh, how my soul,” says Bunyan, “ did at this time prize the preservation that God did set about his people! Ah, how safely did I see them walk, whom God had hedged in! Now did those blessed places, that spake of God's keeping his people, shine like the sun before me, though not to comfort me, yet to show me the blessed state and heritage of those whom the Lord had blessed. Now I saw that as God had his hand in all the providences and dispensations that overtake his elect, so he had his hand in all the temptations that they had to sin against him, not to animate them in wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles for them, and also to leave them for a time to such things only, that
might not destroy, but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in, the way of the renewing his mercy. But oh! what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see, mixing itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God's ways to his people !
He would let David, Hezekiah, Solomon, Peter, and others fall, but he would not let them fall into the sin unpardonable, nor into hell for sin. 0! thought I, these be the men that God hath loved ; these be the men that God, though he chastiseth them, keeps them in safety by him, and them whom he makes to abide under the Shadow of the Almighty."
Sweet are the uses of adversity! In God's hand indeed they are; when he puts his children into the furnace of affliction, it is that he may thoroughly purge away all their dross. writer has spoken with great beauty of the resources which God has placed within us for bringing good out of evil, or, at least, for greatly alleviating our trials, in the cases of sickness and misfortune. “ The cutting and irritating grain of sand," he says, “which by accident or incaution has got within the shell, incites the living inmate to secrete from its own resources the means of coating the intrusive substance. And is it not, or may it not be, even so with the irregularities and unevenness of health and fortune in our own case? We too may turn diseases into pearls.” But how much more wonderful are the wisdom and mercy of God, in making the spiritual temptations and distresses of his people their necessary discipline for their highest
good, the means for the greatest perfection and stability of their characters. This indeed is a wonderful transmutation. God, says the holy Leighton, hath many sharp cutting instruments and rough files for the polishing of his jewels ; and those he especially esteems, and means to make the most resplendent, he hath oftenest his tools upon.
Beautifully are the uses of temptations and trials, external and inward, illustrated in that old familiar hymn of Newton, so like in its language and spirit to some hymns which Cowper wrote from similar experience.
These inward trials I employ
It seems very strange that with these truths, so fully set forth in the Word of God, and so illustrated in the examples of many shining Christians, still, generation after generation, all men, all pilgrims, should have to learn them for themselves, should never be satisfied of them, till made to believe by their own experience. Every pilgrim expects of Christ that by his love's constraining power he will subdue the sins and hidden evils of the heart, and give the soul rest and relief from its corruptions all the way of its pilgrimage. Yet every pilgrim in turn has to go through this Valley, has to learn by himself both the dreadful evils of the heart, and the power of temptation, and the greatness of deliverance by the Almighty power and love of the Saviour. He cannot learn this by hearing others