« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
The Pilgrims pass the Slough of Despond.
Lord, make them pray they may be thine,
With all their heart and mind.". Now my old friend proceeded and said-But, when Christiana came to the Slough of Despond, she began to be at a stand; “For,” said she, “ this is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothereda.” She perceived, also, that notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly. So I asked if that was true. Yes, said the old gentleman, too true; for there are many that pretend to be the King's labourers, and say they are for mending the King's highways, who bring dirt and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here Christiana therefore and her boys, did make a stand. But Mercy said, “ Cone, let us venture, only let us be wary.". Then they looked well to their steps, and made a shift to get staggering over.
Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once or twice. Now they had no sooner got
+ As a contrast to the company at the house of Mrs. Timorous, who remained in the city of Destruction, we are presented with the chaste and edifying conversation of two christian females, who are in good earnest seeking after the salvation of their souls. Aged women, like Christiana, are well employed in teaching young women, like Mercy, the principles of religion, and in encouraging them by the free invitations of the gospel, to “ follow on to know the Lord,” (Hosea vi. 3,) assuring them that the Lord delighteth in mercy:-When young persons are concerned about their own salvation, they will weep over the ignorance and danger of their carnal relations; especially if they reside in places where the gospel is not preached. Such tears and prayers are acceptable to God, and will not be lost. Let young converts therefore continue in prayer for their relations, under every discourageinent; as there have been remarkable instances of parents, even in their old age, after their children had been many years praying for them, being converted, and dying in the faith of Jesus.
• Their own carnal conclusions, instead of the words of life.
The Pilgrims arrive
over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, “Blessed is she that believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (Luke i. 45.)
Then they went on again; and Mercy said to Christiana, “Had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the Wicket-Gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me.”
“Well," said the other, “you know your sore, and I know mine ; and, good friends, we shall all have evit enough before we come to our journey's end. For it cannot be imagined, but that the people who design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and who are so envied that happiness as we are, will meet with what fears and snares, and troubles and afflictions they can possibly assault us with that hate us."
* The Slough of Despond was worse than when Christian passed that way, in consequence of pretended labourers bringing " dirt and dung," or (in the language of the apostle) “ wood, hay, and stubble," instead of stones, to repair it. The author probably meant, that since so many godly, evangelical parish ministers had been silenced, and dissenting ministers imprisoned, by the persecuting acts which passed in the reign of Charles II. against the nonconformists, and the churches had been filled with ministers who did not preach the gospel, awakened sinners were rather driven into despondency, than preserved from it, by the religious instructions which they received. Younger christians may be the instruments of encouraging and relieving the distressed minds of some who are older than themselves. Faith in the promises of the gospel, though weak and imperfect, will keep the mind from being swallowed up with overwhelming dejection. But though young converts may know but little trouble at their first setting out in the christian life, they cannot expect to reach heaven without meeting with enemies. Our Lord said to his disciples, “Because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hatech you." John xv. 19.
“God, my supporter and my hope,
My help for ever near,
When sinking in despair.
at the Wicket-Gate.
And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, inethought I saw Christiana, and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the gate : to which when they were come, they betook themselves to a short debate, about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said unto him that did open unto them y: so it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and that she should speak to him that did open, for the rest. So Christiana began to knock, and as her poor husband did, she knocked and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog? came barking upon them ;-a dog, and a great one too.: and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for a while knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them.-Now therefore they were greatly disturbed in their minds, and knew not what to do; knock they durst not, for fear of the dog ; go back they durst not, for fear the keeper of the gate should espy them as they so went, and be offended with them; at last they thought of knocking again, and knocking more vehemently than they did at first. Then said the keeper of the gate, “ Who is there?” So the dog left off to bark, aud he opened unto them.
Then Christiana made low obeisance, and said, “Let not our Lord be offended with his hand-maidens, for that we have knocked at his princely gate.” Then said the keeper, “Whence come ye? And what is it that you would have:”
“ Thy counsels, Lord, shall guide my feet
Through this dark wilderness;
WATTS. y Prayer should be made with consideration and fear, as well as in faith and hope. The dog, the devil, an enemy to prayer.
Christiana and her Sons received at the Wicket-Gate.
Christiana answered, “ We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously admitted by this gate into the way that leads unto the Celestial City. And I answer, my Lord, in the next place, that I am Christiana, once the wife of Christian, who is now arrived above."
With that the keeper of the gate did marvel, saying, “What is she now become a pilgrim, that but a while ago abhorred that life?” Then she bowed her head, and said, “ Yea ; and so are these my sweet babes also.”
Then he took her by the hand and led her in, and said also, “Suffer the little children to come unto me;" and with that he shut up the gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above, over the gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting, and sound of trumpet, for joy. So he obeyed, and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes. · Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had gotten admittance for her. self and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.
CHR. And she said, My Lord, a companion of mine that stands yet without, is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her mind, for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for: whereas I was sent to by my husband's King to come.
Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana froin a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself". And she knocked then so loud, that she made Christiana
* Delays make the hungry soul the more fervent.
Mercy knocks at the Gate, and is also received.
start. Then said the keeper of the gate, “Who is there?” And Christiana said, “ It is my friend.”
So he opened the gate and looked out, but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate would be opened to her.
Then he took her by the hand, and said, “Damsel, I bid thee arise.”
“O Sir, " said she, “I am faint: there is scarce life left in me.". But he answered, that one said, “ When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord : and my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.” (Jonah ii. 7.) “ Fear not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come.”
Mer. I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her. Wherefore I presume.
KEEP. Did she desire thee to come with her to this place?
Mer. Yes; and as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy poor handmaid may be partaker thereof.
Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, “I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me b." Then said he to those that stood by, “Fetch something and give it Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her faintings :" so they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, a while after which she was revived. .
And now were Christiana, and her boys, and Mercy, received of the Lord at the head of the way, and spoke kindly into by him. Then said they unto him, “ We are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his pardon, and farther information what we must do."
“I grant pardon,” said he, “ by word and deed; by word, in the promise of forgiveness ; by deed in the
,b Mark this.