« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
before him, it does not take long in such employment to make the room seem walled with retributive flames, and peopled with condemning fiends. Without the sense of God's forgiving mercy in Christ, such employment makes a man enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and there, though he may always have thown ridicule upon these things among his boon companions, yet these, alone, with himself, the sights which he sees, and the sounds which he hears are intolerable.
When the child of God, from whatever cause, wanders into this Valley, and has the face of God hidden from him, then the universe to him is covered with gloom; then the dead weight of anxiety, as the shadow of sepulchral mountains, is on its spirit; he enters into darkness, and is wandering on the borders of despair. God hides his face, and we are troubled.
The gloomy, awful solemnity and coldness, that like a twilight pall enshroud the earth in a deep eclipse of the sun at noonday, making all nature to shudder, and the animals to cry out with terror, do faintly image forth the spiritual coldness and gloom of the soul, when the face of God is hidden from it. That eclipse forebodes to the soul the blackness of darkness forever.
Hence the earnest cry of David, Hide not thy face from me, lest I become like them that go down to the pit.
At such times Satan may have much business with a child of God. “ For although,” as Mr. Goodwin observes, “Satan cannot immediately wound the conscience, and make impressions of God's wrath upon it, (for as no creature can shed
abroad God's love, and cause the creature to taste the sweetness of it, so neither the bitterness of his wrath, but God is equally the reporter of both,) yet, when the Holy Ghost hath lashed and whipt the conscience, and made it tender once, and fetched off the skin, Satan then, by renewing the experimental remembrance of those lashes, which the soul hath had from the Spirit, may amaze the soul with fears of an infinitely sorer vengeance yet to come, and flash representations of hell fire in their consciences, from those real glimpses they have already felt, in such a manner as to wilder the sonl into vast and unthought of horrors."
In the eternal world, there is no living without God, but a dying, an eternal dying. It is death in life, and life in death, for the soul to be without God; and the discovery and sense of these things in the eternal world, amidst the convictions of despair, will be to the soul as if a man, who has been long time dead and buried, should suddenly come to life amidst enfolding slimy worms, a corrupt decaying carcase, in mould, gangrene, and putrefaction. What need of flames, if the sinner be left to the full sense and working of his own corruptions ? What man of sin is there, who, if he will judge candidly, can do otherwise than acknowledge that he finds within himself elements of evil, which, if left to work undisturbed, unimpeded, unmingled, will work absolute misery and ruin. Man of sin! wilt thou stay in these corruptions, and die in them; or wilt thou go for deliverance to Christ Jesus, to him who alone can put out these fires, can kill this undying worm,
can drive the fiends from thy soul, can throw death itself into hell, and make the fountain of love, life, and blessedness to spring up within thee!
Just as Christian gets out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he passed by a place of bones, sculls, images and crosses, the abode of Pope and Pagan, whom Bunyan most appropriately puts into the same cave together, though Pagan had been dead long time, and Pope now occupied his place alone. Popery and Paganism are two incarnations of depravity wonderfully similar, almost the same; but Popery has, by far, the greatest dominion of “the blood, bones, ashes and mangled bodies of pilgrims." Christian passed by without harm, for now the living giant could do no more than grin and bite his nails, and growl at the passing pilgrims. • You will never mend till more of you be burned.” Possibly another burning is yet to come, for Giant Pope seems in some respects to be renewing his age, and he has now so many helpers, that it would not be surprising, if he should come out of his Cave, and once more, before the final fall of Anti-Christ, be seen arrayed in all the power and terrors of persecution. The proximity of this black Golgotha of Popery to the Valley of the Shadow of Death is very natural, considering the one as the emblem of the greatest external evils that can be met on the way of this pilgrimage, and the other as marking the opposite extreme of the horrors of inward desolation and spiritual misery in the soul.
After encountering all theso dangers, there was a mount of vision, up which Christian with alacrity ascended, whence he could see far off over the prospect before him. The air was clear and bright, its reflection of all images distinct and certain, the mists of the Valley of the Shadow of Death were far below him, and came not to this border, the air was healthful and bracing, he seemed nearer to Heaven than he had been in all his pilgrimage, and so light and elastic for his journey, that it seemed as if he could have flown. Here was “an earnest of the Spirit,” a refreshment after toil and danger. Here, as he looked onward, he saw Faithful before him, and shouted out to him to stay, for he would be bis companion. But how should Faithful know that it was not the voice of some treacherous spirit from the Pit ? Faithful's answer shows the spirit of the future martyr. I am upon my life, said he, and the Avenger of blood is behind me; I may not stay. This nettled Christian, and now comes a beautiful and most instructive incident, for Christian, summoning all his strength, ran so earnestly, that he soon got up with Faithful, but not content with this, and being a little moved by spiritual pride, at his own attainments, he did run on before him ; so the last was first. Then did Christian vain-gloriously smile! Ah what a smile was that! how much sin, not humble spiritual gratitude and joy, was there in it! But now see how he that exalteth himself shall be abased, and how surely along with spiritual pride comes carelessness, false security and a grievous fall. Not taking good heed to his
feet, Christian suddeuly stumbled and fell, and the fall was such, that he could not rise again, till Faithful, whom he had vain-gloriously outrun, came up to help him.
This is one of the most instructive incidents of the pilgrimage, and it might be applied to many things. Let the Christian, in pursuing the work of Christ, take care of his motives. Earthly ambition is a heinous sin, carried into spiritual things. Be not wise in your own conceits. Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another. See that you look not with self-complacency upon your own attainments. A man may vain-gloriously smile within himself, at his own labors, at the applause of others, or in the comparison of others with himself, and when he does this, then he is in danger. When Christian did vain-gloriously smile, then did Christian meet a most mortifying fall. Peter's boasting of himself before the other disciples was not far off from Peter's fall. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Yet, there is a right way of coming behind in no gift, enriched by Jesus Christ. Whoso seeketh this onriching for himself, seeketh it also for others. Let this lesson not be forgotten, Then did Christian vain-gloriously smile, and when he smiled, then he stumbled.
Now what happiness it was for these Christians to meet each other! What delightful comparison of each other's experience, what strengthening of each other's faith and joy! Each had not a little to tell