THE INFANT'S PROGRESS
FROM THE VALLEY OF DESTRUCTION
TO EVERLASTING GLORY.
BY MRS. SHERWOOD
Reprinted and Republished by:
Sowers Seed Reprints
MY LITTLE CHILDREN,
The intention of this Book is to make you acquainted, in an agreeable manner, with many of those awful mysteries of our holy Religion, the knowledge of which is necessary to your salvation.
You do not yet know, what it is that has separated you from your God: nor do you fully understand what it was that induced the Lord our Redeemer to descend from heaven for the purpose of assuming our nature, and dying upon the cross. You have, perhaps, never yet been informed, that the sin of man's heart is very great, very prevalent, and very hateful; and that, except it be overcome, it will subject him to everlasting perdition.
Many long sermons have been preached, and many learned volumes have been written, in order both to describe the nature of this sin, and to guard us against its influence: but little children cannot understand these grave and elaborate discourses. I have therefore written for your instruction on this subject, a story about some little children, who, like yourselves, were born in a state of sin. And in this story I have personified the sin of our nature, and introduced it as the constant companion of these children.
The relation is given under the form of a Dream, the various incidents of which are so contrived, as to show how incessantly sin assaults even those who are truly devoted to God, and what unhappiness it causes them from the beginning to the end of their days.
Through the whole of this dream, the present life is compared to a Pilgrimage, which signifies a journey undertaken for some pious purpose. And in every part of it especial care has been taken, distinctly to mark the straight and only way to the Kingdom of Heaven, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself hath said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.
Now as nuts and almonds are hidden under rough shells, and as honey is concealed in the bells and cups of flowers; so there is a hidden meaning in every part of my allegory, which I hope you will be enabled to draw forth for your profit. In the mean time, my dear children, I pray God to seal instruction upon your hearts, and fill you with that heavenly wisdom, whose price is far above rubies.
I will just add, that this little work was composed in the East Indies, during the year 1814.
One night as I lay upon my bed, I dreamed a dream.
Methought I was sitting upon some high place, it might be a cloud; and beneath, at my feet, I saw a very large plain, called the Plain of Destruction, in which were all the towns and villages, and dwelling places of the men of the world, with their kings' houses, and the temples of their gods.
Some of these places possessed many external advantages, and were not unpleasant to look upon; for God maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5. 45. Nevertheless, no man could remain in safety in any of the habitations of this plain; because, from time to time, the earth opened and there came out fire and smoke, hell itself lying close underneath: it is therefore properly termed the Plain of Destruction. Moreover, occasionally, dreadful storms of thunder and lightning broke over the plain; and I saw some as they travelled through the country stricken with thunderbolts from heaven - For the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God: but they are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psalm 14. 2, 3.
Now, while I looked, behold a certain person appeared, clothed in white, and bearing in his hand the Book of God. This person's name was Evangelist; and being sent from God he went from city to city, and from house to house, warning men to flee from the wrath to come. And these were the words with which he addressed them - "Ye are all sinful, ye are all unclean; ye have departed from the service of the Lord your Maker, and are under the condemnation of hell: nevertheless, the Lord hath prepared for you a way to escape; for God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3. 16.
I saw, then, that to such as were willing to inquire further into this matter, being content to turn their backs upon the world, and to take Christ for their portion, Evangelist pointed out certain hills at a great distance, over which there was stretched, straight as an arrow, and as far as the eye could reach, a narrow path, which had so upward a tendency, that I could not distinguish the further end of it, by reason of the glory and brightness which were cast thereon form the heavens. Now at the entrance of this path there was a narrow pass or cut in the hills, where a little gate was placed; the Lord Jesus Christ himself mercifully provided this way for the escape of sinful men, and setting before them an open door, which no man can shut. Revelation 3. 8. So I continued to look on Evangelist, and behold, he went to the door of a small house in a certain little village, and, as his manner was, he knocked thereat.
The name of this village was Family Love. Many parts of it lay in earth: nevertheless, what remained thereof was exceeding fair and lovely, so that in all the plain I saw not such another village.
Now, as I before said, Evangelist knocked at the door; when presently one coming and opening the door, he entered in.
In this house dwelt a certain young man with his wife and their three little children. And I saw in my dream that Evangelist delivered his message to the young man and his wife, saying, "Flee from the wrath to come."
These young people then put certain questions to Evangelist, saying, "Whither shall we flee? and who shall help us?"
Upon which Evangelist gave them a book, and bade them read therein. So they opened the book, and read these words: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me. John 14. 1-3, 6.
Then said the young man, "Where shall we find him of whom this is written?"
In answer to which, Evangelist opened his mouth and taught them many things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ: how God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy 3. 16. And behold, while Evangelist yet spake, the Holy Spirit of God entered their hearts, and they cried out, as with one voice, "Lord, we believe; help thou our unbelief." Mark 9 24.
Evangelist then pointed out to them the means of escape, even the little door which the Lord had opened at the head of the way; and behold, a very bright light issued from thence. Then said Evangelist, "Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly to it; and when ye come to the door, knock without fear. Christ is the door: by him if any man enter in, he shall be saved." John 10. 9.
So while I continued to look, the man and his wife began to put themselves in readiness for their journey; and I saw that they busied themselves in teaching their little ones such things as they had themselves learned from Evangelist. But, while they lingered, Evangelist hastened them, saying, "Escape for your lives; for the time is short."
To which they replied, "Must we leave our little ones behind?"
Then answered Evangelist, "It is the will of God, that, for the trial of faith, you should give up these little ones for awhile. For every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall inherit everlasting life. Matthew 19. 29. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 49. 11.
Now the poor parents in obedience to the will of God, kissed their pretty babes, and with many tears and prayers charging them to follow their steps, they hastened away, because the messenger of God was exceedingly urgent. So they turned their steps towards the shining light, and speedily reached the wicket gate, where the Lord of the way having graciously received them, and washed them from their sins, and clothed them in fair white garments, and set them in the narrow path which leadeth unto the city, they were shortly and safely brought through the black river of death unto everlasting glory.
Then I turned my eyes towards the little ones, who were left behind in their father's house - of which one was a boy named Humble Mind, who was not quite ten years old; together with two little girls, whose names were Playful and Peace, the younger of which was of very tender age.
I saw then, that, after their father and mother had left them, very little care was taken of these poor babies: so that their clothes were nothing better than rags; while, like the prodigal son, they would fain have filled their bellies with the husks which the swine did eat. Luke 25. 16. Moreover, I saw that they had for a companion, one who had been brought up under the same roof with them, as ill-favoured and ill-conditioned an urchin as one could see, whose name was Inbred or Original Sin. His great forefather, a child of hell, came into this world at the time when Adam ate the forbidden fruit; and from that very moment he became the constant companion of our first parent. Moreover, as Adam's family increased on the earth, in like manner the family of Original Sin multiplied, filling the whole earth with violence, and leading men to the commission of every evil work; Gallatians 5, 19; insomuch that the history of all the kingdoms of the earth, aye, and of very man from the fall of Adam till now, is filled up with the ill doings of this apostate family. And even now, so entirely are the sons of Adam under the power of Inbred-Sin, that they cannot even wish to do well, without the help of God: but the Lord Jesus Christ having, by his death upon the cross, obtained for us the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, we are enabled, through his help, to subdue our inbred corruption.
Having said thus much concerning the family of this Inbred-Sin, I shall now proceed to describe what I observed of his habits and tempers, wherein he differed so little from other individuals of his hated race, that in describing one of the family I cannot fail to give you some idea of all the rest.
In the first place I remarked, that he never slept; but that he was on the alert, and, as it were, on the look-out for occasions of action both day and night, neither observing any Sabbath-day himself, nor allowing any season of rest to those with whom he familiarly dwelt: for the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Isaiah 57, 20. His grand work was that of contriving mischief and setting others to execute it; and from this would sit on their pillows and whisper all manner of mischief in their ears, filling their fancies with idle dreams, and suggesting such a variety of unholy thoughts, that, on their awaking, they were ready for every evil work.
Another quality of Inbred-Sin appeared to be this, that he was a stranger to shame, and could neither be put out of countenance, nor thrown off his guard; so that when pursuing any object, if baffled in one way, he would instantly wheel about and come to the very same point by some other way, and that, perhaps, such a round-about one, as would make you believe that he had given up the very purpose which he was then actually carrying into effect. He had also this further quality in common with others of his family, that the more he was submitted to, the more unreasonable he became in his demands; frequently requiring such compliances as led not only to great inconvenience, but to imminent danger.
It is true that the children had no desire to contend with him, and had, in fact, great pleasure in obeying his commands. Nevertheless, there were occasions, as I said before, when he would require them to do such things as must expose them to the danger of immediate punishment; and, on these occasions, something like an argument or discussion would arise between them, when it was marvellous to observe how he would proceed till he had brought about his design.
It was also wonderful what devices he would put the little ones upon, to avoid detection: and if at any time they were found out in a fault, he was never at a loss for an excuse to gloss it over, by putting some plausible falsehood into their mouths. And when nothing else could serve, he would put them upon seeming humble and sorry for the evil they had committed; merely for the purpose of bringing themselves out of present trouble. At other times he would set them to quarrel one with another, instigating each one to set up himself in opposition to the rest.
Moreover, I saw that this Inbred-Sin never left the children; dwelling in their house, lying in their bosoms, walking out with them when they went abroad, and sitting down with them at all their meals: neither indeed was there any thing done in the family, great or small, in which this busy one did not meddle and make.
I perceived, further, that this Inbred-Sin loathed and hated all that was good, influencing the children to do the same: so that, if by chance they heard any one of their neighbours reading a good book, or speaking a word for God, they would shut their ears and run away; choosing rather to wallow in the mire with the swine in the street, than to give their hearts to any good. And, on the contrary, while Inbred-Sin caused the children to hate and loathe all that was good, he made them eagerly to long after and desire all manner of evil; so that they gave themselves over to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4. 19.
Then began I to fear for these little ones, and to consider by what means they might be delivered from the power of this Inbred-Sin: for the wages of sin is death. Romans 6. 23.
After a while I looked again at these three children, to wit, Humble Mind, Playful, and Peace; and behold, Evangelist came up to the door of their dwelling and knocked.
Then said Inbred-Sin, "Behold, Evangelist knocks at the door. Open not to him, for Evangelist is a hard master, and he will bring us to judgment for our faults."
Now I saw, in my dream, that while the children stood doubting whether they should open the door, Evangelist put his hand by the hole of the door and came in. Song of Solomen 5. 4. Then were the hearts of the children moved towards him; and behold, Inbred-Sin shrunk back and hid himself.
I saw then that Evangelist opened his mouth and spake tenderly and comfortably to these little ones. And first he showed them, that although they were under the dominion of Inbred-Sin, and by their unholy living were prepared for eternal punishment, yet that it was not the will of their heavenly Father that one of them should perish. After this he explained unto them, as his manner was, what God had done for the salvation of men; how he had sent his only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon him a human form, and to die upon the cross for the salvation of all such as believed in him. Moreover, he showed them how Christ had, by his death, procured for mankind the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, through which every man may be enabled to war with and finally to overcome his inbred original sin. He then pointed out to them the only path to everlasting happiness, even the narrow pass cut through the hills, which openeth on the way of salvation: after which he gave to each of them a book, even the Book of God, bidding them to read therein, and pray for the Spirit of Truth, (that is, the Holy Ghost,) that he might guide them into all truth. John 16. 13. So he departed for awhile.
Now I saw, in my dream, that as soon as Evangelist was departed, Inbred-Sin came forth from his hiding-place, and behold, he was in a fearful rage.
"What," said he, "has this man been saying? Would he have you to leave all your friends and neighbours, your playmates and companions, your sports and pleasures, in order to take up the life of a pilgrim? Would he have you to spend your time in reading dull books, and in saying your prayers? I hate this man, and his books, and his counsels."
"But," said Humble Mind, "if we do not hearken to the words of Evangelist, and if we remain in this place until we die, shall we not go to hell?"
Upon which I heard Inbred-Sin pleading thus with the children: "Are you not very young, and will it not be many years before you become old, and when you are old will it not be time enough to think of dying?"
"But many children die," said Humble Mind.
"Then," said Inbred-Sin, "If you should happen to die while you are a child, God will not punish you for your faults as he will punish those of maturer age who know better."
"But I know that I ought to be good," answered Humble Mind, "though I am not a man."
"Well, then," said Inbred-Sin, seeing that he could in no other way prevail, "if you cannot be satisfied to stay here, and live like other children, but must go on pilgrimage, why then you must needs go. It is not necessary however that you should set out to-day; to-morrow will be time enough: let us therefore, for the present, put away Evangelist's books, and go to our sports."
"Yes," said Playful, "do, Humble Mind, put away the books now. Let us spend this evening in play, and to-morrow we will begin our journey to the Celestial City."
So Humble Mind did as Inbred-Sin advised him. He laid down the book which Evangelist had given him, when I saw that the three children immediately went to play, and Inbred-Sin went with them.
The next day I looked to see if the children would bethink themselves of obeying the commands of Evangelist: but Inbred-Sin would in no wise allow them so to do.
Now Humble Mind could read very well, having been carefully instructed by his father: neither were Playful or Peace bad readers, considering their tender years. Nevertheless, I saw that they gave no heed to the books which Evangelist had given them; for although they took them up several times, yet before they could get through a single sentence of their contents, Inbred-Sin expressed such a loathing and abhorrence of their employment, that they were glad, for the sake of quiet, to put the books aside again.
Then as to forsaking their home and going on pilgrimage, they seemed altogether to have lost all thought of such a thing. Observing this, I looked again for help for these children, crying out in a sort of unbelieving despondency, "How can these sinful little ones be saved!" But I considered not that God is faithful, by whom they were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ. For God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. 1 Corinthians 9 27-29.
Now when things had remained awhile in this state, I perceived that the Lord began again to deal with Humble Mind, but after a fashion somewhat different from his former dealings with him; and behold, he sent another messenger unto him from on high, who appeared before him at night, and this messenger's name was Conviction-of-Sin. While Humble Mind was lying upon his bed, I saw that this Conviction-of-Sin stood before him. Fear came upon him, and trembling, which made all his bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before his face; the hair of his flesh stood up: it stood still, but he could not discern the form thereof: an image was before his eyes; there was silence, and a voice was heard, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants: and his angels he charged with folly: how much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever, without any regarding it. Job 4. 14-20.
So this Conviction-of-Sin stood before Humble Mind, and laid all his sins in order before him; while Humble Mind trembled exceedingly, and the water stood upon his forehead, so exceedingly was he alarmed. Now when this new messenger first appeared, I perceived that Inbred-Sin hid himself in Humble Mind's bosom; but after awhile he began to look up; and so, by degrees, gathering courage, he sprang from his place, and flying at the throat of Conviction-of-Sin, griped and squeezed him after such a fashion, that I verily thought he would have utterly destroyed him: but the other exerting himself manfully, they continued struggling and fighting till sunrise; each party in their turn, as they gained the mastery, attacking poor Humble Mind, insomuch that I saw the boy was almost killed between them. But, as I before said, when the sun arose, the contest ceased; Conviction-of-Sin then spreading his wings, and mounting upwards; for Conviction-of-Sin is of heavenly birth, and unto him it may truly be said, Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest. Psalm 94. 12. So Humble Mind was left lying on his bed, sorely bruised, and bitterly lamenting.
Now I saw, in my dream, that it began to be noised abroad in those parts, that Conviction-of-Sin had visited Humble Mind; and thus the neighbours discoursed thereupon: - "What is this Conviction-of-Sin, which is come unto the child? What sin can this little boy have been guilty of? But that same Evangelist, who turned the heads of his father and mother, is, it seems, frequently meddling with him; so that, unless we can hit upon some method of diverting his thoughts from these matters, he will never be good for anything as long as he lives."
Then one neighbour said to another, "Come, let us go and talk with this boy, and try to put other thoughts in his head; for, if this Evangelist and his counsels prevail in our streets, what will become of the honour and credit of our town, or how shall we be esteemed among men?"
So the neighbours agreed together, and came to Humble Mind's house; where, having knocked at the door, they were speedily let in, and found the children preparing to be gone; for the pain and anguish which Humble Mind suffered from the blows of Conviction-of-Sin were such as rendered it impossible for him to rest in the place where he was.
Accordingly, on rising from his bed, he had opened his mind to his sisters, in spite of Inbred-Sin who vehemently opposed him, declaring his determination, by God's help, to set out on pilgrimage. He had also, through the divine blessing, obtained his dear sisters' consent to accompany him: and thus, when the neighbours arrived, they found the three children preparing to be gone.
Now I perceived that there arose a very vehement argument between the children and the neighbours who were come to dissuade them from going on pilgrimage; and behold, Inbred-Sin sided with the neighbours, and took part in their carnal reasonings.
The neighbours represented to the little ones, that the profession of a pilgrim was a despicable profession, and that it was also an unprofitable one, inasmuch as nothing was to be gained by it, but much to be lost: "for," said they, "he that stays at home, and does his duty, is in as sure a way of salvation as he that forsaketh all and followeth Christ."
Now Humble Mind knew not every argument proper to be used against this false reasoning of his neighbours, on account of his youth and inexperience; but he made answer to the best of his ability, and said, "I have been made to know my sins, and I perceive that I can do nothing to save myself, all my best actions being marred and spoiled by sin. I find therefore that the assistance of one who is both able and willing to save me, is absolutely necessary to my deliverance; and to such a deliverer I must fly. But I do not presume to judge or decide for other people: there may, perhaps, be some, who do not stand in such need of a Saviour as I do; but, for my part, I have been made to know that I am a miserable sinner."
"And these little ones, thy sisters," said the neighbours, "what have they done that they should be exposed to all the hardships of a pilgrim's life?"
Then spake Humble Mind, "I have heard it said, and have also read in my book, that we are all born in sin; and that, unless our nature is changed, and a right spirit renewed within us, we must all surely perish. It appears, then, that the youngest among us stands in as much need of a Saviour as those who have committed more actual offences; and hence it becomes the duty of every child, as soon as he has any discernment, to inquire after this Saviour. On this account, therefore," continued Humble Mind, "I, who esteem myself the chief of sinners, am, with God's help, about to leave all things, in order to seek the way of salvation pointed out in this Holy Book, which I hold in my hand."
I perceived then, that when the neighbours saw the firmness of Humble Mind, that they first began to ridicule him, to scoff, and to jeer; and from thence they proceeded to loud abuse, invectives, and even threatenings; but Conviction-of-Sin had dealt with Humble Mind to such purpose, that his determination respecting going on pilgrimage was not to be shaken. Nevertheless, the little girls were much terrified by the harsh language of their neighbours; and their trouble was not a little increased by the whisperings of Inbred-Sin, who would have it that they were running themselves into a thousand needless snares and troubles, by giving heed to the advice of Evangelist.
Now I saw, in my dream, that when the neighbours perceived that they could prevail nothing, they took counsel aside one with another, and this was the purport of their consultation -
There dwelt in those parts a certain schoolmaster, one who was countenanced by the king of the country, even the prince of this world, and one who stood high in favour with all the chief persons and honourable men of the land. This schoolmaster, whose name was Worldly-Prudence, was descended from an ancient family, and could boast of a long line of ancestry, all of whom had been employed by the prince of this world in the instruction of youth. He was a person of a venerable appearance, and knew how to make himself agreeable to all ranks and orders of men, having wit at will, and arguments always ready to support his opinions. He was well skilled in ancient learning, had much to say in favour of human wisdom, and could speak largely of the dignity of the human mind: and if he did not utterly despise religion, which some assert he did, he at least gave it but a secondary and inferior place in all the concerns of life.
Now as this schoolmaster was held in general respect and fear by the children of the land, it was proposed by the neighbours, when they saw that they could not prevail with Humble Mind to give up all thoughts of a pilgrim's life, that this schoolmaster should be brought to him and his sisters; "for," said they, "the children will acknowledge his authority, although they despise our arguments."
So they made haste; and when they had found Mr. Worldly-Prudence they brought him to Humble Mind's house. Then I hearkened to what should pass between the schoolmaster and Humble Mind, expecting that Mr. Worldy-Prudence would begin to rail at religion and a pilgrim's life, because I knew that he was in the service of the prince of this world. But I was mistaken; for he went more cautiously to work, and opened the conversation by speaking highly of the religion of Christ, and praising those men who faithfully devoted themselves to his service. And having thus thrown Humble Mind off his guard, he proceeded in a more direct manner to the accomplishment of the business he had undertaken, namely, to turn the child from that way of salvation which Evangelist had pointed out.
"Have you been informed, my son," said Mr. Worldly-Prudence, addressing himself to Humble Mind, "that this way into which you are so rashly and hastily determined to set your foot, is a way abounding in all manner of snares and dangers; and that if you go unprepared to meet these dangers, you will assuredly perish?"
"I know, Sir," replied Humble Mind, "that the way of the pilgrim is thickly set with dangers, and that I am weak, and unprovided with any means of self-defence; but Evangelist has taught me, that I must trust in the Lord, who will assuredly bring me through every trial."
"The Lord our God," said Mr. Worldly-Prudence, "as Evangelist has taught you, will no doubt ultimately become our Saviour; but this consideration is by no means to prevent us from exerting ourselves in the use of those powers which God has given us for the promotion of his glory, and for our own preservation. In the way which Evangelist has persuaded you to take you will meet with thieves, with wild beasts, with giants, and dragons; with adversaries who will ridicule and scoff at you; with some who will endeavour to shake your faith by learned and wily arguments; and others who will endeavour to mislead you by cunning misrepresentations."
"Now, in order properly to meet all these difficulties," continued Mr. Worldly-Prudence, "you ought to have learned the whole art of offence and defence, as it is taught in my school; and which I can speedily put you in the way of acquiring, if you will but delay, for a short time, your perilous undertaking, and put yourself under my care. Moreover, you should have a familiar acquaintance with such facts and objections, such reasonings and arguments, as your adversaries are likely to produce; lest, by your ignorance, you should bring your Christian profession into disgrace. For the adversaries of our Lord are often found to be men of such deep learning, ready wit, and shining talents, as enable them readily to perplex and confound their opponents. And how, I ask, can a child like you, expect to prevail against such persons?"
"Is it not written," said Humble Mind, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Matthew 21. 16.
"It is so written," said Mr. Worldly-Prudence, "and it doth so happen, sometimes, that even babes in Christ appear to triumph over the wise and learned of this world. But these are extreme and rare cases; and such results can only be expected, where the ordinary means of improvement have not been enjoyed. But can the blessing of God be expected to follow a youth, who, being offered the advantages of human learning, rejects them all, either from the indolence of his nature, or from his false notions of religion? Come with me, therefore, I intreat you, Humble Mind," continued the schoolmaster; "remain awhile under my tuition, and I will arm and prepare you for that mighty warfare with demons and infidels, which he must needs engage in who becomes a pilgrim."
Now I perceived, that Humble Mind did not thoroughly understand all these big words which were used by Mr. Worldly-Prudence; but so far he thought he understood their meaning, viz. - that the way of salvation was an extremely dangerous one, and one indeed which could not be passed by an ignorant and unarmed child. And now the poor boy felt himself in a strait, not knowing what to do or say: for whereas he was pressed on one side by the dread of Conviction-of-Sin, from whose blows he was still exceedingly sore; so on the other he was vehemently urged by Inbred-Sin and Mr. Worldly-Prudence, which last held him by the arm, and seemed by no means inclined to leave his hold.
Now after awhile I looked again, and behold the enemy had prevailed: so I saw Mr. Worldly-Prudence leading away Humble Mind to his school, having quieted Playful and Peace by a promise that their brother should soon return to them armed and prepared to be their defender in the perilous journey which they were desirous to undertake.
Then I looked after Humble Mind, whom Mr. Worldly-Prudence had conveyed to his school-house, a very ancient building, situated on an uninclosed ground, among wild olives and other trees, which had never been grafted, and which therefore produced but little fruit. And behold, many boys went to and fro through the courts of the school-house; and I hearkened to the language which they used, but it bore nor resemblance to the language of Zion.
So Mr. Worldly-Prudence led Humble Mind into his study; and having examined him concerning what he had learned, he directed him to lay aside for the present the book which Evangelist had given him; instead of which he put into his hands certain heathen writers of ancient date, which he assured him it was necessary that he should study, in order effectually to refute the adversaries of religion. So having finished the examination, the schoolmaster brought Humble mind into the schoolroom among the other boys, and Inbred-Sin was with him.
Thus Humble Mind remained for awhile in the school of Mr. Worldly-Prudence, studying such books as were placed before him, and playing with his school-fellows at their customary games.
Now I perceived in my dream, that all those belonging to the school were called Christians, and that certain moral forms were observed by the master, while the religion of Christ was never spoken of in the school; neither was any reference made to our Lord's will and pleasure in the conduct either of scholars or masters; nor could I discover how that which was taught the boys had any tendency, either directly or indirectly, to the advancement of religious knowledge.
Then I watched to observe what effect this mode of life would have upon Humble Mind; and I perceived, that he grew utterly dull and dead with respect to the concerns of his soul; that he conversed with Inbred-Sin as with a bosom friend and brother; and that Inbred-Sin ruled him as entirely as he formerly had done. Thus the enemies of the Lord for awhile were permitted to triumph. In the mean time I looked around for help: but, for the present, could perceive none.
Now I saw, in my dream, that it pleased the Lord of pilgrims, after awhile, to stretch forth his arm for the preservation of the child. And behold, Evangelist came to him as he stood before the door of the school-house, and said, "Humble Mind, what doest thou here? did I not visit thee in thy father's house? and did I not warn thee to flee from this country? Knowest thou not that sure destruction awaits such as continue to dwell in this place?"
On hearing the words of Evangelist, Humble Mind began to tremble. Inbred-Sin also drew into the back ground; still however keeping close enough to the ear of Humble Mind, to whisper therein the answers which he should make to Evangelist.
"Did I not point out," said Evangelist, "the dangers which awaited thee, on remaining in this place? and did I not charge thee to flee by the gate which is opened at the head of the way? What, then, art thou doing here?"
To this Humble Mind replied - "Sir, fearing that I might be too weak to wrestle with the enemies which I was told would meet me in the way, I was persuaded to come hither, in order to learn the art of warfare, and to obtain such kind of knowledge as might fit me to contend with the adversaries of our Lord."
"And what is this art of war? and what is this knowledge," asked Evangelist, "which thou hast been acquiring in this place? Knowest thou not, my son, that he only is strong, who walks in the strength of the Lord? and that he only is mighty in arms, who puts on the whole armour of God?"
"I have acquired the knowledge of many estimable things in this school," replied Humble Mind, "where my master has endeavoured to confirm my belief in the Holy Book of God by making me study the writings of the ancient authors; some of whom are found to agree with Scripture, and to cast light upon it."
"And hast thou not," said Evangelist, "while looking at these lesser lights, forgotten to fix thine eye on that diviner light, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day?"
I heard then that Evangelist proceeded to pronounce certain dreadful threatenings in the ear of Humble Mind; under the terrors of which he broke into tears and cries, saying, "Sir, I confess that I have done amiss, and would do better; but I am held in such a state of bondage by this my companion, even this sin which so easily besets me, that the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do." Romans 7. 19.
Then spake Evangelist - "Know, my son, that this Inbred-Sin which dwelleth with thee, is so exceeding powerful, that no man hath ever been able by his own strength, to break the yoke of that wicked one from off his neck. When Adam transgressed the law of God by eating the forbidden fruit, this Inbred-Sin was then conceived in his heart; and from thenceforward the nature of every man, who is of the offspring of Adam, has been very far drawn aside from original righteousness, and strongly inclined to evil; so that the flesh lusteth always against the Spirit. Moreover this contrary tendency so far prevails in every person born into the world as to deserve God's wrath and damnation. Wherefore no man is counted righteous before God, excepting and only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for his own works or deservings. That holy book therefore which I delivered to thee, doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved. The Lord Jesus Christ hath mercifully opened a way for sinners unto salvation - He is the way, the truth, and the life; and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. John 14. 6. Now I formerly pointed out to thee this way of salvation, which is thus described - Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it: but wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction; and many there be which go in thereat." Matthew 7. 13, 14.
I heard then that Evangelist spake of Mr. Worldly-Prudence and his followers. "These are the men," said he, "who think themselves wiser than their Maker, and who turn aside many young persons from the right way, in order to fill them with such knowledge as only puffeth up, and tendeth to destruction. They take the sling and stone from the hand of the youthful pilgrim, and put on him the armour of Saul; they rob him of his Bible, and fill his mouth with the words of man's wisdom: so that more young pilgrims are destroyed by this Worldly-Prudence, than by thousands of the open enemies of our Lord."
In this manner spake Evangelist; after which I saw, in my dream, that he again put into Humble Mind's hand the Book of God, bidding him beware, and never again part with it: "For it shall be," said he, "a lamp unto thy feet, and a light unto thy path." Psalm 119, 105.
So Humble Mind received the book, and, placing it in his bosom, he gave his hand unto Evangelist, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
Then Evangelist took the hand of the child, and drew him forward towards the gate which led forth from the school-yard.
Now I perceived that, when those who were in the yard saw Humble Mind going out from among them in the hand of Evangelist, they raised such a hue and cry, that the master and his assistants, with all those who were in the school-house, came running out to see what was the matter.
I heard then that there arose a very warm and vehement dispute between Mr. Worldly-Prudence and Evangelist; wherein Mr. Worldly-Prudence maintained that he was one of the best friends of young pilgrims, and that the object of his instructions was to bring them so far acquainted with the writings of the best and wisest of the ancients as might give them a decided advantage in arguing with the enemies of religion.
In reply to which, Evangelist read from his book the following passage - "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" 1 Corinthians 1 19, 20.
Upon which, I heard that Mr. Worldly-Prudence charged Evangelist with enthusiasm and folly, saying, that he was the friend of indolence and ignorance, a hater of learning, and a despiser of all the wisdom of past ages.
Then did the whole school break forth into loud taunts and scoffing, whereat Humble Mind trembled exceedingly; more especially, as Inbred-Sin began, at the same time, to whisper in his ears such things as filled him with shame, and brought the blood up into his cheeks. Nevertheless, by divine help, he drew not his hand from Evangelist, but kept close to him till he had conveyed him out of the school-yard, and brought him, at length, to a place from whence the gate which leadeth to salvation might clearly by distinguished.
By this time Humble Mind had got out of the sound of the scoffings and blasphemies of his late companions in Mr. Worldly-Prudence's school. Nevertheless, his mind was as yet by no means at ease: for not sooner had he begun to move towards the Way of Salvation, than such a strife began betwixt him and Inbred-Sin, as would surely have proved too much for him, had not the child been assisted from on high, although he knew it not. And first, Inbred-Sin sprang upon his back, and there he lay like a drag upon a wheel; so that the boy could hardly advance at all. I saw then, that Humble Mind tried to shake him off; but as fast as he freed himself from him in one part, this tormentor fixed upon some other: now hanging on him by one limb, and now by another; sometimes taking him by the hair of the head; sometimes twitching him by the back, sometimes by one elbow, sometimes by the other; but still, as it were, in a sly and underhand way, though without rest or intermission: for, as I said before, one of the qualities of this family of Inbred-Sin, is, that they know not what it is to be fatigued or weary. In spite, however, of this tormentor, Humble Mind, being led by Evangelist, proceeded towards the gate which is at the head of the Way of Salvation.
Then said Evangelist to the child, "My son, what seest thou?"
Humble Mind. I see a light, which grows brighter and brighter as I look thereon.
Evangelist. I am well pleased that thou art enabled to discern that light. Blessed art thou: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but thy Father which is in heaven. Matthew 16. 17. This is the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star; Revelation 22. 16; the leading star which hath brought many to Zion.
Then Evangelist rejoiced in spirit, and said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Matthew 9, 25, 26. So Evangelist kissed the boy; and bidding him hasten to the gate, and there knock boldly for admission, he withdrew himself from the eyes of the child.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when he which was sent from God, to wit, Evangelist, had departed, Inbred-Sin immediately faced about; and coming before the little pilgrim, began openly and without disguise to impede him in his way. And first, he would have him to stand still while he argued with him; and so pressing was he, that the boy, for quietness' sake, stood still to hear what he had to say. Then began he to plead and argue with Humble Mind, and that after such a fashion as I had never witnessed before. He assured him, that, if he persevered in following the counsel of Evangelist, he would become the laughing stock of all the country; that he would lose all the good things of this world, and be generally considered as a fool and a madman. And when he found that these arguments would not prevail, he was for having Humble Mind just to go back and take a handsome leave of his master and his school-fellows. "And who knows," said this arch tempter, "but God may give you power to persuade a few of your old playmates to come on pilgrimage with you? - and thus you may become the instrument of saving some whom you love." He spake unto him also of his sisters, and those of his father's house, earnestly pleading with him to turn back for the purpose of securing their company. Thus Inbred-Sin sought to entice and entangle Humble Mind through the affection he bore to his earthly friends. But when this would not do, (for Humble Mind was too hot upon going his journey to be thus put by,) Inbred-Sin shifted his ground again, and asked him how he could think of appearing before the Lord of the gate, clothed in those filthy rags, and with Inbred-Sin as his companion? "for," added he, spitefully, "wherever thou goest I will follow thee, Humble Mind, and will be thy torment and thy shame; for I am thy brother, the son of thy mother, and I have had dominion over thee ever since thou wast born, and now will I bring thee to disgrace in the presence of thy King."
Now I perceived, that, when Inbred-Sin became thus outrageous, Humble Mind trembled exceedingly, neither had he power for some time to look towards the shining light. After awhile, however, he recovered himself so far as to recollect the book which Evangelist had given him. So he plucked it out of his bosom, and read these words - I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7. 21-25.
When he had read these words, he was comforted; and crying mightily unto God, he pressed forward, overthrowing Inbred-Sin to clear the way before him. So he hastened toward the gate, and Inbred-Sin followed swiftly behind him.
Now I looked again after Humble Mind: and behold, he was come unto the gate which is at the entrance of the Way of Salvation. That gate is cut in a rock hard as adamant; beyond which I saw the Way of Salvation walled on each side, and straight as an arrow, sometimes ascending dangerous heights, at other times descending into deep valleys, and passing through dreary wildernesses, bogs, and quagmires. Nevertheless, the tendency of that way was, for the most part, upwards, till at length it reached the utmost boundaries of the everlasting hills; where the glory of it became too dazzling for mortal eyes - for the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4. 18.
I saw then, in my dream, that, when Humble Mind came up to the gate, he was so spent by his struggle with Inbred-Sin, that he fell upon the step like one fainting, having no power to knock for entrance: nevertheless, the door was speedily opened by a venerable person called Good-Will, who lifted the child from the ground, and carried him in to his Lord. Then thought I on these words - And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65. 24.
Now I saw not in what manner the Lord of the gate revealed himself unto Humble Mind; for he showeth himself in various forms unto pilgrims, according to his own good pleasure, and in the manner which he deemeth most suitable and profitable to their tempers and conditions. Sometimes he showeth himself crowned with thorns, with bleeding hands and feet; sometimes he appeareth full of sorrow, and clad with mourning-garments; and at other times he discovereth himself in the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. But in whatever form it pleaseth him to reveal himself, he is found to be all lovely, without spot or stain of sin.
So Humble Mind came out from the presence of the Lord, and I wondered at the change which had passed upon him. His Lord had caused him to be washed in a pure fountain of water, and stripped him of his rags, and clothed him in beautiful garments, even the garments of salvation, which had been made white in the blood of the Lamb. Moreover, the Lord had set his signet on the brow of the child, which was an ornament so exceedingly becoming, that it made him look like unto the sons of God. One thing, however, grieved me, which was, that Inbred-Sin still accompanied the boy; though he carried it not so imperiously towards him as before, but conducted himself more modestly, restraining his tongue and putting on a demurer look.
So Humble Mind set his face to go forwards; when I saw that certain servants of the Lord of the gate went with him a little way, and gave him directions for his journey. And first, they bade him beware of turning aside, either to the right, or to the left. Moreover, they told him that he would find many quiet resting-places by the way, which the Lord of pilgrims had prepared for the reception of his servants. "The first of these," said they, "are the pleasant pastures and flowery fields belonging to the shepherd Sincerity, by whom infant pilgrims are received and fed many days with the fresh milk of the word. Next to these sweet fields, and a little further on, is the house of the Interpreter, where young pilgrims also receive wholesome nourishment. Beyond this is the place called Beautiful, where certain holy virgins dwell, and where many rare and excellent things are to be seen - and still further on are to be found the sweet Valley of Humiliation, where lilies grow in shadowy places - the house of Mr. Orthodox, in the very town of Vanity - the hills upon which the shepherds dwell, and which are called Immanuel's Land - also the lovely Land of Beulah - together with sundry little peaceful valleys and verdant solitudes scattered over the pilgrim's path, where the weary traveller may obtain sweet refreshment, freely drinking of the living stream, and gathering honey from the stony rock." After acquainting Humble Mind with these things, and giving him their blessing, the servants of the Lord went back to their Master's house.
After this I perceived that Humble Mind went joyfully on his way, even along the Way of Salvation. Now the way was exceedingly beautiful, even like a garden inclosed on each side, and shaded with cedar trees and lign aloes; while many fountains of water gushed out beneath the trees, and ran murmuring along by the way-side. The high road also was visible in the remote perspective, ascending the blue heights, till, at length, it was lost in the distant clouds.
So Humble Mind pursued his way, sometimes breaking into songs of praise, sometimes leaping for joy like a young hart, and sometimes reading in his book. Thus he passed on for a whole day, being filled with the love of him whom he had lately seen, even the Saviour that bled for him upon the accursed tree. And as night approached, he drank of the water of the fountain by the way-side, and laid him down to sleep under the shadow of the trees till morning-light; when he arose and pursued his journey, hoping soon to reach the pastures of the shepherd Sincerity, which were not half a day's journey before him.
Now all this while, to wit, from the time that Humble Mind had left the gate till he arose on the second day of his journey, Inbred-Sin had followed close upon his steps; but so softly and cautiously, that during the whole of the first day, Humble Mind knew not that he was there. And herein is often displayed the subtilty of Inbred-Sin, in seeming to withdraw himself in seasons of peculiar consolation, by way of lulling the soul into a state of security and carelessness. Thus was it with Humble Mind: during the first day of his pilgrimage, Inbred-Sin was so quiet, that Humble Mind, trusting he had taken his leave for ever, was ready to say in his prosperity, I shall never be moved: thou, Lord, by thy favour hast made my mountain to stand strong. Psalm xxx. 6, 7. But the second day I saw that Inbred-Sin became bolder, bestirring himself betimes in the morning; and not being properly checked at first, he speedily destroyed all the comfort which the little pilgrim had lately enjoyed.
Inbred-Sin began his operations by disturbing Humble Mind while reading his Bible; for the little pilgrim used to read and meditate upon his Holy Book as he walked on his way. Inbred-Sin at these seasons got close behind him, and peeping first over one shoulder into the book, then over the other, he whispered strange words into his ears, drawing back as quick as lightning whenever Humble Mind turned to discover whence these whisperings proceeded. These suggestions were repeated whenver Humble Mind attempted to read; and I perceived that they generally had some reference to the passage of Scripture which the boy was perusing. On such occasions, a poor pilgrim has nothing for his support, but earnest prayer: Humble Mind did not, however, fly to this remedy; but, finding that he had not the same delight in reading as at other times, he shut up his book and put it into his bosom.
Upon this, Inbred-Sin became more daring, and proceeded to pluck and twitch Humble Mind, as he had done several times before, when the boy was minded to go in the way from which he was anxious to withdraw him.
Now I saw, in my dream, that these pulls and twitches had been many times repeated, before Humble Mind was aware whence they came. For he had so buoyed up his mind with the assurance that Inbred-Sin would not be able to follow him into the King's highway, that he was for attributing all his unpleasant feelings either to the malice of Satan, who is the declared enemy of the Prince of pilgrims, or to bodily disorder, or indeed to any other outward circumstance, rather than to his own Inbred-Sin, which he supposed had been left on the outside of the gate at the head of the way. He was, therefore, much hurt, and cruelly mortified, on finding that his struggle with sin was not to end where the work of grace began - and going on to infer from his late experience that this warfare might probably continue till the work of grace should be finished at the hour of death, he was hurried into an agony of mind, crying out in his distress, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7. 24.
In answer to this, Inbred-Sin, coming forward, began to plead with Humble Mind; and thus he addressed him: - "Wherefore, Humble Mind, do you cry out against me, who am no other than a part of yourself? Was I not born with you? was I not bred with you? have I not always slept in your bosom? have I not provided you with sports and pleasures from the days of your infancy until very lately? And now will you cast me aside for ever?"
"Nay, but," said Humble Mind, "if I part not from you, I shall surely perish for ever: for the wages of sin is death. It was you, and such as you, who crucified the Lord of glory; and I know that nothing less will content you, than my absolute ruin both of body and soul."
"Nay," said Inbred-Sin, "you wrong me, Humble Mind: I am not what you think; I am your friend, your brother, nay, I am your very self. And would any man, think you, seek his own ruin? More than this, if I was evil-inclined in former days, it was because I knew no better; but I am now changed, and have received a new nature from the Lord of the gate which is at the head of the way. Therefore, Humble Mind, you have no occasion to fear me any longer; I am become a servant of the High and Mighty One, I have submitted my will to his, I am anxious to obey his commandments, and am set upon doing his service. Therefore do not be afraid, but treat me as your friend, and take me as the companion of your pilgrimage."
In this manner Inbred-Sin pleaded a long while, and that with so much importunity, that Humble Mind, at length, ceased to argue with him, or to resist him: so Inbred-Sin took his place by his side as boldly and familiarly as ever.
Now while I wondered how the little pilgrim would pursue his course with such a companion, I saw a man come into the King's highway, climbing over the wall, and with him came his sons, two boys about the age of Humble Mind.
This man's name is Mr. Lover-of-Novelty, and he was come to try a pilgrim's life, having been told that it was a pleasant one. And such indeed it is, with all its troubles, to those who are introduced to it by the right way; but to those who do not enter it by the gate which is at the head of the way, it is neither pleasant nor agreeable. I am the door, saith Christ, and he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. John 10. 1.
So Mr. Lover-of-Novelty, having entered the King's highway, presently espied Humble Mind, who was a little before him; and calling aloud to him, he invited him to join their company.
Now Humble Mind had no inclination to make any acquaintance with this man and his children, because he liked not the manner in which he had entered the Way of Salvation. Inbred-Sin, however, suffered not Humble Mind's better judgment to prevail, but insinuated that Mr. Lover-of-Novelty might be a good pilgrim, though he conformed not altogether to the ancient rules set down for pilgrims; and moreover, he insisted that Humble Mind should accept his invitation. So he held him in debate till Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons came up and joined them.
Then thought I - This Inbred-Sin is a bold one, and, as the old saying is, "Give him an inch, and he will take an ell." A little while ago, he did not dare to show his face; and now he is become so bold, and loud, and vehement, that he must have all things his own way; and this, too, on the King's ground, and in company with one of the chosen ones of the Lord. Then I recollected these words - If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? Luke 23. 31.
It is true, that Humble Mind, being young and inexperienced, could not be supposed to have skill enough to contend with this child of hell: but it is well know, that neither age, wisdom nor experience, have ever yet enabled any man to overcome his inward corruptions. He that would conquer Inbred-Sin, must contend with him, not in his own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit; he must watch unto prayer, and go forth in the strength of the Lord. God the Holy Spirit hath power to overcome and cast out this our inbred enemy. It is his peculiar work to clean and purify the heart, and to set it free from the dominion of sin.
I perceived then that Humble Mind had not gone far with Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons, before they came to a little rising ground; from which, just before them appeared the pastures of the shepherd Sincerity, an exceeding fair and lovely region, adorned with groves of tufted trees, shady fountains, and delicate flowers. This place is provided by the Lord of the way, for the reception of young pilgrims; and here the lambs of the Lord's flock dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. Ezekial 34. 25.
Now these delightful pastures of the shepherd Sincerity had proved so peculiarly beneficial to many young pilgrims, that the enemy of their Prince looked upon them with a very evil eye. And not only so; but, in order to divert the attention of youthful travellers from that attractive scene, he had planted a garden on the left hand, close by the way-side, on that very spot where these beautiful fields first present themselves to the view: and behold, he had adorned it with all kinds of fanciful decorations. He had also opened a door from it into the King's highway, where he set one Light-Mind, a fair- looking gay damsel, to entice young pilgrims into his garden.
I saw then, in my dream, that Mr. Lover-of-Novelty was mightily taken with the appearance of this garden on the left hand: and Humble Mind, too, thought it looked very pretty; for it was decorated with all manner of gay flowers, together with little pavilions made of filigree work. So they stopped before the garden gate; when the damsel Light-Mind opened it to them, and invited them to enter.
Now I saw that Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons went in at once; but Humble Mind made a kind of stand, and would know of the damsel, who she was? and whether the garden belonged unto the King? and wherefore she invited him to come in?
To these questions the damsel thus answered: - "This garden has been planted here for the advantage of young pilgrims. This is a place of refreshment and education. Here all kinds of desirable accomplishments are taught, and that in a manner the most easy and pleasing. We have also in this place all kinds of musical instruments," added the damsel, "with every other possible device to render study delightful. Only come in, and you shall speedily be taught every thing which can make you an agreeable and accomplished pilgrim."
Then answered Humble Mind, "I thank you for your invitation, but I am upon a journey of life and death. I am a poor sinner travelling from the place of my birth, which is in the Valley of Destruction, to the Celestial City."
The damsel then said, "Wherefore should you be in such haste? have you not many years before you for this journey of which you speak? You are but a child; turn in here, and rest awhile, and when you are a little older, you may proceed on your way."
Humble Mind. I know not how many years are before me, nor at what hour it may please God to require my soul: but what I most fear is, that, if I once turn knowingly out of the right way, I may never be able to discover it again.
Then I saw that Light-Mind laughed, and said, "Who has filled your head, my son, with these grave conceits? There is a time for all things: youth is the time for pleasure, and old age for religion. Methinks it is a pity that so fine a boy, as you are, should not be taught every thing that might enable him to pass well through the world. Cannot a man serve God without being awkward and ignorant?"
In this manner Light-Mind pleaded and reasoned with Humble Mind. Neither was Inbred-Sin quiet all this time; but while the damsel spake, he was gently drawing Humble Mind towards the gate of the garden, and whispering in his ear such things as he thought would add force to her arguments. So that, at length, through the open persuasions of the damsel, and the secret influence of Inbred-Sin, Humble Mind was sufficiently overcome to turn aside and follow Light-Mind into the garden.
Now I saw that the walks in this garden were so disposed that he who once set his foot therein could with difficulty find a passage out again. - Here were all kinds of vanities, and teachers of superficial accomplishments; together with many children and young persons whom Light-Mind had beguiled from the right way. Then I saw that certain of these teachers of vanities came and spread forth their toys before Humble Mind, to wit, novels, romances, idle songs, and the like, with all the gaudy fopperies of modern learning. Whereupon Inbred-Sin insisted that Humble Mind should take possession of these things; which indeed he himself was so greedily disposed to do, that he filled his pockets and his bosom there with, so foolishly overloading himself, that he dropped the book which Evangelist had given him among the rubbish of the place, without perceiving that he had lost it.
I saw then that Inbred-Sin gathered strength and courage; and taking Humble Mind by the hand, he led him along the mazy windings of this garden, still further and further from the Way of Salvation: while Humble Mind, being puffed up with the fine things he had gotten, adverted not to the situation in which he was placed. So he continued till towards evening, strolling about the garden, amusing himself with the baubles it presented, and playing with the children and young people who were there assembled.
Now I beheld that; at the back of the garden, there was a howling wilderness full of wild beasts, which used to come in the night and commit dreadful ravages in the place; there being no fence or wall between the garden and the wilderness. So about sunset the beasts began to howl in a frightful manner; till all who were in the garden, being filled with consternation, fled some one way, some another - but there was no place of security in the whole garden.
Hereupon Humble Mind became sensible of the fault he had committed in leaving the right way, even the Way of Salvation. He then looked about for some passage by which he might return; but, alas! he could find none; and the dark night was coming on apace. Then I saw that he broke out in angry reproaches against Inbred-Sin, which the other as angrily retorted; so that their words ran very high on both sides.
And first Humble Mind spake. "Oh, child of hell!" said he, "to what have you now brought me? You have beguiled me from my straight, my safe, and pleasant path, into this forbidden place; where I am in danger every moment of being devoured by wild beasts. Oh, Inbred-Sin! you will never be content till you have plunged me, soul and body, into hell."
In answer to this, Inbred-Sin said, "Am I not a part of yourself? am I not indeed your own self? How then can you reproach yourself?"
To this Humble Mind answered, "I well know that you are a part of myself; I know that you were born with me, and bred with me: and more than this, I fear that I never shall get quit of you, till we go down together into the grave."
"Nay, but," said Inbred-Sin, "are not the things which I have shown you very excellent, and worthy of the most serious attention?"
Humble Mind. But, if I should gain the whole world and lose my own soul, what would it profit me? Matthew 16. 26.
"As for the welfare of the soul," said Inbred-Sin, "I am not so much concerned about that."
"But are you not afraid of hell fired?" asked Humble Mind.
Inbred-Sin. I love to indulge my own longings - the things in this garden please me.
Humble Mind. You are, I see, no better than a brute.
Inbred-Sin. What I am, you are: if I am even a devil incarnate, you are the same.
Humble Mind answered, "I know that I am exceedingly vile, and altogether filthy, and that no good thing dwelleth in me: nevertheless I will not submit to your control; since he who died for me upon the cross, intended thereby to deliver me from your dominion. So, take my defiance."
"We shall see who is master," said Inbred-Sin. So they rushed together, and Inbred-Sin showed himself mighty in war. There was no beating him off: although Humble Mind did his utmost, he could by no means prevail; because, as I said before, Inbred-Sin was a stranger to fatigue. He required no time to take breath or gather strength, but heaped blow upon blow, and stroke upon stroke, in such sort, that Samson himself would have been no match for him; since what he wanted in strength was more than made up by his perseverance. So they continued struggling for a long while. At length Inbred-Sin, grasping Humble Mind in his arms, and entangling him in his feet, tripped him up and laid him all his length on the ground, and so bruised was the boy by the fall, that he had not power to lift himself up. In that place therefore he lay all the night moaning and crying; and Inbred-Sin stamped upon him with all his might, triumphantly exulting over him, and whispering evil words against the King of pilgrims in his ears. So that poor Humble Mind dared not to pray, being filled with horror at the blasphemous suggestions of his own inbred corruption. And thus he lay all that night: but the Lord of pilgrims would not suffer the evil beasts to come near him. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3. 31-33.
Now I saw in my vision, that this same night, towards dawn of day, the shepherd Sincerity, (the same who has the care of the little ones of our Lord,) dreamed a dream as he lay asleep on his bed. And in his dream there was presented to his view a fair white lamb in the jaws of a dreadful wolf, that was just about to devour him: when lo, a voice from heaven awakened the shepherd, saying, "Save my lamb."
At this he arose in haste, and taking his crook in his hand, he went forth in search of him that was in the power of the wolf. So at break of day he came to the door of the garden into which Humble Mind had strayed; and turning in thither, he soon espied the child lying groaning on the ground. Now the shepherd knew by his white garment and the mark upon his forehead, that he was one of the lambs of the Lord. So he stretched forth his staff, and bidding him to take hold thereof, he raised him up and drew him towards himself. Then taking him by the hand, all trembling as he was, he led him through the winding ways of the garden towards the King's high road.
The shepherd was so well known in those parts, that no one dared to ask him what he did there, or wherefore he meddled with the child. When the shepherd, however, was passed on a little, I heard that all the inhabitants of the garden broke out into loud hissings and mockings - but Sincerity heeded them not.
Now when the shepherd had brought Humble Mind to the place where he had dropped his book, he caused him to cast away all the toys and trifles with which he had loaded himself the day before, and take up his book again. So he led the boy on, till he had brought him out upon the King's highway, where he smartly corrected him with his shepherd's crook; agreeably to the words of holy writ - correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Proverbs. 29. 17. After this the shepherd addressed him in the following manner.
Shepherd. How has it come to pass, after being so kindly received by the Lord of pilgrims, after being invested with the white garments of salvation, and marked by your Lord's own signet - how comes it, I say, that you have so speedily turned aside from the right way? Have you so quickly lost the remembrance of your Lord, and how lovely he appeared in your eyes when you were first admitted into his presence? How is it that you have so soon forgotten your first love?
Then Humble Mind began to weep; and, as he wept, he thus replied: - "It is my wish to do well; I have no desire to have any other king than the Saviour Christ. His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Proverbs 3, 17. But though I wish to do well, I find I cannot: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. Romans 7. 18.
Shepherd. Can you tell what it is that holds you back from doing that which you wish to do?
Humble Mind. Yes, Sir, it is my Inbred-Sin, the sin that was born with me, and which I fear I shall never get quit of, till I go down into the grave. Oh, Sir! you know not what a deceitful, dangerous companion this Inbred-Sin is.
Shepherd. Perhaps I know more of him than you think, my child; nevertheless, I should be glad to know in what way this deceiver has dealt with you.
Humble Mind. If I were to tell you, Sir, all the tricks and contrivances of this Inbred-Sin, it would take me till sunset, aye, and all the night too: but, if you please, Sir, I will mention some of the chief things, with which I have to charge him. And first, before I was brought to the knowledge of the Lord, this Inbred-Sin was altogether my master; and I am shocked on recollecting to what a state of hardness and sinful desperation he reduced me at that time, and what crimes he caused me to commit. When I was a very little child, I remember that I loved my father and mother, and that very dearly: but after they were gone, this Inbred-Sin so hardened my heart against them, that I heeded no more the commands they had left with me, than if I had never received them: neither had I any wish to follow my dear parents, or to be joined to them again: and all this through the instigation of this Inbred-Sin. And more than this, (continued Humble Mind,) I was persuaded, by this same Inbred-Sin, to go to Mr. Worldly-Prudence, and to forsake my little sisters, of whom I now know not what is become. But Inbred-Sin, as I before said, exercised an absolute dominion over me in those days.
Here Humble Mind looked very sorrowful; for he remembered his sisters, and his heart was moved for them.
"This Inbred-Sin, my child," said the shepherd, "as you have found, offereth such violence to the nature of man, that he often subverteth and destroyeth all natural affection, producing hatred between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children; aye, and such hath been his power, that he has induced parents to sacrifice their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters. Psalm 106. 37, 38. But now go on with your account."
I heard then, that Humble Mind told the shepherd how Inbred-Sin had led him to neglect the warnings of Evangelist, to despise the remonstrances of Conviction-of-Sin, to throw aside his Bible, and to turn his back altogether on the Way of Salvation.
"And, I doubt not," said the shepherd, "but that this same Inbred-Sin would have you to brave hell-fire itself, for the sake of half an hour's pleasure in this world."
"Oh, Sir! the fear of eternal punishment has no power over him; he more than once as much as told me, that nothing would satisfy him but my resolving to lay aside all concern about my soul."
"I could have told you," said the shepherd, "had I then been present with you, what were the views and purposes of this Inbred-Sin: for he is not only the enemy of God, but he is enmity itself, and his nature can never undergo a change."
"But I have not told you, Sir," said Humble Mind, "that, troublesome as this Inbred-Sin was before I became a pilgrim, he has been much more so since; nay, from the first hour that I set out on this way, he has been the very torment of my life. He has occasionally made my very existence a burden to me: sometimes pulling my back; sometimes pinching and tearing my very heart; and then hanging upon me like a drag upon a wheel, so that I could scarcely go or stand: at other times whispering evil words in my ears, arguing, and contending, lying and pleading, without intermission: and lastly, in a furious onset he brought me to the ground, where he kept me sorely bruised, and not daring to cry out for help, till you, Sir, came in to my assistance."
The shepherd answered, "Give the glory to God, my son, and not unto me; for unto him you owe your present deliverance." He then explained to Humble Mind the reason why Inbred-Sin was more troublesome to him of late than formerly. "You have now," said the shepherd, "by the power of the Holy Ghost, received a new and spiritual nature, which is directly contrary to your old nature; and thus a warfare between flesh and spirit is begun within you which will continue till your sinful body turns to corruption in the grave. Formerly, you and Inbred-Sin pulled one way, and were of one mind. You were then dead in sin, and had no power to turn to that which was good. But now you are become, in some measure, a new creature; and this has given rise to the contest of which you complain: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5. 17.
"I had hoped," said Humble Mind, "that, after obtaining admittance at the gate, and receiving forgiveness of sins, and being clothed in garments made white in the blood of the Lamb, I should have been freed for ever from the assaults of this vexatious enemy."
"It is not the will of God," replied the shepherd, "to deliver his children, while they are in the flesh, from the importunities of sin; although he sets them so far free from the dominion thereof, as to prevent its tyrannising over them as in former times. Romans 6. 14. Yet he leaves their inward corruptions as a thorn in the flesh, to humble and mortify them; and to teach them, by experience, that they are nothing, and can do nothing, but must look for salvation to Christ alone."
"But, Sir," said Humble Mind, "if sin is no longer to have dominion over us, how came I lately to meet with so dreadful an overthrow?"
"Because," said the shepherd, "you have given this Inbred-Sin a temporary advantage over you, by yielding unto its deceitful arguments, and forsaking the King's highway: moreover, you encountered him in your own strength, without seeking assistance from on high."
I heard then that Humble Mind put several further questions concerning the manner in which Inbred-Sin might be best mortified and kept in subjection.
To which the shepherd answered, "by deep humility and self-abasement, by prayer for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and by looking to the cross of Christ."
In this manner the shepherd and Humble Mind conversed together as they walked along the Way of Salvation towards the shepherd's habitation. In the mean time Inbred-Sin had followed Humble Mind softly and cautiously, stealing along silently, and, as it were, on tiptoe, but close upon the boy's steps, and listening curiously to what the shepherd might say: but he avoided showing his face, on account of the shepherd's staff, of which he was sore afraid.
By this time they were come close upon the pasture-ground, and a more inviting or lovely prospect my eyes never beheld. The Way of Salvation passes through these fields. They are called the fields of Holy Peace, where, as I before said, infant pilgrims are received to be fed with the pure milk of the Word, until they have attained strength to continue their pilgrimage: at which time, it is strictly required of them all to take up their cross; to crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts; to wrestle against principalities and powers; and to put on the whole armour of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 5. 11-13.
The air of these fields is soft and refreshing, and Humble Mind was well pleased to see many young children, clothed in white, scattered over the green lawns: some sporting on the velvet turf; others walking, with books in their hands, under the shade of the waving trees; and others sitting apart on the hill side, or near the cool fountains, hymning their morning praises: for as yet it was but early day. Here the larger and stronger children watched over the little ones with tender love, while the little ones gave due honour to their elders, all of them preferring one another; and the weak, and the humble, and the lowly among them were had in respect by all their companions. Their garments were pure and spotless, their complexions fresh and ruddy, and their eyes as the eyes of young doves.
When the good shepherd appeared, these little ones came joyfully skipping towards him, like young roes and harts upon the mountain: yet their love was sweetly mingled with awe; so that when they came near, they bowed humbly before him and were silent. Then their good shepherd smiled upon them, and gave them his morning blessing.
Moreover, I saw that, when the children were gathered round their shepherd, Humble Mind looked, and behold, Playful and Peace stood in the midst of them. Then indeed did he forget all the sorrows he had endured, and his heart was filled with joy; while he wept aloud, and ran to his sisters.
Now Playful and Peace, when they first saw Humble Mind holding the hand of the shepherd, knew him not to be their brother by reason of the number of children that were gathered around him; but on his coming towards them, they recognized him in a moment, and hastened to meet him. Then was there a cry set up among the other children, saying, "This is their brother, their beloved brother! he has come at last, and has found his little sisters" - for Playful and Peace had often spoken of their brother, frequently wishing for his arrival, and often watching for his approach as far as they could see along the King's highway. And behold, there was joy through all the little flock, because that Humble Mind was come: for their shepherd had taught his young disciples to rejoice with them that do rejoice, and to weep with them that weep. Romans 12. 15. The shepherd Sincerity also rejoiced with his flock, thanking God for the lamb that had been lost and was found.
I saw then, in my dream, that the shepherd caused all the children to sit down upon the grass, giving to each of them a bowl of sweet milk, with honey and fine wheaten cakes; and the children received their food thankfully and with hands lifted up to heaven.
Now I especially noted Humble Mind and his sisters, as they sat close together on the green grass. And behold, Inbred-Sin was skulking behind them, evading the notice of the good shepherd, but not less busy or troublesome than if the shepherd had been absent. I heard him whispering in the ear of one and another of them; and though they encouraged him not, but, as I observed, kept pushing and shaking him off, yet they could by no means rid themselves of his company. Nothing could be more absurd and false than the words which he whispered in their ears; and yet I perceived that he thereby greatly troubled the peace of their minds. I will repeat a few of his spiteful whisperings, as a specimen of the whole.
And first, he said to Humble Mind, "So, your sisters, who are younger than you, have got the start of you, and have been enjoying sweet peace in these pleasant fields, while you were tossed about, enduring all manner of troubles and disquietudes. Your sisters are, surely, more beloved by the Prince of pilgrims than you are." Then shifting his place, he whispered to Playful, "Now your brother is come, he will rule over you, and will not let you play in your bower every day, as you used to do." Then, quick as lightning, he was at Peace's ear, saying, "See you not that your brother loves Playful better than you? he kissed her first, and now he has got hold of her hand." Then again I heard him at Humble Mind's side, whispering something about certain of the children of the shepherd who were sitting near him, how much prettier they were than himself, and how they looked as if they despised him because he was but newly come. Then again he had something to say against the children's breakfast - This was not proper, and that was not good; your sister's bowl of milk is larger than yours, and that boy's cake is whiter than yours: and so he went on. But I was pleased to see that the children, through God's grace, gave him at that time no encouragement.
Now breakfast being finished, the shepherd led the children into a lovely grove of tall cedar trees; where, placing them again around him, and taking the smallest and most tender of the infants upon his knees, he delivered to them such instructions as their young minds could receive. "Look up, my beloved children," said the good shepherd, "through the opening boughs of those trees which meet in lofty arches above your heads: look at the blue sky beyond those white and shining clouds. Beyond that sky there is a celestial country, in which the throne of God is placed. God is one: he is an all-powerful Spirit, who had no beginning, and shall have no end. But while God is essentially one, He has been pleased to reveal himself to us as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, each possessing divine attributes. This doctrine is proposed for us to believe, and though it is above the reach of our limited reason, it is not contrary to it."
"The holy angels are glorious spirits, who wait upon God; they sing his praises, and obey his commands. At the appointment of God they watch over young children, and preserve them from harm; as it is written in the Holy Gospel - Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 18. 10.
"The angels live in heaven, and enjoy the glories of that holy place. If such things are written of us in the book of remembrance as are pleasing in the sight of God, we shall, in the morning of the resurrection, be received into heaven, there to dwell for ever with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The devils once were glorious angels; but they rebelled against God, and were cast down to hell. And if your names are at the last day not found int he book of the Lamb which was slain from the foundation of the world, you will be cast into the lake of fire, there to dwell with the devil and his angels."
"Therefore, my beloved children," added the good shepherd, "kneel down with me, and call upon your God; beseeching him, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, to have mercy upon you, to deliver you from the influence of your own evil hearts, and to make you his children for ever."
So the shepherd knelt upon the grass, with his children all around him; and they prayed to God that he would bless them, for the sake of him who died for them upon the cross, and that he would send his Holy Spirit to dwell with them and deliver them from the power of their inward corruptions. I saw then that the shepherd took a harp in his hand; and, while he played, the children accompanied him with one accord: and the burden of their song was the praises of the Lamb without blemish and without spot.
Now, while the shepherd was delivering his instructions to the children, and while they prayed and sang their hymn, I could not but observe the various tricks and antics of Inbred-Sin, who was in his usual place between Humble Mind and his sisters, but drawn rather behind them, for fear of the shepherd's eye. There he sat quietly till the shepherd began to speak; when immediately he began to whisper in the children's ears, at the same time giving them sundry pushes or sly pulls to draw their attention to himself. "What's yonder?" he said: "See there! Look at that bird! There's a mouse! I hear a cricket! Look at that butterfly! How tall those trees are! There's a bird's nest! O! how the leaves shake! I hear a dog bark! There's a crow!"
In this way he ran on, whispering all manner of impertinences in the ears of the children, and disturbing them so much, that they did not hear half of the shepherd's discourse: and when they went to prayers, he began to yawn with all his might, and thereby constrained the children to do the same, whether they would or not. So that I could not help crying out, "There is no end of the mischievous ways of this Inbred-Sin; he is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know him?" Jeremiah 17. 9.
But, to leave speaking of this Inbred-Sin for awhile, I must say that I never heard any sound more sweet in all my life, than the voices of the little ones singing the praises of their Redeemer.
So, the hymn and the prayer being finished, the shepherd proceeded to give instructions to his little ones of a somewhat different kind, and more particularly suited to their different ages and capacities. He caused the little ones to repeat certain portions of Scriptures which he had allotted to them as their several tasks, making the elder children to read certain passages of that holy book in the original languages in which they were first delivered to man. And now I saw that he had recourse to all the assistance which could be derived from the works of the ancients: but he used them only as books of reference, and treated them as literary handmaids preferred to wait upon that sacred volume, of which he never suffered his scholars to lose sight for a moment.
When these duties were fulfilled this true shepherd called Playful and Peace to him, and bade them take their brother to the bower which he had given them for a resting-place during their abode with him; "And there, my babes," said he, as he smiled kindly upon them, "you may tell each other what things have happened to you since your separation. And you, the rest of my children," added he, turning to the others, "go and feed the young birds which were lately hatched: remember also to take some new milk to the white fawn whose mother is dead; and forget not to carry food to the fair hind which broke her leg." Some other little commands to the same purport he gave them: then waving his hand, his little flock were soon scattered over the green hills and pastures, all hastening to fulfil their various duties of love and kindness; while the good shepherd sat upon the hill, under the shade of the cedar grove, conversing with his God in holy meditation, and watching his little ones as they wandered about the flowery pastures, lest any evil thing should break in, and by any means hurt one of these unsuspecting little ones.
Then I looked toward Humble Mind, and behold, his sisters were leading him toward the bower which the shepherd had given them. And as they walked along, they sometimes kissed each other, and sometimes questioned each other concerning the things which had happened since the day they parted.
Now I saw, in my dream, that this bower was exceedingly lovely and fresh, shaded from the noon-day sun by the tufted branches of the trees; and there was a soft bed of spring herbs, on which the little ones were accustomed to sleep. So the children broke off their conversation relating to past cirucmstances, in order to show their brother such things as they loved in and near their bower. Peace showed him a little valley adorned with lilies; and told him that, early in the morning, whille the dew was upon the grass, the young fawns would come and feed among the lilies.
"Here," said Playful, "you may sit in the heat of the day, and hear the voice of the turtle-dove; Song of Solomon 2. 12; here too are brooks of water, and fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; Deuteronomy 8. 7.; and here are beds of spices and sweet flowers." Song of Solomon 5. 13.
Then spake Peace: "Our good shepherd says, that all these things were made by God for the use and entertainment of those who love him. But there are more beautiful things than these in heaven; for he showed me where it is written in my book - Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have eneterd into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Corinthians 2. 9.
To this Humble Mind made answer, "O my beloved sister! let us bless the Lord at all times, and let his praise be continually in our mouths: Psalm 34. 1. for as a father pitieth his own children, so hath the Lord pitied us." Psalm 103. 13.
I beheld then, that the children sat down in their bower, and related to each other every thing that had happened to them during their separation. First, Humble Mind gave an account of himself: after which, Playful related to her brother the history of her's and her sister's pilgrimage. and thus she spake: -
"When Mr. Worldly-Prudence had taken you away from us, sweet brother," said she, "Evangelist came again to us while we were crying by the door of our house, bidding us to take our books in our hands, and, leaving all, to follow him. Now our hearts clung not to our home, as in days past; for our father was gone, and our mother was gone, and you, our dear brother, had also left us: so we followed Evangelist, who brought us from our own dwelling place, and set us in the way where the shining light and the gate of salvation were directly before us; then bidding us hasten towards that gate, he departed.
"Now we had not gone far, before we were overtaken by a young woman carrying a very little baby in her arms, and her steps were turned, like our own, towards the shining light: so she looked affectionately at us, and said, 'My little ones, whither are you going?' And when we had answered her, she kindly said, 'Come with me, my children, and what little assistance I can afford you shall be freely given.'"
"So, as she hastened on, with her little one in her arms, certain idle persons, passing that way, said to her, 'Woman, wherefore are you in such hast?'"
"'I am going,' she answered, 'to yonder shining light, to seek admittance there of the Lord of the gate for this my little boy: for whereas, through the disobedience of his first father Adam, this my baby is counted worthy of death, I, his mother, anxiously seek for him the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby he may be rendered fit for eternal life.'"
"With that the young woman began to weep, crying out, 'O my Father! grant to this child admittance at thy gate: whether living or dying, make him thine own child, O my Father! my Father! I ask this mighty favour in my Saviour's adorable name.'"
"So we hastened towards the gate," continued Playful, "where we met with no hindrance: for we were there most kindly received; after which we were washed with pure water, and clothed with white garments, and had the seal of our Lord set in our foreheads. Then did the mother of this little baby give thanks, and weep for joy."
"We then left the gate and came on our way - Peace and I, with the young woman and her little baby: and she talked sweetly unto us as we passed along, and was to us like our own mother. And in this manner we went on a day and a half; she from time to time kissing the little fair one who lay in her arms, making the way pleasant with cradle-hymns and songs of praise, which she sang continually as she passed along the way."
"But behold, as we went on, there came after us a winged messenger, on whose brow the word Death was written. Now, when we saw him, we trembled exceedingly, and the poor woman held her baby closer to her bosom. But the messenger showed her a token; it was a silver cord broken: and more than this, he told her that he came from God, and these were the words which he had orders to speak in her ears - 'If you love this child, you will rejoice, because he is going to his Father." John 14. 28.
"Then she wept, and gave her baby to the messenger, saying, 'O God, take my child, and make him thine own for ever!'"
"The little baby smiled, and looked upon his mother, as she delivered him to the messenger; and, O! how sweet was his smile! O! how lovely was his pale face! So the messenger of God took away this little fair one, and we saw him no more."
I perceived then, in my dream, that Playful's account was for a time interrupted by her sorrow. After awhile, however, she thus continued her story.
"So we walked on weeping and mourning, till we came to this place. Here we found the good shepherd, and to him our loving companion very earnestly commended us, saying, 'Kind Sir, I beseech you, take care of these lambs, and feed them with milk till they have gained strength to continue their journey.' And with that, kissing us and blessing us, she was about to depart; when the shepherd asked her, wherefore her countenance was sad and her eyes red with weeping?"
"So she told him all that had befallen her sweet baby: 'And now, my little fair one,' said she, 'being removed from me I cannot but go on my pilgrimage mourning.'"
"With that the shepherd rebuked her, yet with kindness; for the water stood in his eyes while he spake - 'My daughter,' said he, 'despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Hebrews 7. 5-7. Doest thou well, my daughter,' he added, 'to grieve because thy little son is gone to him who loved him so well as to die for him upon the cross?' Then he drew from his pocket a perspective glass, and bidding her put it to her eye, he told her to look upwards. So she did as he required."
"Then said the shepherd, 'What dost thou see?'"
"She answered, 'I see nothing, Sir, by reason of the tears which dim my sight.'"
"'I feared as much,' he replied: 'cast away, therefore, this sorrow of the world which worketh death. 2 Corinthians 7. 10. Wipe away thy tears, and pray to God for help.' So she wiped away her tears, and kneeling down with the shepherd, he prayed that the God of all consolation would comfort her."
"They then arose from their knees, and the shepherd bade her put the glass again to her eyes, and look towards the heavens. So after looking awhile, she put on a smile of satisfaction."
"And the shepherd said, 'Wherefore dost thou smile, my daughter?'"
"She answered, 'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is found." Luke 15. 24.
"Then said the shepherd, 'What sayest thou, my daughter? - explain thy words."
"She replied, 'The glass which you gave me, Sir, has brought my baby again to my sight. I have seen my little fair one! He is without spot or blemish! He is clothed with beauty and glory such as no tongue can describe! He is with his Redeemer; the Lord is his Shepherd; he will never want. He maketh him to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth him beside still waters. Psalm 23. 1, 2. O my baby! my sweet baby! thou art happy, my child! As one whom his mother comforteth, so doth the Lord comfort thee, and thou art comforted in Zion. Isaiah 66. 13. I will no longer sorrow as one without hope, but will go on my pilgrimage rejoicing. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.'" Psalm 34. 3, 4.
"At this the shepherd was greatly pleased, and he said, 'God be with thee my daughter!' But before she went forward, he gave her the glass, and bade her keep it for her comfort by the way, and rather lose her life than part with it - now this glass was called Faith."
"So she received it thankfully. She then said to us, 'My dear children, fare ye well! God in his mercy grant that we may meet in that happy country whither my baby is gone before, and where he dwells with the children of the King.' Then bidding us farewell, with many tears, she took the road to the Celestial City; and by this time she has doubtless proceeded very far on her way. So she departed, and left us in this pleasant place, where we have ever since been very happy, though often wishing for you, my dear brother; but now you are with us, our joy is complete." So they kissed each other again, and seemed to be filled anew with joy.
Now I saw, in my dream, that about this time, the shepherd Sincerity, putting his pipe to his mouth, played a sweet air; which sounding over the green pastures and rising grounds, his little ones soon knew the call, and came running together at the sound. I saw then that, having first given thanks, he distributed to each child a portion of such sweet and nourishing food as was most suitable to their tender ages. After which, having joined in blessing God for this sweet repast, he made them sit down round him upon the grass, while he thus held discourse with them. They were seated on a hill side which faced the west, lovely and airy, and sweetly overlooking the flowery vale below. The shepherd bade his children look at the sun, which having run his daily course, was going to set; while many golden and purple clouds rested on the hills. "Look, my little ones," said he, "look at that glorious sun -- it is a mighty world of light and heat. It is fixed in the heavens by the same great God who formed you all. Many worlds like this which we inhabit, take their yearly courses round that sun, receiving from it light and warmth. These worlds are the work of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, by whom God made all the worlds. The sun will soon disappear behind yonder hills, when we shall see in the heavens thousands of stars. Those stars are believed to be suns which shine on other worlds, which the same God created, and over which the same God is the universal Ruler. In those worlds, no doubt, there are creatures more numerous than the sands of the sea: God is the Father of them all; and such of them as submit to his will are happy every where; while they who rebel against him, are every where miserable. By God the Son were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: he is before all things, and by him all things are." Colossians 1. 16, 17.
"In the book of Psalms these words are addressed to the Son of God: Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." Psalm 102. 25-27.
"But although this mighty God who made these myriads of worlds hath the rule and charge of them all, yet his fatherly care extends to the minutest of his creatures. He numbers every hair of your heads; he clothes the lilies of the field with all their beauty. There is not a little flower, nor a tender herb, nor leaf of the forest, but it is the workmanship of his hand. At his command each little blossom unfolds its enamelled leaves, and sheds sweet odours through the air. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, how much more shall he take care of you, my little children? Matthew 6.30. Love him therefore with all your heart, and serve him in the way that he has commanded in his Holy Book, and you need fear no evil. For the Lord is your compassionate Father, and he loves you even more than your mothers ever did; as it is written - Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isaiah 49. 15.
Now the good shepherd took his harp in his hand and his children accompanied him in a song of praise. They then knelt down upon the grass, and joined him in an evening prayer; which being finished they all betook themselves to rest in their several bowers: and I saw that an aged woman, whose name was Careful, watched over the little ones.
Now, perhaps some curiosity may be excited to know how Inbred-Sin was employed all this time; since he seems to have allowed the young ones to enjoy a little quiet. But the truth was, that finding himself in a place where he had so many enemies, and seeing that the shepherd was always ready to put the children on their guard against him, he judged it best to draw back and be quiet for awhile, that the children, being freed from his importunities, might be thrown off their guard; and so ceasing to watch, might the more easily be taken by surprise, and led astray. Accordingly I saw that he had followed the children all the afernoon close upon their steps, but had refrained from meddling with them, even so much as by a whisper. And at night he came with them to their bower; and there, stretching himself upon the grass, he pretended to be fast asleep; though he was, in reality, as wide awake, and as full of mischief, as it was possible for him to be. Thus Humble Mind and his sisters came to their bower; and seeing Inbred-Sin asleep, as they thought, they rejoiced, and sat down and chatted together awhile by the light of the moon, till they felt the need of repose: so being tired with the duties and amusements of the day, they laid themselves down and slept soundly.
Now, hard by the shepherd Sincerity's pleasant fields, the enemy of pilgrims, to wit, that old serpent called the devil, had planted an orchard, to the intent that the little pilgrims might be tempted by the beauty of its forbidden fruit to leave their safe and peaceful abodes. This orchard was situated in a valley, where it might be seen from many parts of the pasture-ground; and in fruit time it presented a very fair and inviting appearance, insomuch as to have been the means of drawing aside several young pilgrims, to their great harm, and distress.
Playful and Peace had often seen this orchard at a distance, and had admired the beautiful red colour of the apples; but being warned by the shepherd, they had never ventured a step towards it. Nevertheless, it was with the fruit of this orchard that Inbred-Sin resolved to beguile the children. And now I will tell you how he went to work. He first began with Playful, as being the gayest and least thoughtful of the three children, and consequently the most liable to be drawn aside by vain fancies. As soon as he perceived that she was asleep, up he got, and with a soft stealing pace crept close to her side; where he sat himself down, and began to stir up false and sinful imaginations within her, by setting forth in secret whispers the deliciousness of the fruit that grew in the enemy's orchard. I saw also that, while the tempter sat at her ear, she frequently started and turned about, as if in trouble, yea, and talked in her sleep. So the night wore away, and the dawn began to appear.
The little ones were awakened by the notes of the lark; when Humble Mind and Peace got up, light and gay, while Playful appeared heavy, and full of thought. And behold, Inbred-Sin kept close by her side wherever she moved, lodging vain thoughts in her mind concerning the fruit, and causing her to think upon it with pleasure. Thus he worked upon her mind all the day; and in the evening, when the shepherd gave the children leave to play, Inbred-Sin put it into Playful's heart to lead her brother and sister to that side of the pasture-ground from whence the orchard and its fair fruit might be seen. Thence I perceived that she pointed out the orchard to Humble Mind, and bade him look at the beautiful colour of the fruit. So Humble Mind looked till his mouth watered, and little Peace did the same. Upon which Inbred-Sin, seeing that he had got them at an advantage, came boldly forward, and put in his word, saying that he thought it very hard that the children should be kept back from such desirable fruit. He further took upon him to call the shepherd by some hard names in the children's ears; to which he added, that the shepherd's master himself dealt too hardly with little pilgrims, in denying them such pleasures as befitted their time of life. The children therefore stood looking at the orchard till sunset; when they went back to their bower - but so troubled in mind that they could not pray. So they betook themselves to sleep without going to prayer.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, while the children slept, Inbred-Sin, having so far obtained influence over them, grew bolder still; till at length he ventured to call in the Wicked One, to wit, Satan, to his assistance. For this Wicked One is ever ready to obey the call of Inbred-Sin, and is always waiting, as one may say, at the door of the heart, ready to come in at the first invitation. So he came forward, and a most frightful creature he was, such as my eyes never before beheld: but his figure admits of no description. He eyed the children for awhile as they lay sleeping, just as a wolf would contemplate so many sleeping lambs; after which he began to use his enchantments. And first, he caused a thick darkness to be shed over the bower, so that the light of the moon and the stars was quite extinguished thereby; he then caused to arise before the children a representation of the forbidden fruit, after which they lusted; and the vision was exceedingly beautiful and tempting, insomuch that it surpassed the reality by many degrees. And now the children lay as in a trance; nevertheless, the eyes of their mind were open, and fixed upon the representation of the fruit.
Thus were the imaginations of these poor children so excessively inflamed through the art of sin and Satan, that at day-dawn up they got, and regarding neither the fear of hell, nor the hope of heaven, nor yet the expectation of punishment in this present life, away they went towards the orchard, being violently urged forward by Inbred-Sin. So they ran hastily over the pasture-ground, till they came to a little lane, which opening out of the King's highway, led directly to the orchard. Down the lane ran the children as fast as they could go - when Playful, who was the first of them, having got into the orchard, suddenly felt her foot caught in a trap; that orchard being thickly set with traps and snares of various sorts. Upon this she cried aloud, but Humble Mind could not help her; for in his haste he had fallen over head into a ditch - nor was Peace in any better plight; she having plunged into a bog or quagmire, where the more she strove to get out, the deeper she sunk. So that all the three were in a terrible fright, and their cries were very pitiful.
Now, while they were in this sad state, they heard a growling near them, like that of a wild beast. This was their adversary the devil, who goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5. 8. So as he came towards them, the poor children screamed aloud, repeatedly calling upon their Redeemer and upon his servant the shepherd! Neither did they pay any heed to Inbred-Sin, who was for stifling their cries by assuring them that neither their Redeemer nor their shepherd would hearken, to them, after the great sin they had committed. The lion then came on apace: but at the very moment when Playful believed that he was about to seize upon her, the voice of the shepherd was heard, who forthwith came running into the orchard with his staff in his hand; and behold, his staff bore the semblance of the cross. But the lion, being on his own ground, neither fled at the voice of the shepherd, nor feared the sight of his staff, as he would have done had he been on the King's highway, but came on growling and roaring to attack the shepherd himself. Then I saw that a dreadful battle followed between the shepherd and the lion, and it lasted long; so that the poor shepherd was covered with blood: nevertheless, the servant of the Lord at length prevailed, through the power of him who gave up his life to destroy the works of the devil. Whereupon the lion fled growling away, while the good shepherd, having set the children at liberty, removed them with speed from the enemy's ground.
Now I saw in my dream, that, when they were come into a safe place, to wit, into the King's pasture-grounds, from which they had strayed, the children fell at the shepherd's feet and kissed them, shedding many tears, and humbling themselves in the very dust before him.
Then spake Humble Mind, "We remember our ways, and all our doings, wherein we have been defiled; and we loathe ourselves in our own sight for all the evils that we have committed; Ezekiel 20. 43; and more especially we hate ourselves for having caused you, dear Sir, those grievous wounds; nor can we ever cease to detest these our vile and sinful inclinations, which have brought such distress upon our kindest earthly friend."
"Remember, my son," said the shepherd, "that these your sins crucified the Lord of glory: it was for these he bled and died upon the accursed tree; it was for your sakes that he fought with this same lion, there being none to help him: on these accounts, therefore, you ought to loathe your sins, and to humble yourself in dust and ashes before God."
I saw then, that the shepherd went to a certain tree which grew thereabout, and taking some of the leaves thereof, he bound them upon his wounds: when behold, the pain was assuaged, and the flowing of the blood was stayed. The shepherd then drank of the spring of water, of which I before spake as running by the way-side, giving also thereof unto the children, who were greatly refreshed thereby in their fainting condition. After which the shepherd gave thanks, saying, "All my fresh springs are in thee." Psalm 87.7. Which done, he would know of the children by what means they had been tempted to the commission of so great a sin.
So Humble Mind and Playful told him how they had been enticed by Inbred-Sin to commit the great offence of which they had been guilty: and they lamented, at the same time, the exceeding sinfulness and vileness of their own hearts.
I heard then that the shepherd took occasion to speak more largely and fully than he had ever before done upon the nature of Inbred-Sin, that deadly enemy and tormentor of pilgrims. And first, he declared unto them that the place or seat of this Inbred-Sin is the heart of man. "He dwells," said the shepherd, "in the heart of every one of the children of Adam, and hath always done so, excepting only in the case of Jesus Christ, who, though a son of Adam as to his manhood, was yet without sin. Hebrews 4.15. Every man, before he turns to God," continued the shepherd, "is under the entire rule and governance of Inbred-Sin, which actuates all his members, possesses his whole heart, and influences the whole man; so that, without help from God, no one can do that which is right and good. But when men have once turned to the living God," continued the shepherd, "when they have received forgiveness of sins, through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God enters into their hearts, Inbred-Sin no longer rules over them with absolute power; because the Spirit opposeth him, and counteracts his devices. Nevertheless, this our enemy, which is within our hearts, ceaseth not still to strive for the mastery, though he be sensbily weakened by the prevailing power of the Spirit of God. And since he cannot domineer, and lord it, and carry it so high as in times past, he has recourse to all manner of stratagems and contrivances to regain his lost power, and to check the workings of the Holy Spirit. In these circumstances he promises all kinds of pleasures and rewards to such as will obey him, in like manner as he promised you the fruit of yonder orchard; he withdraws men from their duties, especially from prayer and holy thoughts of God; he puffs pilgrims up with high thoughts of themselves, or persuades them to rest contented with outward forms and shows of religion."
"But," added the shepherd, "time would fail to enumerate all the frauds and artifices of this Inbred-Sin. Remember, my children, what we have suffered this day, and intreat your heavenly Father for grace to watch against the dreadful enemy which lurks within you: and fight not with him my children, in your own strength, but in the strength of the Lord; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." James 4. 6-8. Then the shepherd kissed Humble Mind and his sisters, and brought them back into his fold.
Now I saw, in my dream that the three little pilgrims remained many days with the shepherd, under whose fatherly care they grew in wisdom and in stature; and the blessing of God was upon them. At length it was signified to the shepherd, by the almighty Ruler of all things, that Humble Mind and his sisters should proceed on their pilgrimage. So they bade adieu, with many tears, to their little companions, and their pleasant bower, and the sweet pastures in which they had been so delightfully entertained. After which the good shepherd, tenderly bidding them farewell, and giving them a note to the Interpreter, whose house was not far distant, set them forward on their journey.
Then I looked after the children, and saw them wipe away the tears which were running down their cheeks. So they walked on their way, even the Way of Salvation; and Inbred-Sin was with them. But for awhile they took no notice of him, not even making the least reply, good or bad, to any of his suggestions. At length, coming to a rising ground, towards evening, they saw before them two houses at a little distance, one to the right hand, and the other to the left; and behold, the way parted in this place, one path leading to the house on the right, and the other to that on the left. Now the children knew that one of these houses must be Mr. Interpreter's; but, whose the other was, they could not tell.
I saw then, in my dream, that, while they were at a stand, knowing not which way to take, they saw a man, with two little boys, coming over the fields on the left hand; upon whom when Humble Mind had looked for awhile, he knew them to be Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons. "Here," said Humble Mind, "is one coming whom I have seen before, but we shall get no good of him. He set me wrong once before; and if we hearken to him, he will do so again."
Then spake Inbred-Sin, "Nevertheless, as you are now at a loss, it would be as well to hear what this gentleman can say upon the subject: perhaps he may know this part of the country better than you do, and may be able to point out which of these two houses is the one belonging to Mr. Interpreter."
"No, no," said Humble Mind, "I have had enough of his counsels; I will have no more of them."
Inbred-Sin therefore finding that he could not persuade Humble Mind to do as he would have him, fell to whispering in Playful's ear; and so greatly did he gain upon her, that she said to her brother, "Do as you please, Humble Mind; but, for my part, I shall stay in this place till the good gentleman comes up, and I will ask his advice. For I do not see, although you are older than I am, that I should always be entirely governed by you."
"That's right," said Inbred-Sin; "that is well said; that is showing a right spirit." Then stepping over to Humble Mind, he whispered in his ear, "Do you stand like a tame fool, and hear your sister, who is younger than you are, speak to you after this fashion? Have you no courage? - no spirit in you?"
In this manner he went on for awhile: but Humble Mind, being inwardly assisted by the Spirit of God, would by no means hearken to him. So the tempter faced about again, and put Playful upon provoking her brother more, to the intent that he might be urged to speak harshly to her.
So she went on challenging him to answer, saying, "Why, this gentleman must be a foolish person indeed, if he is not fit to give advice to such little children as we are. Surely you do not think yourself wiser than all the world beside, brother! I am sure you are not much of a pilgrim, if you hold so high an opinion of yourself as that comes to." And in this manner, being put upon it by Inbred-Sin, she went on provoking her brother till Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons came up.
Then spake Mr. Lover-of-Novelty, "Well met once again, brother pilgrim! and where have you been since we parted company? and who are these little ones with you?"
When Humble Mind had answered these questions, Mr. Lover-of-Novelty further inquired, whither he was going? "If," said he, "you are going to the house of the Interpreter, I shall have great pleasure in accompanying you; for I am going thither myself to place these my little boys for awhile under his care, being informed that he has many curious and profitable things to exhibit."
"But, Sir," said Playful, "we see before us two houses, and two ways both straight and even, and we are quite at a loss to know which way to take. Can you, Sir, inform us which of those two is the house of the Interpreter?"
"I am very glad," said Mr. Lover-of-Novelty, "that I happened to come up just at this time, to help you out of your trouble. If you will hearken to me, I will inform you why you see two houses here, instead of only one, as you expected; and I will direct you to which of these houses it will be advisable for you to go. You must know that yonder house which is on the right hand, is the house of the old Interpreter. It was built by the Lord of pilgrims for the refreshment of his people; and the task allotted to the master of the house, to wit, the Interpreter, was to expound the Bible to pilgrims: for which he was allowed to take similes and examples from all the creatures under heaven. That house has stood where it now stands from the time of the apostles: and in his younger days the Interpreter was a man of rare and excellent speech; so that it was delightful to hear him converse. But of late he is become quite old and full of wild fantasies; insomuch, that he talks of a hidden as well as a plain meaning in the Bible, and pretends to see more in it than ever was intended. On this account few pilgrims go to his house; suspecting that he is either mad, or sunk into a state of hopeless dotage. So that now travellers, for the most part, frequent the house of the new Interpreter, which is that to the left; where they not only find good board and lodging, but receive wholesome instruction: for the new Interpreter very properly maintains, like a man of sound judgment, that the Bible has no meaning but the plain straight-forward one. To this last house, therefore, my little children, I am anxious to lead you: so, come forward; for night draws on apace."
Now I saw that Playful and Peace were willing to accompany Mr. Lover-of-Novelty; for they understood not the real purport of what he had been saying; and Inbred-Sin was all on tip-toe to follow him. But Humble Mind, remembering the trouble he had fallen into once before by hearkening to Mr. Lover-of-Novelty, bethought himself of consulting his book: so plucking it out of his bosom, and opening it, he read these words - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith nothing wavering. James 1. 5, 6. Then said Humble Mind, "I have found what I wanted." Then kneeling down and praying, he said, "O God, give us now wisdom and knowledge; for we are little children, and foolishness is bound up in our hearts." Proverbs 22. 15.
With that I saw that one more beautiful than rubies, and more precious than silver or choice gold, came towards them, and thus addressed them: - "I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the path of judgment. Now, therefore, follow me, my children: for blessed are they that keep my ways." Proverbs 8. 17, 20, 32.
Now Humble Mind knew that this was Wisdom, and that she was from on high. At sight of her, Mr. Lover-of-Novelty and his sons made off as fast as they could, while Inbred-Sin slunk behind; leaving the children to follow her without interruption. So they went with her rejoicing; and she led them to the house on the right, to wit, the dwelling of the old Interpreter.
As the little pilgrims drew nearer to Mr. Interpreter's house, it appeared to them more and more pleasant and convenient. It was a large old fashioned house, standing in a fruitful and flourishing garden, inclosed by a wall. Here was great choice of fruits and flowers; here were olive-yards, and fig-trees, and vineyards, with blooming orchards, and little cottages, and fields covered with bees. In short, all things seemed to flourish under the hand of Mr. Interpreter, who took great delight in the culture of his grounds, and would plant no seeds therein but what were of the right sort.
Now Mr. Interpreter was walking forth to meditate at evening-tide when he perceived Wisdom leading the little pilgrims towards his house. Upon which he hastened to meet them; and receiving the children at her hand, he led them into the house. So he had them into a large parlour, where bidding them to be seated, he immediately entered into discourse with them. "Welcome, my little children," he said; "welcome to this house; and here I hope, through the good pleasure of God, that ye may abide awhile, to the end that I may show you such things as may be profitable to you." Then I saw that he called to his servants, and ordered them to prepare such tender meats as were best adapted to the state of his guests, saying at the same time, "Ye have hitherto been fed with milk, my children, but now I shall set before you a little solid food; for every one that useth milk is a babe." Hebrews 5. 13.
So Humble Mind thanked him for his kindness, and added that they should rejoice to tarry awhile with him, if God permitted.
"Well, my children," answered the Interpreter, "I trust that it will so please him: and now, while you are waiting for your evening meal, you must relate unto me such things as have happened to you both before and since you became pilgrims."
So the little ones began their histories; and the Interpreter spake not until they had finished.
Now when they had done speaking, he said unto them, "My dear children, give glory to God, who hath delivered you from the power of darkness, and hath translated you unto the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom you have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 1. 7. For ye were born in sin, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others: Ephesians 2. 3; but now are ye made the children of grace. While you yet dwelt in the land of your nativity, you trod the ways of sin and death: and not you only, my children, but all the sons of Adam do the same, being by nature utterly depraved; as it is written - Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Job 14. 4. What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Job 15. 14. These are the words of that book which cannot lie: nevertheless that book also saith, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Hebrews 11. 14.
"Now, this being the unhappy state of mankind, all men being sinners by nature, and the wages of sin being death - according to that which was written, Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die: Ezekiel 18. 4; - this being, as I said, the unhappy state of man, the Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for them, that he might endure the punishment which they had incurred."
"This blessed Saviour, the Son of God, who is equal with God, and one with God, took man's nature upon him in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, the divine and the human, were joined together in one person. And this holy person was crucified, in order to reconcile offending man to his offended God, actually dying on our account, and descending into the grave; from whence he afterwards triumphantly arose, and ascended up into heaven, where he is now seated at the right hand of God. Moreover, at his departure, he left with his disciples this gracious command - Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 27, 19.
"This is he who opened that door of salvation through which you were admitted into the presence of the Lord, and were received into the congregation of Christ's flock. The assurance that your sins are forgiven you, and that you are become the adopted children of God, was signed and sealed upon you at that time; and the promise of the Holy Spirit, which proceedeth from the Father and the Son, and who is also equal with God and one with God, was also granted to you at that time."
I heard then that the children lamented in the presence of the Interpreter, the many hindrances and drawbacks which they met with continually in their pilgrimage, from the enemy they carried with them, even their own inbred corruptions. "Why, Sir," said Playful, "it was but this very day that I was secretly inclined to turn out of the right way; and on that occasion I was influenced, though I knew I was doing wrong, to speak many reproachful words to my brother."
"Sir," said Humble Mind, "Our Inbred-Sin seldom allows us any peace; and if he seems to be quiet for awhile, he is sure at that very time to be contriving further mischief: so that when we think ourselves most secure from his attacks, he is then most to be feared."
"Very true, my children," answered the Interpreter: "it is not when we are on the watch, and up in arms, as it were, against our sins, that they are most to be feared; but rather when they cry, 'Peace, peace,' and persuade us to think that all is well within."
"Oh!" said little Peace, "what would I give to be fairly quit of this tormentor!"
"My child," answered the Interpreter, "after this life thou shalt behold the face of thy Redeemer in righteousness; and thou shalt be satisfied when thou awakest in his likeness. Psalm 17. 15. Then, and not till then, thou wilt be free from this inbred enemy." The Interpreter then proceeded to point out to the children how, from the earliest times, this Inbred-Sin had made the saints of God to go groaning on their pilgrimage. "It was this Inbred-Sin," said he, "which made the patriarch Noah to drink of the wine, and be drunken in his tent: Genesis 9. 21; and which brought righteous Lot to commit the same crime in his old age. Abraham also, and Isaac, and Jacob, went mourning all their days, by reason of this same homebred evil. It was this Inbred-Sin which caused King David to offend so grievously against God. How deeply does he own and lament his sinfulness when he says, 'O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath; neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease; and there is no soundness in my flesh.' Psalm 38. 1-7. And finally, it was this Inbred-Sin which rendered it necessary to our salvation, that God himself should take our nature upon him, and bleed and die upon the accursed tree."
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when the Interpreter had ended his discourse, and supper was finished, he prayed and sang with his family; after which he charged one of the damsels of the house to see that the children were lodged in a comfortable chamber. Moreover, I heard him give commandment to the servants of the family, to take good heed to the children, and provide them with all such things as might be needful for them while they remained in that place: taking special care that their white garments should contract no stain. So I saw the servants receive their master's orders gladly; for they loved young children.
Now I saw, in my dream, that the children were up betimes in the morning; when the Interpreter had promised to take them into his garden. Inbred-sin, as usual, rose with them; and while they waited the coming of the Interpreter, he began prating after a prodigious rate, and with as much pertness as ever. "And so," said he, "you are very comfortably situated! You are not here treated like babies, as you were at the shepherd's, and fed with milk; but you are fed with meat, which is more suitable to your present state. For you are not now mere babes in Christ; as some would have you think; you have had a great deal of teaching, and have acquired much experience; so that you know more than many grown persons. There are many grown people," continued he, "who, though they seem wise, are very foolish, still seeking after trifles, and taking no care of their souls: but it is otherwise with you. What thought and care do you take about everlasting things!"
In this manner Inbred-Sin went on chattering; while the children, one and all, seemed to listen to his flattering words with great satisfaction. Humble Mind smiled, and looked self-sufficient; and Playful assumed an air of much complacency. However, when the Interpreter appeared, Inbred-Sin drew behind, and the children began to recollect themselves a little. So the Interpreter took them into his garden.
Now the Interpreter's garden was inclosed with a wall, and was watered with fountains of living water, and streams from the hills. A south wind generally blew through this garden, and made the spices thereof to flow. The flowers appeared every where in the green turf; the little birds were singing among the trees, and the voice of the turtle was heard all around. Song of Solomon 2. 12.
The children wondered at the beauty of this garden, and inquired of the Interpreter, by what means he had rendered it so exceedingly lovely?
"This garden," replied the Interpreter, "was once a wilderness; but after being planted with care, it was watered with streams from the hills, and the blessing of God was upon it. Man can cultivate the ground, and sow the seed, but God alone giveth the increase. For he maketh the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad; he causeth the desert to rejoice, and blossom as the rose." Isaiah 34. 1.
I saw then that one of the gardeners came to the Interpreter, and brought him a sprig of myrtle, to which rosebuds were fastened with thorns.
When Playful saw it, she was pleased: so the Interpreter bade the gardener to give it to her. She had not, however, admired it long, before the buds began to fade, and their withering leaves to fall off. Then said the Interpreter, "Wherefore do those rosebuds fade so soon, my child?"
"Because," answered she, "they are parted from the branch to which they belonged, and fastened to another."
"True, my child," replied the Interpreter: "had those rosebuds remained on their parent stem, they would not have withered and fallen away, but would have unfolded their fragrant blossoms, and flourished as the rose of Sharon. Can you find a meaning under this emblem? How do you apply this to yourselves?"
"I think," said Humble Mind, "I can answer this question."
"Do so, my son," said the Interpreter.
Then spake Humble Mind, "Our Saviour is the rose-tree, and we, his children, are the rosebuds. While we remain with him, we flourish; but, parted from him, we fall away, wither and die."
"Well spoken, my boy," said the Interpreter. "The Lord saith, I am the true vine. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." John 11. 1. 6.
I perceived then that the Interpreter showed the children a lily growing among thorns. Song of Solomon 2. 2. And the children requested him to explain the meaning of that exhibition.
"The lily," replied the Interpreter, "represents a Christian in this present evil world: for as his Lord and Master was not of this world, so neither is he; and if the world hated the Master, will it not also hate the servant?" John 15. 19, 20. After this the Interpreter conducted the children back to the house; where, after prayers, they all sat down to their breakfast.
Now about noon the Interpreter again led the children abroad, and Inbred-Sin went with them; but being awed by the presence of the Interpreter, he cautiously kept himself for awhile in the background. So as they walked through his fields and orchards, the Interpreter bade them look towards the east, where he showed them a milk-white lamb, lovely and fair, feeding on the side of a green hill. Around this lamb were many flocks of goats and sheep; but they were all spotted and speckled, and not one of them so lovely as this white lamb.
Then I saw that little Peace was quite ravished with his beauty; and she said, "O that he were mine!"
With that the old Interpreter smiled, and said, "He shall be thine, my little one, and thou shalt be his; and he shall take thee, and lead thee unto living fountains of water." Revelation 7. 17.
"When, Sir?" said Peace.
"When God pleaseth, my child," replied the Interpreter.
Humble Mind then said, "Wherefore, Sir, do I see that lamb white as milk, while all the rest of the flock have some spot or blemish?"
The Interpreter answered, "That lamb, my son, is an emblem of Christ, the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who by the sacrifice of himself once made, hath taken away the sins of the world. He, you observe, and he only, is without stain. The rest of the flock are spotted and speckled; this is to signify, that, although we are born again in Christ, yet we offend in many things."
Now it came to pass, that, while Humble Mind and Peace were talking to the Interpreter about his fair lamb which was without spot or blemish, Inbred-Sin drew himself close up to Playful's side, and began whispering foolish conceits into her ear: at which, when she had listened awhile, she began to smile; till from smiling, she broke out into a downright loud laugh.
Her brother and sister looked hard at her; while the Interpreter said, "Methinks, my little maid, that you are very much diverted. Will you discover to us the cause of your mirth, that we too may laugh with you?"
Now Playful, being ashamed to tell the Interpreter what she laughed at, made no answer.
Then whispered Inbred-Sin in her ear, "Say that you did not laugh."
So she did as Inbred-Sin advised her, and said to the Interpreter, "Sir, I did not laugh."
Then being greatly grieved, the Interpreter replied, "Oh, my daughter! let not the evil of your heart, lead you to the great sin of lying. When you have done amiss, why should you add to it by a lie? Know you not what is said of lying in the Holy Book? - Ye shall not lie one to another. Leviticus 19. 11. The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. Psalm 63. 11. All liars have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Revelation 21. 8.
At this Playful was covered with confusion, and begged of God to forgive her: so Inbred-Sin was rebuked, and drew away from Playful for awhile. But I saw him, shortly after, very busy at Humble Mind's ear, whispering therein flattering words, and telling him how much more wisely he had behaved than his sister, conducting himself with all decency and modesty, while she was giggling and tittering like a foolish child. Whereupon Humble Mind began to be puffed up, as I perceived by the pertness of his manner and a certain air of conceit, which were not usual with him.
Now the Interpreter, having pardoned Playful, and taken her by the hand again, led the children on till they came to a vine-tree, fair and flourishing, inclosed with a paling. From this tree certain persons who had the care thereof were gathering clusters of grapes, and distributing to such as came to ask for them. I observed also that some of those who ministered before the vine were agreeable persons, and adorned with all the beauty of holiness; while others were ugly and ill-favoured. The Interpreter then called for grapes to be given to the children: when behold, one of the ill-favoured persons went up to the tree, and gathered a few clusters for the children. So Playful and Peace received them thankfully: but Humble Mind, being put upon it by Inbred-Sin, declined taking them, informing the Interpreter that he would rather receive his grapes from the hands of one of the well-looking persons.
When the Interpreter heard this, he was displeased, and was about to order Humble Mind's portion to be carried back, remarking that he was not in a fit state to receive any: but Humble Mind instantly confessing his sin, the Interpreter forgave him.
As they continued their walk, the Interpreter took occasion to explain unto them what they had just seen, and wherefore he was so angry with Humble Mind for refusing the grapes from that ill-favoured person. "The vine which you saw," said the Interpreter, "is an emblem of our Saviour Jesus Christ; John 15.1 and they who were gathering and distributing the grapes, are his servants, who minister the word and sacraments to the people. Wherefore, my son, you greatly erred, when you listened to the whisperings of Inbred-Sin, who filled you with pride, and caused you to refuse the fruit of the Lord's vine, because you liked not the person employed to administer it. In this manner very often," said the Interpreter, "do men refuse to go to church, because the minister pleases them not; and children, from the same proud spirit, refuse to receive holy instruction, because their teacher, perchance, hits not their fancies."
When Humble Mind heard these words of the Interpreter, he was ashamed: so they passed on, and came into the street of a little village. Now behold, at the door of a certain cottage there sat a knot of old women very busily spinning; and as they turned their wheels, they talked one with another. And behold, their discourse was of the faults and failures of their neighbours; so that not an individual was mentioned, to whom some fault was not imputed.
Then said the Interpreter to the children, after they had passed on a little way, "Do you think that those old women spake the truth, when they imputed to each neighbour some particular fault?"
"Yes," said Humble Mind, "because we all have faults, and are none of us without sin."
The Interpreter answered, "True, my son. Keep this therefore ever in your mind, that, since we are all born in sin, yea, and, after regeneration, fall very far short of the glory of God, it becometh us, in a kind and brotherly manner, rather to point out to one another the way of amendment, than to condemn and ridicule each other in absence. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things." Romans 2. 1.
I saw then that, going a little further, they came to a house, where, by the buzzing sound of many young ones conning their tasks, they perceived that a school was kept. So the children stood still to hearken.
"Here," said the Interpreter, "dwells a schoolmaster, to whom I send all the children who are on my estate. He is indeed a strict schoolmaster; but the rules of his school are so good, that if any one can keep them from his youth up, he is sure of salvation, and need go no further for it. But this venerable instructor hath this particularity, that if any one go contrary to the least of his commandments, it is the same thing with him as if the guilty person had offended against them all. He counts such a one a transgressor; and though he lets him remain in his school for instruction, he holds out to him no hope of reward."
"Surely, Sir," said Peace, "he must be a very hard master! I should be much afraid of him."
The Interpreter replied, "This schoolmaster's name is Law; and it is written, Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2. 10.
Then said Playful, "Who then can be saved?"
Interpreter. By the deeds of the law none can be saved. Romans 3. 20.
"Sister," said Humble Mind, "have you forgotten how often we have been told, that we cannot possibly be saved by any good which we ourselves can do?"
Now I saw that Inbred-Sin was very busy whispering in Playful's ear; and behold, he was filling her with vain-glorious conceits: so, after hearkening to his whisperings, she answered her brother accordingly. "Yes," said she, "the shepherd used often to tell us that we could do nothing well, and that there is no good in any person. But I am sure I have seen some good children, as well as some good men and women. Some days you are good, and some days I am good: and, I think, if Mr. Interpreter would let me try a little while, I could keep all the rules of this school, be they ever so strict."
Humble Mind was surprised, when he heard his sister boasting in this manner, and little Peace looked hard at her: but the Interpreter wondered not; for he knew all the ways of Inbred-Sin, and how he prevails to make mankind commit all manner of follies, even while they speak great swelling words of vanity. 2 Peter 2. 18. So, without making any answer, he led the children into the school-room, where sat the schoolmaster Law at his desk, with his scholars about him.
Now the schoolmaster's brow was stern; yet withal he had a comely person, and his features were so well proportioned, that they who feared him most could not but look upon him with admiration. I saw then that the Interpreter requested him to show the rules of his school to Humble Mind and his sisters. When he pointed out two tables of stone, on which they were written; four on one table, and six on the other - and I perceived that all the books used in the school were but explanations of these rules.
Then Mr. Interpreter said unto the schoolmaster, "Declare unto us, Sir, how many of those who have received instruction from you of the sons of Adam have been able to keep your rules."
To which the schoolmaster replied, "I have had millions, and tens of millions of mankind under my charge, Mr. Interpreter; but never had I more than one scholar who was perfectly obedient to me. He was one without a fellow; he was absolutely without fault - yea, without spot or stain."
"I know him well," said little Peace: "he is the Lamb without spot."
The Interpreter then looked at Playful, and, behold she blushed, for she was ashamed to think of the boast that she had made. Whereupon she rebuked Inbred-Sin, who had suggested it to her, insomuch that he drew behind, and kept himself quiet for awhile, perceiving that the children had no mind to hearken to him just then - for he was one who watched his opportunities.
After this the Interpreter spake thus: "I would have you to come, my dear children, for a few hours every day, while you remain with me, to study under this good master; for he will teach you to what extent you are sinners, and how far you have fallen from all righteousness; which they are totally unacquainted with who, having never studied the righteous law of God, are filled with a conceit of their own innocence, even while living in all manner of sin. But this excellent master will make you to know the plague of your own hearts, to the end that you may the more speedily apply to him who alone can heal them."
The children then walked back to the Interpreter's house; and from that time they went, day by day, for a few hours, to the school of Law. And behold, the schoolmaster caused the two little girls to work the laws of the school with their needles upon pieces of satin, while he ordered Humble Mind to copy them on vellum; which having finished, they received their master's direction to bind them upon their hearts.
Now I saw in my dream, that the time was come when the little pilgrims must leave the house of the Interpreter, and proceed on their journey: so the Interpreter bade the children to be ready at daybreak on the morrow, saying that he himself would set them on their way. Accordingly, having prepared all things the night before, and taken an affectionate leave of such of the family as had shown them kindness, they were ready to depart before dawn of day: and Inbred-Sin, I perceived, was ready also to bear them company, though, it may well be imagined, not on their invitation.
On coming out of the room where they had slept, behold, the Interpreter stood at the house door, holding in his hands three little vessels of gold with their covers, having chains by which to hang them up, all curiously wrought, and very pretty. Of these golden vessels the Interpreter gave one to each of the little ones, bidding them fasten them by the chains to their girdles. So the children received them gladly, and would know of him their proper use.
"We will speak of this," said the Interpreter, "as we walk by the way."
Now the hour was so early, that the morning light hardly dawned in the east; but the little ones walked on cheerfully - for the Interpreter was their guide. And as they walked, their guide discoursed with them thus.
Interpreter. My children, you have a long journey before you, and many difficulties to overcome, before you reach the Celestial City: hindrances from the enemy of souls, to wit, the devil; hindrances from mankind; and, more than all, daily, hourly hindrances from the sin that dwelleth in you, which ruleth in your members, and which warreth against your souls. Have you considered whether you have strength sufficient for this journey? The shepherd Sincerity will not be with you, to feed you with milk, as heretofore; neither shall I be near you, to administer to your wants. The time is come, when you are no longer to enjoy the stated assistance of your fellow Christians, as heretofore. You must now walk on your way with very little support from man, and encounter many dangers without human help. Tell me therefore, my little tender ones, how do you expect to be sustained on this journey?
I saw then that the children were surprised and grieved by the words of the Interpreter; looking this way, and that way, and not knowing what to answer.
At length Inbred-Sin whispered in Humble Mind's ear what he should answer; when Humble Mind spake to this effect: "We have been abundantly provided for in your house, Sir, of late; and I think we may go upon the strength of that meat a long time. We have also some dried fruits and a few biscuits in our bags, which we received out of your store-room; and these we can eat when we feel ourselves hungry."
Then I saw that the Interpreter sighed, and said, "My poor child, you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Revelation 3. 17.
At this, beginning to be frightened, the children all cried out, "What then must we do? Where shall we find bread to keep up our strength? Surely we shall die by the way, and shall never reach Mount Zion!"
The Interpreter then replied, "In the Holy Book it is written, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 60. 31. And again, When I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12. 10.
"Sir," said Humble Mind, "I remember these words, but I understand them not."
"By these words we learn," said the Interpreter, "that strength and power to do well and to walk uprightly in our heavenly course must be daily sought from God in sincere and earnest prayer. And God will assuredly hear our prayer, and give us the strength of the eagle, who alone, of all the birds of the air, can soar on high in the face of the sun. But before we can properly seek strength from God, we must know our own weakness, and cease altogether to trust in ourselves." Then I saw that the Interpreter knelt down, and with him the little pilgrims: and behold, he prayed; and the words of his prayer were - "Lord, give us day by day our daily bread."
And when they arose from prayer, he bade the children look upon the ground. And behold, upon the face of the ground lay a small white thing, small as the hoar frost, and the taste thereof was very sweet.
"This is manna!" exclaimed Humble Mind. Upon which, the children were much delighted; and the Interpreter bade them hasten to fill their little golden vessels with the manna which God had given them, that they might eat thereof and refresh themselves on their journey. So the children made haste: and it was well they did; for when the sun arose, all the manna which was left upon the ground shortly melted away.
Then cried Humble Mind, "I see that we shall be satisfied with bread, and shall want no good thing." And the children rejoiced.
"Remember then," said the Interpreter, "that Christ is the living bread which came down from heaven. John 6. 51. If ye feed on him, if ye seek him, day by day, in prayer, ye shall receive strength, and shall be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: Ephesians 6. 10; out of weakness you shall be made strong: Hebrews 11. 34; and none shall be weary or stumble among you." Isaiah 5. 27.
Now by this time, the sun being pretty high, the Interpreter was minded to return to his house. So he kissed the little ones; and bidding them hold fast the book which Evangelist had given them, he exhorted them carefully to seek, day by day, the bread of life from heaven. After which he put into their hands a letter to be delivered to the damsels at the palace Beautiful, which is the dwelling of the Christian Virtues: and thus, bidding them God-speed, he went back to his house; while the little ones went forward along the Way of Salvation.
In a short time I looked again after the children; and behold, they preserved an even course all that day, keeping Inbred-Sin under subjection, and refreshing themselves with the manna out of their golden cups. At night, coming to a place where there was much grass and many palm-trees, there they laid down to sleep - and Inbred-Sin was with them. And while they slept, he was up and about, according to his custom, now perching by the side of one, and then of another, and busily whispering in their ears.
What would come of all this whispering, I greatly wondered, shrewdly suspecting that it could be no good. So, before day-dawn, Humble Mind awoke, and called to his sisters to arise and fill their pots with manna: but Inbred-Sin had so filled them with the spirit of sinful sloth, that when Humble Mind called them, they would not get up. Instead of this they persuaded their brother to sleep a little longer, saying that they had manna enough left in their golden vessels for that day's use: upon which they all turned round and slept again. When they awoke the second time, it was broad day, and they found themselves very hungry. Whereupon they looked into their pots for the manna which was left the night before; but behold, it stank, and had bred worms; insomuch that they were forced to throw it away and to wash the vessels. They therefore began their day's journey fasting, and went sauntering along, as persons do when they are weak with hunger.
Now I saw that they had not proceeded far before they came to a place where a miry lane came up unto the King's highway, with a kind of ladder set for climbing the separating wall. Then said Inbred-Sin, "Let us climb that ladder, and look over the wall."
"For what purpose?" said Humble Mind.
"Just to see what is on the other side," answered Inbred-Sin. "We will only just look about, and then go on our journey."
"There cannot be much harm in just looking, to be sure," said Humble Mind.
So up the ladder they all climbed, and stood looking over the wall down the miry lane, which was shaded on each side with bushes of bramble and wild thorn. And behold, in a kind of bottom, at the end of the lane, (which was very short,) they saw one groping and grubbing in the ground for earth nuts.
When this man observed the children peeping over the wall, he called to them to come to him, saying, "Here are some excellent earth nuts; and, if you are hungry, you may here eat and be satisfied."
"Let us go," said Inbred-Sin; "it is but little out of the way."
So over the wall went the children; and running down the lane, they began eagerly to grub up the ground for earth nuts, while Inbred-Sin, gaily crowing and clapping his sides, maliciously splashed the mud and mire of the lane over all their white garments.
Now, while they were in this bemired and evil condition, groping up to their elbows in the dirt with this stranger, whose name was Filthy-Curiosity, behold, one came behind them, and laid sorely on their backs with a scourge. Upon which they jumped up, and behold, it was the schoolmaster Law; at sight of whom Filthy-Curiosity fled, and Inbred-Sin hid himself behind the children. So the little ones stood trembling and quaking before their old master, filled with shame and confusion at their unseemly condition.
Then spake the schoolmaster, "What do you here? and why have you thus defiled your garments through the persuasions of this Filthy-Curiosity? Know you not these words? - Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3. 1-3.
To all this the children had not one word to offer, by way of excuse; whereupon their schoolmaster reproved them again, and laid their sin in order before them: aye, and more than this, he corrected them severely too, insomuch that the blood ran down their backs amid many cries of sorrow and remorse. After which he led them back into the right way: and behold, they were very sore distressed; for he pressed hard upon them.
So they ran forward till they came to a rising ground; and behold, just in the midst of the way before them, stood a cross - the very cross of our Lord - to which his holy hands and feet were nailed; and upon which he poured out his soul an offering for sin. This is the cross to which all sinners must come for pardon, who hope to enter the kingdom of heaven. Now the glory of God shone upon this cross, and a divine light surrounded it.
At the sight of this cross the hearts of the children were gladdened; because they understood that here they should find refuge from him that smote them. But Inbred-Sin disturbed their joy: for while the schoolmaster Law drove them forward, he stepped in between them and the cross, and, by casting large stones in their way, made them stumble as they ran. So that through the terrors of the Law on the one hand, and the resistance of Inbred-Sin on the other, they were reduced to a miserable plight; which at length constrained Humble Mind to cry out to Inbred-Sin, "Wherefore, O thou tormentor, dost thou harass us thus?"
To whom Inbred-Sin replied, "What! will you dare to appear before the cross of the Blessed and Holy One, all unclean and filthy as you are? In such a case you will assuredly be cast forth into everlasting misery!"
Then were the children so much frightened, that they began to beseech their old master to spare them. "O, Sir!" said they, "allow us time to wash ourselves, and make ourselves clean, before we draw nigh unto the presence of our Lord."
But he answered them thus, "This suggestion is of the devil: For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God. Jeremiah 2. 22. Go to your Father and say unto him, 'Father we have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and are no more worthy to be called thy children.'" Luke 15. 18, 19.
Thus the law was their schoolmaster to bring them unto Christ. Galatians 3. 24. So they came unto the foot of the cross, and there they fell down - They sought the Lord, and he heard them, and delivered them from all their fears. They looked unto him and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 34. 4, 5. For the Lord was graciously pleased to hear them, as they lay crying all night at the foot of the cross, and embracing it with their little arms; after which, towards morning they fell into a sweet sleep. And while they slept the Lord caused a precious balsam to distil from the holy cross, which secretly falling upon them, suddenly healed all the bruises they had received, and cleansed their polluted garments from every stain.
The children then awoke from their sleep rejoicing; and, rising up, they praised God together: when perceiving that the manna was thickly scattered upon the ground thereabout, they gathered thereof and filled their golden vessels, eating at the same time till they were satisfied. This done they proceeded on their course with glad hearts; and never did I see Inbred-Sin more cast down or inert than he was all that day. This however did not hold long; for while the children slept at night, he showed himself as brisk as ever: and the next morning, when they should have been gathering manna, he put them upon plucking certain curiously-coloured flowers which grew thereabout - by which means they wasted their time till the rising sun had melted all the manna away.
So the children passed on, yet not so cheerfully as the day before, but with heavy steps, loitering and lingering, and talking idly as they went. And behold, Inbred-Sin was very busy among them, diverting their attention, from time to time, with one trifle or another, till the day was far spent. Now towards evening, they perceived before them an exceeding high hill, which was called the hill Difficulty. The road to the Celestial City passes directly over this hill; and at the top of it stands the palace called Beautiful, where dwell those three fair sisters, Prudence, Piety, and Charity, together with other wise and holy damsels, of whom mention is made in the histories of all such pilgrims as have travelled this way.
Now I saw that, having gazed for awhile at the lofty hill before them, the children began to murmur and complain; and especially after Inbred-Sin had described the labour and pain it would cost them to ascend it: they stood still therefore for a time, considering what they should do. At length Inbred-Sin espying a pleasant grassy lane, which put itself into the highway just at the foot of the mountain, and which seemed to wind round it, he persuaded them to take that road. So being overcome by the entreaties of Inbred-Sin, they made towards the lane, and came to it just about dusk.
This green lane was soft to the feet, and it was bordered on each side with sweet scented shrubs and flowers. It was called Idle-lane, and led to the house and gardens of a certain woman named Indulgence; one who has the rearing of many children, and who has enticed many young pilgrims from the Way of Salvation. This Indulgence is one of the daughters of the Evil One, and through her means many have been conducted down to hell; for she pampereth the flesh, and taketh part with the sin that dwelleth in us.
So I looked, and behold, the children went sauntering down the lane, the very air of which has a tendency to produce drowsiness and inactivity. And behold, the lane turned and turned, till, before it was totally dark, the little pilgrims found that they had quite turned their backs upon the hill: for the rays of the sun continued to illuminate the top of the hill sometime after the lower lands were covered with darkness. Then I saw that, when the children perceived that they were getting further and further from the mountain, they began to be frightened; whereupon Humble Mind said, "We have turned our backs upon the Way of Salvation, and are got into unknown grounds: we have done amiss in wandering hither, and it would be our wisest course to return without delay."
Then spake Inbred-Sin, "How can you return tonight? is it not dark? and are you not weary? - it will now certainly be best to go on to the house which is right before us; where having lodged for the night, we may in the morning return to the King's highway."
The children therefore followed Inbred-Sin, who undertook to lead the way. Then I began to think - Is it not strange, that these children should let this Inbred-Sin lead them aside again, after having so often and so sorely smarted for following his counsels? - although they are so thoroughly acquainted with his vileness? - although they have lately spoken so prudently and wisely upon it? - although they frequently lament his power over them, and that with so much feeling, as sometimes almost to wish for death to rid them of his tyranny? - and lastly, although they knew whence assistance may be had to resist him? But then I thought again - Why do I wonder that this deceiver should have power so often to prevail against these little children, when I recollect the actual transgressions which have deformed the lives of the most eminent saints of old time? Truly this indwelling sin is so wonderfully powerful, and armed with so subtle a poison, that it will bring leanness on the unguarded souls of men even amid all the precious means of growth and fruitfulness.
Now I saw in my dream that the children were come to the gate of a garden, in which stood the house of Indulgence; and the gate being open, they entered without hesitation. And as they passed through the garden, although it was nearly dark, they could perceive that it abounded with flowers and fruits. But the fruit of that garden was not of a salutary sort; moreover it grew in the midst of many weeds and wild shrubs: for there was no care taken either to prune the shrubs or clean the ground.
The pilgrims then passed on to the house, which was very spacious, but, like the garden, in bad repair; and knocking at the door, it was speedily opened by a damsel called Thoughtless, who welcomed the little pilgrims to the house of her mistress, the lady Indulgence. So she made them come in, and led them through an ample hall, where lay scattered upon the floor all manner of toys, such as tops, marbles, whips, coaches, wax babies, and every kind of plaything that could well be imagined. From the hall they passed into a large parlour, supplied with every description of convenient furniture, where sat Mrs. Indulgence herself. Now there was something in her appearance which pleased the children much at the first glance; nevertheless she was much bloated, and her dress, though costly, was yet negligent and slovenly. This lady received the children with many blandishments, and would know of them, whence they came?
To this inquiry Humble Mind made answer; and when he had done speaking, Mrs. Indulgence thus replied. First, she blamed those who put it into their heads to go on pilgrimage, observing, that children were little harmless creatures, in whom there was no natural depravity. After which she had something to say against the shepherd Sincerity, and still more against the Interpreter; and as to the schoolmaster Law, she scrupled not to call him a cruel tyrant. Moreover, she added, that as no child could possibly climb up the hill Difficulty, they could not do better than abide in her house till they were grown to a maturer age, "when," said she, "you may if you please continue your pilgrimage."
Now, when Humble Mind knew not what answer to make, Inbred-Sin suggested that he should not only thank Mrs. Indulgence for her kind offer, but also express his willingness to accept it. Which he accordingly did; when Playful and Peace agreeing thereto, it was immediately determined that they should remain for a season at Mrs. Indulgence's house.
Then I saw, in my dream, that Mrs. Indulgence rang a bell; upon which her old housekeeper, named Fondness, came into the room, and received her orders to prepare supper and beds for the little strangers. These orders were very punctually obeyed, nor was it long before the cloth was laid, and the supper served up; whereat the little guests seemed to be very well pleased, the table being covered with all manner of delicacies, more especially with such sweet things as children love.
So they all sat down to supper, with Inbred-Sin among them; and never did I observe Inbred-Sin more troublesome than he was at Mrs. Indulgence's table. First, he put the children upon eating of every dish at the table, till their stomachs were quite full and uneasy: after which he engaged Playful in scolding Peace, and Humble Mind in rebuking Playful. Then when wine was set upon the table, Inbred-Sin would have them to partake of that also; which made them so heavy, that they afterwards went to bed and to sleep without prayer. But while they were asleep, Inbred-Sin was never more awake; for he was whispering in their ears all the night. Moreover, he admitted the Evil One among them, as he had done before at the shepherd Sincerity's, who went to work as aforetime with his enchantments, beguiling the imaginations of the children with vain and unholy visions. And in these visions he was especially careful to represent those servants and ministers of Christ, under whose charge they had formerly been placed, as hard and cruel masters, tyrannising over young children, and shutting them out from the pleasures befitting their age.
Soon after rising in the morning, the children came again into the presence of Indulgence, who, when she had feasted them with all manner of delicacies, gave them leave to amuse themselves as they pleased till dinner-time. So they strolled forth into the garden, and Inbred-Sin went with them.
Now I saw in my dream, that when they had tired themselves with running about from place to place, they sat down and fell into discourse upon their present situation. And first, Humble Mind said, "I should like, very well, to remain here all my days: but then, I am afraid."
"Wherefore are you afraid, brother?" said Playful.
"Because," answered Humble Mind, "we have forsaken the Lord, and his ways, to satisfy our sinful lusts, through the instigation of our own evil hearts."
I perceived then that, when Humble Mind spake these words, Inbred-Sin began to rage and storm like one that was mad; for he knew that he had the children at a double advantage: first, because they had forsaken the King's way, and were got upon the enemy's grounds; and secondly, because they had given way to him for some time past, indulging him in all his demands - so that he had acquired an unusual ascendency over them. He therefore ventured to speak his whole mind. "It is my pleasure," said he, "that you stay in this place; and here I shall expect you to grant all my demands, and satisfy all my desires."
"Nay, but," said Humble Mind, tremblingly, "we shall surely lose our souls, if we remain here."
"I care not for your souls: I fear not God; I will please myself," said Inbred-Sin.
Then Humble Mind attempted to reason with him; but Inbred-Sin would not hear him: neither would he listen to any thing which Playful or Peace could say, but put them to silence with his imperious ragings. So they ceased to oppose him; upon which he became perfectly good-humoured, and proceeded to jest with the young people. But his jestings were always such as are never convenient: nevertheless he succeeded in making the children laugh heartily, which I was greatly grieved to see.
Thus the little pilgrims remained awhile in the house of Indulgence; under the dominion of Inbred-Sin. and behold, they were entangled in the snares of the enemy, neither had they any power to deliver themselves. Their bodies were pampered with luxurious living, and their days passed away in idleness. Moreover, they had all manner of playthings and toys given to them; yet were they very unhappy, by reason of the sin which dwelt in them. For Inbred-Sin meddled more and more with them every day: insomuch that pride, and selfishness, and malice, and envy, successively exercised a complete dominion over them.
Then they remembered the days that were past, and wished it were with them as formerly; nevertheless Inbred-Sin suffered them not to call upon the Lord. Whereupon I began to fear that these little ones would be utterly lost; not remembering the faithfulness of him who had called them. 1 Thessalonians 5. 24.
Now it was a custom, and had been so, as I found, from time immemorial, for such of the Lord's servants as were stationed along the way for the reception and assistance of pilgrims, to hold communication by letter with each other, concerning the affairs of pilgrims: by which means all the pilgrims on the road were well known in all those places, and a vigilant watch was maintained, lest any of them should fall into the hands of the enemy.
In consequence of this established rule, the damsels at the palace Beautiful having about this time received a letter from the Interpreter, giving them notice that certain little pilgrims were upon the road, they sent forth a faithful servant, called Discipline, to meet them, and bring them up the hill Difficulty. Discipline therefore set forth, and sought the children up and down. At length receiving information that they were in Mrs. Indulgence's house, he went immediately thither, and demanded of her how she dared to detain those chosen little ones under her unholy roof?
At this Indulgence trembled, well knowing that Disciple came not without authority: so she delivered up the children into his hands.
Then Discipline spake sternly to them, and asked them what they did there? Moreover, he took his rod and corrected them; after which he drove them before him into the right way: neither did he spare them till he had brought them almost to the top of the hill Difficulty; and it was wonderful how he made them exert themselves. At first they cried and complained piteously; but as they ascended higher and higher, they went on with so much briskness, that although Discipline followed them up close behind, yet he forebore to use his scourge as he had done: till at last I perceived that, instead of employing the rod, he encouraged them to proceed by the kindest words he could use.
The sun was about to set when they came within view of the palace Beautiful: nevertheless the loveliness of the place was plainly to be discerned; while the freshness and sweetness of the mountain air produced a very reviving effect upon the weary children.
Now I saw that there were lions chained on either side of the way which led to the palace: but these creatures took no notice of the pilgrims as they passed; though the children trembled when they saw them, and looked very pale.
So Discipline led them up to the gate of the palace; where I saw that the children turned to him and thanked him for having brought them to that place, and for all the assistance with which he had favoured them. Nay, I perceived that they kissed the hand which held the rod of correction, yea, and the very rod itself. And herein were the words of the wise man verified - Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22. 15.
Upon this Discipline smiled and said, "I am only a servant employed by the most High God, to bring pilgrims on their way to this place. Without the aid of His Holy Spirit I can accomplish nothing. His kind and gracious purposes are answered in what I do. Sometimes I take one method and sometimes another, as God directs. Upon little pilgrims my rod is laid in such a way as to suit their circumstances; from one I take away pleasures or comforts; from another I take parents or teachers, or kind friends; and sometimes I cause the beauty of a happy and playful child to consume away under the power of disease - but it is all to teach this one lesson, that God alone is to be loved and trusted with all the heart."
So after ringing the bell, the gate was opened by Mr. Watchful, the porter, who smiled, and putting his hands upon the little pilgrims, said, "What! more fruit of your kind labours, Mr. Discipline? How true is it, that whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Hebrews 12. 6.
"Give the glory to God, Mr. Watchful," said Discipline. "The turning of a single soul in hither, is only of his rich grace."
"Very true," answered Mr. Watchful; "Paul planteth, Apollos watereth; but God gives the increase." 1 Corinthians 3. 6.
By this time, one of the damsels of the house having heard the porter's bell, was come to the door. The damsel's name was Humility; and she was one of the many lovely virgins who dwell there together in sweet harmony and love. Of these, Prudence, Piety, and Charity are considered as the chief; but there are several younger branches of this family who are not less lovely than their elder sisters. Humble Mind then delivered to the damsel Humility the note which he had received from the Interpreter, and which she immediately carried to those within. Whereupon the little pilgrims were called in, while Mr. Discipline went about other work.
Then such of the damsels as had received orders to introduce little pilgrims, took them by the hand, and led them first into the hall, which was a noble apartment, where were ranged upon pedestals near the walls, many marble statues, exceedingly beautiful and in fine proportion, representing the most holy and beloved of God among the children of men. There were such as through faith had subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness had been made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women who had received their dead raised to life again: and others who had been tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they may obtain a better resurrection. Here were the statues of such as had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth: Hebrews 11. 33-38; - all of them suffering for the love which they bore to God. Here also were the memorials of many pious and holy young persons, to whom God had given grace to serve him in spirit and in truth. Here also were representations in marble, of parents who, through the love they bear to their Redeemer, had yielded up their dying infants to him that made them, crying out, "Lord, Lord, thy will be done!" and rejoicing in the full assurance that their little sweet ones were delivered from a vain and evil world. All these, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided better things for them: Hebrews 11. 39, 40; even an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. 1 Peter 1. 4.
Through this hall the damsels led the little ones into a fair parlour, where sat Prudence, Piety, and Charity, with other virgins of the family. Each of these fair maidens was busied about some appropriate good work; and as they wrought with their hands, they beguiled the time in speaking to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Ephesians. 5. 19. But upon the little pilgrims being brought in, immediately ceasing from their work, and suspending their song, they gathered around them. First, Charity kissed them; then Piety gave them her blessing; while Prudence brushed the dust from their white garments. And one welcomed them, and another welcomed them, saying, "Blessed are you, ye chosen ones of the Lord."
So they were made to sit down, and a dish of wholesome food was set before them; of which they ate heartily: for their exercise under Mr. Discipline's management had made them very hungry. Then having prayed with the family, they were put to bed in a chamber called Peace: where they presently fell into a deep sleep.
Now it is to be supposed, because the little pilgrims were safely lodged in the palace Beautiful, that they were also set free from the importunities of Inbred-Sin. No: for as that wicked one came with us into the world, so he will go out of the world with us. I had turned my eye upon him, from time to time, ever since the children were driven from the house of Indulgence. When Mr. Discipline set them a-running, I saw that Inbred-Sin kept close in with them; not indeed by running with them, but, as I had often seen him do before, by hanging upon them, and that so heavily, that the children were forced to drag him with great difficulty up the hill. And though he got many strokes from Mr. Discipline's rod, yet he never loosed his hold; but the more Discipline applied the rod, the more he clung and held fast; giving the poor children many a sore pinch, and many a painful twitch. On coming towards the top of the hill, where the way became easier, I saw that he ceased pulling and twitching, and went on quietly behind the children; keeping, however, quite close to them. He accompanied them also into the palace, drawing himself, however, as much as possible, from the notice of the damsels of the palace; and when the children went to bed, he went with them. Nevertheless, he kept himself very quiet all night; and in the morning, just about the time that he expected the children to arise, he laid himself all along on the floor, like one dead or fainting. And there he was when Humble Mind and his sisters, being awakened by the sweet singing of the birds before their window, got up, and began to dress themselves.
Now the children, being busily engaged in conversation, never heeded Inbred-Sin, till he began to make a low kind of moaning. Whereupon Playful perceiving him, said, "why here lies Inbred-Sin like one half dead. Well, well, I hope that Mr. Discipline has at last mastered him with his scourge; for he got many hearty stripes yesterday."
Then Humble Mind turned to look at him; and little Peace actually began to touch him, to see if he was really dead.
"No, no," said Humble Mind, "he is not dead; for I believe that he will never die till we die, and that we shall never get quit of him till we sink into the grave."
"But," said Playful, "he cannot move; I think that both his legs and his arms were broken. Though he may not be absolutely dead, yet the blows he received may have broken all his bones, and taken away his strength."
"Well, well, I wish it may be so," answered Humble Mind; "and then at least he will not torment us so much as he has done. For if he should grow weaker, and we become stronger, we shall soon be more than a match for him. I only wish that, if it were possible, he might die outright; and then how happy should we be!"
"O," said Peace, "in the condition he now is we need not fear him much; for I do not think he could even stand on his legs at present, if he were to put forth all his strength."
By these means Inbred-Sin made the children believe that he was quite disabled, and that there was no manner of cause, in future, to fear him. So he filled them with vain confidence. Moreover, all the time that they remained at the palace Beautiful, he affected to be quite low and weak, like one in dying circumstances. And thus, notwithstanding all their experience of his subtilty in time past, and all that they had been taught concerning him by the Interpreter and others, the children were again deceived by this new device.
Now as soon as the young ones were dressed, their attendance was required at family prayers: after which, all the maidens of the palace, together with the little pilgrims, sat down to breakfast in the parlour.
Breakfast being finished, every one went immediately to her proper work: for no one is idle in the palace of the Virtues, but all its inhabitants are employed in those things which are appointed by their King. So I saw that Prudence, Piety, and Charity, having called the three little ones, began thus to discourse with them. Prudence first spake. "My dear children," said she, "if you are so inclined, the Ruler of all things will, no doubt, grant you permission to remain for a season in this place; where you may, with God's blessing, attain unto the knowledge of all virtue. But while you remain here, you must contently submit to the rules of the place, which, although they may appear strict, are by no means unpleasant; since they were laid down by him who thus characterizes the service he requires, 'My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'" Matthew 11. 30.
To this Humble Mind answered, that he and his sisters would gladly remain with them as long as the King should grant them permission; and that, in the meanwhile, they hoped very carefully to observe the rules of the house.
Upon which Piety observed, "Of yourselves, my dear children, you cannot obey the rules of this place; but ask of God, and he will assist you."
"I am glad," returned Humble Mind, "to hear that there are strict rules to be observed in this house: for while I was in the house of Indulgence, while no one exercised authority over me, I fell under the dominion of the sin that dwelleth in me - and of all masters, methinks this Inbred-Sin is the hardest."
"Very true, my son," said Prudence; "whosoever is the slave of sin lives under the cruelest bondage: and it is in order to free children from the power of their evil passions, that the Lord, among other means, hath appointed the rod of correction. Sin is the great cause of the trouble and misery which so much abound in the world."
I heard then that Humble Mind, being questioned by the damsels, related all that had befallen him and his sisters, from the removal of their parents to that very day.
After which, Piety thus addressed the little pilgrims: "I find, my children, that you have had your trials. But God has dealt very mercifully with you, in having brought you thus far on your journey; although, by your own account, from the time that you left your father's house, you have not ceased to provoke him, through the suggestions of the sin that dwelleth in you. Thus you have proved that the Lord is merciful and gracious - slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. For you must remember how full you have been of ingratitude, perverseness, and unbelief. You have not loved and served the Creator of your soul and body and the daily preserver of both - you have not thanked him for the mercies he has been bestowing upon you every moment; but on the contrary you have been evil and unthankful - and it is because he is long-suffering and of great compassion that you yet live. - Give then all the glory of your salvation, and know assuredly that his grace alone has disposed and enabled you to be what you are and to do what you have done. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. Romans 3. 27. Give therefore, my children, I say again, give all the glory to God: for who made you to differ from other children? and what have you that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4. 7.
I observed then that the damsels conversed with Humble Mind concerning the several places of education in which he had sojourned. Whereupon Humble Mind would know of them which they thought most objectionable, the school of Mr. Worldly-Prudence, or the place where all manner of elegant accomplishments were chiefly taught?
"It is hard, my son," replied Prudence, "to tell which is the worst, or which is the best, of things that are manifestly evil. There is but one way to everlasting happiness; Jesus saith, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. John 14. 6. We are therefore to hate every false way, however they may differ one from another, and choose the way of truth alone. Psalm 119. Now the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: Proverbs 14. 8; and we have a promise that to the meek this way shall be pointed out - The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way. Psalm 25. 9. But those persons who seek their own glory, and the setting forth of their own selves, run into all manner of follies, and consume their days in vanity."
Then spake Charity, "Alas! alas! it even causes my heart to bleed, when I think of the many fatal mistakes into which mankind are prone to fall on this subject - and all from the want of knowing the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts."
"Now it comes into my mind," said Prudence, "that I have something to exhibit which will both please and profit these little ones; I mean the mirror or magic glass which was given me by Mr. Spiritual-Man." Then she ran up into her closet where she kept it, and brought it down; and behold, it was a magic lantern, such as children often play with. So when the damsels had shut all the windows, and lighted a candle, Proverbs 20. 27; they set forth the lantern in order; and behold, the things that were painted on the glasses of the lantern were represented on the smooth white wall in bright colours - at which the children were much pleased. And behold, there was shown on the wall a wide plain full of large towns, all scattered over with heaps of mire and much rubbish. Above this plain was a glorious heaven, and beneath it was a yawning grave going down to the very pit of hell. Moreover, in the midst of the plain stood a very unsightly old man clothed in filthy garments; and Satan stood at his right hand. Zechariah 3. 1. 3. From the sole of his foot even unto the crown of his head there was no soundness in him; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores. Isaiah 1. 6. This man could neither stand upright, Micah 7. 2; nor look towards the heavens to behold the glories therein displayed - for the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit: 1 Corinthians. 2. 14; - but after looking downward for a time on the things which lay at his feet, he began anon to rake and scratch all the muck and the rubbish together: and while he was thus employed, he appeared not only to become vicious, but to be filled with an indescribable fury. At this, there came forward the appearance of one, whom the children knew to be the schoolmaster Law, and he laid upon the man many stripes, until he was glad to leave scraping the muck and dung together, and to sit down quietly upon the heap which he had already collected.
Now Inbred-Sin was at the ear of Playful, though she knew it not. So, when she saw all these things, she began to smile; till, unable any longer to refrain, she burst into a loud laugh.
Then said Piety, "Wherefore do you laugh, my child?"
Playful. I could not refrain, when I saw that ugly old man covered all over with rags and dirt, and so very ill conditioned at the same time. I think such a vile old man is not worthy to live. If I had been Mr. Law, I should have put an end to him at once.
Then answered Piety, "In this case we may apply the memorable words of the prophet, 'Thou art the man!'" 2 Samuel 12. 7.
At which Playful blushed; whereupon Piety added these words - "What would have become of you, my child, if the Lord had said concerning you, 'She is not worthy to live?' And yet wherein do you differ from yonder old man?"
Then came the tears into Playful's eyes; for she was self-convicted: and Charity was pleased to observe her tears.
So they looked again at the old man, who had seated himself upon his heap of muck; and Satan began to make a great bustle about him. For Satan himself being the father of that old man, he called in his servants to support and adorn him. And first came one called Art, who painted the old man over with red and white paint, so as entirely to conceal all his wounds and his sores: moreover, she taught him to smile. Then came one called Fashion, who put certain gaudy garments upon the old man's rags; which caused him to look somewhat more seemly. And after this came the damsel Light-Mind with her train, to wit, the teachers of elegant accomplishments, all of whom very busily engaged themselves about the old man: and it was wonderful to behold how vast a change they wrought in him. Insomuch that Playful began to like him better; and Peace observed that he was not half so frightful as before. "But," said Humble Mind, "perceive you not, my sisters, that his rags remain still beneath his fine clothes; that his wounds are not healed, nor his filthiness washed away?"
Now, when all this was done, certain persons, wise in their own conceits, came to the old man, with many learned professors, putting certain books into his hand. He received the books, and after reading therein, he rose up inflated with vanity; and his manner was as if he were mocking at the Most High. Then was he led up to the top of the heap of rubbish which he had collected, and which they that were about had raised to an exceeding great height - and there they put a crown upon his head, and bowed before him. And behold, even while they bowed, one came behind and struck him; upon which he lost both his crown and his rich garments, and suddenly falling down, he rapidly tumbled from precipice to precipice, till he sunk into the pit and totally disappeared. At which Satan, who had stood by all the while, made outrageous merriment, and laughed the wretched sufferer to scorn.
The children then desired to see more: but Prudence said, "It is enough." So the windows being opened, and the lantern put away, Piety proceeded, as the manner of the house is on all such occasions, to put certain questions to the children concerning what they had seen.
Piety. Who do you suppose this old man to be, whose representations has just been exhibited to you?
Playful. I did not understand at first; but now I know that this old man is the emblem of what we are by nature; and his wounds and sores signify the evil and uncleanness of our hearts.
Piety. Well spoken, my child: and this old man is thus described by St. Paul - Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness: full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Romans 1. 29-31.
Then spake Prudence, "You saw all that Art, and Learning, and Fashion, and Elegant Accomplishments could do for this old man. But did it seem to be within their power to rectify his vile nature? or could they save him from destruction?"
Playful. To be sure, they made him look a little better; but as to any thing else, they left him much as they found him.
Then said Humble Mind, "When I saw them all so busy in painting the old man, and setting him forth in gaudy apparel, I thought of what our Lord said to the Scribes and Pharisees - Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23. 27.
Prudence. Well spoken, my son: and herein we may perceive the folly of such as are continually striving to set forth and adorn their old vile and sinful nature, instead of coming to him who alone can reform and renew it; even to him who gave himself for them; that he might sanctify and cleanse them: and that he might present them to himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that they should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5. 25-27.
Piety. Well, let us have nothing more to do with our old man with his deeds. Colossians 3. 9. He is crucified with our Lord. Romans 6. 6. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5. 17.
I perceived then that Inbred-Sin was very busy again with Playful, who thus vainly replied to Piety, "It is in truth a great pleasure to think that we have nearly done with our old nature; and that now, being got so far on our journey, our Inbred-Sin loses ground very fast, while we are becoming every day holier and wiser. I am sure, when I think how wicked I used to be, and how much better I am now, I feel that I have great cause for thankfulness."
When Charity heard the child speaking after this fashion, she sighed deeply; nor could Humble Mind forbear to blush: but Prudence rebuked her, and spake to this purpose: "when my sister Piety admonished us to have nothing more to do with our old man, she meant that it behoved us to shun him, and to fly from him: but, alas! though we would willingly have no more to say to him, we must not hope that he will so easily be restrained from having any thing more to do with us. O my child! how little, as yet, are you acquainted either with the deceitfulness of your own heart, or with the subtle devices of Inbred-Sin! Be assured however of this, that Inbred-Sin is never more to be feared, than when he would make you believe that you are in no danger from him."
Playful was now ashamed, and remained silent - while Piety entered further into discourse with the children, explaining unto them that, unless man be born again, that is, born of the Spirit, he cannot see God. After which she caused Humble Mind to read aloud our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus on the subject of regeneration, recorded in the third chapter of St. John's Gospel. Moreover, I saw that she made him kneel down and pray that the Lord would open the eyes of his understanding, in order to a due comprehension of this matter. For herein is a great mystery, which they of this world cannot receive, a doctrine altogether despised and rejected of men, and which Christians themselves do not thoroughly understand, although they feel and know it to be true, - namely, how the old and sinful nature is destroyed in them that believe, while a new and heavenly nature is imparted to them.
Now I saw that Piety daily used great pains to make these little ones acquainted with this important doctrine; sometimes taking them apart into her closet and praying with them; at other times leading them by the hand when she walked out into the fields, and discoursing with them freely upon the new nature of man, when born again in Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Among other statements, she represented to them, that the heart of the old man is continually full of abominable conceits and every kind of evil thought; while the heart of him who is born again and become a new creature, abounds with love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5. 22, 23. Moreover, she took especial pains to make the children comprehend that this work of regeneration is, for the most part, a slow or progressive work, and that the old nature will continue to contend with the new until the work of grace be finished at the hour of death. Nor did she fail to point out that to which every Christian should carefully attend, namely, the necessity of supporting the new nature day by day, with heavenly food, in order to its growth and improvement; just as the natural body is fed by the fruits of the earth, in failure of which it grows weak and faint and at length expires.
Thus Piety continued unweariedly to instruct the little pilgrims: insomuch that after they had been for a short space at the palace Beautiful, it was judged necessary to introduce them to certain other teachers, of whom I shall speak more particularly in my next chapter.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when the little pilgrims had remained for a season in the palace Beautiful, the damsels took them one morning by the hand, and led them trhough a long and shady cloister into a very large library, formed of various ranges of apartments of very ancient architecture, and filled with the works of the most esteemed writers, both sacred and profance, human and divine. Here was no sound of voices to be heard, but all was hushed and quiet, inviting to study and contemplation. And in one of the largest of these apartmnets two very venerable men were sitting at one table, before whom were spread many books, which they were busied in examining; and behold, from time to time, they seemed to consult each other, and, as it were, to compare notes one with the other.
Then said Piety to the children, "Behold those venerable persons! they are brotheres; and he that looketh most fresh and comely, is the elder by many years - for he is immortal, and time hath no power over him."
"May I," said Humble Mind, "presume to ask their names and characters?"
Piety. These brothers are the sons of one mother, whose name is Wisdom. The elder is called Divine Knowledge, and his age cannot be computed: for alothough he looks so hale and comely, he was in existence beefore the foundation of the world. The name of the younger is Human Knowleedge; and as his birth place was this earth, he partakes of the infirmity and imperfection of all earthly things. Hence you see tht he is much more wrinkled and broken down with age than his elder brother.
"The Father Almighty," continued Piety, "sent Divine Knowledge from his dwelling place on high, to be a guide and comfort to fallen man; and Human Knowledge was charged never to lose sight of this his elder brother, and never to undertake any work, except in conjunction with Divine Knowledge. But," continued Piety, "notwithstanding these strict injunctions given to these brethren by the Most High, mankind have, in almost every age of the world, prevailed in their attempts to separate them. And even now," continued she, ``the sons of men may be divided into two classes; those who, like Mr. Worldly Prudence, pay divine honours to the younger brother; and those who, utterly despising the younger, pretend the highest esteem for the elder. But," continued she, "they that judge wisely, give the highest honour to the elder without despising the younger, and take delight in seeing them labour hand in hand, each in his proper place, in the blessed work of instructing the ignorant. "
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when the damsel Piety had thus spoken, she led the children up to the ancient brothers, introducing them as little ones who, were humble, and willing to be instructed. So after laying their lands upon them and blessing them, the sages caused them to occupy places at their feet.
On that very day therefore they began to study under the direction of these venerable teachers: and from thenceforward, while they remained in the palace Beautiful, they went daily at a certain hour into the library to receive such instruction as was judged fitting for them. And now Humble Mind was made to understand wherein Mr. Worldly-Prudence's system of education was defective, to wit, in that he did not make the Book of God the basis and groundwork of his plan, using heathen authors only as auxiliary lights, and their works as books of reference. And thus he not only bewildered and lost himself amid the mazes of heathen darkness and heathen morality, but became the means of misleading multitudes of others.
In receiving the instructions of these venerable men the little pilgrims spent many hours every day; and whenever they had discovered extraordinary assiduity, I saw that they were allowed by the damsels of the palace to enjoy the fields or gardens of innocent pleasure. These gardens are the peculiar gift of the Lord of lords to the damsels the Virtues, and by him rendered inexpressibly delightful; in order that the saints upon earth, being sometimes permitted to take the air in them, might have some little foretaste of those joys which are reserved for them in heaven, through merits of him in whom is their trust. These gardens are near joining to the palace Beautiful, and the damsels of that house have the sole charge of them, with express command from the Most High, that none enter therein, or eat of their fruit, but such, as love him and seek to do his will.
Now I looked, and behold, there was nothing wanting in these gardens that could render them desirable, such as mossy fountains and curious waterfalls, blooming partures and fragrant groves, verdant uplands and shadowy glens, with every variety that could delight the eye or ravish the fancy. Here were specimens of certain lovely flowers of Paradise, which had escaped the general destruction made by sin. Here were young lambs sporting without fear, and little fawns bounding over the hills. And here also I beheld many, birds of exquisite plumage and extraordinary note, such as certain ancient pilgrims are reported to have listened to with peculiar transport when travtiling through these parts. These birds were heard answering each other from the high woodlands, in sweet song, and their voices were wonderfully ravishing to such as silently walked in the shadowy dells beneath. I saw too, among these fields, many Iovely cottages, And quiet resting places, which God had prepared for certain aged pilgrims who Ioved and trusted in him. These were under the charge of Charity, who had the care of providing them with such things as were necessary; and there the poor among men rejoiced in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29. 19. Here were also a varity of pleasing arbours, to which, in the cool of the day, the two venerable brothers, Divine and Human Knowledge, were accustomed to retire, together with Prudence, Piety, Charity, and the other damsels of the palace, for the purpose of taking their evening repast; where, while they temperately feasted upon the milk of the flock and the fruits of the garden, they held profitable discourses on subjects cf high importance, to wit, how they might best fulfil the will of God, in relieving the wants of the poor, and in turning the simple to the wisdom of the just. And sometimes, in these hours of quiet leisure, Divine Knowledlge would unfold the interesting secrets of prophecy, together with the mighty plans of Providence for bringing about the restoration of lost mankind, and the final glory of Christ's kingdom upon earth - and blessed were those who heard the gracious words that proceeded out of his lips. There was, moreover, present in these assemblies an aged matron, called Experience, whose tales of ancient times were at once most profitable and most pleasant; and I perceived that all her discourse continually tended to prove one thing, namely, that like King David, she had been young, and then was old, but had never seen the righteous forsaken, nor their seed begging their bread. Psalm 37. 25.
The little children were permitted to sit upon the moss at the feet of Charity, while these discourses were delivered, and which they listened to with delight, while they thankfully partook of the food provided for them. After which they either played together upon the hills and lawns, rivalling the young fawns and lambs in their innocent gambols; or they walked with Piety in the solemn grove, where they were regaled with the music of its sacred songsters; or they performed some kind offices for the aged pilgrims, whose little cottages were scattered over these delightful regions. And at these times the gladness of their young hearts not only shone through their eyes, but very frequently expressed itself in such songs as these -
"These are the joys he makes us know
In fields and villages below;
Gives us a relish of his love,
But keeps his noblest feast above."
Now I saw, in my dream, that the King of kings permitted the children to remain in the palace Beautiful for a considerable length of time; where as they increased in stature they grew in favour both with God and man. Two young damsels, called Decency and Order, had the special charge of them, and led them sweetly through the duties of every day. They were called up early every morning, and taught to devote the early part of the day to God; after breakfast, they spent a few hours with their tutors; at noon they were fed by Temperance; and in the afternoon they were taught by Prudence such useful works as are necessary to the economy of human life: after which they were directed by Charity to apply those works to such uses as might be approved in that day when the Lord shall say to those on his right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25. 34-36. Here also the children learned from Piety to perform the sweet work of praise; putting music to its best and highest use, namely, the setting forth the glory of God.
Now, during the whole of this season which passed so pleasantly with the little pilgrims, Inbred-Sin, aware that all the inhabitants of the palace would rise up against him, if he should once dare to show his face among them, kept himself carefully in the back ground; where it was his object to persuade the little ones that he was in a very weak and languishing state, and never likely to be in a condition to torment them again as he had formerly done. Yet at this very time while he affected such extreme langour, he was not less busy with his mischievous suggestions than in season of more apparent liveliness and vigour. It was now his way, when he could get at the children's ear unobserved, to flatter them upon their great attainments in virtue, and even to speak in high terms of their victory over himself, as well as of the esteem in which they were held throughout the palace. Thus he went on, secretly introducing poison into their hearts, and making even their good works the means of their transgressing: nevertheless, as his work was silently carried on, so its effects, for a season, were not discoverable.
I perceived then that, after awhile, it was signified to the children that they must continue their pilgrimage. Upon which Prudence, Piety, and Charity took them apart, and kissed them, and prayed with them, and shed over them many tears. "O my little sweet ones!" said Charity, "whom we have so tenderly watched for many months, guarding you from the assaults of that roaring lion who goeth about seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter. 5. 8; think of the sorrow you will occasion us, if ever we should hear of your turning away from the paths of truth and holiness. Always remember, my children, the happy days which you have enjoyed in the palace of the Virtues, and the blissful hours which you have spent in the fields of innocent pleasure; and know assuredly that, on becoming the slaves of sin, you will taste of happiness no more. For the ways of the wicked are full of trouble, their torment beginning even in this world: but the work of righteousness is peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." Isaiah 32. 17.
Then I saw that Piety would needs pray with them; so making the little ones to kneel by her, she thus breathed out her requests: "O holy Father, we pray for these little ones, whom thou gavest us for a season. O holy Father, keep them through thy name, that they may be one with thee. While we were with them, we kept them in thy name, and none of them is lost. We have given them thy word; and the world will hate them, because they are not of the world, even as we are not of the world. We pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as we are not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Father, we pray thee that these, the redeemed of thy blessed Son, may be with thee, where he is, that they may behold his glory which thou hast given him; for thou lovedst him before the foundation of the world: and, finally, we pray that the glory which thou gavest him, he may give also to them, that they may be one with thee, and with him." John 17.
After this, Prudence informed the children that as they advanced in their pilgrimage, they would come to a mighty city, which is the metropolis or royal city belonging to the prince of this world, the determined enemy of pilgrims. "That city," said she, "is called Vanity, and its inhabitants are the men of this world. There," added she, "pilgrims, ever since the beginning of the world, have been exercised with various trials, in order, if possible, to make them weary of the Way of Salvation. In former days many were there tortured with fire and sword; and even to this day there are some parts of the city, in which the servants of Christ are in danger of loosing their lives for his name's sake. But," continued she, "in the more civilized part of that city, these barbarous customs have fallen into disrepute, the fury of the enemy being mercifully restrained by the Lord of pilgrims. Nevertheless the profession of a pilgrim is held in the greatest contempt throughout the whole City of Vanity, and the traveller to Mount Zion is exposed to every species of contumely and reproach in its streets, through which he must yet necessarily pass, or go entirely out of his way. For the town is full of those who mock at religion according to the words of Scripture - Know ye not, in the last days there shall come scoffers walking after their own lusts, saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 2 Peter 3. 3, 4. Ye therefore, my beloved," proceeded the damsel Prudence, "seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 3. 17, 18.
I heard then that the damsels explained to the children that, from the beginning of the world, the Lord had always preserved to himself a little remnant of his chosen ones.
Upon this Prudence represented to the little pilgrims that their safety in the town of Vanity would much depend on their finding out the abodes of these true Christians, and familiarly associating with their families.
I heard then that Piety gave the children certain marks or signs by which they might, under the divine direction, distinguish these true children of God from those who through worldly motives assumed their garb and adopted their language. And among these tokens, the following were especially to be noted - first, whether they, as members, hold the Head, which is Christ, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God; Colossians 2. 19: secondly, whether they have love one towards another - for it is written, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another; John 13. 35; and thirdly, whether they bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness - for the tree is known by the fruits - A good tree bringeth not forth evil fruit, nor an evil tree good fruit. Matthew 7. 18. Moreover the damsels gave the children a note to a certain venerable clergyman, named Orthodox, who dwelt as a stranger and pilgrim in the town of Vanity, waiting, like Abraham, till he should be called to a better inheritance. To which Prudence added many directions, by which she hoped that the little ones would be enabled to find the dwelling of this venerable man: neither did she omit to admonish them continually to seek counsel by prayer.
Being thus duly prepared for their journey, I perceived that the children were led forth by the damsels of the palace till they reached the brow of the hill Difficulty, on that side which looketh towards the Celestial City; where they kissed each other, and affectionately separated, with many tears on both sides. So the fair damsels being gone back, the young pilgrims remained for some time weeping on the brow of the hill: and Inbred-Sin was with them.
Now I remembered that the descent from the hill was exceedingly steep, insomuch that it seemed impossible to go down into the valley beneath, without the hazard of many dangerous slips and falls. This deep valley was called the Valley of Humiliation - but of this we shall have occasion to speak more hereafter. The damsels had bidden the children to beware of the steep descent, and had given them many charges to walk warily: nevertheless, when the little ones began to contemplate the valley which was spread at their feet, and the precipitous path by which they were to reach it, they not only expressed great dread of this hazardous undertaking, but presently broke out into murmurings, very bitterly lamenting the necessity of making such a descent. And I perceived that Inbred-Sin mingled very eagerly in the conversation that took place among them, and gave his opinion with surprising freedom, looking as brisk and as pert as I had ever at any time seen him: whereat I much wondered, on considering the very weak and low condition in which he had appeared at the palace Beautiful. I also much marvelled to find that the children did not remark this sudden change in him; neither did they reprove nor check him, but listened to all he said with much complacency.
Upon which Inbred-Sin spoke much in favour of the exalted situation of the hill Difficulty, the towering summits of which, he declared, afforded a most glorious prospect on all sides: whereas the valley spread at their feet was, he said, so despicable a place, that he could not conceive why the Lord of pilgrims had caused the way to Zion to pass through it. I heard then that he proceeded to flatter the little pilgrims upon their perseverance, and the wonderful exertions they had made, in attaining the glorious height on which they then stood, and by which they had been enabled to reach the palace of the Virtues; and I perceived that he ascribed to their own efforts all the glory of what they had done, referring nothing to God, nor even adverting to the rod of Discipline.
I saw however that, after listening for awhile to Inbred-Sin, the children bethought themselves that, as they must need descend the side of the mountain, (the Lord having signified his will that they should continue their pilgrimage,) it would be better to do so before night came on. So having no time to lose, they began their descent; yet it was with a very ill will, since they had nothing before them but the Valley of Humiliation, whose gloomy appearance alarms many a traveller who afterwards finds consolations therein which are not to be met with in any other part of their pilgrimage.
And now, although I was heartily vexed, yet I could not but smile to observe the strange pranks and maneuvres of Inbred-Sin, and the tricks he played the little pilgrims as they were going down the hill, thereby rendering their difficult path a hundred times more difficult. First, he would have it, as I before said, that they should not go down at all, but tarry where they were; because the top of the hill was, he said, nearer heaven than the valley. Then upon Humble Mind's arguing with him, and pleading that they had no choice, but must go down; he became petulant, and would have them to proceed in haste, that so desperate an adventure might be speedily concluded. So they ran down the side of the mountain till each of them got a very sore tumble, in which they bruised themselves severely against the stones. Whereupon Inbred-Sin, while they lay groaning half way down the mountain, insultingly laughed them to scorn, and cried out, "Now see what you have got by your haste to obey the orders of your King!" - thus impiously charging upon the Prince of princes those wounds which the little pilgrims owed entirely to their own impatience. For although it was the pleasure of the Lord of pilgrims that Humble Mind and his sisters should descend into the Valley of Humiliation, yet he never required them to lay aside all prudence or caution in making that descent.
Here I was sorry to observe that the little pilgrims, being thus sorely bruised and wounded, did not reprove Inbred-Sin on his suggesting these false and blasphemous accusations against the King of kings; but that, as they rose from the ground, they sighed and mourned like persons delivered over to despair. The steepness and danger however of the place where they then lay, not permitting them to take any rest, they resolved to go forward, though in a more wary and careful manner. Then I saw that Inbred-Sin stepped before them: but while he pretended to remove stones and stumbling-blocks out of their way, he contrived so to entangle himself in their steps, that he first pulled down one and then another of them, at short intervals through the whole of their way. And in this manner did he so vex and bewilder the poor children, that on reaching the foot of the mountain, they found themselves in a most forlorn and miserable condition.
Now I have heard it said by many an old pilgrim, that there is not in all the Way of Salvation, from the gate which is at the head of that way even to the very land of Beulah, a more delightful place of sojourn than the Valley of Humiliation, although it be held in universal contempt by the men of the world. This valley was the favourite dwelling place of the Lord of pilgrims, when residing upon earth. The air of this valley is soft and balmy; and though few descend willingly into it, many, as I have intimated above, have confessed that the happiest hours of their pilgrimage were passed in that peaceful retirement. This valley is shaded with all manner of trees which are agreeable to the sight or good for food. A clear stream of the water of the fountain of life winds its gentle and untroubled course through its whole extent; and before sunrise manna is found thickly scattered over every part of it: moreover the voice of the heavenly dove is not seldom heard from the clefts of the rocks which inclose the valley on either side.
It was nearly dusk when the little pilgrims reached the bottom of the hill; where, on account of their present pain and vexation, they could neither enjoy the balmy air of the valley, nor find rest on the soft green turf which it spread beneath their feet. They, however, sat themselves down for a time; and being greatly exhausted they ate of the dried fruits with which the damsels of the palace Beautiful had supplied them. But their repast afforded them very little refreshment, because it was received with a discontented mind; so greatly did they regret losing the pleasures they had enjoyed in the palace Beautiful, and so deeply did they lament the meanness of their new situation - for Inbred-Sin had taught them to consider the palace Beautiful as a more honourable station in society than the valley into which they were now entered.
Then I looked again at these little pilgrims, and found them still sitting at the foot of the hill as the darkness began to cover them: and I marvelled to find how familiarly they allowed Inbred-Sin to converse with them, whereas they had appeared to keep him at such a distance in the palace Beautiful. But I considered not how exceedingly powerful the effect of pious company is upon young pilgrims, in restraining the influence of sin; neither did I then recollect how commonly our more gross inbred corruptions lie still and quiet, and seem, as it were, dead or extinguished, when they have no opportunity of working to any effect. Nor did it strike me at the moment, that this very Inbred-Sin though he had not broken forth into any openly disgraceful act in the palace Beautiful, had nevertheless been effectually at work, to the injury of the little pilgrims, in filling them with spiritual pride and high thoughts of themselves - as now clearly appeared from their extreme abhorrence of the Valley of Humiliation. For they who are really humble love this valley, and would be thankful if the whole of their pilgrim's course lay through it.
So the little pilgrims sat hearkening to Inbred-Sin, till, being overcome with weariness, they fell asleep. While gazing at these little creatures, I could not but reflect on the bad consequences of sin - how averse is fallen man to all that is good! how prone to all that is evil; and as I thus mused I could not but admire and adore the riches of that grace which has been displayed in the dispensation of mercy by the gospel. There we see divine compassion wonderfully displayed. - "It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners" - but how is the offered salvation to be obtained by such a poor, sinful, dying creature as man? The same grace which has provided persons and disposed the heart to receive the unspeakable gift - the same Spirit which says to the sinful soul, "seek ye my face," disposes that soul to reply, "thy face, Lord, will I seek." And it is only when we are most sensible of our want that we seek for the help of Him in whom all fulness dwells - it is when we feel most sensibly our own helplessness, that we apply to Him whose grace is sufficient for us.
How changed the scene before me. These little pilgrims were but just now prosperous and happy in the palace Beautfiul, and yet through the influence of the old enemy, Inbred-Sin, they were vexed and wearied with the prospect of passing through the valley. Oh that grace may be given them to hold on their way unto the end.
Now it came to pass, while I was lost in these meditations, that I suddenly perceived a light in the sky towards the east, whence presently a very bright form, yet clothed with a cloud in order to conceal a part of its dazzling glory, descended from the heavens and drew near the little pilgrims. On the appearance of this heavenly vision, I saw that Inbred-Sin concealed himself; but the little ones remained in a deep sleep, while the heavenly visitant addressed himself to Humble Mind, saying, "Lovedst thou me, my son?"
I perceived then that Humble Mind started from his sleep, and looking up, said, "Who art thou, Lord?"
The other replied, "I am he that was wounded for thy transgressions, and bruised for thine iniquities. Isaiah 53. 5. For thy sake I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." Isaiah 50. 6.
Then I saw that Humble Mind fell upon his knees, and lifting up his hands, cried, "My Lord and my God!"
Upon which the Holy One replied, "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Matthew 10. 38.
With that I perceived that the glorious vision faded from the view of the little pilgrim; and behold, the child lay awhile prostrate on the ground, bitterly weeping: for his heart smote him on account of his ingratitude to his Saviour; and he felt utterly unworthy of that special condescension which had led the Prince of princes a second time to reveal himself to him, and plead with him, as it were, face to face. So he lay weeping and lamenting till day-dawn; when rising from the ground, and awaking his sisters, he reported to them what he had seen and in what manner he had been made sensible of the pride and ingratitude of his heart.
Now I saw in my dream, that these little ones were much affected when they heard the words of their brother; for it pleased the Lord to bless his report to their profit. And they said one to another, "We have indeed sinned grievously in hearkening to this Inbred-Sin, and in presuming to murmur against the commands of our Lord."
So, when they had wept over each other for awhile, they arose from the ground; and having drank of the water which flowed in a pure clear stream by the way-side, and also washed themselves therewith, they filled their golden pots with the manna which, a little before sunrise, appeared thickly scattered around them on the grass: then earnestly asking the Lord's blessing on their journey, they began to set forward along the Valley of Humiliation. And behold, Inbred-Sin followed upon their steps; for he would in no case suffer himself to be left behind, although the little pilgrims would most gladly have been quit of his company.
I saw then, in my dream, that, although the children began their day's journey in considerable sadness of heart, (being cast down by a strong sense of their late sin and ingratitude to the Prince of princes,) yet as they advanced along this Valley of Humiliation they became more easy, till at length the expression of peace was entirely restored to their countenances. And I remarked that their eyes were directed more continually towards the splendid prospect before them, namely, the glories of Mount Zion, rising faintly and indistinctly above the eastern horizon, than they had ever been during the former part of their pilgrimage. Moreover, I marked that Inbred-Sin was as quiet in this valley as ever I had seen him; although I observed that he sometimes uttered a low whining cry, which no doubt would have broken out into loud murmurs against the King of kings, if Humble Mind, who kept his late vision continually in mind, had not sharply rebuked him, pressing him closely with the following words of our Lord, to which he could offer no reply - Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16. 24, 25.
Now when the young pilgrims had advanced a little way in the Valley of Humiliation, they were enabled to discover that it abounded with beauties, such as they had never seen in all their travels. The brook of water, of which we have spoken before as for the most part winding its course near to the Way of Salvation, seemed, as it were, to linger among these delightful meadows, and to show itself more full and clear than in any other part of the pilgrim's path. Many flowers grow in these fields, and especially on the margin of the brook. These were, for the most part, flowers of humble growth and delicate appearance - flowers of the valley, which could not live on higher grounds, or endure the rough winds to which such situations are generally exposed.
I heard then that the little pilgrims began to discourse with each other as they walked along. And thus spake Humble Mind: "Dear sisters, though yesterday I came down the hill with such an ill will, yet I am now inclined to think that the Valley of Humiliation is the safest, and perhaps the happiest place for a poor sinner on earth. I am ashamed when I think of the high thoughts I once had of myself; and that not only before I became a pilgrim, but since: and even yesterday how was my heart filled and puffed up with spiritual pride! I call it spiritual pride," continued he, "because I was not proud of any thing external, but rather of what I thought the good and prosperous state of my soul. Now indeed I see my folly; and I thank God for opening my mind, and showing me that he who has by his sins brought the Son of God to the cross, can never have any cause of glorying, except in that cross itself."
"But, brother," said Playful, "there is one thing which I wish to understand - I observe that every holy person, when talking on the subject of man's salvation, is accustomed to speak of the death of Christ our Lord as if he had died for him or her only."
To this Humble Mind answered, "It is very proper that each one should do so; because, if you, or I, or any other person, had been the only transgressor of all the sons of Adam, the Lord must have died for that one person, if that one person was to be saved. Therefore, as far as you, or I, or any other individual of the sons of Adam, is concerned, every sinner is guilty of the death of Christ our Lord, and must lay to his own account every trial which he endured."
Here Playful began to look grave; while Peace answered, "Brother, I now see my heavy guilt in having put to shame and to death that Holy and Blessed One, who is the chief among ten thousand; and I feel how becoming humility is to such a wretch as I am."
I saw then that Humble Mind drew his book from his bosom, and read these words - When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. Job 22. 29. He forgetteth not the cry of the humble. Psalm 9. 12. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4. 10. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 14. 11.
Thus the little pilgrims went on their way refreshing themselves with holy discourse and divine meditation till noon-day, when they came to a garden or plantation of nuts, where the ripe fruit hung upon the trees. Then said Humble Mind, "See what the Lord has provided for us!" So they sat down, and gathered, and ate of the nuts; moreover, they drank of the water of the brook: and being refreshed, they went on their way.
Then looking for Inbred-Sin, I saw him skulking behind, and appearing like one meditating mischief: nevertheless he kept himself quiet, and, for the present, said not a word. For, as I before observed, the skill of this Inbred-Sin often discovers itself in keeping altogether quiet and out of sight, until some favourable opportunity offer for making an attack with advantage. And on the other hand, herein lies the wisdom of the saints, to be continually upon the watch, and as it were, armed for the battle. Therefore the Saviour says, Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Mark 14. 38. But these little pilgrims, like too many others even of superior age and greater experience, seldom feared Inbred-Sin when he was quiet; and, therefore, as he did not particularly inconvenience or trouble them at this time, they were glad enough to let him alone.
Now I saw, in my dream, that the little ones, having slept peacefully that same night in the Valley of Humiliation, continued their journey in the morning. But I perceived that, after journeying all day, towards night-fall the valley seemed to sink lower and lower, and to become more and more narrow. It appeared also in this place less verdant, there were fewer flowers, and the brook no longer wound its course near the pilgrim's path. Then said Humble Mind, "Methinks we are leaving the pleasanter part of this valley behind us, while that which lies before seems even more gloomy than the spot on which we now stand."
"Let us then," said Playful, "go back a little way into the more lightsome part of the valley, just to find a night's lodging; since the country which lies before has so very dismal an appearance."
To which Humble Mind replied, "Know you not, sister, that it is unlawful for a Christian to go back on any occasion? because his safety depends on having his face always turned Zion-wards." Nevertheless, though Humble Mind spake so well, yet at the entreaties of Playful and Inbred-Sin, he consented to go back a little way: where when the children had found such a place as they deemed convenient for their night's lodging, they sat down on the grass by the way-side, and began to converse with each other.
And first spake Inbred-Sin. "This Valley of Humiliation," said he, "when all has been said in its favour with respect to its suitableness with man's state as a sinner upon earth, is, methinks, at best, but a place very little desirable: and surely, if the Lord loved his servants, it would not be appointed for them to spend so many hours of their pilgrimage in such a place."
But when Inbred-Sin proceeded to murmur against the King of kings on account of his dealings with his people, I observed that Humble Mind rebuked him, saying from his book, "The Lord will not cast off for ever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Lamentations 3. 31-33.
I perceived then that Inbred-Sin shifted his ground, saying that he did not mean to charge the King of kings with inflicting unnecessary punishments upon his people, and upon them in particular; "For," said he, "your King is just and good. But then, of what manner of spirit must you be, if such afflictions are become necessary for you?" I heard then that he proceeded to lay all their sins and all their troubles in order before them; charging them especially with having so often listened to him, a child of hell, as he surely was.
And behold, while I wondered greatly, and said to myself, "What will come of all this? Is Inbred-Sin himself become a preacher? and is Saul also among the prophets?" 1 Samuel 10. 12. Even while I wondered at this, it became evident to me what he was about; namely, that he was no less busy in doing his master's work when he seemed to be pleading for the Lord, than when he spoke without disguise the language of hell. For after representing the afflictions of the little pilgrims to be without precedent, he proceeded to prove from thence that their transgressions had likewise been without example, and that their sins were beyond the measure even of Christ's mercy: and thus he filled their minds with desperate thoughts, insomuch that they began to suppose themselves lost beyond the hope of salvation. Moreover, when Humble Mind turned to his book to find there some comfortable words wherewith to assure himself that, however grievous his transgressions had been, yet that they were not above the reach of the mercy of Christ; Inbred-Sin, looking over his shoulder, directed him to such passages as served only to perplex and trouble him the more. thus the sin of our own hearts often wrests the Holy Book of God itself to our destruction.
Now the text which at this time Inbred-Sin pointed out and applied to the case of Humble Mind and his sisters was this - For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. Hebrews 6. 4-8.
I perceived then that, as Humble Mind and his sisters continued to listen to Inbred-Sin, they became more and more troubled. And now night coming on, a hollow whistling wind arose, which sweeping violently up the valley, benumbed all their limbs with cold; insomuch that they could not stretch themselves out to sleep on the grass. They therefore gathered close together, and sat up all night, bemoaning themselves; sometimes listening to Inbred-Sin, and sometimes reproaching him; and often exclaiming, that he would surely bring them to destruction, if indeed he had not already fashioned them into vessels of wrath.
Now I understood that what these little pilgrims then suffered, arose from their own faint-heartedness and want of faith, as well as from their taking alarm at the prospect before them, and turning back to what they thought a better and safer spot of ground for their night's repose. They should have gone on in the strength of their Lord. A little reflection upon the promises of God would have satisfied them that while they trusted in Him their feet should not be moved. And besides, nothing is gained in the Christian cause by turning back to the world. The language of the true Christian pilgrim to all around him is, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things that are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3. 13, 14. Moreover, by this error of the little pilgrims in going back to seek their night's lodging, they gave great advantage to the enemy, and thereby wholly deprived themselves of that night's repose. For their minds became so discomposed with sorrow on account of what was passed, as well as through fear of what was to come, that they found it impossible once to close their eyes. Neither did their comfort return with the returning day; for the prospect before them still appeared exceedingly dreary. They were almost at the mouth of the Valley of the Shadow of Death - a place of dragons, as described by David the king; and indeed a fearful place it was: but they must needs pass through it, or give up all thoughts of the kingdom of heaven.
This valley is a place where all spiritual comfort is cut off from the pilgrim - where his sins are set before him in order - and where the face of the Saviour is hidden from his view. Moreover, in this place the torments of the damned are often brought before the mind of the pilgrim, and his path is haunted by frightful hobgoblins and fearful sights of evil spirits. In this valley the day is as darkness, neither doth God regard it from above, neither doth the light of heaven shine upon it. Job 3. 4. Nevertheless, they that trust in the Lord shall be brought through it - The Lord will bring them by a way that they know not; he will lead them in paths that they have not known: he will make darkness light before them and crooked things straight. These things will he do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 43. 16.
Now when Inbred-Sin beheld this valley by the morning light, he was very urgent with the young pilgrims not to venture forward. But notwithstanding all the terrors they felt, the Lord afforded them such secret help as enabled them to proceed, though with much fear and trembling, and under great dejection of spirits.
Thus they went on till they came to the entrance of the valley itself: and behold, as they advanced, the way became darker and more frightful. Their path also was here so extremely narrow, that they could scarcely keep their footing, but were in danger every moment of slipping off from the sound ground into the bogs and quagmires which were on either hand. And now as the darkness became greater, the air seemed to be filled with whisperings; which whisperings were so full of dreadful blasphemies, and so exceedingly terrifying, that the little pilgrims were ready to faint at the sound. But the children could not discover the whisperer; not knowing whether it was Inbred-Sin, or some evil spirit close at their ears. Then said Playful, "Surely we shall be lost in this place, and never see the Celestial Kingdom!"
"Nay, but," said Peace, "have we not now the promises of our Lord to fly to, as heretofore? and hath he not said - I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee?" Hebrews 13. 5.
The little pilgrims then endeavoured to proceed, finding it as painful to stand still as to go forward. And behold, as they advanced, the place became still more dark and dismal; neither was there one cheering ray of light afforded them through the whole of that awful passage. So they began to pray aloud, and make supplication unto God: and behold, while they prayed, they found assistance, which enabled them to go on all day, and indeed all night, though scarcely knowing whither they went. Towards morning, however, they saw a faint light before them, which grew stronger as they advanced, and at length enabled them to pick their steps. So they hastened forward, till at length they found themselves quite clear of the valley, to their unutterable joy. And when they saw again the light of day, and breathed a purer air, they brake into loud songs of praise, and magnified the name of their great Deliverer.
Then said Humble Mind, "I have heard often of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, yet never could have supposed it was so dreadful a place."
"Let us give glory to our God," returned Peace, "who has brought us out of those doleful regions, into the way of light and salvation!"
So the little pilgrims sat down and refreshed themselves with such things as they had; after which they continued their journey.
On leaving the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the children speedily reached the caves of giants Pope and Pagan. Now these giants, by reason of their age and infirmities, were incapable of doing so much mischief as they had formerly done: but they sat at the entrance of their caves, the one on this side of the road and the other on that, from whence they called to the little pilgrims as they passed, inviting them to their several places. Whereupon the children hastened away as fast as their feet could carry them. And it was well they did so; for the giants became so enraged when they found their persuasions disregarded, that they began to abuse both them and their King, and to use such language as Christian children ought not to hear.
Now I saw, in my dream, that the children had scarcely passed a bow-shot from the giants, when they entered into a grove of dark and gloomy trees, on the branches of which sat a number of owls and bats; creatures which could not endure the light of day, and therefore kept their eyes continually closed. These are strange doctrines, doubts, errors, and vile conceits. Then said Inbred-Sin, "What are these?"
"Let them alone," replied Humble Mind, "while we pass forward; for if we disturb them, they will only be flapping about our eyes and ears."
"Nay, but," said Inbred-Sin, "I should like to know what they are."
"They are best let alone," said Humble Mind again.
Inbred-sin, however, could not be persuaded to let the little party go quietly on without disturbing these creatures; but he would have it, that one or other of the children should throw a stone at them. So Playful allowing herself to be persuaded, took up a handful of pebbles and threw them into the trees, although Humble Mind and Peace called aloud to her to forbear: whereupon such a cloud of these evil birds rose from the trees and descended upon the children, as nearly overwhelmed them. At this unexpected onset, little Peace was suddenly thrown flat upon her face; and it was as much as Humble Mind and Playful could do, to stand their ground: for the creatures kept beating upon them with their wings in every direction, uttering, at the same time, such doleful shrieks as added greatly to the children's perplexity. As to Inbred-Sin, who had been the prime cause of all this trouble, he stood by laughing heartily, and calling out first to one of the little pilgrims, and then to another, in such a manner as bewildered them more and more.
I was in hopes that these obscene creatures would have immediately taken again to the trees: and so they would, no doubt, had the little pilgrims kept themselves quiet. But Inbred-Sin advised them to maintain the conflict, and to put forth all their strength in contending with and buffeting their winged enemies: by which means they were only rendered the more troublesome. Humble Mind however having contrived to raise little Peace from the ground, they at length made shift to disentangle themselves from these unclean creatures, when they ran off with all speed, and thus escaped further harm.
Then I wondered for a time what this could mean, till the matter was made plain to me; and behold, it was this - that when young Christians are so unfortunate as to fall in the way of those who hold strange doctrines, or entertain errors and filthy conceits, their only security is to hasten forward; shutting their eyes and their ears, yea, and their lips too; not allowing themselves to be induced by their pride and conceit to suppose that they have power to contend with and conquer these subtle enemies.
Now I perceived that, after the little pilgrims had got clear of their enemies, they ran for a time as though it were for their lives, while Inbred-Sin kept close on their steps: and behold, he amused himself and kept up their alarm by repeating the hoarse croakings and shrieks of the obscene creatures, by which the little pilgrims had been lately attacked. However, after awhile Humble Mind recovered himself sufficiently to distinguish between the cries of the birds and Inbred-Sin's imitation of them; when he reproved Inbred-Sin for thus repeating the hideous noises by which they had been so much terrified. So Inbred-Sin held his peace, and the little pilgrims went quietly forward.
I perceived then, in my dream, that, as the pilgrims journeyed on, they came to a place where was a very wide wilderness, an exceeding solitary place, and promising very little comfort. Nevertheless they found more consolation in this part of their pilgrimage than they at first expected; and especially because the manna lay thick on the ground in many parts of the way. And there being in these countries no inns or places of refreshment for pilgrims, the little travellers to Mount Zion were, I saw, particularly careful in gathering the manna betimes every morning, and filling their golden pots for every day's consumption. Moreover, although the brook did not here flow along by the way-side as in other parts of the children's path, yet even in this dry and parched wilderness, there were not wanting certain wells, here and there, by the way-side, from which the little people were enabled to draw water for their refreshment. So that, upon the whole, their passage through this wilderness was made with much comfort. Not that they were free all this time from the interruptions of Inbred-Sin; for, as I have often before observed, it is the nature of this our bosom inmate never to rest, but to be always either openly or covertly employed in some mischief. They were however enabled, through the divine help, without which we can do nothing, to check and repress him whenever he would be putting in his word: and it really did me good to see how manfully these little ones were enabled to contend with him in this place.
If he attempted to give his opinion on any occasion, one would say to him, "when your advice is not asked, why do you put in your word? We will, with God's help, serve the Lord, and not hearken to any of your opinions." And another would say to him, "hold your peace: we will have no fellowship with you." And thus he was rebuked on all sides; for the little pilgrims, during their passage through this wilderness, being strengthened by the manna on which they subsisted from day to day, and not having their stomachs loaded with grosser aliments, became very brisk and lively, and were continually on their guard against all the attempts of this their inbred tormentor to draw them to evil. Nevertheless I marvelled greatly at the unblushing effrontery and indefatigable perseverance of Inbred-Sin in pursuing his purpose, which was to turn the little pilgrims from the way of life into the paths of destruction. Sometimes he would be as smooth as oil, and put on all the meekness of a dove, walking by the side of the pilgrims with his eyes turned Zion-wards and his hands joined in prayer. Then, when he thought they began to look on him with a favourable eye, he would talk of religion and quote Scripture: and it is surprising how glibly he would run off the language of Mount Zion. Moreover, if not checked, he would join them in their devotions, yea, and lead those devotions too, and that in as fervent a manner and with as audible a voice as any one of the company - and yet, before any one was aware, he would suddenly turn all these religious exercises into ridicule, or suggest some foul thought, by which all was at once polluted and spoiled. If detected or reproved at this hypocritical work, he was not abashed or confounded, but was ready in an instant with some other contrivance for advancing his master's cause. And it was marvellous what expertness he showed in suiting his temptations to the age and state of mind of those with whom he kept company: so that it would require a very large volume, to report the half of his tricks and contrivances - for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 27. 9.
Now I saw that, when the little pilgrims had arrived at the end of the wilderness, they came to a little rising ground covered with tall trees; and on reaching the top of this hill, behold, they saw before them, at no great distance, the mighty town of Vanity. Here they remembered that the damsels of the palace Beautiful had spoken to them of this city, informing them that they must needs pass through it, and that it was a place of more than ordinary danger for pilgrims.
The children stood all amazed, when they beheld this mighty city extending before them towards the east, the west, the north, and the south, further than the eye could reach, adorned with all manner of gay and magnificent buildings; such as theatres, castles, towers, halls, palaces, and various kinds of places of worship. The noise and din of the city ascended up even to the hill on which the children stood, and its smoke, which arose up to the heavens, entirely concealed the bright light on the eastern horizon, which had been pointed out to the little pilgrims by Evangelist. Then said Humble Mind, "My heart faints within me at the sight of that great and wicked city: would to God, my dear sisters, that the whole of our journey lay through wildernesses and solitary places, and that we might be spared passing through the town of Vanity!"
"Brother," replied Peace, "does it become us to wish things otherwise than our Lord has ordered them? Did not the Son of God himself, when on earth, spend many days in this town of Vanity? and have we not been informed that in its streets he was crucified? If, therefore, it pleases him that we should walk through it in our way to the city, let us not murmur, but rather pray that we may not be drawn aside by the vanities of the place."
"Beloved sister," said Humble Mind, "you are quite right, and I have spoken amiss: but shall not we stop here awhile and rest, since the day is very far spent? Let us, I pray, have some sweet discourse together in this verdant shade, before we proceed on our journey: for I love not the thought of yonder vain and tumultuous city: and I fear lest we should not readily succeed in discovering in it the abode of the true Christians."
Then spoke Playful, "Methinks, brother, that you are fearful without cause. Did not the damsels give us tokens by which we might know the true servants of God from the other inhabitants of Vanity Fair? And where must our wits be, if we allow ourselves to be misled?"
Wondering much at these words of Playful, I looked, and behold, Inbred-Sin was seated close at her ear; and there he had been whispering unreproved for some minutes. Now I saw, in my dream, that the children sat themselves down upon the grass, and Humble Mind and Peace refreshed themselves with their manna; but the eyes of Playful were continually drawn towards the City of Vanity, which, as the shade of the night advanced, was lighted up with many lights. So Humble Mind and Peace held sweet discourse together for some time. I heard also that, according to their evening custom, they repeated to each other certain portions of their Holy Book.
Now behold, while they were thus employed, there arose a gentle rustling among the trees, of which there were many in this place. After which a fragrant and refreshing breeze passed over the little pilgrims; and in the breeze there was a sound, (and indeed a most ravishing sound it was,) as of angels hymning the high praises of God. So the children looked one at another, while the tears came into their eyes; moreover, they smiled for joy: but they spake not until the music had ceased. Then said Humble Mind, "Did I not say but now, that I should be glad if my way might always be through solitary places? And at this moment I recollect the damsels of the palace Beautiful giving us an account of certain holy persons, who, being driven out from the presence of mankind, and condemned to dwell in deserts and caves of the earth, were there consoled by heavenly music sounding in the air."
Peace. I remember it also; and perhaps this music has been sent for the purpose of encouraging us to stand firm when we are in the town of Vanity.
Humble Mind. My heart fails me, by reason of the trials to which we shall, I fear, be exposed in the wicked city before us.
With that I saw that Peace began to weep; and presently she broke out in these word - "O my sweet brother and sister! how pleasant it is to sit apart from all the world, thinking and speaking of holy things as we now do! Ah, beloved companions! what pleasant hours have we spent together in these the days of our pilgrimage! - in the fields of the shepherd Sincerity; in the house of Mr. Interpreter; at the foot of the holy cross; in the fields of Innocent Pleasure; in the palace Beautiful; in the Valley of Humiliation; and lastly, in this wilderness - happy hours, in which we have communed with our Saviour and our God! while weak, poor, sinful and utterly vile as we are, we have been brought, step by step, on our way toward his heavenly kingdom. Let us earnestly pray that the dear Saviour who has hitherto led and supported us, may never leave nor forsake us, till the glorious work of our salvation be finished: and then shall we spend a happy eternity together in praising God and the Lamb for ever and ever."
Now I wondered greatly to hear such words proceeding from the mouth of such a babe, though I had for some time past observed her greatly outgrowing her elder sister in grace. Then I recollected that God is no respecter of persons; but that he giveth much to one and less to another, according to his own free will and pleasure.
After awhile I looked again at the little pilgrims, and they were engaged in prayer; which being concluded, they laid themselves down upon the grass and fell asleep. Now in this part of the wilderness, which lies near to the City of Vanity, were many wolves and dogs prowling about, creatures who find subsistence among the burying grounds on the skirts of the city. And I became alarmed for the sleeping children, when I saw these animals approaching their resting-place, and skulking around them among the brakes and bushes.
But, while I wondered wherefore they did not spring upon them, and tear them limb from limb, I looked, and behold, there sat beside the little sleepers a certain shepherd, clothed in white, with a crook in his hand; and the face of this shepherd was all glorious and beautiful, such as I could not steadfastly look upon. Then I recollected the words of the holy psalmist - The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23. 1, 2.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when the children awoke in the morning, they beheld the great city before them all resplendent with the rays of the rising sun. And behold, its golden domes, palaces, temples, pagodas, mosques, pantheons, theatres, walls, gates, towers, and bulwarks, filled them with amazement; and while they stood gazing upon them, Inbred-Sin broke into loud expressions of admiration. I heard then that Humble Mind reproved him: but Playful was pleased with his remarks. So, being encouraged by Playful, he took upon him to say that the City of Vanity was by no means such a place as the damsels of the palace Beautiful and many other overmuch righteous persons had represented it; that the city itself was an exceeding fair city to look upon, and the glory of the world: moreover, he added, that they were very uncharitable who asserted that there were not many good persons in that city. In this manner he ran on, to the great perplexity of Humble Mind and Peace; who while they thought it their duty to reprove him, performed that duty in too timid and trembling a manner. Whereupon this bold one became still more bold, as I shall have occasion to show by and by. For he that reproveth sin, and doth it not courageously and effectually, gives an advantage to the Evil One of which he will not fail to avail himself. The little pilgrims then, having looked awhile on the city, betook themselves to their journey.
Now it was not long before they approached the outer wall of the city. And behold, many of the inhabitants were walking forth to take the air; and as they brushed by the little pilgrims, they looked upon them just as men look upon a person whom they despise. Nevertheless they suffered the strangers to pass on: for, as hath been before remarked, it is not now usual in the town of Vanity to imprison pilgrims and put them to violent deaths, as in former times. In ancient days, pilgrims passing through the town of Vanity had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, and of sundry other bitter persecutions; of which an account is given in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But the influence of the better part of the inhabitants of the town having now become greater, the enemies of the Lord are not able to carry it towards Christians as in former times. So the little pilgrims might have passed on in perfect peace to the gate of the city, if Inbred-Sin would have suffered them: but as soon as he observed the scornful looks of those who passed by, he failed not to point them out to the pilgrims. And though Humble Mind reproved him, saying, "We are servants of him who was crucified in this town - Is the servant greater than his Lord? If they persecuted him, will they not also persecute us?" John 15. 20; - yet this inbred tormentor would not remain quiet, but kept continually observing how the inhabitants discovered their scorn, shooting out their lips and shaking their heads. I perceived also that even Peace and Humble Mind, who had, as I thought, made up their minds to expect nothing better than contempt and ridicule in the town of Vanity, became much discomposed, as their glowing cheeks testified; while Playful was thrown into such a state of confusion, that she seemed hardly to know what she was doing.
In this manner they passed on till they came to the city gate, which they found wide open; for the gate of Vanity is never shut. So they passed through the gate, and they entered into a wide street, which stretched away before them as far as they could see. Now there was such a bustle and noise in the street, such passing to and fro of carriages, horsemen, and foot-passengers, that the little children were jolted and hustled at every step. Moreover, their eyes were continually turned towards the fine things which they saw displayed in the windows of the shops on every side: so that, instead of hastening over this dangerous ground, they made little or no progress forward. Now this was Inbred-Sin's time; and never did I see him more active, more insolent, or more unreasonable than he was in the streets of Vanity. He had twenty conceits in a single minute, his humour changing as fast as the colours on the back of the chameleon. He would one minute assert that the town of Vanity was a very good place, its customs honourable, and its people worthy of esteem; the next minute he would be filling the hearts of the little pilgrims with the dread of persecution and ridicule; then again he would have them put off their pilgrims' garment, and put on some of the gaudy dresses which were exposed in the shop windows - and thus he went on, not giving the little pilgrims a moment for collecting their thoughts or lifting up their hearts in prayer.
Now I saw, in my dream, that as the pilgrims advanced, the children of Vanity, who were playing in the streets, began to gather after them, and to use such by-words and terms of reproach as are there generally applied to pilgrims. At first they did but whisper and mutter these words, but soon becoming bolder, as the crowd gathered, they grew quite loud and scurrilous in their abuse, raising such a commotion that the whole street was disturbed, while the people came crowding to their doors and windows.
Then said Inbred-Sin, "Did I not tell you it would be so? Why then did you not listen to my advice, and pull off these outward garments, which are peculiar to pilgrims, and put on such as accord a little with the fashions of the place? In so doing, you might have passed quietly through the town; after which, at a more convenient time and place, you might readily have put on your white garments again."
"But," replied little Peace, "our Lord hath solemnly said, 'Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.'" Mark 8. 38.
Inbred-Sin answered, "But who can feel otherwise than ashamed on such an occasion? And who can help fearing such a generation of men as these, even more than they fear him who will hereafter come in the clouds with all his holy angels?"
Then did Peace rebuke Inbred-Sin; but Humble Mind and Playful kept silence.
Now the crowd pressed more and more upon the little pilgrims, terrifying them exceedingly with their bold and blasphemous language: neither did they refrain from casting mud and mire at them, in order to defile their beautiful garments which had been made white in the blood of the Lamb.
Then was Inbred-Sin very earnest with the little ones to turn into some of those convenient houses on the side of the street, which are opened by the prince of Vanity for the use of passengers; and provided by him with all such accommodations as are agreeable to the flesh: in return for which accommodations, however, no less is required than the whole of a man's estate, both body and soul, to be delivered up for ever to the prince himself.
Meanwhile the insults and threatenings of the mob continued so to alarm the little pilgrims, that they looked this way, and that way, like persons beside themselves, not knowing what course to take. Playful was for following Inbred-Sin's advice without hesitation; while Humble Mind looked as white as a sheet: but little Peace, notwithstanding the perplexing whisperings of Inbred-Sin, continued instant in prayer - for the Lord was with her - and as she held the hand of Playful, she restrained her from turning into any of those houses of entertainment in which Inbred-Sin would have had them take refuge from the insults of the mob. All this while the ungodly multitude ceased not to press upon the little pilgrims, still pelting them with mire and dirt; insomuch that with the heat of their onset and the violence of their clamour, the little ones were nearly overcome; and little Peace especially, being young and tender, though strong in the power of the Lord, actually fainted and fell. At this, certain persons in the crowd, who were less hard-hearted than the rest, cried out shame! Whereupon the throng giving way, the child was lifted up and placed at the door of a house near at hand; where her brother and sister stood by her, chafing her temples and moistening her lips with cold water, which some charitable person had brought in a cup. and behold, Inbred-Sin shrunk back at the sight.
Now, as she lay fainting, I observed her sweet pale face to change, as for death, while the cold sweats stood upon her brow. Then I looked up and called for help, being exceedingly afflicted at the situation of little Peace. But ere I could frame my lips to a prayer, behold, two shining ones appeared in the east; whence they approached with an exceeding swift motion, and rested in the heavens over where the dying infant lay, waiting to receive her spirit - but they who were below perceived them not. Presently, the paleness left her face for a moment, when she looked affectionately at her brother and sister, saying, "Sweet companions of my pilgrimage, I am about to leave you: but I go to him who died for me - to him who shed his blood for me upon the cross - to him who loved me more than his own life; and he will present me to himself without spot or stain of sin." Then suddenly lifting up her eyes, she saw the pitying angels, as messengers waiting to convey her home, and holding in their hands the crown of glory which was prepared for her, through the free grace and mercy of her Lord. Then did all earthly scenes pass for ever from her view wrapped together as a scroll - and at that moment did heavenly joy contend with mortal anguish. She smiled in the agony of death, continuing to look steadfastly at the angels till her eyes became fixed; when she breathed slower, and slower, and slower, till at length her immortal spirit, washed from sin in the blood of the Lamb, and fitted for the purity and employment of the spirits of the just made perfect, quietly departed, leaving its earthly tabernacle to be dissolved until that day when the trumpet shall sound, and when that which was sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption - that which was sown in dishonour shall be raised in glory - that which was sown in weakness shall be raised in power - and that which was sown a natural body shall be raised a spiritual body. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15. 42-44, 55-57.
Then I saw that the holy angels who were waiting above, received her spirit in their arms, and bore her away to the gates of heaven - and I saw her no more. Thus she was delivered from Inbred-Sin, and from the devil, that adversary of mankind, who, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5. 8. And now she walks with God, high in salvation and the climes of bliss; where she sees the King in his beauty, and beholds the land which is very far off. Isaiah 33. 17.
So for awhile I could look no longer, by reason of the tears which filled my eyes and obscured my sight: nevertheless, I blessed God for delivering this little fair one from all her spiritual enemies, as well as from all the troubles and mischances of this present life. Then perceiving that Peace could not dwell with vanity, I applied to the little departing pilgrim these words of the wise man - For she pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners she was translated. Yea, speedily was she taken away, lest that wickedness should alter her understanding, or deceit beguile her soul. She, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time: for her soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he to take her away from among the wicked. Song of Solomon 4. 10, 11, 13, 14.
As soon as I could wipe away my tears, I looked after poor Humble Mind and Playful; and behold they were fallen down by the body of their sister, each holding one of her pale cold hands: and there they lay like persons more dead than alive. And behold, the noisy multitude had fled, terrified at the sight of death - for the wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 27. 1.
Now, about this time, good Mr. Orthodox, of whom mention hath been before made, received a letter from the damsels of the palace Beautiful, intreating him to have regard to the little pilgrims, Humble Mind, Playful, and Peace, who about that time were to pass through the town of Vanity. For after the little ones had left the palace Beautiful, Prudence said to her sisters, "I am much afraid lest those little ones should miss of the house of Mr. Orthodox, and carry our letters to some other person; since there are several individuals in the town of Vanity, who assume the name of that worthy and discreet pastor. I therefore advise that we write another letter to Mr. Orthodox, and send it by some trusty person, intreating him to look after the young pilgrims." So the damsels approving what Prudence suggested, the letter was written in haste, and Mr. Watchful, the porter, charged with providing a fit person to carry it.
On the receipt of this letter, good old Mr. Orthodox lost no time in making diligent search after the little ones; when he shortly found Humble Mind and Playful as I before described them, lying beside the body of Peace. After being much affected at the sight of so pitiable a spectacle, Mr. Orthodox caused Humble Mind and Playful to be lifted up and carried to his wife, whose name was Bountiful, and who he well knew would spare no pains to administer unto them every consolation of which their situation was capable. He ordered also the body of little Peace to be raised from the ground, and conveyed to his house; where it was placed in a fair chamber, from whence it was removed at a convenient time, and buried according to the custom of Christians in those parts. Mr. Orthodox likewise caused a fair white monument to be placed over the body of the little pilgrim, in order that such young persons as should hereafter visit her grave, might be encouraged by the example of Peace, to trust in that blessed Saviour who enabled the little saint to stand fast unto the end.
Upon this monument was the following inscription: -
Remember Peace, who died in the seventh year of her age; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Hebrews 11. 25. Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. Psalm 22. 9.
Now I saw, in my dream, that Mr. Orthodox and his wife, Mrs. Bountiful, used their utmost endeavours to comfort Humble Mind and his sister: for which purpose they kept them in their own house, and used them very tenderly; so that after awhile they were enabled calmly to listen to such words of consolation as Mr. Orthodox thought suitable to their state.
I perceived then that this pious man arranged his motives of comfort under two heads: first, the gain accruing to little Peace herself from her death; and secondly, the benefit which her brother and sister might reap from their present affliction. And first, he spoke of the gain which little Peace herself had made. "She was," said he, "a poor and helpless orphan, wandering in the wild wilderness of this wicked world, as a hart upon the Mountains of the Leopards. Her body was liable to sickness, pain, and death; while Inbred-Sin was the close, the intimate, though I am sure he was not the desired companion of her steps. Yet he was constantly with her, and so long as she was under his power, as you well know, she could have no solid rest or ease, by reason of this internal tormentor. Her blessed Saviour had indeed called her, and separated her from those who are the willing slaves of Inbred-Sin: nevertheless, though her only hope was in the merits of her Saviour's death, yet Inbred-Sin was continually interrupting her intercourse with that dear Redeemer. But now!" continued Mr. Orthodox, "she is set free from sin, and her union with the Saviour rendered complete! - she dwells for ever with him! - yea, she is built up as a polished corner-stone in the church triumphant, of which he is the foundation!"
"Happy Peace! her warfare is finished, and she is made more than conqueror. She mixes with that happy multitude who stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white raiment, and having palms in their hands; of whom it is said - These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." Revelation 7. 14, 15.
Thus Mr. Orthodox described the happiness of little Peace in the ears of her brother and sister; and next, he proceeded to point out the benefit which Humble Mind and Playful might receive from their present affliction. He remarked that the human race, having fallen from their first estate of innocence and glory, in which they were children and companions of God, it had become necessary, in order to their salvation, to deal with them in a manner totally different from that which their heavenly Father would have used, had they preserved their original innocence. "You are thoroughly impressed," said Mr. Orthodox, "I trust, with this one mighty leading truth, which, unless a man has received, he is no better than a heathen; namely, that there is no salvation in any other but the Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Acts 4. 12. You are, I trust, also convinced, that all who are brought to Christ, and united with him, will certainly be saved: because such persons become one with Christ, and he with them; he is the head, and they are the members. In these views, the humble Christian has everlasting happiness and eternal glory insured to him: for if one member suffer, all the members of the same body must suffer; and if one member be honoured, all the members of the same body must be honoured." 1 Corinthians 12. 26.
"Now," continued Mr. Orthodox, "although there is but one name by which sinners can be saved, and but one Holy Spirit whose office it is to bring sinners unto Christ; yet that Spirit is found to work with different individuals in different ways. Among which different methods, this is one - that as the earth is generally prepared for the seed which is afterwards to produce fruit, by the plough, the spade, and the harrow, which tear up its rugged bosom, making it soft and tender; so the stony heart of man is often broken up by affliction, and rendered soft by sorrow, in order, with the divine blessing, to fit it for the reception of the divine Word. Therefore, my children, despise not ye the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when ye are rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us; and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." Hebrews 12. 5-12.
In this manner did Mr. Orthodox reason with and comfort the little pilgrims; till, by God's blessing upon his pious endeavours, their grief became greatly mitigated. Nevertheless, Humble Mind received comfort sooner than Playful, and for this reason; because his heart was more in heaven than the heart of his sister. On this account, as well as from the consideration that the present world is not our resting-place, he became gradually reconciled to the idea of a temporary separation from his beloved Peace. But Playful seemed inclined for a considerable time, to murmur and complain, on being deprived of her lovely little sister; while she allowed Inbred-Sin to suggest many impatient and evil thoughts to her mind on that occasion. Not daring, however, to make an open discovery of her feelings, she kept Inbred-Sin's communications on this subject as secret as possible from Mr. Orthodox.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, while the little pilgrims remained in the house of Mr. Orthodox, this worthy gentleman took Humble Mind under his special care and tuition. He also requested his wife, Mrs. Bountiful, to do the same by Playful, and to take the child with her whenever she went to visit and teach the poor: for Mrs. Bountiful, as became the wife of the minister Orthodox, was ever mindful of the poor, being, like Dorcas, full of good works. Acts 9. 36.
So Playful began to help Mrs. Bountiful in these labours of love; in which she shortly became so engaged, that she had less time and inclination to listen to the evil suggestions of Inbred-Sin. Moreover, Mrs. Bountiful gave her many lessons concerning those duties which especially belong to females; on which occasions she was accustomed to catechise her after this manner.
Mrs. Bountiful. In a few years, my daughter, you will be no longer a child, but will exchange that condition for woman's estate. Now, whereas it is appointed unto all persons once to die, and after that the judgment, it is of great consequence to us to know what manner of life God willeth us to lead in the different states unto which he has called us: tell me, therefore, my child, are there any points in which the duties of men and women differ?
Then, after some consideration, Playful answered; "I have read many things, but I remember only the following - Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 1 Timothy 2. 11, 12.
Mrs. Bountiful. How should wives behave to their husbands?
Playful. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Colossians 3. 18.
Mrs. Bountiful. If it be the duty of a woman to obey her husband, how careful should a believing woman be, not to join herself with an unbelieving man! But, supposing that a woman be already unfortunately married to such a one, in what way must she try to bring him over to the solid profession of Christianity?
Playful. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by all the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 1 Peter 3. 1, 2.
Mrs. Bountiful. What is said of those women who love pleasure?
Playful. She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 1 Timothy 5. 6.
Mrs. Bountiful. When women forget Christ, what kind of habits do they commonly fall into?
Playful. They learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not. 1 Timothy 5. 13.
Mrs. Bountiful. In what manner should women adorn themselves?
Playful. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Timothy 2. 9, 10.
Mrs. Bountiful. You have answered well, my child.
"I learned these things," said Playful, "of the holy ladies in the palace Beautiful: but when I should afterwards have called them to mind, (sinner that I was!) I totally forgot them." Then I saw that Playful wept.
Mrs. Bountiful. Come, my child, forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before. Philippians 3. 13.
Playful. I remember part of a sweet psalm, which we used to sing in the palace Beautiful, of which my sad miscarriages now remind me -
"Happy are they, and only they,
Who from thy presence fear to stray;
Who know what's right, not only so,
But seek to practise what they know."
Mrs. Bountiful. Well, my dear child, if the faults you have committed serve to make you humble, it is well. With this view, no doubt, the Lord left you to yourself for a little while; as it is written - That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God. Ezekiel 16. 63.
I saw then that Mrs. Bountiful asked Playful if she could mention some of those good works, which seem to be particularly required of women?
"I think," said Playful, "I could tell some few of them; yet would I rather hear them from you."
Mrs. Bountiful. There are two duties, which more especially lie upon women; first, that of bringing up children; and, secondly, that of relieving the afflicted. And whereas the necessities of infants and those of the sick are twofold, a woman should learn to administer to both, otherwise she does but half her duty towards such persons.
Playful. Dear Madam, I do not understand you exactly.
Mrs. Bountiful. To explain my meaning more fully - Every infant is formed of two parts; the immortal soul, and the little tender body. If either of these is neglected, injury, if not ruin, must be the consequence of such neglect. A woman, therefore, who takes the charge of an infant, should not only know how to make its clothes, to administer proper food, to comfort and cherish it, and, under God, to preserve its health: but, since it is unholy and prone to sin, she should also know how, as its sense increases, to correct its evil tempers, and lead it into that knowledge of God which is eternal life. Sick and afflicted persons likewise often require the same attention as infants: nourishing food and comfortable clothing must be provided for their bodies, while their poor weak minds should be drawn towards God by holy conversation, prayer, and pious reading. I would, therefore, have young females, from their tender youth, to store their minds with chosen portions of Scripture, together with pleasant and profitable histories of pious persons; even such as may excite the attention of children and sick persons of all ages and degrees, to the great work of their own salvation. They should also learn to sing such sweet psalms and hymns as may soothe infants to sleep, or compose the uneasy minds of the sick. They should moreover labour to become patient, self-denying, long-suffering, kind, gentle, and courteous; since all these qualities are necessary to form a good and tender nurse. Females should also early be taught to make cheap and convenient clothing for the needy, as well as to prepare wholesome, simple, and economical dishes, for their occasional support and comfort. And, lastly, they should learn to dress themselves in such a manner as might be decent, cleanly, and modest, with as little expense as possible of that precious time and of those other talents which must hereafter be accounted for at the judgment-seat of Christ.
Now the conversation of Mrs. Bountiful was very pleasant to Playful, who endeavoured to store up in her heart the instructions of that excellent woman.
I saw also, in my dream, that, when the minds of the children became more composed, and their grief a little abated, Mr. Orthodox showed them, from time to time, such things as were worthy of notice about his house and his church.
One day in particular, I observed that he took them into a large room adjoining to his church, where many persons were engaged in printing; and the types which they used were those of every language under the sun. Now at the door of this room there stood many persons, who received the books as soon as they were printed, and ran off with them, in order to disperse them through the different districts of the city. Then inquired the children, "What are those books?"
Mr. Orthodox. They are all copies of the one great Book of Life; even that same Book by the reading of which you found your way hither, and by which I trust you will also find your way to a better home. And I have orders from my Master to distribute these books through every street of the city.
Then I saw that Mr. Orthodox took one of the books in his hand, and said, "This Holy Volume, my dear children, containeth all things the knowledge of which is necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, ought not to be required of any man to be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. And here you must carefully note that by the term, Holy Scriptures, we understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority there was never any doubt in the church."
Now the young pilgrims remained many days wiht good Mr. Orthodox and Mrs. Bountiful; where they increased in stature and in favour with God and man. At length the period approached at which they were to continue their pilgrimage. But, before they departed, Mr. Orthodox led them into his church, and instructed them in the holy commandments and precious ordinances of the gospel; explaining unto them how that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. 1 Corinthians 11. 23-26. Moreover, before they departed, he would have them to visit the grave of Peace: for it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Ecclesiastes. 7. 2. So Mr. Orthodox and Mrs. Bountiful led the way, and the children followed.
Now, when they came to the grave, and read the name of Peace upon the fair white monument, and the verses which Mr. Orthodox had caused to be graven underneath, Humble Mind looked very pale, and Playful began to weep. Upon which Mr. Orthodox said, "Wherefore are you sorrowful? If you loved your sister Peace, you ought to rejoice; because she is gone to her heavenly Father."
So Playful wiped away her tears.
Then spake Mr. Orthodox, as he stood by the grave, "Hearken unto me, my children. You have been often taught, and I hope have many times sensibly felt, that having received forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, you are become one with him, as he is one with the Father; according as it is written - At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you. John 14. 20. This mystical union," continued Mr. Orthodox, "between Christ and his children, is a doctrine held not only altogether in contempt by the world, but one which even many who are constant comers to my church cannot receive: and for this reason, because they love the world and cleave to it, though it be a stranger and an enemy to the Spirit of truth."
"Now this mystical union," added the good man, "is neither a fancied nor a figurative thing, but a sacred reality. When you were joined to Christ, my children, sin lost, in some measure, its power over you: the Holy Spirit at that time entered your hearts, and you became temples of the living God. 1 Corinthians 3. 16. Christ is the head of all believers, and believers are his members: so that a Christian hath no power to do any one good thing, but through the help of the Holy Spirit, which he receives as a member of Christ. Through faith the believer is enabled to bring forth the fruits of righteousness; by faith is he strengthened in the inner man: and when he fails to seek the help of the Spirit, he becomes weak and faint as other men, and perhaps falls into grievous sins, as was the case with King David."
"Our little sister," continued Mr. Orthodox, "whose body lies in this grave, was, through the grace of God, born again in Christ, and had her old nature renewed, many months before her death, as we have abundant reason to believe from her orderly and even course, as well as from the delight she took in communing with her God. She must then have been a true member of Christ - for the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; John 15. 4: - and therefore is her salvation sure."
"Now understand, my children," continued he, "that our mystical union with our great Head, is not destroyed by death; but we are as near to Christ, and as much a part of him, when lying in the grave and in the dust, as when living on the earth. For it is written - Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. Romans 14. 8, 9. The better part of this your dear sister remains; and at the last day, when the trumpet shall sound, she will be raised up, and joined for ever to her glorious Head. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory. Collossians 3. 4. Therefore, my dear children, grieve no more for your beloved Peace, but rejoice that she was enabled to fight the good fight of faith; and abide ye in the Lord Jesus Christ, that, when he shall appear, ye may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming: 1 John 2. 28: and that ye may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are his children." 1 John 4. 17.
Now it was time for the children to depart. So Mrs. Bountiful prepared for them such things as she thought might serve for their refreshment by the way; while Mr. Orthodox, taking them aside, knelt down with them and prayed, saying, "Plead thou the cause of these little ones, O Lord, with those that oppose them, and fight thou against them that fight against these. For the eyes of these pilgrims are unto thee, O God the Lord, and in thee is their trust. Let the souls of these thy servants be precious in thy sight. Leave them not, neither forsake them, O God of our salvation! Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but thou deliverest them out of all. The Lord conduct these youthful travellers safely on their way, and bring them at length to his holy hill of Zion, even to the place which he loveth. Praise the Lord!"
Thus prayed the holy Mr. Orthodox: after which he rose up and kissed the children. Then Humble Mind and his sister being fully prepared for their journey, Mr. Orthodox and his wife thought it proper to see them safe out of the town. So having passed the populous parts of the city and reached the skirts of the town, Mr. Orthodox and Mrs. Bountiful again kissed the young pilgrims, and returned to their house.
Now it came to pass, when Mr. Orthodox and Mrs. Bountiful had taken their leave of the little pilgrims at the gates of Vanity, (for it agreed not with the other duties of these excellent persons to accompany them further upon their journey,) that Humble Mind and Playful proceeded along the suburbs for some time, weeping as they went: and Inbred-Sin was with them.
I had remarked that Inbred-Sin kept himself very quiet in the house of Mr. Orthodox. Not that he had refrained from his secret whisperings and evil suggestions; but that he had taken care to avoid every open breach of decency or good manners: insomuch that, notwithstanding their former experience of his deceit on like occasions, the young pilgrims were inclined to hope, and almost to believe, that he was really becoming weaker, and that they should never again be so harassed by him as in former days. And thus many persons, far more experienced and advanced than these little pilgrims, have frequently been deceived with respect to their victory over sin; when, by certain outward circumstances, such as the failure of health, the influence of holy society, or some other restraining consideration, they have experienced a temporary relief from the tormentings of their inbred corruptions: till being thrown off their guard by vainly supposing themselves no longer liable to the baneful influence of their sinful tendencies, they have presently fallen again into the snares of the enemy. So great is the deceivableness of sin; and on this account it is, that the Lord of pilgrims exhorts his people to watch continually. But to return to the little pilgrims.
I hoped to have seen them presently freed from the suburbs of Vanity. But I perceived, much to my surprise, that those suburbs extended themselves along the Way of Salvation to a great distance, and that, like the city itself, they were set forth with all manner of enticing delights; especially with summer-houses and pleasure-gardens, abounding with fruit of various kinds - not such as grew in the Interpreter's garden, or in the fields of innocent pleasure; but fruits of an intoxicating and poisonous tendency, and partaking of the nature of that tree whereby our first parents acquired the knowledge of evil.
Now the odour of the fruits and flowers which grew in these gardens seemed to be particularly sweet and exhilarating to Inbred-Sin; for he no sooner began to snuff it, than he stepped forward, and walking in a line with the little pilgrims, (a liberty which I had not observed him to take during the whole time of their residence in the house of Mr. Orthodox,) he began to give his opinion in a very free and familiar manner. And this he did without asking permission, well knowing that such a request would only have put the little pilgrims upon their guard; whereas it was probable, that on taking them by surprise, he might carry his point, as many an unhappy point has been carried. So, stepping forward, he began to speak with an impudent and unblushing face; for Inbred-Sin cannot blush, neither can he be disconcerted or diverted from his purpose: and hence it is said, that they who are ruled by him, to wit, the children of this world, are wiser than the children of light. Luke 16. 8. First, he began to compliment and congratulate the little pilgrims upon their escape from the dangers of Vanity. And this he did through deceit; that lulling their fears to sleep, he might the more easily succeed in beguiling their minds. For, although they had passed safely through the high places and chief streets of the city, he was well aware that many snares and dangers awaited them in the suburbs and outskirts of Vanity. "You have," said he, addressing himself to them both, "fought a good fight, and obtained a great victory; nothing therefore now remains but to give thanks for this victory."
To this Humble Mind replied, "Let us at least wait till we are got wholly clear of this City of Vanity, before we sing the song of triumph."
"But," said Inbred-Sin, "are you not already clear of the city? We see nothing here but gardens and summer-houses - places to which the inhabitants of the town retire to refresh themselves in the summer-season with innocent pleasures and rural sports. Surely here can be no snares laid for pilgrims, nor any employments or pleasures in which they may not innocently partake."
"I desire to know no pleasures," returned Humble Mind, "except such as are to be found in the presence and service of Him who was nailed to the cross for my salvation; but as for the pleasures of the world, I will have nothing to do with them. These are the pleasures for which thousands, and tens of thousands, of immortal creatures, being ensnared by such as you, thou child of hell, have given up the favour of their heavenly Father, and the love of their Redeemer. For these they have renounced the joys of heaven; eternal youth, immortal health, everlasting peace, the society of saints and angels, and a crown that fadeth not away: in exchange for which they have received nothing but pain, and death, and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." Then Humble Mind read these words from his book - The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Ecclesiates 9. 3.
Now I perceived that, about this time, the little pilgrims were come to a place where was a house of entertainment, which projected its sign quite across the Way of Salvation, bearing the emblem of a youth crowned with rosebuds. And behold, in the court of this house, a number of young people were gathered together, dancing, singing, and drinking wine from golden cups. Then did Inbred-Sin direct the eyes of the pilgrims towards the young persons within the court.
I heard then that Humble Mind did a second time rebuke Inbred-Sin; but Playful sighed. Upon which Inbred-Sin spake again; and being somewhat encouraged by Playful, he ventured to arraign the Most High in the ears of the little pilgrims, saying, that he was a hard master, and that he required more from his young servants than ought to be expected from them. Moreover, he spoke of the happiness of the men of this world, who have not, said he, trouble like other men. Psalm 17. 14.
To this Humble Mind answered, "I will not fret myself because of the ungodly, neither will I be envious because of the workers of iniquity. Psalm 37. 1. I desire rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Hebrews 11. 25.
I saw then that Inbred-Sin grew extremely wroth at being thus opposed. Whereupon he cried out with more than usual audacity, "I love the pleasures of this world: and you Humble Mind, being my property and my slave, shall love them also, even though you renounce heaven itself for their sakes." So he stepped round, and set himself in defiance before Humble Mind, saying, "You shall proceed no further, till you have solaced yourself in these courts of pleasure, drinking of their costly wines and eating of their delicious fruits. For this once, on so trivial an affair, I will not be refused; and especially since, on more important occasions, you have already proved yourself a traitor to the King whom you pretend to love."
Then did Humble Mind tremble exceedingly. I also felt some alarm on his account, when I perceived a certain evil spirit, whom I knew to be the prince of the power of the air, approaching with an eye of malice fixed upon Humble Mind, (though the boy knew it not,) and beginning to raise enchantments, for the purpose of enthralling the spirits and senses of the young pilgrim. And my alarm was increased on observing that the youth began to feel the effects of those enchantments; for his colour came and went. Nevertheless, he was not wanting to himself on this trying occasion; for he fell on his knees, and lifted up his hands in prayer: and his earnest supplication was immediately answered, according to the words of the promise - Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry and he shall say, Here I am. Isaiah 58. 9. And behold, I saw a bright and glorious spirit descend from on high; and approaching the young pilgrim, it shed a part of its heavenly glory and vigour upon him. whereupon the youth sprang up, and seizing Inbred-Sin with an irresistible force, he cast him to the ground; where, after trampling him beneath his feet, till he lay like one dead, the intrepid pilgrim passed on his way, drawing his sister along with him.
So they went on till they had got clear of the suburbs of Vanity, Humble Mind still drawing Playful forward, who seemed to move heavily along, as though she hankered after the pleasures of Vanity. Nevertheless, her brother had power given him to persuade and prevail with her to choose the better part. And behold, Inbred-Sin had not only risen from the ground; but was, by this time, close upon their heels again; although, for the present, he judged it best to let Humble Mind alone. The young pilgrims therefore went on till the approach of night; when they came to a little hill thrown up in the King's highway by his enemy the Prince of Vanity. This hill is called the Hill of Regrets, and it is scattered over with little sharp stones, which prove very uneasy to such pilgrims as ascend it. Now about half way up the hill was a covered arbour, built at the suggestion of the Prince of Vanity, placed with its back to Mouth Zion, and its face towards the town. Here Inbred-Sin persuaded Playful to solicit her brother that they might turn aside and spend the night in that arbour; to which Humble Mind consented, as the evening was far advanced, not considering that a house whose aspect was not towards Mount Zion could never afford suitable accommodation to pilgrims. Nevertheless Humble Mind consented, and they went into the arbour, where they reclined themselves on certain soft and commodious couches, with which the Prince of Vanity had furnished the place, in order to tempt travellers to seek repose there.
So the young pilgrims, being seated at their ease, began to converse; and Inbred-Sin, notwithstanding his late defeat, placed himself by their side, and entered into discourse with them.
Now it is the peculiar property of Inbred-Sin, as I think I have elsewhere remarked, to turn every event in the life of a Christian, however apparently unpropitious to himself, to the advancement of his own purpose; and it is marvellous with what address he does this, and how exactly he suits his discourse and his temptations, at such a season, to the tempers and circumstances of those he has to deal with. On the present occasion he began with bitter self-bemoanings, as one who had been beaten almost out of heart: after whcih he went on to compliment Humble Mind upon the spirit and valour he had evidenced in their late contest. "Upon my word, Humble Mind," said he, "you did play the man indeed, and brought me, as it were, to the very last gasp; and that without human assistance."
"But, undoubtedly," replied Humble Mind, "I was helped from on high; for I well know that no man can deal with Inbred-Sin without divine help."
"True," said Inbred-Sin; "it is certain that no man can conquer me, without special help from on high. What an evidence then is this, of your being highly favoured and gifted from above!" He then spake many words tending to fill the youth with spiritual pride: and I was sorry to observe that Humble Mind listened to him with much self-complacency.
And behold, as the night came on, the city which was spread out before them was lighted up with many lights. Now the City of Vanity is so contrived, as to present a very fair show towards the Hill of Regrets, where stood the arbour in which the young pilgrims were then sitting. And it has often happened, that young pilgrims, aye, and aged ones too, after having withstood all the allurements of the city, and advanced to this hill - it has often happened, I say, that by looking back from this arbour, they have been tempted to return unto Vanity, to the destruction both of soul and body.
I saw then, in my dream, that Inbred-Sin, having obtained some advantage over Humble Mind, thought he might venture a step further, and propose to the young pilgrims an immediate return to the City of Vanity: "For," said he, "our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart: which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, and our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof."
Now, much as I had know of this Inbred-Sin, I could not but marvel at his assurance in thus addressing Humble Mind. I wondered in the first place, at his presuming to make any such proposal; and I marvelled still more at his addressing him as though he had been a downright unbeliever, and destitute of all religious feeling: but my amazement was still greater, to find Humble Mind, who had been enabled to contend so victoriously with him in the morning, should now sit quietly listening to his dangerous suggestions. Neither do I know what might have been the result of this weakness on the part of Humble Mind, had not the Prince of pilgrims very unexpectedly provided for his assistance.
Now it had pleased the Lord to occupy the thoughts of Mr. Orthodox, as he was walking back to his own house, on the dangers which awaited the young pilgrims in the suburbs of Vanity: in consequence of which, on his arrival at home, he directed one of his most trusty servants to follow them on the way as far as the hill before described. And behold, this worthy man came up to them just as Inbred-Sin was delivering his opinion in the manner above mentioned. Whereupon he addressed the young pilgrims by name, asking them what they did in that place.
I saw then that Humble Mind and Playful, at the sound of his voice, sprang up from the place whereon they sat; when Humble Mind replied, "We turned in hither for a night's lodging, and hope that we have not sinned in so doing."
"Do you not see," said the servant of Mr. Orthodox, "that the back of this arbour is turned toward Mount Zion, and its face toward Vanity? And do you not remember Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back upon Sodom when commanded to flee from that city? My master and his servants are under orders to abide awhile in the City of Vanity; not indeed to partake of its pleasures, but to execute the work allotted them by the King of kings in that place. But for you it is ordained otherwise; you are commanded to hasten forwards, and you will find it written in your book, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way." Psalm 119. 37.
The young pilgrims then thanked him for his rebuke, while they expressed their gratitude to Mr. Orthodox for his attention in sending after them so trusty a messenger. Upon which they arose and followed the man; who led them along the Way of Salvation till they came to a very deep valley: into which they had not descended many paces, before they entirely lost sight of the town of Vanity, notwithstanding all the blazing lights with which it was illuminated.
Now I perceived that a sort of shuddering came over Humble Mind and his sister, as they entered this valley; for the air of it was sharp and cold, a solemn silence reigned through it, and the rocks on each side shot up, as it were, to the clouds. Many yews and cypress trees grew also thereabouts, through which the wind whistled in a manner exceedingly melancholy. Then said Humble Mind to the servant of Mr. Orthodox, "What is this valley? for I have not seen in all my pilgrimage a more dismal place, excepting the Valley of the Shadow of Death."
"This valley," replied the servant of Mr. Orthodox, "is no more to be compared to the Valley of the Shadow of Death, than the vestibule of heaven is to be compared to the gates of hell. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is a place in which the soul is bereaved of all divine consolation, where the Lord hideth his face, and causeth the believer to pass through a state of painful separation from himself. Yea, in that valley are sometimes felt, in a degree, the very torments of hell itself, which consists, we believe, in an eternal separation from God. So that could a man in the Valley of the Shadow of Death be surrounded by earthly pleasures, he would still find it a hell; because God, being the fountain of all true happiness, not even a single drop of real comfort can be tasted where he is absent. But the valley into which we are now entering, is called the Valley of Adversity; and it hath been sunk in this place by the express command of the King himself, that pilgrims, in travelling through it, may utterly lose sight of Vanity. This valley moreover," continued he, "though stripped of every earthly comfort, abounds in such pure and spiritual delights, that many experienced pilgrims after passing through it in a right frame of mind, have declared that the sweetest hours of their pilgrimage were spent in the Valley of Adversity: notwithstanding which," added the messenger, "I never knew any one descend into it without shuddering and trembling as you now do."
"Indeed, Sir," said Playful, "I cannot wonder that any one should tremble in descending into this valley; for never, indeed, did I see so gloomy a place. Here too I find that all the afflictions of past days are brought to my recollection; and especially the loss of my little Peace, which is as present with me at this moment, as if it had happened but yesterday. Neither is there any thing at hand to divert my thoughts from these sad remembrances: but wherever I turn my eyes, I behold nothing but emblems of sorrow."
Then said the servant, "The evening is now far advanced, and you must needs be much fatigued; let us therefore sit down in this place, and endeavour to take some repose."
So sitting down by the way-side, they there produced some of the refreshments given them by Mrs. Bountiful. But when they sought water, they could find only an exceeding bitter stream, which flowed from a neighbouring rock.
I saw then that the messenger began to reason with them on this disappointment, pointing out the salutary effects which sometimes flow from the bitterest dispensations of Providence; when being destitute of other comforts, the soul is led to seek those consolations which it would not even desire in more prosperous circumstance. "By these means," continued he, "do pilgrims in the Valley of Adversity acquire the habit of communing with God, and fixing their affections on things above; while their spirits are raised and sanctified, through the blessing of God upon their earthly afflictions: thus tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." Romans 5. 3, 4.
"But do you think, Sir," said Humble Mind, "that afflictions must necessarily be endured in order to our salvation?"
"Affliction," replied the messenger, "may be used as an outward means to bring us into closer union with Christ; but, without the divine help, it can profit us nothing. For unless the blessing of God be upon our trouble, it would rather harden and irritate, than fit us for the reception of truth. In proof of which, as you travel along this valley, you will see the graves of many who, having refused comfort where alone it could be found, at length despairingly put an end to their own lives, and were buried by the way-side as a warning to others."
After this, the servant of Mr. Orthodox proposed that they should all go to prayer, in order that, before they slept, they might seek comfort from above. So they addressed themselves to prayer, and continued for some time calling upon their Saviour, earnestly supplicating him to undertake their cause, and appear as their advocate with the Father - when behold, while they yet called upon their Redeemer, a light rose in obscurity, and the darkness was as the noon-day. Isaiah 58. 10. Then looking up to the heavens, they were favoured with the same kind of glorious vision which caused the martyr Stephen to exult even in the agonies of death. So they gazed till the tears gushed from their eyes; and as they gazed they cried, "it is good for us to be here; and here we could remain with thee for ever, O Lord, our refuge in time of affliction. Jeremiah 16. 19. Thou hast lifted up the light of thy countenance upon us; thou hast put gladness in our hearts." Psalm 4. 6, 7.
The messenger then said, "Did I not tell you what things were to be expected in this valley? and how blessed those times often prove when we enjoy the fewest earthly comforts?"
Thus the young pilgrims continued looking upwards, and talking with the messenger, till their hearts becoming warm with the love of God, they rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And now they were enabled to speak even of the death of Peace in the language of cheerful hope, though not indeed without shedding tears of tenderness. "Our little Peace," said Humble Mind, "was every where my sweet companion and my friend. She lay in my bosom through all the nights of our pilgrimage; and as she slept her little arms embraced me. Nevertheless I am now enabled to give her up without a murmur; inasmuch as I know that she is at home and at rest in the presence of her heavenly Father."
"Where," added Playful, "we shall shortly meet her again, never more to be separated; and where she, and we, and our beloved parents, shall be for ever united before the throne of our adorable Saviour."
Then I heard that Humble Mind brake out into a transport of praise, saying, "Our beloved Saviour is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His eyes are as they eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely." Song of Solomon 5. 10, 12, 15, 16.
In this manner they continued conversing together, still meditating upon the glorious vision they had enjoyed, till sleep overcame them; for they had travelled far that day, and their repose was sweet unto them.
They remained asleep till day-dawn; and no sooner did they awake, than they began to relate their dreams to each other, and behold, they were the same. In their sleep they thought that Peace came and stood immediately before them; and she was all fair; and there was no spot in her. Song of Solomon 4. 7. And she called to them, and spake to them; and her words were like a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice. Ezekial 33. 32. "Weep not for me, nor bemoan me, sweet brother and sister," she said; "but weep for yourselves, lest you should by any means fall short of the promised rest. Jeremiah 22 10. When the Lord took away my breath, my mortal part went down into the dust, but my spirit was carried by the angels into my Father's bosom. I have received the crown of righteousness; all tears are wiped from my eyes. I am arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; Revelations 19. 8: and the Lamb hath presented me to himself without spot or stain of sin. Mourn not for me, beloved companions of my pilgrimage on earth; but mourn for your sins, lest by them we should be separated for ever. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." 2 Corinthians 7. 10.
Now, while Humble Mind and Playful yet rejoiced in their sweet dream, behold, the messenger of Mr. Orthodox called upon them to rise and gather the manna, which lay thick upon the ground - thicker indeed than the little pilgrims had seen it in any part of their journey, saving under the cross and in the Valley of Humiliation: so the children presently filled their golden pots, and betook themselves to their journey. But, before they set out, the messenger took his leave, saying that he had already stayed his appointed time, and that his master's business required his speedy return.
"What!" said Humble Mind, "must you go and leave us in this valley?" The messenger, however, having convinced them that his return was absolutely necessary, they opposed it no further, but allowed him to depart without another word.
I saw then, in my dream, that the young pilgrims continued to descend deeper into the valley during the whole day. And although the way was indeed very dismal, yet were they so refreshed by the manna which they had gathered in the morning, and with which they continued to regale themselves through all the hours of the day, as well as with the remembrance of their cheering dream - that they no longer heeded the doleful objects which continually presented themselves to their view. Now through all the valley were scattered cypress groves, tombs, open graves, decayed and gloomy edifices, sandy and salt wastes, black and fetid pools, precipices, and pit-falls: and on a certain spot in the very bottom of the valley, there was a flock of vultures, with other unclean birds, feeding on the corpse of one, who, not being able to endure the gloomy scene around him, had endeavoured to put an end to his misery by rushing uncommanded into the presence of his Maker. The few plants which grew in this valley were wormwood, and rue, and other bitter herbs. Nevertheless, amid all the disheartening appearances with which they were surrounded, the little pilgrims proceeded on their way, from morning to night, not only without uttering a single complaint, but blessing God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth pilgrims in all their tribulation. 2 Corinthians 1. 3, 4.
Thus they continued their journey till night; when they quietly stretched themselves on the ground, and soon fell fast asleep. So I observed the young pilgrims as they slept: and behold, Inbred-Sin was busy as aforetime at their ears, and his whisperings seemed greatly to disturb them, for they often started in their sleep. Nevertheless their sleep was heavy, so that they did not awake till the sun was high. And behold, on opening their eyes and looking around, they perceived that the manna, which had lain thick about them at the dawn, was now melted away; upon which, they began bitterly to lament their slothfulness. Moreover they endeavoured to refresh themselves with some of the preserved fruits and other good things which they had brought from Mr. Orthodox. But this food being now dry and stale, did not afford them such nourishment as they used to derive from the bread which cometh down from heaven, to wit, the manna, which has been the appointed food of pilgrims from time immemorial.
The young pilgrims then arose to prosecute their journey; and Inbred-Sin, being in high spirits, aye, and much at his ease, (as he generally is with such persons as rise too late in the day to have leisure for their usual devotions,) walked side by side with the pilgrims, and soon entered into discourse with them. And first, he found fault with the length of the valley, with its dismal appearance, its extreme solitariness, and the bleakness of the air which blew through it: and not being rebuked by his companions, he ventured even to speak certain words of dissatisfaction against the Most High for directing the path of his servants through such dreary scenes.
I perceived then that the spirit of cheerfulness and holy resignation which had supported them during the past day, forsook them entirely while they sinfully hearkened to the words of Inbred-Sin. Whereupon they began not only to loiter in the way; but, after awhile, to stand perfectly still: when Inbred-Sin ventured to propose that they should turn back immediately to the town of Vanity. But although Humble Mind dreaded to proceed any further in the dismal valley; yet he foresaw the danger of turning back. He therefore stood demurring, while Inbred-Sin pressed and urged him to return without delay; Playful all the while weeping and hanging about him, wishing in her heart that he would consent to do so, but not presuming to solicit him.
Now, I had always observed that whenever Inbred-Sin could bring the young pilgrims to demur or parley with him on any point, he was sure to carry the day; so I now expected every moment to see them turn their backs on Mount Zion. And this, no doubt, would have been the case, had not the Lord sent them timely assistance - for behold, while Humble Mind and his sister stood thus sinfully demurring with Inbred-Sin, a company of pilgrims came along the way from the town of Vanity, with their faces towards Mount Zion. and as they walked, they beguiled the solitary way with songs of praise.
This party consisted of a middle-aged matron, of a comely and decent appearance, and with her two little damsels of very tender age. And behold, the elder pilgrim led the younger ones by the hand, supporting their steps lest they should stumble: for the way in this place was as rough and uneven to the foot, as it was unpleasant and forbidding to the eye. Nevertheless there was nothing of discontent or dissatisfaction in the countenances of these pilgrims; for they had learned in whatsoever situation they were, therewith to be content: and though they travelled through the Valley of Adversity, yet they were cheerful - because their affections, especially those of the elder pilgrim, were set upon things in heaven, and not upon those on earth.
Now I saw, in my dream, that when these pilgrims, the elder of whom was called Martha, and the two younger ones, Grace and Truth, came near to Humble Mind and his sister, they stood still, while the matron thus addressed them: "Wherefore, my young pilgrims," said she, - "for pilgrims I see you are by your white garments and the impress of our Lord's signet in your forehead - wherefore do you stand till, with you faces as it were turned from Mount Zion? Having come thus far on your journey to the blessed country, surely you cannot have a thought of turning back! Or perhaps you are offended, as many have been before you, with this Valley of Adversity; supposing, though falsely indeed, that they only who are Christians are liable to affliction in the flesh! Whereas, man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward; Job 5. 7; insomuch that he who would escape it, must needs leave the world itself."
I saw then that Humble Mind and Playful looked ashamed on being thus addressed by the stranger pilgrim; when Inbred-Sin whispered to them, that they should deny having had any thoughts of returning. So hearkening to the suggestions of Inbred-Sin, they replied to the pilgrim Martha, "We have had no thoughts of returning; but are only standing awhile to rest ourselves, before we proceed on our journey."
"My children," said Martha, "I am unable to look into your hearts; and, being but a stranger, I have no right to question you upon your delay - there is One, who is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, to whom you must be accountable nevertheless, as it is not yet noonday, be advised by me, and press forward on your journey. Wherefore should you linger in this valley? is it so agreeable a place, that you should desire to abide in it? Look at the generations of old, and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in his fear, and was forsaken? or whom did he ever despise, that called upon him?" Ecclesiastes. 2. 10. The pilgrim Martha, then proposed that they should join company, and go on together; to which she was the more inclined, as she was a lover of little children, and had great delight in leading them along the way of holiness.
Now Humble Mind and Playful in some respects liked this proposal, perceiving that the stranger was a person of an agreeable countenance: for although she appeared grave, as it becometh a pilgrim to be, yet her manner withal was very pleasant. Moreover, they liked the aspect of little Grace and Truth; especially as the features of Truth somewhat resembled the well-remembered features of little Peace. Nevertheless Inbred-Sin supposing that the company of these pilgrims would not be favourable to his cause, he endeavoured, as much as possible, to put Humble Mind upon rejecting Martha's invitation. She however would take no denial, fully persuaded that her company might be advantageous to the young pilgrims: on this account she pleaded hard, and at length prevailed. So Humble Mind and his sister consented to go on with the unknown pilgrims.
I saw then, in my dream, that Humble Mind especially soon found himself refreshed with the society of the pilgrim Martha. I hearkened therefore to their discourse as they walked on; and behold, they beguiled the time by relating to each other the events of their pilgrimage, and the dealings of the Lord with them. Humble Mind and Playful first related what had befallen them in the way: after which Martha thus began -
"I am," said she, "in common with all others of the children of Adam, a native of the Valley of Destruction, and my heart was in bondage under the elements of the world, Galatians 4. 3. Even those dear friends whom I had received from the Lord, my husband and children, proved but so many ties binding me down closer to the world. I was dead in sin, and even pleaded my earthly comforts as excuses for my worldly mind. Nevertheless, the Lord in his infinite mercy called me to himself; and that in as peculiar and tender a manner as the mother uses to her suckling child: neither was this call used only once or twice, but many and many times repeated, while I remained dead to its importunity."
I heard then that Playful interrupted Martha, in order to ask her what she meant by the calls of the Almighty - whether she was to understand by them a voice from heaven?
To which Martha replied, that she presumed not to say that even in these days none were called in a somewhat extraordinary manner; but with respect to herself, no means had been used which could be called miraculous or out of the usual course of God's dealings with his servants. "Nevertheless," said she, "this is certain - that the steps of my life from day to day, have been ordered by the Almighty Ruler of all things for the advancement of my spiritual good, and that, after I had been first awakened from the death of sin, I was made to hear the voice of God in every event that befell me. Still, however, I felt a strong attachment to the world; and more especially to my domestic comforts, namely, my husband and my two sweet babies. My home was then my gourd, under the shade of which I delighted to dwell: but when it pleased the Lord to prepare a worm to smite my gourd, I became distressed above measure. My husband was first removed from me. He became a pilgrim, and, like little Peace, in a short time fulfilled a long time, when being made white in the blood of his Saviour, he passed through the river of death, and is now rejoicing in the house of his Father above."
"Being deprived of this my beloved companion," said Martha, "I clung more fondly to my children. But it pleased the Lord shortly to remove these also; thus bereaving me totally of my dearest earthly comforts, and causing me to forget the days of my prosperity. And now, in this moment of calamity, the Lord revealed himself to my soul in such a manner as effectually to overcome all resistance. He drew me towards himself with the cords of love, compelling me to seek rest in his presence, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he made me, the chief of sinners, accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1. 6.
"Hereupon I quitted my native place, even the Valley of Destruction; and having entered in at the gate which is at the head of the way, I am come thus far on my journey towards my heavenly Father's house."
Now it came to pass that, when the pilgrims had travelled for some days through the Valley of Adversity, the country became more open and pleasant; soon after which they came out from the valley upon a pleasant plain scattered over with clumps of trees, affording a delightful shade. The air on this plain, though fresh, was not so cold as in the Valley of Adversity, while every thing wore a cheerful and lightsome air. Then I looked after the pilgrims, and saw that Humble Mind walked first with little Truth; for Humble Mind loved the little girl exceedingly, fancying that he discovered in her some resemblance of his beloved Peace: and I heard that he endeavoured to instruct her, as he had been accustomed to instruct his departed little sister.
After proceeding thus for awhile, I saw Inbred-Sin creep softly up to the ear of Playful, when I immediately became alarmed for the consequence, though unable to imagine what kind of mischief could be brought out of their present circumstances - not considering that Inbred-Sin is never at a loss how to produce evil, and that he is a workman capable of effecting great things, with few or no apparent materials. So Inbred-Sin, as I said, drew up close to Playful, and whispered something in her ear: upon which, she fell back behind the other pilgrims, for the purpose of the tempter. Then said Inbred-Sin, fetching a course about, as his manner often was, before he came to the point at which he aimed, "Tell me, Playful, do you not love your brother above all the world besides?"
"Certainly I do," said Playful.
"But do you imagine," replied the other, "that he has an equal regard for you?"
"I always thought so," said Playful.
"You thought so, because your heart is good, and free from suspicion," returned Inbred-Sin: "but cannot you recollect, that he generally showed a preference for Peace, and that he more frequently conversed with her than with you?"
"If he loved Peace mroe than he loved me, he did but what was right, and I cannot blame him," said Playful; "for my beloved little Peace was more lovely than I am, and more worthy the regard of those who prefer that which is excellent."
"That may have been true in some degree," said Inbred-Sin, "so as to form some excuse for your brother's loving Peace better than he loved you. But what excuse can be made for his preferring the company of Truth to that of his only sister?"
"I have no reason to think that he does so," said Playful.
"Do you not perceive then," said Inbred-Sin, "how he seeks her company at all times, and how frequently he shares his morsel with her? And even now," continued he, "see how he leads her by the hand, and bends his ear to her prattle."
Here I perceived that the poison began to work. Playful's cheek grew flushed, and her eye began to kindle with anger: nevertheless she stood her ground a little longer, and made this reply - "If my brother prefers the company of the little stranger to that of his only remaining sister, does it not become me, as a follower of our meek and lowly Master, to bear this seeming neglect without murmuring? nay, and even to return love for hatred?"
"Assuredly," said Inbred-Sin, who could talk religion whenever it suited his purpose, even while he was seeking to undermine it, "assuredly it is your duty, if need be, to forgive your offending brother not only seven times, but seventy times seven: nevertheless I see no occasion why you should bear every affront he chooses to put upon you, when perhaps, by a single word, you might bring him back to a more attentive behaviour." I heard then that Inbred-Sin proceeded to place the conduct of Humble Mind in a still stronger light, till he had gradually wrought Playful into such a humour, that she was ready to commit any kind of folly that could be proposed to her.
Inbred-Sin then, perceiving his advantage, was not long before he actually proposed what at another time she would have started from with abhorrence, but which now, by reason of the ill state of her mind, she closed with immediately - this proposal was, that she should turn her back upon the whole company, aye, and upon Mount Zion itself, directly setting her face as if she intended to return. This indignity she was to put upon her King, in order, as Inbred-Sin expressed it, that she might testify to her brother how much displeased she was by his neglect. So, without considering the consequences of so unreasonable an action, she turned herself about, and began to measure her steps back again.
Now Playful meant nothing more, when she turned about, than to recall the attention of her brother, and to exercise her power of tormenting him: but when Inbred-Sin had influenced her thus far, it was not in his nature to stop there. No sooner therefore did he see her with her back towards Mount Zion, than he began to whisper in her ears expressions of contempt for the religion of Jesus; outrageously railing at a pilgrim's life, and setting before her the advantages she would derive from an immediate return to the town of Vanity. And to such lengths did he proceed, that I could hardly believe my own ears; never supposing it possible that he could exercise such power over the heart of a regenerate person, as now appeared evident. So Playful hearkened to Inbred-Sin; and how long or how far he might have misled her, cannot easily be determined, had not the other pilgrims, who were gone forward about a stone's throw before they perceived her defection, disturbed her communications with the tempter by calling to her aloud. Whereupon she came to a sudden stand: yet would she not make any movement towards them.
I heard then that the pilgrims called earnestly to her to come on; and Humble Mind was on the point of running back to her in order to persuade her to reconsider her ways. But the pilgrim Martha would not allow him so to do, saying that, not even to save a brother, was it lawful for a pilgrim to turn his back on Mount Zion. Humble Mind therefore having nothing in his power but prayer, I saw that he prostrated himself on the ground in earnest intercession for his sister. And while he made his request known to God in the name of his Saviour, behold, the pilgrim Martha and the two little ones joined in his importunate prayer.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, while the pilgrims were engaged in prayer, behold, the Evil One, who is ever going about seeking whom he may devour, having discovered the advantage which Inbred-Sin had obtained over Playful, judged this a suitable time for the successful exertion of his own superior influence. So drawing near to the young pilgrim, without her perceiving it, (because being a spirit he is invisible to eyes of flesh,) he began, as aforetime, to practise his enchantments. And first, by a process which I could not understand, but by which it is well known one spirit can act upon another, he began to entice and entangle the affections of Playful, setting before her the many pleasures which she might enjoy in the City of Vanity, could she be prevailed upon to give up a pilgrim's life and return thither. And behold, when he had in some measure excited her affections and inflamed her imagination with the delusive pleasures of sense, he caused his servants (for he was accompanied by several of his ministering spirits) to throw certain invisible bands round the limbs of the young pilgrim; by which he directed them to draw her back with a gentle force. And behold, the young pilgrim gave way as the enemies applied their strength; insomuch that, unless assistance were given from on high, it appeared to me that she would assuredly be lost: for there seemed to be no power of resistance left in her: nor indeed even so much as the will to resist, or to call out for help.
But while I looked on, I perceived one coming along the King's highway, who held in his hand a whip of small cords. And behold, he came up close to Playful, whom he first sharply rebuked, and then sorely chastised. Whereupon she started as from a sleep or trance, and suddenly broke all the ligatures with which the enemy had bound her. And behold, as she continued to feel the lash which was appointed to correct her wanderings, she hastily turned her back on the City of Vanity, and fled forwards till she came to the place where the other pilgrims were waiting for her. So she happily escaped for that time.
Then did Humble Mind and Martha receive her joyfully: nevertheless Martha reproved her, but with maternal tenderness; taking occasion, from her late apostasy, to point out to her the exceeding weakness and frailty even of regenerate persons - that even the best are continually liable to fall into gross and grievous sins; that whosoever is saved, is saved by grace alone; and that no man can in his own strength do any thing towards the advancement of his own salvation. "For the condition of man," said she, "after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."
"According to this view of things," said Humble Mind, "it is marvellous how any man is ever saved."
"Marvellous, indeed!" returned Martha: "but what is impossible with man, is possible with God. And hence it is written - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)." Hebrews 10. 23.
Now I saw, in my dream, that Playful remained for awhile much dejected after this her heinous transgression, and greatly humbled. Moreover through the painful views she had of her own exceeding sinfulness, she was led to look more to her Saviour than she had done in the former part of her pilgrimage, and thereby to make a rapid growth in grace. Thus was the malice of the enemy defeated, through the infinite mercy and wisdom of God, who by his overruling providence brought good out of evil, in the same manner as honey was once produced from the carcase of the lion.
After this, I saw that the company of pilgrims went on their way till they came to a pleasant river, called the River of the Water of Life, by which their road lay; and here were many green and shady trees, on which grew the twelve fruits of the Spirit. Then the pilgrims took of the fruits and drank of the water; upon which their hearts were filled with joy. In this place the elder pilgrims held much sweet discourse together, while the little ones enjoyed their innocent play in the meadows: neither would any of the pilgrims, at this time, allow Inbred-Sin to disturb their minds. For though he was as busy as usual, whispering in the ear of one, and in the ear of another, yet they were all enabled by the Holy Spirit to watch against his wiles, and to say, "The Lord rebuke thee." Jude 9. So Inbred-Sin gained no advantage against them, though he was unwearied in his attempts to prevail. At night the pilgrims arrived at a place where many lilies grew; where laying themselves down to rest, they slept as sweetly as they had done in any part of their pilgrimage.
For several days they travelled through these pleasant meadows; where I saw that the pilgrim Martha continually laboured with the young ones, in order, as much as in her lay, to bring them into a nearer acquaintance with their Saviour. And she took great delight in speaking of this dear Saviour, describing the manner of his birth, his life, his death, and pointing out some of the most remarkable passages of his pilgrimage upon earth. She spoke much also of his tender love to pilgrims, weeping often over those wounds of his by which sinners are healed, and that voluntary death of his by which the dead are restored to life. Martha was indeed as a mother to all the younger pilgrims, and they were to her as so many sons and daughters.
They at length reached a place where the way separated itself from the pleasant meadows and trees. At this the children cried: but Martha bade them contentedly to go straight forward, although the way might not appear inviting. So they went on without murmuring; while in order to pass the time profitably, they had recourse to their books. And so deeply were they engaged in this employment that they passed by the stile and path leading to the ruined castle of giant Despair, without even perceiving them.
Now, towards sunset, Humble Mind looking up, said, "Behold, I see far away certain beautiful blue hills directly before us."
Martha. Those are the Delectable Mountains, upon which the shepherds dwell. We have made a considerable progress today; and, if we do as well tomorrow, we shall reach those mountains before night.
Then were the little pilgrims pleased; for they had heard much of the Delectable Mountains, and had letters of recommendation with them from Mr. Orthodox to the shepherds who dwell there. So they continued their journey till it was dark, without heeding their weariness: and they were up the next morning before sunrise to proceed on their way, so impatient were they to reach the Delectable Mountains.
Now early in the morning it was pleasant to feel the breezes, fraught with all manner of fragrant odours, which descended from the flowery sides of the hills. At length the pilgrims saw the sun rising up behind these hills, which lay eastward of them: and as it ascended above them, the pilgrims could distinguish the little dwellings of the shepherds scattered here and there among the hills, with their hanging-gardens and their sheep-cotes: they could also hear at intervals, the shepherd's pipe and the bells of the flock. Then Humble Mind looked into a map of the road which Mr. Orthodox had given him, in order to find the names of the hills: by which he soon distinguished Mount Marvel, Mount Caution, and Mount Error, (the latter of which lieth to the left, somewhat out of the direction of the Way of Salvation,) together with Mouth Sabbath, which rose beyond the rest of the hills towards the Celestial City, and which rendered itself visible by its extraordinary elevation.
Now Humble Mind was in better spirits here than ever I saw him in all the course of his pilgrimage. So the pilgrims hastened forwards; for though they were exceedingly foot-sore, yet their spirits sustained them. And as they approached the mountains, they could distinguish orchards, olive-yards, vineyards, and gardens, abounding with every kind of vegetation; crystal fountains, where the flocks were washed and watered; and shepherds feeding their sheep - but the way was so steep, that they were minded to rest themselves a few minutes before they began to ascend the hills.
Now the shepherds Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere, had been informed by one who watched his flock on the side of Mount Clear, that a company of pilgrims were on the road, and that the party consisted chiefly of little children. In consequence of which information, the good shepherds lost no time in ordering a wagon to the foot of the hills, furnished with every suitable accommodation, and well stored with provisions, there to wait the arrival of the pilgrims for their easier conveyance to the shepherd's houses.
This wagon was therefore waiting at the foot of the mountains when the pilgrims came up, intending there to halt for very weariness. Then came the wagoner, a careful old man, to Martha, whom he thus bespake: "Welcome, worthy pilgrim, to the Delectable Mountains! and welcome, all ye my sweet babes! By my masters' orders I have brought this wagon to assist you up these hills to the abodes of the shepherds. And as you will find in this carriage all manner of accommodations, there is no occasion for a moment's delay in this place."
So they all got into the wagon, the old man lifting in little Grace and Truth, and it proved a very seasonable assistance to these almost exhausted travellers. And as they moved, the bells of the horses began to ring; and on those bells were written - Holiness unto the Lord. Zechariah 14. 20. So they proceeded up the hills, eating of the fruits and bread which the good shepherds had sent them, as they went along.
Playful then spake, "Well, this is very pleasant! this exceeds all that ever we yet met with in our pilgrimage! Had we been so discouraged in the Valley of Adversity, as not to have advanced to this place, how ill we should have done!"
Martha. We should have done as all those do who trust not in God - very foolishly and very wickedly.
Then cried Humble Mind, "O, what lovely cottages, what fair pastures, and quiet resting-places, do I see! How very delightful is this place!"
"Look at those lambs feeding near the waterfalls!" cried little Grace.
"And behold that flock of sheep which is going up from the washing!" said Playful.
"Those sheep," said Martha, "are fed in a good pasture, and their folds are upon the high mountains of Israel: for the Lord hath sought them out and delivered them out of all places where they were scattered in the cloudy and dark day. Ezekiel 34. 12. In like manner," said she, "has the Lord sought us out, and brought us to this place, showing himself our guide and protector through all our pilgrimage." Then sang the pilgrim, for her heart was full of holy joy and gratitude; and the children joined in the song -
"Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry -
We're travelling through Immanuel's ground
To fairer worlds on high."
By this time they drew near the shepherds' houses; and behold, Watchful, Experience, and Sincere, came forth to meet them. And the shepherd Watchful saluted them with these words: "Peace be unto you, ye children of the King!"
Then said the shepherd Experience, "Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12. 32.
The shepherd Sincere next spake, "Welcome, thrice welcome are ye, O redeemed of the Lord, to the Delectable Mountains!"
I saw then that Martha, having alighted from the wagon, bowed low before the shepherds, and said, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publish peace; that bring good tidings of good, that publish salvation; that say unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" Isaiah 57. 7.
When the whole party had descended from the wagon, the shepherds said to the little ones, "Welcome, welcome, pretty babes! you have made a good journey, and are far on your way to the Celestial City. Of the thousands that set out on pilgrimage, there are but few who reach this place."
Then I saw that they conducted them into the house, and led them into a fair large hall; where a long table was preparing for their evening repast. From the windows of this hall much of the neighbouring country was to be seen, presenting so beautiful and charming a prospect as could scarcely by equalled in the whole world. The shepherds now went to see their flocks folded for the night, before supper should be served: and, on their return, they all sat down to meat, giving thanks to their great Benefactor.
Soon after finishing their evening meal, the children became heavy with sleep; whereupon the shepherds said, "Since the little ones are beginning to look towards their beds, we will have prayers without delay, and then show them to their chambers. And on the morrow, when their spirits and strength are recruited, we hope to have some talk with them - for we long to know what they have met with in their pilgrimage." The shepherds then called an old female servant, of whom they were very fond, named Hospitality, who immediately conducted the pilgrims to their several chambers, consisting of two comfortable rooms adjoining each other; the larger one for Martha and the little girls, and the lesser one for Humble Mind. So they retired to rest, and were presently fast asleep.
Now at break of day, hearing the bleatings of the sheep upon the hills, they got up refreshed and cheerful: and having thanked God for bringing them to so desirable a place, they went down into the hall.
Being all met at breakfast, I saw that the shepherds and the pilgrims fell into discourse concerning their pilgrimage; respecting which the shepherds had many interesting questions to propose. To all of which, when the pilgrims had satisfactorily replied, the shepherds spake thus - "Happy indeed are you in having come so far on your journey; since this is not the lot of all who look with some desire towards the Hill of Zion: for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it. Matthew 7. 14. There are even many that shall seek to enter therein, and shall not be able. Let us therefore," said the shepherds one to another, "offer thanks unto God on account of these pilgrims, for that he has assisted them by his grace to reach Immanuel's Land - this happy land, from which the Celestial City may be seen - and these unwithering pastures, were the flocks of our Lord do securely feed, and where we, his shepherds, dwell in peace and joy."
I saw then that the shepherd Experience, addressing himself to the pilgrims, and more especially to Martha, said, "My beloved children, had you not met with afflictions, which you have just reported to us, and of which you cannot speak without letting fall the tears of human weakness - you perhaps had not now been thus far on your journey; nay, in prosperity you might have utterly forgotten the Lord, as many others have done. But resolving to make you his own, he mercifully took your treasures from you, and laid them up in heaven, that where those treasures were, there your hearts might be also. Matthew. 6. 21. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees: and make straight paths for your feet. For you shall assuredly come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant." Hebrews 12. 6, 12, 13, 22-24.
After this the shepherds spake of the shepherd Sincerity, the Interpreter, and Mr. Orthodox, saying, "We are all brethren, the servants of one common Master, and are all employed, in our different stations, about the same great work, that is, the care of the flock, for which our Redeemer was contented to be betrayed, given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross. We are constituted an universal, spiritually living priesthood, having the sheep of the flock committed to our care from generation to generation. Moreover, we continue our priestly office without ceasing, and shall continue it until the time when the universal church shall ascribe dominion, and reverence, and thanksgiving to the Lord of all lords, raised from the dead, who dieth no more, and whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Then shall the borders of the church be enlarged; the same church which you saw in the City of Vanity, of which Mr. Orthodox is minister; - she shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and all her children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of her children. In righteousness shall she be established, and shall be far from oppression. For this church, although now but little, is the espoused of the Lord - Her Maker is her husband; and her redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. He will lay her stones with fair colours, and her foundations with sapphires: he will make her windows of agates, and her gates of carbuncles, and all her borders of pleasant stones. Isaiah 54. 3, 5, 11-14. Yea, the time shall come, and is near at hand, when her God shall be called, The God of the whole earth. Isaiah 54. 5. And then will all the earth be like these happy mountains, every one living in peace and contentment under his own vine and his own fig tree." Zechariah 3. 10
Martha then exclaimed, "O happy prospect! how my soul longs for the time, when all the kingdoms of the world shall become like the pleasant hills, on which we now stand!"
Shepherds. They who understand the signs of the times, have reason to think that happy period not very far off.
Martha. Blessed, indeed, will that season be, to those who watch and wait for it!
Shepherds. Pray ye, therefore, that ye also may be found watching.
Martha. I thank God, who by the chastisements of his rod has in some measure compelled me to watch.
"And I too may thank God," said Playful, "who caused me to feel the loving corrections of his hand, when I was like to be lost."
Watchful. I exhort you still to persevere, watching unto prayer: the danger is not past; the enemy is still abroad. Inbred or original sin may be quiet awhile, but when occasion offers, he will certainly rouse himself again, and entice you to that which is evil. Labour therefore to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2. 12.
Then said Martha, "We know that, while we are at home in the body, we must be absent from the Lord. O that we could be absent from these vile bodies, and present with the Lord!" 2 Corinthians 5. 8.
"The Lord in his good time grant you our heart's desire!" said the shepherds.
Breakfast being finished, the shepherds called the pilgrims out to walk upon the hills, that they might show them some of the wonders of the place. So they pointed out to them all those things which they were wont to show to pilgrims. They had them first to a place whence they had a clear view of Mount Error, whose sides are so steep that in attempting to climb to the top of it, many have fallen and been dashed to pieces. The shepherds also informed the pilgrims, that, if any of their sheep by chance strayed to that hill, it was ten to one but they came to some evil end.
Now, while they were looking thereon, there came a company of brisk lads from the town of Vanity: and being led on by one Conceit, they began to climb the hill on the most dangerous side. Upon which the shepherds called to them in order to warn them of their danger. But, instead of heeding their cautions, the strangers began to mock, calling the shepherds old fools, and such like reproachful names; and then following their guide towards the top of the hill - suddenly they lost their standing, and fell, and were dashed to pieces. Whereupon Conceit returned the way he came: but the pilgrims were much grieved.
I saw then that the shepherds took the pilgrims to the top of Mount Marvel; where they showed them a beautiful hall, the walls of which were hung with numerous pictures, exhibiting the marvellous works of Christ, and describing the most extraordinary events of his life upon earth, from his miraculous birth to his resurrection and ascension into heaven. And as the pilgrims gazed upon these pleasant pictures, their hearts were filled with love, while their eyes overflowed with tears.
The shepherds next led them to the top of Mount Clear; and bidding them look eastward, they asked the pilgrims what they saw; who answered thus - "Far, very far away, we see a bright light, even the same light which has guided us through all our pilgrimage: but we can distinguish no particular object in the light."
I saw then that the shepherd Experience drew a glass from his pocket, to wit, the glass of Faith; and putting it to his eye, he said, "By the help of this glass I have sometimes discovered such things as cannot be described. But this happens not every day: nay, I must confess that it rarely happens, and that those are precious seasons indeed, when I can use this glass to the best advantage. The fault however, I know well, is never in the glass, but in my own eye." So the shepherd, having looked through the glass, and seen that it was properly set, he offered it first to Martha, and then the younger pilgrims, saying, "After what you have just now seen, my beloved children, on Mount Marvel, your eyes, I trust, are well prepared for the use of this instrument."
The pilgrims then tried the glass. But what they saw I know not: though they surely were unutterable and exceeding glorious things - for while their eyes were fixed, the fashion of their countenances changed, and shone, like that of Moses, when he descended from the mountain: but they wist it not. Exodus 34. 29.
The shepherds therefore, observing how delighted the pilgrims were with the glass, and that they were able to use it rightly, very cordially presented them with it, to their unspeakable joy. And thus the morning being nearly worn away, the shepherd Watchful proposed that they should return to the house.
Now, whereas it was ordained that the pilgrims should remain awhile on the Delectable Mountains, the shepherds appointed to each of them some suitable employment, having received a command from their King not to permit any of the pilgrims who should visit them, to pass their time in unprofitable idleness. So they allotted to Martha and the little girls the care of the dairy, with such of the lambs as had lost their mothers; while Humble Mind went out daily with the shepherds, to learn of them the proper management of pastoral concerns. Among other things he was taught to know what herbs were useful for the healing of such wounds or bruises as the sheep might chance to meet with; in which pastures the finest herbage grew; and where the purest springs were to be found. Very speedily also he learned the names of the sheep with so much exactness, as easily to discover whether any of them were wanting. In short, I perceived that the boy was wonderfully taken with a shepherd's life; insomuch, that he resolved, if spared to man's estate, that he would by God's good pleasure become a shepherd. Moreover the pilgrims here learned many of the shepherd's songs, and it was most pleasant to hear them repeating those songs as they walked among the hills in the cool of the day.
When the pilgrims had been six days with the shepherds, on the seventh day, early in the morning, there was a cry among the shepherds of great joy - "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118. 24.
When the children heard these words they were delighted, and ran to tell Martha: so they hastened to eat their breakfasts and feed the lambs; after which they went with the shepherds to Mount Sabbath.
Then I looked, and lo, the shepherds led the pilgrims to a certain very high hill, around the foot of which was a wall, within which wall no unholy thing was allowed to come. Now the hill, even at a distance, looked wonderfully green and pleasant, fresh and beautiful; and under the shadow of the wall on the outside thereof, lay many beasts of burden enjoying the day of rest. The summit of the hill was bright and glorious as the sun; and within the walls, towards the lower part of the hill, were many little dwellings with gardens among groves of trees, pleasant lawns, flowery fields, and sunny banks. Certain streams of water also, which took their rise from the top of the hill, ran down among these groves and gardens; which streams, as the shepherds informed the pilgrims, were never dry even in the hottest season. These waters, which are the waters of mercy, after visiting every little habitation upon the hill, afforded refreshment to the poor beasts who lay under the wall.
Now I listened, and heard the sound of harpers, harping with their harps from the higher parts of the hills, with the voice of multitudes continually crying out, "Glory, glory, glory to the Lord Jehovah!"
Then said the shepherds to the children, "Hear ye those sacred songs which call us up unto the house of the Lord with the voice of joy and praise among the multitude that keep holy day: Psalm 42. 4; inviting us to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple?" Psalm 27. 4.
The pilgrims therefore gladly hastened forwards, while the shepherds repeated at intervals, their joyful invitation, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." Psalm 122. 1.
When the pilgrims had accompanied the shepherds through the gate of admission to Mount Sabbath, their eyes were delighted with a near view of the pleasant lawns and woodlands, and the many peaceful dwellings scattered among them. Each cottage had its garden, in which grew pinks and violets, little bushes of fragrant southern-wood, marjoram, and wholesome rue, with other such humble and harmless plants as the Lord hath prepared to adorn the dwellings of the poor, the sweet odour of which was diffused through all the air. Every house looked clean; while the inhabitants, who at the sound of the bells were then stepping forth, old and young, to visit the house of God, appeared cheerful and healthy.
Now, as the pilgrims and shepherds walked along, they met an aged couple coming out from a little garden to go up the hill. The head of the old man was hoary, and his wife wore a white veil. So the shepherds saluted the aged pair; and as they walked up the hill together, while their hearts burned within them, they fell into sweet discourse about the mountain, and the happiness of those who dwell thereon.
This old man's name was Christian-Cheerfulness; and as he looked upon the pilgrims, he saluted them thus - "Right welcome are you, my children, to this holy mountain! for blessed are they which call the Sabbath a Delight, the Holy of the Lord, and Honourable; not doing their own ways, nor finding their own pleasure, nor speaking their own words, but delighting themselves in the Lord." Isaiah 58. 13, 14. Then addressing himself to the shepherds, I heard him say, "I am now an old man, and have lived from my youth upon this hill, where I never yet saw any of its inhabitants forsaken. Peace and plenty are still found in the dwellings of the righteous; for while they remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, the Lord of the Sabbath remembers them for good."
Now the voice of praise was heard more sweet and loud, as the pilgrims ascended the hill: and as I looked after them, my eyes were ravished with the lovely scenes which presented themselves on every side. For the Lord had planted on this mountain, the cedar, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; he had set there the fir-tree, and the pine, and the box together: on this mountain also grew the rose of Sharon, and the voice of the turtle never ceased from this peaceful land.
Thus the whole company went up as friends to the top of Mount Sabbath, where they employed themselves for a season in public prayer and praise in the temple of God. And while they were thus engaged, my ear was charmed with the sweet psalms and hymns which occasionally animated their sacred services, and which might be heard at a considerable distance. So, having spent a few hours in the heavenly exercise of prayer and praise, behold, the gates of the temple of God were again thrown open, and all the worshippers came out in order to return to their respective houses. And I could not but remark what satisfaction and joy appeared in every countenance, and how the little ones, in their holiday garb, ran innocently sporting among the flowers.
Now as each family returned to its cottage, behold, Christian-Cheerfulness would have the shepherds and the pilgrims to turn in with him, and to partake of what was provided. So they turned in with him.
I saw then that a table being spread under a cedar tree in the old man's garden, his wife set on dinner. First, she brought forth a dish of all manner of wholesome vegetables: upon which the old man remarked, "A dinner of herbs where love is, is better than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." Proverbs 15. 17. And after that, she produced a dish of meat; together with milk and honey for the little ones. So, when she had set the dishes on the table, the shepherds would make her sit down; "and let the children," said they, "fetch what is wanted, as is becoming."
The good woman therefore sat down while the children ran for what was required; and surely I never saw a happier party. For Christian-Cheerfulness was a man of so pleasant a conversation, that he entertained the company in a very agreeable manner; and particularly the little ones, who were wonderfully taken with his pleasant discourse. But I perceived that the company never once forgot that they were conversing together on Mount Sabbath.
Now, dinner being over, the elder part of the company sat talking, while the little ones walked into the woods to gather flowers. Playful went with the young ones; but Humble Mind stayed with the elder ones, although he took no part in their conversation, well aware that it became him not to speak before his elders, unless first spoken to. So as the evening came on, they all returned home to the shepherds' house.
Humble Mind and Playful remained many days with the shepherds; where Martha was as a mother to them, while little Grace and Truth were as their sisters. Every seventh day they went with the shepherds to Mount Sabbath, always spending a part of the day with Christian-Cheerfulness; who generally in the course of the week returned the friendly visit, accompanied by his wife.
Thus many weeks passed happily away at this place: nevertheless, when it was signified to the pilgrims that they must continue their journey, they murmured not - for they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly: God having prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11. 16. But, before the pilgrims departed, the shepherds gave them a map of the road, bidding them particularly to beware of the Enchanted Ground.
Then asked the pilgrims, "What is the Enchanted Ground?"
"It is that state," answered the shepherds, "in which the flesh, that is, the unrenewed part, frequently prevails so far as to make the pilgrim slothful and secure, neglecting for a season the exercise of grace. In some cases the renewed part strives vehemently against this stupifying distemper, applying at the same time for that assistance which is promised in temptation - but," continued the shepherd, "there have been instances, and those terrifying ones indeed, in which the flesh has prevailed over the spirit unto the destruction of both, and that at a very advanced period of the Christian warfare." I heard then that the shepherds related several awful instances of pilgrims who had come as far the Delectable Mountains on their way to Mount Zion, maintaining through all their course a very fair and becoming profession; who, nevertheless, were fianlly lost on the Enchanted Ground, upon the very confines of the promised land - thus affording an awful example to Christians, how dangerous it is to confide in their own strength."
"Awful, indeed!" said Martha: "and earnestly do I pray, that we, profiting by the failure of these miserable persons, may walk in the strength of the Lord, and not in our own!"
Then said the shepherds, "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool is confident." Proverbs 15. 16.
After which the shepherd Watchful added this caution - "Exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakes of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." Hebrews 3. 13, 14.
So the shepherds, having kissed and blessed the little company, after conducting them a few steps on their journey, returned to the hills to take care of the flocks over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers, while the pilgrims went on their way.
Then looking after the pilgrims, I saw that Inbred-Sin was with them; and he walked as one planning mischief. But the pilgrims held pleasant discourse one with another, from time to time looking upon their books, and meditating upon the contents of them.
Now I observed in my dream, that, after awhile, the pilgrims came to a place where a certain way put itself into the King's highway, which was to all appearance as straight and even as the King's road itself. This was the place where certain pilgrims of old time had been turned aside by the flatterer. And here, just at the junction of the two roads, sat a company of persons dressed in pilgrims' habits, who were talking aloud and corrupting each other with flatteries: nevertheless, as they spoke a language nearly resembling that commonly used by pilgrims, Humble Mind and his sister, at the private suggestion of Inbred-Sin, were inclined to acknowledge them as brethren. Now these persons were of the number of those who love greetings in the market-place, and who make their prayers in the corners of the streets. So they called to the pilgrims, inviting them to join their company, and partake of such refreshments as they had.
But Martha said, "We are going for our lives to Mount Zion; and as we do not just now stand in need of refreshment or rest, and as the sun is still high in the heavens, we are unwilling to stand still."
"But," said they who were sitting by the way-side, "deny us not your company, which we believe will prove exceedingly edifying to us, and profitable to our salvation. For we know that you are persons highly favoured of the Lord: and because your fame has reached us from far, we are come hither on purpose to meet with you."
"Well," said Inbred-Sin in the ear of the younger pilgrims, "this appears to be a goodly company, and their words are full of wisdom." But Martha said, "Meddle not with them that flatter with their lips." Proverbs 20. 19. So the children, being influenced at that time by the Holy Spirit of God, hearkened to the voice of Martha, and passed on.
Then I heard that those who sat by the way called after them aloud, uttering such cruel taunts and reproaches, as brought up the blood into the faces of the pilgrims. Upon which Humble Mind and Playful thanked Martha for her advice: "For," said they, "we, being children, and foolishness being bound in our hearts, we should surely have entered into the society of those ensnaring strangers, had you not given us a caution."
"Hence," said Martha, "the folly and sin of those who flatter young children: for if neither strength nor wisdom is to be found in the heart of the most advanced and venerable pilgrim - how much less in that of a child!"
The pilgrims then went on till night, when they came to a grove of cedar trees beside a pool of water. This place appeared so exceedingly agreeable, that the travellers sat down upon the grass, and took of that which they had with them: after which they looked upwards and gave thanks.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, while they sat on the grass enjoying the sweet solitude of the place, behold, two pilgrims advanced towards them along the King's highway: of whom one was an aged woman, and the other a boy about the age of Humble Mind. So they sat still till the pilgrims came up, when they addressed them thus; "If you come in the name of the Saviour, we cordially bid you welcome."
Then the pilgrims modestly saluted Martha, meekly speaking of themselves as unprofitable servants, yea, the chief of sinners. But Martha, observing their white robes and mark on their foreheads, was satisfied that they were true pilgrims: so pressing them to join their company, they thankfully accepted the invitation. The name of the old woman was Ruth, and that of the boy, her son, was Plain Sense.
I saw then that the younger pilgrims presently fell asleep: but while they slept, Ruth and Martha conversed with each other for a considerable time after sunset. Ruth informed Martha that she was an inhabitant of a certain country called Darkland, lying to the north of the village of Family-Love, in the Valley of Destruction, where she had lived in total ignorance of her Saviour till within a few months past. "And there," said she, "I should still have lived in the same miserable state, had it not pleased the Lord to make my little son, who is my only child, the means of persuading me to leave my all for the Saviour's sake. But now," continued she, "I humbly trust, although I came not into the vineyard till the last hour of the day, that, through the free grace and unsearchable merits of the Redeemer, I shall be counted worthy, though utterly worthless in myself, to enter the kingdom of heaven."
To this Martha returned, "Through faith only are we counted worthy, and not on account of our own works or deservings. Abraham believed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Genesis 15. 6. And unless the righteousness of Christ be imputed to us by faith, we must all utterly perish."
I heard then that Ruth informed Martha how her little son was brought to the knowledge of the truth by reading the Holy Book of God, which had been delivered to him by one of those servants of the Lord who now go to and fro into the dark corners of the earth to publish his word. Moreover, she told her how unwilling she had been to receive the Gospel at first, and that she had even obstinately shut her ears against it. "Nevertheless," continued she, "I was at length brought to the knowledge of my sin and my need of a Saviour; - and now having advanced thus far on my way, behold, here I stand before you this day, as a miracle of grace."
"Let us then," said Martha, "give glory to God for all that he has done for us; and let us humbly confess that it is of his own superabounding grace and goodness, manifested through the Son of his love, that we are not now enduring the punishment due to our transgressions." I heard then that the two pilgrims broke forth with one voice in praise of their Redeemer; after which, they betook themselves to rest.
The repose of that night was sweet to the whole company, and on the morrow they were ready, by dawn of day, to pursue their journey. And now, whereas for sometime past nothing has been said of Inbred-Sin, I think it necessary here to state, although I did not interrupt my pleasant account of the Delectable Mountains to speak of this evil one, that he was nevertheless continually with the pilgrims during their stay in those mountains, causing them frequent uneasiness, though not breaking out into any very open and glaring transgression. And for his apparent quietness on this occasion, the following reason may be given - that the shepherds, who knew him well, had a constant eye upon him, putting a check upon his actions at every turn; so that he could gain no ground whatever. But now being set free from the watchful eyes of the shepherds, he began to entertain better hopes of success among the pilgrims, who were at this time, he well knew, approaching their journey's end. He was well aware that his time was now or never; and of this his master Beelzebub was equally sensible, the great enemy of pilgrims - he therefore determined without delay to exert himself to the utmost for the destruction of the pilgrims. Nevertheless, as they were now more experienced, and better acquainted with all his turnings and windings than they formerly had been, he judged it necessary to act with more caution than he had done in the former part of their course. It was not now his wish to bring the pilgrims, in this advanced stage of their journey, to commit any very open and flagrant act of sin; since such a circumstance, he believed, however it might hurt the individual, would but put the others more upon their guard. But having privately taken counsel with his master, he resolved by plausible blandishment and flatteries, to lull them, if possible, into that sleepy and secure state, in which many promising Christians have perished everlastingly. With this diabolical purpose therefore in his mind, as soon as he was well clear of the Delectable Mountains, he began to deal with the pilgrims, working cautiously and without noise, like the silent mole beneath the surface of the ground. In this unsuspected manner, he suited his temptations and flatteries to each individual with all the art of Satan: and though his mode of going to work was different with each individual, yet his object with all was one and the same, namely, to draw them into a state of carnal security, causing them to believe that in this last stage of their pilgrimage all danger was completely passed away, and that the kingdom of heaven was, as it were, already in their possession.
In order to bring this about, I perceived that he was incessantly whispering in the ears of the pilgrims, and exerting all his influence to abate the fervour of their minds, by suggesting vainglorious thoughts of their own attainments. And though repulsed by one, and reproved by another, he returned again and again to the charge, till he had persuaded some of the party to listen to him with complacency. Oh! who is able to deal with this Inbred-Sin! for he knoweth how to render every feeling and every affection of our nature serviceable unto himself. Who can count up all the treacheries and deceits that lie concealed in the heart of this our enemy? for who can tell when our war with him is at an end? We have not only the old work to go over and over again with this unwearied foe; but new devices continually to be prepared for. The place of his habitation is unsearchable, even the most secret recesses of our own hearts: and he is most, perhaps, to be feared, after we have gained some notable victories over him. It was in the advanced age of David, that Inbred-Sin gained so great a victory over him. And very frequently it happens that pilgrims are overcome by the same insidious enemy towards the latter end of their course, after having been enabled to contend successfully with him in their early days - and this, on account of their ceasing too soon from the mortification of sin, and contending no longer in the strength of the Lord.
Now Inbred-Sin employed every opportunity of privately carrying on his work. I saw also, that the prince of this world, on observing that the pilgrims were now drawing near to the end of their journey, became greatly incensed at the prospect of losing such a company. And behold, he called his servants about him, that they might consult together concerning the surest means of ravishing these his purchased ones, from the King, the Lord of glory. Wherefore, after consultation had, they took their several stations on that part of the King's territory which lieth nearest the land of Beulah and the black River of Death; and there they began to prepare their enchantments. So the pilgrims passed on till they came to the Enchanted Ground.
Now the Enchanted Ground was one flat and even plain; and it was covered with grass, short and smooth as velvet; insomuch that here were no rough ways, no stumbling-stones, nor rocks of offence. This part of the way is visited by none save experienced Christians, who have urged their way to this advanced point through a host of enemies. And finding themselves here no longer beset by those temptations which assaulted them in the earlier part of their pilgrimage, they are apt to suppose that every difficulty is now overcome, and that a few more easy steps will introduce them to the high reward of all their labours.
Before the pilgrims entered upon this ground, their subtle enemy had completed his enchantments - for he had covered the whole plain with a hot and heavy vapour, which served entirely to obscure all the glories of Mount Zion, now not far away; drawing over that part of the horizon which used to reflect those glories, a deep and dense cloud, on whose dark surface certain gloomy and sepulchral figures were indistinctly portrayed. There was also a deep stillness spread over this Enchanted Ground, so that the voice of him who spoke returned to the ear of the speaker in a deep and hollow echo.
Now I perceived that, when the pilgrims entered upon this ground, they immediately became sensible of the weakening effects of the hot vapour; while the gloomy prospect before them seemed to impress every one with terror, which he had not the power of describing to his companions. Thus being deprived of the exhilarating view of Mount Zion, which had been more or less visible to them during the greater part of their pilgrimage, and being at the same time weakened by the hot and damp vapour which overspread the plain, they lost all desire of proceeding, and even the power of calling for help. They now required rest and quietness above all things: and indeed they seemed to have great difficulty to keep their eyes open.
I saw then that Inbred-Sin pointed out to them certain arbours built in that place, a little out of the highway, furnished with couches and pillows, together with every other desirable accommodation for the ease of the flesh; and he was exceedingly urgent with the pilgrims, especially the younger ones, that they should turn into these commodious arbours, and take some rest. So the thing was proposed to Martha; who was enabled, by divine grace, to oppose this counsel of the enemy.
"This," said Martha, "is the last device of our ensnaring enemy. When he sees that pilgrims have almost reached the end of their journey, he causes a deep heaviness and a deadly security to fall upon them: so that here many have stopped short of the kingdom, without manifesting the least inclination to go further."
Humble Mind. Alas! alas! how dreadful to fall short of happiness, when it is almost within our grasp!
Martha. Now is the time for us to befriend each other, by keeping strict watch upon each other's motions.
Then said Ruth, "I have heard much of this place, and have been told that on coming hither, the wiser pilgrims have had recourse to the exercise of praise, speaking to each other in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. Ephesians 5. 19. Sing us therefore one of the shepherd's songs; for I know you have learned many of them: and I and my son will join as well as we can."
So they began to sing lustily and with a good courage. And these were the words of their song:
"Jesus our all to heaven is gone,
He whom we fix our hopes upon:
His track we see, and we'll pursue
The narrow way, till him we view."
"The way the holy prophets went,
The road that leads from banishment,
The King's highway to holiness,
We'll choose, for all his paths are peace."
I saw too, that the children supported one another when any of them appeared likely to fall: while Humble Mind and Plain Sense watched over each other with a friendly solicitude.
So they went on tolerably well till towards night; when it became very foggy, attended with a drizzling rain. The two little ones now began to cry for very weariness; the old pilgrim also complained much of dullness, declaring that her limbs were become like the limbs of one afflicted with the palsy. Then Martha, taking from her bag some wheaten cakes of the shepherds' preparing, gave a cake to each: but instead of sitting down to eat thereof, they ate them as the Children of Israel did the passover - with their loins girt, and their staves in their hands. Then, after moistening their lips with the wine which had been given them by the shepherds, they found themselves greatly refreshed. Whereupon they marshalled themselves in the best order they could; resolving, whatever might befall, to march all the night, without allowing themselves to sleep on the Enchanted Ground: such strength the Lord gave them to resist this last effort of Satan. And this was the manner in which they arranged themselves: Plain Sense, being a stout boy, had the charge of little Grace; and Humble Mind took Truth under his care; sometimes carrying these little ones, and sometimes leading them by the hand, as suited best. Playful walked in the midst; while Martha, supporting the old pilgrim, came up behind. So they continued going straight forward all night, having nothing to guide them but a faint light towards the east.
Now about midnight the enemy caused a wind to blow towards the pilgrims, which brought with it a deadly putrid smell from the banks of the River of Death; at which the pilgrims, particularly the elder ones, started and became much affected. Then said Ruth, "Are we not approaching the regions of death? Although I have long thought upon death, and hoped that I could meet it in the strength of my God: yet now that it approaches, and stares me, as it were, in the face, I feel myself unable to encounter it."
"Alas, my sister," said Martha, "this is because you lean for strength upon yourself, and not upon the Lord. And what is equally to be lamented, when death presents itself, how apt are we to seek for something in ourselves that may make us acceptable to our Lord! We like not to go quite empty-handed into the presence of our Redeemer; but, like Jacob, we are looking for the best fruits of the land to carry with us to the King - not considering that our barren natures are unable to supply us even with the smallest portion of balm or honey, spices or myrrh, to sanctify the vessels which must be presented to our God. And yet what does the whole purport and tendency of our religion teach, from first to last, except this - that in ourselves we are miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; but that in Christ we possess all things?" Then sang Martha, and all the pilgrims joined with her -
"O for an overcoming faith,
To cheer our dying hours,
To triumph o'er the tyrant Death
And all his frightful powers!"
Now I perceived that, after awhile, the pilgrims being no longer affected by the deadly smell of the river, continued singing and praying aloud notwithstanding their fatigue; while Martha animated them with the following words - Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30. 4, 5.
Towards morning the rain abated, the road improved, and the air became as sweet and pleasant as that which sweeps over fields of flowers. And behold when the sun arose upon the pilgrims, they saw before them the lovely land of Beulah, perhaps at the distance of a short day's journey. That land is never forsaken of the Lord; yea, the Lord delighteth in it; and they that dwell in that land are called, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord. Isaiah 62. 12.
No mortal tongue can describe the beauty of the land of Beulah - nor hath any one seen that land but the well-beloved of the Lord. It is there that the Lord allows his people a foretaste of the joys of heaven. In that land the more perfect happiness of the Christian begins, even that which is to continue and increase for ever. There perfect love casteth out fear. 1 John 4. 18. There is the banqueting-house of the King, in which the banner of his love is displayed. Song of Solomon 2. 4. There he rejoiceth over his redeemed; and feedeth them among the lilies. Song of Solomon 2. 16. There groweth the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Song of Solomon 2. 1, 13. There the living plants in the King's gardens are as an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits: camphire, with spikenard: spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. Song of Solomon 4. 13, 14.
I saw then, as the pilgrims drew near to this lovely land, that on looking at their garments, they said one to another, "We once imagined our garments to be white; but in this goodly place they appear black and defiled." Song of Solomon 5. 3.
"Yes," said Inbred-Sin, (for he still kept close to the pilgrims,) "you must not presume to appear before the King of the country thus vilely clad. Turning aside therefore while you have time, first wash your garments with soap and nitre, and they shall be clean." But the pilgrims were aware that this suggestion was from the Evil One.
"We are black, indeed," they answered. "We had white garments given unto us at the gate which is at the head of the way; but we have not kept them unspotted. We will therefore go to him who alone can make them white; for soap and nitre cannot wash out their stains." Then I saw that they hastened forward, thus inquiring of all whom they met in the way, "Tell us where the chief Shepherd feedeth, even the King whom our soul loveth; where he maketh his flock to rest at noon: for why should we be as those who turn aside to other flocks and other shepherds?" Song of Solomon 1. 7.
Then I saw that the people of the land pointed out to them the footsteps of the King's flock; and bidding the pilgrims to follow them, behold they speedily brought them to the shepherd's tent. There they were joyfully received and bountifully entertained in the royal banqueting-house; where also their garments were rendered as pure as when they first received them. Moreover, they were there adorned with rows of jewels, and their necks with chains of gold; while their garments were enriched with borders of gold and studs of silver. Song of Solomon 1. 10, 11. They were then taken into the garden of their Lord to eat his pleasant fruits: and there, being weary, they slept; though their hearts still waked, and their thoughts were still engaged with ineffable delights. So they slept among the myrrh and spices of the King's garden. Song of Solomon 5. 1.
Now there was music and rejoicing through all the land of Beulah on account of the pilgrims' safe arrival; the inhabitants of the land also showed them all manner of kindness; and nothing was wanting to gratify their wishes. Nevertheless their hearts burned to be at the end of their journey: for they could see the Celestial City itself; although only indistinctly, because of its dazzling brightness. And they longed to be at home with their Lord, their Redeemer and their King, their Almighty Maker, and the Maker of those parents, sisters, and children, whom they had loved on earth, and who were gone before. But there lay between them and the Celestial City a deep black river, through which all the children of mortality must pass - even the River of Death.
The pilgrims were at this time so eager to reach the further shore, that they almost longed to plunge themselves into this river. But secretly struggling with their own impatience, they submissively waited their appointed time. So they pitched their tents in the happy land of Beulah, contented to tarry till the expected messenger should summon them away.
Now the first of the pilgrims who was called away, was the mother of Plain Sense. The old woman received the message joyfully, for her heart was with her King; and she cheerfully requested all her fellow-pilgrims to accompany her to the edge of the water. I saw then that, as she approached the river-side, the opposite banks appeared so clear, so bright, and so lovely, that she could not forbear crying out in a transport -
"Sweet fields, beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed with living green -
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan roll'd between."
She then took leave of all the pilgrims, one by one. But when her son came to her, "O my child! my son!" she said, "when thou comest to this hour, with what joy wilt thou recollect that thy persuasions and example were made the means of sweetening these bitter waters to thy aged mother! I lived in sin, a slave of the world, and in bondage to its lusts; when, by the grace of God, my only child became the instrument of leading me from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Blessed therefore be the Lord, who in his tender mercy hath saved both mother and son!" Then stepping into the water, she said, "my foot standeth firm upon the Rock of Ages." After which the black waves rolling over her head, they for a season lost sight of her. But presently, with the help of the glass which the shepherds had given them, they distinguished her again: and behold, certain shining ones had received her, and were bearing her through the clouds to the gates of heaven. So she vanished from their sight, and they returned to their tents.
Now I saw that after many days had passed, a messenger came, inquiring for Humble Mind and Martha. Then Playful wept, while little Grace and Truth were sorely distressed. But Martha embracing and kissing them, said, "Do ye sorrow, my children, even as others who have no hope? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8. 35, 38, 39.
Now, the messenger not being very hasty or urgent, Martha and Humble Mind had time to make known to their friends what they wished them to do after their passage through the river. And first, Humble Mind requested his sister to hold herself in readiness to follow him; "For," said he, "you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Matthew 25. 13.
I saw then that Martha besought Playful to take charge of little Grace and Truth; very earnestly entreating, that, as her age and experience were greater than theirs, she would bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Now Humble Mind's last request was, that his friend Plain Sense would take his sister to wife, that they might remain affectionate fellow-helpers to each other through the remainder of their pilgrimage. He also earnestly commended the two children to their care; for he greatly loved little Grace and Truth.
When therefore the appointed day was come, they went down to the River of Death together. So being come to the river-side, the departing pilgrims there knelt down, and their friends knelt with them: and I saw, that they who were going to pass the river wept not, but that their friends wept sorely. Then they prayed earnestly, in the following words: "O Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons, we humbly commend our souls into thy hands, as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most merciful Saviour; most humbly beseeching thee that they may be precious in thy sight. Wash them, we pray thee, in the blood of that immaculate Lamb that was slain to take away the sins of the world; that whatsoever defilements they may have contracted in the midst of this miserable and naughty world, through the lust of the flesh or the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, they may be presented pure and without spot before thee. And teach those who survive, in this and other like daily spectacles of mortality, to see how frail and uncertain their own condition is; and so to number their days, that they may seriously apply their hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom while they live here, which may in the end bring them to everlasting life, through the merits of Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord."
Thus having prayed, they arose and kissed their weeping friends; when Martha, crying "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," stepped into the water, Humble Mind immediately following. But, no sooner had the soles of their feet touched the cold stream, than Inbred-Sin shrieked aloud and pulled them back. I saw then that they turned deadly white, while the cold sweat stood upon their brows. Again therefore they cried unto the Lord; and he heard them from his holy heaven - when by a sudden exertion of his omnipotence, and in virtue of the Redeemer's merits, he separated Inbred-Sin from their inmost souls, and annihilated him for ever. Then did the pilgrims appear sinking under the pains of temporal death: insomuch that their friends could commune with them no longer.
And behold, they struggled in the water, as persons nearly overcome and ready to perish - when behold, one, whose beauty was without blemish, advanced to meet them. They who stood upon the shore, beheld him through the glass of Faith, and knew him, by his form, to be the sinner's Saviour, full of grace and truth. And behold, the waters of death fled back at the touch of his feet. Joshua 3. 13. So he approached the pilgrims, who had now fainted; and speaking tenderly unto them, and bearing them up in his arms, he triumphantly conveyed them to the further side.
Here even they who used the glass of Faith, could scarcely discern any thing further, by reason of their tears. But I continued to look after the pilgrims; and behold, a multitude of the heavenly host were waiting on the other side, ascribing glory to him who was more than conqueror over death. And they received the pilgrims with acclamations of joy - crying out, "Glory, glory, glory to the Lamb! Death is swallowed up in victory; Hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah!" And casting their crowns at the feet of Him who had brought up the pilgrims from the River of Death, they fell before him and worshipped.
Now as the pilgrims went up from the River of Death, they became bright and shining, being transformed into the image of him that redeemed them. And behold, they were surrounded by thousands and tens of thousands of glorified saints and angels, who placed crowns on their heads, and golden harps in their hands; with which they instantly joined the heavenly host in their triumphant songs.
So the glorious multitude, accompanying their Almighty Lord, began to ascend through the region of the air towards the gates of heaven, which were opened wide to receive them. And as they ascended, they cried out, "Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" And again they said, "Hallelujah to God and the Lamb!" Thus the glorious company of these blessed ones reached the regions of ethereal light, whither my eyes could follow them no more.
So I awoke from my dream, and hastened to write it in a book.
Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! Numbers 23. 10.
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