Home Pilgrim meets the Porter. Part 10.
Pilgrim Meets the Porter. Part 10.

                

                                                                      Part 10.  

      

                     

  

    The Porter: Well, I will call out one of the virgins of this place, who

   will, if she likes your talk, bring you in to the rest of the family,

   according to the rules of the house. So Watchful the Porter rang a

   bell, at the sound of which came out of the door of the house a grave

   and beautiful damsel, named Discretion, and asked why she was called.

 

   The Porter answered, This man is on a journey from the city of

   Destruction to Mount Zion; but being weary and benighted, he asked me

   if he might lodge here to-night: so I told him I would call for thee,

   who, after discourse had with him, mayest do as seemeth thee good, even

   according to the law of the house.

 

   Then she asked him whence he was, and whither he was going; and he told

   her. She asked him also how he got into the way; and he told her. Then

   she asked him what he had seen and met with in the way, and he told

   her. And at last she asked his name. So he said, It is Christian; and I

   have so much the more a desire to lodge here to-night, because, by what

   I perceive, this place was built by the Lord of the hill for the relief

   and security of pilgrims. So she smiled, but the water stood in her

   eyes; and after a little pause she said, I will call forth two or three

   more of the family. So she ran to the door, and called out Prudence,

   Piety, and Charity, who, after a little more discourse with him, had

   him into the family; and many of them meeting him at the threshold of

   the house, said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; this house was

   built by the Lord of the hill on purpose to entertain such pilgrims in.

   Then he bowed his head, and followed them into the house. So when he

   was come in and sat down, they gave him something to drink, and

   consented together that, until supper was ready, some of them should

   have some particular discourse with Christian, for the best improvement

   of time; and they appointed Piety, Prudence, and Charity to discourse

   with him: and thus they began.

 

   Piety: Come, good Christian, since we have been so loving to you as to

   receive you into our house this night, let us, if perhaps we may better

   ourselves thereby, talk with you of all things that have happened to

   you in your pilgrimage.

 

   Christian: With a very good will; and I am glad that you are so well

   disposed.

 

   Piety: What moved you at first to betake yourself to a pilgrim's life?

 

   Christian: I was driven out of my native country by a dreadful sound

   that was in mine ears; to wit, that unavoidable destruction did attend

   me, if I abode in that place where I was.

 

   Piety: But how did it happen that you came out of your country this

   way?

 

   Christian: It was as God would have it; for when I was under the fears

   of destruction, I did not know whither to go; but by chance there came

   a man, even to me, as I was trembling and weeping, whose name is

   Evangelist, and he directed me to the Wicket-gate, which else I should

   never have found, and so set me into the way that hath led me directly

   to this house.

 

   Piety: But did you not come by the house of the Interpreter?

 

   Christian: Yes, and did see such things there, the remembrance of which

   will stick by me as long as I live, especially three things: to wit,

   how Christ, in despite of Satan, maintains his work of grace in the

   heart; how the man had sinned himself quite out of hopes of God's

   mercy; and also the dream of him that thought in his sleep the day of

   judgment was come.

 

   Piety: Why, did you hear him tell his dream?

 

   Christian: Yes, and a dreadful one it was, I thought; it made my heart

   ache as he was telling of it, but yet I am glad I heard it.

 

   Piety: Was this all you saw at the house of the Interpreter?

 

   Christian: No; he took me, and had me where he showed me a stately

   palace, and how the people were clad in gold that were in it; and how

   there came a venturous man, and cut his way through the armed men that

   stood in the door to keep him out; and how he was bid to come in, and

   win eternal glory. Methought those things did ravish my heart. I would

   have stayed at that good man's house a twelvemonth, but that I knew I

   had farther to go.

 

   Piety: And what saw you else in the way?

 

   Christian: Saw? Why, I went but a little farther, and I saw One, as I

   thought in my mind, hang bleeding upon a tree; and the very sight of

   him made my burden fall off my back; for I groaned under a very heavy

   burden, but then it fell down from off me. It was a strange thing to

   me, for I never saw such a thing before: yea, and while I stood looking

   up, (for then I could not forbear looking,) three Shining Ones came to

   me. One of them testified that my sins were forgiven me; another

   stripped me of my rags, and gave me this broidered coat which you see;

   and the third set the mark which you see in my forehead, and gave me

   this sealed roll, (and with that he plucked it out of his bosom.)

 

   Piety: But you saw more than this, did you not?

 

   Christian: The things that I have told you were the best: yet some

   other I saw, as, namely, I saw three men, Simple, Sloth, and

   Presumption, lie asleep, a little out of the way, as I came, with irons

   upon their heels; but do you think I could awake them? I also saw

   Formality and Hypocrisy come tumbling over the wall, to go, as they

   pretended, to Zion; but they were quickly lost, even as I myself did

   tell them, but they would not believe. But, above all, I found it hard

   work to get up this hill, and as hard to come by the lions' mouths;

   and, truly, if it had not been for the good man, the porter that stands

   at the gate, I do not know but that, after all, I might have gone back

   again; but I thank God I am here, and thank you for receiving me.

 

   Then Prudence thought good to ask him a few questions, and desired his

   answer to them.

 

   Prudence: Do you not think sometimes of the country from whence you

   came?

 

   Christian: Yea, but with much shame and detestation. Truly, if I had

   been mindful of that country from whence I came out, I might have had

   opportunity to have returned; but now I desire a better country, that

   is, a heavenly one.  Heb. 11:15,16.

 

   Prudence: Do you not yet bear away with you some of the things that

   then you were conversant withal?

 

   Christian: Yes, but greatly against my will; especially my inward and

   carnal cogitations, with which all my countrymen, as well as myself,

   were delighted. But now all those things are my grief; and might I but

   choose mine own things, I would choose never to think of those things

   more: but when I would be a doing that which is best, that which is

   worst is with me.  Rom. 7:15, 21.

 

   Prudence: Do you not find sometimes as if those things were vanquished,

   which at other times are your perplexity?

 

   Christian: Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours

   in which such things happen to me.

 

   Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at

   times as if they were vanquished?

 

   Christian: Yes: when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;

   and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; and when I

   look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when

   my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

 

   Prudence: And what is it that makes you so desirous to go to Mount

   Zion?

 

   Christian: Why, there I hope to see Him alive that did hang dead on the

   cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day

   are in me an annoyance to me: there they say there is no death,  Isa.

   25:8; Rev. 21:4; and there I shall dwell with such company as I like

   best. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him because I was by Him eased

   of my burden; and I am weary of my inward sickness. I would fain be

   where I shall die no more, and with the company that shall continually

   cry, Holy, holy, holy.

 

   Then said Charity to Christian, Have you a family; Are you a married

   man?

 

   Christian: I have a wife and four small children.

 

   Charity: And why did you not bring them along with you?

 

   Christian: Then Christian wept, and said, Oh, how willingly would I

   have done it! but they were all of them utterly averse to my going on

   pilgrimage.

 

   Charity: But you should have talked to them, and have endeavored to

   show them the danger of staying behind.

 

   Christian: So I did; and told them also what God had shown to me of the

   destruction of our city; but I seemed to them as one that mocked, and

   they believed me not.  Gen. 19:14.

 

   Charity: And did you pray to God that he would bless your counsel to

   them?

 

   Christian: Yes, and that with much affection; for you must think that

   my wife and poor children were very dear to me.

 

   Charity: But did you tell them of your own sorrow, and fear of

   destruction? for I suppose that destruction was visible enough to you.

 

   Christian: Yes, over, and over, and over. They might also see my fears

   in my countenance, in my tears, and also in my trembling under the

   apprehension of the judgment that did hang over our heads; but all was

   not sufficient to prevail with them to come with me.

 

   Charity: But what could they say for themselves, why they came not?

 

   Christian: Why, my wife was afraid of losing this world, and my

   children were given to the foolish delights of youth; so, what by one

   thing, and what by another, they left me to wander in this manner

   alone.

 

   Charity: But did you not, with your vain life, damp all that you, by

   words, used by way of persuasion to bring them away with you?

 

   Christian: Indeed, I cannot commend my life, for I am conscious to

   myself of many failings therein. I know also, that a man, by his

   conversation, may soon overthrow what, by argument or persuasion, he

   doth labor to fasten upon others for their good. Yet this I can say, I

   was very wary of giving them occasion, by any unseemly action, to make

   them averse to going on pilgrimage. Yea, for this very thing, they

   would tell me I was too precise, and that I denied myself of things

   (for their sakes) in which they saw no evil. Nay, I think I may say,

   that if what they saw in me did hinder them, it was my great tenderness

   in sinning against God, or of doing any wrong to my neighbor.

 

   Charity: Indeed, Cain hated his brother, because his own works were

   evil, and his brother's righteous,  1 John, 3:12; and if thy wife and

   children have been offended with thee for this, they thereby show

   themselves to be implacable to good; thou hast delivered thy soul from

   their blood.  Ezek. 3:19.

 

   Now I saw in my dream, that thus they sat talking together until supper

   was ready. So when they had made ready, they sat down to meat. Now the

   table was furnished with fat things, and with wine that was well

   refined; and all their talk at the table was about the Lord of the

   hill; as, namely, about what he had done, and wherefore he did what he

   did, and why he had builded that house; and by what they said, I

   perceived that he had been a great warrior, and had fought with and

   slain him that had the power of death,  Heb. 2:14,15; but not without

   great danger to himself, which made me love him the more.

 

   For, as they said, and as I believe, said Christian, he did it with the

   loss of much blood. But that which put the glory of grace into all he

   did, was, that he did it out of pure love to his country. And besides,

   there were some of them of the household that said they had been and

   spoke with him since he did die on the cross; and they have attested

   that they had it from his own lips, that he is such a lover of poor

   pilgrims, that the like is not to be found from the east to the west.

   They, moreover, gave an instance of what they affirmed; and that was,

   he had stripped himself of his glory that he might do this for the

   poor; and that they heard him say and affirm, that he would not dwell

   in the mountain of Zion alone. They said, moreover, that he had made

   many pilgrims princes, though by nature they were beggars born, and

   their original had been the dunghill.  1 Sam. 2:8; Psa. 113:7.

 

   Thus they discoursed together till late at night; and after they had

   committed themselves to their Lord for protection, they betook

   themselves to rest. The pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber,

   whose window opened towards the sun-rising. The name of the chamber was

   Peace, where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang,

 

 

   "Where am I now? Is this the love and care

 

   Of Jesus, for the men that pilgrims are,

 

   Thus to provide that I should be forgiven,

 

   And dwell already the next door to heaven!"

 

   So in the morning they all got up; and, after some more discourse, they

   told him that he should not depart till they had shown him the rarities

   of that place. And first they had him into the study, where they showed

   him records of the greatest antiquity; in which, as I remember my

   dream, they showed him the pedigree of the Lord of the hill, that he

   was the Son of the Ancient of days, and came by eternal generation.

   Here also was more fully recorded the acts that he had done, and the

   names of many hundreds that he had taken into his service; and how he

   had placed them in such habitations that could neither by length of

   days, nor decays of nature, be dissolved.

 

   Then they read to him some of the worthy acts that some of his servants

   had done; as how they 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 were made

   strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the

   aliens.  Heb. 11:33,34.

 

   Then they read again another part of the records of the house, where it

   was shown how willing their Lord was to receive into his favor any,

   even any, though they in time past had offered great affronts to his

   person and proceedings. Here also were several other histories of many

   other famous things, of all which Christian had a view; as of things

   both ancient and modern, together with prophecies and predictions of

   things that have their certain accomplishment, both to the dread and

   amazement of enemies, and the comfort and solace of pilgrims.

 

   The next day they took him, and had him into the armory, where they

   showed him all manner of furniture which their Lord had provided for

   pilgrims, as sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, all-prayer, and shoes

   that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness

   out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the

   heaven for multitude.

 

   They also showed him some of the engines with which some of his

   servants had done wonderful things. They showed him Moses' rod; the

   hammer and nail with which Jael slew Sisera; the pitchers, trumpets,

   and lamps too, with which Gideon put to flight the armies of Midian.

   Then they showed him the ox-goad wherewith Shamgar slew six hundred

   men. They showed him also the jawbone with which Samson did such mighty

   feats. They showed him moreover the sling and stone with which David

   slew Goliath of Gath; and the sword also with which their Lord will

   kill the man of sin, in the day that he shall rise up to the prey. They

   showed him besides many excellent things, with which Christian was much

   delighted. This done, they went to their rest again.

 

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