Pilgrim and Little Faith. Part 24. | Print |

          

                                                                            Part 24. 

   

   ¶ Then said Christian to his fellow, Now I call to remembrance that which

   was told me of a thing that happened to a good man hereabout. The name

   of the man was Little-Faith; but a good man, and he dwelt in the town

   of Sincere. The thing was this. At the entering in at this passage,

   there comes down from Broadway-gate, a lane, called Dead-Man's lane; so

   called because of the murders that are commonly done there; and this

   Little-Faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down

   there and sleep. Now there happened at that time to come down the lane

   from Broadway-gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were

               

 

   Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying

   Little-Faith where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good

   man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his

   journey. So they came up all to him, and with threatening language bid

            

 

   him stand. At this, Little-Faith looked as white as a sheet, and had

   neither power to fight nor fly. Then said Faint-Heart, Deliver thy

   purse; but he making no haste to do it, (for he was loth to lose his

   money,) Mistrust ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket,

   pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out, Thieves, thieves!

   With that, Guilt, with a great club that was in his hand, struck

   Little-Faith on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the

   ground, where he lay bleeding as one that would bleed to death. All

   this while the thieves stood by. But at last, they hearing that some

   were upon the road, and fearing lest it should be one Great-Grace, that

   dwells in the town of Good-Confidence, they betook themselves to their

   heels, and left this good man to shift for himself. Now, after a while,

   Little-Faith came to himself, and getting up, made shift to scramble on

   his way. This was the story.

 

   Hopeful: But did they take from him all that ever he had?

 

   Christian: No; the place where his jewels were they never ransacked; so

   those he kept still. But, as I was told, the good man was much

   afflicted for his loss; for the thieves got most of his spending-money.

   That which they got not, as I said, were jewels; also, he had a little

   odd money left, but scarce enough to bring him to his journey's end.

   Nay, (if I was not misinformed,) he was forced to beg as he went, to

   keep himself alive, for his jewels he might not sell; but beg and do

   what he could, he went, as we say, with many a hungry belly the most

   part of the rest of the way.  1 Pet. 4:18.

 

   Hopeful: But is it not a wonder they got not from him his certificate,

   by which he was to receive his admittance at the Celestial Gate?

 

   Christian: It is a wonder; but they got not that, though they missed it

   not through any good cunning of his; for he, being dismayed by their

   coming upon him, had neither power nor skill to hide any thing; so it

   was more by good providence than by his endeavor that they missed of

   that good thing.  2 Tim. 1:12-14; 2 Pet. 2:9.

 

   Hopeful: But it must needs be a comfort to him they got not this jewel

   from him.

 

   Christian: It might have been great comfort to him, had he used it as

   he should; but they that told me the story said that he made but little

   use of it all the rest of the way, and that because of the dismay that

   he had in their taking away his money. Indeed, he forgot it a great

   part of the rest of his journey; and besides, when at any time it came

   into his mind, and he began to be comforted therewith, then would fresh

   thoughts of his loss come again upon him, and these thoughts would

   swallow up all.

 

   Hopeful: Alas, poor man, this could not but be a great grief to him.

 

   Christian: Grief? Aye, a grief indeed! Would it not have been so to any

   of us, had we been used as he, to be robbed and wounded too, and that

   in a strange place, as he was? It is a wonder he did not die with

   grief, poor heart. I was told that he scattered almost all the rest of

   the way with nothing but doleful and bitter complaints; telling, also,

   to all that overtook him, or that he overtook in the way as he went,

   where he was robbed, and how; who they were that did it, and what he

   had lost; how he was wounded, and that he hardly escaped with life.

 

   Hopeful: But it is a wonder that his necessity did not put him upon

   selling or pawning some of his jewels, that he might have wherewith to

   relieve himself in his journey.

 

   Christian: Thou talkest like one upon whose head is the shell to this

   very day. For what should he pawn them? or to whom should he sell them?

   In all that country where he was robbed, his jewels were not accounted

   of; nor did he want that relief which could from thence be administered

   to him. Besides, had his jewels been missing at the gate of the

   Celestial City, he had (and that he knew well enough) been excluded

   from an inheritance there, and that would have been worse to him than

   the appearance and villany of ten thousand thieves.

 

   Hopeful: Why art thou so tart, my brother? Esau sold his birthright,

   and that for a mess of pottage,  Heb. 12:16; and that birthright was his

   greatest jewel: and if he, why might not Little-Faith do so too?

 

   Christian: Esau did sell his birthright indeed, and so do many besides,

   and by so doing exclude themselves from the chief blessing, as also

   that caitiff did; but you must put a difference betwixt Esau and

   Little-Faith, and also betwixt their estates. Esau's birthright was

   typical; but Little-Faith's jewels were not so. Esau's belly was his

   god; but Little-Faith's belly was not so. Esau's want lay in his fleshy

   appetite; Little-Faith's did not so. Besides, Esau could see no further

   than to the fulfilling of his lusts: For I am at the point to die, said

   he: and what good will this birthright do me?  Gen. 25:32. But

   Little-Faith, though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by

   his little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and

   prize his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright.

   You read not any where that Esau had faith, no, not so much as a

   little; therefore no marvel, where the flesh only bears sway, (as it

   will in that man where no faith is to resist,) if he sells his

   birthright and his soul and all, and that to the devil of hell; for it

   is with such as it is with the ass, who in her occasion cannot be

   turned away,  Jer. 2:24: when their minds are set upon their lusts, they

   will have them, whatever they cost. But Little-Faith was of another

   temper; his mind was on things divine; his livelihood was upon things

   that were spiritual, and from above: therefore, to what end should he

   that is of such a temper sell his jewels (had there been any that would

   have bought them) to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a

   penny to fill his belly with hay? or can you persuade the turtle-dove

   to live upon carrion, like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for

   carnal lusts, pawn, or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves

   outright to boot; yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a

   little of it, cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy

   mistake.

 

   Hopeful: I acknowledge it; but yet your severe reflection had almost

   made me angry.

 

   Christian: Why, I did but compare thee to some of the birds that are of

   the brisker sort, who will run to and fro in untrodden paths with the

   shell upon their heads: but pass by that, and consider the matter under

   debate, and all shall be well betwixt thee and me.

 

   Hopeful: But, Christian, these three fellows, I am persuaded in my

   heart, are but a company of cowards: would they have run else, think

   you, as they did, at the noise of one that was coming on the road? Why

   did not Little-Faith pluck up a greater heart? He might, methinks, have

   stood one brush with them, and have yielded when there had been no

   remedy.

 

   Christian: That they are cowards, many have said, but few have found it

   so in the time of trial. As for a great heart, Little-Faith had none;

   and I perceive by thee, my brother, hadst thou been the man concerned,

   thou art but for a brush, and then to yield. And verily, since this is

   the height of thy stomach now they are at a distance from us, should

   they appear to thee as they did to him, they might put thee to second

   thoughts.

 

   ¶ But consider again, that they are but journeymen thieves; They serve

   under the king of the bottomless pit, who, if need be, will come to

   their aid himself, and his voice is as the roaring of a lion.  1 Pet.

   5:8. I myself have been engaged as this Little-Faith was, and I found

   it a terrible thing. These three villains set upon me, and I beginning

   like a Christian to resist, they gave but a call, and in came their

   master. I would, as the saying is, have given my life for a penny, but

   that, as God would have it, I was clothed with armor of proof. Aye, and

   yet, though I was so harnessed, I found it hard work to quit myself

   like a man: no man can tell what in that combat attends us, but he that

   hath been in the battle himself.

 

   Hopeful: Well, but they ran, you see, when they did but suppose that

   one Great-Grace was in the way.

 

   Christian: True, they have often fled, both they and their master, when

   Great-Grace hath but appeared; and no marvel, for he is the King's

   champion. But I trow you will put some difference between Little-Faith

   and the King's champion. All the King's subjects are not his champions;

   nor can they, when tried, do such feats of war as he. Is it meet to

   think that a little child should handle Goliath as David did? or that

   there should be the strength of an ox in a wren? Some are strong, some

   are weak; some have great faith, some have little: this man was one of

   the weak, and therefore he went to the wall.

 

   Hopeful: I would it had been Great-Grace, for their sakes.

 

   Christian: If it had been he, he might have had his hands full: for I

   must tell you, that though Great-Grace is excellent good at his

   weapons, and has, and can, so long as he keeps them at sword's point,

   do well enough with them; yet if they get within him, even Faint-Heart,

   Mistrust, or the other, it shall go hard but they will throw up his

        

 

   heels. And when a man is down, you know, what can he do?

 

   ¶ Whoso looks well upon Great-Grace's face, will see those scars and cuts

   there that shall easily give demonstration of what I say. Yea, once I

   heard that he should say, (and that when he was in the combat,) We

   despaired even of life. How did these sturdy rogues and their fellows

   make David groan, mourn, and roar! Yea, Heman,  Psa. 88, and Hezekiah

   too, though champions in their days, were forced to bestir them when by

   these assaulted; and yet, notwithstanding, they had their coats soundly

   brushed by them. Peter, upon a time, would go try what he could do; but

   though some do say of him that he is the prince of the apostles, they

   handled him so that they made him at last afraid of a sorry girl.

 

   ¶ Besides, their king is at their whistle; he is never out of hearing;

   and if at any time they be put to the worst, he, if possible, comes in

   to help them; and of him it is said, "The sword of him that layeth at

   him cannot hold; the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth

   iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him fly;

   sling-stones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as

   stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear."  Job 41:26-29. What can

   a man do in this case? It is true, if a man could at every turn have

   Job's horse, and had skill and courage to ride him, he might do notable

   things. "For his neck is clothed with thunder. He will not be afraid as

   a grasshopper: the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the

   valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed

   men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back

   from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear

   and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage;

   neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith

   among the trumpets, Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the

   thunder of the captains, and the shoutings."  Job 39:19-25.

 

   ¶ But for such footmen as thee and I are, let us never desire to meet

   with an enemy, nor vaunt as if we could do better, when we hear of

   others that have been foiled, nor be tickled at the thoughts of our own

   manhood; for such commonly come by the worst when tried. Witness Peter,

   of whom I made mention before: he would swagger, aye, he would; he

   would, as his vain mind prompted him to say, do better and stand more

   for his Master than all men: but who so foiled and run down by those

   villains as he?

 

   ¶ When, therefore, we hear that such robberies are done on the King's

   highway, two things become us to do.

 

   1. To go out harnessed, and be sure to take a shield with us: for it

   was for want of that, that he who laid so lustily at Leviathan could

   not make him yield; for, indeed, if that be wanting, he fears us not at

   all. Therefore, he that had skill hath said, "Above all, take the

   shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery

   darts of the wicked."  Eph. 6:16.

 

   2. It is good, also, that we desire of the King a convoy, yea, that he

   will go with us himself. This made David rejoice when in the Valley of

   the Shadow of Death; and Moses was rather for dying where he stood,

   than to go one step without his God.  Exod. 33:15.

 

   ¶ O, my brother, if he will but go along with us, what need we be afraid

   of ten thousands that shall set themselves against us?  Psa. 3:5-8;

   27:1-3. But without him, the proud helpers fall under the slain.  Isa.

   10:4.

 

   ¶ I, for my part, have been in the fray before now; and though (through

   the goodness of Him that is best) I am, as you see, alive, yet I cannot

   boast of any manhood. Glad shall I be if I meet with no more such

   brunts; though I fear we are not got beyond all danger. However, since

   the lion and the bear have not as yet devoured me, I hope God will also

   deliver us from the next uncircumcised Philistine. Then sang Christian,

 

 

   "Poor Little-Faith! hast been among the thieves?

 

   Wast robb'd? Remember this, whoso believes,

 

   And get more faith; then shall you victors be

 


   Over ten thousand-else scarce over three."

 

      <<< Previous                 Next >>> "Flatterer"