I SAW then in my dream, that when Christian wag 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, making haste to go back (a) ; to whom Christian spake as follows:
Chr. Whither are you going?
Men. They said, Back! back! And we would have you to do so too, if either life or peace is prized by you.
Chr. Why! What's the matter ? said Christian.
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 farther, we had not been here to bring the news to thee.
Chr. But what have you met with ? said Christian.
Men. Why we are almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but that by good hap we looked before us, and saw the danger before we cauie to it (b).
Chr. But what have you seen ? said Christian.
Men. Seen! Why the Valley itself 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 people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons; and over that valley feang the discouraging clouds of confusion; death
(fl) Num. xiii. (b) Fsal. -xliv. 19, cvii. 19.
also doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order (a).
Chr. Then said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have said, but that this is my way to the desired haven (b).
Men. Be it thy wa}-, 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 bare led the blind in ah1 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 (c).
The path-way was here also exceedingly narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sough,t 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 sigh bitterly ; for besides the danger mentioned above, the path way was here so dark, that oft-times, when he lift up his foot to set 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 way-side : Now, thought Ctirittian, what shall I do? And ever and anoo the tlame and smoke would come out in such abundstice, w.th sparks and hideous
neises, (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 ariother weapon, called All-prayer (J ). So I e cried,in my hearing, "O Lord, l beseech thee, deliver my soul (g)." Thus he went on a great while, yet still <fhe 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 to 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 stopt, and began to mu>e 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 buck might be much more than 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.
One thing I would not let slip; I took notice th: t now poor Christian was so confounded, that he did not know^iis own voice; and thus I perceived it; just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning-pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than any thing that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme him that he loved so mueh before: yet, if he could hove helped it, he would not have (lone it: but he had not the discretion either to stop his ,
cars, or to know from whence those blasphemies camp,
When Christian had travelled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, " Though I walk through the Valley of the "Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for thou art "wi h me (k)."
Then was he glad, and that for these reasons:
First, Because he gathered from thence, that some who feared God were in this valley, as well as himself.
Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state: and why not,- thought he, with me? though by reason of the impediment that attends this place; I cannot perceive it (/).
Thirdly, For that he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by and by.
So he-went on, an .1 called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer; for that he also thought himself to be alone. And by and by the day broke: then said-Christian, "He hath turned "the shadow of death into the morning (/')."
Now morning being come, he looked hack, not out of a desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what hazards he had gone through in the chirk; so he saw more perfectly the ditch that was on the one hand, and the quag that was on the other: also, how narrow the way was which led betwixt them both; also now he saw the hobgoblins, and sa'vrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off: for after bn ak of day they came not nigh, yet they were discovered to him, according to that which is
written: "He discovereth deep things out of dark"ness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of "deuth (/)."
Now was Christian much affected with his deliverance from all the dangers of his solitary way; which dangers, though he feared them more before, yet he saw them more clearly now, because the ligiit of the day made them conspicuous to him; and about this time the sun was rising, and this was another mercy to Christian: for you must note, that though the first part of the Valley of the Shadow of Death was dangerous, yet this second part, which was yet to go, w is, if possible, far more dangcrons; for, from the place where he now stood, even to the end of the valley, the way was all along set so full of snares, traps, gins, and nets here, and so full of pits, pit-falls, deep holes, and shelvings down there, that had it been dark, as it was when he came the first-part of the way, had he had a thousand souls, they had in reason been cast away; but, as I said, just now, the sun was rising. Then said he, " His candle shineth on my head, and by his light I go through darkness (in)."
In this light therefore he came to the end of the valley. Now I saw in my dream, that, at the end of this valley, lay blood, bones, ashes, and mangled bodies of men, even of pilgrims, that had gone this way formerly: and while 1 was thus musing what should be the reason, I espied a little before me a cave, where two.gianis, Pope and Pagan, dwelt in old time; by whose power and tyranny, the men whose bones, blood, ashes, &c. lay there, were cruelly put to death. But by this place Christian went without much dinger; whereat I somewhat wondered: b 11 have learnt since, that Pagan has been dead many a day, and as for the other, though he be yet alive, he is, by reason of age, and also of the many shrewd brushes that he n.et with in his
younger days, grown so crazy and stiff in his joints, that lie can now do lit'le more, than sit in his cave's mouth, grinning at pilgrims as they go by, and hiting his nails, because he cannot come at them.
So I saw that Christian went on his way; yet, at the sight of the old man, that sat at the mouth of ihe cave, he could not tell what to think, especially, because he spake to him, though he could not go after him; saying, " You will never mend, till more •f you be burnt." But he held his peace, and set a good face on it, and so went by, and catched n« hurt. Then sang Christian:
O world of wonders! (I can say no less)
That I should be preserv'd in that distress
That I have met with here! O blessed be
That hand that from it hath deliver'd me!
Dangers in daikness, devils, hell, and sin,
Did compass me, while I this vale was in:
Yea snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I,
Mighthave been catch'd, entangled, and cast dow»,
Butsince l live, let Jesus wear the crown.
"MANYare the afflictions of the righteous:" so Christian found it. He came olf a conqueror in the Valley of Humiliation; his woilnds were healed by the tree of life, and his soul rejoiced in God his Saviour. But new trials await him; he expecied them. Experience taught him vigilance, therefore he walked with his drawn sword in his hand. He also heard a dismal account of the valley before him; but as his way lay through it, no persuasions could stop his progress.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death, signifies a state of Desertion: when the believer is deprived of the light of God's •ountenance, all sensible comforts are withdrawn, and " he walks in darkness, and has no light." Most christians know something of this; but perhaps very few are acquainted with tkat degree of korror and fear, whick is here represented. Low-spirited persons, of a gloomy turn, or under the power of some nervous disorder, are more usually exercised in this manner, than others; for the fubtle enemy know"s how 10 take the advantage of our weakness, and to impress distressing; ideas on the mind, wherfit is most disposed to receive them. At such times the imagination is crowded with terrible ide.s; every thing looks black and big with danger; reason itself is distinbed in its exercise, and no relief can be gained; till Ike great Physician be pleased to restore health, both to body and soul,
The grace of God in Christian's heart, was remarkably discovered in I he valley. The path he trode was very narrow; on one side was the deep ditch of Presumptuous Hcpes, into which blind teacliers lead their blind hearers; on the other was the (no less,dangerous) quag ot Despairing Fears. Christian found it exceedingly diflicuit, but took abundant pains to avoid both. For this purpose he betook himself t» ail-piayer; and this prevailed, when his other weapons were useless.
The most remarkable incident in the Valley was, his being beset with blasphemous thoughts, suggested by the .enemy. These are very common to young christians and such are the most terriliyxl bv them, for hese two reasons: 1st, " They . have not yet attained discretion to stop their ears against them;'' and, 2(1, "They have not yet learned from whence they came:" but the Lord will show such distressed souls, both how to disregard them, and 10 consider them, as the hellish suggestions of the devil, and not their own chosen or approved thoughts.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." The light re turned, but it discorered more plainly the dangers he had passed: it also showed the greater dangers of the second part of the valley. '1 his was full of snares. The author probably meant the extreme difficulties to whirls professors were exposed in times of persecution; but these Christian escaped by the light of the reformation. Paganism has long been hanished from our happy isle, and the darkness and cruelty of Popery are.no more, lilessed.be God, the power of the Pope, that " man of sin," seems to decline in every part of Europe! We are now in equal ilanger hom a different quarter. Infidelity in the proud reasoners of the day, and dissipation in all ranks of men, threaten us with destruction ; but the real christian, amidst all temptations, shall hold on his way, while his whole soul sings,—" Let Jesus wear the crown."
Then let my soul arise,
And tread the tempter down:
My Captain leads me forth
To conquest and a crown.
A feeble saint shall win the day,
Tlio' death and hell obstruct the way.