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The Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Chr. Wby, what's the matter? said Christian.
Men. Matter! said they : We were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we durst; and indeed we were almost past coming back: for had we gone a little further, we had not been here to bring the news to thee.
Chr. But what have you met with ? said Christian.
MEN. Why, we were almost in the valley of the Shadow of Death"; but that by good hap we looked before us, and saw the danger before we came to it.
Chr. But what have you seen ? said Christian.
Men. Seen! why the valley itself, which is as dark as pitch: we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit: we heard also in that valley a continual howling and yelling, as of people ander unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons; and over that valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion : death also doth always spread his wings over it". In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order.
Chr. Then said Christian, I perceive not yet, by 'what you have said, but that this is my way to the desired haven.
Men. Be it thy way; we will not choose it for ours.
So they parted; and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted.
I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind have led
· This is a dreadful resolution. When men deliberately choose death rather than face danger in the Lord's name, and prefer sinful ease to suffering and toil for his sake, what can they expect, but to hear him say, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."
* Psal. xliv. 19. * Job iii. 5. X. 23.
V A LLE Y
OF THE SI ADOW OF DEATH.
Thy way to heaven lies by the gates of hell;
the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished?. Again, behold on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, into which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on: into this quag King David once did fall, and had, no doubt, therein been smothered, had not he that is able plucked him out'. .
The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought in the dark to shun the ditch on the one hand he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other; also when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch4. Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly: for besides the danger mentioned above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes, when he lifted up his foot to go forward, he knew not where, nor upon what, he should set it next.
About the midst of the valley, I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the way-side. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and sinoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises (things that cared not for Christian's sword, as did Apollyon before) that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon,
9 The ditch on the right hand, is the error in doctrine, into which those ministers who are called blind guides, lead the blind, those who were never spiritually enlightenerl. The ditch on the left hand, means outward sins and witkedness, which many fall into. Both are nearly alike dangerous to pilgrims : but the Lord will keep the feet of his saints, 1 Sam. ii. 9.
4 A man who has a tender conscience is as much afraid of corrupt principles, as of sinful practices. This manifests the sincerity of his soul, even when he walks in dark providences,
. Psal. Ixix. 14.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death.
called all prayer : so he cried in my hearing, “ O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul”.”
Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him : also he heard doleful voices, and rushing to and fro, so that sometimés he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard, by him, for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopt, and began to muse what he had best to do; sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might now be half way through the valley; he remembered also how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger of going back might be much more than to go forward. So he resolved to go on : yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer ; but, when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement voice, " I will walk in the strength of the Lord God;", so they gave back, and came no further.
One thing I would not let slip: I took notice, that now poor Christian was so confounded, that he did not know his own voice; and thus I perceived it: just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own minds. This put Christian more to it than
This is a common device of Satan with upright souls: ho jojects these horrid blasphemous thoughts, and then represents them as the production of their own hearts, although they are as painful to their souls as they are evil in their tendency.
• Psal. cxvi. 4. Eph. vi. 18.