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Pilgrim's Valiant Fight against Apollyon. Part 12. | Print |

                              

                                                                                 PART 12 

 

                                  

 

   But now, in this valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to

   it; for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul fiend

   coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon. Then did

   Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go

   back, or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no

   armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him

   might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his

   darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground: for,

   thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it

   would be the best way to stand.

 

   So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to

   behold: he was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride;

   he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly

   came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he

   was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance,

   and thus began to question him.

 

   Apollyon: Whence came you, and whither are you bound?

 

   Christian: I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place

   of all evil, and I am going to the city of Zion.

 

   Apollyon: By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects; for all that

   country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then,

   that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou

   mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the

   ground.

 

   Christian: I was, indeed, born in your dominions, but your service was

   hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on; for the wages of

   sin is death,  Rom. 6:23; therefore, when I was come to years, I did, as

   other considerate persons do, look out if perhaps I might mend myself.

 

   Apollyon: There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects,

   neither will I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy

   service and wages, be content to go back, and what our country will

   afford I do here promise to give thee.

 

   Christian: But I have let myself to another, even to the King of

   princes; and how can I with fairness go back with thee?

 

   Apollyon: Thou hast done in this according to the proverb, "changed a

   bad for a worse;" but it is ordinary for those that have professed

   themselves his servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return

   again to me. Do thou so to, and all shall be well.

 

   Christian: I have given him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to him;

   how then can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor.

 

   Apollyon: Thou didst the same by me, and yet I am willing to pass by

   all, if now thou wilt yet turn again and go back.

 

   Christian: What I promised thee was in my non-age: and besides, I count

   that the Prince, under whose banner I now stand, is able to absolve me,

   yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee. And

   besides, O thou destroying Apollyon, to speak truth, I like his

   service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and

   country, better than thine; therefore leave off to persuade me farther:

   I am his servant, and I will follow him.

 

   Apollyon: Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art

   like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the

   most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are

   transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to

   shameful deaths! And besides, thou countest his service better than

   mine; whereas he never yet came from the place where he is, to deliver

   any that served him out of their enemies' hands: but as for me, how

   many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either

   by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and

   his, though taken by them! And so will I deliver thee.

 

   Christian: His forbearing at present to deliver them, is on purpose to

   try their love, whether they will cleave to him to the end: and as for

   the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most glorious in their

   account. For, for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for

   they stay for their glory; and then they shall have it, when their

   Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels.

 

   Apollyon: Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him; and

   how dost thou think to receive wages of him?

 

   Christian: Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

 

   Apollyon: Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost

   choked in the gulf of Despond. Thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid

   of thy burden, whereas thou shouldst have stayed till thy Prince had

   taken it off. Thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice things.

   Thou wast almost persuaded also to go back at the sight of the lions.

   And when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast seen and

   heard, thou art inwardly desirous of vainglory in all that thou sayest

   or doest.

 

   Christian: All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out;

   but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to

   forgive. But besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country,

   for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry

   for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.

 

   Apollyon: Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an

   enemy to this Prince; I hate his person, his laws, and people: I am

   come out on purpose to withstand thee.

 

   Christian: Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King's

   highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.

 

   Apollyon: Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the

   way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter. Prepare thyself to

   die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no farther:

   here will I spill thy soul. And with that he threw a flaming dart at

   his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he

   caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.

 

   Then did Christian draw, for he saw it was time to bestir him; and

   Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the

   which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it,

   Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot. This made

   Christian give a little back: Apollyon, therefore, followed his work

   amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he

   could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till

   Christian was almost quite spent: for you must know, that Christian, by

   reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.

 

   Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to

   Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with

   that Christian's sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am

   sure of thee now: and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so

   that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it,

   while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end

   of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword,

   and caught it, saying,  Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I

   fall, I shall arise,  Mic. 7:8; and with that gave him a deadly thrust,

   which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound.

   Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, Nay, in all these

   things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us.  Rom.

   8:37. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped

   him away, that Christian saw him no more.  James 4:7.

 

   In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I

   did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the

   fight; he spake like a dragon: and on the other side, what sighs and

   groans burst from Christian's heart. I never saw him all the while give

   so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon

   with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward!

   But it was the dreadfullest sight that ever I saw.

 

   So when the battle was over, Christian said, I will here give thanks to

   him that hath delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that

   did help me against Apollyon. And so he did, saying,

 

 

   "Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,

 

   Designed my ruin; therefore to this end

 

   He sent him harness'd out; and he, with rage

 

   That hellish was, did fiercely me engage:

 

   But blessed Michael helped me, and I,

 

   By dint of sword, did quickly make him fly:

 

   Therefore to Him let me give lasting praise,

 

   And thank and bless his holy name always."

 

   Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of

   life, the which Christian took and applied to the wounds that he had

   received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down in

   that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him

   a little before: so, being refreshed, he addressed himself to his

   journey with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but

   some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from

   Apollyon quite through this valley.

 

   Now at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the

   Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the

   way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now, this valley

   is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: "A

   wilderness, a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought, and of the

   Shadow of Death, a land that no man" (but a Christian) "passeth

   through, and where no man dwelt."  Jer. 2:6.

 

   Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon,

   as by the sequel you shall see.

 

   I saw then in my dream, that when Christian was got to the borders of

   the Shadow of Death, there met him two men, children of them that

   brought up an evil report of the good land  Num.13:32, making haste to

   go back; to whom Christian spake as follows.

 

   Christian: Whither are you going?

 

   The Two Men: They said, Back, back; and we would have you do so too, if

   either life or peace is prized by you.

 

   Christian: Why, what's the matter? said Christian.

 

   The Two Men: Matter! said they; we were going that way as you are

   going, and went as far as we durst: and indeed we were almost past

   coming back; for had we gone a little further, we had not been here to

   bring the news to thee.

 

   Christian: But what have you met with? said Christian.

 

   The Two Men: Why, we were almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death,

   but that by good hap we looked before us, and saw the danger before we

   came to it.  Psa. 44:19; 107:19.

 

   Christian: But what have you seen? said Christian.

 

   The Two Men: Seen! why the valley itself, which is as dark as pitch: we

   also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit: we heard

   also in that valley a continual howling and yelling, as of a people

   under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons:

   and over that valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion: Death

   also doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit

   dreadful, being utterly without order.  Job 3:5; 10:22.

 

   Christian: Then, said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have

   said, but that this is my way to the desired haven.  Psalm 44:18,19;

   Jer. 2:6.

 

   The Two Men: Be it thy way; we will not choose it for ours.

 

   So they parted, and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword

   drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted.

 

   I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the

   right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind

   have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished.

   Again, behold, on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, into

   which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to

   stand on: into that quag king David once did fall, and had no doubt

   therein been smothered, had not He that is able plucked him out.  Psa.

   69:14.

 

   The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good

   Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought, in the dark, to

   shun the ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire

   on the other; also, when he sought to escape the mire, without great

   carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch. Thus he went on,

   and I heard him here sigh bitterly; for besides the danger mentioned

   above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes when he lifted up

   his foot to go forward, he knew not where, or upon what he should set

   it next.

 

   About the midst of this valley I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and

   it stood also hard by the wayside. Now, thought Christian, what shall I

   do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such

   abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for

   Christian's sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to put

   up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer,

    Eph. 6:18; so he cried, in my hearing, O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver

   my soul.  Psa. 116:4. Thus he went on a great while, yet still the

   flames would be reaching towards him; also he heard doleful voices, and

   rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in

   pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight

   was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him for several miles

   together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of

   fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopped, and began to muse what

             

   he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then

   again he thought he might be half-way through the valley. He remembered

   also, how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger

   of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved

   to go on; yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer. But when

   they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement

   voice, I will walk in the strength of the Lord God. So they gave back,

   and came no farther.

 

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