« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
poetry. “ Christiana thought she heard in a grove, a little way off on the right hand, a most curious irelodious note, with words much like these :
Through all my life thy favor is
So frankly shown to me,
My dwelling-place shall be.
And listening still, she thought she heard another answer it, saying,
For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is forever sure :
And shall fron age to age endure.
So Christiana asked Prudence who it was that made those curious notes. They are, said she, our country birds ; they sing these notes but seldom, except it be in the spring, when the flowers appear, and the sun shines warm, and then you may hear them all day long. I often, said she, go out to hear them; we also ofttimes keep them tame in our house. They are very fine company for us when we are melancholy; also, they make the woods and groves and solitary places desirous to be in."
“We need not be so afraid of this Valley, said Mr. Greatheart, for here is nothing to hurt us, unless we procure it for ourselves. The common people, when they hear that some frightful thing has befallen such a one in such a place, are of opinion that that place is haunted by some foul fiend or evil spirit; when, alas, it is for the fruit of their own doing that such things do befall them there. But this Valley of Humiliation is the best
and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts. It is meadow ground, and in the summer time a man may feast his eyes with that which will be delightful to him. Behold how green' this valley is, also, how beautiful with lilies! I have known many laboring men, that have got good estates in the Valley of Humiliation ; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble ; for indeed it is a very faithful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. Some also have wished that the next way to their Father's house were here, that they might be troubled no more with hills or mountains to go over ; but the way is the way, and there is an end.
Now, as they were going along and talking, they spied a boy feeding his father's sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a fresh and wellfavored countenance; and as he sat by himself, he sang.
Hark, said Mr. Greatheart, to what the Shepherd's boy saith : so they hearkened, and he said,
He that is down needs fear no fall,
He that is low no pride:
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
Because thou savest such.
Fulness to such a burden is
Who go on pilgrimage.
Is best, from age to age.
Then said their guide, Do you hear him? I will dare to say this boy lives a merrier life, and wears
more of that herb called hearts-ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet."
In this Valley, says Bunyan, our Lord formerly had his country-house; he
he loved much to be here; he loved also to walk these meadows, for he found the air was pleasant. Besides, here a man shall be free from the noise and from the hurryings of this life; all states are full of noise and confusion ; only the Valley of Humiliation is that empty and solitary place. Here a man shall not be so let and hindered in his contemplation, as in other places he is apt to be. This is a valley that nobody loves to walk in but those that love a pilgrim's life. And though Christian had the hard hap to meet here with Apollyon, and to enter with him in a brisk encounter ; yet, I must tell you that in former times men have met with angels here, have found pearls here, and have in this place found the words of life.
Mercy thought herself as well in this Valley as ever she had been in all their journey. “The place methinks, suits with my spirit. I love to be in such places, where there is no rattling with coaches, no rumbling with wheels ; methinks here one may, without much molestation, be thinking what he is, whence he came, what he has done, and to what the King has called him. Here one may think and break the heart, and melt in one's spirit. They that go rightly through this valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain, that God sends down from heaven upon them that are there,
, also filleth the pools. To this man will I look, saith the King, even to him that is humble, and
of a contrite spirit, and who trembleth at my word.
Mercy was right in her preference of this sweet valley. The few noises here heard were as the voices of heaven to shepherds watching their flocks by moonlight.
Stillness, accompanied by sounds so soft,
This retired and lowly Vale was a scene for a spirit like Cowper's to linger in; though his soul was long in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Strange, that such a discipline should have been necessary for such
for such a mind! This Valley of Humiliation, as Christiana and Mercy found it, Cowper has described more beautifully than any other writer that ever lived.
Far from the world, O Lord I flee,
From strife and tumult far;
His most successful war.
The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree ;
For those who follow thee.
There, if thy Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
She communes with her God.
Then, like the nightingale she poum
Her solitary lays :
Nor thirsts for human praise.
Now if you wish for a commentary in plain prose on the sweetness of Bunyan's delineation of this Valley, you may find it in the Dairyman's Daughter, or in the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain. But it is very important to remember that those who would find a foretaste of heavenly rest in this Valley, must bring into it, in their own hearts, the spirit of Heaven; then, and not otherwise, is it a Valley of Peace. When God's discipline discloses to a man“ the plague of his own heart," then he is very apt to lay the evil to the score of circumstances, instead of the inveterate diseased heart, which needed so much, and perhaps such violent medicine for its healing. Oh, cries one, if I were only in a different situation, how easy it would be to live near to God! Ah, cries another, if I were in the place of this or that happy individual, how easy it would be to adorn my profession! Every thing in my very circumstances would lead me to it! Oh, exclaims another, if I had the health of such an one, how easy it would be to rise above my difficulties and walk with God! And I, complains another, if my occupation did not so absorb me, could be as godly as I ought to be! Oh, if I were in the place of my minister, how holy I would become!
Ah! I would, and I would, and I would, if it were so, and if it were so, and if it were only so! Here, dear friend, is the very plague of your own heart revealing itself. You are discontented with your situation. You are not submissive to the trials God has laid upon you. And, instead of seeking to be delivered from your heart-plague,