Chapter IX

Christian enters the Vailey of Humiliation, where he is fiercely assaulted by Apollyon, but overcomes him.

Now Christian bethoflght himself of setting forward, and they were willing he should. But first, said they, let us go again into the armory: so they did: and when he came there, they harnessed him from head to foot, with what was of proof, lest perhaps he should meet with assaults in the way. He being therefore thus accoutred, walked out with his friends to the gate, and there he asked the porter, if he saw any pilgrim pass by? then the Porter answered, Yes.

Chr. Pray did you know him? said he. Porter. I asked his name, and he told me it was Faithful.

Chr. O, said Christian, I know him; he is my townsman, my near neighbour; he comes from the place where I was born: How far do you think he may be before?

Port. He is got by this time below the hill.

Chr. Well, said Christian, good porter, the Lord be with thee, and add to all thy blessings much increase for the kindness that thou hast showed to me.

Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence, would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they

came to go down the hill. Then said Christian, As it was difficult coming, so, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down. Yes, said Prudence, so it is; for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way; therefore, said they, are we come out to accompany thee down the hill. So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.

Then I saw in my dream, that these good companions (when Christian was goH down to tne bottom of the hill) gave him a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a cluster of raisins : and then he went his way.

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 coining 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 armour for his hack, and therefore thought that to turn the hack to him might liive him greater advantages, 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, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was at the mouth of a lion. When he came up to Christian, lie beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question him.

Apollyon. Whence come you? and whither are you bounJ f

Chr. I am come from the city of Destruction,

which is the place of all evil, and am going to the city of Zion.

Apol. By this I perceive thou art one of my subject*; 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 mayst do me more service, I would strike thee now, at one blow, to the ground.

Chr. I was born indeed in your dommions, but your service was hard, and your wages sucli as a man could not live on; "For the wages of sin is death (a)." Therefore, when I was come to years, I did as other considerate persons do, look out, if perhaps I might mend myself.

Apol. There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjeels, neither will I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content to go back; what our country will aflbrd, I do here promise to give thee.

Chr. But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes, and how can I, with fairness, go back with thee?

Apol. Thou hast done in this according to the proverb, "Change a bad for a worse:" but it is ordinary for those that have professed themseves his servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me: do thou so too, and all shall be well.

Chr. 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?

Apol, Thou didst the same to me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn and go back.

Chr. What I promised thee was in my non-age; and besides, I count that the Prince under whose banner now I stand, is able to absolve me ; yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee : And besides, O thou destroymg Apollyon!

(a) Rom. vi. 23.

i

v to speak truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and country, better than thine ; and therefore leave off to persuade, me farther; I am his servant, and I will follow him.

Apol. 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 came yet from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of their 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 I will deliver thee.

Chr. His forbearing at present to deliver them, is on purpose to try their love, whether they will cleave to him to tlie end: and as for the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most-glorious in their account ., but, for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for they stay for their glory,aud then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his, and the glory "of the angels.

Apol. Thou hast been already unfaithful in thy. service to him; and how dost thou think tareceive wages of him?

Chr. Wherein, O Apollyon! have I been unfaithful to him?

Apol. Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choaked in the gulph of Despond: thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouidst hare stayed till thy Prince had taken it off. Thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice things. Thou wast almost persuaded to go hack at the sight of the lions: and when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou savest or doest.

Chr. All this is true, and much more, which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour, is merciful and ready to forgive: but besides, these infirmities possess 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.

Apol. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, Tarn an enemy to this Prince ; I hate his person, his laws, and people; I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.

Chr. Apollyon, beware what you do; for I am in the King's highway, the way of Holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.

dpol. 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, tliat 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 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 !:im a dreadful fall; and with that Christian's sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee iiow: 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 rise;" and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him givfc back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that» made at him again ^ paying, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us." And with that, Apollyon spread forth his dragon's wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more (b).

In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did» that yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon madeull 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, arid look upward: but it was the dieadfullest sight that I ever 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 firm that did help Die against Apollyon. And so he did, saying:

Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,

Design'd 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 quu kly make hills fly:

'1 herefore lo him let me give lasting praise,

And thanks, and bless his holy name always.

(b) Mich. vii. 8. Rom. viii. 37. James ir. 7.

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 pLice to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that \yus 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 the 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 coelestial city lay through the midst of it! now this Valley is a very solitary place. Ttie prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: "A wilderness, "a laud of deserts, and of 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 (c)."

Now here Cnristian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon, as by the sequel you shall see.

Explanatory Notes.

THE christian life is a warfare. Every believer is a soldier. The difficulties a pilgrim meets with are not only from worldly crosses and inward corruptions, but from Satan's temptatioHS also. He wrestles with wicked spirits, Eph. vi. 21. But his Captain arms him for the combat. He has the helmet of hope—the breast-plate ol righteousness—the girdle of truth— thi.- shoes of gospel peace—the sword of the Spirit, or word of God—and above all, the shield of faith.

The scene of Christian's conflict with Apollyon, is the Valley of Humiliation ; and, as we are informed in the second part of the book, "in a narrow passage, Just beyond Forg.'t

(c) Jer. ii. 6.

"ful Green." The plain meaning is, that highly-favoured christians must be humbled, lest they should be puffed up with spiritual pride. Their comforts are often withdrawn, and outward trials prevail, for this purpose. In such a care, they are apt to murmur and repine, and with all their care, "to get a slip or two."

Attention to these unpleasing circumstances, and forgetfulness of the Lord's special mercies, gave occasion to a grie

by trouble, then Satan knows it is a fit time to present such temptations as he did to Christian. 1. He sets before him the crimson sins of his natural state. 2. He flatters him with a view of the pleasure of sin. 3. He shows him the frequent apostacies of false professors. 4. He pleads the difficulties and persecutions often met with, especially in a time of persecution. 5. He would fain persuade him, that the Lord will not hear prayer, or relieve in distress. 6. Above all, he charges him with actual failures, mistakes, backslidings, and false motives since he became a christian. To all these he is enabled to give an answer; and as to the last, he confesses it all, and more, but Hies to Paul's refuge, the atonement and 1ove of Jesus; "Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that "died." Happy is the soul that can deal thus with the tempter!

But the conflict is not yet over. "Apollyon straddles over the whole way." Temptations are sometimes of such a nature, that a christian is quite at a stand ; the path of duty seems entirely blocked up, and he becomes totally unfit for any service, civil or religious. How useful then is the shield of faith! By this the pilgrim warded off many a flaming dart; yet was he wounded in liis head, his hand, and his foot; or, in other words, in his understanding, faith, and conversation. All the Lord's people do not experience this severity of temptation, but those who do, should be pitied, even when, in-such a case, " they think, speak, or act amiss."

Christian was in the greatest danger, when he fell, and last his sword. Unless we make constant use of the word of God, the enemy will prevail. At length he recovered it:— that one text of scripture relieved his mind, " Rejoice not "against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise." Frequently a single sentence, applied to the tempted mind, will do-wonders. As faith in that word prevails, the power of temptation declines, and the christian becomes victorious; jea, more than a conqueror, through the love of Jesus. Thus, reader, "Resist the devil, and he will fle* "from you."