« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
warning he had of it, and the beginning of it, in his own words. “ Now about a week or fortnight after this, I was much followed by this scripture; Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you ; and sometimes it would sound so loud within me, yea, and as it were call so strongly after me, that once above all the rest, I turned my head over my shoulder, thinking verily that some man behind me had called me; being at a great distance, methought he called so loud; it came, as I have thought since, to have stirred me up to watchfulness; it came to acquaint me that a cloud and a storm was coming down upon me.
But so foolish was I and ignorant, that I knew not the reason of this sound, only I mused and wondered in my mind that at this rate, so often and so loud, it should still be sounding and rattling in mine ears.
But I soon perceived the end of God therein.
« For about the space of a month after, a very great storm came down upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met with before ; it came stealing upon me, now by one piece, then by another ; first, all my comfort was taken from me; then darkness seized upon me; after which whole floods of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment.” He was tempted to question the very being of God and of Christ, and, in burning language, he continues the description of these fearful suggestions, many of which he says he dare not utter, neither by word nor pen, which
nevertheless for the space of a whole year did, with their number, continuance and fiery force, seize upon and overweigh his heart. “ Now I thought, surely I am possessed of the devil; again I thought I should be bereft of my wits ; for instead of lauding and magnifying God the Lord with others, if I have heard him spoken of, presently some most horrible blasphemous thought or other would bolt out of my heart against him; which things did sink me into very deep despair, for I concluded that such things could not possibly be found amongst them that loved God.”
The provocations by which he was beset, are indeed almost too terrible to be spoken of. It is a wonder that he was kept from absolute despair. He was especially distressed in this manner whenever he attempted an attendance on any of the ordinances of God, when he was at prayer, when he was laboring to compose his mind, and fix it upon God; such distracting temptations would rush upon him as are almost inconceivable. Sometimes, in the midst of all this, his heart was so hard, that if he could have given a thousand pounds for a tear, he could not have shed one. Yet, at times he had strong and heart-affecting apprehensions of God and divine truth ; and then, oh with what eagerness in such intervals of relief did his soul pour itself forth with inexpressible groanings for God's mercy; his whole soul in every word. And then again the Tempter would be upon him with such discouragements as these : “ You are very hot after mercy, but I will cool you ; this frame shall not last always ; many have
been as hot as you for a season; but I have quenched their zeal.” And with this such and such who were fallen off would be set before mine eyes. Then would I be afraid that I should do so too ; but, thought I, I am glad this comes into my mind; well, I will watch and take what care I can. Though you do,” said Satan, “I shall be too hard for you; I will cool you insensibly by degrees, by little and little. What care I,” saith he, “ though I be seven years in chilling your heart, if I can do it at last ? Continual rocking will lull a crying child asleep; I will ply it close, but I will have my end accomplished. Though you be burning hot at present, yet I can pull you from this fire ; I shall have you cold before it be long
Was ever any thing more natural than this? Was ever more solemn truth couched in such a dialogue, of which the very sarcasm and humor is awful? It was the taunting of the devil; but Bunyan's heart, once set on fire by divine grace, was not so easy to cool as Satan at this time thought for. The poor Pilgrim was well nigh in despair under his fierce enemy, but he kept up his crying and pleading with God. Little did he think at this time how gracious and powerful a friend was near him, for he could not see the Heavenly Refiner watching over this child, his jewel, guarding the furnace and tempering its heat. Neither could his great adversary see him, or surely he would have left his devilish work in despair. The passage reminds me of a place in the Pilgrim's Progress, of which it is so evidently the germ, that I must refer you to it.
It is one of those instructive sights, which Christian was indulged with and instructed by, in the house of the Interpreter. You recollect that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place, where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn brighter and hotter. Then said Christian, What means this? The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace, that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the devil; but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire. Then said Christian, What means this? The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually with the oil of his grace maintains the work already begun in the heart, by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still; and in that, thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, this is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul.
You will also read, if you wish to see another passage of great beauty that grew out of these dreadful temptations, the account of Christian's fight with Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. “In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight;
he spake like a dragon : and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian's heart. I never 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 it was the dreadfullest fight that ever I saw.” Ay! and this is so vivid, beause the Dreamer himself was gazing back upon his own fearful experience. He sees himself, describes himself, as in this Grace Abounding, beneath the horrible assaults of Satan, during this long and murky year of temptation, a year passed beneath a continual storm of the fiery darts of the Wicked One. But now came an interval of mercy; a hand came to poor exhausted Bunyan, with the leaves from the Tree of Life for his healing; his comfort and deliverance he always obtained from the word of God, which would come into his soul with the power of an immediate voice from heaven. “ The Lord,” he says, “did more fully and graciously discover himself unto me, the temptation was removed, and I was put into my right mind again, as other christians were.” The glory of God's word was now at times so weighty upon Bunyan, that he was ready to swoon away with solid joy and peace. This was the Tree of Life after the conflict. And now he had a season of great delight under holy Mr. Gifford's ministry, and now did God set him down in all the things of Christ, and did open unto him his words, and cause them to shine before him, and make them to dwell with him, talk with him, and comfort him. And now about this time, what was next to the very