« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
They were praying, Restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation, and uphold me by thy free Spirit ; cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me ;-and now as the Sabbath dawns, when Jesus himself arose from the tomb, the star of Hope rises on the hearts of these prisoned ones, and they suddenly cried out, as a glimpse of the Saviour's long-hidden countenance broke through their gloom, There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared, with thee there is plenteous redemption! What a fool am I, said Christian, to lie in this filthy dungeon, when I have a key in my bosom, that I am persuaded will open every lock in Doubting Castle! Yes, it was in his bosom; and it had been there even since he entered the Wicket Gate. But who made him now feel it? Who made him remember it now, after so long forgetfulness, and who gave him skill and strength to use his golden key aright? It was God, against whom he had sinned; the Saviour, whom he had wounded; the merciful Spirit, whom he had grieved. But now, the key! the key! put it into the lock and try it! They trembled with fear and eagerness; the creaking of the rusty hinges made them tremble; they felt as if they could hear the breathing of the Giant after them, as if his grasp was upon their shoulders, and it was not till they had passed the outer gate of the Castle, and got into the clear open air, that they dared believe they were really escaping.
It was Sabbath morning. The sun was breaking over the hills, and fell upon their pale, hag
gard countenances. It was to them a new creation; they breathed the fresh, reviving air, and brushed, with hasty steps, the dew from the untrodden grass, and fled the nearest way to the stile, over which they had wandered. How much they had suffered ! But they had learned a lesson by that suffering, which nothing else could have taught them, and which would remain with them to the day of their death. They had learned, from bitter experience, that any thing and all things had better be endured, than to depart from God and duty; and that whereas ease sought in the way of their pilgrimage might seem as a sweet meadow for a time, it would the end a more intolerable evil, than all the roughness and hardness of the King's highway.
They had learned also to value the light of God's countenance as they never did before, to watch as they never did before, against every thing that might interrupt that light, or shut out the Saviour from their souls. They had learned to distrust themselves more thoroughly, and to cast themselves on Christ more entirely, and these are the two great lessons which we need to learn from experience; our own weakness and Christ's strength : they had gained new proofs of the efficacy of a Saviour's blood, as well as new views, and a deeper sense, of the dreadful evil of sin, and in every way they were wiser, though perhaps sadder men than before. It was almost worth those fearful days and nights in Giant Despair's Castle, to learn so much more both of themselves and of Christ ; but this bringing good
out of evil was God's doing, and not theirs ; they had perished in their sins, had not God had mercy on them.
And low they use, as all Pilgrims should do, their own bitter experience for good to others. They mean to keep others, if possible, from falling into the same snare with themselves, and so, as soon as they are got safe into the Lord's blessed highway, and out of their enemies' jurisdiction they proceed to nail up that famous inscription, Over this stile lies the way to Doubting Castle, kept by Giant Despair. They thought, forsooth, that no Pilgrim after them, reading this inscription, would dare go out of the way. But by a strange blindness, which happenes to the Pilgrims whenever they are bent on self-indulgence, they are so taken with the Meadow, that they do not read the inscription, and so they pass over the same stile, just as if no person had ever tried it before, and just as if there were no Giant Despair's Castle. Before Christian and Hopeful passed by, there had been just such inscriptions, but the Pilgrims did not heed them. King David himself, who spent so long time in the Castle, put up just such an inscription, near three thousand years ago, and Solomon, from bitter experience, renewed it after him; but Christian and Hopeful themselves did not read it. Nor do any read it, except the Lord en. lighten their darkness, and make them vigilant at the very moment temptation comes upon them. For the time when they enter into temptation is the time when this inscription disappears, and
when they are once entered in as in a cloud, they can hear nothing, see nothing, but the temptation itself, and so they fall, and are afterwards made wretched. May the Lord keep us from such dreadful experience!
Oh what dread meaning there is in those warnings of Christ, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. Watch and pray, lest enter into temptation. Entering into temptation is a very different thing from being assailed by temptation ; but in neither case can we conquer or be delivered except by Christ.
There is nothing which God does, that he does not do freely, and like a God. When he pardons our sins, it is to remember them no more forever ; when he restores to us the joy of his salvation, bis face shines upon us with a beatifying love, as if we had never offended him. Only return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord. So, we no sooner find the Pilgrims got out of the Castle of Giant Despair, and their inscription over the stile finished, but we meet them in sweet instructive company on the top of the Delectable Mountains. So great, so free, so abundant is God's goodness in Christ in the pardon of the penitent. Yet these mountains were not attained without climbing ; none arrive at them but by much holy diligence in the pilgrimage ; and Christian and Hopeful never walked more warily and prayerfully than now after their wonderful escape from the Castle of Giant Despair.
Here were gardens, orchards, vineyards, and fountains of living water, to reward their diligence and refresh their spirits. Here were Shepherds of
Christ, appointed to feed and keep his flock on these mountains, precious, holy men, named Knowledge, Experience, Watchful and Sincere, who took the Pilgrims by the hand, instructed them by their conversation, and led them about to show them the wonders of these mountains, just as the good Interpreter had shown them the rarities in his house. They were shown where many men were dashed in pieces by carelessly climbing the Hill of Error, and falling in the midst of its speculations. They were shown from the top of another mountain, called Caution, a number of blind men wandering and stumbling across tombs; and the Shepherds, little knowing or imagining the late fearful experience of the Pilgrims in Doubting Castle, informed them that these were men who had had their eyes put out by Giant Despair, and were there by him thrown among these dark tombs ; according to the saying of Scripture, He that wandereth out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the Congregation of the Dead.
Oh, thought Christian and Hopeful, why were not we also left to such a dreadful fate! Who hath made us to differ? What mercy of God that he did not leave us also to be blinded and destroyed ! They said not a word to the Shepherds, but looked on one another with a look that spoke volumes, and the tears gushed out. So, how many hairbreadth escapes have we all had amidst our sins, where others have stumbled and fallen to rise no more! What thankfulness should the remembrance of these mercies excite in us. The good Shepherds also took the Pilgrims to