In process of time, Christian got up to the gate. Now over the i;ate there was written, "Kncck, and "it shall be opened unto you (a)." He knoeked thereiore more than once or twice, saying.
May I now enter here? W ill ht- within
Open to Sony n*, though 1 have been
An undeserving reoit? Then shall I
ISot fail to sing his lasting praise on high.
At l ist there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked, Wno was there ? and whence 'he came, and w .at he would have?
Chr. Here is a poor, burdened Sinner. I come from theciiy of Destruction, butam going to Mount Zion, tha. I may be delivered fro n tne wrath to come. I wouid tt.eiefore, Sir, s nee I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.
Good. l am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.
So when Christian w.^s stepping in, the other gave him a pull: thrn said Christian, What means that? The other, told him, A litde distance from this gate, there is erected a strong castle, of which Bee z^bub is the cap ain; from thence both he, and them that are with him, shopt »it-'ws at '.hose that come up to the gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. I ht n said Christian, J rejoice and tremble. So when he was got n, the man of the gate asked him, who directed him thither?
(a) Matt. vii. 8.
Chr. Evangelist hid me come hither and knock (as I did); and he said, that you, Sir, would tell me what I must do.
Good. An open door is.before thee, and no man can shut it.
Chr. Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.
Good '. But how is it that you came alone?
Chr. Because none of my neighbours saw the.ir danger, as I saw mine.
Good. Did any of them know of your coming?
Chr. Yes! my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again: also some of my neighbours stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way.
Good. But did none of them follow you, to persuade you to go back?
Chr. Yes, both Obstinate and Pliable ; but, when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back, but Pliable came with me a little way.
Good. But why did he not come through?
Chr. We indeed came both together, until we came to the Slough of Despond, into which we also saddenly fell. And then was my neighbour Pliable discouraged, and would not adventure farther. Wherefore, getting out again on that side next his own house, he told me, I should possess the brave country alone for him: so he went Ins way, and I came mine; he after Obstinate, and I to this gate.*
Good. Then said Goodwill, alas, poor man, is the coelestial glory of so small esteem with him, that he counteth it not worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?
Chr. Truly, said Christian, I have Slid the truth of Pliable, and if I should also say all the tru'h uf myself, it will appear there is no difference betw.ixt him and* myself. Tis true, he went back to ins own house j but I also turned a<ide to go in the way of death, being persuaded t lereto by the carnal argument of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
Good. Oh! did lie light upon you? What he would have had you sought for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality; they are both of them very cheats: but did you take his counsel?
dir. Yes, as far as I durst: I went to find out Air. Legality, until I thought that the mountain that stands by his house, would have fallen upon my head ; wherefore there I was forced to stop'.
Good. That mountain has been the death of many, and -will be the death of many more: 'tis well you escaped being dashed to pieces by it.
Chr. Why, truly, I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me again as I was musing in the midst of my dumps: but it was God's mercy, that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that mountain, than thus to stand talking with my Lord : but, oh ! what a favour is this to me, that yet l am admitted entrance here!
Good. We make no objections against any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they came hither. They in no wise are cast out (b); and therefore, good Christian, come a little way with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? That is the way thou must go. It was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ and his apostles, and it is as straight as a rule can make it. This is the way thou must go.
Chr. But, said Christian, are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way;
Good. Yes, there are many ways butt down-upon this; and they are crooked and wide; but thus thou mayst distinginsh therightfrom the wrong; the right only being straight and narrow (c)
Then I saw in my dream, that Christian asked him farther, if he could not help him off with the
i in 11 ■
(4) John vi. (c) Matt. vii. 14.
burden that was upon his back; for as j et he hail not got rid thereof, nor could he by any means qit it off without help.
He told him, as to thy burden, be content to bear it, until thou comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from thy back of itself.
Then Christian began to gird up his loins, an ! to address himself to his journey. So the other told him, that by that he was gone some distance from the gate, he would come to the house of the Interpreter, at whose door he should knock, and he would show him excellent things. Then Christian took his leave of his friend, and he again hid him GoU speed.
'WE here enter upon a memorable period, of Christian experience. The humbled sinner, after many struggles with guilty fears and legal hopes, is enabled to "claim the pro** mise of the gospel for himself, and to commit his soul to "Jesus." He then enters the Wicket-gate, and may properly be called, A Believer.
When Christian arrived at the gate, he knocked and knocked again. The sincere soul will be importunate in prayer, and prayer will prevail. He may solely fear a repulse—he may question the willingness of Christ to save, but shah assuredly find that he is not only able to save to the uttermost, but willing too. "I am willing with all my heart," said lie. "We make no objections to any, notwithstanding all that *' they have done before they came hither. They are in no "wise cast out." O blessed encouragement to the chief of sinners!
But let coming souls expect opposiiion from Sat n. He often shoots fiery darts at them. Wanderings in prayer, enticements to ok! sins, and even blasphemous thoughts, are common in such a case. Nevertheless, grace shall prevail, and the sinner be "snatched as a brand out of the iire,". Zech. iii. 2.
Christian set out with company, but reached the gate alone; yet he ascribes the difference only to distinguishing grace, jtfe is filled with holy amazement at the favour besio.'rd upon him: and su will every oh« who tastes that the Lord is
gracious. He discovers a godly jealousy of himself; and Laving missed his way before, desires particu'ar directions about the road. '1 he answer given him wts important indeed! "Thus thou may est distinguish the right way from "the wroi g, the riirht only being straight and narrow."— Header, remember this distinction as long as you live!
Christian had not yet lost his burden, but he expresses his desire of deliverance. He is directed to wait, till he should come to the place of deliverance. Thus many a believer finds remaining guilt and fear for a season; and while he desires relief from it, he should exercise patience, till the Lord's time arrives, whtn the heavy load shall drop " of itself." When further ' nlightened by the Holy Spirit, as represented in the next chapter, Chiistian obtains the much wished-for blessing, and rejoices in Christ, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.