Chapter II

Now mv old friend proceeded, and said :—Bat when Christiana" came to the Slouch of Despond, she began to be at a stand; for, said site, This is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with mud. (Sen Parti, p. 9—n.) She perceived also, that notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly: So I .asked if that was true? Yes, said the old gentleman, too true: for many there be, that pretend to be the King's labourers, and say they are for mending the King's highways, that bring dirt and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here Christiana, therefore, and her boys did make a stand; but satd Mercy, Come, let us venture, only let us be wary. Tiioh they looked well to thuir steps, and made a shift to net staggering over.

Yet Christiana had I ike to have been in, and that uot once or twice. Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said «nto them, "Blessed is she tint believeth, for .there shall be a performance of what has been told her from the Loid."

Then they went on again; and said Mercy to Christiana, Il^d I us gt.od ground to hope tor 41 loving reception at the Wicket-gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me.

Well, said the other, you know your sore, and'I know mine; and good friend, we shall all have enough of evil before we come to our journey's end. For it cannot be imagined, that the people that design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and that are so envied that happiness as we are, but that we shall meet with what fears and snares, with what troubles and afflictions, they can possibly assault us with, that hate us..'

And now Mr. Sagacity lefc me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, met bought I saw Christiana, and Mercy, and the bovs, go all of them up to the gate: to which, when they came, they betook themselves to a short dehate, about how tney must manage their calling at the gate; and w'.iac should be said unto him that did open unto thein So. it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and t ut she should speak to him that did open for the rest.

So Christiana began to knock; and as her poor hushand did, she knocked, and knocked again. (See Part I. p. 24.) But instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog came harking upon tliem. A dog, and a great one too, and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for a while to knock any Iu )re, for fear the mastiff should fly upon thetw. N iw, therefore, they were greatly tumb'ed up and ilo.vn in their minds, and knew not wiat to do: knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back t:iey durst not, for fear the. keeper of the gate shou'd espy them as they so went, aud be offended with them' at last they thought of knocking aga:n, and knocking more vehemently than they did at first. T ien satel the keeper of tne gate. Who is there? Sj lha .dog left off to bark, and lie opened unto them.

Then Christiana made low obetMinee, and said, Let uot our Lord be orlcnded with his lundmaidens, for that we have knocked at his prlncelv gate. Then said the keeper, Whence came ye? and what is it that you would have?

Christiana answered, We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he; to wit, to be, if it should please you, graciously admitted, by this gate, into the way that leads unto the ccelestial city. And I answer, my Lord, in the next plate, that I am Christiana, once the wife of Christian, that now is gotten above.

With that the keeper of the gate did marvel, saying, What is she now become a pilgrim, that but awhile ago abhorred that life? Then she bowed her liead and said, Yea, and so are these a»y sweet babes also.

Then he took her by the hand, and let her in; and said also, " Suffer the little children to come unto me;" and with that he shut up the gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above, over the gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting, and sound of trumpet, for joy. So he obeyed and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious jiotes.

Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying, for fear that she was rejected. Rut when Christiana had gotten aiimittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for mercy.

Christ. And she said, My Lord, I have a companion of mine that stands yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her tuitid, for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for; whereas I was sent to by my husband's King to come.

Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself. And she knocked then so loud, that she made Chrstiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate, Who is there? And Christiana said, It is my friend.

So he opened the gate and looked out, but Mercy, was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate would be opened to her.

Then he took her. by the hand, and said, Damsel, . I hid thee arise.

O, Sir, said she, I am faint; there is scarce life left in me. But he answered, that one said, " When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple (a)." Fear not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come.

Mercy. I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Her's was from the King, and mine was but from her. Wherefore I presume.

Did she desire thee to come with her to this place?

Meny. Yes; and as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy poor hand-maid may be partaker thereof.

Then he took her again by the hand, and let her gently in, and said, I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me. Then said he to those that stood by, fetch something and give it Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her fainting: so they fetched her a bundle of myrrh. A while after, she was revived.

An.i now was Christiana, and her boys, and Mercy, received of the Lord at the head of the way, and spoke kindly unto by him. Then said they yet farther unto him, We are sorry for our sins, and v beg of our Lord his pardon, and farther information what we must do.

I grant pardon, said he, by word and deed; by word, in t-.e promise of forgiveness; by deed, in the way I obtained it. Take the first from my lips with a kiss, and the other as it shall be revealed [b).

(a) Jonah ii. 7. (6) Song i. 2. John xx. 20.

Now I saw in my dream, that he spake ma-iy good winds unto them, whoreby they were grci/ly gladdied. He also hail them up to the top ot the gate, and showed them by what deed they were saved; and told them withal, That that sight they would have again as they went along in the way, to their comfort.

So he left them awhile in a summer parlour below, where they entered into talk by themselves; and thus Christiana began: O Lard, how glad am I that we are got in hither!

Mercy. So you well may; but 1 of all have cause to leap for joy.

Clu i/i. 1 thought one time as I stood at the gate, (because I had knocked and none did answer) that all our labour had been lost, especially when that ugly cur made sucii a heavy barking at us.

Mercy. But my worst four was, after I saw that you was tuken into favour, and that I was left behind: now, thought I, it is fulfilled which is written; "Two women s 11all be grinding together, the one shall be taken, a-d the ether left (c).n I had much ado to forbear crying out, " Undone!"

And afraid I was to knock any more; but when I looked up to what was written over the gate, I took courage. (See Part I. p. 24.) I also thought that I must either knock again, or die; So I knocked, but I cannot tell how ; for my spirit now struggled between life did death.

Chrift. Can you not teH how you knocked? I am sure your knocks were so earnest, that t :c very sound made me start; 1 thong; t 1 never heard such knocking in all my life; I thought you would come in by a violent hand, ortakeihe kingdom by storm(d).

Aiercy. Alas ! to be in my case., who that so was., -could .ut Lave done so? You saw that t e door v as shut upon me, and t at there was a most eruol 'dog thereabout. Who, I say, that was so faint*

ic) Malt. xxiv. 41. id) Matt. xi. 12.
.6

hearted as I, would not h.ve knocked with all tlieir might? But pray, what said my Lord unto my rudeness? Was he not angry with me?

Chr. When he heard your lumbering noise, he gave a wonderful innoci lit smile: l believe what you did pleased him well, for he sho ved no sign to the contrary. But I marvel in my heart why he keeps such a dog; had l known tliat bof ,re, I should not have had heart enough to have ventured myself in this manner. But now we are in, we are in, and I am glad with all my heart.

Mercy. I will ask, if you please, next time he comes down, why he keeps such a filthy cur in his yard; I hope he will not tike it amiss.

Do so, said the children, and persuade him to hang him, for we are afraid he will hite us when we go hence.

So at last he came down to them again, and Mercy fell to the ground on her face, before him, and worshipped, and said, Let my Lord accept the sacrifice of praise which I now offer unto him with the calves of my lips

So he sa d unto her, Peace be to thee, stand up. But she continued upon her face, and said, " Righteous art thou, () Lord, when I plead with thee; let me talk with thee of thy judgments (c)." Wherefore dost thou keep so cruel a dog in thy yard, at the sight of which, such women and children, as we, are ready to fly from the gate for fear f He answered and said, That dog has another owner; he also is kept close in another man's ground, only my pilgrims he .r his barking: he belongs to the castle which you see there at a distance, but ca:i come Hp to the wall of this place. .{See'Part I. p. 24.) He lias frighte I many an honest pilgrim from worse to better, b»- the great voice of his roar ng. In Iced, he that owneth him doth not :j» luu» out of any good-will to me or mine, but.

(c) J.-r. sii. I, 2.

with intent to keep the pilgrims from coming to me, and that they may be afraid to come and knock at this gate of entrance. Sometimes also he has broken out and has worried some that I loved; but I take all at present patiently. I also give my pilgrims timely help, so that they are not delivered up to his power, to do to them what his doggish nature would prompt him to do. But what, my purchased one! might it not be expected thou wouldest have known so much before hand, as not to have been afraid of a dog?

The beggars that go from door to door, will, rather than they will lose a supposed alms, run the hazard of the bawling, barking, and hiting too of a dog: and shall a dog, in another man's yard, a dog whose barking I turn to the profit of pilgrims, keep any from coming to me? I deliver them from the lions, and my darling from the power of the dog.

Mercy. Then said Mercy, I confess my ignorance: I speak what I understand not; I acknowledge that thou dost all things well.

Then Christiana began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them, washed their feet, and >et them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before. So I saw in my dream, that t!iey went on their way, and the weather .vas comfortable to tliemr

Then Christiana began to sing, saying,

Bless'd be tlie day that I began

A pilgrim for to be;
And blessed also be the man,

That then-to moved me.
'Tis true, '(was long e'er i begsn

To seek to live for ever:
But now I run fast as i can;

'Tis better late than never.
Our tears to joy, oflr fears to faith,

Are turned as we see;
That our beginning (at one saith)

Shows what our end will be.

EXPLANATORY NOTES,

WE have here a pleasing accsunt of the reception of our Pilgrims at the gate. The reader, it is hoped, need not be reminded, that the Gate signifies Christ. We are never in the way to heaven, till we believe in him. Christiana and her companions passed the Slough without danger, but not without fear. The legality of our minds before we come to Christ, creates many distressing doubts; and they are sometimes increased by legal preachers. Some, instead of directing the poor sinner to Christ, just as he is, insist on the ne- . cessity of some previous qualifications, as conditionsof acceptance and warrant for faith: but "Blessed are they who believe, for there shall be a performance o.* those things which were told them by the Lord."

The way of coming to Christ, is by prayer ; and "prayer should be made with consideration and fear, as well as in faith and hope." This is intended by the consultation of the pilgrims how they must manage their calling at the Gate. Christiana knocked again and again ; intimating the necessity of repeated and importunate prayer. We must wait, as well as pray. She was graciously admitted. Never, never did a perishing soul apply to Christ for mercy, and was refused. 1 lie young ones too were readily received: O that this might encourage young persons to come to Christ! "for they that seek him early, shall find him," P,rov. viii. 17. The sound of a trumpet announced their admission—for there is joy in Heaven when a sinner is converted to God. Mercy also knocked aloud, though even fainting with fear of rejection. Mark this, says the author;—let every reader, who*, like Mercy, doubts of his call, because wrought upon through a religious education, or the persuasion of friends, let him observe, that all are received by Christ, "by what means so ever they come unto him."

The barking of a fierce dog near the gate, is a fit representation of Satan's opposition to praying snuls; for he is an avowed enemy to prayer. Many convinced souls are so ter/ rified by his temptations, that they are ready to leave off praying entirely. But let them " resist the devil, and he will tly from them," James iv. 7. Prayer will silence him. Mercy expostulated with her Lord about the dog. Many are surprised that he, who has such love for pilgrims, should permit the enemy to molest them: but he has wise ends to answer by it ;—Many a pilgrim," said he, "is frighted from worse to better, by his roaring." The shepherd, whotetiderly loves 1'is flock, yet keeps a dog, whcwe barking often diives them together, and fetches them back when wandering. The believer, acquainted with the Lord's gracious designs in these thi .^«, will "acqwiesie in his wisdom," and wiih those w ho beheld hU miracles on earth, will lie '' as'or.isled beyond measure, and Sli\, lie hail) done all things Weil," Mul v ii. 37.