Home A Town called Vanity. Part 16.
A Town called Vanity. Part 16. | Print |

                

                                                                              Part 16.

 

                                                               

   Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness,

   they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is

   Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is

   kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the

   town where it is kept is lighter than vanity,  Psa. 62:9; and also

   because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity; as

   is the saying of the wise, "All that cometh is vanity."  Eccl. 11:8; see

   also 1:2-14; 2:11-17; Isa. 40:17.

 

   This fair is no new-erected business but a thing of ancient standing. I

   will show you the original of it.

 

   Almost five thousand years ago there were pilgrims walking to the

   Celestial City, as these two honest persons are: and Beelzebub,

   Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving by the path

   that the pilgrims made, that their way to the city lay through this

   town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair; a fair wherein

   should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all the

   year long. Therefore, at this fair are all such merchandise sold as

   houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries,

   kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, as harlots,

   wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies,

   souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.

 

   And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings,

   cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of

   every kind.

 

   Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders,

   adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.

 

   And , as in other fairs of less moment, there are the several rows and

   streets under their proper names, where such and such wares are vended;

   so here, likewise, you have the proper places, rows, streets, (namely,

   countries and kingdoms,) where the wares of this fair are soonest to be

   found. Here is the Britain Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the

   Spanish Row, the German Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be

   sold. But, as in other fairs, some one commodity is as the chief of all

   the fair; so the ware of Rome and her merchandise is greatly promoted

   in this fair; only our English nation, with some others, have taken a

   dislike thereat.

 

   Now , as I said, the way to the Celestial City lies just through this

   town, where this lusty fair is kept; and he that will go to the city,

   and yet not go through this town, "must needs go out of the world."  1

Cor. 4:10. The Prince of princes himself, when here, went through this

   town to his own country, and that upon a fair-day too; yea, and, as I

   think, it was Beelzebub, the chief lord of this fair, that invited him

   to buy of his vanities, yea, would have made him lord of the fair,

   would he but have done him reverence as he went through the town. Yea,

   because he was such a person of honor, Beelzebub had him from street to

   street, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time,

   that he might, if possible, allure that blessed One to cheapen and buy

   some of his vanities; but he had no mind to the merchandise, and

   therefore left the town, without laying out so much as one farthing

   upon these vanities.  Matt. 4:8,9; Luke 4:5-7. This fair, therefore, is

   an ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great fair.

 

   Now , these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well,

   so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the

   people in the fair were moved; and the town itself, as it were, in a

   hubbub about them, and that for several reasons: for,

 

   First , The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was

   diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people,

   therefore, of the fair made a great gazing upon them: some said they

   were fools;  1 Cor. 4:9,10; some, they were bedlams; and some,

   they were outlandish men.

 

   Secondly , And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise

   at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They

   naturally spoke the language of Canaan; but they that kept the fair

   were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the

   other, they seemed barbarians each to the other.  1 Cor. 2:7,8.

 

   Thirdly , But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was,

   that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not

   so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they

   would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, "Turn away mine eyes

   from beholding vanity,"  Psa. 119:37, and look upward, signifying that

   their trade and traffic was in heaven.  Phil. 3: 20,21.

 

   One chanced , mockingly, beholding the carriage of the men, to say unto

   them, "What will ye buy?" But they, looking gravely upon him, said, "We

   buy the truth."  Prov. 23:23. At that there was an occasion taken to

   despise the men the more; some mocking, some taunting, some speaking

   reproachfully, and some calling upon others to smite them. At last,

   things came to an hubbub and great stir in the fair, insomuch that all

   order was confounded. Now was word presently brought to the great one

   of the fair, who quickly came down, and deputed some of his most trusty

   friends to take those men into examination about whom the fair was

   almost overturned. So the men were brought to examination; and they

   that sat upon them asked them whence they came, whither they went, and

   what they did there in such an unusual garb. The men told them they

   were pilgrims and strangers in the world, and that they were going to

   their own country, which was the heavenly Jerusalem,  Heb. 11:13-16;

   and that they had given no occasion to the men of the town, nor yet to the

   merchandisrs, thus to abuse them, and to let them in their journey,

   except it was for that, when one asked them what they would buy, they

   said they would buy the truth. But they that were appointed to examine

   them did not believe them to be any other than bedlams and mad, or else

   such as came to put all things into a confusion in the fair. Therefore

   they took them and beat them, and besmeared them with dirt, and then

   put them into the cage, that they might be made a spectacle to all the

   men of the fair. There, therefore, they lay for some time, and were

   made the objects of any man's sport, or malice, or revenge; the great

   one of the fair laughing still at all that befell them. But the men

   being patient, and "not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise

   blessing," and giving good words for bad, and kindness for injuries

   done, some men in the fair, that were more observing and less

   prejudiced than the rest, began to check and blame the baser sort for

   their continual abuses done by them to the men. They, therefore, in an

   angry manner let fly at them again, counting them as bad as the men in

   the cage, and telling them that they seemed confederates, and should be

   made partakers of their misfortunes. The others replied that, for aught

   they could see, the men were quiet and sober, and intended nobody any

   harm; and that there were many that traded in their fair that were more

   worthy to be put into the cage, yea, and pillory too, than were the men

   that they had abused. Thus, after divers words had passed on both

   sides, (the men behaving themselves all the while very wisely and

   soberly before them,) they fell to some blows among themselves, and did

   harm one to another. Then were these two poor men brought before their

   examiners again, and were charged as being guilty of the late hubbub

   that had been in the fair. So they beat them pitifully, and hanged

   irons upon them, and led them in chains up and down the fair, for an

   example and terror to others, lest any should speak in their behalf, or

   join themselves unto them. But Christian and Faithful behaved

   themselves yet more wisely, and received the ignominy and shame that

   was cast upon them with so much meekness and patience, that it won to

   their side (though but few in comparison of the rest) several of the

   men in the fair. This put the other party yet into a greater rage,

   insomuch that they concluded the death of these two men. Wherefore they

   threatened that neither cage nor irons should serve their turn, but

   that they should die for the abuse they had done, and for deluding the

   men of the fair.

 

   Then were they remanded to the cage again, until further order should

   be taken with them. So they put them in, and made their feet fast in

   the stocks.

 

   Here , also, they called again to mind what they had heard from their

   faithful friend Evangelist, and were the more confirmed in their way

   and sufferings by what he told them would happen to them. They also now

   comforted each other, that whose lot it was to suffer, even he should

   have the best of it: therefore each man secretly wished that he might

   have that preferment. But committing themselves to the all-wise

   disposal of Him that ruleth all things, with much content they abode in

   the condition in which they were, until they should be otherwise

   disposed of.

 

   Then a convenient time being appointed, they brought them forth to

   their trial, in order to their condemnation. When the time was come,

   they were brought before their enemies and arraigned. The judge's name                 

   was Lord Hate-good; their indictment was one and the same in substance,

                 

   though somewhat varying in form; the contents whereof was this: "That

   they were enemies to, and disturbers of, the trade; that they had made

   commotions and divisions in the town, and had won a party to their own

   most dangerous opinions, in contempt of the law of their prince."

 

   Then Faithful began to answer, that he had only set himself against

   that which had set itself against Him that is higher than the highest.

   And, said he, as for disturbance, I make none, being myself a man of

   peace: the parties that were won to us, were won by beholding our truth

   and innocence, and they are only turned from the worse to the better.

   And as to the king you talk of, since he is Beelzebub, the enemy of our

   Lord, I defy him and all his angels.

 

   Then proclamation was made, that they that had ought to say for their

   lord the king against the prisoner at the bar, should forthwith appear,

   and give in their evidence. So there came in three witnesses, to wit,

   Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank. They were then asked if they knew

   the prisoner at the bar; and what they had to say for their lord the

   king against him.

 

   Then stood forth Envy, and said to this effect: My lord, I have

                               

  known this man a long time, and will attest upon my oath before this

   honorable bench, that he is-

 

   Judge: Hold; give him his oath.

 

   So they sware him. Then he said, My lord, this man, notwithstanding his

   plausible name, is one of the vilest men in our country; he neither

   regardeth prince nor people, law nor custom, but doeth all that he can

   to possess all men with certain of his disloyal notions, which he in

   the general calls principles of faith and holiness. And in particular,

   I heard him once myself affirm, that Christianity and the customs of

   our town of Vanity were diametrically opposite, and could not be

   reconciled. By which saying, my lord, he doth at once not only condemn

   all our laudable doings, but us in the doing of them.

 

   Then did the judge say to him, Hast thou any more to say?

 

   Envy: My lord, I could say much more, only I would not be tedious to

   the court. Yet if need be, when the other gentlemen have given in their

   evidence, rather than any thing shall be wanting that will dispatch

   him, I will enlarge my testimony against him. So he was bid to stand

   by.

 

   Then they called Superstition, and bid him look upon the prisoner. They

   also asked, what he could say for their lord the king against him. Then

   they sware him; so he began.

 

   Superstition: My lord, I have no great acquaintance with this man, nor

   do I desire to have further knowledge of him. However, this I know,

   that he is a very pestilent fellow, from some discourse that I had with

   him the other day, in this town; for then, talking with him, I heard

   him say, that our religion was naught, and such by which a man could by

   no means please God. Which saying of his, my lord, your lordship very

   well knows what necessarily thence will follow, to wit, that we still

   do worship in vain, are yet in our sins, and finally shall be damned:

   and this is that which I have to say.

 

   Then was Pickthank sworn, and bid say what he knew in the behalf of

   their lord the king against the prisoner at the bar.

                                 

   

  

    Pickthank: My lord, and you gentlemen all, this fellow I have known of

   a long time, and have heard him speak things that ought not to be

   spoken; for he hath railed on our noble prince Beelzebub, and hath

   spoken contemptibly of his honorable friends, whose names are, the Lord

   Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, the Lord Luxurious, the Lord Desire

   of Vain Glory, my old Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, with all the

   rest of our nobility: and he hath said, moreover, that if all men were

   of his mind, if possible, there is not one of these noblemen should

   have any longer a being in this town. Besides, he hath not been afraid

   to rail on you, my lord, who are now appointed to be his judge, calling

   you an ungodly villain, with many other such like vilifying terms, with

   which he hath bespattered most of the gentry of our town.

 

   When this Pickthank had told his tale, the judge directed his speech to

   the prisoner at the bar, saying, Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor,

   hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen have witnessed against

   thee?

 

   Faithful: May I speak a few words in my own defence?

 

   Judge: Sirrah, sirrah, thou deservest to live no longer, but to be

   slain immediately upon the place; yet, that all men may see our

   gentleness towards thee, let us hear what thou, vile runagate, hast to

   say.

 

   Faithful: 1. I say, then, in answer to what Mr. Envy hath spoken, I

   never said aught but this, that what rule, or laws, or custom, or

   people, were flat against the word of God, are diametrically opposite

   to Christianity. If I have said amiss in this, convince me of my error,

   and I am ready here before you to make my recantation.

 

   2. As to the second, to wit, Mr. Superstition, and his charge against

   me, I said only this, that in the worship of God there is required a

   divine faith; but there can be no divine faith without a divine

   revelation of the will of God. Therefore, whatever is thrust into the

   worship of God that is not agreeable to divine revelation, cannot be

   done but by a human faith; which faith will not be profitable to

   eternal life.

 

   3. As to what Mr. Pickthank hath said, I say, (avoiding terms, as that

   I am said to rail, and the like,) that the prince of this town, with

   all the rabblement, his attendants, by this gentleman named, are more

   fit for a being in hell than in this town and country. And so the Lord

   have mercy upon me.

 

   Then the judge called to the jury, (who all this while stood by to hear

   and observe,) Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man about whom so

   great an uproar hath been made in this town; you have also heard what

   these worthy gentlemen have witnessed against him; also, you have heard

   his reply and confession: it lieth now in your breasts to hang him, or

   save his life; but yet I think meet to instruct you in our law.

 

   There was an act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our

   prince, that, lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and

   grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river.

    Exod. 1:22. There was also an act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar

   the Great, another of his servants, that whoever would not fall down

   and worship his golden image, should be thrown into a fiery furnace.

    Dan. 3:6. There was also an act made in the days of Darius, that whoso

   for some time called upon any god but him, should be cast into the

   lion's den.  Dan. 6:7. Now, the substance of these laws this rebel has

   broken, not only in thought, (which is not to be borne,) but also in

   word and deed; which must, therefore, needs be intolerable.

 

   For that of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition to prevent

   mischief, no crime being yet apparent; but here is a crime apparent.

   For the second and third, you see he disputeth against our religion;

   and for the treason that he hath already confessed, he deserveth to die

   the death.

 

   Then went the jury out, whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr.

   Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr.

   Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who

   every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and

   afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the

   judge. And first among themselves, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said, I

   see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away

   with such a fellow from the earth. Aye, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the

   very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him.

   Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way.

   Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind.

   My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr.

   Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us dispatch

   him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable,

   Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him;

   therefore let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death.

 

   And so they did; therefore he was presently condemned to be had from

   the place where he was, to the place from whence he came, and there to

   be put to the most cruel death that could be invented.

 

   They therefore brought him out, to do with him according to their law;

   and first they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced

   his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then

   pricked him with their swords; and last of all, they burned him to

   ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.

 

 

    Now I saw, that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple

   of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had

   dispatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up

   through the clouds with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the

   celestial gate. But as for Christian, he had some respite, and was

   remanded back to prison: so he there remained for a space. But he who

   overrules all things, having the power of their rage in his own hand,

   so wrought it about, that Christian for that time escaped them, and

   went his way.

 

   And as he went, he sang, saying,

 

 

   "Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest

 

   Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,

 

   When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,

 

   Are crying out under their hellish plights:

 

   Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;

 

   For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive."

    <<< Previous.                           Next. >>>