Infomotions, Inc.Bunyan Characters (1st Series) / Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921



Author: Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921
Title: Bunyan Characters (1st Series)
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): bunyan; pilgrim; john bunyan; christian; minister; sin
Contributor(s): Schreiber, Charlotte, Lady, 1812-1895 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 81,784 words (short) Grade range: 11-14 (high school) Readability score: 61 (easy)
Identifier: etext1885
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Title: Bunyan Characters
       First Series


Author: Alexander Whyte

Release Date: April 13, 2005  [eBook #1885]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BUNYAN CHARACTERS***






Transcribed from the 1893 Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier edition by David
Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





BUNYAN CHARACTERS: FIRST SERIES
BEING LECTURES DELIVERED IN ST. GEORGE'S FREE CHURCH EDINBURGH
BY ALEXANDER WHYTE, D.D.


INTRODUCTORY


   'The express image' [Gr. 'the character'].--Heb. 1. 3.

The word 'character' occurs only once in the New Testament, and that is
in the passage in the prologue of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the
original word is translated 'express image' in our version.  Our Lord is
the Express Image of the Invisible Father.  No man hath seen God at any
time.  The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath
declared Him.  The Father hath sealed His divine image upon His Son, so
that he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father.  The Son is thus the
Father's character stamped upon and set forth in human nature.  The Word
was made flesh.  This is the highest and best use to which our so
expressive word 'character' has ever been put, and the use to which it is
put when we speak of Bunyan's Characters partakes of the same high sense
and usage.  For it is of the outstanding good or evil in a man that we
think when we speak of his character.  It is really either of his
likeness or unlikeness to Jesus Christ we speak, and then, through Him,
his likeness or unlikeness to God Himself.  And thus it is that the
adjective 'moral' usually accompanies our word 'character'--moral or
immoral.  A man's character does not have its seat or source in his body;
character is not a physical thing: not even in his mind; it is not an
intellectual thing.  Character comes up out of the will and out of the
heart.  There are more good minds, as we say, in the world than there are
good hearts.  There are more clever people than good people;
character,--high, spotless, saintly character,--is a far rarer thing in
this world than talent or even genius.  Character is an infinitely better
thing than either of these, and it is of corresponding rarity.  And yet
so true is it that the world loves its own, that all men worship talent,
and even bodily strength and bodily beauty, while only one here and one
there either understands or values or pursues moral character, though it
is the strength and the beauty and the sweetness of the soul.

We naturally turn to Bishop Butler when we think of moral character.
Butler is an author who has drawn no characters of his own.  Butler's
genius was not creative like Shakespeare's or Bunyan's.  Butler had not
that splendid imagination which those two masters in character-painting
possessed, but he had very great gifts of his own, and he has done us
very great service by means of his gifts.  Bishop Butler has helped many
men in the intelligent formation of their character, and what higher
praise could be given to any author?  Butler will lie on our table all
winter beside Bunyan; the bishop beside the tinker, the philosopher
beside the poet, the moralist beside the evangelical minister.

In seeking a solid bottom for our subject, then, we naturally turn to
Butler.  Bunyan will people the house for us once it is built, but Butler
lays bare for us the naked rock on which men like Bunyan build and
beautify and people the dwelling-place of God and man.  What exactly is
this thing, character, we hear so much about? we ask the sagacious
bishop.  And how shall we understand our own character so as to form it
well till it stands firm and endures?  'Character,' answers Butler, in
his bald, dry, deep way, 'by character is meant that temper, taste,
disposition, whole frame of mind from whence we act in one way rather
than another . . . those principles from which a man acts, when they
become fixed and habitual in him we call his character . . . And
consequently there is a far greater variety in men's characters than
there is in the features of their faces.'  Open Bunyan now, with Butler's
keywords in your mind, and see the various tempers, tastes, dispositions,
frames of mind from which his various characters act, and which, at
bottom, really make them the characters, good or bad, which they are.  See
the principles which Bunyan has with such inimitable felicity embodied
and exhibited in their names, the principles within them from which they
have acted till they have become a habit and then a character, that
character which they themselves are and will remain.  See the variety of
John Bunyan's characters, a richer and a more endless variety than are
the features of their faces.  Christian and Christiana, Obstinate and
Pliable, Mr. Fearing and Mr. Feeblemind, Temporary and Talkative, Mr. By-
ends and Mr. Facing-both-ways, Simple, Sloth, Presumption, that brisk lad
Ignorance, and the genuine Mr. Brisk himself.  And then Captain Boasting,
Mr. High-mind, Mr. Wet-Eyes, and so on, through a less known (but equally
well worth knowing) company of municipal and military characters in the
_Holy War_.

We shall see, as we proceed, how this and that character in Bunyan was
formed and deformed.  But let us ask in this introductory lecture if we
can find out any law or principle upon which all our own characters, good
or bad, are formed.  Do our characters come to be what they are by
chance, or have we anything to do in the formation of our own characters,
and if so, in what way?  And here, again, Butler steps forward at our
call with his key to our own and to all Bunyan's characters in his hand,
and in three familiar and fruitful words he answers our question and
gives us food for thought and solemn reflection for a lifetime.  There
are but three steps, says Butler, from earth to heaven, or, if you will,
from earth to hell--acts, habits, character.  All Butler's prophetic
burden is bound up in these three great words--acts, habits, character.
Remember and ponder these three words, and you will in due time become a
moral philosopher.  Ponder and practise them, and you will become what is
infinitely better--a moral man.  For acts, often repeated, gradually
become habits, and habits, long enough continued, settle and harden and
solidify into character.  And thus it is that the severe and laconic
bishop has so often made us shudder as he demonstrated it to us that we
are all with our own hands shaping our character not only for this world,
but much more for the world to come, by every act we perform, by every
word we speak, almost by every breath we draw.  Butler is one of the most
terrible authors in the world.  He stands on our nearest shelf with Dante
on one side of him and Pascal on the other.  He is indeed terrible, but
it is with a terror that purifies the heart and keeps the life in the
hour of temptation.  Paul sometimes arms himself with the same terror;
only he composes in another style than that of Butler, and, with all his
vivid intensity, he calls it the terror of the Lord.  Paul and Bunyan are
of the same school of moralists and stylists; Butler went to school to
the Stoics, to Aristotle, and to Plato.

Our Lord Himself came to be the express image He was and is by living and
acting under this same universal law of human life--acts, habits,
character.  He was made perfect on this same principle.  He learned
obedience both by the things that He did, and the things that He
suffered.  Butler says in one deep place, that benevolence and justice
and veracity are the basis of all good character in God and in man, and
thus also in the God-man.  And those three foundation stones of our
Lord's character settled deeper and grew stronger to bear and to suffer
as He went on practising acts and speaking words of justice, goodness,
and truth.  And so of all the other elements of His moral character.  Our
Lord left Gethsemane a much more submissive and a much more surrendered
man than He entered it.  His forgiveness of injuries, and thus His
splendid benevolence, had not yet come to its climax and crown till He
said on the cross, 'Father, forgive them'.  And, as He was, so are we in
this world.  This world's evil and ill-desert made it but the better
arena and theatre for the development and the display of His moral
character; and the same instruments that fashioned Him into the perfect
and express image He was and is, are still, happily, in full operation.
Take that divinest and noblest of all instruments for the carving out and
refining of moral character, the will of God.  How our Lord made His own
unselfish and unsinful will to bow to silence and to praise before the
holy will of His Father, till that gave the finishing touch to His always
sanctified will and heart!  And, happily, that awful and blessed
instrument for the formation of moral character is still active and
available to those whose ambition rises to moral character, and who are
aiming at heaven in all they do and all they suffer upon the earth.
Gethsemane has gone out till it has covered all the earth.  Its cup, if
not in all the depth and strength of its first mixture, still in quite
sufficient bitterness, is put many times in life into every man's hand.
There is not a day, there is not an hour of the day, that the disciple of
the submissive and all-surrendered Son has not the opportunity to say
with his Master, If it be possible, let this cup pass: nevertheless, not
as I will, but as Thou wilt.

It is not in the great tragedies of life only that character is tested
and strengthened and consolidated.  No man who is not himself under God's
moral and spiritual instruments could believe how often in the quietest,
clearest, and least tempestuous day he has the chance and the call to
say, Yea, Lord, Thy will be done.  And, then, when the confessedly tragic
days and nights come, when all men admit that this is Gethsemane indeed,
the practised soul is able, with a calmness and a peace that confound and
offend the bystanders, to say, to act so that he does not need to say,
Not my will, but Thine.  And so of all the other forms and features of
moral character; so of humility and meekness, so of purity and
temperance, so of magnanimity and munificence, so of all self-suppression
and self-extinction, and all corresponding exalting and magnifying and
benefiting of other men.  Whatever other passing uses this present world,
so full of trial and temptation and suffering, may have, this surely is
the supreme and final use of it--to be a furnace, a graving-house, a
refining place for human character.  Literally all things in this life
and in this world--I challenge you to point out a single exception--work
together for this supreme and only good, the purification, the refining,
the testing, and the approval of human character.  Not only so, but we
are all in the very heat of the furnace, and under the very graving iron
and in the very refining fire that our prefigured and predestinated
character needs.  Your life and its trials would not suit the necessities
of my moral character, and you would lose your soul beyond redemption if
you exchanged lots with me.  You do not put a pearl under the potter's
wheel; you do not cast clay into a refining fire.  Abraham's character
was not like David's, nor David's like Christ's, nor Christ's like
Paul's.  As Butler says, there is 'a providential disposition of things'
around every one of us, and it is as exactly suited to the flaws and
excrescences, the faults and corruptions of our character as if
Providence had had no other life to make a disposition of things for but
one, and that one our own.  Have you discovered that in your life, or any
measure of that?  Have you acknowledged to God that you have at last
discovered the true key of your life?  Have you given Him the
satisfaction to know that He is not making His providential dispositions
around a stock or a stone, but that He has one under His hand who
understands His hand, and responds to it, and rises up to meet and salute
it?

And we cease to wonder so much at the care God takes of human character,
and the cost He lays out upon it, when we think that it is the only work
of His hands that shall last for ever.  It is fit, surely, that the
ephemeral should minister to the eternal, and time to eternity, and all
else in this world to the only thing in this world that shall endure and
survive this world.  All else we possess and pursue shall fade and
perish, our moral character shall alone survive.  Riches, honours,
possessions, pleasures of all kinds: death, with one stroke of his
desolating hand, shall one day strip us bare to a winding-sheet and a
coffin of all the things we are so mad to possess.  But the last enemy,
with all his malice and all his resistless power, cannot touch our moral
character--unless it be in some way utterly mysterious to us that he is
made under God to refine and perfect it.  The Express Image carried up to
His Father's House, not only the divine life He had brought hither with
Him when He came to obey and submit and suffer among us; He carried back
more than He brought, for He carried back a human heart, a human life, a
human character, which was and is a new wonder in heaven.  He carried up
to heaven all the love to God and angels and men He had learned and
practised on earth, with all the earthly fruits of it.  He carried back
His humility, His meekness, His humanity, His approachableness, and His
sympathy.  And we see to our salvation some of the uses to which those
parts of His moral character are at this moment being put in His Father's
House; and what we see not now of all the ends and uses and employments
of our Lord's glorified humanity we shall, mayhap, see hereafter.  And we
also shall carry our moral character to heaven; it is the only thing we
have worth carrying so far.  But, then, moral character is well worth
achieving here and then carrying there, for it is nothing else and
nothing less than the divine nature itself; it is the divine nature
incarnate, incorporate, and made manifest in man.  And it is, therefore,
immortal with the immortality of God, and blessed for ever with the
blessedness of God.




EVANGELIST


   'Do the work of an evangelist.'--Paul to Timothy.

On the 1st of June 1648 a very bitter fight was fought at Maidstone, in
Kent, between the Parliamentary forces under Fairfax and the Royalists.
Till Cromwell rose to all his military and administrative greatness,
Fairfax was generalissimo of the Puritan army, and that able soldier
never executed a more brilliant exploit than he did that memorable night
at Maidstone.  In one night the Royalist insurrection was stamped out and
extinguished in its own blood.  Hundreds of dead bodies filled the
streets of the town, hundreds of the enemy were taken prisoners, while
hundreds more, who were hiding in the hop-fields and forests around the
town, fell into Fairfax's hands next morning.

Among the prisoners so taken was a Royalist major who had had a deep hand
in the Maidstone insurrection, named John Gifford, a man who was destined
in the time to come to run a remarkable career.  Only, to-day, the day
after the battle, he has no prospect before him but the gallows.  On the
night before his execution, by the courtesy of Fairfax, Gifford's sister
was permitted to visit her brother in his prison.  The soldiers were
overcome with weariness and sleep after the engagement, and Gifford's
sister so managed it that her brother got past the sentries and escaped
out of the town.  He lay hid for some days in the ditches and thickets
around the town till he was able to escape to London, and thence to the
shelter of some friends of his at Bedford.  Gifford had studied medicine
before he entered the army, and as soon as he thought it safe he began to
practise his old art in the town of Bedford.  Gifford had been a
dissolute man as a soldier, and he became, if possible, a still more
scandalously dissolute man as a civilian.  Gifford's life in Bedford was
a public disgrace, and his hatred and persecution of the Puritans in that
town made his very name an infamy and a fear.  He reduced himself to
beggary with gambling and drink, but, when near suicide, he came under
the power of the truth, till we see him clothed with rags and with a
great burden on his back, crying out, 'What must I do to be saved?'  'But
at last'--I quote from the session records of his future church at
Bedford--'God did so plentifully discover to him the forgiveness of sins
for the sake of Christ, that all his life after he lost not the light of
God's countenance, no, not for an hour, save only about two days before
he died.'  Gifford's conversion had been so conspicuous and notorious
that both town and country soon heard of it: and instead of being ashamed
of it, and seeking to hide it, Gifford at once, and openly, threw in his
lot with the extremest Puritans in the Puritan town of Bedford.  Nor
could Gifford's talents be hid; till from one thing to another, we find
the former Royalist and dissolute Cavalier actually the parish minister
of Bedford in Cromwell's so evangelical but otherwise so elastic
establishment.

At this point we open John Bunyan's _Grace Abounding to the Chief of
Sinners_, and we read this classical passage:--'Upon a day the good
providence of God did cast me to Bedford to work in my calling: and in
one of the streets of that town I came where there were three or four
poor women sitting at the door in the sun and talking about the things of
God.  But I may say I heard, but I understood not, for they were far
above and out of my reach . . . About this time I began to break my mind
to those poor people in Bedford, and to tell them of my condition, which,
when they had heard, they told Mr. Gifford of me, who himself also took
occasion to talk with me, and was willing to be well persuaded of me
though I think on too little grounds.  But he invited me to his house,
where I should hear him confer with others about the dealings of God with
their souls, from all which I still received more conviction, and from
that time began to see something of the vanity and inner wretchedness of
my own heart, for as yet I knew no great matter therein . . . At that
time also I sat under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford, whose doctrine,
by the grace of God, was much for my stability.'  And so on in that
inimitable narrative.

The first minister whose words were truly blessed of God for our
awakening and conversion has always a place of his own in our hearts.  We
all have some minister, some revivalist, some faithful friend, or some
good book in a warm place in our heart.  It may be a great city preacher;
it may be a humble American or Irish revivalist; it may be _The Pilgrim's
Progress_, or _The Cardiphonia_, or the _Serious Call_--whoever or
whatever it was that first arrested and awakened and turned us into the
way of life, they all our days stand in a place by themselves in our
grateful heart.  And John Gifford has been immortalised by John Bunyan,
both in his _Grace Abounding_ and in his _Pilgrim's Progress_.  In his
_Grace Abounding_, as we have just seen, and in _The Pilgrim_, Gifford
has his portrait painted in holy oil on the wall of the Interpreter's
house, and again in eloquent pen and ink in the person of Evangelist.

John Gifford had himself made a narrow escape out of the City of
Destruction, and John Bunyan had, by Gifford's assistance, made the same
escape also.  The scene, therefore, both within that city and outside the
gate of it, was so fixed in Bunyan's mind and memory that no part of his
memorable book is more memorably put than just its opening page.  Bunyan
himself is the man in rags, and Gifford is the evangelist who comes to
console and to conduct him.  Bunyan's portraits are all taken from the
life.  Brilliant and well-furnished as Bunyan's imagination was, Bedford
was still better furnished with all kinds of men and women, and with all
kinds of saints and sinners.  And thus, instead of drawing upon his
imagination in writing his books, Bunyan drew from life.  And thus it is
that we see first John Gifford, and then John Bunyan himself at the gate
of the city; and then, over the page, Gifford becomes the evangelist who
is sent by the four poor women to speak to the awakened tinker.

'Wherefore dost thou so cry?' asks Evangelist.  'Because,' replied the
man, 'I am condemned to die.'  'But why are you so unwilling to die,
since this life is so full of evils?'  And I suppose we must all hear
Evangelist putting the same pungent question to ourselves every day, at
whatever point of the celestial journey we at present are.  Yes; why are
we all so unwilling to die?  Why do we number our days to put off our
death to the last possible period?  Why do we so refuse to think of the
only thing we are sure soon to come to?  We are absolutely sure of
nothing else in the future but death.  We may not see to-morrow, but we
shall certainly see the day of our death.  And yet we have all our plans
laid for to-morrow, and only one here and one there has any plan laid for
the day of his death.  And can it be for the same reason that made the
man in rags unwilling to die?  Is it because of the burden on our back?
Is it because we are not fit to go to judgment?  And yet the trumpet may
sound summoning us hence before the midnight clock strikes.  If this be
thy condition, why standest thou still?  Dost thou see yonder shining
light?  Keep that light in thine eye.  Go up straight to it, knock at the
gate, and it shall be told thee there what thou shalt do next.  Burdened
sinner, son of man in rags and terror: What has burdened thee so?  What
has torn thy garments into such shameful rags?  What is it in thy burden
that makes it so heavy?  And how long has it lain so heavy upon thee?  'I
cannot run,' said the man, 'because of the burden on my back.'  And it
has been noticed of you that you do not laugh, or run, or dress, or
dance, or walk, or eat, or drink as once you did.  All men see that there
is some burden on your back; some sore burden on your heart and your
mind.  Do you see yonder wicket gate?  Do you see yonder shining light?
There is no light in all the horizon for you but yonder light over the
gate.  Keep it in your eye; make straight, and make at once for it, and
He who keeps the gate and keeps the light burning over it, He will tell
you what to do with your burden.  He told John Gifford, and He told John
Bunyan, till both their burdens rolled off their backs, and they saw them
no more.  What would you not give to-night to be released like them?  Do
you not see yonder shining light?

Having set Christian fairly on the way to the wicket gate, Evangelist
leaves him in order to seek out and assist some other seeker.  But
yesterday he had set Faithful's face to the celestial city, and he is off
now to look for another pilgrim.  We know some of Christian's adventures
and episodes after Evangelist left him, but we do not take up these at
present.  We pass on to the next time that Evangelist finds Christian,
and he finds him in a sorry plight.  He has listened to bad advice.  He
has gone off the right road, he has lost sight of the gate, and all the
thunders and lightnings of Sinai are rolling and flashing out against
him.  What doest thou here of all men in the world? asked Evangelist,
with a severe and dreadful countenance.  Did I not direct thee to His
gate, and why art thou here?  Christian told him that a fair-spoken man
had met him, and had persuaded him to take an easier and shorter way of
getting rid of his burden.  Read the whole place for yourselves.  The end
of it was that Evangelist set Christian right again, and gave him two
counsels which would be his salvation if he attended to them: Strive to
enter in at the strait gate, and, Take up thy cross daily.  He would need
more counsel afterwards than that; but, meantime, that was enough.  Let
Christian follow that, and he would before long be rid of his burden.

In the introductory lecture Bishop Butler has been commended and praised
as a moralist, and certainly not one word beyond his deserts; but an
evangelical preacher cannot send any man with the burden of a bad past
upon him to Butler for advice and direction about that.  While lecturing
on and praising the sound philosophical and ethical spirit of the great
bishop, Dr. Chalmers complains that he so much lacks the _sal
evangelicum_, the strength and the health and the sweetness of the
doctrines of grace.  Legality and Civility and Morality are all good and
necessary in their own places; but he is a cheat who would send a guilt-
burdened and sick-at-heart sinner to any or all of them.  The wicket gate
first, and then He who keeps that gate will tell us what to do, and where
next to go; but any other way out of the City of Destruction but by the
wicket gate is sure to land us where it landed Evangelist's quaking and
sweating charge.  When Bishop Butler lay on his deathbed he called for
his chaplain, and said, 'Though I have endeavoured to avoid sin, and to
please God to the utmost of my power, yet from the consciousness of my
perpetual infirmities I am still afraid to die.'  'My lord,' said his
happily evangelical chaplain, 'have you forgotten that Jesus Christ is a
Saviour?'  'True,' said the dying philosopher, 'but how shall I know that
He is a Saviour for me?'  'My lord, it is written, "Him that cometh to
Me, I will in no wise cast out."'  'True,' said Butler, 'and I am
surprised that though I have read that Scripture a thousand times, I
never felt its virtue till this moment, and now I die in peace.'

The third and the last time on which the pilgrims meet with their old
friend and helper, Evangelist, is when they are just at the gates of the
town of Vanity.  They have come through many wonderful experiences since
last they saw and spoke with him.  They have had the gate opened to them
by Goodwill.  They have been received and entertained in the
Interpreter's House, and in the House Beautiful.  The burden has fallen
off their backs at the cross, and they have had their rags removed and
have received change of raiment.  They have climbed the Hill Difficulty,
and they have fought their way through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
More than the half of their adventures and sufferings are past; but they
are not yet out of gunshot of the devil, and the bones of many a
promising pilgrim lie whitening the way between this and the city.  Many
of our young communicants have made a fair and a promising start for
salvation.  They have got over the initial difficulties that lay in their
way to the Lord's table, and we have entered their names with honest
pride in our communion roll.  But a year or two passes over, and the
critical season arrives when our young communicant 'comes out,' as the
word is.  Up till now she has been a child, a little maid, a Bible-class
student, a young communicant, a Sabbath-school teacher.  But she is now a
young lady, and she comes out into the world.  We soon see that she has
so come out, as we begin to miss her from places and from employments her
presence used to brighten; and, very unwillingly, we overhear men and
women with her name on their lips in a way that makes us fear for her
soul, till many, oh, in a single ministry, how many, who promised well at
the gate and ran safely past many snares, at last sell all--body and soul
and Saviour--in Vanity Fair.

Well, Evangelist remains Evangelist still.  Only, without losing any of
his sweetness and freeness and fulness of promise, he adds to that some
solemn warnings and counsels suitable now, as never before, to these two
pilgrims.  If one may say so, he would add now such moral treatises as
Butler's _Sermons_ and _Serious Call_ to such evangelical books as _Grace
Abounding_ and _A Jerusalem Sinner Saved_.

To-morrow the two pilgrims will come out of the wilderness and will be
plunged into a city where they will be offered all kinds of
merchandise,--houses, lands, places, honours, preferments, titles,
pleasures, delights, wives, children, bodies, souls, and what not.  An
altogether new world from anything they have yet come through, and a
world where many who once began well have gone no further.  Such counsels
as these, then, Evangelist gave Christian and Faithful as they left the
lonely wilderness behind them and came out towards the gate of the
seductive city--'Let the Kingdom of Heaven be always before your eyes,
and believe steadfastly concerning things that are invisible.'  Visible,
tangible, sweet, and desirable things will immediately be offered to
them, and unless they have a faith in their hearts that is the substance
of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, it will soon be
all over with them and their pilgrimage.  'Let no man take your crown,'
he said also, as he foresaw at how many booths and counters, houses,
lands, places, preferments, wives, husbands, and what not, would be
offered them and pressed upon them in exchange for their heavenly crown.
'Above all, look well to your own hearts,' he said.  Canon Venables
laments over the teaching that Bunyan received from John Gifford.  'Its
principle,' he says, 'was constant introspection and scrupulous weighing
of every word and deed, and even of every thought, instead of leading the
mind off from self to the Saviour.'  The canon seems to think that it was
specially unfortunate for Bunyan to be told to keep his heart and to
weigh well every thought of it; but I must point out to you that
Evangelist puts as above all other things the most important for the
pilgrims the looking well to their own hearts; and our plain-spoken
author has used a very severe word about any minister who should whisper
anything to any pilgrim that could be construed or misunderstood into
putting Christ in the place of thought and word and deed, and the
scrupulous weighing of every one of them.  'Let nothing that is on this
side the other world get within you; and above all, look well to your own
hearts, and to the lusts thereof.'

'Set your faces like a flint,' Evangelist proceeds.  How little like all
that you hear in the counsels of the pulpit to young women coming out and
to young men entering into business life.  I am convinced that if we
ministers were more direct and plain-spoken to such persons at such
times; if we, like Bunyan, told them plainly what kind of a world it is
they are coming out to buy and sell in, and what its merchandise and its
prices are; if our people would let us so preach to their sons and
daughters, I feel sure far fewer young communicants would make shipwreck,
and far fewer grey heads would go down with sorrow to the grave.  'Be not
afraid,' said Robert Hall in his charge to a young minister, 'of devoting
whole sermons to particular parts of moral conduct and religious duty.  It
is impossible to give right views of them unless you dissect characters
and describe particular virtues and vices.  The works of the flesh and
the fruits of the Spirit must be distinctly pointed out.  To preach
against sin in general without descending to particulars may lead many to
complain of the evil of their hearts, while at the same time they are
awfully inattentive to the evil of their conduct.'  Take Evangelist's
noble counsels at the gate of Vanity Fair, and then take John Bunyan's
masterly description of the Fair itself, with all that is bought and sold
in it, and you will have a lesson in evangelical preaching that the
evangelical pulpit needed in Bunyan's day, in Robert Hall's day, and not
less in our own.

'My sons, you have heard the truth of the gospel, that you must through
many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.  When, therefore, you are
come to the Fair and shall find fulfilled what I have here related, then
remember your friend; quit yourselves like men, and commit the keeping of
your souls to your God in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator.'




OBSTINATE


   'Be ye not as the mule.'--David.

Little Obstinate was born and brought up in the City of Destruction.  His
father was old Spare-the-Rod, and his mother's name was Spoil-the-Child.
Little Obstinate was the only child of his parents; he was born when they
were no longer young, and they doted on their only child, and gave him
his own way in everything.  Everything he asked for he got, and if he did
not immediately get it you would have heard his screams and his kicks
three doors off.  His parents were not in themselves bad people, but, if
Solomon speaks true, they hated their child, for they gave him all his
own way in everything, and nothing would ever make them say no to him, or
lift up the rod when he said no to them.  When the Scriptures, in their
pedagogical parts, speak so often about the rod, they do not necessarily
mean a rod of iron or even of wood.  There are other ways of teaching an
obstinate child than the way that Gideon took with the men of Succoth
when he taught them with the thorns of the wilderness and with the briars
thereof.  George Offor, John Bunyan's somewhat quaint editor, gives the
readers of his edition this personal testimony:--'After bringing up a
very large family, who are a blessing to their parents, I have yet to
learn what part of the human body was created to be beaten.'  At the same
time the rod must mean something in the word of God; it certainly means
something in God's hand when His obstinate children are under it, and it
ought to mean something in a godly parent's hand also.  Little
Obstinate's two parents were far from ungodly people, though they lived
in such a city; but they were daily destroying their only son by letting
him always have his own way, and by never saying no to his greed, and his
lies, and his anger, and his noisy and disorderly ways.  Eli in the Old
Testament was not a bad man, but he destroyed both the ark of the Lord
and himself and his sons also, because his sons made themselves vile, and
he restrained them not.  God's children are never so soft, and sweet, and
good, and happy as just after He restrains them, and has again laid the
rod of correction upon them.  They then kiss both the rod and Him who
appointed it.  And earthly fathers learn their craft from God.  The
meekness, the sweetness, the docility, and the love of a chastised child
has gone to all our hearts in a way we can never forget.  There is
something sometimes almost past description or belief in the way a
chastised child clings to and kisses the hand that chastised it.  But
poor old Spare-the-Rod never had experiences like that.  And young
Obstinate, having been born like Job's wild ass's colt, grew up to be a
man like David's unbitted and unbridled mule, till in after life he
became the author of all the evil and mischief that is associated in our
minds with his evil name.

In old Spare-the-Rod's child also this true proverb was fulfilled, that
the child is the father of the man.  For all that little Obstinate had
been in the nursery, in the schoolroom, and in the playground--all that,
only in an aggravated way--he was as a youth and as a grown-up man.  For
one thing, Obstinate all his days was a densely ignorant man.  He had not
got into the way of learning his lessons when he was a child; he had not
been made to learn his lessons when he was a child; and the dislike and
contempt he had for his books as a boy accompanied him through an
ignorant and a narrow-minded life.  It was reason enough to this so
unreasonable man not to buy and read a book that you had asked him to buy
and read it.  And so many of the books about him were either written, or
printed, or published, or sold, or read, or praised by people he did not
like, that there was little left for this unhappy man to read, even if
otherwise he would have read it.  And thus, as his mulish obstinacy kept
him so ignorant, so his ignorance in turn increased his obstinacy.  And
then when he came, as life went on, to have anything to do with other
men's affairs, either in public or in private life, either in the church,
or in the nation, or in the city, or in the family, this unhappy man
could only be a drag on all kinds of progress, and in obstacle to every
good work.  Use and wont, a very good rule on occasion, was a rigid and a
universal rule with Obstinate.  And to be told that the wont in this case
and in that had ceased to be the useful, only made him rail at you as
only an ignorant and an obstinate man can rail.  He could only rail; he
had not knowledge enough, or good temper enough, or good manners enough
to reason out a matter; he was too hot-tempered for an argument, and he
hated those who had an acquaintance with the subject in hand, and a self-
command in connection with it that he had not.  'The obstinate man's
understanding is like Pharaoh's heart, and it is proof against all sorts
of arguments whatsoever.'  Like the demented king of Egypt, the obstinate
man has glimpses sometimes both of his bounden duty and of his true
interest, but the sinew of iron that is in his neck will not let him
perform the one or pursue the other.  'Nothing,' says a penetrating
writer, 'is more like firm conviction than simple obstinacy.  Plots and
parties in the state, and heresies and divisions in the church alike
proceed from it.'  Let any honest man take that sentence and carry it
like a candle down into his own heart and back into his own life, and
then with the insight and honesty there learned carry the same candle
back through some of the plots and parties, the heresies and schisms of
the past as well as of the present day, and he will have learned a lesson
that will surely help to cure himself, at any rate, of his own remaining
obstinacy.  All our firm convictions, as we too easily and too fondly
call them, must continually be examined and searched out in the light of
more reading of the best authors, in the light of more experience of
ourselves and of the world we live in, and in that best of all light,
that increasing purity, simplicity, and sincerity of heart alone can
kindle.  And in not a few instances we shall to a certainty find that
what has hitherto been clothing itself with the honourable name and
character of a conviction was all the time only an ignorant prejudice, a
distaste or a dislike, a too great fondness for ourselves and for our own
opinion and our own interest.  Many of our firmest convictions, as we now
call them, when we shall have let light enough fall upon them, we shall
be compelled and enabled to confess to be at bottom mere mulishness and
pride of heart.  The mulish, obstinate, and proud man never says, I don't
know.  He never asks anything to be explained to him.  He never admits
that he has got any new light.  He never admits having spoken or acted
wrongly.  He never takes back what he has said.  He was never heard to
say, You are right in that line of action, and I have all along been
wrong.  Had he ever said that, the day he said it would have been a white-
stone day both for his mind and his heart.  Only, the spoiled son of
Spare-the-Rod never said that, or anything like that.

But, most unfortunately, it is in the very best things of life that the
true mulishness of the obstinate man most comes out.  He shows worst in
his home life and in the matters of religion.  When our Obstinate was in
love he was as sweet as honey and as soft as butter.  His old friends
that he used so to trample upon scarcely recognised him.  They had
sometimes seen men converted, but they had never seen such an immediate
and such a complete conversion as this.  He actually invited correction,
and reproof, and advice, and assistance, who had often struck at you with
his hands and his feet when you even hinted at such a thing to him.  The
best upbringing, the best books, the best preaching, the best and most
obedient life, taken all together, had not done for other men what a
woman's smile and the touch of her hand had in a moment done for this
once so obstinate man.  He would read anything now, and especially the
best books.  He would hear and enjoy any preacher now, and especially the
best and most earnest in preaching.  His old likes and dislikes,
prejudices and prepossessions, self-opinionativeness and
self-assertiveness all miraculously melted off him, and he became in a
day an open-minded, intelligent, good-mannered, devout-minded gentleman.
He who was once such a mule to everybody was now led about by a child in
a silken bridle.  All old things had passed away, and all things had
become new.  For a time; for a time.  But time passes, and there passes
away with it all the humility, meekness, pliability, softness, and
sweetness of the obstinate man.  Till when long enough time has elapsed
you find him all the obstinate and mulish man he ever was.  It is not
that he has ceased to love his wife and his children.  It is not that.
But there is this in all genuine and inbred obstinacy, that after a time
it often comes out worst beside those we love best.  A man will be
affable, accessible, entertaining, the best of company, and the soul of
it abroad, and, then, instantly he turns the latch-key in his own door he
will relapse into silence, and sink back into utter boorishness and
bearishness, mulishness and doggedness.  He swallows his evening meal at
the foot of the table in silence, and then he sits all night at the
fireside with a cloud out of nothing on his brow.  His sunshine, his
smile, and his universal urbanity is all gone now; he is discourteous to
nobody but to his own wife.  Nothing pleases him; he finds nothing at
home to his mind.  The furniture, the hours, the habits of the house are
all disposed so as to please him; but he was never yet heard to say to
wife, or child, or servant that he was pleased.  He never says that a
meal is to his taste or a seat set so as to shelter and repose him.  The
obstinate man makes his house a very prison and treadmill to himself and
to all those who are condemned to suffer with him.  And all the time it
is not that he does not love and honour his household; but by an evil law
of the obstinate heart its worst obstinacy and mulishness comes out among
those it loves best.

But, my brethren, worse than all that, we have all what good Bishop Hall
calls 'a stone of obstination' in our hearts against God.  With all his
own depth and clearness and plain-spokenness, Paul tells us that our
hearts are by nature enmity against God.  Were we proud and obstinate and
malicious against men only it would be bad enough, and it would be
difficult enough to cure, but our case is dreadful beyond all description
or belief when our obstinacy strikes out against God.  We know as well as
we know anything, that in doing this and in not doing that we are going
every day right in the teeth both of God's law and God's grace; and yet
in the sheer obstinacy and perversity of our heart we still go on in what
we know quite well to be the suicide of our souls.  We are told by our
minister to do this and not to do that; to begin to do this at this new
year and to break off from doing that; but, partly through obstinacy
towards him, reinforced by a deeper and subtler and deadlier obstinacy
against God, and against all the deepest and most godly of the things of
God, we neither do the one nor cease from doing the other.  There is a
sullenness in some men's minds, a gloom and a bitter air that rises up
from the unploughed, undrained, unweeded, uncultivated fens of their
hearts that chills and blasts all the feeble beginnings of a better life.
The natural and constitutional obstinacy of the obstinate heart is
exasperated when it comes to deal with the things of God.  For it is then
reinforced with all the guilt and all the fear, all the suspicion and all
the aversion of the corrupt and self-condemned heart.  There is an
obdurateness of obstinacy against all the men, and the books, and the
doctrines, and the precepts, and the practices that are in any way
connected with spiritual religion that does not come out even in the
obstinate man's family life.

John Bunyan's Obstinate, both by his conduct as well as by the etymology
of his name, not only stands in the way of his own salvation, but he does
all he can to stand in the way of other men setting out to salvation
also.  Obstinate set out after Christian to fetch him back by force, and
if it had not been that he met his match in Christian, _The Pilgrim's
Progress_ would never have been written.  'That can by no means be,' said
Christian to his pursuer, and he is first called Christian when he shows
that one man can be as obstinate in good as another man can be in evil.
'I never now can go back to my former life.'  And then the two obstinate
men parted company for ever, Christian in holy obstinacy being determined
to have eternal life at any cost, and Obstinate as determined against it.
The opening pages of _The Pilgrim's Progress_ set the two men very
graphically and very impressively before us.

As to the cure of obstinacy, the rod in a firm, watchful, wise, and
loving hand will cure it.  And in later life a long enough and close
enough succession of humble, yielding, docile, submissive,
self-chastening and thanksgiving acts will cure it.  Reading and obeying
the best books on the subjugation and the regulation of the heart will
cure it.  Descending with Dante to where the obstinate, and the
embittered, and the gloomy, and the sullen have made their beds in hell
will cure it.  And much and most agonising prayer will above all cure it.

   'O Lord, if thus so obstinate I,
   Choose Thou, before my spirit die,
   A piercing pain, a killing sin,
   And to my proud heart run them in.




PLIABLE


   'He hath not root in himself.'--Our Lord.

With one stroke of His pencil our Lord gives us this Flaxman-like outline
of one of his well-known hearers.  And then John Bunyan takes up that so
expressive profile, and puts flesh and blood into it, till it becomes the
well-known Pliable of _The Pilgrim's Progress_.  We call the text a
parable, but our Lord's parables are all portraits--portraits and groups
of portraits, rather than ordinary parables.  Our Lord knew this man
quite well who had no root in himself.  Our Lord had crowds of such men
always running after Him, and He threw off this rapid portrait from
hundreds of men and women who caused discredit to fall on His name and
His work, and burdened His heart continually.  And John Bunyan, with all
his genius, could never have given us such speaking likenesses as that of
Pliable and Temporary and Talkative, unless he had had scores of them in
his own congregation.

Our Lord's short preliminary description of Pliable goes, like all His
descriptions, to the very bottom of the whole matter.  Our Lord in this
passage is like one of those masterly artists who begin their portrait-
painting with the study of anatomy.  All the great artists in this walk
build up their best portraits from the inside of their subjects.  He hath
not root in himself, says our Lord, and we need no more than that to be
told us to foresee how all his outside religion will end.  'Without self-
knowledge,' says one of the greatest students of the human heart that
ever lived, 'you have no real root in yourselves.  Real self-knowledge is
the root of all real religious knowledge.  It is a deceit and a mischief
to think that the Christian doctrines can either be understood or aright
accepted by any outward means.  It is just in proportion as we search our
own hearts and understand our own nature that we shall ever feel what a
blessing the removal of sin will be; redemption, pardon, sanctification,
are all otherwise mere words without meaning or power to us.  God speaks
to us first in our own hearts.'  Happily for us our Lord has annotated
His own text and has told us that an honest heart is the alone root of
all true religion.  Honest, that is, with itself, and with God and man
about itself.  As David says in his so honest psalm, 'Behold, Thou
desirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part Thou shalt
make me to know wisdom.'  And, indeed, all the preachers and writers in
Scripture, and all Scriptural preachers and writers outside of Scripture,
are at one in this: that all true wisdom begins at home, and that it all
begins at the heart.  And they all teach us that he is the wisest of men
who has the worst opinion of his own heart, as he is the foolishest of
men who does not know his own heart to be the worst heart that ever any
man was cursed with in this world.  'Here is wisdom': not to know the
number of the beast, but to know his mark, and to read it written so
indelibly in our own heart.

And where this first and best of all wisdom is not, there, in our Lord's
words, there is no deepness of earth, no root, and no fruit.  And any
religion that most men have is of this outside, shallow, rootless
description.  This was all the religion that poor Pliable ever had.  This
poor creature had a certain slight root of something that looked like
religion for a short season, but even that slight root was all outside of
himself.  His root, what he had of a root, was all in Christian's
companionship and impassioned appeals, and then in those impressive
passages of Scripture that Christian read to him.  At your first
attention to these things you would think that no possible root could be
better planted than in the Bible and in earnest preaching.  But even the
Bible, and, much more, the best preaching, is all really outside of a man
till true religion once gets its piercing roots down into himself.  We
have perhaps all heard of men, and men of no small eminence, who were
brought up to believe the teaching of the Bible and the pulpit, but who,
when some of their inherited and external ideas about some things
connected with the Bible began to be shaken, straightway felt as if all
the grounds of their faith were shaken, and all the roots of their faith
pulled up.  But where that happened, all that was because such men's
religion was all rooted outside of themselves; in the best things outside
of themselves, indeed, but because, in our Lord's words, their religion
was rooted in something outside of themselves and not inside, they were
by and by offended, and threw off their faith.  There is another well-
known class of men all whose religion is rooted in their church, and in
their church not as a member of the body of Christ, but as a social
institution set up in this world.  They believe in their church.  They
worship their church.  They suffer and make sacrifices for their church.
They are proud of the size and the income of their church; her past
contendings and sufferings, and present dangers, all endear their church
to their heart.  But if tribulation and persecution arise, that is to
say, if anything arises to vex or thwart or disappoint them with their
church, they incontinently pull up their roots and their religion with
it, and transplant both to any other church that for the time better
pleases them, or to no church at all.  Others, again, have all their
religiosity rooted in their family life.  Their religion is all made up
of domestic sentiment.  They love their earthly home with that supreme
satisfaction and that all-absorbing affection that truly religious men
entertain for their heavenly home.  And thus it is that when anything
happens to disturb or break up their earthly home their rootless
religiosity goes with it.  Other men's religion, again, and all their
interest in it, is rooted in their shop; you can make them anything or
nothing in religion, according as you do or do not do business in their
shop.  Companionship, also, accounts for the fluctuations of many men's,
and almost all women's, religious lives.  If they happen to fall in with
godly lovers and friends, they are sincerely godly with them; but if
their companions are indifferent or hostile to true religion, they
gradually fall into the same temper and attitude.  We sometimes see
students destined for the Christian ministry also with all their religion
so without root in themselves that a session in an unsympathetic class, a
sceptical book, sometimes just a sneer or a scoff, will wither all the
promise of their coming service.  And so on through the whole of human
life.  He that hath not the root of the matter in himself dureth for a
while, but by and by, for one reason or another, he is sure to be
offended.

So much, then,--not enough, nor good enough--for our Lord's swift stroke
at the heart of His hearers.  But let us now pass on to Pliable, as he so
soon and so completely discovers himself to us under John Bunyan's so
skilful hand.  Look well at our author's speaking portrait of a
well-known man in Bedford who had no root in himself, and who, as a
consequence, was pliable to any influence, good or bad, that happened to
come across him.  'Don't revile,' are the first words that come from
Pliable's lips, and they are not unpromising words.  Pliable is hurt with
Obstinate's coarse abuse of the Christian life, till he is downright
ashamed to be seen in his company.  Pliable, at least, is a gentleman
compared with Obstinate, and his gentlemanly feelings and his good
manners make him at once take sides with Christian.  Obstinate's foul
tongue has almost made Pliable a Christian.  And this finely-conceived
scene on the plain outside the city gate is enacted over again every day
among ourselves.  Where men are in dead earnest about religion it always
arouses the bad passions of bad men; and where earnest preachers and
devoted workers are assailed with violence or with bad language, there is
always enough love of fair play in the bystanders to compel them to take
sides, for the time at least, with those who suffer for the truth.  And
we are sometimes too apt to count all that love of common fairness, and
that hatred of foul play, as a sure sign of some sympathy with the hated
truth itself.  When an onlooker says 'Don't revile,' we are too ready to
set down that expression of civility as at least the first beginning of
true religion.  But the religion of Jesus Christ cuts far deeper into the
heart of man than to the dividing asunder of justice and injustice,
civility and incivility, ribaldry and good manners.  And it is always
found in the long-run that the cross of Christ and its crucifixion of the
human heart goes quite as hard with the gentlemanly-mannered man, the
civil and urbane man, as it does with the man of bad behaviour and of
brutish manners.  'Civil men,' says Thomas Goodwin, 'are this world's
saints.'  And poor Pliable was one of them.  'My heart really inclines to
go with my neighbour,' said Pliable next.  'Yes,' he said, 'I begin to
come to a point.  I really think I will go along with this good man.  Yes,
I will cast in my lot with him.  Come, good neighbour, let us be going.'

The apocalyptic side of some men's imaginations is very easily worked
upon.  No kind of book sells better among those of our people who have no
root in themselves than just picture-books about heaven.  Our
missionaries make use of lantern-slides to bring home the scenes in the
Gospels to the dull minds of their village hearers, and with good
success.  And at home a magic-lantern filled with the splendours of the
New Jerusalem would carry multitudes of rootless hearts quite captive for
a time.  'Well said; and what else?  This is excellent; and what else?'
Christian could not tell Pliable fast enough about the glories of heaven.
'There we shall be with seraphim and cherubim, creatures that will dazzle
your eyes to look on them.  There also you shall meet with thousands and
ten thousands who have gone before us to that place.  Elders with golden
crowns, and holy virgins with golden harps, and all clothed with
immortality as with a garment.'  'The hearing of all this,' cried
Pliable, 'is enough to ravish one's heart.'  'An overly faith,' says old
Thomas Shepard, 'is easily wrought.'

As if the text itself was not graphic enough, Bunyan's racy, humorous,
pathetic style overflows the text and enriches the very margins of his
pages, as every possessor of a good edition of _The Pilgrim_ knows.
'Christian and Obstinate pull for Pliable's soul' is the eloquent summary
set down on the side of the sufficiently eloquent page.  As the picture
of a man's soul being pulled for rises before my mind, I can think of no
better companion picture to that of Pliable than that of poor, hard-beset
Brodie of Brodie, as he lets us see the pull for his soul in the honest
pages of his inward diary.  Under the head of 'Pliable' in my Bunyan note-
book I find a crowd of references to Brodie; and if only to illustrate
our author's marginal note, I shall transcribe one or two of them.  'The
writer of this diary desires to be cast down under the facileness and
plausibleness of his nature, by which he labours to please men more than
God, and whence it comes that the wicked speak good of him . . . The Lord
pity the proneness of his heart to comply with the men who have the power
. . . Lord, he is unsound and double in his heart, politically crafty,
selfish, not savouring nor discerning the things of God . . . Let not
self-love, wit, craft, and timorousness corrupt his mind, but indue him
with fortitude, patience, steadfastness, tenderness, mortification . . .
Shall I expose myself and my family to danger at this time?  A grain of
sound faith would solve all my questions.'  'Die Dom.  I stayed at home,
partly to decline the ill-will and rage of men and to decline
observation.'  Or, take another Sabbath-day entry: 'Die Dom.  I stayed at
home, because of the time, and the observation, and the Earl of Moray . .
. Came to Cuttiehillock.  I am neither cold nor hot.  I am not rightly
principled as to the time.  I suspect that it is not all conscience that
makes me conform, but wit, and to avoid suffering; Lord, deliver me from
all this unsoundness of heart.'  And after this miserable fashion do
heaven and earth, duty and self-interest, the covenant and the crown pull
for Lord Brodie's soul through 422 quarto pages.  Brodie's diary is one
of the most humiliating, heart-searching, and heart-instructing books I
ever read.  Let all public men tempted and afflicted with a facile,
pliable, time-serving heart have honest Brodie at their elbow.

'Glad I am, my good companion,' said Pliable, after the passage about the
cherubim and the seraphim, and the golden crowns and the golden harps,
'it ravishes my very heart to hear all this.  Come on, let us mend our
pace.'  This is delightful, this is perfect.  How often have we ourselves
heard these very words of challenge and reproof from the pliable
frequenters of emotional meetings, and from the emotional members of an
emotional but rootless ministry.  Come on, let us mend our pace!  'I am
sorry to say,' replied the man with the burden on his back, 'that I
cannot go so fast as I would.'  'Christian,' says Mr. Kerr Bain, 'has
more to carry than Pliable has, as, indeed, he would still have if he
were carrying nothing but himself; and he does have about him, besides, a
few sobering thoughts as to the length and labour and some of the
unforeseen chances of the way.'  And as Dean Paget says in his profound
and powerful sermon on 'The Disasters of Shallowness': 'Yes, but there is
something else first; something else without which that inexpensive
brightness, that easy hopefulness, is apt to be a frail resourceless
growth, withering away when the sun is up and the hot winds of trial are
sweeping over it.  We must open our hearts to our religion; we must have
the inward soil broken up, freely and deeply its roots must penetrate our
inner being.  We must take to ourselves in silence and in sincerity its
words of judgment with its words of hope, its sternness with its
encouragement, its denunciations with its promises, its requirements,
with its offers, its absolute intolerance of sin with its inconceivable
and divine long-suffering towards sinners.'  But preaching like this
would have frightened away poor Pliable.  He would not have understood
it, and what he did understand of it he would have hated with all his
shallow heart.

'Where are we now?' called Pliable to his companion, as they both went
over head and ears into the Slough of Despond.  'Truly,' said Christian,
'I do not know.'--No work of man is perfect, not even the all-but-perfect
_Pilgrim's Progress_.  Christian was bound to fall sooner or later into a
slough filled with his own despondency about himself, his past guilt, his
present sinfulness, and his anxious future.  But Pliable had not
knowledge enough of himself to make him ever despond.  He was always
ready and able to mend his pace.  He had no burden on his back, and
therefore no doubt in his heart.  But Christian had enough of both for
any ten men, and it was Christian's overflowing despondency and doubt at
this point of the road that suddenly filled his own slough, and, I
suppose, overflowed into a slough for Pliable also.  Had Pliable only had
a genuine and original slough of his own to so sink and be bedaubed in,
he would have got out of it at the right side of it, and been a tender-
stepping pilgrim all his days.--'Is this the happiness you have told me
all this while of?  May I get out of this with my life, you may possess
the brave country alone for me.'  And with that he gave a desperate
struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which
was next his own house; so he went away, and Christian saw him no more.
'The side of the slough which was next his own house.'  Let us close with
that.  Let us go home thinking about that.  And in this trial of faith
and patience, and in that, in this temptation to sin, and in that, in
this actual transgression, and in that, let us always ask ourselves which
is the side of the slough that is farthest away from our own house, and
let us still struggle to that side of the slough, and it will all be well
with us at the last.




HELP


   'I was brought low, and He helped me.'--David.

The Slough of Despond is one of John Bunyan's masterpieces.  In his
description of the slough, Bunyan touches his highest water-mark for
humour, and pathos, and power, and beauty of language.  If we did not
have the English Bible in our own hands we would have to ask, as Lord
Jeffrey asked Lord Macaulay, where the brazier of Bedford got his
inimitable style.  Bunyan confesses to us that he got all his Latin from
the prescription papers of his doctors, and we know that he got all his
perfect English from his English Bible.  And then he got his humour and
his pathos out of his own deep and tender heart.  The God of all grace
gave a great gift to the English-speaking world and to the Church of
Christ in all lands when He created and converted John Bunyan, and put it
into his head and his heart to compose _The Pilgrim's Progress_.  His
heart-affecting page on the slough has been wetted with the tears of
thousands of its readers, and their tears have been mingled with smiles
as they read their own sin and misery, and the never-to-be-forgotten time
and place where their sin and misery first found them out, all told so
recognisably, so pathetically, and so amusingly almost to laughableness
in the passage upon the slough.  We see the ocean of scum and filth
pouring down into the slough through the subterranean sewers of the City
of Destruction and of the Town of Stupidity, which lies four degrees
beyond the City of Destruction, and from many other of the houses and
haunts of men.  We see His Majesty's sappers and miners at their wits'
end how to cope with the deluges of pollution that pour into this slough
that they have been ordained to drain and dry up.  For ages and ages the
royal surveyors have been laying out all their skill on this slough.  More
cartloads than you could count of the best material for filling up a
slough have been shot into it, and yet you would never know that so much
as a single labourer had emptied his barrow here.  True, excellent
stepping-stones have been laid across the slough by skilful engineers,
but they are always so slippery with the scum and slime of the slough,
that it is only now and then that a traveller can keep his feet upon
them.  Altogether, our author's picture of the Slough of Despond is such
a picture that no one who has seen it can ever forget it.  But better
than reading the best description of the slough is to see certain well-
known pilgrims trying to cross it.  Mr. Fearing at the Slough of Despond
was a tale often told at the tavern suppers of that country.  Never
pilgrim attempted the perilous journey with such a chicken-heart in his
bosom as this Mr. Fearing.  He lay above a month on the bank of the
slough, and would not even attempt the steps.  Some kind Pilgrims, though
they had enough to do to keep the steps themselves, offered him a hand;
but no.  And after they were safely over it made them almost weep to hear
the man still roaring in his horror at the other side.  Some bade him go
home if he would not take the steps, but he said that he would rather
make his grave in the slough than go back one hairsbreadth.  Till, one
sunshiny morning,--no one knew how, and he never knew how himself--the
steps were so high and dry, and the scum and slime were so low, that this
hare-hearted man made a venture, and so got over.  But, then, as an
unkind friend of his said, this pitiful pilgrim had a slough of despond
in his own mind which he carried always and everywhere about with him,
and made him the proverb of despondency that he was and is.  Only, that
sunshiny morning he got over both the slough inside of him and outside of
him, and was heard by Help and his family singing this song on the hither
side of the slough: 'He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of
the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.'

Our pilgrim did not have such a good crossing as Mr. Fearing.  Whether it
was that the discharge from the city was deeper and fouler, or that the
day was darker, or what, we are not told, but both Christian and Pliable
were in a moment out of sight in the slough.  They both wallowed, says
their plain-spoken historian, in the slough, only the one of the two who
had the burden on his back at every wallow went deeper into the mire;
when his neighbour, who had no such burden, instead of coming to his
assistance, got out of the slough at the same side as he had entered it,
and made with all his might for his own house.  But the man called
Christian made what way he could, and still tumbled on to the side of the
slough that was farthest from his own house, till a man called Help gave
him his hand and set him upon sound ground.  Christiana, again, and Mercy
and the boys found the slough in a far worse condition than it had ever
been found before.  And the reason was not that the country that drained
into the slough was worse, but that those who had the mending of the
slough and the keeping in repair of the steps had so bungled their work
that they had marred the way instead of mending it.  At the same time, by
the tact and good sense of Mercy, the whole party got over, Mercy
remarking to the mother of the boys, that if she had as good ground to
hope for a loving reception at the gate as Christiana had, no slough of
despond would discourage her, she said.  To which the older woman made
the characteristic reply: 'You know your sore and I know mine, and we
shall both have enough evil to face before we come to our journey's end.'

Now, I do not for a moment suppose that there is any one here who can
need to be told what the Slough of Despond in reality is.  Indeed, its
very name sufficiently declares it.  But if any one should still be at a
loss to understand this terrible experience of all the pilgrims, the
explanation offered by the good man who gave Christian his hand may here
be repeated.  'This miry slough,' he said, 'is such a place as cannot be
mended.  This slough is the descent whither the scum and filth that
attends conviction of sin doth continually run, and therefore it is
called by the name of Despond, for still as the sinner is awakened about
his lost condition there ariseth in his soul many fears and doubts and
discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in
this place, and this is the reason of the badness of the ground.'  That
is the parable, with its interpretation; but there is a passage in _Grace
Abounding_ which is no parable, and which may even better than this so
pictorial slough describe some men's condition here.  'My original and
inward pollution,' says Bunyan himself in his autobiography, 'that, that
was my plague and my affliction; that, I say, at a dreadful rate was
always putting itself forth within me; that I had the guilt of to
amazement; by reason of that I was more loathsome in my own eyes than a
toad; and I thought I was so in God's eyes also.  Sin and corruption
would bubble up out of my heart as naturally as water bubbles up out of a
fountain.  I thought now that every one had a better heart than I had.  I
could have changed heart with anybody.  I thought none but the devil
himself could equalise me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind.  I
fell, therefore, at the sight of my own vileness, deeply into despair,
for I concluded that this condition in which I was in could not stand
with a life of grace.  Sure, thought I, I am forsaken of God; sure I am
given up to the devil, and to a reprobate mind.'

   'Let no man, then, count me a fable maker,
   Nor made my name and credit a partaker
   Of their derision: what is here in view,
   Of mine own knowledge I dare say is true.'

Sometimes, as with Christian at the slough, a man's way in life is all
slashed up into sudden ditches and pitfalls out of the sins of his youth.
His sins, by God's grace, find him out, and under their arrest and
overthrow he begins to seek his way to a better life and a better world;
and then both the burden and the slough have their explanation and
fulfilment in his own life every day.  But it is even more dreadful than
a slough in a man's way to have a slough in his mind, as both Bunyan
himself and Mr. Fearing, his exquisite creation, had.  After the awful-
enough slough, filled with the guilt and fear of actual sin, had been
bridged and crossed and left behind, a still worse slough of inward
corruption and pollution rose up in John Bunyan's soul and threatened to
engulf him altogether.  So terrible to Bunyan was this experience, that
he has not thought it possible to make a parable of it, and so put it
into the _Pilgrim_; he has kept it rather for the plain, direct,
unpictured, personal testimony of the _Grace Abounding_.  I do not know
another passage anywhere to compare with the eighty-fourth paragraph of
_Grace Abounding_ for hope and encouragement to a great inward sinner
under a great inward sanctification.  I commend that powerful passage to
the appropriation of any man here who may have stuck fast in the Slough
of Despond to-day, and who could not on that account come to the Lord's
Table.  Let him still struggle out at the side of the slough farthest
from his own house, and to-night, who can tell, Help may come and give
that man his hand.  When the Slough of Despond is drained, and its bottom
laid bare, what a find of all kinds of precious treasures shall be laid
bare!  Will you be able to lay claim to any of it when the long-lost
treasure-trove is distributed by command of the King to its rightful
owners?

'What are you doing there?' the man whose name was Help demanded of
Christian, as he still wallowed and plunged to the hither side of the
slough, 'and why did you not look for the steps?'  And so saying he set
Christian's feet upon sound ground again, and showed him the nearest way
to the gate.  Help is one of the King's officers who are planted all
along the way to the Celestial City, in order to assist and counsel all
pilgrims.  Evangelist was one of those officers; this Help is another;
Goodwill will be another, unless, indeed, he is more than a mere officer;
Interpreter will be another, and Greatheart, and so on.  All these are
preachers and pastors and evangelists who correspond to all those names
and all their offices.  Only some unhappy preachers are better at pushing
poor pilgrims into the slough, and pushing them down to the bottom of it,
than they are at helping a sinking pilgrim out; while some other more
happy preachers and pastors have their manses built at the hither side of
the slough and do nothing else all their days but help pilgrims out of
their slough and direct them to the gate.  And then there are multitudes
of so-called ministers who eat the King's bread who can neither push a
proud sinner into the slough nor help a prostrate sinner out of it; no,
nor point him the way when he has himself wallowed out.  And then, there
are men called ministers, too, who also eat the King's bread, whose voice
you never hear in connection with such matters, unless it be to revile
both the pilgrims and their helpers, and all who run with fear and
trembling up the heavenly road.  But our pilgrim was happy enough to meet
with a minister to whom he could look back all his remaining pilgrimage
and say: 'He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry
clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he
hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God.'

Now, as might have been expected, there is a great deal said about all
kinds of help in the Bible.  After the help of God, of which the Bible
and especially the more experimental Psalms are full, this fine name is
then applied to many Scriptural persons, and on many Scriptural
occasions.  The first woman whom God Almighty made bore from her Maker to
her husband this noble name.  Her Father, so to speak, gave her away
under this noble name.  And of all the sweet and noble names that a woman
bears, there is none so rich, so sweet, so lasting, and so fruitful as
just her first Divine name of a helpmeet.  And how favoured of God is
that man to be accounted whose life still continues to draw meet help out
of his wife's fulness of help, till all her and his days together he is
able to say, I have of God a helpmeet indeed!  For in how many sloughs do
many men lie till this daughter of Help gives them her hand, and out of
how many more sloughs are they all their days by her delivered and kept!
Sweet, maidenly, and most sensible Mercy was a great help to widow
Christiana at the slough, and to her and her sons all the way up to the
river--a very present help in many a need to her future mother-in-law and
her pilgrim sons.  Let every young man seek his future wife of God, and
let him seek her of her Divine Father under that fine, homely, divine
name.  For God, who knoweth what we have need of before we ask Him, likes
nothing better than to make a helpmeet for those who so ask Him, and
still to bring the woman to the man under that so spouse-like name.

   'What next I bring shall please thee, be assured,
   Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
   Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.'

And then when the apostle is making an enumeration of the various offices
and agencies in the New Testament church of his day, after apostles and
teachers and gifts of healing, he says, 'helps,'--assistants, that is,
succourers, especially of the sick and the aged and the poor.  And we do
not read that either election or ordination was needed to make any given
member of the apostolic church a helper.  But we do read of helpers being
found by the apostle among all classes and conditions of that rich and
living church; both sexes, all ages, and all descriptions of church
members bore this fine apostolic name.  'Salute Urbane, our helper in
Christ . . . Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ.'  And both
Paul and John and all the apostles were forward to confess in their
epistles how much they owed of their apostolic success, as well as of
their personal comfort and joy, to the helpers, both men and women, their
Lord had blessed them with.

Now, the most part of us here to-night have been at the Lord's Table to-
day.  We kept our feet firm on the steps as we skirted or crossed the
slough that self-examination always fills and defiles for us before every
new communion.  And before our Lord let us rise from His Table this
morning.  He again said to us: 'Ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say
well, for so I am.  If I then have given you My hand, and have helped
you, ye ought also to help one another.'  Who, then, any more will
withhold such help as it is in his power to give to a sinking brother?
And you do not need to go far afield seeking the slough of desponding,
despairing, drowning men.  This whole world is full of such sloughs.
There is scarce sound ground enough in this world on which to build a
slough-watcher's tower.  And after it is built, the very tower itself is
soon stained and blinded with the scudding slime.  Where are your eyes,
and full of what?  Do you not see sloughs full of sinking men at your
very door; ay, and inside of your best built and best kept house?  Your
very next neighbour; nay, your own flesh and blood, if they have nothing
else of Greatheart's most troublesome pilgrim about them, have at least
this, that they carry about a slough with them in their own mind and in
their own heart.  Have you only henceforth a heart and a hand to help,
and see if hundreds of sinking hearts do not cry out your name, and
hundreds of slimy hands grasp at your stretched-out arm.  Sloughs of all
kinds of vice, open and secret; sloughs of poverty, sloughs of youthful
ignorance, temptation, and transgression; sloughs of inward gloom, family
disquiet and dispute; lonely grief; all manner of sloughs, deep and miry,
where no man would suspect them.  And how good, how like Christ Himself,
and how well-pleasing to Him to lay down steps for such sliding feet, and
to lift out another and another human soul upon sound and solid ground.
'Know ye what I have done to you?  For I have given you an example, that
ye should do as I have done to you.  If ye know these things, happy are
ye if ye do them.'




MR. WORLDLY-WISEMAN


   'Wise in this world.'--Paul.

Mr. Worldly-Wiseman has a long history behind him on which we cannot now
enter at any length.  As a child, the little worldling, it was observed,
took much after his secular father, but much more after his scheming
mother.  He was already a self-seeking, self-satisfied youth; and when he
became a man and began business for himself, no man's business flourished
like his.  'Nothing of news,' says his biographer in another place,
'nothing of doctrine, nothing of alteration or talk of alteration could
at any time be set on foot in the town but be sure Mr. Worldly-Wiseman
would be at the head or tail of it.  But, to be sure, he would always
decline those he deemed to be the weakest, and stood always with those,
in his way of thinking, that he supposed were the strongest side.'  He
was a man, it was often remarked, of but one book also.  Sunday and
Saturday he was to be found deep in _The Architect of Fortune_; _or_,
_Advancement in Life_, a book written by its author so as to 'come home
to all men's business and bosoms.'  He drove over scrupulously once a
Sunday to the State church, of which he was one of the most determined
pillars.  He had set his mind on being Lord Mayor of the town before
long, and he was determined that his eldest son should be called Sir
Worldly-Wiseman after him, and he chose his church accordingly.  Another
of his biographers in this connection wrote of him thus: 'Our Lord Mayor
parted his religion betwixt his conscience and his purse, and he went to
church not to serve God, but to please the king.  The face of the law
made him wear the mask of the Gospel, which he used not as a means to
save his soul, but his charges.'  Such, in a short word, was this
'sottish man' who crossed over the field to meet with our pilgrim when he
was walking solitary by himself after his escape from the slough.

'How now, good fellow?  Whither away after this burdened manner?'  What a
contrast those two men were to one another in the midst of that plain
that day!  Our pilgrim was full of the most laborious going; sighs and
groans rose out of his heart at every step; and then his burden on his
back, and his filthy, slimy rags all made him a picture such that it was
to any man's credit and praise that he should stop to speak to him.  And
then, when our pilgrim looked up, he saw a gentleman standing beside him
to whom he was ashamed to speak.  For the gentleman had no burden on his
back, and he did not go over the plain laboriously.  There was not a spot
or a speck, a rent or a wrinkle on all his fine raiment.  He could not
have been better appointed if he had just stepped out of the gate at the
head of the way; they can wear no cleaner garments than his in the
Celestial City itself.  'How now, good fellow?  Whither away after this
burdened manner?'  'A burdened manner, indeed, as ever I think poor
creature had.  And whereas you ask me whither away, I tell you, sir, I am
going to yonder wicket gate before me; for there, as I am informed, I
shall be put into a way to be rid of my heavy burden.'  'Hast thou a wife
and children?'  Yes; he is ashamed to say that he has.  But he confesses
that he cannot to-day take the pleasure in them that he used to do.  Since
his sin so came upon him, he is sometimes as if he had neither wife nor
child nor a house over his head.  John Bunyan was of Samuel Rutherford's
terrible experience,--that our sins and our sinfulness poison all our
best enjoyments.  We do not hear much of Rutherford's wife and children,
and that, no doubt, for the sufficient reason that he gives us in his so
open-minded letter.  But Bunyan laments over his blind child with a
lament worthy to stand beside the lament of David over Absalom, and again
over Saul and Jonathan at Mount Gilboa.  At the same time, John Bunyan
often felt sore and sad at heart that he could not love and give all his
heart to his wife and children as they deserved to be loved and to have
all his heart.  He often felt guilty as he looked on them and knew in
himself that they did not have in him such a father as, God knew, he
wished he was, or ever in this world could hope to be.  'Yes,' he said,
'but I cannot take the pleasure in them that I would.  I am sometimes as
if I had none.  My sin sometimes drives me like a man bereft of his
reason and clean demented.'  'Who bid thee go this way to be rid of thy
burden?  I beshrew him for his counsel.  There is not a more troublesome
and dangerous way in the world than this is to which he hath directed
thee.  And besides, though I used to have some of the same burden when I
was young, not since I settled in that town,' pointing to the town of
Carnal-Policy over the plain, 'have I been at any time troubled in that
way.'  And then he went on to describe and denounce the way to the
Celestial City, and he did it like a man who had been all over it, and
had come back again.  His alarming description of the upward way reads to
us like a page out of Job, or Jeremiah, or David, or Paul.  'Hear me,' he
says, 'for I am older than thou.  Thou art like to meet with in the way
which thou goest wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness,
sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and in a word, death, and what not.'  You
would think that you were reading the eighth of the Romans at the thirty-
fifth verse; only Mr. Worldly-Wiseman does not go on to finish the
chapter.  He does not go on to add, 'I am persuaded that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall
be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our
Lord.'  No; Worldly-Wiseman never reads the Romans, and he never hears a
sermon on that chapter when he goes to church.

Mr. Worldly-Wiseman became positively eloquent and impressive and all but
convincing as he went so graphically and cumulatively over all the
sorrows that attended on the way to which this pilgrim was now setting
his face.  But, staggering as it all was, the man in rags and slime only
smiled a sad and sobbing smile in answer, and said: 'Why, sir, this
burden upon my back is far more terrible to me than all the things which
you have mentioned; nay, methinks I care not what I meet with in the way,
so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden.'  This is what our
Lord calls a pilgrim having the root of the matter in himself.  This poor
soul had by this time so much wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils,
nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, death, and what not in
himself, that all these threatened things outside of himself were but so
many bugbears and hobgoblins wherewith to terrify children; they were but
things to be laughed at by every man who is in ernest in the way.  'I
care not what else I meet with if only I also meet with deliverance.'
There speaks the true pilgrim.  There speaks the man who drew down the
Son of God to the cross for that man's deliverance.  There speaks the
man, who, mire, and rags, and burdens and all, will yet be found in the
heaven of heavens where the chief of sinners shall see their Deliverer
face to face, and shall at last and for ever be like Him.  Peter examined
Dante in heaven on faith, James examined him on hope, and John took him
through his catechism on love, and the seer came out of the tent with a
laurel crown on his brow.  I do not know who the examiner on sin will be,
but, speaking for myself on this matter, I would rather take my degree in
that subject than in all the other subjects set for a sinner's
examination on earth or in heaven.  For to know myself, and especially,
as the wise man says, to know the plague of my own heart, is the true and
the only key to all other true knowledge: God and man; the Redeemer and
the devil; heaven and hell; faith, hope, and charity; unbelief, despair,
and malignity, and all things of that kind else, all knowledge will come
to that man who knows himself, and to that man alone, and to that man in
the exact measure in which he does really know himself.  Listen again to
this slough-stained, sin-burdened, sighing and sobbing pilgrim, who, in
spite of all these things--nay, in virtue of all these things--is as sure
of heaven and of the far end of heaven as if he were already enthroned
there.  'Wearisomeness,' he protests, 'painfulness, hunger, perils,
nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, death, and what not--why,
sir, this burden on my back is far more terrible to me than all these
things which you have mentioned; nay, methinks I care not what I meet
with in the way, so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden.'
O God! let this same mind be found in me and in all the men and women for
whose souls I shall have to answer at the day of judgment, and I shall be
content and safe before Thee.

That strong outburst from this so forfoughten man for a moment quite
overawed Worldly-Wiseman.  He could not reply to an earnestness like
this.  He did not understand it, and could not account for it.  The only
thing he ever was in such earnestness as that about was his success in
business and his title that he and his wife were scheming for.  But
still, though silenced by this unaccountable outburst of our pilgrim,
Worldly-Wiseman's enmity against the upward way, and especially against
all the men and all the books that made pilgrims take to that way, was
not silenced.  'How camest thou by thy burden at first?'  By reading this
Book in my hand.'  Worldly-Wiseman did not fall foul of the Book indeed,
but he fell all the more foul of those who meddled with matters they had
not a head for.  'Leave these high and deep things for the ministers who
are paid to understand and explain them, and attend to matters more
within thy scope.'  And then he went on to tell of a far better way to
get rid of the burden that meddlesome men brought on themselves by
reading that book too much--a far better and swifter way than attempting
the wicket-gate.  'Thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till thou art
rid of that burden, nor canst thou enjoy the blessings of wife and child
as long as that burden lies so heavy upon thee.'  That was so true that
it made the pilgrim look up.  A gentleman who can speak in that true
style must know more than he says about such burdens as this of mine;
and, after all, he may be able, who knows, to give me some good advice in
my great straits.  'Pray, sir, open this secret to me, for I sorely stand
in need of good counsel.'  Let him here who has no such burden as this
poor pilgrim had cast the first stone at Christian; I cannot.  If one who
looked like a gentleman came to me to-night and told me how I would on
the spot get to a peace of conscience never to be lost again, and how I
would get a heart to-night that would never any more plague and pollute
me, I would be mightily tempted to forget what all my former teachers had
told me and try this new Gospel.  And especially if the gentleman said
that the remedy was just at hand.  'Pray, sir,' said the breathless and
spiritless man, 'wilt thou, then, open this secret to me?'

The wit and the humour and the satire of the rest of the scene must be
fully enjoyed over the great book itself.  The village named Morality,
hard by the hill; that judicious man Legality, who dwells in the first
house you come at after you have turned the hill; Civility, the pretty
young man that Legality hath to his son; the hospitality of the village;
the low rents and the cheap provisions, and all the charities and
amenities of the place,--all together make up such a picture as you
cannot get anywhere out of John Bunyan.  And then the pilgrim's stark
folly in entering into Worldly-Wiseman's secret; his horror as the hill
began to thunder and lighten and threaten to fall upon him; the sudden
descent of Evangelist; and then the plain-spoken words that passed
between the preacher and the pilgrim,--don't say again that the poorest
of the Puritans were without letters, or that they had not their own
esoteric writings full of fun and frolic; don't say that again till you
are a pilgrim yourself, and have our John Bunyan for one of your classics
by heart.

We are near an end, but before you depart, stand still a little, as
Evangelist said to Christian, that I may show you the words of God.  And
first, watch yourselves well, for you all have a large piece of this
worldly-wise man in yourselves.  You all take something of some ancestor,
remote or immediate, who was wise only for this world.  Yes, to be sure,
for you still decline as they did, and desert as they did, those you deem
to be the weakest, and stand with those that you suppose to be the
strongest side.  _The Architect of Fortune_ is perhaps too strong meat
for your stomach; but still, if you ever light upon its powerful pages,
you will surely blush in secret to see yourself turned so completely
inside out.  You may not have chosen your church wholly with an eye to
your shop; but you must admit that you see as good and better men than
you are doing that every day.  And it is a sure sign to you that you do
not yet know the plague of your own heart, unless you know yourself to be
a man more set upon the position and the praise that this world gives
than you yet are on the position and the praise that come from God only.
Set a watch on your own worldly heart.  Watch and pray, lest you also
enter into all Worldly-Wiseman's temptation.  This is one of the words of
God to you.

Another word of God is this.  The way of the cross, said severe
Evangelist, is odious to every worldly-wise man; while, all the time, it
is the only way there is, and there never will be any other way to
eternal life.  The only way to life is the way of the cross.  There are
two crosses, indeed, on the way to the Celestial City; there is, first,
the Cross of Christ, once for you, and then there is your cross daily for
Christ, and it takes both crosses to secure and to assure any man that he
is on the right road, and that he will come at last to the right end.
'The Christian's great conquest over the world,' says William Law, 'is
all contained in the mystery of Christ upon the cross.  And true
Christianity is nothing else but an entire and absolute conformity to
that spirit which Christ showed in the mysterious sacrifice of Himself
upon the cross.  Every man is only so far a Christian as he partakes of
this same spirit of Christ--the same suffering spirit, the same sacrifice
of himself, the same renunciation of the world, the same humility and
meekness, the same patient bearing of injuries, reproaches, and
contempts, the same dying to all the greatness, honours, and happiness of
this world that Christ showed on the cross.  We also are to suffer, to be
crucified, to die, to rise with Christ, or else His crucifixion, His
death, and His resurrection will profit us nothing.  'This is the second
word of God unto thee.  And the third thing to-night is this, that though
thy sin be very great, though thou hast a past life round thy neck enough
to sink thee for ever out of the sight of God and all good men; a youth
of sensuality now long and closely cloaked over with an after life of
worldly prosperity, worldly decency, and worldly religion, all which only
makes thee that whited sepulchre that Christ has in His eye when He
speaks of thee with such a severe and dreadful countenance; yet if thou
confess thyself to be all the whited sepulchre He sees thee to be, and
yet knock at His gate in all thy rags and slime, He will immediately lay
aside that severe countenance and will show thee all His goodwill.
Notwithstanding all that thou hast done, and all thou still art, He will
not deny His own words, or do otherwise than at once fulfil them all to
thee.  Ask, then, and it shall be given thee; seek, and thou shalt find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto thee.  And with a great goodwill, He
will say to those that stand by Him, Take away the filthy garments from
him.  And to thee He will say, Behold, I have caused all thine iniquity
to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.




GOODWILL, THE GATEKEEPER


   'Goodwill.'--Luke 2. 14.

'So in process of time Christian got up to the gate.  Now there was
written over the gate, _Knock_, _and it shall be opened unto you_.  He
knocked, therefore, more than once or twice, saying, May I now enter
here? when at last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill,
who asked him who was there?'  The gravity of the gatekeeper was the
first thing that struck the pilgrim.  And it was the same thing that so
struck some of the men who saw most of our Lord that they handed down to
their children the true tradition that He was often seen in tears, but
that no one had ever seen or heard Him laugh.  The prophecy in the
prophet concerning our Lord was fulfilled to the letter.  He was indeed a
man of sorrows, and He early and all His life long had a close
acquaintance with grief.  Our Lord had come into this world on a very sad
errand.  We are so stupefied and besotted with sin, that we have no
conception how sad an errand our Lord had been sent on, and how sad a
task He soon discovered it to be.  To be a man without sin, a man hating
sin, and hating nothing else but sin, and yet to have to spend all His
days in a world lying in sin, and in the end to have all that world of
sin laid upon Him till He was Himself made sin,--how sad a task was that!
Great, no doubt, as was the joy that was set before our Lord, and sure as
He was of one day entering on that joy, yet the daily sight of so much
sin in all men around Him, and the cross and the shame that lay right
before Him, made Him, in spite of the future joy, all the Man of Sorrow
Isaiah had said He would be, and made light-mindedness and laughter
impossible to our Lord,--as it is, indeed, to all men among ourselves who
have anything of His mind about this present world and the sin of this
world, they also are men of sorrow, and of His sorrow.  They, too, are
acquainted with grief.  Their tears, like His, will never be wiped off in
this world.  They will not laugh with all their heart till they laugh
where He now laughs.  Then it will be said of them, too, that they began
to be merry.  'What was the matter with you that you did laugh in your
sleep last night? asked Christiana of Mercy in the morning.  I suppose
you were in a dream.  So I was, said Mercy, but are you sure that I
laughed?  Yes, you laughed heartily; but, prithee, Mercy, tell me thy
dream.  Well, I dreamed that I was in a solitary place and all alone, and
was there bemoaning the hardness of my heart, when methought I saw one
coming with wings towards me.  So he came directly to me, and said,
Mercy, what aileth thee?  Now, when he heard my complaint, he said, Peace
be to thee.  He also wiped mine eyes with his handkerchief, and clad me
in silver and gold; he put a chain about my neck also, and earrings in
mine ears, and a beautiful crown upon my head.  So he went up.  I
followed him till we came to a golden gate; and I thought I saw your
husband there.  But did I laugh?  Laugh! ay, and well you might, to see
yourself so well.'

But to return and begin again.  Goodwill, who opened the gate, was, as we
saw, a person of a very grave and commanding aspect; so much so, that in
his sudden joy our pilgrim was a good deal overawed as he looked on the
countenance of the man who stood in the gate, and it was some time
afterwards before he understood why he wore such a grave and almost sad
aspect.  But afterwards, as he went up the way, and sometimes returned in
thought to the wicket-gate, he came to see very good reason why the
keeper of that gate looked as he did look.  The site and situation of the
gate, for one thing, was of itself enough to banish all light-mindedness
from the man who was stationed there.  For the gatehouse stood just above
the Slough of Despond, and that itself filled the air of the place with a
dampness and a depression that could be felt.  And then out of the
downward windows of the gate, the watcher's eye always fell on the City
of Destruction in the distance, and on her sister cities sitting like her
daughters round about her.  And that also made mirth and hilarity
impossible at that gate.  And then the kind of characters who came
knocking all hours of the day and the night at that gate.  Goodwill never
saw a happy face or heard a cheerful voice from one year's end to the
other.  And when any one so far forgot himself as to put on an untimely
confidence and self-satisfaction, the gatekeeper would soon put him
through such questions as quickly sobered him if he had anything at all
of the root of the matter in him.  Terror, horror, despair, remorse,
chased men and women up to that gate.  They would often fall before his
threshold more dead than alive.  And then, after the gate was opened and
the pilgrims pulled in, the gate had only opened on a path of such
painfulness, toil, and terrible risk, that at whatever window Goodwill
looked out, he always saw enough to make him and keep him a grave, if not
a sad, man.  It was, as he sometimes said, his meat and his drink to keep
the gate open for pilgrims; but the class of men who came calling
themselves pilgrims; the condition they came in; the past, that in spite
of all both he and they could do, still came in through his gate after
them, and went up all the way with them; their ignorance of the way, on
which he could only start them; the multitudes who started, and the
handfuls who held on; the many who for a time ran well, but afterwards
left their bones to bleach by the wayside; and all the impossible-to-be-
told troubles, dangers, sorrows, shipwrecks that certainly lay before the
most steadfast and single-hearted pilgrim--all that was more than enough
to give the man at the gate his grave and anxious aspect.

Not that his great gravity, with all the causes of it, ever made him a
melancholy, a morose, a despairing, or even a desponding man.  Far from
that.  The man of sorrows Himself sometimes rejoiced in spirit.  Not
sometimes only, but often He lifted up His heart and thanked His Father
for the work His Father had given Him to do, and for the success that had
been granted to Him in the doing of it.  And as often as He looked
forward to the time when he should finish His work and receive His
discharge, and return to His Father's house, at the thought of that He
straightway forgot all His present sorrows.  And somewhat so was it with
Goodwill at his gate.  No man could be but at bottom happy, and even
joyful, who had a post like his to occupy, a gate like his to keep, and,
altogether, a work like his to do.  No man with his name and his nature
can ever in any circumstances be really unhappy.  'Happiness is the bloom
that always lies on a life of true goodness,' and this gatehouse was full
of the happiness that follows on and always dwells with true goodness.
Goodwill cannot have more happiness till he shuts in his last pilgrim
into the Celestial City, and then himself enters in after him as a
shepherd after a lost sheep.

The happy, heavenly, divine disposition of the gatekeeper was such, that
it overflowed from the pilgrim who stood beside him and descended upon
his wife and children who remained behind him in the doomed city.  So
full of love was the gatekeeper's heart, that it ran out upon Obstinate
and Pliable also.  His heart was so large and so hospitable, that he was
not satisfied with one pilgrim received and assisted that day.  How is
it, he asked, that you have come here alone?  Did any of your neighbours
know of your coming?  And why did he who came so far not come through?
Alas, poor man, said Goodwill, is the celestial glory of so little esteem
with him that he counteth it not worth running the hazards of a few
difficulties to obtain it?  Our pilgrim got a lifelong lesson in goodwill
to all men at that gate that day.  The gatekeeper showed such deep and
patient and genuine interest in all the pilgrim's past history, and in
all his family and personal affairs, that Christian all his days could
never show impatience, or haste, or lack of interest in the most long-
winded and egotistical pilgrim he ever met.  He always remembered, when
he was becoming impatient, how much of his precious time and of his
loving attention his old friend Goodwill had given to him.  Our pilgrim
got tired of talking about himself long before Goodwill had ceased to ask
questions and to listen to the answers.  So much was Christian taken with
the courtesy and the kindness of Goodwill, that had it not been for his
crushing burden, he would have offered to remain in Goodwill's house to
run his errands, to light his fires, and to sweep his floors.  So much
was he taken captive with Goodwill's extraordinary kindness and unwearied
attention.  And since he could not remain at the gate, but must go on to
the city of all goodwill itself, our pilgrim set himself all his days to
copy this gatekeeper when he met with any fellow-pilgrim who had any
story that he wished to tell.  And many were the lonely and forgotten
souls that Christian cheered and helped on, not by his gold or his
silver, nor by anything else, but just by his open ear.  To listen with
patience and with attention to a fellow-pilgrim's wrongs and sorrows, and
even his smallest interests, said this Christian to himself, is just what
Goodwill so winningly did to me.

With all his goodwill the grave gatekeeper could not say that the way to
the Celestial City was other than a narrow, a stringent, and a
heart-searching way.  'Come,' he said, 'and I will tell thee the way thou
must go.'  There are many wide ways to hell, and many there be who crowd
them, but there is only one way to heaven, and you will sometimes think
you must have gone off it, there are so few companions; sometimes there
will be only one footprint, with here and there a stream of blood, and
always as you proceed, it becomes more and more narrow, till it strips a
man bare, and sometimes threatens to close upon him and crush him to the
earth altogether.  Our Lord in as many words tells us all that.  Strive,
He says, strive every day.  For many shall seek to enter into the way of
salvation, but because they do not early enough, and long enough, and
painfully enough strive, they come short, and are shut out.  Have you,
then, anything in your religious life that Christ will at last accept as
the striving He intended and demanded?  Does your religion cause you any
real effort--Christ calls it _agony_?  Have you ever had, do you ever
have, anything that He would so describe?  What cross do you every day
take up?  In what thing do you every day deny yourself?  Name it.  Put
your finger on it.  Write it in cipher on the margin of your Bible.  Would
the most liberal judgment be able to say of you that you have any fear
and trembling in the work of your salvation?  If not, I am afraid there
must be some mistake somewhere.  There must be great guilt somewhere.  At
your parents' door, or at your minister's, or, if their hands are clean,
then at your own.  Christ has made it plain to a proverb, and John Bunyan
has made it a nursery and a schoolboy story, that the way to heaven is
steep and narrow and lonely and perilous.  And that, remember, not a few
of the first miles of the way, but all the way, and even through the dark
valley itself.  'Almost all that is said in the New Testament of men's
watching, giving earnest heed to themselves, running the race that is set
before them, striving and agonising, fighting, putting on the whole
armour of God, pressing forward, reaching forth, crying to God day and
night; I say, almost all that we have in the New Testament on these
subjects is spoken and directed to the saints.  Where those things are
applied to sinners seeking salvation once, they are spoken of the saints'
prosecution of their salvation ten times' (Jonathan Edwards).  If you
have a life at all like that, you will be sorely tempted to think that
such suffering and struggle, increasing rather than diminishing as life
goes on, is a sign that you are so bad as not to be a true Christian at
all.  You will be tempted to think and say so.  But all the time the
truth is, that he who has not that labouring, striving, agonising,
fearing, and trembling in himself, knows nothing at all about the
religion of Christ and the way to heaven; and if he thinks he does, then
that but proves him a hypocrite, a self-deceived, self-satisfied
hypocrite; there is not an ounce of a true Christian in him.  Says Samuel
Rutherford on this matter: 'Christ commandeth His hearers to a strict and
narrow way, in mortifying heart-lusts, in loving our enemy, in feeding
him when he is hungry, in suffering for Christ's sake and the gospel's,
in bearing His cross, in denying ourselves, in becoming humble as
children, in being to all men and at all times meek and lowly in heart.'
Let any man lay all that intelligently and imaginatively alongside of his
own daily life.  Let him name some such heart-lust.  Let him name also
some enemy, and ask himself what it is to love that man, and to feed him
in his hunger; what it is in which he is called to suffer for Christ's
sake and the gospel's, in his reputation, in his property, in his
business, in his feelings.  Let him put his finger on something in which
he is every day to deny himself, and to be humble and teachable, and to
keep himself out of sight like a little child; and if that man does not
find out how narrow and heart-searching the way to heaven is, he will be
the first who has so found his way thither.  No, no; be not deceived.
Deceive not yourself, and let no man deceive you.  God is not mocked,
neither are His true saints.  'Would to God I were back in my pulpit but
for one Sabbath,' said a dying minister in Aberdeen.  'What would you
do?' asked a brother minister at his bedside.  'I would preach to the
people the difficulty of salvation,' he said.  All which things are told,
not for purposes of debate or defiance, but to comfort and instruct God's
true people who are finding salvation far more difficult than anybody had
ever told them it would be.  Comfort My people, saith your God.  Speak
comfortably to My people.  Come, said Goodwill, and I will teach thee
about the way thou must go.  Look before thee, dost thou see that narrow
way?  That is the way thou must go.  And then thou mayest always
distinguish the right way from the wrong.  The wrong is crooked and wide,
and the right is straight as a rule can make it,--straight and narrow.

Goodwill said all that in order to direct and to comfort the pilgrim; but
that was not all that this good man said with that end.  For, when
Christian asked him if he could not help him off with his burden that was
upon his back, 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.'  Get you into the straight and narrow way, says
Goodwill, with his much experience of the ways and fortunes of true
pilgrims; get you sure into the right way, and leave your burden to God.
He appoints the place of deliverance, and it lies before thee.  The place
of thy deliverance cannot be behind thee, and it is not in my house, else
thy burden would have been already off.  But it is before thee.  Be
earnest, therefore, in the way.  Look not behind thee.  Go not into any
crooked way; and one day, before you know, and when you are not pulling
at it, your burden will fall off of itself.  Be content to bear it till
then, says bold and honest Goodwill, speaking so true to pilgrim
experience.  Yes; be content, O ye people of God, crying with this
pilgrim for release from your burden of guilt, and no less those of you
who are calling with Paul for release from the still more bitter and
crushing burden made up of combined guilt and corruption.  Be content
till the place and the time of deliverance; nay, even under your burden
and your bonds be glad, as Paul was, and go up the narrow way, still
chanting to yourself, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  It is
only becoming that a great sinner should tarry the Lord's leisure; all
the more that the greatest sinner may be sure the Lord will come, and
will not tarry.  The time is long, but the thing is sure.

And now two lessons from Goodwill's gate:--

1.  The gate was shut when Christian came up to it, and no one was
visible anywhere about it.  The only thing visible was the writing over
the gate which told all pilgrims to knock.  Now, when we come up to the
same gate we are disappointed and discouraged that the gatekeeper is not
standing already upon his doorstep and his arms round our neck.  We knelt
to-day in secret prayer, and there was only our bed or our chair visible
before us.  There was no human being, much less to all appearance any
Divine Presence, in the place.  And we prayed a short, indeed, but a not
unearnest prayer, and then we rose up and came away disappointed because
no one appeared.  But look at him who is now inheriting the promises.  He
knocked, says his history, more than once or twice.  That is to say, he
did not content himself with praying one or two seconds and then giving
over, but he continued in prayer till the gatekeeper came.  And as he
knocked, he said, so loud and so impatient that all those in the
gatehouse could hear him,

   'May I now enter here?  Will he within
   Open to sorry me, though I have been
   A wandering rebel?  Then shall I
   Not fail to sing his lasting praise on high.'

2.  'We make no objections against any,' said Goodwill; 'notwithstanding
all that they have done before they come hither, they are in no wise cast
out.'  He told me all things that ever I did, said the woman of Samaria,
telling her neighbours about our Lord's conversation with her.  And,
somehow, there was something in the gatekeeper's words that called back
to Christian, if not all the things he had ever done, yet from among them
the worst things he had ever done.  They all rose up black as hell before
his eyes as the gatekeeper did not name them at all, but only said
'notwithstanding all that thou hast done.'  Christian never felt his past
life so black, or his burden so heavy, or his heart so broken, as when
Goodwill just said that one word 'notwithstanding.'  'We make no
objections against any; notwithstanding all that they have done before
they come hither, they are in no wise cast out.'




THE INTERPRETER


   'An interpreter, one among a thousand.'--Elihu.

We come to-night to the Interpreter's House.  And since every minister of
the gospel is an interpreter, and every evangelical church is an
interpreter's house, let us gather up some of the precious lessons to
ministers and to people with which this passage of the _Pilgrim's
Progress_ so much abounds.

1.  In the first place, then, I observe that the House of the Interpreter
stands just beyond the Wicket Gate.  In the whole topography of the
_Pilgrim's Progress_ there lies many a deep lesson.  The church that Mr.
Worldly-Wiseman supported, and on the communion roll of which he was so
determined to have our pilgrim's so unprepared name, stood far down on
the other side of Goodwill's gate.  It was a fine building, and it had an
eloquent man for its minister, and the whole service was an attraction
and an enjoyment to all the people of the place; but our Interpreter was
never asked to show any of his significant things there; and, indeed,
neither minister nor people would have understood him had he ever done
so.  And had any of the parishioners from below the gate ever by any
chance stumbled into the Interpreter's house, his most significant rooms
would have had no significance to them.  Both he and his house would have
been a mystery and an offence to Worldly-Wiseman, his minister, and his
fellow-worshippers.  John Bunyan has the clear warrant both of Jesus
Christ and the Apostle Paul for the place on which he has planted the
Interpreter's house.  'It is given to you,' said our Lord to His
disciples, 'to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them
it is not given.'  And Paul tells us that 'the natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.'  And,
accordingly, no reader of the _Pilgrim's Progress_ will really understand
what he sees in the Interpreter's House, unless he is already a man of a
spiritual mind.  Intelligent children enjoy the pictures and the people
that are set before them in this illustrated house, but they must become
the children of God, and must be well on in the life of God, before they
will be able to say that the house next the gate has been a profitable
and a helpful house to them.  All that is displayed here--all the
furniture and all the vessels, all the ornaments and all the employments
and all the people of the Interpreter's House--is fitted and intended to
be profitable as well as interesting to pilgrims only.  No man has any
real interest in the things of this house, or will take any abiding
profit out of it, till he is fairly started on the upward road.  In his
former life, and while still on the other side of the gate, our pilgrim
had no interest in such things as he is now to see and hear; and if he
had seen and heard them in his former life, he would not, with all the
Interpreter's explanation, have understood them.  As here among ourselves
to-night, they who will understand and delight in the things they hear in
this house to-night are those only who have really begun to live a
religious life.  The realities of true religion are now the most real
things in life--to them; they love divine things now; and since they
began to love divine things, you cannot entertain them better than by
exhibiting and explaining divine things to them.  There is no house in
all the earth, after the gate itself, that is more dear to the true
pilgrim heart than just the Interpreter's House.  'I was glad when it was
said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.  Peace be within thy
walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.'

2.  And besides being built on the very best spot in all the land for its
owner's purposes, every several room in that great house was furnished
and fitted up for the entertainment and instruction of pilgrims.  Every
inch of that capacious and many-chambered house was given up to the
delectation of pilgrims.  The public rooms were thrown open for their
convenience and use at all hours of the day and night, and the private
rooms were kept retired and secluded for such as sought retirement and
seclusion.  There were dark rooms also with iron cages in them, till
Christian and his companions came out of those terrible places, bringing
with them an everlasting caution to watchfulness and a sober mind.  There
were rooms also given up to vile and sordid uses.  One room there was
full of straws and sticks and dust, with an old man who did nothing else
day nor night but wade about among the straws and sticks and dust, and
rake it all into little heaps, and then sit watching lest any one should
overturn them.  And then, strange to tell it, and not easy to get to the
full significance of it, the bravest room in all the house had absolutely
nothing in it but a huge, ugly, poisonous spider hanging to the wall with
her hands.  'Is there but one spider in all this spacious room?' asked
the Interpreter.  And the water stood in Christiana's eyes; she had come
by this time thus far on her journey also.  She was a woman of a quick
apprehension, and the water stood in her eyes at the Interpreter's
question, and she said: 'Yes, Lord, there is here more than one.  Yea,
and spiders whose venom is far more destructive than that which is in
her.'  The Interpreter then looked pleasantly on her, and said: 'Thou
hast said the truth.'  This made Mercy blush, and the boys to cover their
faces, for they all began now to understand the riddle.  'This is to show
you,' said the Interpreter, 'that however full of the venom of sin you
may be, yet you may, by the hand of faith, lay hold of, and dwell in the
best room that belongs to the King's House above.'  Then they all seemed
to be glad, but the water stood in their eyes.  A wall also stood apart
on the grounds of the house with an always dying fire on one side of it,
while a man on the other side of the wall continually fed the fire
through hidden openings in the wall.  A whole palace stood also on the
grounds, the inspection of which so kindled our pilgrim's heart, that he
refused to stay here any longer, or to see any more sights--so much had
he already seen of the evil of sin and of the blessedness of salvation.
Not that he had seen as yet the half of what that house held for the
instruction of pilgrims.  Only, time would fail us to visit the hen and
her chickens; the butcher killing a sheep and pulling her skin over her
ears, and she lying still under his hands and taking her death patiently;
also the garden with the flowers all diverse in stature, and quality, and
colour, and smell, and virtue, and some better than some, and all where
the gardener had set them, there they stand, and quarrel not with one
another.  The robin-red-breast also, so pretty of note and colour and
carriage, but instead of bread and crumbs, and such like harmless matter,
with a great spider in his mouth.  A tree also, whose inside was rotten,
and yet it grew and had leaves.  So they went on their way and sang:

   'This place hath been our second stage,
   Here have we heard and seen
   Those good things that from age to age
   To others hid have been.
   The butcher, garden, and the field,
   The robin and his bait,
   Also the rotten tree, doth yield
   Me argument of weight;
   To move me for to watch and pray,
   To strive to be sincere,
   To take my cross up day by day,
   And serve the Lord with few.'

The significant rooms of that divine house instruct us also that all the
lessons requisite for our salvation are not to be found in any one
scripture or in any one sermon, but that all that is required by any
pilgrim or any company of pilgrims should all be found in every
minister's ministry as he leads his flock on from one Sabbath-day to
another, rightly dividing the word of truth.  Our ministers should have
something in their successive sermons for everybody.  Something for the
children, something for the slow-witted and the dull of understanding,
and something specially suited for those who are of a quick apprehension;
something at one time to make the people smile, at another time to make
them blush, and at another time to make the water stand in their eyes.

3.  And, then, the Interpreter's life was as full of work as his house
was of entertainment and instruction.  Not only so, but his life, it was
well known, had been quite as full of work before he had a house to work
for as ever it had been since.  The Interpreter did nothing else but
continually preside over his house and all that was in it and around it,
and it was all gone over and seen to with his own eyes and hands every
day.  He had been present at the laying of every stone and beam of that
solid and spacious house of his.  There was not a pin nor a loop of its
furniture, there was not a picture on its walls, nor a bird nor a beast
in its woods and gardens, that he did not know all about and could not
hold discourse about.  And then, after he had taken you all over his
house, with its significant rooms and woods and gardens, he was full all
supper-time of all wise saws and witty proverbs.  'One leak will sink a
ship,' he said that night, 'and one sin will destroy a sinner.'  And all
their days the pilgrims remembered that word from the Interpreter's lips,
and they often said it to themselves as they thought of their own
besetting sin.  Now, if it is indeed so, that every gospel minister is an
interpreter, and every evangelical church an interpreter's house, what an
important passage this is for all those who are proposing and preparing
to be ministers.  Let them reflect upon it: what a house this is that the
Interpreter dwells in; how early and how long ago he began to lay out his
grounds and to build his house upon them; how complete in all its parts
it is, and how he still watches and labours to have it more complete.
Understandest thou what thou here readest? it is asked of all ministers,
young and old, as they turn over John Bunyan's pungent pages.  And every
new room, every new bird, and beast, and herb, and flower makes us blush
for shame as we contrast our own insignificant and ill-furnished house
with the noble house of the Interpreter.  Let all our students who have
not yet fatally destroyed themselves and lost their opportunity lay the
Interpreter's House well to heart.  Let them be students not in idle name
only, as so many are, but in intense reality, as so few are.  Let them
read everything that bears upon the Bible, and let them read nothing that
does not.  They have not the time nor the permission.  Let them be
content to be men of one book.  Let them give themselves wholly to the
interpretation of divine truth as its riddles are set in nature and in
man, in scripture, in providence, and in spiritual experience.  Let them
store their memories at college with all sacred truth, and with all
secular truth that can be made sacred.  And if their memories are weak
and treacherous, let them be quiet under God's will in that, and all the
more labour to make up in other ways for that defect, so that they may
have always something to say to the purpose when their future people come
up to church hungry for instruction and comfort and encouragement.  Let
them look around and see the sin that sinks the ship of so many
ministers; and let them begin while yet their ship is in the yard and see
that she is fitted up and furnished, stored and stocked, so that she
shall in spite of sure storms and sunken rocks deliver her freight in the
appointed haven.  When they are lying in bed of a Sabbath morning, let
them forecast the day when they shall have to give a strict account of
their eight years of golden opportunity among the churches, and the
classes, and the societies, and the libraries of our university seats.
Let them be able to name some great book, ay, more than one great book,
they mastered, for every year of their priceless and irredeemable student
life.  Let them all their days have old treasure-houses that they filled
full with scholarship and with literature and with all that will minister
to a congregation's many desires and necessities, collected and kept
ready from their student days.  'Meditate upon these things; give thyself
wholly up to them, that thy profiting may appear unto all.'

4.  And then with a sly stroke at us old ministers, our significant
author points out to us how much better furnished the Interpreter's House
was by the time Christiana and the boys visited it compared with that
early time when Christian was entertained in it.  Our pilgrim got far
more in the Interpreter's House of delight and instruction than he could
carry out of it, but that did not tempt the Interpreter to sit down and
content himself with taking all his future pilgrims into the same room,
and showing them the same pictures, and repeating to them the same
explanations.  No, for he reflected that each coming pilgrim would need
some new significant room to himself, and therefore, as soon as he got
one pilgrim off his hands, he straightway set about building and
furnishing new rooms, putting up new pictures, and replenishing his woods
and his waters with new beasts and birds and fishes.  I am ashamed, he
said, that I had so little to show when I first opened my gates to
receive pilgrims, and I do not know why they came to me as they did.  I
was only a beginner in these things when my first visitor came to my
gates.  Let every long-settled, middle-aged, and even grey-headed
minister read the life of the Interpreter at this point and take courage
and have hope.  Let it teach us all to break some new ground in the field
of divine truth with every new year.  Let it teach us all to be students
all our days.  Let us buy, somehow, the poorest and the oldest of us,
some new and first-rate book every year.  Let us not indeed shut up
altogether our old rooms if they ever had anything significant in them,
but let us add now a new wing to our spiritual house, now a new picture
to its walls, and now a new herb to its gardens.  'Resolved,' wrote
Jonathan Edwards, 'that as old men have seldom any advantage of new
discoveries, because these are beside a way of thinking they have been
long used to; resolved, therefore, if ever I live to years, that I will
be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries, and
receive them, if rational, how long soever I have been used to another
way of thinking.'

5.  The fickle, frivolous, volatile character of so many divinity
students is excellently hit off by Bunyan in our pilgrim's impatience to
be out of the Interpreter's House.  No sooner had he seen one or two of
the significant rooms than this easily satisfied student was as eager to
get out of that house as he had been to get in.  Twice over the wise and
learned Interpreter had to beg and beseech this ignorant and impulsive
pilgrim to stop and get another lesson in the religious life before he
left the great school-house.  All our professors of divinity and all our
ministers understand the parable at this point only too well.  Their
students are eager to get into their classes; like our pilgrim, they have
heard the fame of this and that teacher, and there is not standing-room
in the class for the first weeks of the session.  But before Christmas
there is room enough for strangers, and long before the session closes,
half the students are counting the weeks and plotting to petition the
Assembly against the length and labour of the curriculum.  Was there ever
a class that was as full and attentive at the end of the session as it
was at the beginning?  Never since our poor human nature was so stricken
with laziness and shallowness and self-sufficiency.  But what is the
chaff to the wheat?  It is the wheat that deserves and repays the
husbandman's love and labour.  When Plato looked up from his desk in the
Academy, after reading and expounding one of his greatest Dialogues, he
found only one student left in the class-room, but then, that student was
Aristotle.  'Now let me go,' said Christian.  'Nay, stay,' said the
Interpreter, 'till I have showed thee a little more.'  'Sir, is it not
time for me to go?'  'Do tarry till I show thee just one thing more.'

6.  'Here have I seen things rare and profitable,

. . . Then let me be

Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee.'

Sydney Smith, with his usual sagacity, says that the last vice of the
pulpit is to be uninteresting.  Now, the Interpreter's House had this
prime virtue in it, that it was all interesting.  Do not our children beg
of us on Sabbath nights to let them see the Interpreter's show once more;
it is so inexhaustibly and unfailingly interesting?  It is only stupid
men and women who ever weary of it.  But, 'profitable' was the one and
universal word with which all the pilgrims left the Interpreter's House.
'Rare and pleasant,' they said, and sometimes 'dreadful;' but it was
always 'profitable.'  Now, how seldom do we hear our people at the church
door step down into the street saying, 'profitable'?  If they said that
oftener their ministers would study profit more than they do.  The people
say 'able,' or 'not at all able'; 'eloquent,' or 'stammering and
stumbling'; 'excellent' in style and manner and accent, or the opposite
of all that; and their ministers, to please the people and to earn their
approval, labour after these approved things.  But if the people only
said that the prayers and the preaching were profitable and helpful, even
when they too seldom are, then our preachers would set the profit of the
people far more before them both in selecting and treating and delivering
their Sabbath-day subjects.  A lady on one occasion said to her minister,
'Sir, your preaching does my soul good.'  And her minister never forgot
the grave and loving look with which that was said.  Not only did he
never forget it, but often when selecting his subject, and treating it,
and delivering it, the question would rise in his heart and conscience,
Will that do my friend's soul any good?  'Rare and profitable,' said the
pilgrim as he left the gate; and hearing that sent the Interpreter back
with new spirit and new invention to fill his house of still more
significant, rare, and profitable things than ever before.  'Meditate on
these things,' said Paul to Timothy his son in the gospel, 'that thy
profiting may appear unto all.'  'Thou art a minister of the word,' wrote
the learned William Perkins beside his name on all his books, 'mind thy
business.'




PASSION


   'A man subject to like passions as we are.'--James 5. 17.

That was a very significant room in the Interpreter's House where our
pilgrim saw Passion and Patience sitting each one in his chair.  Passion
was a young lad who seemed to our pilgrim to be much discontented.  He
was never satisfied.  He would have all his good things now.  His
governor would have him wait for his best things till the beginning of
next year; but no, he will have them all now.  And then, when he had got
all his good things, he soon lavished and wasted them all till he had
nothing left but rags.  Then said Christian to the Interpreter, 'Expound
this matter more fully to me.'  So he said, 'Those two lads are figures;
Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience of the men of that which
is to come.'  'Then I perceive,' said Christian, ''tis not best to covet
things that are now, but to wait for things to come.'  'You say truth,'
replied the Interpreter, 'for the things that are seen are temporal, but
the things that are not seen are eternal.'

Now from the texts that I have taken out of James and out of this so
significant room in the Interpreter's House, let me try to tell you
something profitable, if so it may be, about passion; the nature of it,
the place it holds, and the part it performs both in human nature and in
the life and the character of a Christian man.

The name of Passion has already told us his nature, his past life, and
his present character.  The whole nomenclature of _The Pilgrim's
Progress_ and of _The Holy War_ is composed on the divine, original, and
natural principle of embodying the nature of a man in his name.  God
takes His own names to Himself on that principle.  The Creator gave Adam
his name also on that same principle; and then Adam gave their names to
all cattle, to the fowls of the air, and to every beast of the field on
the same principle on which he had got his own name.  And so it was at
first with all the Bible names of men and of nations of men.  Their name
contained their nature.  And John Bunyan was such a student of the Bible,
and of no other book but the Bible, that all his best books are all full,
like the Bible, of the most descriptive and suggestive names.  As soon as
Bunyan tells us the name of some new acquaintance or fellow-traveller, we
already know him, so exactly is his nature put into his name.  And thus
it is that when we stop for a moment at the door of this little
significant room in the Interpreter's House and ask ourselves the meaning
of the name Passion, we see at once where we are and what we have here
before us.  For a 'passion' is just some excitement or agitation of the
mind caused by some outward thing acting on the mind.  The inward world
of the mind and heart of man, and this outward world down into which God
has placed man, instantly and continually respond to one another.  And
what are called, with so much correctness and propriety, our passions,
are just those inward responses, excitements, and agitations that the
outward world causes in the inward world when those two worlds meet
together.  'Passion' and 'perturbation' are the old classical names that
the ancient philosophers and moralists gave to what they felt in
themselves as their minds and their hearts were affected by the world of
men and things around them.  And they used to illustrate their teaching
on the subject of the passions by the figure of a storm at sea.  They
said that it was because God had made the sea sensitive and responsive to
the winds that blew over it that a storm at sea ever arose.  The storm
did not arise and the ships were not wrecked by anything from within the
sea itself; it was the outward world of the winds striking against the
quiet and inward world of the waters that roused the storms and sank the
ships.  And with that illustration well printed in the minds and
imaginations of their scholars the old moralists felt their work among
their scholars was already all but done.  For, so full of adaptation and
appeal is the whole outward world to the mind and heart of man, and so
sensitive and instantly responsive is the mind and heart of man to all
the approaches of the outward world, that the mind and heart of man are
constantly full of all kinds of passions, both bad and good.  And, then,
this is our present life of probation and opportunity, that all our
passions are placed within us and are committed and entrusted to us as so
many first elements and so much unformed material out of which we are
summoned to build up our life and to shape and complete our character.
The springs of all our actions are in our passions.  All our activities
in life, trace them all up to their source, and they will all be found to
run up into the wellhead of our passions.  All our virtues are cut as
with a chisel out of our passions, and all our vices are just the
disorders and rebellions of our passions.  Our several passions, as they
lie still asleep in our hearts, have as yet no moral character; they are
only the raw material so to speak, of moral character.  Our passions are
the life and the riches and the ornaments of human nature, and it is only
because human nature in its present estate is so corrupt and disordered
and degraded, that the otherwise so honourable name of passion has such a
sinister sound to us.  And the full regeneration and restitution of human
nature will be accomplished when every several passion is in its right
place, and when reason and conscience and the Spirit of God shall inspire
and rule and regulate all that is within us.

   'On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
   Reason the card, but passion is the gale.'

And not Elijah only, as James says, and not Paul and Barnabas only, as
they themselves said, were men of like passions with ourselves, but our
Lord Himself was a man of like passions with us also.  He took to Himself
a true body, full of all the appetites of the body, and a reasonable
soul, full of all the affections, passions, and emotions of the soul.
Only, in Him reason and conscience and the law and the Spirit of God were
the card and the compass according to which He steered His life.  We have
all our ruling passion, and our Lord also had His.  As His disciples saw
His ruling passion kindled in His heart and coming out in His life, they
remembered that it was written of Him in an old Messianic psalm: 'The
zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up.'  They were all eaten up of their
ruling passions also.  One of ambition, one of emulation, one of avarice,
and so on,--each several disciple was eaten up of his own besetting sin.
But they all saw that it was not so with their Master.  He was eaten up
always and wholly of the zeal of His Father's house, and of absolute
surrender and devotion to His Father's service, till His ruling passion
was seen to be as strong in His death as it had been in His life.  The
Laird of Brodie's Diary has repeatedly been of great use to us in these
inward matters, and his words on this subject are well worth repeating.
'We poor creatures,' he says, 'are commanded by our affections and
passions.  They are not at our command.  But the Holy One doth exercise
all His attributes at His own will; they are at His command; they are not
passions nor perturbations in His mind, though they transport us.  When I
would hate, I cannot.  When I would love, I cannot.  When I would grieve,
I cannot.  When I would desire, I cannot.  But it is the better for us
that all is as He wills it to be.'

And now, to come still closer home, let us look for a moment or two at
some of our own ruling and tyrannising passions.  And let us look first
at self-love--that master-passion in every human heart.  Let us give self-
love the first place in the inventory and catalogue of our passions,
because it has the largest place in all our hearts and lives.  Nay, not
only has self-love the largest place of any of the passions of our
hearts, but it is out of self-love that all our other evil passions
spring.  It is out of this parent passion that all the poisonous brood of
our other evil passions are born.  The whole fall and ruin and misery of
our present human nature lies in this, that in every human being self-
love has taken, in addition to its own place, the place of the love of
God and of the love of man also.  We naturally now love nothing and no
one but ourselves.  And as long as self-love is in the ascendant in our
hearts, all the passions that are awakened in us by our self-love will be
selfish with its selfishness, inhumane with its inhumanity, and ungodly
with its ungodliness.  And it is to kill and extirpate our so passionate
self-love that is the end and aim of all God's dealings with us in this
world.  All that God is doing with us and for us in providence and in
grace, in the world and in the church,--it is all to cure us of this
deadly disease of self-love.  We may never have had that told us before,
and we may not like it, and we may not believe it; but there can be no
better proof of the truth of what is now said than just this, that we do
not like it and will not have it.  Self-love will not let us listen to
the truth about ourselves; it puts us in a passion both against the truth
and against him who tells the truth, as the history of the truth
abundantly testifies.  Yes, your indignant protest is quite true.  Self-
love has her divine rights,--no doubt she has.  But you are not commanded
to attend to them.  Your self-love will look after herself.  She will
manage to have her full share of what is right and proper for any passion
to possess even after she cries out that she is trampled upon and
despoiled.  My brethren, till you begin to crucify yourselves and to
pluck up your self-love by the roots, you will never know what a cruel
and hopeless task the Christian life is--I do not say the Christian
profession.  Nor, on the other hand, will you ever discover what a noble
task it is--what a divine task and how divinely assisted and divinely
recompensed.  You will not know what a kennel of hell-hounds your own
heart is till you have long sought to enter it and cleanse it out.  And
after you have done your utmost, and your best, death will hurry you away
from your but half-accomplished task.  Only, in that case you will be
able to die in the hope that what is impossible with man is possible with
God, as promised by Him, and that He will not leave your soul in hell,
but will perfect that good thing which alone concerneth you, even your
everlasting deliverance from all sinful self-love.

And if self-love is the fruitful mother of all our passions, then
sensuality is surely her eldest son.  Indeed, so shallow are we, and so
shallow are our words, that when we speak of sinful passion most men
instantly think of sensuality.  There are so many seductive things that
appeal to our appetites, and our appetites are so easily awakened, and
are so imperious when they are awakened, that when passion is spoken
about, few men think of the soul, all men think instantly of the body.
And no wonder.  For, stupid and besotted as we are, we must all at some
time of our life have felt the bondage and degradation of the senses.
Passion in the Interpreter's House had soon nothing left but rags.  And
in this house to-night there are many men whose consciences and hearts
and characters are all in such rags from sensual sin, that when the
Scriptures speak of uncleanness, or rags, or corruption, their thoughts
flee at once to sensual sin and its conscience-rending results.  Cease
from sensuality, said Cicero, for if once you give your minds up to
sensuality, you will never be able to think of anything else.

Ambition, emulation, and envy are the leading members of a whole prolific
family of satanic passions in the human heart.  Indeed, these passions,
taken along with their kindred passions of hatred and ill-will, are, in
our Lord's words, the very lusts of the devil himself.  The Jews hated
our Lord the more for what He said about these detestable passions, but
His own disciples love Him only the more that He so well knows the evil
affections of their hearts, and so well describes and denounces them.
Anybody can denounce sensual sin, and everybody will understand and
approve.  But spiritual sin,--ambition and emulation and envy and ill-
will--these things are more easy to denounce than they are to detect and
describe, and more easy to detect and describe than they are to cast out.
These sins seem rather to multiply and to strike a deeper root when you
begin to cast them out.  What an utterly and abominably evil passion is
envy which is awakened not by bad things but by the best things!  That
another man's talents, attainments, praises, rewards should kindle it,
and that the blame, the depreciation, the hurt that another man suffers
should satisfy it,--what a piece of very hell must that be in the human
heart!  What more do we need than just a little envy in our hearts to
make us prostrate penitents before God and man all our days?  What more
doctrine, argument, proof, authority, persuasion should a sane man need
beyond a little envy in his heart at his best friend to make him an
evangelical believer and an evangelical preacher?  How, in the name of
wonder, is it that men can be so ignorant of the plague of their own
hearts as to remain indifferent, and, much more, hostile, to the gospel
of love and holiness?  Pride, also,--what a hateful and intolerable
passion is that!  How stone-blind to his own state must that sinner be
whose heart is filled with pride, and how impossible it is for that man
to make any real progress in any kind of truth or goodness!  And
resentment,--what a deep-seated, long-lived, and suicidal passion is
that!  How it hunts down him it hates, and how surely it shuts the door
of salvation against him who harbours it!  Forgive us our debts, the
resentful man says in his prayer, as we forgive our debtors.  And
detraction,--how some men's ink-horns are filled with detraction for ink,
and how it drops from their tongue like poison!  At their every word a
reputation dies.  Life and all its opportunities of doing good and having
good done to us is laid like a bag of treasure at our feet, but, like the
prodigal son in the Interpreter's House, with all those passions raging
in our own hearts at other men, and in other men's hearts at us, we have
soon nothing left us but rags.  God be thanked for every man here who
sees and feels that he has nothing left him but rags; and, still more,
thanks for all those who see and feel how, by their bad passions, sensual
and spiritual, they have left on other people nothing but rags.

Now, from all this let us lay it to heart that our sanctification and
salvation lie in our mastery over all these and over many other passions
that have not even been named.  He is an accepted saint of God, who,
taking his and other people's rags to God's mercy every day, every day
also in God's strength grapples with, bridles, and tames his own wild and
ungodly passions.  Be not deceived, my friends; he alone is a saint of
God who is a sanctified man; and his passions,--as they are the spring of
his actions, so they are the sphere and seat of his sanctification.  Be
not deceived; that man, and no other manner of man, is, or ever will be,
a partaker of God's salvation.  You often hear me recommending those
students who have first to subdue their own passions and then the
passions of those who hear them to study Jonathan Edwards' ethical and
spiritual writings.  Well, just at this present point, to show you how
well that great man practised what he preached, let me read to you a few
lines from his biographer: 'Few men,' says Henry Rogers, 'ever attained a
more complete mastery over their passions than Jonathan Edwards did.  This
was partly owing to the ascendency of his intellect; partly, and in a
still greater degree, to the elevation of his piety.  For the subjugation
of his passions he was no doubt very greatly indebted to the prodigious
superiority of his reason.  Such was the commanding attitude his reason
assumed, and such the tremendous power with which it controlled the whole
man, that any insurrection among his senses was hopeless; they had their
tenure only by doing fealty and homage to his intellect.  Those other and
more dangerous enemies, because more subtle and more spiritual, such as
pride, vanity, wrath, and envy, which lurk in the inmost recesses of our
nature, and some of which have such affinities for a genius like that of
Edwards, yield not to such exorcism.  Such more powerful kind of demons
go not forth but by prayer and fasting; to their complete mortification,
therefore, Edwards brought incessant watchfulness and devotion; and
seldom, assuredly, have they been more nearly expelled from the bosom of
a depraved intelligence.'  We shall be in the best company, both
intellectually and spiritually, if we work out our own salvation among
the sinful passions of our depraved hearts.  And then, as life goes on,
and we continue in well-doing, we shall be able to measure and register
our growth in grace best by watching the effect of outward temptations
upon our still sinful and but half-sanctified hearts.  And among much to
be humbled for, and much to make us fear and tremble for the issue, we
shall, from time to time, have a good conscience and a holy and humble
joy that this passion and that is at last showing some signs of
crucifixion and mortification.  And thus that death to sin shall
gradually set in which shall issue at last in an everlasting life unto
holiness.

'Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from
all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.  A new
heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you . . .
Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe
thee with change of raiment.  In that day there shall be a fountain
opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for
sin and for uncleanness . . . Bring forth the best robe and put it upon
him, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is
found . . . What are these that are arrayed in white robes, and whence
came they?  These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'




PATIENCE


   'In your patience possess ye your souls.'  (Revised Version: 'In your
   patience ye shall win your souls.')--Our Lord.

'I saw moreover in my dream that the Interpreter took the pilgrim by the
hand, and had him into a little room, where sate two little children,
each one in his chair.  The name of the eldest was Passion and of the
other Patience.  Passion seemed to be much discontent, but Patience was
very quiet.  Then Christian asked, What is the reason of the discontent
of Passion?  The interpreter answered, The governor of them would have
him stay for his best things till the beginning of the next year; but he
will have all now.  But Patience is willing to wait.'

Passion and Patience, like Esau and Jacob, are twin-brothers.  And their
names, like their natures, spring up from the same root.  'Patience,'
says Crabb in his _English Synonyms_, 'comes from the active participle
to suffer; while passion comes from the passive participle of the same
verb; and hence the difference between the two names.  Patience signifies
suffering from an active principle, a determination to suffer; while
passion signifies what is suffered from want of power to prevent the
suffering.  Patience, therefore, is always taken in a good sense, and
Passion always in a bad sense.'  So far this excellent etymologist.  This
is, therefore, another case of blessing and cursing proceeding out of the
same mouth, and of the same fountain sending forth at the same place both
sweet water and bitter.

Our Lord tells us in this striking text that our very souls by reason of
sin are not our own.  He tells us that we have lost hold of our souls
before we have as yet come to know that we have souls.  We only discover
that we have souls after we have lost them.  And our Lord,--our best,
indeed our only, authority in the things of the soul,--here tells us that
it is only by patience that we shall ever win back our lost souls.  More,
far more, is needed to the winning back of a lost soul than its owner's
patience, and our Lord knew that to His cost.  But that is not His point
with us to-night.  His sole point with each one of us to-night is our
personal part in the conquest and redemption of our sin-enslaved souls.
He who has redeemed our souls with His own blood tells us with all
plainness of speech, that His blood will be shed in vain, as far as we
are concerned, unless we add to His atoning death our own patient life.
Every human life, as our Lord looks at it, and would have us look at it,
is a vast field of battle in which a soul is lost or won; little as we
think of it or will believe it, in His sight every trial, temptation,
provocation, insult, injury, and all kinds and all degrees of pain and
suffering, are all so many divinely appointed opportunities afforded us
for the reconquest and recovery of our souls.  Sometimes faith is
summoned into the battle-field, sometimes hope, sometimes self-denial,
sometimes prayer, sometimes one grace and sometimes another; but as with
the sound of a trumpet the Captain of our salvation here summons Patience
to the forefront of the fight.

1.  To begin with, how much impatience we are all from time to time
guilty of in our family life.  Among the very foundations of our family
life how much impatience the husband often exhibits toward the wife, and
the wife toward her husband.  Patience is the very last grace they look
forward to having any need of when they are still dreaming about their
married life; but, in too many cases, they have not well entered on that
life, when they find that they need no grace of God so much as just
patience, if the yoke of their new life is not to gall them beyond
endurance.  However many good qualities of mind and heart and character
any husband or wife may have, no human being is perfect, and most of us
are very far from being perfect.  When therefore, we are closely and
indissolubly joined to another life and another will, it is no wonder
that sometimes the ill-fitting yoke eats into a lifelong sore.  We have
all many defects in our manners, in our habits, and in our constitutional
ways of thinking and speaking and acting,--defects that tempt those who
live nearest us to fall into annoyances with us that sometimes deepen
into dislike, and even positive disgust, till it has been seen, in some
extreme cases, that home-life has become a very prison-house, in which
the impatient prisoner chafes and jibs and strikes out as he does nowhere
else.  Now, when any unhappy man or woman wakens up to discover how
different life is now to be from what it once promised to become, let
them know that all their past blindness, and precipitancy, and all the
painful results of all that, may yet be made to work together for good.
In your patience with one another, says our Lord, you will make a
conquest of your adverse lot, and of your souls to the bargain.  Say to
yourselves, therefore, that perfection, faultlessness, and absolute
satisfaction are not to be found in this world.  And say also that since
you have not brought perfection to your side of the house any more than
your partner has to his side, you are not so foolish as to expect
perfection in return for such imperfection.  You have your own share of
what causes fireside silence, aversion, disappointment, and dislike; and,
with God's help, say that you will patiently submit to what may not now
be mended.  And then, the sterner the battle the nobler will the victory
be; and the lonelier the fight, the more honour to him who flinches not
from it.  In your patience possess ye your souls.

What a beautiful, instructive, and even impressive sight it is to see a
nurse patiently cherishing her children!  How she has her eye and her
heart at all their times upon them, till she never has any need to lay
her hand upon them!  Passion has no place in her little household,
because patience fills all its own place and the place of passion too.
What a genius she displays in her talks to her children!  How she cheats
their little hours of temptation, and tides them over the rough places
that her eye sees lying like sunken rocks before her little ship!  How
skilfully she stills and heals their impulsive little passions by her
sudden and absorbing surprise at some miracle in a picture-book, or some
astonishing sight under her window!  She has a thousand occupations also
for her children, and each of them with a touch of enterprise and
adventure and benevolence in it.  She is so full of patience herself,
that the little gusts of passion are soon over in her presence, and the
sunshine is soon back brighter than ever in her little paradise.  And,
over and above her children rising up and calling her blessed, what
wounds she escapes in her own heart and memory by keeping her patient
hands from ever wounding her children!  What peace she keeps in the
house, just by having peace always within herself!  Paul can find no
better figure wherewith to set forth God's marvellous patience with
Israel during her fretful childhood in the wilderness, than just that of
such a nurse among her provoking children.  And we see the deep hold that
same touching and instructive sight had taken of the apostle's heart as
he returns to it again to the Thessalonians: 'We were gentle among you,
even as a nurse cherisheth her children.  So, being affectionately
desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the
gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto
us.'  What a school of divine patience is every man's own family at home
if he only were teachable, observant, and obedient!

2.  Clever, quick-witted, and, themselves, much-gifted men, are terribly
intolerant of slow and stupid men, as they call them.  But the
many-talented man makes a great mistake here, and falls into a great sin.
In his fulness of all kinds of intellectual gifts, he quite forgets from
Whom he has his many gifts, and why it is that his despised neighbour has
so few gifts.  If you have ten or twenty talents, and I have only two,
who is to be praised and who is to be blamed for that allotment?  Your
cleverness has misled you and has hitherto done you far more evil than
good.  You bear yourself among ordinary men, among less men than
yourself, as if you had added all these cubits to your own stature.  You
ride over us as if you had already given in your account, and had heard
it said, Take the one talent from them and give it to this my
ten-talented servant.  You seem to have set it down to your side of the
great account, that you had such a good start in talent, and that your
fine mind had so many tutors and governors all devoting themselves to
your advancement.  And you conduct yourself to us as if the Righteous
Judge had cast us away from His presence, because we were not found among
the wise and mighty of this world.  The truth is, that the whole world is
on a wholly wrong tack in its praise and in its blame.  We praise the man
of great gifts, and we blame the man of small gifts, completely forgetful
that in so doing we give men the praise that belongs to God, and lay on
men the blame, which, if there is any blame in the matter, ought to be
laid elsewhere.  Learn and lay to heart, my richly-gifted brethren, to be
patient with all men, but especially to be patient with all stupid, slow-
witted, ungifted, God-impoverished men.  Do not add your insults and your
ill-usage to the low estate of those on whom, in the meantime, God's hand
lies so cold and so straitened.  For who maketh thee to differ from
another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?  Now, if thou
didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?
Call that to mind the next time you are tempted to cry out that you have
no patience with your slow-witted servant.

3.  'Is patient with the bad' is one of the tributes of praise that is
paid in the fine paraphrase to that heart that is full of the same love
that is in God.  A patient love to the unjust and the evil is one of the
attributes and manifestations of the divine nature, as that nature is
seen both in God and in all genuinely godly men.  And, indeed, in no
other thing is the divine nature so surely seen in any man as just in his
love to and his patience with bad men.  He schools and exercises himself
every day to be patient and good to other men as God has been to him.  He
remembers when tempted to resentment how God did not resent his evil,
but, while he was yet an enemy to God and to godliness, reconciled him to
Himself by the death of His Son.  And ever since the godly man saw that,
he has tried to reconcile his worst enemies to himself by the death of
his impatience and passion toward them, and has more pitied than blamed
them, even when their evil was done against himself.  Let God judge, and
if it must be, condemn that bad man.  But I am too bad myself to cast a
stone at the worst and most injurious of men.  If we so much pity
ourselves for our sinful lot, if we have so much compassion on ourselves
because of our inherited and unavoidable estate of sin and misery, why do
we not share our pity and our compassion with those miserable men who are
in an even worse estate than our own?  At any rate, I must not judge them
lest I be judged.  I must take care when I say, Forgive me my trespasses,
as I forgive them that trespass against me.  Not to seven times must I
grudgingly forgive, but ungrudgingly to seventy times seven.  For with
what judgment I judge, I shall be judged; and with what measure I mete,
it shall be measured to me again.

   'Love harbours no suspicious thought,
   Is patient to the bad:
   Grieved when she hears of sins and crimes,
   And in the truth is glad.'

4.  And then, most difficult and most dangerous, but most necessary of
all patience, we must learn how to be patient with ourselves.  Every day
we hear of miserable men rushing upon death because they can no longer
endure themselves and the things they have brought on themselves.  And
there are moral suicides who cast off the faith and the hope and the
endurance of a Christian man because they are so evil and have lived such
an evil life.  We speak of patience with bad men, but there is no man so
bad, there is no man among all our enemies who has at all hurt us like
that man who is within ourselves.  And to bear patiently what we have
brought upon ourselves,--to endure the inward shame, the self-reproof,
the self-contempt bitterer to drink than blood, the lifelong injuries,
impoverishment, and disgrace,--to bear all these patiently and
uncomplainingly,--to acquiesce humbly in the discovery that all this was
always in our hearts, and still is in our hearts--what humility, what
patience, what compassion and pity for ourselves must all that call
forth!  The wise nurse is patient with her passionate, greedy, untidy,
disobedient child.  She does not cast it out of doors, she does not run
and leave it, she does not kill it because all these things have been and
still are in its sad little heart.  Her power for good with such a child
lies just in her pity, in her compassion, and in her patience with her
child.  And the child that is in all of us is to be treated in the same
patient, hopeful, believing, forgiving, divine way.  We should all be
with ourselves as God is with us.  He knoweth our frame.  He remembereth
that we are dust.  He shows all patience toward us.  He does not look for
great things from us.  He does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the
smoking flax.  He shall not fail nor be discouraged till He have set
judgment in the earth.  And so shall not we.

5.  And, then,--it is a sufficiently startling thing to say, but--we must
learn to be patient with God also.  All our patience, and all the
exercises of it, if we think aright about it, all run up in the long-run
into patience with God.  But there are some exercises of patience that
have to do directly and immediately with God and with God alone.  When
any man's heart has become fully alive to God and to the things of God;
when he begins to see and feel that he lives and moves and has his being
in God; then everything that in any way affects him is looked on by him
as come to him from God.  Absolutely, all things.  The very weather that
everybody is so atheistic about, the climate, the soil he labours, the
rain, the winter's cold and the summer's heat,--true piety sees all these
things as God's things, and sees God's immediate will in the disposition
and dispensation of them all.  He feels the untameableness of his tongue
in the indecent talk that goes on everlastingly about the weather.  All
these things may be without God to other men, as they once were to him
also, but you will find that the truly and the intelligently devout man
no longer allows himself in such unbecoming speech.  For, though he
cannot trace God's hand in all the changes of the seasons, in heat and
cold, in sunshine and snow, yet he is as sure that God's wisdom and will
are there as that Scripture is true and the Scripture-taught heart.
'Great is our Lord, and His understanding is infinite.  Who covereth the
heavens with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth, and maketh the
grass to grow upon the mountains.  He giveth snow like wool; He
scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes; He casteth forth His ice like
morsels.  Who can stand before his cold?'  Here is the patience and the
faith of the saints.  Here are they that keep the commandments of God and
the faith of Jesus Christ.

And, then, when through rain or frost or fire, when out of any terror by
night or arrow that flieth by day, any calamity comes on the man who is
thus pointed and practised in his patience, he is able with Job to say,
'This is the Lord.  What, shall we receive good at the hand of God and
not also receive evil?'  By far the best thing I have ever read on this
subject, and I have read it a thousand times since I first read it as a
student, is Dr. Thomas Goodwin's _Patience and its Perfect Work_.  That
noble treatise had its origin in the great fire of London in 1666.  The
learned President of Magdalen College lost the half of his library, five
hundred pounds worth of the best books, in that terrible fire.  And his
son tells us he had often heard his father say that in the loss of his
not-to-be-replaced books, God had struck him in a very sensible place.  To
lose his Augustine, and his Calvin, and his Musculus, and his Zanchius,
and his Amesius, and his Suarez, and his Estius was a sore stroke to such
a man.  I loved my books too well, said the great preacher, and God
rebuked me by this affliction.  Let the students here read Goodwin's
costly treatise, and they will be the better prepared to meet such
calamities as the burning of their manse and their library, as also to
counsel and comfort their people when they shall lose their shops or
their stockyards by fire.

   'Blind unbelief is sure to err,
   And scan His work in vain;
   God is His own interpreter,
   And He will make it plain.'

And, then, in a multitude of New Testament scriptures, we are summoned to
great exercise of patience with the God of our salvation, because it is
His purpose and plan that we shall have to wait long for our salvation.
God has not seen it good to carry us to heaven on the day of our
conversion.  He does not glorify us on the same day that He justifies us.
We are appointed to salvation indeed, but it is also appointed us to wait
long for it.  This is not our rest.  We are called to be pilgrims and
strangers for a season with God upon the earth.  We are told to endure to
the end.  It is to be through faith and patience that we, with our
fathers, shall at last inherit the promises.  Holiness is not a Jonah's
gourd.  It does not come up in a night, and it does not perish in a
night.  Holiness is the Divine nature, and it takes a lifetime to make us
partakers of it.  But, then, if the time is long the thing is sure.  Let
us, then, with a holy and a submissive patience wait for it.

'I saw moreover in my dream that Passion seemed to be much discontent,
but Patience was very quiet.  Then Christian asked, What is the reason of
the discontent of Passion?  The Interpreter answered, The governor of
them would have him stay for his best things till the beginning of the
next year; but he will have them all now.  But Patience is willing to
wait.'




SIMPLE, SLOTH, AND PRESUMPTION


   'Ye did run well, who did hinder you?'--Paul.

It startles us not a little to come suddenly upon three pilgrims fast
asleep with fetters on their heels on the upward side of the
Interpreter's House, and even on the upward side of the cross and the
sepulchre.  We would have looked for those three miserable men somewhere
in the City of Destruction or in the Town of Stupidity, or, at best,
somewhere still outside of the wicket-gate.  But John Bunyan did not lay
down his _Pilgrim's Progress_ on any abstract theory, or on any easy and
pleasant presupposition, of the Christian life.  He constructed his so
lifelike book out of his own experiences as a Christian man, as well as
out of all he had learned as a Christian minister.  And in nothing is
Bunyan's power of observation, deep insight, and firm hold of fact better
seen than just in the way he names and places the various people of the
pilgrimage.  Long after he had been at the Cross of Christ himself, and
had seen with his own eyes all the significant rooms in the Interpreter's
House, Bunyan had often to confess that the fetters of evil habit, unholy
affection, and a hard heart were still firmly riveted on his own heels.
And his pastoral work had led him to see only too well that he was not
alone in the temptations and the dangers and the still-abiding bondage to
sin that had so surprised himself after he was so far on in the Christian
life.  It was the greatest sorrow of his heart, he tells us in a powerful
passage in his _Grace Abounding_, that so many of his spiritual children
broke down and came short in the arduous and perilous way in which he had
so hopefully started them.  'If any of those who were awakened by my
ministry did after that fall back, as sometimes too many did, I can truly
say that their loss hath been more to me than if one of my own children,
begotten of my body, had been going to its grave.  I think, verily, I may
speak it without an offence to the Lord, nothing hath gone so near me as
that, unless it was the fear of the salvation of my own soul.  I have
counted as if I had goodly buildings and lordships in those places where
my children were born; my heart has been so wrapped up in this excellent
work that I counted myself more blessed and honoured of God by this than
if He had made me the emperor of the Christian world, or the lord of all
the glory of the earth without it.'  And I have no doubt that we have
here the three things that above everything else bereft Bunyan of so many
of his spiritual children personified and then laid down by the heels in
Simple, Sloth, and Presumption.




SIMPLE


Let us shake up Simple first and ask him what it was that laid him so
soon and in such a plight and in such company in this bottom.  It was not
that which from his name we might at first think it was.  It was not the
weakness of his intellects, nor his youth, nor his inexperience.  There
is danger enough, no doubt, in all these things if they are not carefully
attended to, but none of all these things in themselves, nor all of them
taken together, will lay any pilgrim by the heels.  There must be more
than mere and pure simplicity.  No blame attaches to a simple mind, much
less to an artless and an open heart.  We do not blame such a man even
when we pity him.  We take him, if he will let us, under our care, or we
put him under better care, but we do not anticipate any immediate ill to
him so long as he remains simple in mind, untainted in heart, and willing
to learn.  But, then, unless he is better watched over than any young man
or young woman can well be in this world, that simplicity and
child-likeness and inexperience of his may soon become a fatal snare to
him.  There is so much that is not simple and sincere in this world;
there is so much falsehood and duplicity; there are so many men abroad
whose endeavour is to waylay, mislead, entrap, and corrupt the simple-
minded and the inexperienced, that it is next to impossible that any
youth or maiden shall long remain in this world both simple and safe
also.  My son, says the Wise Man, keep my words, and lay up my
commandments with thee.  For at the window of my house I looked through
my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the
youths, a young man void of understanding;--and so on,--till a dart
strike through his liver, and he goeth as an ox to the slaughter.  And
so, too often in our own land, the maiden in her simplicity also opens
her ear to the promises and vows and oaths of the flatterer, till she
loses both her simplicity and her soul, and lies buried in that same
bottom beside Sloth and Presumption.

It is not so much his small mind and his weak understanding that is the
fatal danger of their possessor, it is his imbecile way of treating his
small mind.  In our experience of him we cannot get him, all we can do,
to read an instructive book.  We cannot get him to attend our young men's
class with all the baits and traps we can set for him.  Where does he
spend his Sabbath-day and week-day evenings?  We cannot find out until we
hear some distressing thing about him, that, ten to one, he would have
escaped had he been a reader of good books, or a student with us, say, of
Dante and Bunyan and Rutherford, and a companion of those young men and
young women who talk about and follow such intellectual tastes and
pursuits.  Now, if you are such a young man or young woman as that, or
such an old man or old woman, you will not be able to understand what in
the world Bunyan can mean by saying that he saw you in his dream fast
asleep in a bottom with irons on your heels.  No; for to understand the
_Pilgrim's Progress_, beyond a nursery and five-year-old understanding of
it, you must have worked and studied and suffered your way out of your
mental and spiritual imbecility.  You must have for years attended to
what is taught from the pulpit and the desk, and, alongside of that, you
must have made a sobering and solemnising application of it all to your
own heart.  And then you would have seen and felt that the heels of your
mind and of your heart are only too firmly fettered with the irons of
ignorance and inexperience and self-complacency.  But as it is, if you
would tell the truth, you would say to us what Simple said to Christian,
I see no danger.  The next time that John Bunyan passed that bottom, the
chains had been taken off the heels of this sleeping fool and had been
put round his neck.




SLOTH


Sloth had a far better head than Simple had; but what of that when he
made no better use of it?  There are many able men who lie all their days
in a sad bottom with the irons of indolence and inefficiency on their
heels.  We often envy them their abilities, and say about them, What
might they not have done for themselves and for us had they only worked
hard?  Just as we are surprised to see other men away above us on the
mountain top, not because they have better abilities than we have, but
because they tore the fetters of sloth out of their soft flesh and set
themselves down doggedly to their work.  And the same sloth that starves
and fetters the mind at the same time casts the conscience and the heart
into a deep sleep.  I often wonder as I go on working among you, if you
ever attach any meaning or make any application to yourselves of all
those commands and counsels of which the Scriptures are full,--to be up
and doing, to watch and pray, to watch and be sober, to fight the good
fight of faith, to hold the fort, to rise early, and even by night, and
to endure unto death, and never for one moment to be found off your
guard.  Do you attach any real meaning to these examples of the
psalmists, to these continual commands and examples of Christ, and to
these urgent counsels of his apostles?  Do you?  Against whom and against
what do you thus campaign and fight?  For fear of whom or of what do you
thus watch?  What fort do you hold?  What occupies your thoughts in night-
watches, and what inspires and compels your early prayers?  It is your
stupefying life of spiritual sloth that makes it impossible for you to
answer these simple and superficial questions.  Sloth is not the word for
it.  Let them give the right word to insanity like that who sleep and
soak in sinful sloth no longer.

We have all enemies in our own souls that never sleep, whatever we may
do.  There are no irons on their heels.  They never procrastinate.  They
never say to their master, A little more slumber.  Now, could you name
any hateful enemy entrenched in your own heart, of which you have of
yourself said far more than that?  And, if so, what have you done, what
are you at this moment doing, to cast that enemy out?  Have you any
armour on, any weapons of offence and precision, against that enemy?  And
what success and what defeat have you had in unearthing and casting out
that enemy?  What fort do you hold?  On what virtue, on what grace are
you posted by your Lord to keep for yourself and for Him?  And with what
cost of meat and drink and sleep and amusement do you lose it or keep it
for Him?  Alexander used to leave his tent at midnight and go round the
camp, and spear to his post the sentinel he found sleeping.

There is nothing we are all so slothful in as secret, particular,
importunate prayer.  We have an almighty instrument in our hand in secret
and exact prayer if we would only importunately and perseveringly employ
it.  But there is an utterly unaccountable restraint of secret and
particularising prayer in all of us.  There is a soaking, stupefying
sloth, that so fills our hearts that we forget and neglect the immense
concession and privilege we have afforded us in secret prayer.  Our sloth
and stupidity in prayer is surely the last proof of our fall and of the
misery of our fallen state.  Our sloth with a gold mine open at our feet;
a little more sleep on the top of a mast with a gulf under us that hath
no bottom,--no language of this life can adequately describe the
besottedness of that man who lies with irons on his heels between Simple
and Presumption.




PRESUMPTION


The greatest theologian of the Roman Catholic Church has made an
induction and classification of sins that has often been borrowed by our
Protestant and Puritan divines.  His classification is made, as will be
seen, on an ascending scale of guilt and aggravation.  In the world of
sin, he says, there are, first, sins of ignorance; next, there are sins
of infirmity; and then, at the top, there are sins of presumption.  And
this, it will be remembered, was the Psalmist's inventory and estimate of
sins also.  His last and his most earnest prayer was, that he might be
kept back from all presumptuous sin.  Now you know quite well, without
any explanation, what presumption is.  Don't presume, you say, with
rising and scarce controlled anger.  Don't presume too far.  Take care,
you say, with your heart beating so high that you can scarcely command
it, take care lest you go too far.  And the word of God feels and speaks
about presumptuous sin very much as you do yourself.  Now, what gave this
third man who lay in fetters a little beyond the cross the name of
Presumption was just this, that he had been at the cross with his past
sin, and had left the cross to commit the same sin at the first
opportunity.  Presumption presumed upon his pardon.  He presumed upon the
abounding grace of God.  He presumed upon the blood of Christ.  He was so
high on the Atonement, that he held that the gospel was not sufficiently
preached to him, unless not past sin only and present, but also all
future sin was atoned for on the tree before it was committed.  There is
a reprobate in Dante, who, all the time he was repenting, had his eye on
his next opportunity.  Now, our Presumption was like that.  He presumed
on his youth, on his temptations, on his opportunities, and especially on
his future reformation and the permanence and the freeness of the gospel
offer.  When he was in the Interpreter's House he did not hear what the
Interpreter was saying, the blood was roaring so through his veins.  His
eyes were so full of other images that he did not see the man in the iron
cage, nor the spider on the wall, nor the fire fed secretly.  He had no
more intention of keeping always to the way that was as straight as a
rule could make it, than he had of cutting off both his hands and
plucking out both his eyes.  When the three shining ones stripped him of
his rags and clothed him with change of raiment, he had no more intention
of keeping his garments clean than he had of flying straight up to heaven
on the spot.  Now, let each man name to himself what that is in which he
intentionally, deliberately, and by foresight and forethought sins.  Have
you named it?  Well, it was for that that this reprobate was laid by the
heels on the immediately hither side of the cross and the sepulchre.  Not
that the iron might not have been taken off his heels again on certain
conditions, even after it was on; but, even so, he would never have been
the same man again that he was before his presumptuous sin.  You will
easily know a man who has committed much presumptuous sin,--that is to
say, if you have any eye for a sinner.  I think I would find him out if I
heard him pray once, or preach once, or even select a psalm for public or
for family worship; even if I heard him say grace at a dinner-table, or
reprove his son, or scold his servant.  Presumptuous sin has so much of
the venom and essence of sin in it that, forgiven or unforgiven, even a
little of it never leaves the sinner as it found him.  Even if his
fetters are knocked off, there is always a piece of the poisonous iron
left in his flesh; there is always a fang of his fetters left in the
broken bone.  The presumptuous saint will always be detected by the way
he halts on his heels all his after days.  Keep back Thy servant, O God,
from presumptuous sin.  Let him be innocent of the great transgression.

Dr. Thomas Goodwin says somewhere that the worm that dieth not only comes
to its sharpest sting and to its deadliest venom when it is hatched up
under gospel light.  The very light of nature itself greatly aggravates
some of our sins.  The light of our early education greatly aggravates
others of our sins.  But nothing wounds our conscience and then
exasperates the wound like a past experience of the same sin, and,
especially, an experience of the grace of God in forgiving that sin.  Had
we found young Presumption in his irons before his conversion, we would
have been afraid enough at the sight.  Had we found him laid by the heels
after his first uncleanness, it would have made us shudder for ourselves.
But we are horrified and speechless as we see him apprehended and laid in
irons on the very night of his first communion, and with the wine
scarcely dry on his unclean lips.  Augustine postponed his baptism till
he should have his fill of sin, and till he should no longer return to
sin like a dog to his vomit.  Now, next Sabbath is our communion day in
this congregation.  Let us therefore this week examine ourselves.  And if
we must sin as long as we are in this world, let it henceforth be the sin
of ignorance and of infirmity.

So the three reprobates lay down to sleep again, and Christian as he left
that bottom went on in the narrow way singing:

   'O to grace how great a debtor
   Daily I'm constrained to be
   Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
   Bind my wandering heart to Thee.'




THE THREE SHINING ONES AT THE CROSS


   'Salvation shall God appoint for walls.'--Isaiah.

John Bunyan's autobiography, _Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners_,
is the best of all our commentaries on _The Pilgrim's Progress_, and
again to-night I shall have to fall back on that incomparable book.  'Now,
I saw in my dream that the highway up which Christian was to go was
fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall is called Salvation.  Up
this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great
difficulty, because of the load on his back.'  In the corresponding
paragraph in _Grace Abounding_, our author says, speaking about himself:
'But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I
could not but with great difficulty enter in thereat, it showed me that
none could enter into life but those that were in downright earnest, and
unless also they left this wicked world behind them; for here was only
room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.'  'He ran thus
till he came to a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a
cross, and a little below in the bottom a sepulchre.  So I saw in my
dream, that just as Christian came up with this cross, his burden loosed
from off his shoulders and fell from off his back, and began to tumble,
and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where
it fell in, and I saw it no more.'  Turning again to the _Grace
Abounding_, we read in the 115th paragraph: 'I remember that one day as I
was travelling into the country and musing on the wickedness and
blasphemy of my heart, and considering of the enmity that was in me to
God, that scripture came into my mind, He hath made peace by the blood of
His Cross.  By which I was made to see both again and again and again
that day that God and my soul were friends by that blood: yea, I saw that
the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace and kiss each other
through that blood.  That was a good day to me; I hope I shall not forget
it.  I thought I could have spoken of His love and of His mercy to me
that day to the very crows that sat upon the ploughed lands before me had
they been capable to have understood me.  Wherefore I said in my soul
with much gladness, Well, I would I had a pen and ink here and I would
write this down before I go any farther, for surely I will not forget
this forty years hence.'

From all this we learn that the way to the Celestial City lies within
high and close fencing walls.  There is not room for many pilgrims to
walk abreast in that way; indeed, there is seldom room for two.  There
are some parts of the way where two or even three pilgrims can for a time
walk and converse together, but for the most part the path is
distressingly lonely.  The way is so fenced up also that a pilgrim cannot
so much as look either to the right hand or the left.  Indeed, it is one
of the laws of that road that no man is to attempt to look except
straight on before him.  But then there is this compensation for the
solitude and stringency of the way that the wall that so encloses it is
Salvation.  And Salvation is such a wall that it is companionship and
prospect enough of itself.  Dante saw a long reach of this same wall
running round the bottom of the mount that cleanses him who climbs it,--a
long stretch of such sculptured beauty, that it arrested him and
instructed him and delighted him beyond his power sufficiently to praise
it.  And thus, that being so, burdened and bowed down to the earth as our
pilgrim was, he was on the sure way, sooner or later, to deliverance.
Somewhere and sometime and somehow on that steep and high fenced way
deliverance was sure to come.  And, then, as to the burdened man himself.
His name was once Graceless, but his name is Graceless no longer.  No
graceless man runs long between these close and cramping-up walls; and,
especially, no graceless man has that burden long on his back.  That is
not Graceless any longer who is leaving the Interpreter's House for the
fenced way; that is Christian, and as long as he remains Christian, the
closeness of the fence and the weight of his burden are a small matter.
But long-looked-for comes at last.  And so, still carrying his burden and
keeping close within the fenced-up way, our pilgrim came at last to a
cross.  And a perfect miracle immediately took place in that somewhat
ascending ground.  For scarcely had Christian set his eyes on the cross,
when, without his pulling at it, or pushing it, or even at that moment
thinking of it, ere ever he was aware, he saw his burden begin to tumble,
and so it continued to do till it fell fairly out of his sight into an
open sepulchre.

The application of all that is surely self-evident.  For our way in a
holy life is always closely fenced up.  It is far oftener a lonely way
than otherwise.  And the steepness, sternness, and loneliness of our way
are all aggravated by the remembrance of our past sins and follies.  They
still, and more and more, lie upon our hearts a heart-crushing burden.
But if we, like Christian, know how to keep our back to our former house
and our face to heaven, sooner or later we too shall surely come to the
cross.  And then, either suddenly, or after a long agony, our burden also
shall be taken off our back and shut down into Christ's sepulchre.  And I
saw it no more, says the dreamer.  He does not say that its owner saw it
no more.  He was too wise and too true a dreamer to say that.

It will be remembered that the first time we saw this man, with whose
progress to the Celestial City we are at present occupied, he was
standing in a certain place clothed with rags and with a burden on his
back.  After a long journey with him, we have just seen his burden taken
off his back, and it is only after his burden is off and a Shining One
has said to him, Thy sins be forgiven, that a second Shining One comes
and strips him of his rags and clothes him with change of raiment.  Now,
why, it may be asked, has Christian had to carry his burden so long, and
why is he still kept so ragged and so miserable and he so far on in the
pilgrim's path?  Surely, it will be said, John Bunyan was dreaming indeed
when he kept a truly converted man, a confessedly true and sincere
Christian, so long in bonds and in rags.  Well, as to his rags: filthy
rags are only once spoken of in the Bible, and it is the prophet Isaiah,
whose experience and whose language John Bunyan had so entirely by heart,
who puts them on.  And that evangelist among the prophets not only calls
his own and Israel's sins filthy rags, but Isaiah is very bold, and calls
their very righteousnesses by that opprobrious name.  Had that bold
prophet said that all his and all his people's _un_righteousnesses were
filthy rags, all Israel would have subscribed to that.  There was no man
so brutish as not to admit that.  But as long as they had any sense of
truth and any self-respect, multitudes of Isaiah's first hearers and
readers would resent what he so rudely said of their righteousnesses.  On
the other hand, the prophet's terrible discovery and comparison, just
like our dreamer's dramatic distribution of Christian experience, was, to
a certainty, an immense consolation to many men in Israel in his day.
They gathered round Isaiah because, but for him and his evangelical
ministry, they would have been alone in their despair.  To them Isaiah's
ministry was a house of refuge, and the prophet himself a veritable tower
of strength.  They felt they were not alone so long as Isaiah dwelt in
the same city with them.  And thus, whatever he might be to others, he
was God's very prophet to them as his daily prayers in the temple both
cast them down and lifted them up.  'Oh that Thou wouldst rend the
heavens and come down . . . But we are all as an unclean thing, and all
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and our iniquities like the wind
have taken us away.'  Thousands in Israel found in these terrible words a
door of hope, a sense of fellowship, and a call to trust and
thanksgiving.  And tens of thousands have found the same help and
consolation out of what have seemed to others the very darkest and most
perplexing pages of the _Pilgrim's Progress_ and the _Grace Abounding_.
'It made me greatly ashamed,' says Hopeful, 'of the vileness of my former
life, and confounded me with the sense of mine own ignorance, for there
never came into mine heart before now that showed me so by contrast the
beauty of the Lord Jesus.  My own vileness and nakedness made me love a
holy life.  Yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in
my body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.'  And if
you, my brother, far on in the way of Salvation, still think sometimes
that, after all, you must be a reprobate because of your filthy rags,
read what David Brainerd wrote with his half-dead hand on the last page
of his seraphic journal: 'How sweet it is to love God and to have a heart
all for God!  Yes; but a voice answered me, You are not all for God, you
are not an angel.  To which my whole soul replied, I as sincerely desire
to love and glorify God as any angel in heaven.  But you are filthy, and
not fit for heaven.  When hereupon there instantly appeared above me and
spread over me the blessed robes of Christ's righteousness which I could
not but exult and triumph in.  And then I knew that I should be as active
as an angel in heaven, and should then be for ever stripped of my filthy
garments and clothed with spotless raiment.'  Let me die the death of
David Brainerd, and let my latter end be like his!

The third Shining One then came forward and set a mark on the forehead of
this happy man.  And it was a most ancient and a most honourable mark.
For it was the same redeeming mark that was set by Moses upon the
foreheads of the children of Israel when the Lord took them into covenant
with Himself at the Passover in the wilderness.  It was the same
distinguishing mark also that the man with the slaughter-weapon in his
hand first set upon the foreheads of the men who sighed and cried for the
abominations that were done in the midst of Jerusalem.  And it was the
same glorious mark that John saw in the foreheads of the hundred and
forty and four thousand who stood upon Mount Zion and sang a song that no
man knew but those men who had been redeemed from the earth by the blood
of the Lamb.  The mark was set for propriety and for ornament and for
beauty.  It was set upon his forehead so that all who looked on him ever
after might thus know to what company and what country he belonged, and
that this was not his rest, but that he had been called and chosen to a
heavenly inheritance.  And, besides, it was no sooner set upon his
forehead than it greatly added to his dignity and his comeliness.  He had
now the gravity and beauty of an angel; nay, the beauty in his measure
and the gravity of Goodwill at the gate himself.  And, then, as if that
were not enough, the third Shining One also gave him a roll with a seal
upon it, which he was bidden look on as he ran, and which he was to give
in when he arrived at the Celestial Gate.  Now, what was that sealed roll
but just the inward memory and record of all this pilgrim's experiences
of the grace of God from the day he set out on pilgrimage down to that
day when he stood unburdened of his guilt, unclothed of his rags, and
clothed upon with change of raiment?  The roll contained his own secret
life, all sealed and shone in upon by the light of God's countenance.  The
secret of the Lord with this pilgrim was written within that roll, a
secret that no man could read but he himself alone.  It was the same roll
that this same Shining One gave to Abraham, the first pilgrim and the
father of all true pilgrims, after Melchizedek, the priest of the Most
High God, had brought forth bread and wine and had blessed that great
believer.  'Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great
reward.'  And, again, after Abram had lost his roll, like our pilgrim in
the arbour, when he recovered it he read thus in it: 'I am the Almighty
God: walk before Me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make My covenant
between Me and thee.'  And Abram fell on his face for joy.  It was the
same roll out of which the Psalmist proposed to read a passage to all
those in his day who feared God.  'Come and hear, all ye that fear God,
and I will declare what He hath done for my soul.'  It was the same roll
also that God sent to Israel in his sore captivity.  'Fear not, O Israel,
for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.'  The high
priest Joshua also had the same roll put into his hand, and that not only
for his own comfort, but to make him the comforter of God's afflicted
people.  For after the Lord had plucked Joshua as a brand out of the
fire, and had made his iniquity to pass from him, and had clothed him
with change of raiment, and had set a fair mitre on his head, the Lord
gave to Joshua a sealed roll, the contents of which may be read to this
day in the book of the prophet Zechariah.  Nay, more: 'Will you have me
to speak plainly?' says great Goodwin on this matter.  'Then, though our
Lord had the assurance of faith that He was the Son of God, for He knew
it out of the Scriptures by reading all the prophets, yet, to have it
sealed to Him with joy unspeakable and glorious,--this was deferred to
the time of His baptism.  He was then anointed with the oil of assurance
and gladness in a more peculiar and transcendent manner.'  'In His
baptism,' says Bengel, 'our Lord was magnificently enlightened.  He was
previously the Son of God, and yet the power of the Divine testimony to
His Sonship at His baptism long affected Him in a lively manner.'  And we
see our Lord reading His roll to assure and sustain His heart when all
outward acceptance and sustenance failed Him.  'There is One who beareth
witness of Me, and His witness is true.  I receive not witness from men.
I have a greater witness than even that of John.  For the Father Himself
that hath sent Me, He beareth witness of Me.'  No wonder that our heavy-
laden pilgrim of yesterday gave three leaps for joy and went on singing
with such a roll as that in his bosom.  For, at that supreme moment he
had that inward illumination and assurance sealed on his heart that had
so gladdened and sustained so many prophets and psalmists and apostles
and saints before his day.  And though, like Abraham and all the other
saints who ever had that noble roll put into their keeping, except Jesus
Christ, he often lost it, yet as often as he again recovered it, it
brought back again with it all his first joy and gladness.

But, as was said at the beginning, the _Grace Abounding_ is the best of
all our commentaries on _The Pilgrim's Progress_.  As thus here also:
'Now had I an evidence, as I thought, of my salvation from heaven, with
many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight.  Now could I remember
this manifestation and that other discovery of grace with comfort, and
should often long and desire that the last day were come, that I might be
for ever inflamed with the sight and joy of Him and communion with Him
whose head was crowned with thorns, whose face was spit on, and body
broken, and soul made an offering for my sins.  For whereas, before, I
lay continually trembling at the mouth of hell, now, methought, I was got
so far therefrom that I could not, when I looked back, scarce discern it.
And oh! thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that I might die
quickly, that my soul might be gone to rest.'

Then Christian gave three leaps for joy and went on singing:

   'Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
   Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in
   Till I came hither: . . .
   Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
   The Man that there was put to shame for me.'




FORMALIST AND HYPOCRISY


   'A form of godliness.'--Paul.

We all began our religious life by being formalists.  And we were not
altogether to blame for that.  Our parents were first to blame for that,
and then our teachers, and then our ministers.  They made us say our
psalm and our catechism to them, and if we only said our sacred lesson
without stumbling, we were straightway rewarded with their highest
praise.  They seldom took the trouble to make us understand the things we
said to them.  They were more than content with our correct repetition of
the words.  We were never taught either to read or repeat with our eyes
on the object.  And we had come to our manhood before we knew how to seek
for the visual image that lies at the root of all our words.  And thus
the ill-taught schoolboy became in us the father of the confirmed
formalist.  The mischief of this neglect still spreads through the whole
of our life, but it is absolutely disastrous in our religious life.  Look
at the religious formalist at family worship with his household gathered
round him all in his own image.  He would not on any account let his
family break up any night without the habitual duty.  He has a severe
method in his religious duties that nothing is ever allowed to disarrange
or in any way to interfere with.  As the hour strikes, the big Bible is
brought out.  He opens where he left off last night, he reads the
regulation chapter, he leads the singing in the regulation psalm, and
then, as from a book, he repeats his regulation prayer.  But he never
says a word to show that he either sees or feels what he reads, and his
household break up without an idea in their heads or an affection in
their hearts.  He comes to church and goes through public worship in the
same wooden way, and he sits through the Lord's Table in the same formal
and ceremonious manner.  He has eyes of glass and hands of wood, and a
heart without either blood or motion in it.  His mind and his heart were
destroyed in his youth, and all his religion is a religion of rites and
ceremonies without sense or substance.  'Because I knew no better,' says
Bunyan, 'I fell in very eagerly with the religion of the times: to wit,
to go to church twice a day, and that, too, with the foremost.  And there
should I sing and say as others did.  Withal, I was so overrun with the
spirit of superstition that I adored, and that with great devotion, even
all things, both the high place, priest, clerk, vestment, service, and
what else belonged to the church: counting all things holy that were
therein contained.  But all this time I was not sensible of the danger
and evil of sin.  I was kept from considering that sin would damn me,
what religion soever I followed, unless I was found in Christ.  Nay, I
never thought of Christ, nor whether there was one or no.'

A formalist is not yet a hypocrite exactly, but he is ready now and well
on the way at any moment to become a hypocrite.  As soon now as some
temptation shall come to him to make appear another and a better man than
he really is: when in some way it becomes his advantage to seem to other
people to be a spiritual man: when he thinks he sees his way to some
profit or praise by saying things and doing things that are not true and
natural to him,--then he will pass on from being a bare and simple
formalist, and will henceforth become a hypocrite.  He has never had any
real possession or experience of spiritual things amid all his formal
observances of religious duties, and he has little or no difficulty,
therefore, in adding another formality or two to his former life of
unreality.  And thus the transition is easily made from a comparatively
innocent and unconscious formalist to a conscious and studied hypocrite.
'An hypocrite,' says Samuel Rutherford, 'is he who on the stage
represents a king when he is none, a beggar, an old man, a husband, when
he is really no such thing.  To the Hebrews, they were _faciales_, face-
men; _colorati_, dyed men, red men, birds of many colours.  You may paint
a man, you may paint a rose, you may paint a fire burning, but you cannot
paint a soul, or the smell of a rose, or the heat of a fire.  And it is
hard to counterfeit spiritual graces, such as love to Christ, sincere
intending of the glory of God, and such like spiritual things.'  Yes,
indeed; it is hard to put on and to go through with a truly spiritual
grace even to the best and most spiritually-minded of men; and as for the
true hypocrite, he never honestly attempts it.  If he ever did honestly
and resolutely attempt it, he would at once in that pass out of the ranks
of the hypocrites altogether and pass over into a very different
category.  Bunyan lets us see how a formalist and a hypocrite and a
Christian all respectively do when they come to a real difficulty.  The
three pilgrims were all walking in the same path, and with their faces
for the time in the same direction.  They had not held much conference
together since their first conversation, and as time goes on, Christian
has no more talk but with himself, and that sometimes sighingly, and
sometimes more comfortably.  When, all at once, the three men come on the
hill Difficulty.  A severe act of self-denial has to be done at this
point of their pilgrimage.  A proud heart has to be humbled to the dust.
A second, a third, a tenth place has to be taken in the praise of men.  An
outbreak of anger and wrath has to be kept under for hours and days.  A
great injury, a scandalous case of ingratitude, has to be forgiven and
forgotten; in short, as Rutherford says, an
impossible-to-be-counterfeited spiritual grace has to be put into its
severest and sorest exercise; and the result was--what we know.  Our
pilgrim went and drank of the spring that always runs at the bottom of
the hill Difficulty, and thus refreshed himself against that hill; while
Formalist took the one low road, and Hypocrisy the other, which led him
into a wide field full of dark mountains, where he stumbled and fell and
rose no more.  When, after his visit to the spring, Christian began to go
up the hill, saying:

   'This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
   The difficulty will not me offend;
   For I perceive the way to life lies here;
   Come, pluck up heart; let's neither faint nor fear;
   Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
   Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.'

Now, all this brings us to the last step in the evolution of a perfect
hypocrite out of a simple formalist.  The perfect and finished hypocrite
is not your commonplace and vulgar scoundrel of the playwright and the
penny-novelist type; the finest hypocrite is a character their art cannot
touch.  'The worst of hypocrites,' Rutherford goes on to say, 'is he who
whitens himself till he deceives himself.  It is strange that a man hath
such power over himself.  But a man's heart may deceive his heart, and he
may persuade himself that he is godly and righteous when he knows nothing
about it.'  'Preaching in a certain place,' says Boston, 'after supper
the mistress of the house told me how I had terrified God's people.  This
was by my doctrine of self-love, self-righteousness, self-ends, and such
like.  She restricted hypocrites to that sort that do all things to be
seen of men, and harped much on this--how can one be a hypocrite who
hates hypocrisy in other people? how can one be a hypocrite and not know
it?  All this led me to see the need of such doctrine.'  And if only to
show you that this is not the dismal doctrine of antediluvian
Presbyterians only, Canon Mozley says: 'The Pharisee did not know that he
was a Pharisee; if he had known it he would not have been a Pharisee.  He
does not know that he is a hypocrite.  The vulgar hypocrite knows that he
is a hypocrite because he deceives others, but the true Scripture
hypocrite deceives himself.'  And the most subtle teacher of our century,
or of any century, has said: 'What is a hypocrite?  We are apt to
understand by a hypocrite one who makes a profession of religion for
secret ends without practising what he professes; who is malevolent,
covetous, or profligate, while he assumes an outward sanctity in his
words and conduct, and who does so deliberately, deceiving others, and
not at all self-deceived.  But this is not what our Saviour seems to have
meant by a hypocrite; nor were the Pharisees such.  The Pharisees
deceived themselves as well as others.  Indeed, it is not in human nature
to deceive others for any long time without in a measure deceiving
ourselves also.  When they began, each in his turn, to deceive the
people, they were not at the moment self-deceived.  But by degrees they
forgot that outward ceremonies avail nothing without inward purity.  They
did not know themselves, and they unawares deceived themselves as well as
the people.'  What a terrible light, as of the last day itself, does all
that cast upon the formalisms and the hypocrisies of which our own
religious life is full!  And what a terrible light it casts on those
miserable men who are complete and finished in their self-deception!  For
the complete and finished hypocrite is not he who thinks that he is
better than all other men; that is hopeless enough; but the paragon of
hypocrisy is he who does not know that he is worse than all other men.
And in his stone-blindness to himself, and consequently to all reality
and inwardness and spirituality in religion, you see him intensely
interested in, and day and night occupied with, the outside things of
religion, till nothing short of a miracle will open his eyes.  See him in
the ministry, for instance, sweating at his sermons and in his visiting,
till you would almost think that he is the minister of whom Paul
prophesied, who should spend and be spent for the salvation of men's
souls.  But all the time, such is the hypocrisy that haunts the
ministerial calling, he is really and at bottom animated with ambition
for the praise of men only, and for the increase of his congregation.  See
him, again, now assailing or now defending a church's secular privileges,
and he knowing no more, all the time, what a church has been set up for
on earth than the man in the moon.  What a penalty his defence is and his
support to a church of Christ, and what an incubus his membership must
be!  Or, see him, again, making long speeches and many prayers for the
extension of the kingdom of Christ, and all the time spending ten times
more on wine or whisky or tobacco, or on books or pictures or foreign
travel, than he gives to the cause of home or foreign missions.  And so
on, all through our hypocritical and self-blinded life.  Through such
stages, and to such a finish, does the formalist pass from his
thoughtless and neglected youth to his hardened, blinded, self-seeking
life, spent in the ostensible service of the church of Christ.  If the
light that is in such men be darkness, how great is that darkness!  We
may all well shudder as we hear our Lord saying to ministers and members
and church defenders and church supporters, like ourselves: 'Now ye say,
We see; therefore your sin remaineth.'

Now, the first step to the cure of all such hypocrisy, and to the
salvation of our souls, is to know that we are hypocrites, and to know
also what that is in which we are most hypocritical.  Well, there are two
absolutely infallible tests of a true hypocrite,--tests warranted to
unmask, expose, and condemn the most finished, refined, and even
evangelical hypocrite in this house to-night, or in all the world.  By
far and away the best and swiftest is prayer.  True prayer, that is.  For
here again our inexpugnable hypocrisy comes in and leads us down to
perdition even in our prayers.  There is nothing our Lord more bitterly
and more contemptuously assails the Pharisees for than just the length,
the loudness, the number, and the publicity of their prayers.  The truth
is, public prayer, for the most part, is no true prayer at all.  It is at
best an open homage paid to secret prayer.  We make such shipwrecks of
devotion in public prayer, that if we have a shred of true religion about
us, we are glad to get home and to shut our door.  We preach in our
public prayers.  We make speeches on public men and on public events in
our public prayers.  We see the reporters all the time in our public
prayers.  We do everything but pray in our public prayers.  And to get
away alone,--what an escape that is from the temptations and defeats of
public prayer!  No; public prayer is no test whatever of a hypocrite.  A
hypocrite revels in public prayer.  It is secret prayer that finds him
out.  And even secret prayer will sometimes deceive us.  We are crushed
down on our secret knees sometimes, by sheer shame and the strength of
conscience.  Fear of exposure, fear of death and hell, will sometimes
make us shut our door.  A flood of passing feeling will sometimes make us
pray for a season in secret.  Job had all that before him when he said,
'Will the hypocrite delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call
upon God?'  No, he will not.  And it is just here that the hypocrite and
the true Christian best discover themselves both to God and to
themselves.  The true Christian will, as Job again says, pray in secret
till God slays him.  He will pray in his dreams; he will pray till death;
he will pray after he is dead.  Are you in earnest, then, not to be any
more a hypocrite and to know the infallible marks of such?  Ask the key
of your closet door.  Ask the chair at your bedside.  Ask the watchman
what you were doing and why your light was in so long.  Ask the birds of
the air and the beasts of the field and the crows on the ploughed lands
after your solitary walk.

Almost a better test of true and false religion than even secret prayer,
but a test that is far more difficult to handle, is our opinion of
ourselves.  In His last analysis of the truly justified man and the truly
reprobate, our Lord made the deepest test to be their opinion of
themselves.  'God, I thank Thee that I am not as this publican,' said the
hypocrite.  'God be merciful to me a sinner,' said the true penitent.  And
then this fine principle comes in here--not only to speed the sure
sanctification of a true Christian, but also, if he has skill and courage
to use it, for his assurance and comfort,--that the saintlier he becomes
and the riper for glory, the more he will beat his breast over what yet
abides within his breast.  Yes; a man's secret opinion of himself is
almost a better test of his true spiritual state than even secret prayer.
But, then, these two are not competing and exclusive tests; they always
go together and are never found apart.  And at the mouth of these two
witnesses every true hypocrite shall be condemned and every true
Christian justified.

Dr. Pusey says somewhere that the perfect hypocrite is the man who has
the truth of God in his mind, but is without the love of God in his
heart.  'Truth without love,' says that saintly scholar, 'makes a
finished Pharisee.'  Now we Scottish and Free Church people believe we
have the truth, if any people on the face of the earth have it; and if we
have not love mixed with it, you see where and what we are.  We are
called to display a banner because of the truth, but let love always be
our flag-staff.  Let us be jealous for the truth, but let it be a godly,
that is to say, a loving jealousy.  When we contend for purity of
doctrine and for purity of worship, when we protest against popery and
priestcraft, when we resist rationalism and infidelity, when we do battle
now for national religion, as we call it, and now for the freedom of the
church, let us do it all in love to all men, else we had better not do it
at all.  If we cannot do it with clean and all-men-loving hearts, let us
leave all debate and contention to stronger and better men than we are.
The truth will never be advanced or guarded by us, nor will the Lord of
truth and love accept our service or bless our souls, till we put on the
divine nature, and have our hearts and our mouths still more full of love
than our minds and our mouths are full of truth.  Let us watch ourselves,
lest with all our so-called love of truth we be found reprobates at last
because we loved the truth for some selfish or party end, and hated and
despised our brother, and believed all evil and disbelieved all good
concerning our brother.  Truth without love makes a hypocrite, says Dr.
Pusey; and evangelical truth without evangelical love makes an
evangelical hypocrite, says Thomas Shepard.  Only where the whole truth
is united to a heart full of love have we the perfect New Testament
Christian.




TIMOROUS AND MISTRUST


   'There is a lion in the way.'--The Slothful Man.

   'I must venture.'--Christian.

'I at any rate must venture,' said Christian to Timorous and Mistrust.
'Whatever you may do I must venture, even if the lions you speak of
should pull me to pieces.  I, for one, shall never go back.  To go back
is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death and everlasting life
beyond it.  I will yet go forward.'  So Mistrust and Timorous ran down
the hill, and Christian went on his way.  George Offor says, in his notes
on this passage, that civil despotism and ecclesiastical tyranny so
terrified many young converts in John Bunyan's day, that multitudes
turned back like Mistrust and Timorous; while at the same time, many like
Bunyan himself went forward and for a time fell into the lion's mouth.
Civil despotism and ecclesiastical tyranny do not stand in our way as
they stood in Bunyan's way--at least, not in the same shape: but every
age has its own lions, and every Christian man has his own lions that
neither civil despots nor ecclesiastical tyrants know anything about.

Now, who or what is the lion in your way?  Who or what is it that fills
you with such timorousness and mistrust, that you are almost turning back
from the way to life altogether?  The fiercest of all our lions is our
own sin.  When a man's own sin not only finds him out and comes roaring
after him, but when it dashes past him and gets into the woods and
thickets before him, and stands pawing and foaming on the side of his
way, that is a trial of faith and love and trust indeed.  Sometimes a
man's past sins will fill all his future life with sleepless
apprehensions.  He is never sure at what turn in his upward way he may
not suddenly run against some of them standing ready to rush out upon
him.  And it needs no little quiet trust and humble-minded resignation to
carry a man through this slough and that bottom, up this hill and down
that valley, all the time with his life in his hand; and yet at every
turn, at every rumour that there are lions in the way, to say, Come lion,
come lamb, come death, come life, I must venture, I will yet go forward.
As Job also, that wonderful saint of God, said, 'Hold your peace, let me
alone that I may speak, and let come on me what will.  Wherefore do I
take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my hand?  Though He slay me,
yet will I trust in Him.  He also shall be my salvation; for an hypocrite
shall not come before Him.'

One false step, one stumble in life, one error in judgment, one outbreak
of an unbridled temperament, one small sin, if it is even so much as a
sin, of ignorance or of infirmity, will sometimes not only greatly injure
us at the time, but, in some cases, will fill all our future life with
trials and difficulties and dangers.  Many of us shall have all our days
to face a future of defeat, humiliation, impoverishment, and many
hardships, that has not come on us on account of any presumptuous
transgression of God's law so much as simply out of some combination of
unfortunate circumstances in which we may have only done our duty, but
have not done it in the most serpent-like way.  And when we are made to
suffer unjustly or disproportionately all our days for our error of
judgment or our want of the wisdom of this world, or what not, we are
sorely tempted to be bitter and proud and resentful and unforgiving, and
to go back from duty and endurance and danger altogether.  But we must
not.  We must rather say to ourselves, Now and here, if not in the past,
I must play the man, and, by God's help, the wise man.  I must pluck
safety henceforth out of the heart of the nettle danger.  Yes, I made a
mistake.  I did what I would not do now, and I must not be too proud to
say so.  I acted, I see now, precipitately, inconsiderately, imprudently.
And I must not gloom and rebel and run away from the cross and the lion.
I must not insist or expect that the always wise and prudent man's reward
is to come to me.  The lion in my way is a lion of my own rearing; and I
must not turn my back on him, even if he should be let loose to leap on
me and rend me.  I must pass under his paw and through his teeth, if need
be, to a life with him and beyond him of humility and duty and
quiet-hearted submission to his God and mine.

Then, again, our salvation itself sometimes, our true sanctification,
puts on a lion's skin and not unsuccessfully imitates an angry lion's
roar.  Some saving grace that up till now we have been fatally lacking in
lies under the very lip of that lion we see standing straight in our way.
God in His wisdom so orders our salvation, that we must work out the best
part of it with fear and trembling.  Right before us, just beside us,
standing over us with his heavy paw upon us, is a lion, from under whose
paw and from between whose teeth we must pluck and put on that grace in
which our salvation lies.  Repentance and reformation lie in the way of
that lion; resignation also and humility; the crucifixion of our own
will; the sacrifice of our own heart; in short, everything that is still
lacking but is indispensable to our salvation lies through that den of
lions.  One man here is homeless and loveless; another is childless;
another has a home and children, and much envies the man who has neither;
one has talents there is no scope for; another has the scope, but not the
sufficient talent; another must now spend all his remaining life in a
place where he sees that anger and envy and jealousy and malevolence will
be his roaring lions daily seeking to devour his soul.  There is not a
Christian man or woman in this house whose salvation, worth being called
a salvation, does not lie through such a lion's thicket as that.  Our
Lord Himself was a roaring lion to John the Baptist.  For the Baptist's
salvation lay not in his powerful preaching, but in his being laid aside
from all preaching; not in his crowds increasing, but in his Successor's
crowds increasing and his decreasing.  The Baptist was the greatest born
of woman in that day, not because he was a thundering preacher--any
ordinary mother in Israel might have been his mother in that: but to
decrease sweetly and to steal down quietly to perfect humility and self-
oblivion,--that salvation was reserved for the son of Elisabeth alone.  I
would not like to say Who that is champing and pawing for your blood
right in your present way.  Reverence will not let me say Who it is.
Only, you venture on Him.

'Yes, I shall venture!' said Christian to the two terrified and
retreating men.  Now, every true venture is made against risk and
uncertainty, against anxiety and danger and fear.  And it is just this
that constitutes the nobleness and blessedness of faith.  Faith sells all
for Christ.  Faith risks all for eternal life.  Faith faces all for
salvation.  When it is at the worst, faith still says, Very well; even if
there is no Celestial City anywhere in the world, it is better to die
still seeking it than to live on in the City of Destruction.  Even if
there is no Jesus Christ,--I have read about Him and heard about Him and
pictured Him to myself, till, say what you will, I shall die kissing and
embracing that Divine Image I have in my heart.  Even if there is neither
mercy-seat nor intercession in heaven, I shall henceforth pray without
ceasing.  Far far better for me all the rest of my sinful life to be
clothed with sackcloth and ashes, even if there is no fountain opened in
Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness, and no change of raiment.  Christian
protested that, as for him, lions and all, he had no choice left.  And no
more have we.  He must away somewhere, anywhere, from his past life.  And
so must we.  If all the lions that ever drank blood are to collect upon
his way, let them do so; they shall not all make him turn back.  Why
should they?  What is a whole forest full of lions to a heart and a life
full of sin?  Lions are like lambs compared with sin.  'Good morning!  I
for one must venture.  I shall yet go forward.'  So Mistrust and Timorous
ran down the hill, and Christian went on his way.

So I saw in my dream that he made haste and went forward, that if
possible he might get lodging in the house called Beautiful that stood by
the highway side.  Now, before he had gone far he entered into a very
narrow passage which was about a furlong off from the porter's lodge, and
looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the
way.  Then was he afraid, and thought also to go back, for he thought
that nothing but death was before him.  But the porter at the lodge,
whose name was Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he
would go back, cried unto him, saying, 'Is thy strength so small?  Fear
not the lions, for they are chained, and are only placed there for the
trial of faith where it is, and for the discovery of those who have none.
Keep the midst of the path and no hurt shall come to thee.'  Yes, that is
all we have to do.  Whatever our past life may have been, whatever our
past sins, past errors of judgment, past mistakes and mishaps, whatever
of punishment or chastisement or correction or instruction or
sanctification and growth in grace may be under those lions' skins and
between their teeth for us, all we have got to do at present is to leave
the lions to Him who set them there, and to go on, up to them and past
them, keeping always to the midst of the path.  The lions may roar at us
till they have roared us deaf and blind, but we are far safer in the
midst of that path than we would be in our own bed.  Only let us keep in
the midst of the path.  When their breath is hot and full of blood on our
cheek; when they paw up the blinding earth; when we feel as if their
teeth had closed round our heart,--still, all the more, let us keep in
the midst of the path.  We must sometimes walk on a razor-edge of fear
and straightforwardness; that is the only way left for us now.  But,
then, we have the Divine assurance that on that perilous edge no hurt
shall come to us.  'Temptations,' says our author in another place, 'when
we meet them at first, are as the lion that roared upon Samson; but if we
overcome them, the next time we see them we shall find a nest of honey in
them.'  O God, for grace and sense and imagination to see and understand
and apply all that to our own daily life!  O to be able to take all that
home to-night and see it all there; lions and runaways, venturesome
souls, narrow paths, palaces of beauty, everlasting life and all!  Open
Thou our eyes that we may see the wonderful things that await us in our
own house at home!

   'Things out of hope are compassed oft with venturing.'

So they are; and so they were that day with our terrified pilgrim.  He
made a venture at the supreme moment of his danger, and things that were
quite out of all hope but an hour before were then compassed and ever
after possessed by him.  Make the same venture, then, yourselves
to-night.  Naught venture, naught have.  Your lost soul is not much to
venture, but it is all that Christ at this moment asks of you--that you
leave your lost soul in His hand, and then go straight on from this
moment in the middle of the path: the path, that is, as your case may be,
of purity, humility, submission, resignation, and self-denial.  Keep your
mind and your heart, your eyes and your feet, in the very middle of that
path, and you shall have compassed the House Beautiful before you know.
The lions shall soon be behind you, and the grave and graceful damsels of
the House--Discretion and Prudence and Piety and Charity--shall all be
waiting upon you.




PRUDENCE {1}


   'Let a man examine himself.'--Paul.

Let a man examine himself, says the apostle to the Corinthians, and so
let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.  And thus it was, that
before the pilgrim was invited to sit down at the supper table in the
House Beautiful, quite a number of most pointed and penetrating questions
were put to him by those who had charge of that house and its supper
table.  And thus the time was excellently improved till the table was
spread, while the short delay and the successive exercises whetted to an
extraordinary sharpness the pilgrim's hunger for the supper.  Piety and
Charity, who had joint charge of the house from the Master of the house,
held each a characteristic conversation with Christian, but it was left
to Prudence to hold the most particular discourse with him until supper
was ready, and it is to that so particular discourse that I much wish to
turn your attention to-night.

With great tenderness, but at the same time with the greatest possible
gravity, Prudence asked the pilgrim whether he did not still think
sometimes of the country from whence he had come out.  Yes, he replied;
how could I help thinking continually of that unhappy country and of my
sad and miserable life in it; but, believe me,--or, rather, you cannot
believe me,--with what shame and detestation I always think of my past
life.  My face burns as I now speak of my past life to you, and as I
think what my old companions know and must often say about me.  I detest,
as you cannot possibly understand, every remembrance of my past life, and
I hate and never can forgive myself, who, with mine own hands, so filled
all my past life with shame and self-contempt.  Gently stopping the
remorseful pilgrim's self-accusations about his past life, Prudence asked
him if he had not still with him, and, indeed, within him, some of the
very things that had so destroyed both him and all his past life.  'Yes,'
he honestly and humbly said.  'Yes, but greatly against my will:
especially my inward and sinful cogitations.'  At this Prudence looked on
him with all her deep and soft eyes, for it was to this that she had been
leading the conversation up all the time.  Prudence had a great look of
satisfaction, mingled with love and pity, at the way the pilgrim said
'especially my inward and sinful cogitations.'  Those who stood by and
observed Prudence wondered at her delight in the sad discourse on which
the pilgrim now entered.  But she had her own reasons for her delight in
this particular kind of discourse, and it was seldom that she lighted on
a pilgrim who both understood her questions and responded to them as did
this man now sitting beside her.  Now, my brethren, all parable apart, is
that your religious experience?  Are you full of shame and detestation at
your inward cogitations?  Are you tormented, enslaved, and downright
cursed with your own evil thoughts?  I do not ask whether or no you have
such thoughts always within you.  I do not ask, because I know.  But I
ask, because I would like to make sure that you know what, and the true
nature of what, goes on incessantly in your mind and in your heart.  Do
you, or do you not, spit out your most inward thoughts ten times a day
like poison?  If you do, you are a truly religious man, and if you do
not, you do not yet know the very ABC of true religion, and your dog has
a better errand at the Lord's table than you have.  And if your minister
lets you sit down at the Lord's table without holding from time to time
some particular discourse with you about your sinful thoughts, he is
deceiving and misleading you, besides laying up for himself an awakening
at last to shame and everlasting contempt.  What a mill-stone his
communion roll will be round such a minister's neck!  And how his
congregation will gnash their teeth at him when they see to what his
miserable ministry has brought them!

Let a man examine himself, said Paul.  What about your inward and sinful
cogitations? asked Prudence.  How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge
within thee? demanded the bold prophet.  Now, my brethren, what have you
to say to that particular accusation? Do you know what vain thoughts are?
Are you at all aware what multitudes of such thoughts lodge within you?
Do they drive you every day to your knees, and do you blush with shame
when you are alone before God at the fountain of folly that fills your
mind and your heart continually?  The Apostle speaks of vain hopes that
make us ashamed that we ever entertained them.  You have been often so
ashamed, and yet do not such hopes still too easily arise in your heart?
What castles of idiotic folly you still build!  Were a sane man or a
modest woman even to dream such dreams of folly overnight, they would
blush and hide their heads all day at the thought.  Out of a word, out of
a look, out of what was neither a word nor a look intended for you, what
a world of vanity will you build out of it!  The question of Prudence is
not whether or no you are still a born fool at heart, she does not put
unnecessary questions: hers to you is the more pertinent and particular
question, whether, since you left your former life and became a
Christian, you feel every day increasing shame and detestation at
yourself, on account of the vanity of your inward cogitations.  My
brethren, can you satisfy her who is set by her Master to hold particular
discourse with all true Christians before supper?  Can you say with the
Psalmist,--could you tell Prudence where the Psalmist says,--I hate vain
thoughts, but Thy law do I love?  And can you silence her by telling her
that her Master alone knows with what shame you think that He has such a
fool as you are among His people?

Anger, also, sudden and even long-entertained anger, was one of the 'many
failings' of which Christian was so conscious to himself.  His outbursts
of anger at home, he bitterly felt, might well be one of the causes why
his wife and children did not accompany him on his pilgrimage.  And
though he knew his failing in this respect, and was very wary of it, yet
he often failed even when he was most wary.  Now, while anger is largely
a result of our blood and temperament, yet few of us are so well-balanced
and equable in our temperament and so pure and cool in our blood, as
altogether to escape frequent outbursts of anger.  The most happily
constituted and the best governed of us have too much cause to be ashamed
and penitent both before God and our neighbours for our outbursts of
angry passion.  But Prudence is so particular in her discourse before
supper, that she goes far deeper into our anger than our wives and our
children, our servants and our neighbours, can go.  She not only asks if
we stamp out the rising anger of our heart as we would stamp out sparks
of fire in a house full of gunpowder; but she insists on being told what
we think of ourselves when the house of our heart is still so full of
such fire and such gunpowder.  Any man, to call a man, would be humbled
in his own eyes and in his walk before his house at home after an
explosion of anger among them; but he who would satisfy Prudence and sit
beside her at supper, must not only never let his anger kindle, but the
simple secret heat of it, that fire of hell that is hid from all men but
himself in the flint of his own hard and proud heart,--what, asks
Prudence, do you think of that, and of yourself on account of that?  Does
that keep you not only watchful and prayerful, but, what is the best
ground in you of all true watchfulness and prayerfulness, full of secret
shame, self-fear, and self-detestation?  One forenoon table would easily
hold all our communicants if Prudence had the distribution of the tokens.

And, then, we who are true pilgrims, are of all men the most miserable,
on account of that 'failing,' that rankling sting in our hearts, when any
of our friends has more of this world's possessions, honours, and praises
than we have, that pain at our neighbour's pleasure, that sickness at his
health, that hunger for what we see him eat, that thirst for what we see
him drink, that imprisonment of our spirits when we see him set at
liberty, that depression at his exaltation, that sorrow at his joy, and
joy at his sorrow, that evil heart that would have all things to itself.
Yes, said Christian, I am only too conversant with all these sinful
cogitations, but they are all greatly against my will, and might I but
choose mine own thoughts, do you suppose that I would ever think these
things any more?  'The cause is in my will,' said Caesar, on a great
occasion.  But the true Christian, unhappily, cannot say that.  If he
could say that, he would soon say also that the snare is broken and that
his soul has escaped.  And then the cause of all his evil cogitations,
his vain thoughts, his angry feelings, his envious feelings, his
ineradicable covetousness, his hell-rooted and heaven-towering pride, and
his whole evil heart of unbelief would soon be at an end.  'I cannot be
free of sin,' said Thomas Boston, 'but God knows that He would be welcome
to make havoc of my lusts to-night and to make me henceforth a holy man.
I know no lust that I would not be content to part with.  My will bound
hand and foot I desire to lay at His feet.'  Yes: such is the mystery and
depth of sin in the hearts of all God's saints, that far deeper than
their will, far back behind their will, the whole substance and very core
of their hearts is wholly corrupt and enslaved to sin.  And thus it is
that while their renewed and delivered will works out, so far, their
salvation in their walk and conversation among men, the helplessness of
their will in the cleansing and the keeping of their hearts is to the end
the sorrow and the mystery of their sanctification.  To will was present
with Paul, and with Bunyan, and with Boston; but their heart--they could
not with all their keeping keep their heart.  No man can; no man who has
at all tried it can.  'Might I but choose mine own thoughts, I would
choose never to think of these things more: but when I would be doing of
that which is best, that which is worst is with me.'  We can choose
almost all things.  Our will and choice have almost all things at their
disposal.  We can choose our God.  We can choose life or death.  We can
choose heaven or hell.  We can choose our church, our minister, our
books, our companions, our words, our works, and, to some extent, our
inward thoughts, but only to some extent.  We can encourage this or that
thought; we can entertain it and dwell upon it; or we can detect it,
detest it, and cast it out.  But that secret place in our heart where our
thoughts hide and harbour, and out of which they spring so suddenly upon
the mind and the heart, the imagination and the conscience,--of that
secretest of all secret places, God alone is able to say, I search the
heart.  'As for secret thoughts,' says our author, speaking of his own
former religious life, 'I took no notice of them, neither did I
understand what Satan's temptations were, nor how they were to be
withstood and resisted.'  But now all these things are his deepest grief,
as they are ours,--as many of us as have been truly turned in our deepest
hearts to God.

'But,' replied Prudence, 'do you not find sometimes as if those things
were vanquished which at other times are your perplexity?'  'Yes, but
that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours in which such things
happen to me.'  'Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances
at times as if they were vanquished?'  'Yes, when I think what I saw at
the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that
will do it; also, when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom,
that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going,
that will do it.'  Yes; and these same things have many a time done it to
ourselves also.  We also, my brethren--let me tell you your own
undeniable experience--we also have such golden hours sometimes, when we
feel as if we should never again have such an evil heart within us.  The
Cross of Christ to us also has done it.  It is of such golden hours that
Isaac Watts sings in his noble hymn:

   'When I survey the wondrous Cross;'

and as often as we sing that hymn with our eyes upon the object, that
will for a time vanquish our worst cogitations.  Also, when we read the
roll that we too carry in our bosom--that is to say, when we go back into
our past life till we see it and feel it all, and till we can think and
speak of nothing else but the sin that abounded in it and the grace that
much more abounded, that has a thousand times given us also golden hours,
even rest from our own evil hearts.  And we also have often made our
hearts too hot for sin to show itself, when we read our hearts deep into
such books as _The Paradiso_, _The Pilgrim's Progress_, _The Saint's
Rest_, _The Serious Call_, _The Religious Affections_, and such like.
These books have often vanquished our annoyances, and given us golden
hours on the earth.  Yes, but that is but seldom.

'Now, what is it,' asked Prudence, as she wound up this so particular
colloquy, 'that makes you so desirous to go to Mount Zion?'

'Why,' replied the pilgrim, and the water stood in his eyes, 'why, there
I hope to see Him alive that did hang dead on the cross; and there I hope
to be rid of all those things that to this day are an annoyance to me;
there they say is no death, and there shall I dwell with such company as
I love best.  For, to tell you truth, I love Him, because by Him I was
eased of my burden, and I am weary of my inward sickness; and I would
fain be where I shall die no more, and for ever with that company that
shall continually cry, Holy, holy, holy.'




CHARITY


   'I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.'--David.

There can be nobody here to-night so stark stupid as to suppose that the
pilgrim had run away from home and left his wife and children to the work-
house.  There have been wiseacres who have found severe fault with John
Bunyan because he made his Puritan pilgrim such a bad husband and such an
unnatural father.  But nobody possessed of a spark of common sense, not
to say religion or literature, would ever commit himself to such an utter
imbecility as that.  John Bunyan's pilgrim, whatever he may have been
before he became a pilgrim, all the time he was a pilgrim, was the most
faithful, affectionate, and solicitous husband in all the country round
about, and the tenderest, the most watchful, and the wisest of fathers.
This pilgrim stayed all the more at home that he went so far away from
home; he accomplished his whole wonderful pilgrimage beside his own forge
and at his own fireside; and he entered the Celestial City amid trumpets
and bells and harps and psalms, while all the time sleeping in his own
humble bed.  The House Beautiful, therefore, to which we have now come in
his company, is not some remote and romantic mansion away up among the
mountains a great many days' journey distant from this poor man's
everyday home.  The House Beautiful was nothing else,--what else better,
what else so good could it be?--than just this Christian man's first
communion Sabbath and his first communion table (first, that is, after
his true conversion from sin to God and his confessed entrance into a new
life), while the country from whence he had come out, and concerning
which both Piety and Prudence catechised him so closely, was just his
former life of open ungodliness and all his evil walk and conversation
while he was as yet living without God and without hope in the world.  The
country on which he confessed that he now looked back with so much shame
and detestation was not England or Bedfordshire, but the wicked life he
had lived in that land and in that shire.  And when Charity asked him as
to whether he was a married man and had a family, she knew quite well
that he was, only she made a pretence of asking him those domestic
questions in order thereby to start the touching conversation.

Beginning, then, at home, as she always began, Charity said to Christian,
'Have you a family?  Are you a married man?'  'I have a wife and four
small children,' answered Christian.  'And why did you not bring them
with you?'  Then Christian wept and said, 'Oh, how willingly would I have
done so, but they were all of them utterly averse to my going on
pilgrimage.'  'But you should have talked to them and have shown them
their danger.'  'So I did,' he replied, 'but I seemed to them as one that
mocked.'  Now, this of talking, and, especially, of talking about
religious things to children, is one of the most difficult things in the
world,--that is, to do it well.  Some people have the happy knack of
talking to their own and to other people's children so as always to
interest and impress them.  But such happy people are few.  Most people
talk at their children whenever they begin to talk to them, and thus,
without knowing it, they nauseate their children with their conversation
altogether.  To respect a little child, to stand in some awe of a little
child, to choose your topics, your opportunities, your neighbourhood,
your moods and his as well as all your words, and always to speak your
sincerest, simplest, most straightforward and absolutely wisest is
indispensable with a child.  Take your mannerisms, your condescensions,
your affectations, your moralisings, and all your insincerities to your
debauched equals, but bring your truest and your best to your child.
Unless you do so, you will be sure to lay yourself open to a look that
will suddenly go through you, and that will swiftly convey to you that
your child sees through you and despises you and your conversation too.
'You should not only have talked to your children of their danger,' said
Charity, 'but you should have shown them their danger.'  Yes, Charity;
but a man must himself see his own and his children's danger too, before
he can show it to them, as well as see it clearly at the time he is
trying to show it to them.  And how many fathers, do you suppose, have
the eyes to see such danger, and how then can they shew such danger to
their children, of all people?  Once get fathers to see dangers or
anything else aright, and then you will not need to tell them how they
are to instruct and impress their children.  Nature herself will then
tell them how to talk to their children, and when Nature teaches, all our
children will immediately and unweariedly listen.

But, especially, said Charity, as your boys grew up--I think you said
that you had four boys and no girls?--well, then, all the more, as they
grew up, you should have taken occasion to talk to them about yourself.
Did your little boy never petition you for a story about yourself; and as
he grew up did you never confide to him what you have never confided to
his mother?  Something, as I was saying, that made you sad when you were
a boy and a rising man, with a sadness your son can still see in you as
you talk to him.  In conversations like that a boy finds out what a
friend he has in his father, and his father from that day has his best
friend in his son.  And then as Matthew grew up and began to out-grow his
brothers and to form friendships out of doors, did you study to talk at
the proper time to him, and on subjects on which you never venture to
talk about to any other boy or man?  You men, Charity went on to say,
live in a world of your own, and though we women are well out of it, yet
we cannot be wholly ignorant that it is there.  And, we may well be
wrong, but we cannot but think that fathers, if not mothers, might safely
tell their men-children at least more than they do tell them of the sure
dangers that lie straight in their way, of the sorrow that men and women
bring on one another, and of what is the destruction of so many cities.
We may well be wrong, for we are only women, but I have told you what we
all think who keep this house and hear the reports and repentances of
pilgrims, both Piety and Prudence and I myself.  And I, for one, largely
agree with the three women.  It is easier said than done.  But the simple
saying of it may perhaps lead some fathers and mothers to think about it,
and to ask whether or no it is desirable and advisable to do it, which of
them is to attempt it, on what occasion, and to what extent.  Christian
by this time had the Slough of Despond with all its history and all that
it contained to tell his eldest son about; he had the wicket gate also
just above the slough, the hill Difficulty, the Interpreter's House, the
place somewhat ascending with a cross standing upon it, and a little
below, in the bottom, a sepulchre, not to speak of her who assaulted
Faithful, whose name was Wanton, and who at one time was like to have
done even that trusty pilgrim a lifelong mischief.  Christian rather
boasted to Charity of his wariness, especially in the matter of his
children's amusements, but Charity seemed to think that he had carried
his wariness into other matters besides amusements, without the best
possible results there either.  I have sometimes thought with her that
among our multitude of congresses and conferences of all kinds of people
and upon all manner of subjects, room and membership might have been
found for a conference of fathers and mothers.  Fathers to give and take
counsel about how to talk to their sons, and mothers to their daughters.
I am much of Charity's mind, that, if more were done at home, and done
with some frankness, for our sons and daughters, there would be fewer
fathers and mothers found sitting at the Lord's table alone.  'You should
have talked to them,' said Charity, with some severity in her tones,
'and, especially, you should have told them of your own sorrow.'

And then, coming still closer up to Christian, Charity asked him whether
he prayed, both before and after he so spoke to his children, that God
would bless what he said to them.  Charity believeth all things, hopeth
all things, but when she saw this man about to sit down all alone at the
supper table, it took Charity all her might to believe that he had both
spoken to his children and at the same time prayed to God for them as he
ought to have done.  Our old ministers used to lay this vow on all
fathers and mothers at the time of baptism, that they were to pray both
with and for their children.  Now, that is a fine formula; it is a most
comprehensive, and, indeed, exhaustive formula.  Both with and for.  And
especially with.  With, at such and such times, on such and such
occasions, and in such and such places.  At those times, say, when your
boy has told a lie, or struck his little brother, or stolen something, or
destroyed something.  To pray with him at such times, and to pray with
him properly, and, if you feel able to do it, and are led to do it, to
tell him something after the prayer about yourself, and your own not-yet-
forgotten boyhood, and your father; it makes a fine time to mix talk and
prayer together in that way.  Charity is not easily provoked, but the
longer she lives and keeps the table in the House Beautiful the more she
is provoked to think that there is far too little prayer among pilgrims;
far too little of all kinds of prayer, but especially prayer with and for
their children.  But hard as it was to tell all the truth at that moment
about Christian's past walk in his house at home, yet he was able with
the simple truth to say that he had indeed prayed both with and for his
children, and that, as they knew and could not but remember, not seldom.
Yes, he said, I did sometimes so pray with my boys, and that too, as you
may believe, with much affection, for you must think that my four boys
were all very dear to me.  And it is my firm belief that all that good
man's boys will come right yet: Matthew and Joseph and James and Samuel
and all.  'With much affection.'  I like that.  I have unbounded faith in
those prayers, both for and with, in which there is much affection.  It
is want of affection, and want of imagination, that shipwrecks so many of
our prayers.  But this man's prayers had both these elements of sure
success in them, and they must come at last to harbour.  At that one word
'with much affection,' this man's closet door flies open and I see the
old pilgrim first alone, and then with his arms round his eldest son's
neck, and both father and son weeping together till they are ashamed to
appear at supper till they have washed their faces and got their most
smiling and everyday looks put on again.  You just wait and see if
Matthew and all the four boys down to the last do not escape into the
Celestial City before the gate is shut.  And when it is asked, Who are
these and whence came they? listen to their song and you will hear those
four happy children saying that their father, when they were yet boys,
both talked with them and prayed for and with them with so much affection
that therefore they are before the throne.

Why, then, with such a father and with such makable boys, why was this
household brought so near everlasting shipwreck?  It was the mother that
did it.  In one word, it was the wife and the mother that did it.  It was
the mistress of the house who wrought the mischief here.  She was a poor
woman, she was a poor man's wife, and one would have thought that she had
little enough temptation to harm upon this present world.  But there it
was, she did hang upon it as much as if she had been the mother of the
finest daughters and the most promising boys in all the town.  Things
like this were from time to time reported to her by her neighbours.  One
fine lady had been heard to say that she would never have for her
tradesman any man who frequented conventicles, who was not content with
the religion of his betters, and who must needs scorn the parish church
and do despite to the saints' days.  Another gossip asked her what she
expected to make of her great family of boys when it was well known that
all the gentry in the neighbourhood but two or three had sworn that they
would never have a hulking Puritan to brush their boots or run their
errands.  And it almost made her husband burn his book and swear that he
would never be seen at another prayer-meeting when his wife so often said
to him that he should never have had children, that he should never have
made her his wife, and that he was not like this when they were first man
and wife.  And in her bitterness she would name this wife or that maid,
and would say, You should have married her.  She would have gone to the
meeting-house with you as often as you wished.  Her sons are far enough
from good service to please you.  'My wife,' he softly said, 'was afraid
of losing the world.  And then, after that, my growing sons were soon
given over, all I could do, to the foolish delights of youth, so that,
what by one thing and what by another, they left me to wander in this
manner alone.'  And I suppose there is scarcely a household among
ourselves where there have not been serious and damaging
misunderstandings between old-fashioned fathers and their young people
about what the old people called the 'foolish delights' of their sons and
daughters.  And in thinking this matter over, I have often been struck
with how Job did when his sons and his daughters were bent upon feasting
and dancing in their eldest brother's house.  The old man did not lay an
interdict upon the entertainment.  He did not take part in it, but
neither did he absolutely forbid it.  If it must be it must be, said the
wise patriarch.  And since I do not know whom they may meet there, or
what they may be tempted to do, I will sanctify them all.  I will not go
up into my bed till I have prayed for all my seven sons and three
daughters, each one of them by their names; and till they come home
safely I will rise every morning and offer burnt-offerings according to
the number of them all.  And do you think that those burnt-offerings and
accompanying intercessions would go for nothing when the great wind came
from the wilderness and smote the four corners of the banqueting-house?
If you cannot banish the love of foolish delights out the hearts of your
sons and daughters, then do not quarrel with them over such things; a
family quarrel in a Christian man's house is surely far worse than a
feast or a dance.  Only, if they must feast and dance and such like, be
you all the more diligent in your exercises at home on their behalf till
they are back again, where, after all, they like best to be, in their
good, kind, liberal, and loving father's house.

Have you a family?  Are you a married man?  Or, if not, do you hope one
day to be?  Then attend betimes to what Charity says to Christian in the
House Beautiful, and not less to what he says back again to her.




SHAME


   'Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me, and of My words, of him shall the
   Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His
   Father's, and of the holy angels.'--Our Lord.

Shame has not got the attention that it deserves either from our moral
philosophers or from our practical and experimental divines.  And yet it
would well repay both classes of students to attend far more to shame.
For, what really is shame?  Shame is an original instinct planted in our
souls by our Maker, and intended by Him to act as a powerful and pungent
check to our doing of any act that is mean or dishonourable in the eyes
of our fellow-men.  Shame is a kind of social conscience.  Shame is a
secondary sense of sin.  In shame, our imagination becomes a kind of
moral sense.  Shame sets up in our bosom a not undivine tribunal, which
judges us and sentences us in the absence or the silence of nobler and
more awful sanctions and sentences.  But then, as things now are with us,
like all the rest of the machinery of the soul, shame has gone sadly
astray both in its objects and in its operations, till it demands a long,
a severe, and a very noble discipline over himself before any man can
keep shame in its proper place and directed in upon its proper objects.
In the present disorder of our souls, we are all acutely ashamed of many
things that are not the proper objects of shame at all; while, on the
other hand, we feel no shame at all at multitudes of things that are
really most blameworthy, dishonourable, and contemptible.  We are ashamed
of things in our lot and in our circumstances that, if we only knew it,
are our opportunity and our honour; we are ashamed of things that are the
clear will and the immediate dispensation of Almighty God.  And, then, we
feel no shame at all at the most dishonourable things, and that simply
because the men around us are too coarse in their morals and too dull in
their sensibilities to see any shame in such things.  And thus it comes
about that, in the very best of men, their still perverted sense of shame
remains in them a constant snare and a source of temptation.  A man of a
fine nature feels keenly the temptation to shrink from those paths of
truth and duty that expose him to the cruel judgments and the coarse and
scandalising attacks of public and private enemies.  It was in the Valley
of Humiliation that Shame set upon Faithful, and it is a real humiliation
to any man of anything of this pilgrim's fine character and feeling to be
attacked, scoffed at, and held up to blame and opprobrium.  And the finer
and the more affectionate any man's heart and character are, the more he
feels and shrinks from the coarse treatment this world gives to those
whom it has its own reasons to hate and assail.  They had the stocks and
the pillory and the shears in Bunyan's rude and uncivilised day, by means
of which many of the best men of that day were exposed to the insults and
brutalities of the mob.  The newspapers would be the pillory of our day,
were it not that, on the whole, the newspaper press is conducted with
such scrupulous fairness and with a love of truth and justice such that
no man need shrink from the path of duty through fear of insult and
injury.

But it is time to come to the encounter between Shame and Faithful in the
Valley of Humiliation.  Shame, properly speaking, is not one of our
Bunyan gallery of portraits at all.  Shame, at best, is but a kind of
secondary character in this dramatic book.  We do not meet with Shame
directly; we only hear about him through the report of Faithful.  That
first-class pilgrim was almost overcome of Shame, so hot was their
encounter; and it is the extraordinarily feeling, graphic, and realistic
account of their encounter that Faithful gives us that has led me to take
up Shame for our reproof and correction to-night.

Religion altogether, but especially all personal religion, said Shame to
Faithful, is an unmanly business.  There is a certain touch of smallness
and pitifulness, he said, in all religion, but especially in experimental
religion.  It brings a man into junctures and into companionships, and it
puts offices and endurances upon one such as try a man if he has any
greatness of spirit about him at all.  This life on which you are
entering, said Shame, will cost you many a blush before you are done with
it.  You will lay yourself open to many a scoff.  The Puritan religion,
and all the ways of that religious fraternity, are peculiarly open to the
shafts of ridicule.  Now, all that was quite true.  There was no denying
the truth of what Shame said.  And Faithful felt the truth of it all, and
felt it most keenly, as he confessed to Christian.  The blood came into
my face as the fellow spake, and what he said for a time almost beat me
out of the upward way altogether.  But in this dilemma also all true
Christians can fall back, as Faithful fell back, upon the example of
their Master.  In this as in every other experience of temptation and
endurance, our Lord is the forerunner and the example of His people.  Our
Lord was in all points tempted like as we are, and among all His other
temptations He was tempted to be ashamed of His work on earth and of the
life and the death His work led Him into.  He must have often felt
ashamed at the treatment He received during His life of humiliation, as
it is well called; and He must often have felt ashamed of His disciples:
but all that is blotted out by the crowning shame of the cross.  We hang
our worst criminals rather than behead or shoot them, in order to heap up
the utmost possible shame and disgrace upon them, as well as to execute
justice upon them.  And what the hangman's rope is in our day, all that
the cross was in our Lord's day.  And, then, as if the cross itself was
not shame enough, all the circumstances connected with His cross were
planned and carried out so as to heap the utmost possible shame and
humiliation upon His head.  Our prison warders have to watch the
murderers in their cells night and day, lest they should take their own
life in order to escape the hangman's rope; but our Lord, keenly as He
felt His coming shame, said to His horrified disciples, Behold, we go up
to Jerusalem, when the Son of Man shall be mocked, and spitefully
entreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge Him and put Him to
death.  Do you ever think of your Lord in His shame?  How they made a
fool of Him, as we say.  How they took off His own clothes and put on Him
now a red cloak and now a white; how they put a sword of lath in His
hand, and a crown of thorns on His head; how they bowed the knee before
Him, and asked royal favours from Him; and then how they spat in His
face, and struck Him on the cheek, while the whole house rang with shouts
of laughter.  And, then, the last indignity of man, how they stripped Him
naked and lashed His naked and bleeding body to a whipping-post.  And how
they wagged their heads and put out their tongues at Him when He was on
the tree, and invited Him to come down and preach to them now, and they
would all become His disciples.  Did not Shame say the simple truth when
he warned Faithful that religion had always and from the beginning made
its followers the ridicule of their times?

If you are really going to be a religious man, Shame went on, you will
have to carry about with you a very tender conscience, and a more unmanly
and miserable thing than a tender conscience I cannot conceive.  A tender
conscience will cost you something, let me tell you, to keep it.  If
nothing else, a tender conscience will all your life long expose you to
the mockery and the contempt of all the brave spirits of the time.  That
also is true.  At any rate, a tender conscience will undoubtedly compel
its possessor to face the brave spirits of the time.  There is a good
story told to this present point about Sir Robert Peel, a Prime Minister
of our Queen.  When a young man, Peel was one of the guests at a select
dinner-party in the West-end of London.  And after the ladies had left
the table the conversation of the gentlemen took a turn such that it
could not have taken as long as the ladies were present.  Peel took no
share in the stories or the merriment that went on, and, at last, he rose
up and ordered his carriage, and, with a burning face, left the room.
When he was challenged as to why he had broken up the pleasant party so
soon, he could only reply that his conscience would not let him stay any
longer.  No doubt Peel felt the mocking laughter that he left behind him,
but, as Shame said to Faithful, the tenderness of the young statesman's
conscience compelled him to do as he did.  But we are not all Peels.  And
there are plenty of workshops and offices and dinner-tables in our own
city, where young men who would walk up to the cannon's mouth without
flinching have not had Peel's courage to protest against indecency or to
confess that they belonged to an evangelical church.  If a church is only
sufficiently unevangelical there is no trial of conscience or of courage
in confessing that you belong to it.  But as Shame so ably and honestly
said, that type of religion that creates a tender conscience in its
followers, and sets them to watch their words and their ways, and makes
them tie themselves up from all hectoring liberty--to choose that
religion, and to cleave to it to the end, will make a young man the
ridicule still of all the brave spirits round about him.  Ambitious young
men get promotion and reward every day among us for desertions and
apostasies in religion, for which, if they had been guilty of the like in
war, they would have been shot.  'And so you are a Free Churchman, I am
told.'  That was all that was said.  But the sharp youth understood
without any more words, and he made his choice accordingly; till it is
becoming a positive surprise to find the rising members of certain
professions in certain churches.  The Quakers have a proverb in England
that a family carriage never drives for two generations past the parish
church door.  Of which state of matters Shame showed himself a shrewd
prophet two hundred years ago when he said that but few of the rich and
the mighty and the wise remained long of Faithful's Puritan opinion
unless they were first persuaded to be fools, and to be of a voluntary
fondness to venture the loss of all.

And I will tell you two other things, said sharp-sighted and plain-spoken
Shame, that your present religion will compel you to do if you adhere to
it.  It will compel you from time to time to ask your neighbour's
forgiveness even for petty faults, and it will insist with you that you
make restitution when you have done the weak and the friendless any hurt
or any wrong.  And every manly mind will tell you that life is not worth
having on such humbling terms as those are.  Whatever may be thought
about Shame in other respects, it cannot be denied that he had a sharp
eye for the facts of life, and a shrewd tongue in setting those facts
forth.  He has hit the blot exactly in the matter of our first duty to
our neighbour; he has put his finger on one of the matters where so many
of us, through a false shame, come short.  It costs us a tremendous
struggle with our pride to go to our neighbour and to ask his forgiveness
for a fault, petty fault or other.  Did you ever do it?  When did you do
it last, to whom, and for what?  One Sabbath morning, now many years ago,
I had occasion to urge this elementary evangelical duty on my people
here, and I did it as plainly as I could.  Next day one of my young men,
who is now a devoted and honoured elder, came to me and told me that he
had done that morning what his conscience yesterday told him in the
church to do.  He had gone to a neighbour's place of business, had asked
for an interview, and had begged his neighbour's pardon.  I am sure
neither of those two men have forgotten that moment, and the thought of
it has often since nerved me to speak plainly about some of their most
unwelcome duties to my people.  Shame, no doubt, pulled back my noble
friend's hand when it was on the office bell, but, like Faithful in the
text, he shook him out of his company and went in.  I spoke of the
remarkable justice of the newspaper press in the opening of these
remarks.  And it so happens that, as I lay down my pen to rest my hand
after writing this sentence and lift a London evening paper, I read this
editorial note, set within the well-known brackets at the end of an
indignant and expostulatory letter: ['Our correspondent's complaint is
just.  The paragraph imputing bad motives should not have been
admitted.']  I have no doubt that editor felt some shame as he handed
that apologetic note to the printer.  But not to speak of any other
recognition and recompense, he has the recompense of the recognition of
all honourable-minded men who have read that honourable admission and
apology.

Shame was quite right in his scoff about restitution also.  For
restitution rings like a trumpet tone through the whole of the law of
Moses, and then the New Testament republishes that law if only in the
exquisite story of Zaccheus.  And, indeed, take it altogether, I do not
know where to find in the same space a finer vindication of Puritan
pulpit ethics than just in this taunting and terrifying attack on
Faithful.  There is no better test of true religion both as it is
preached and practised than just to ask for and to grant forgiveness, and
to offer and accept restitution.  Now, does your public and private life
defend and adorn your minister's pulpit in these two so practical
matters?  Could your minister point to you as a proof of the ethics of
evangelical teaching?  Can any one in this city speak up in defence of
your church and thus protest: 'Say what you like about that church and
its ministers, all I can say is, that its members know how to make an
apology; as, also, how to pay back with interest what they at one time
damaged or defrauded'?  Can any old creditor's widow or orphan stand up
for our doctrine and defend our discipline pointing to you?  If you go on
to be a Puritan, said Shame to Faithful, you will have to ask your
neighbour's forgiveness even for petty faults, and you will have to make
restitution with usury where you have taken anything from any one, and
how will you like that?

And what did you say to all this, my brother?  Say?  I could not tell
what to say at the first.  I felt my blood coming up into my face at some
of the things that Shame said and threatened.  But, at last, I began to
consider that that which is highly esteemed among men is often had in
abomination with God.  And I said to myself again, Shame tells me what
men do and what men think, but he has told me nothing about what He
thinks with Whom I shall soon have alone to do.  Therefore, thought I,
what God thinks and says is wisest and best, let all the men of the world
say what they will.  Let all false shame, then, depart from my heart, for
how else shall I look upon my Lord, and how shall He look upon me at His
coming?




TALKATIVE


   'A man full of talk.'--Zophar.

   'Let thy words be few.'--The Preacher.

   'The soul of religion is the practick part.'--Christian.

Since we all have a tongue, and since so much of our time is taken up
with talk, a simple catalogue of the sins of the tongue is enough to
terrify us.  The sins of the tongue take up a much larger space in the
Bible than we would believe till we have begun to suffer from other men's
tongues and especially from our own.  The Bible speaks a great deal more
and a great deal plainer about the sins of the tongue than any of our
pulpits dare to do.  In the Psalms alone you would think that the
psalmists scarcely suffer from anything else worth speaking about but the
evil tongues of their friends and of their enemies.  The Book of Proverbs
also is full of the same lashing scourge.  And James the Just, in a
passage of terrible truth and power, tells us that we are already as good
as perfect men if we can bridle our tongue; and that, on the other hand,
if we do not bridle our tongue, all our seeming to be religious is a sham
and a self-deception,--that man's religion is vain.

With many men and many women great talkativeness is a matter of simple
temperament and mental constitution.  And a talkative habit would be a
childlike and an innocent habit if the heart of talker and the hearts of
those to whom he talks so much were only full of truth and love.  But our
hearts and our neighbours' hearts being what they are, in the multitude
of words there wanteth not sin.  So much of our talk is about our absent
neighbours, and there are so many misunderstandings, prejudices,
ambitions, competitions, oppositions, and all kinds of cross-interests
between us and our absent neighbours, that we cannot long talk about them
till our hearts have run our tongues into all manner of trespass.  Bishop
Butler discourses on the great dangers that beset a talkative temperament
with almost more than all his usual sagacity, seriousness, and depth.  And
those who care to see how the greatest of our modern moralists deals with
their besetting sin should lose no time in possessing and mastering
Butler's great discourse.  It is a truly golden discourse, and it ought
to be read at least once a month by all the men and all the women who
have tongues in their heads.  Bishop Butler points out to his offending
readers, in a way they can never forget, the certain mischief they do to
themselves and to other people just by talking too much.  But there are
far worse sins that our tongues fall into than the bad enough sins that
spring out of impertinent and unrestrained loquacity.  There are many
times when our talk, long or short, is already simple and downright evil.
It is ten to one, it is a hundred to one, that you do not know and would
not believe how much you fall every day and in every conversation into
one or other of the sins of the tongue.  If you would only begin to see
and accept this, that every time you speak or hear about your absent
neighbour what you would not like him to speak or hear about you, you are
in that a talebearer, a slanderer, a backbiter, or a liar,--when you
begin to see and admit that about yourself, you will not wonder at what
the Bible says with such bitter indignation about the diabolical sins of
the tongue.  If you would just begin to-night to watch yourselves--on the
way home from church, at home after the day is over, to-morrow morning
when the letters and the papers are opened, and so on,--how
instinctively, incessantly, irrepressibly you speak about the absent in a
way you would be astounded and horrified to be told they were at that
moment speaking about you, then you would soon be wiser than all your
teachers in the sins and in the government of the tongue.  And you would
seven times every day pluck out your tongue before God till He gives it
back to you clean and kind in that land where all men shall love their
neighbours, present and absent, as themselves.

Take detraction for an example, one of the commonest, and, surely, one of
the most detestable of the sins of the tongue.  And the etymology here,
as in this whole region, is most instructive and most impressive.  In
detraction you _draw away_ something from your neighbour that is most
precious and most dear to him.  In detraction you are a thief, and a
thief of the falsest and wickedest kind.  For your neighbour's purse is
trash, while his good name is far more precious to him than all his gold.
Some one praises your neighbour in your hearing, his talents, his
performances, his character, his motives, or something else that belongs
to your neighbour.  Some one does that in your hearing who either does
not know you, or who wishes to torture and expose you, and you fall
straight into the snare thus set for you, and begin at once to belittle,
depreciate, detract from, and run down your neighbour, who has been too
much praised for your peace of mind and your self-control.  You insinuate
something to his disadvantage and dishonour.  You quote some authority
you have heard to his hurt.  And so on past all our power to picture you.
For detraction has a thousand devices taught to it by the master of all
such devices, wherewith to drag down and defile the great and the good.
But with all you can say or do, you cannot for many days get out of your
mind the heart-poisoning praise you heard spoken of your envied
neighbour.  Never praise any potter's pots in the hearing of another
potter, said the author of the _Nicomachean Ethics_.  Aristotle said
potter's pots, but he really all the time was thinking of a philosopher's
books; only he said potter's pots to draw off his readers' attention from
himself.  Now, always remember that ancient and wise advice.  Take care
how you praise a potter's pots, a philosopher's books, a woman's beauty,
a speaker's speech, a preacher's sermon to another potter, philosopher,
woman, speaker, or preacher; unless, indeed, you maliciously wish
secretly to torture them, or publicly to expose them, or, if their
sanctification is begun, to sanctify them to their most inward and
spiritual sanctification.

Backbiting, again, would seem at first sight to be a sin of the teeth
rather than of the tongue, only, no sharpest tooth can tear you when your
back is turned like your neighbour's evil tongue.  Pascal has many
dreadful things about the corruption and misery of man, but he has
nothing that strikes its terrible barb deeper into all our consciences
than this, that if all our friends only knew what we have said about them
behind their back, we would not have four friends in all the world.
Neither we would.  I know I would not have one.  How many would you have?
And who would they be?  You cannot name them.  I defy you to name them.
They do not exist.  The tongue can no man tame.

'Giving of characters' also takes up a large part of our everyday
conversation.  We cannot well help characterising, describing, and
estimating one another.  But, as far as possible, when we see the
conversation again approaching that dangerous subject, we should call to
mind our past remorse; we should suppose our absent neighbour present; we
should imagine him in our place and ourselves in his place, and so turn
the rising talk into another channel.  For, the truth is, few of us are
able to do justice to our neighbour when we begin to discuss and describe
him.  Generosity in our talk is far easier for us than justice.  It was
this incessant giving of characters that our Lord had in His eye when He
said in His Sermon on the Mount, Judge not.  But our Lord might as well
never have uttered that warning word for all the attention we give it.
For we go on judging one another and sentencing one another as if we were
entirely and in all things blameless ourselves, and as if God had set us
up in our blamelessness in His seat of judgment over all our fellows.  How
seldom do we hear any one say in a public debate or in a private
conversation, I don't know; or, It is no matter of mine; or, I feel that
I am not in possession of all the facts; or, It may be so, but I must not
judge.  We never hear such things as these said.  No one pays the least
attention to the Preacher on the Mount.  And if any one says to us, I
must not judge, we never forgive him, because his humility and his
obedience so condemn all our ill-formed, prejudiced, rash, and
ill-natured judgments of our neighbour.  Since, therefore, so Butler sums
up, it is so hard for us to enter on our neighbour's character without
offending the law of Christ, we should learn to decline that kind of
conversation altogether, and determine to get over that strong
inclination most of us have, to be continually talking about the
concerns, the behaviour, and the deserts of our neighbours.

Now, it was all those vices of the tongue in full outbreak in the day of
James the Just that made that apostle, half in sorrow, half in anger,
demand of all his readers that they should henceforth begin to bridle
their tongues.  And, like all that most practical apostle's counsels,
that is a most impressive and memorable commandment.  For, it is well
known that all sane men who either ride on or drive unruly horses, take
good care to bridle their horses well before they bring them out of their
stable door.  And then they keep their bridle-hand firm closed on the
bridle-rein till their horses are back in the stable again.  Especially
and particularly they keep a close eye and a firm hand on their horse's
bridle on all steep inclines and at all sharp angles and sudden turns in
the road; when sudden trains are passing and when stray dogs are barking.
If the rider or the driver of a horse did not look at nothing else but
the bridle of his horse, both he and his horse under him would soon be in
the ditch,--as so many of us are at the present moment because we have an
untamed tongue in our mouth on which we have not yet begun to put the
bridle of truth and justice and brotherly love.  Indeed, such woe and
misery has an untamed tongue wrought in other churches and in other and
more serious ages than ours, that special religious brotherhoods have
been banded together just on the special and strict engagement that they
would above all things put a bridle on their tongues.  'What are the
chief cares of a young convert?' asked such a convert at an aged
Carthusian.  'I said I will take heed to my ways that I trespass not with
my tongue,' replied the saintly father.  'Say no more for the present,'
interrupted the youthful beginner; 'I will go home and practise that, and
will come again when I have performed it.'

Now, whatever faults that tall man had who took up so much of Faithful's
time and attention, he was a saint compared with the men and the women
who have just passed before us.  Talkative, as John Bunyan so scornfully
names that tall man, though he undoubtedly takes up too much time and too
much space in Bunyan's book, was not a busybody in other men's matters at
any rate.  Nobody could call him a detractor or a backbiter or a
talebearer or a liar.  Christian knew him well, and had known him long,
but Christian was not afraid to leave him alone with Faithful.  We all
know men we feel it unsafe to leave long alone with our friends.  We feel
sure that they will be talking about us, and that to our hurt, as soon as
our backs are about.  But to give that tall man his due, he was not given
with all his talk to tale-bearing or scandal or detraction.  Had he been
guilty of any of these things, Faithful would soon have found him out,
and would have left him to go to the Celestial City by himself.  But,
after talking for half a day with Talkative, instead of finding out
anything wrong in the tall man's talk, Faithful was so taken and so
struck with it, that he stepped across to Christian and said, 'What a
brave companion we have got!  Surely this man will make a most excellent
pilgrim!'  'So I once thought too,' said Christian, 'till I went to live
beside him, and have to do with him in the business of daily life.'  Yes,
it is near neighbourhood and the business of everyday life that try a
talking man.  If you go to a meeting for prayer, and hear some men
praying and speaking on religious subjects, you would say to yourself,
What a good man that is, and how happy must his wife and children and
servants and neighbours be with such an example always before them, and
with such an intercessor for them always with God!  But if you were to go
home with that so devotional man, and try to do business with him, and
were compelled to cross him and go against him, you would find out why
Christian smiled so when Faithful was so full of Talkative's praises.

But of all the religiously-loquacious men of our day, your ministers are
the chief.  For your ministers must talk in public, and that often and at
great length, whether they are truly religious men at home or no.  It is
their calling to talk to you unceasingly about religious matters.  You
chose them to be your ministers because they could talk well.  You would
not put up with a minister who could not talk well on religious things.
You estimate them by their talk.  You praise and pay them by their talk.
And if they are to live, talk incessantly to you about religion they
must, and they do.  If any other man among us is not a religious man,
well, then, he can at least hold his tongue.  There is no necessity laid
on him to speak in public about things that he does not practise at home.
But we hard-bested ministers must go on speaking continually about the
most solemn things.  And if we are not extraordinarily watchful over
ourselves, and extraordinarily and increasingly conscientious, if we are
not steadily growing in inwardness and insight and depth and real
spirituality of mind and life ourselves, we cannot escape,--our calling
in life will not let us escape,--becoming as sounding brass.  There is an
awful sentence in Butler that should be written in letters of fire in
every minister's conscience, to the effect that continually going over
religion in talk and making fine pictures of it in the pulpit, creates a
professional insensibility to personal religion that is the everlasting
ruin of multitudes of eloquent ministers.  That is true.  We ministers
all feel that to be true.  Our miserable experience tells us that is only
too true of ourselves.  What a flood of demoralising talk has been poured
out from the pulpits of this one city to-day!--demoralising to preachers
and to hearers both, because not intended to be put in practice.  How few
of those who have talked and heard talk all this day about divine truth
and human duty, have made the least beginning or the least resolve to
live as they have spoken and heard!  And, yet, all will in words again
admit that the soul of religion is the practick part, and that the tongue
without the heart and the life is but death and corruption.

Let us, then, this very night begin to do something practical after all
this talk about talk.  And let us all begin to do something in the direct
line of our present talk.  What a noble congregation of evangelical
Carthusians that would make us if we all put a bridle on our tongue to-
night before we left this house.  For we all have neighbours, friends,
enemies, against whom we every day sin with our unbridled tongue.  We all
have acquaintances we are ashamed to meet, we have been so unkind and so
unjust to them with our tongue.  We hang down our head when they shake
our hand.  Yes, we know the men quite well of whom Pascal speaks.  We
know many men who would never speak to us again if they only knew how,
and how often, we have spoken about them behind their back.  Well, let us
sin against them, and against ourselves, and against our Master's command
and example no more.  Let this night and this lecture on Talkative and
his kindred see the last of our sin against our ill-used neighbour.  Let
us promise God and our own consciences to-night, that we shall all this
week put on a bridle about that man, and about that subject, and in that
place, and in that company.  Let us say, God helping me, I shall for all
this week not speak about that man at all, anything either good or bad,
nor on that subject, nor will I let the conversation turn into that
channel at all if I can help it.  And God will surely help us, till,
after weeks and years of such prayer and such practice, we shall by slow
degrees, and after many defeats, be able to say with the Psalmist, 'I
will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.  I will keep my
mouth with a bridle.  I will be dumb with silence.  I will hold my peace
even from good.'




JUDGE HATE-GOOD


   'Hear, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel . . .
   who hate the good and love the evil.'--Micah.

The portrait of Judge Hate-good in _The Pilgrim's Progress_ is but a poor
replica, as our artists say, of the portrait of Judge Jeffreys in our
English history books.  I am sure you have often read, with astonishment
at Bunyan's literary power, his wonderful account of the trial of
Faithful, when, as Bunyan says, he was brought forth to his trial in
order to his condemnation.  We have the whole ecclesiastical
jurisprudence of Charles and James Stuart put before us in that single
satirical sentence.  But, powerful as Bunyan's whole picture of Judge
Hate-good's court is, it is a tame and a poor picture compared with what
all the historians tell us of the injustice and cruelty of the court of
Judge Jeffreys.  Macaulay's portrait of the Lord Chief Justice of England
for ferocity and fiendishness beats out of sight Bunyan's picture of that
judge who keeps Satan's own seal in Bunyan's Book.  Jeffreys was bred for
his future work at the bar of the Old Bailey, a bar already proverbial
for the licence of its tongue and for the coarseness of its cases.
Jeffreys served his apprenticeship for the service that our two last
Stuarts had in reserve for him so well, that he soon became, so his
beggared biographer describes him, the most consummate bully that ever
disgraced an English bench.  The boldest impudence when he was a young
advocate, and the most brutal ferocity when he was an old judge, sat
equally secure on the brazen forehead of George Jeffreys.  The real and
undoubted ability and scholarship of Jeffreys only made his wickedness
the more awful, and his whole career the greater curse both to those
whose tool he was, and to those whose blood he drank daily.  Jeffreys
drank brandy and sang lewd songs all night, and he drank blood and cursed
and swore on the bench all day.  Just imagine the state of our English
courts when a judge could thus assail a poor wretch of a woman after
passing a cruel sentence upon her.  'Hangman,' shouted the ermined brute,
'Hangman, pay particular attention to this lady.  Scourge her soundly,
man.  Scourge her till the blood runs.  It is the Christmas season; a
cold season for madam to strip in.  See, therefore, man, that you warm
her shoulders thoroughly.'  And you all know who Richard Baxter was.  You
have all read his seraphic book, _The Saints' Rest_.  Well, besides being
the Richard Baxter so well known to our saintly fathers and mothers, he
was also, and he was emphatically, the peace-maker of the Puritan party.
Baxter's political principles were of the most temperate and
conciliatory, and indeed, almost royalist kind.  He was a man of strong
passions, indeed, but all the strength and heat of his passions ran out
into his hatred of sin and his love of holiness, and an unsparing and
consuming care for the souls of his people.  Very Faithful himself stood
before the bar of Judge Jeffreys in the person of Richard Baxter.  It
took all the barefaced falsehood and scandalous injustice of the crown
prosecutors to draw out the sham indictment that was read out in court
against inoffensive Richard Baxter.  But what was lacking in the charge
of the crown was soon made up by the abominable scurrility of the judge.
'You are a schismatical knave,' roared out Jeffreys, as soon as Baxter
was brought into court.  'You are an old hypocritical villain.'  And
then, clasping his hands and turning up his eyes, he sang through his
nose: 'O Lord, we are Thy peculiar people: we are Thy dear and only
people.'  'You old blockhead,' he again roared out, 'I will have you
whipped through the city at the tail of the cart.  By the grace of God I
will look after you, Richard.'  And the tiger would have been as good as
his word had not an overpowering sense of shame compelled the other
judges to protest and get Baxter's inhuman sentence commuted to fine and
imprisonment.  And so on, and so on.  But it was Jeffreys' 'Western
Circuit,' as it was called, that filled up the cup of his infamy--an
infamy, say the historians, that will last as long as the language and
the history of England last.  The only parallel to it is the infamy of a
royal house and a royal court that could welcome home and promote to
honour such a detestable miscreant as Jeffreys was.  But the slaughter in
Somerset was only over in order that a similar slaughter in London might
begin.  Let those who have a stomach for more blood and tears follow out
the hell upon earth that James Stuart and George Jeffreys together let
loose on the best life of England in their now fast-shortening day.  Was
Judge Jeffreys, some of you will ask me, born and bred in hell?  Was the
devil his father, and original sin his mother?  Or, was he not the very
devil himself come to earth for a season in English flesh?  No, my
brethren, not so.  Judge Jeffreys was one of ourselves.  Little George
Jeffreys was born and brought up in a happy English home.  He was
baptised and confirmed in an English church.  He took honours in an
English university.  He ate dinners, was called to the bar, conducted
cases, and took silk in an English court of justice.  And in the ripeness
of his years and of his services, he wore the honourable ermine and sat
upon the envied wool-sack of an English sovereign.  It would have been
far less awful and far less alarming to think of, had Judge Jeffreys
been, as you supposed, a pure devil let loose on the Church of Christ and
the awakening liberty of England.  But some innocent soul will ask me
next whether there has ever been any other monster on the face of the
earth like Judge Jeffreys; and whether by any possibility there are any
such monsters anywhere in our own day.  Yes, truth compels me to reply.
Yes, there are, plenty, too many.  Only their environment, nowadays, as
our naturalists say, does not permit them to grow to such strength and
dimensions as those of James Stuart, and George Jeffreys, his favourite
judge.  At the same time, be not deceived by your own deceitful heart,
nor by any other deceiver's smooth speeches.  Judge Jeffreys is in
yourself, only circumstances have not yet let him fully show himself in
you.  Still, if you look close enough and deep enough into your own
hearts, you will see the same wicked light glancing sometimes there that
used so to terrify Judge Jeffreys' prisoners when they saw it in his
wicked eyes.  If you lay your ear close enough to your own heart, you
will sometimes hear something of that same hiss with which that human
serpent sentenced to torture and to death the men and the women who would
not submit to his command.  The same savage laughter also will sometimes
all but escape your lips as you think of how your enemy has been made to
suffer in body and in estate.  O yes, the very same hell-broth that ran
for blood in Judge Jeffreys' heart is in all our hearts also; and those
who have the least of its poison left in their hearts will be the
foremost to confess its presence, and to hate and condemn and bewail
themselves on account of its terrible dregs.

HATE-GOOD is an awful enough name for any human being to bear.  Those who
really know what goodness is, and then, what hatred is,--they will feel
how awful a thing it is for any man to hate goodness.  But there is
something among us sinful men far more awful than even that, and that is
to hate God.  The carnal mind, writes the apostle Paul to the Romans--and
it is surely the most terrible sentence that often terrible enough
apostle ever wrote--the carnal mind is enmity against God.  And Dr. John
Owen annotating on that sentence is equally terrible.  The carnal mind,
he says, has 'chosen a great enemy indeed.'  And having mentioned John
Owen, will you let me once more beseech all students of divinity, that
is, all students, amongst other things, of the desperate depravity of the
human heart, to read John Owen's sixth volume till they have it by
heart,--by a broken, believing heart.  Owen _On Indwelling Sin_ is one of
the greatest works of the great Puritan period.  It is a really great,
and as we nowadays say, a truly scientific work to the bargain.  But all
that by the way.  Yes, this carnal heart that is still left in every one
of us has chosen a great enemy, and it would need both strong and
faithful allies in order to fight him.  The hatred that His Son also met
with when He was in this world is one of the most hateful pages of this
hateful world's hateful history.  He knew His own heart towards His
enemies, and thus He was able to say to the Searcher of Hearts with His
dying breath, They hated Me without a cause.  Truly our hatred is hottest
when it is most unjust.

'Look to yourselves,' wrote the apostle John to the elect lady and her
children.  Yes; let us all look sharply and suspiciously to ourselves in
this matter now in hand, and we shall not need John Owen nor anybody else
to discover to us the hatred and the hatefulness of our own hearts.  Look
to yourselves, and the work of the law will soon be fulfilled in you.
_Homo homini lupus_, taught an old philosopher who had studied moral
philosophy not in books so much as in his own heart.  'Is no man
naturally good?' asked innocent Lady Macleod of Dunvegan Castle at her
guest, Dr. Samuel Johnson.  'No, madam, no more than a wolf.'  That is
quite past all question with all those who either in natural morals or in
revealed religion look to and know and characterise themselves.  We have
all an inborn propensity to dislike one another, and a very small
provocation will suddenly blow that banked-up furnace into a flame.  It
is ever present with me, says self-examining Paul, and hence its so
sudden and so destructive outbreaks.  So the written or the printed name
of our enemy, his image in our mind, his passing step, his figure out of
the window; his wife, his child, his carriage, his cart in the street,
anything, everything will stir up our heart at the man we do not like.
And the whole of our so honest Bible, our present text, and the
illustrations of our text in Judge Jeffreys' and Judge Hate-good's
courts, all go to show that the better a man is the more sometimes will
we hate him.  Good men, better men than we are, men who in public life
and in private life pursue great and good ends, of necessity cross and go
counter to us in our pursuit of small, selfish, evil ends, and of
necessity we hate them.  For, cross a selfish sinner sufficiently and you
have a very devil--as many good men, if they knew it, have in us.  Again,
good men who come into contact with us cannot help seeing our bad lives,
our tempers, our selfishness, our public and private vices; and we see
that they see us, and we cannot love those whose averted eye so goes to
our conscience.  And not only in the hatred of good men, but if you know
of God how to watch yourselves, you will find yourselves out every day
also in the hatred of good movements, good causes, good institutions, and
good works.  There are doctors who would far rather hear of their rival's
patient expiring in his hands than hear their rival's success trumpeted
through all the town.  There are ministers, also, who would rather that
the masses of the city and the country sank yet deeper into improvidence
and drink and neglect of ordinances than that they were rescued by any
other church than their own.  They hate to hear of the successes of
another church.  There are party politicians who would rather that the
ship of the state ran on the rocks both in her home and her foreign
policy than that the opposite party should steer her amid a nation's
cheers into harbour.  And so of good news.  I will stake the divine truth
of this evening's Scriptures, and of their historical and imaginative
illustrations, on the feelings, if you know how to observe, detect,
characterise, and confess them,--the feelings, I say, that will rise in
your heart to-morrow morning when you read what is good news to other
men, even to good men, and to the families and family interests of good
men.  It does not matter one atom into what profession, office,
occupation, interest you track the corrupt heart of man, as sure as a
substance casts a shadow, so sure will you find your own selfish heart
hating goodness when the goodness does not serve or flatter you.

Now, though they will never be many, yet there must be some men among us,
one here and another there, who have so looked at and found out
themselves.  I can well believe that some men here came up to this house
to-night trembling in their heart all the way.  They felt the very
advertisement go through them like a knife: they felt that they were
summoned up hither almost by name as to judgment.  For they feel every
day, though they have never told their feelings to any, that they have
this horrible heart deep-seated within them to love evil and to hate
good.  They gnash their teeth at themselves as they catch themselves
rejoicing in iniquity.  They feel their hearts expanding, and they know
that their faces shine, when you tell them evil tidings.  They sicken and
lose heart and sit solitary when you carry to them a good report.  They
feel as John Bunyan felt, that no one but the devil can equal them in
pollution of heart.  And their wonder sometimes is that the Searcher of
Hearts does not drive them down where devils dwell and hate God and man
and one another.  They look around them when the penitential psalm is
being sung, and they smile bitterly to themselves.  O people of God, they
say, you do not know what you are saying.  Leave that psalm to me.  I can
sing it.  I can tell to God what He knows about sin, and about sin in the
heart.  Stand away back from me, that man says, for I am a leper.  The
chief of sinners is beside you.  A whited sepulchre stands open beside
you.--Stop now, O hating and hateful man, and let me speak for a single
moment before we separate.  Before you say any more about yourself, and
before you leave the house of God, lift up your broken heart and with all
your might bless God that He has opened your eyes and taught you how to
look at yourself and how to hate yourself.  There are hundreds of honest
Christian men and women in this house at this moment to whom God has not
done as, in His free grace, He has done to you.  For He has not only
begun a good work in you, but He has begun that special and peculiar work
which, when it goes on to perfection, makes a great and an eminent saint
of God.  To know your own heart as you evidently know it, and to hate it
as you say you hate it, and to hunger after a clean heart as, with every
breath, you hunger,--all that, if you would only believe it, sets you, or
will yet set you, high up among the people of God.  Be comforted; it is
your bounden duty to be comforted.  God deserves it at your hands that
you be more than comforted amid such unmistakable signs of His eminent
grace to you.  And be patient under your exceptional sanctification.  Rome
was not built in a day.  You cannot reverse the awful law of your
sanctification.  You cannot be saved by Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit
without seeing yourself, and you cannot see yourself without hating
yourself, and you cannot begin to hate yourself without all your hatred
henceforth turning against yourself.  You are deep in the red-hot bosom
of the refiner's fire.  And when you are once sufficiently tried by the
Divine Refiner of Souls, He will in His own good time and way bring you
out as gold.  Be patient, therefore, till the coming of the Lord.  And
say continually amid all your increasing knowledge of yourself, and amid
all your increasing hatred of yourself, 'As for me, I will behold Thy
face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy
likeness.'




FAITHFUL IN VANITY FAIR {2}


   'Be thou faithful.'--Rev. 2. 10.

The breadth of John Bunyan's mind, the largeness of his heart, and the
tolerance of his temper all come excellently out in his fine portrait of
Faithful.  New beginners in personal religion, when they first take up
_The Pilgrim's Progress_ in earnest, always try to find out something in
themselves that shall somewhat correspond to the recorded experience of
Christian, the chief pilgrim.  And they are afraid that all is not right
with them unless they, like him, have had, to begin with, a heavy burden
on their back.  They look for something in their religious life that
shall answer to the Slough of Despond also, to the Hill Difficulty, to
the House Beautiful, and, especially and indispensably, to the place
somewhat ascending with a cross upon it and an open sepulchre beneath it.
And because they cannot always find all these things in themselves in the
exact order and in the full power in which they are told of Christian in
Bunyan's book, they begin to have doubts about themselves as to whether
they are true pilgrims at all.  But here is Faithful, with whom Christian
held such sweet and confidential discourse, and yet he had come through
not a single one of all these things.  The two pilgrims had come from the
same City of Destruction indeed, and they had met at the gate of Vanity
and passed through Vanity Fair together, but, till they embraced one
another again in the Celestial City, that was absolutely all the
experience they had in common.  Faithful had never had any such burden on
his back as that was which had for so long crushed Christian to the
earth.  And the all but complete absence of such a burden may have helped
to let Faithful get over the Slough of Despond dry shod.  He had the good
lot to escape Sinai also and the Hill Difficulty, and his passing by the
House Beautiful and not making the acquaintance of Discretion and
Prudence and Charity may have had something to do with the fact that one
named Wanton had like to have done him such a mischief.  His remarkable
experiences, however, with Adam the First, with Moses, and then with the
Man with holes in His hands, all that makes up a page in Faithful's
autobiography we could ill have spared.  His encounter with Shame also,
and soon afterwards with Talkative, are classical passages in his so
individual history.  Altogether, it would be almost impossible for us to
imagine two pilgrims talking so heartily together, and yet so completely
unlike one another.  A very important lesson surely as to how we should
abstain from measuring other men by ourselves, as well as ourselves by
other men; an excellent lesson also as to how we should learn to allow
for all possible varieties among good men, both in their opinions, their
experiences, and their attainments.  True Puritan as the author of _The
Pilgrim's Progress_ is, he is no Procrustes.  He does not cut down all
his pilgrims to one size, nor does he clip them all into one pattern.
They are all thinking men, but they are not all men of one way of
thinking.  John Bunyan is as fresh as Nature herself, and as free and
full as Holy Scripture herself in the variety, in the individuality, and
even in the idiosyncrasy of his spiritual portrait gallery.

Vanity Fair is one of John Bunyan's universally-admitted masterpieces.
The very name of the fair is one of his happiest strokes.  Thackeray's
famous book owes half its popularity to the happy name he borrowed from
John Bunyan.  Thackeray's author's heart must have leaped in his bosom
when Vanity Fair struck him as a title for his great satire.  'Then I saw
in my dream that when they were got out of the wilderness they presently
saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity, and at that
town there is a fair kept called Vanity Fair.  The fair is kept all the
year long, and it beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where
it is kept is lighter than Vanity.  And, also, because all that is sold
there is vanity.  As is the saying of the wise, All that cometh is
vanity.  The fair is no new erected business, but a thing of ancient
standing: I will show you the original of it.  About five thousand years
ago there were pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two
honest persons now are, and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, with their
companions, perceiving that by the path that the pilgrims made, that
their way to the city lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived
there to set up a fair: a fair wherein should be sold all sorts of
vanity, and that it should last all the year long.  Therefore at this
fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places,
honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, pleasures, and
delights of all sorts, as wives, husbands, children, masters, servants,
lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, precious stones, and what not.
And, moreover, at this fair at all times there is to be seen juggling,
cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every
kind.'  And then our author goes on to tell us the names of the various
streets and rows where such and such wares are vended.  And from that
again he goes on to tell how the Prince of princes Himself went at one
time through this same fair, and that upon a fair day too, and how the
lord of the fair himself came and took Him from street to street to try
to get Him induced to cheapen and buy some of the vain merchandise.  But
as it turned out He had no mind to the merchandise in question, and He
therefore passed through the town without laying out so much as one
farthing upon its vanities.  The fair, therefore, you will see, is of
long standing and a very great fair.  Now, our two pilgrims had heard of
all that, they remembered also what Evangelist had told them about the
fair, and so they buttoned up their pockets and pushed through the booths
in the hope of getting out at the upper gate before any one had time to
speak to them.  But that was not possible, for they were soon set upon by
the men of the fair, who cried after them: 'Hail, strangers, look here,
what will you buy?'  'We buy the truth only,' said Faithful, 'and we do
not see any of that article of merchandise set out on any of your
stalls.'  And from that began a hubbub that ended in a riot, and the riot
in the apprehension and shutting up in a public cage of the two innocent
pilgrims.  Lord Hate-good was the judge on the bench of Vanity in the day
of their trial, and the three witnesses who appeared in the witness-box
against the two prisoners were Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank.  The
twelve jurymen who sat on their case were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr.
Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr.
Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable,--Mr.
Blindman to be the foreman.  And it was before these men that Faithful
was brought forth to his trial in order to his condemnation.  And very
soon after his trial Faithful came to his end.  'Now I saw that there
stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for
Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken
up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound
of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial gate.'

Now, I cannot tell you how it was, I cannot account for it to myself, but
it is nevertheless absolutely true that as I was reading my author last
week and was meditating my present exposition, it came somehow into my
mind, and I could not get it out of my mind, that there is a great and a
close similarity between John Bunyan's Vanity Fair and a general
election.  And, all I could do to keep the whole thing out of my mind,
one similarity after another would leap up into my mind and would not be
put out of it.  I protest that I did not go out to seek for such
similarities, but the more I frowned on them the thicker they came.  And
then the further question arose as to whether I should write them down or
no; and then much more, as to whether I should set them out before my
people or no.  As you will easily believe, I was immediately in a real
strait as to what I should do.  I saw on the one side what would be sure
to be said by ill-natured people and people of a hasty judgment.  And I
saw with much more anxiety what would be felt even when they restrained
themselves from saying it by timid and cautious and scrupulous people.  I
had the full fear of all such judges before my eyes; but, somehow,
something kept this before my eyes also, that, as Evangelist met the two
pilgrims just as they were entering the fair, so, for anything I knew to
the contrary, it might be of God, that I also, in my own way, should warn
my people of the real and special danger that their souls will be in for
the next fortnight.  And as I thought of it a procession of people passed
before me all bearing to this day the stains and scars they had taken on
their hearts and their lives and their characters at former general
elections.  And, like Evangelist, I felt a divine desire taking
possession of me to do all I could to pull my people out of gunshot of
the devil at this election.  And, then, when I read again how both the
pilgrims thanked Evangelist for his exhortation, and told him withal that
they would have him speak further to them about the dangers of the way, I
said at last to myself, that the thanks of one true Christian saved in
anything and in any measure from the gun of the devil are far more to be
attended to by a minister than the blame and the neglect of a hundred who
do not know their hour of temptation and will not be told it.  And so I
took my pen and set down some similarities between Vanity Fair and the
approaching election, with some lessons to those who are not altogether
beyond being taught.

Well, then, in the first place, the only way to the Celestial City ran
through Vanity Fair; by no possibility could the advancing pilgrims
escape the temptations and the dangers of the fatal fair.  He that will
go to the Celestial City and yet not go through Vanity Fair must needs go
out of the world.  And so it is with the temptations and trials of the
next ten days.  We cannot get past them.  They are laid down right across
our way.  And to many men now in this house the next ten days will be a
time of simply terrible temptation.  If I had been quite sure that all my
people saw that and felt that, I would not have introduced here to-night
what some of them, judging too hastily, will certainly call this so
secular and unseemly subject.  But I am so afraid that many not untrue,
and in other things most earnest men amongst us, do not yet know
sufficiently the weakness and the evil of their own hearts, that I wish
much, if they will allow me, to put them on their guard.  ''Tis hard,'
said Contrite, who was a householder and had a vote in the town of
Vanity, ''tis hard keeping our hearts and our spirits in any good order
when we are in a cumbered condition.  And you may be sure that we are
full of hurry at fair-time.  He that lives in such a place as this is,
and that has to do with such as we have to do with, has need of an item
to caution him to take heed every hour of the day.'  Now, if all my
people, and all this day's communicants, were only contrite enough, I
would leave them to the hurry of the approaching election with much more
comfort.  But as it is, I wish to give them such an item as I am able to
caution them for the next ten days.  Let them know, then, that their way
for the next fortnight lies, I will not say through a fair of jugglings
and cheatings, carried on by apes and knaves, but, to speak without
figure, their way certainly lies through what will be to many of them a
season of the greatest temptation to the very worst of all possible
sins--to anger and bitterness and ill-will; to no end of evil-thinking
and evil-speaking; to the breaking up of lifelong friendships; and to
widespread and lasting damage to the cause of Christ, which is the cause
of truth and love, meekness and a heavenly mind.  Now, amid all that, as
Evangelist said to the two pilgrims, look well to your own hearts.  Let
none of all these evil things enter your heart from the outside, and let
none of all these evil things come out of your hearts from the inside.
Set your faces like a flint from the beginning against all evil-speaking
and evil-thinking.  Let your own election to the kingdom of heaven be
always before you, and walk worthy of it; and amid all the hurry of
things seen and temporal, believe steadfastly concerning the things that
are eternal, and walk worthy of them.

'We buy the truth and we sell it not again for anything,' was the reply
of the two pilgrims to every stall-keeper as they passed up the fair, and
this it was that made them to be so hated and hunted down by the men of
the fair.  And, in like manner, there is nothing more difficult to get
hold of at an election time than just the very truth.  All the truth on
any question is not very likely to be found put forward in the programme
of any man or any party, and, even if it were, a general election is not
the best time for you to find it out.  'I design the search after truth
to be the one business of my life,' wrote the future Bishop Butler at the
age of twenty-one.  And whether you are to be a member of Parliament or a
silent voter for a member of Parliament, you, too, must love truth and
search for her as for hid treasure from your youth up.  You must search
for all kinds of truth,--historical, political, scientific, and
religious,--with much reading, much observation, and much reflection.  And
those who have searched longest and dug deepest will always be found to
be the most temperate, patient, and forbearing with those who have not
yet found the truth.  I do not know who first said it, but he was a true
disciple of Socrates and Plato who first said it.  'Plato,' he said, 'is
my friend, and Socrates is my friend, but the truth is much more my
friend.'  There is a thrill of enthusiasm, admiration and hope that goes
through the whole country and comes down out of history as often as we
hear or read of some public man parting with all his own past, as well as
with all his leaders and patrons and allies and colleagues in the
present, and taking his solitary way out after the truth.  Many may call
that man Quixotic, visionary, unpractical, imprudent, and he may be all
that and more, but to follow conscience and the love of truth even when
they are for the time leading him wrong is noble, and is every way far
better both for himself and for the cause he serves, than if he were
always found following his leaders loyally and even walking in the way of
righteousness with the love of self and the love of party at bottom
ruling his heart.  How healthful and how refreshing at an election time
it is to hear a speech replete with the love of the truth, full knowledge
of the subject, and with the dignity, the good temper, the respect for
opponents, and the love of fair play that full knowledge of the whole
subject is so well fitted to bring with it!  And next to hearing such a
speaker is the pleasure of meeting such a hearer or such a reader at such
a time.  Now, I want such readers and such hearers, if not such speakers,
to be found all the next fortnight among my office-bearers and my people.
Be sure you say to some of your political opponents something like
this:--'I do not profess to read all the speeches that fill the papers at
present.  I do not read all the utterances made even on my own side, and
much less all the utterances made on your side.  But there is one of your
speakers I always read, and I almost always find him instructive and
impressive, a gentleman, if not a Christian.  He is fair, temperate,
frank, bold, and independent; and, to my mind at least, he always throws
light on these so perplexing questions.'  Now, if you have the
intelligence and the integrity and the fair-mindedness to say something
like that to a member of the opposite party you have poured oil on the
waters of party; nay, you are in that a wily politician, for you have
almost, just in saying that, won over your friend to your own side.  So
noble is the love of truth, and so potent is the high-principled pursuit
and the fearless proclamation of the truth.

A general election is a trying time to all kinds of public men, but it is
perhaps most trying of all to Christian ministers.  Unless they are to
disfranchise themselves and are to detach and shut themselves in from all
interest in public affairs altogether, an election time is to our
ministers, beyond any other class of citizens perhaps, a peculiarly
trying time.  How they are to escape the Scylla of cowardice and the
contempt of all free and true men on the one hand, and the Charybdis of
pride and self-will and scorn of other men's opinions and wishes on the
other, is no easy dilemma to our ministers.  Some happily constituted and
happily circumstanced ministers manage to get through life, and even
through political life, without taking or giving a wound in all their
way.  They are so wise and so watchful; they are so inoffensive,
unprovoking, and conciliatory; and even where they are not always all
that, they have around them sometimes a people who are so patient and
tolerant and full of the old-fashioned respect for their minister that
they do not attempt to interfere with him.  Then, again, some ministers
preach so well, and perform all their pastoral work so well, that they
make it unsafe and impossible for the most censorious and intolerant of
their people to find fault with them.  But all our ministers are not like
that.  And all our congregations are not like that.  And those of our
ministers who are not like that must just be left to bear that which
their past unwisdom or misfortune has brought upon them.  Only, if they
have profited by their past mistakes or misfortunes, a means of grace,
and an opportunity of better playing the man is again at their doors.  I
am sure you will all join with me in the prayer that all our ministers,
as well as all their people, may come well out of the approaching
election.

There is yet one other class of public men, if I may call them so, many
of whom come almost worse out of an election time than even our
ministers, and that class is composed of those, who, to continue the
language of Vanity Fair, keep the cages of the fair.  I wish I had to-
night, what I have not, the ear of the conductors of our public journals.
For, what an omnipotence in God's providence to this generation for good
or evil is theirs!  If they would only all consider well at election
times, and at all times, who they put into their cages and for what
reason; if they would only all ask what can that man's motives be for
throwing such dirt at his neighbour; if they would only all set aside all
the letters they will get during the next fortnight that are avowedly
composed on the old principle of calumniating boldly in the certainty
that some of it will stick, what a service they would do to the cause of
love and truth and justice, which is, surely, after all, their own cause
also!  The very best papers sin sadly in this respect when their
conductors are full for the time of party passion.  And it is
inexpressibly sad when a reader sees great journals to which he owes a
lifelong debt of gratitude absolutely poisoned under his very eyes with
the malignant spirit of untruthful partisanship.  But so long as our
public cages are so kept, let those who are exposed in them resolve to
imitate Christian and Faithful, who behaved themselves amid all their ill-
usage yet more wisely, and received all the ignominy and shame that was
cast upon them with so much meekness and patience that it actually won to
their side several of the men of the fair.

My brethren, this is the last time this season that I shall be able to
speak to you from this pulpit; and, perhaps, the last time altogether.
But, if it so turns out, I shall not repent that the last time I spoke to
you, and that, too, immediately after the communion table, the burden of
my message was the burden of my Master's message after the first
communion table.  'If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.  A
new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.  By this shall
all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be My
disciples.  These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have
peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I
have overcome the world.  Know ye what I have done unto you?  Ye call Me
Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am.'




BY-ENDS


   'Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat
   of the loaves.'--Our Lord.

In no part of John Bunyan's ingenious book is his strong sense and his
sarcastic and humorous vein better displayed than just in his description
of By-ends, and in the full and particular account he gives of the
kinsfolk and affinity of By-ends.  Is there another single stroke in all
sacred literature better fitted at once to teach the gayest and to make
the gravest smile than just John Bunyan's sketch of By-ends'
great-grandfather, the founder of the egoistical family of Fairspeech,
who was, to begin with, but a waterman who always looked one way and
rowed another?  By-ends' wife also is a true helpmate to her husband.  She
was my Lady Feigning's favourite daughter, under whose nurture and
example the young lady had early come to a quite extraordinary pitch of
good breeding; and now that she was a married woman, she and her husband
had, so their biographer tells us, two firm points of family religion in
which they were always agreed and according to which they brought up all
their children, namely, never to strive too much against wind and tide,
and always to watch when Religion was walking on the sunny side of the
street in his silver slippers, and then at once to cross over and take
his arm.  But abundantly amusing and entertaining as John Bunyan is at
the expense of By-ends and his family and friends, he has far other aims
in view than the amusement and entertainment of his readers.  Bunyan uses
all his great gifts of insight and sense and humour and scorn so as to
mark unmistakably the road and to guide the progress of his reader's soul
to God, his chiefest end and his everlasting portion.

It was no small part of our Lord's life of humiliation on the earth,--much
more so than His being born in a low condition and being made under the
law,--to have to go about all His days among men, knowing in every case
and on every occasion what was in man.  It was a real humiliation to our
Lord to see those watermen of the sea of Tiberias sweating at their oars
as they rowed round and round the lake after Him; and His humiliation
came still more home to Him as often as He saw His own disciples
disputing and pressing who should get closest to Him while for a short
season He walked in the sunshine; just as it was His estate of exaltation
already begun, when He could enter into Himself and see to the bottom of
His own heart, till He was able to say that it was His very meat and
drink to do His father's will, and to finish the work His Father had
given Him to do.  The men of Capernaum went out after our Lord in their
boats because they had eaten of the multiplied loaves and hoped to do so
again.  Zebedee's children had forsaken all and followed our Lord,
because they counted to sit the one on His right hand and the other on
His left hand in His soon-coming kingdom.  The pain and the shame all
that cost our Lord, we can only remotely imagine.  But as for Himself,
our Lord never once had to blush in secret at His own motives.  He never
once had to hang down His head at the discovery of His own selfish aims
and by-ends.  Happy man!  The thought of what He should eat or what He
should drink or wherewithal He should be clothed never troubled His head.
The thought of success, as His poor-spirited disciples counted success,
the thought of honour and power and praise, never once rose in His heart.
All these things, and all things like them, had no attraction for Him;
they awoke nothing but indifference and contempt in him.  But to please
His Father and to hear from time to time His Father's voice saying that
He was well pleased with His beloved Son,--that was better than life to
our Lord.  To find out and follow every new day His Father's mind and
will, and to finish every night another part of His Father's appointed
work,--that was more than His necessary food to our Lord.  The great
schoolmen, as they meditated on these deep matters, had a saying to the
effect that all created things take their true goodness or their true
evil from the end they aim at.  And thus it was that our Lord, aiming
only at His Father's ends and never at His own, both manifested and
attained to a Divine goodness, just as the greedy crowds of Galilee and
the disputatious disciples, as long and as far as they made their belly
or their honour their end and aim, to that extent fell short of all true
goodness, all true satisfaction, and all true acceptance.

By-ends was so called because he was full of low, mean, selfish motives,
and of nothing else.  All that this wretched creature did, he did with a
single eye to himself.  The best things that he did became bad things in
his self-seeking hands.  His very religion stank in those men's nostrils
who knew what was in his heart.  By-ends was one of our Lord's whited
sepulchres.  And so deep, so pervading, and so abiding is this corrupt
taint in human nature, that long after a man has had his attention called
to it, and is far on to a clean escape from it, he still--nay, he all the
more--languishes and faints and is ready to die under it.  Just hear what
two great servants of God have said on this humiliating and degrading
matter.  Writing on this subject with all his wonted depth and solemnity,
Hooker says, 'Even in the good things that we do, how many defects are
there intermingled!  For God in that which is done, respecteth especially
the mind and intention of the doer.  Cut off, then, all those things
wherein we have regarded our own glory, those things which we do to
please men, or to satisfy our own liking, those things which we do with
any by-respect, and not sincerely and purely for the love of God, and a
small score will serve for the number of our righteous deeds.  Let the
holiest and best things we do be considered.  We are never better
affected to God than when we pray; yet, when we pray, how are our
affections many times distracted!  How little reverence do we show to
that God unto whom we speak!  How little remorse of our own miseries!  How
little taste of the sweet influence of His tender mercy do we feel!  The
little fruit we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and
unsound; we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the
world for it, we dare not call God to a reckoning as if we had Him in our
debt-books; our continued suit to Him is, and must be, to bear with our
infirmities, and to pardon our offences.'  And Thomas Shepard, a divine
of a very different school, as we say, but a saint and a scholar equal to
the best, and indeed with few to equal him, thus writes in his _Spiritual
Experiences_:--'On Sabbath morning I saw that I had a secret eye to my
own name in all that I did, for which I judged myself worthy of death.  On
another Sabbath, when I came home, I saw the deep hypocrisy of my heart,
that in my ministry I sought to comfort and quicken others, that the
glory might reflect on me as well as on God.  On the evening before the
sacrament I saw that mine own ends were to procure honour, pleasure, gain
to myself, and not to the Lord, and I saw how impossible it was for me to
seek the Lord for Himself, and to lay up all my honour and all my
pleasures in Him.  On Sabbath-day, when the Lord had given me some
comfortable enlargements, I searched my heart and found my sin.  I saw
that though I did to some extent seek Christ's glory, yet I sought it not
alone, but my own glory too.  After my Wednesday sermon I saw the pride
of my heart acting thus, that presently my heart would look out and ask
whether I had done well or ill.  Hereupon I saw my vileness to make men's
opinions my rule.  The Lord thus gave me some glimpse of myself and a
good day that was to me.'  One would think that this was By-ends himself
climbed up into the ministry.  And so it was.  And yet David Brainerd
could write on his deathbed about Thomas Shepard in this way.  'He valued
nothing in religion that was not done to the glory of God, and, oh! that
others would lay the stress of religion here also.  His method of
examining his ends and aims and the temper of his mind both before and
after preaching, is an excellent example for all who bear the sacred
character.  By this means they are like to gain a large acquaintance with
their own hearts, as it is evident he had with his.'

But it is not those who bear the sacred character of the ministry alone
who are full of by-ends.  We all are.  You all are.  And there is not one
all-reaching, all-exposing, and all-humbling way of salvation appointed
for ministers, and another, a more external, superficial, easy, and self-
satisfied way for their people.  No.  Not only must the ambitious and
disputing disciples enter into themselves and become witnesses and judges
and executioners within themselves before they can be saved or be of any
use in the salvation of others--not only they, but the fishermen of the
Lake of Tiberias, they also must open their hearts to these stabbing
words of Christ, and see how true it is that they had followed Him for
loaves and fishes, and not for His grace and His truth.  And only when
they had seen and submitted to that humiliating self-discovery would
their true acquaintance with Christ and their true search after Him
begin.  Come, then, all my brethren, and not ministers only, waken up to
the tremendous importance of that which you have utterly neglected, it
may be ostentatiously neglected, up to this hour,--the true nature, the
true character, of your motives and your ends.  Enter into yourselves.  Be
not strangers and foreigners to yourselves.  Let not the day of judgment
be any surprise to you.  Witness against, judge, and execute yourselves,
and that especially because of your by-aims and by-ends.  Take up the
touchstone of truth and lay it upon your most secret heart.  Do not be
afraid to discover how double-minded and deceitful your heart is.  Hunt
your heart down.  Track it to its most secret lair.  Put its true name,
and continue to put its true name, upon the main motive of your life.
Extort an answer by boot and by wheel, only extort an answer from the
inner man of the heart, to the torturing question as to what is his
treasure, his hope, his deepest wish, his daily dream.  Watch not against
any outward enemy, keep all your eyes and all your ears to your own
thoughts.  God keeps His awful eye on your thoughts.  His eye goes at
every glance to that great depth in you.  Even His all-seeing eye can go
no deeper into you than to your secret thoughts.  Go you as deep as God
goes, and you will be a wise man; go as deep and as often as He does, and
then you will soon come to see eye to eye with God, not only about your
own thoughts, but about His thoughts too, and about everything else.  Till
you begin to watch your own thoughts, and to watch them especially in
their aims and their ends, you will have no idea what that moral and
spiritual life is that all God's saints live; that life that Christ
lived, and which He this night summons you all to enter henceforth upon.

It is such a happy fact that it cannot be too often told, that in the
things of the soul really and truly to know and feel the disease is to
have already entered on the remedy.  You will not feel, indeed, that you
have entered on the remedy; but that does not much matter so long as you
really have.  And there is nothing more certain among all the certainties
of divine things than that he who feels himself to be in death and hell
with his heart so full of by-ends is all the time as far from death and
hell as any one can be who is still on this side of heaven.  When a man's
whole will and desire is set on God, as is now and then the case, that
man is perilously near a sudden and an abundant entrance into that life
and that presence where his heart has for so long been.  When a man is
half mad with his own heart, as Thomas Shepard for one was, that stranger
on the earth is at last within a step of that happy coast where all
wishes end.  Watch that man.  Take a last look at that man.  He will soon
be taken out of your sight.  Ere ever he is himself aware, he will be
rapt up into that life where saints and angels seek not their own will,
labour not for their own profit or promotion, listen not for their own
praises, but find their blessedness, the half of which had not here been
told them, in glorifying God and in enjoying Him for ever.

You must all have heard the name of a book that has helped many a saint
now in glory to the examination and the keeping of his own heart.  I
refer to Jeremy Taylor's _Holy Living and Dying_.  Take two or three of
Taylor's excellent rules with you as you go down from God's house
to-night.  'If you would really live a holy life and die a holy death,'
says Taylor, 'learn to reflect in your every action on your secret end in
it; consider with yourself why you do it, and what you propound to
yourself for your reward.  Pray importunately that all your purposes and
all your motives may be sanctified.  Renew and rekindle your purest
purposes by such ejaculations as these: "Not unto us, O God, not unto us,
but to Thy name be all the praise.  I am in this Thy servant; let all the
gain be Thine."  In great and eminent actions let there be a special and
peculiar act of resignation or oblation made to God; and in smaller and
more frequent actions fail not to secure a pious habitual intention.'  And
so on.  And above all, I will add, labour and pray till you feel in your
heart that you love God with a supreme and an ever-growing love.  And,
far as that may be above you as yet, impress your heart with the
assurance that such a love is possible to you also, and that you can
never be safe or happy till you attain to that love.  Other men once as
far from the supreme love of God as you are have afterwards attained to
it; and so will you if you continue to set it before yourself.  Think
often on God; read the best books about God; call continually upon God;
hold an intimate communion with God, till you feel that you also actually
and certainly love God.  And though you begin with loving God because He
first loved you, you will, beginning with that, rise far above that till
you come to love Him for what He is in Himself as well as for what He has
done for you.  'I have done this in order to have a seat in the Academy,'
said a young man, handing the solution of a problem to an old
philosopher.  'Sir,' was the reply, 'with such dispositions you will
never earn a seat there.  Science must be loved for its own sake, and not
for any advantage to be derived from it.'  And much more is that true of
the highest of all the sciences, the knowledge and the love of God.  Love
Him, then, till you arrive at loving Him for Himself, and then you shall
be for ever delivered from all self-love and by-ends, and shall both
glorify and enjoy God for ever.  As all they now do who engaged their
hearts on earth to the service and the love and the enjoyment of God is
such psalms and prayers as these: 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and
there is no one on earth that I desire beside Thee.  How excellent is Thy
loving-kindness, O God!  The children of men shall put their trust under
the shadow of Thy wings.  For with Thee is the fountain of life, and in
Thy light shall we see light.  As for me, I will behold Thy face in
righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.  Thou
wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy, and at
Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.'




GIANT DESPAIR


   'A wounded spirit who can bear?'--Solomon.

Every schoolboy has Giant Despair by heart.  The rough road after the
meadow of lilies, the stile into By-Path-Meadow, the night coming on, the
thunder and the lightning and the waters rising amain, Giant Despair's
apprehension of Christian and Hopeful, their dreadful bed in his dungeon
from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, how they were famished with
hunger and beaten with a grievous crab-tree cudgel till they were not
able to turn, with many other sufferings too many and too terrible to be
told which they endured till Saturday about midnight, when they began to
pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day;--John Bunyan is
surely the best story-teller in all the world.  And, then, over and above
that, as often as a boy reads Giant Despair and his dungeon to his father
and mother, the two hearers are like Christian and Hopeful when the
Delectable shepherds showed them what had happened to some who once went
in at By-Path stile: the two pilgrims looked one upon another with tears
gushing out, but yet said nothing to the shepherds.

John Bunyan's own experience enters deeply into these terrible pages.  In
composing these terrible pages, Bunyan writes straight and bold out of
his own heart and conscience.  The black and bitter essence of a whole
black and bitter volume is crushed into these four or five bitter pages.
Last week I went over _Grace Abounding_ again, and marked the passages in
which its author describes his own experiences of doubt, diffidence, and
despair, till I gave over counting the passages, they are so many.  I had
intended to illustrate the passage before us to-night out of the kindred
materials that I knew were so abundant in Bunyan's terrible
autobiography, but I had to give up that idea.  It would have taken two
or three lectures to itself to tell all that Bunyan suffered all his life
long from an easily-wounded spirit.  The whole book is just Giant Despair
and his dungeon, with a gleam here and there of that sunshiny weather
that threw the giant into one of his fits, in which he always lost for
the time the use of his limbs.  Return often, my brethren, to that
masterpiece, _Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners_.  I have read it a
hundred times, but last week it was as fresh and powerful and consoling
as ever to my sin-wounded spirit.

Let me select some of the incidents that offer occasion for a comment or
two.

1.  And, in the first place, take notice, and lay well to heart, how
sudden, and almost instantaneous, is the fall of Christian and Hopeful
from the very gate of heaven to the very gate of hell.  All the Sabbath
and the Monday and the Tuesday before that fatal Wednesday, the two
pilgrims had walked with great delight on the banks of a very pleasant
river; that river, in fact, which David the King called the river of God,
and John, the river of the water of life.  They drank also of the water
of the river, which was pleasant and enlivening to their weary spirits.
On either side of the river was there a meadow curiously beautified with
lilies, and it was green all the year long.  In this meadow they lay down
and slept, for here they might lie down and sleep safely.  When they
awoke they gathered again of the fruits of the trees, and drank again of
the water of the river, and then lay down again to sleep.  Thus they did
several days and nights.  Now, could you have believed it that two such
men as our pilgrims were could be in the enjoyment of all that the first
half of the week, and then by their own doing should be in Giant
Despair's deepest dungeon before the end of the same week?  And yet so it
was.  And all that is written for the solemn warning of those who are at
any time in great enlargement and refreshment and joy in their spiritual
life.  It is intended for all those who are at any time revelling in a
season of revival: those, for example, who are just come home from
Keswick or Dunblane, as well as for all those who at home have just made
the discovery of some great master of the spiritual life, and who are
almost beside themselves with their delight in their divine author.  If
they are new beginners they will not take this warning well, nor will
even all old pilgrims lay it aright to heart; but there it is as plain as
the plainest, simplest, and most practical writer in our language could
put it.

   Behold ye how these crystal streams do glide
   To comfort pilgrims by the highway side;
   The meadows green, besides their fragrant smell,
   Yield dainties for them: And he that can tell
   What pleasant fruits, yea leaves, these trees do yield,
   Will soon sell all that he may buy this field.

Thus the two pilgrims sang: only, adds our author in a parenthesis, they
were not, as yet, at their journey's end.

2.  'Now, I beheld in my dream that they had not journeyed far when the
river and the way for a time parted.  At which the two pilgrims were not
a little sorry.'  The two pilgrims could not perhaps be expected to break
forth into dancing and singing at the parting of the river and the way,
even though they had recollected at that moment what the brother of the
Lord says about our counting it all joy when we fall into divers
temptations.  But it would not have been too much to expect from such
experienced pilgrims as they by this time were, that they should have
suspected and checked and commanded their sorrow.  They should have said
something like this to one another: Well, it would have been very
pleasant had it been our King's will and way with us that we should have
finished the rest of our pilgrimage among the apples and the lilies and
on the soft and fragrant bank of the river; but we believe that it must
in some as yet hidden way be better for us that the river and our road
should part from one another at least for a season.  Come, brother, and
let us go on till we find out our Master's deep and loving mind.  But,
instead of saying that, Christian and Hopeful soon became like the
children of Israel as they journeyed from Mount Hor, their soul was much
discouraged because of the way.  And always as they went on they wished
for a softer and a better way.  And it was so that they very soon came to
the very thing they so much wished for.  For, what is that on the left
hand of the hard road but a stile, and over the stile a meadow as soft to
the feet as the meadow of lilies itself?  ''Tis just according to my
wish,' said Christian; 'here is the easiest going.  Come, good Hopeful,
and let us go over.'  Hopeful: 'But how if the path should lead us out of
the way?'  'That's not like,' said the other; 'look, doth it not go along
by the wayside?'  So Hopeful, being persuaded by his fellow, went after
him over the stile.

Call to mind, all you who are delivered and restored pilgrims, that same
stile that once seduced you.  To keep that stile ever before you is at
once a safe and a seemly occupation of mind for any one who has made your
mistakes and come through your chastisements.  Christian's eyes all his
after-days filled with tears, and he turned away his face and blushed
scarlet, as often as he suddenly came upon any opening in a wall at all
like that opening he here persuaded Hopeful to climb through.  It is too
much to expect that those who are just mounting the stile, and have just
caught sight of the smooth path beyond it, will let themselves be pulled
back into the hard and narrow way by any persuasion of ours.  Christian
put down Hopeful's objection till Hopeful broke out bitterly when the
thunder was roaring over his head and he was wading about among the dark
waters: 'Oh that I had kept myself in my way!'  Are you a little sorry to-
night that the river and the way are parting in your life?  Is your soul
discouraged in you because of the soreness of the way?  And as you go do
you still wish for some better way than the strait way?  And have you
just espied a stile on the left hand of your narrow and flinty path, and
on looking over it is there a pleasant meadow?  And does your companion
point out to your satisfaction, and, almost to your good conscience, that
the soft road runs right along the hard road, only over the stile and
outside the fence?  Then, good-bye.  For it is all over with you.  We
shall meet you again, please God; but when we meet you again, your mind
and memory will be full of shame and remorse and suffering enough to keep
you in songs of repentance for all the rest of your life on earth.
Farewell!

   The Pilgrims now, to gratify the flesh,
   Will seek its ease; but oh! how they afresh
   Do thereby plunge themselves new grieves into:
   Who seek to please the flesh themselves undo.

3.  The two transgressors had not gone far on their own way when night
came on and with the night a very great darkness.  But what soon added to
the horror of their condition was that they heard a man fall into a deep
pit right before them, and it sounded to them as if he was dashed to
pieces by his fall.  So they called to know the matter, but there was
none to answer, only they heard a groaning.  Then said Hopeful: Where are
we now?  Then was his fellow silent, as mistrusting that he had led
Hopeful out of the way.  Now, all that also is true to the very life, and
has been taken down by Bunyan from the very life.  We have all heard men
falling and heard them groaning just a little before us after we had left
the strait road.  They had just gone a little farther wrong than we had
as yet gone,--just a very little farther; in some cases, indeed, not so
far, when they fell and were dashed to pieces with their fall.  It was
well for us at that dreadful moment that we heard the same voice saying
to us for our encouragement as said to the two trembling transgressors:
'Let thine heart be toward the highway, even the way that thou wentest;
turn again.'  Now, what is it in which you are at this moment going off
the right road?  What is that life of disobedience or self-indulgence
that you are just entering on?  Keep your ears open and you will hear
hundreds of men and women falling and being dashed to pieces before you
and all around you.  Are you falling of late too much under the power of
your bodily appetites?  It is not one man, nor two, well known to you,
who have fallen never to rise again out of that horrible pit.  Are you
well enough aware that you are being led into bad company?  Or, is your
companion, who is not a bad man in anything else, leading you, in this
and in that, into what at any rate is bad for you?  You will soon, unless
you cut off your companion like a right hand, be found saying with
misguided and overruled Hopeful: Oh that I had kept me to my right way!
And so on in all manner of sin and trespass.  Those who have ears to hear
such things hear every day one man after another falling through lust or
pride or malice or idleness or infidelity, till there is none to answer.

4.  'All hope abandon' was the writing that Dante read over the door of
hell.  And the two prisoners all but abandoned all hope when they found
themselves in Giant Despair's dungeon.  Only, Christian, the elder man,
had the most distress because their being where they now were lay mostly
at his door.  All this part of the history also is written in Bunyan's
very heart's blood.  'I found it hard work,' he tells us of himself, 'to
pray to God because despair was swallowing me up.  I thought I was as
with a tempest driven away from God.  About this time I did light on that
dreadful story of that miserable mortal, Francis Spira, a book that was
to my troubled spirit as salt when rubbed into a fresh wound; every groan
of that man with all the rest of his actions in his dolours, as his
tears, his prayers, his gnashing of teeth, his wringing of hands, was as
knives and daggers in my soul, especially that sentence of his was
frightful to me: "Man knows the beginning of sin, but who bounds the
issues thereof?"'  We never read anything like Spira's experience and
_Grace Abounding_ and Giant Despair's dungeon in the books of our day.
And why not, do you think?  Is there less sin among us modern men, or did
such writers as John Bunyan overdraw and exaggerate the sinfulness of
sin?  Were they wrong in holding so fast as they did hold that death and
hell are the sure wages of sin?  Has divine justice become less fearful
than it used to be to those who rush against it, or is it that we are so
much better men?  Is our faith stronger and more victorious over doubt
and fear?  Is it that our hope is better anchored?  Whatever the reason
is, there can be no question but that we walk in a liberty that our
fathers did not always walk in.  Whether or no our liberty is not
recklessness and licentiousness is another matter.  Whether or no it
would be a better sign of us if we were better acquainted with doubt and
dejection and diffidence, and even despair, is a question it would only
do us good to put to ourselves.  When we properly attend to these matters
we shall find out that, the holier a man is, the more liable he is to the
assaults of doubt and fear and even despair.  We have whole psalms of
despair, so deep was David's sense of sin, so high were his views of
God's holiness and justice, and so full of diffidence was his wounded
heart.  And David's Son, when our sin was laid upon Him, felt the curse
and the horror of His state so much that His sweat was in drops of blood,
and His cry in the darkness was that His God had forsaken Him.  And when
our spirits are wounded with our sins, as the spirits of all God's great
saints have always been wounded, we too shall feel ourselves more at home
with David and with Asaph, with Spira even, and with Bunyan.  Despair is
not good, but it is infinitely better than indifference.  'It is a common
saying,' says South, 'and an observation in divinity, that where despair
has slain its thousands, presumption has slain its ten thousands.  The
agonies of the former are indeed more terrible, but the securities of the
latter are far more fatal.'

5.  'I will,' says Paul to Timothy, 'that men pray everywhere, lifting up
holy hands without doubting.' And, just as Paul would have it, Christian
and Hopeful began to lift up their hands even in the dungeon of Doubting
Castle.  'Well,' we read, 'on Saturday night about midnight they began to
pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.  Now, before it
was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, broke out in this passionate
speech: "What a fool," quoth he, "am I thus to lie in a stinking dungeon
when I may as well walk at liberty; I have a key in my bosom, called
Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in all Doubting
Castle."  Then said Hopeful: "That's good news, good brother; pluck it
out of thy bosom and try."'  Then Christian pulled the key out of his
bosom and the bolt gave back, and Christian and Hopeful both came out,
and you may be sure they were soon out of the giant's jurisdiction.

Now, I do not know that I can do better at this point, and in closing,
than just to tell you about some of that bunch of keys that John Bunyan
found from time to time in his own bosom, and which made all his prison
doors one after another fly open at their touch.  'About ten o'clock one
day, as I was walking under a hedge, full of sorrow and guilt, God knows,
and bemoaning myself for my hard hap, suddenly this sentence bolted in
upon me: The blood of Christ remits all guilt.  Again, when I was fleeing
from the face of God, for I did flee from His face, that is, my mind and
spirit fled before Him; for by reason of His highness I could not endure;
then would the text cry: Return unto Me; it would cry with a very great
voice: Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee.  And this would make me
look over my shoulder behind me to see if I could discern that this God
of grace did follow me with a pardon in His hand.  Again, the next day,
at evening, being under many fears, I went to seek the Lord, and as I
prayed, I cried, with strong cries: O Lord, I beseech Thee, show me that
Thou hast loved me with an everlasting love.  I had no sooner said it
but, with sweetness, this returned upon me as an echo or sounding-again,
I have loved thee with an everlasting love.  Now, I went to bed at quiet;
also, when I awaked the next morning it was fresh upon my soul and I
believed it . . . Again, as I was then before the Lord, that Scripture
fastened on my heart: O man, great is thy faith, even as if one had
clapped me on the back as I was on my knees before God . . . At another
time I remember I was again much under this question: Whether the blood
of Christ was sufficient to save my soul?  In which doubt I continued
from morning till about seven or eight at night, and at last, when I was,
as it were, quite worn out with fear, these words did sound suddenly
within my heart: He is able.  Methought this word _able_ was spoke so
loud unto me and gave such a justle to my fear and doubt as I never had
all my life either before that or after . . . Again, one morning, when I
was at prayer and trembling under fear, that piece of a sentence dashed
in upon me: My grace is sufficient.  At this, methought: Oh, how good a
thing it is for God to send His word! . . . Again, one day as I was in a
meeting of God's people, full of sadness and terror, for my fears were
again strong upon me, and as I was thinking that my soul was never the
better, these words did with great power suddenly break in upon me: My
grace is sufficient for thee, My grace is sufficient for thee, three
times together; and, oh! methought that every word was a mighty word unto
me; as _My_, and _grace_, and _sufficient_, and _for thee_.  These words
were then, and sometimes still are, far bigger words than others are.
Again, one day as I was passing in the field, and that, too, with some
dashes in my conscience, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul: Thy
righteousness is in heaven.  And methought withal I saw, with the eyes of
my soul, Jesus Christ at God's right hand.  I saw also, moreover, that it
was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor my
bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was
Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever . . .
Again, oh, what did I see in that blessed sixth of John: Him that cometh
to Me I will in nowise cast out.  I should in those days often flounce
toward that promise as horses do toward sound ground that yet stick in
the mire.  Oh! many a pull hath my heart had with Satan for this blessed
sixth of John . . . And, again, as I was thus in a muse, that Scripture
also came with great power upon my spirit: Not by works of righteousness
which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.  Now was I
got on high: I saw my self within the arms of Grace and Mercy, and though
I was before afraid to think of a dying hour, yet now I cried: Let me
die.  Now death was lovely and beautiful in my sight; for I saw that we
shall never live indeed till we be gone to the other world.  Heirs of
God, methought, heirs of God!  God himself is the portion of His saints.
This did sweetly revive my spirit, and help me to hope in God; which when
I had with comfort mused on a while, that word fell with great weight
upon my mind: Oh Death, where is thy sting?  Oh Grave, where is thy
victory?  At this I became both well in body and mind at once, for my
sickness did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably in my work for
God again.'

Such were some of the many keys by the use of which God let John Bunyan
so often out of despair into full assurance and out of darkness into
light.  Which of the promises have been of such help to you?  Over what
Scriptures have you ever cried out: Oh, how good a thing it is for God to
send me His word!  Which are the biggest words in all the Bible to you?
To what promise did you ever flounce as a horse flounces when he is
sticking in the mire?  And has any word of God so made God your God that
even death itself, since it alone separates you from His presence, is
lovely and beautiful in your eyes?  Have you a cluster of such keys in
your bosom?  If you have, take them all out to-night and go over them
again with thanksgiving before you sleep.




KNOWLEDGE


   'I will give you pastors after Mine own heart, which shall feed you
   with knowledge and understanding.'

The Delectable Mountains rise out of the heart of Immanuel's Land.  This
fine range of far-rolling hills falls away on the one side toward the
plain of Destruction, and on the other side toward the land of Beulah and
the Celestial City, and the way to the Celestial City runs like a bee-
line over these well-watered pastures.  Standing on a clear day on the
highest peak of the Delectable Mountains, if you have good eyes you can
see the hill Difficulty in the far-back distance with a perpetual mist
clinging to its base and climbing up its sides, which mist the shepherds
say to you rises all the year round off the Slough of Despond, while,
beyond that again the heavy smoke of the city of Destruction and the town
of Stupidity shuts in the whole horizon.  And then, when you turn your
back on all that, in favourable states of the weather you can see here
and there the shimmer of that river over which there is no bridge; and,
then again, so high above the river that it seems to be a city standing
in heaven rather than upon the earth, you will see the high towers and
shining palace roofs and broad battlements of the New Jerusalem itself.
The two travellers should have spent the past three days among the sights
of the Delectable Mountains; and they would have done so had not the
elder traveller misled the younger.  But now that they were set free and
fairly on the right road again, the way they had spent the past three
days and three nights made the gardens and the orchards and the pastures
that ran round the bottom and climbed up the sides of the Delectable
Mountains delectable beyond all description to them.

Now, there were on the tops of those mountains certain shepherds feeding
their flocks, and they stood by the highway side.  The two travellers
therefore went up to the shepherds, and leaning upon their staves (as is
common with weary travellers when they stand to talk with any by the
way), they asked: Whose delectable mountains are these? and whose be the
sheep that feed upon them?  These mountains, replied the shepherds, are
Immanuel's Land, and they are within sight of the city; the sheep also
are His, and He laid down His life for them.  After some more talk like
this by the wayside, the shepherds, being pleased with the pilgrims,
looked very lovingly upon them and said: Welcome to the Delectable
Mountains.  The shepherds then, whose names were Knowledge, Experience,
Watchful, and Sincere, took them by the hand to lead them to their tents,
and made them partake of what was ready at present.  They said, moreover:
We would that you should stay with us a while to be acquainted with us,
and yet more to solace yourselves with the cheer of these Delectable
Mountains.  Then the travellers told them they were content to stay; and
so they went to rest that night because it was now very late.  The four
shepherds lived all summer-time in a lodge of tents well up among their
sheep, while their wives and families had their homes all the year round
in the land of Beulah.  The four men formed a happy fraternity, and they
worked among and watched over their Master's sheep with one united mind.
What one of those shepherds could not so well do in the tent or in the
fold or out on the hillside, some of the others better did.  And what one
of them could do to any perfection all the others by one consent left
that to him to do.  You would have thought that they were made by a
perfect miracle to fit into one another, so harmoniously did they live
and work together, and such was the bond of brotherly love that held them
together.  At the same time, there was one of the happy quaternity who,
from his years on the hills, and his services in times of trial and
danger, and one thing and another, fell always, and with the finest
humility too, into the foremost place, and his name, as you have already
heard, was Knowledge.  Old Mr. Know-all the children in the villages
below ran after him and named him as they clustered round his staff and
hid in the great folds of his shepherd's coat.

Now, in all this John Bunyan speaks as a child to children; but, of such
children as John Bunyan and his readers is the kingdom of heaven.  My
very youngest hearer here to-night knows quite well, or, at any rate,
shrewdly suspects, that Knowledge was not a shepherd going about with his
staff among woolly sheep; nor would the simplest-minded reader of John
Bunyan's book go to seek the Delectable Mountains and Immanuel's Land in
any geographer's atlas, or on any schoolroom map.  Oh, no.  I do not need
to stop to tell the most guileless of my hearers that old Knowledge was
not a shepherd whose sheep were four-footed creatures, but a minister of
the gospel, whose sheep are men, women, and children.  Nor are the
Delectable Mountains any range of hills and valleys of grass and herbs in
England or Scotland.  The prophet Ezekiel calls them the mountains of
Israel; but by that you all know that he had in his mind something far
better than any earthly mountain.  That prophet of Israel had in his mind
the church of God with its synagogues and its sacraments, with all the
grace and truth that all these things conveyed from God to the children
of Israel.  As David also sang in the twenty-third Psalm: 'The Lord is my
Shepherd, I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.'

Knowledge, then, is a minister; but every congregation has not such a
minister set over it as Knowledge is.  All our college-bred and ordained
men are not ministers like Knowledge.  This excellent minister takes his
excellent name from his great talents and his great attainments.  And
while all his great talents are his Master's gift to him, his great
attainments are all his own to lay out in his Master's service.  To begin
with, his Master had given His highly-favoured servant a good
understanding and a good memory, and many good and suitable
opportunities.  Now, a good understanding is a grand endowment for a
minister, and his ministerial office will all his days afford him
opportunity for the best understanding he can bring to it.  The Christian
ministry, first and last, has had a noble roll of men of a strong
understanding.  The author of the book now open before us was a man of a
strong understanding.  John Bunyan had a fine imagination, with great
gifts of eloquent, tender, and most heart-winning utterance, but in his
case also all that was bottomed in a strong English understanding.  Then,
again, a good memory is indispensable to a minister of knowledge.  You
must be content to take a second, a third, or even a lower place still if
your Master has withheld from you a good memory.  Dr. Goodwin has a
passage on this point that I have often turned up when I had again
forgotten it.  'Thou mayest have a weak memory, perhaps, yet if it can
and doth remember good things as well and better than other things, then
it is a sanctified memory, and the defilement of thy memory is healed
though the imperfection of it is not; and, though thou art to be humbled
for it as a misery, yet thou art not to be discouraged; for God doth not
hate thee for it, but pities thee; and the like holds good and may be
said as to the want of other like gifts.'  You cannot be a man of a
commanding knowledge anywhere, and you must be content to take a very
subordinate and second place, even in the ministry, unless you have both
a good understanding and a good memory; but then, at the last day your
Master will not call you and your congregation to an account for what He
has not committed to your stewardship.  And on that day that will be
something.  But not only must ministers of knowledge have a good mind and
a good memory; they must also be the most industrious of men.  Other men
may squander and kill their time as they please, but a minister had as
good kill himself at once out of the way of better men unless he is to
hoard his hours like gold and jewels.  He must read only the best books,
and he must read them with the 'pain of attention.'  He must read nothing
that is not the best.  He has not the time.  And if he is poor and remote
and has not many books, he will have Butler, and let him read Butler's
Preface to his Sermons till he has it by heart.  The best books are
always few, and they must be read over and over again when other men are
reading the 'great number of books and papers of amusement that come
daily in their way, and which most perfectly fall in with their idle way
of reading and considering things.'  And, then, such a minister must
store up what he reads, if not in a good memory, then in some other
pigeon-hole that he has made for himself outside of himself, since his
Master has not seen fit to furnish him with such a repository within
himself.  And, then, after all that,--for a good minister is not made
yet,--understanding and memory and industry must all be sanctified by
secret prayer many times every day, and then laid out every day in the
instruction, impression, and comfort of his people.  And, then, that
privileged people will be as happy in possessing that man for their
minister as the sheep of Immanuel's Land were in having Knowledge set
over them for their shepherd.  They will never look up without being fed.
They will every Sabbath-day be led by green pastures and still waters.
And when they sing of the mercies of the Lord to them and to their
children, and forget not all His benefits, among the best of their
benefits they will not forget to hold up and bless their minister.

But, then, there is, nowadays, so much sound knowledge to be gained, not
to speak of so many books and papers of mere pastime and amusement, that
it may well be asked by a young man who is to be a minister whether he is
indeed called to be like that great student who took all knowledge for
his province.  Yes, indeed, he is.  For, if the minister and interpreter
of nature is to lay all possible knowledge under contribution, what must
not the minister of Jesus Christ and the interpreter of Scripture and
providence and experience and the human heart be able to make the
sanctified use of?  Yes, all kinds and all degrees of knowledge, to be
called knowledge, belong by right and obligation to his office who is the
minister and interpreter of Him Who made all things, Who is the Heir of
all things, and by Whom all things consist.  At the same time, since the
human mind has its limits, and since human life has its limits, a
minister of all men must make up his mind to limit himself to the best
knowledge; the knowledge, that is, that chiefly concerns him,--the
knowledge of God so far as God has made Himself known, and the knowledge
of Christ.  He must be a student of his Bible night and day and all his
days.  If he has not the strength of understanding and memory to read his
Bible easily in the original Hebrew and Greek, let him all the more make
up for that by reading it the oftener and the deeper in English.  Let him
not only read his Bible deeply for his sermons and prayers, lectures and
addresses, let him do that all day every day of the week, and then read
it all night, and every night of the week, for his own soul.  Let every
minister know his Bible down to the bottom, and with his Bible his own
heart.  He who so knows his Bible and with it his own heart has almost
books enough.  All else is but ostentatious apparatus.  When a minister
has neither understanding nor memory wherewith to feed his flock, let him
look deep enough into his Bible and into his own heart, and then begin
out of them to write and speak.  And, then, for the outside knowledge of
the passing day he will read the newspapers, and though he gives up all
the morning to the newspapers, and returns to them again in the evening,
his conscience will not upbraid him if he reads as Jonathan Edwards read
the newsletters of his day,--to see how the kingdom of heaven is
prospering in the earth, and to pray for its prosperity.  And, then, by
that time, and when he has got that length, all other kinds of knowledge
will have fallen into its own place, and will have taken its own proper
proportion of his time and his thought.  He was a man of a great
understanding and a great memory and great industry who said that he had
taken all knowledge for his province.  But he was a far wiser man who
said that knowledge is not our proper happiness.  Our province, he went
on to say, is virtue and religion, life and manners: the science of
improving the temper and making the heart better.  This is the field
assigned us to cultivate: how much it has lain neglected is indeed
astonishing.

Now, my brethren, two dangers, two simply terrible dangers, arise to
every one of you out of all this matter of your ministers and their
knowledge.  1. The first danger is,--to be frank with you on this
subject,--that you are yourselves so ignorant on all the matters that a
minister has to do with, that you do not know one minister from another,
a good minister from one who is really no minister at all.  Now, I will
put it to you, on what principle and for what reason did you choose your
present minister, if, indeed, you did choose him?  Was it because you
were assured by people you could trust that he was a minister of
knowledge and knew his own business?  Or was it that when you went to
worship with him for yourself you have not been able ever since to tear
yourself away from him, nor has any one else been able to tear you away,
though some have tried?  When you first came to the city, did you give,
can you remember, some real anxiety, rising sometimes into prayer, as to
who your minister among so many ministers was to be?  Or did you choose
him and your present seat in his church because of some real or supposed
worldly interest of yours you thought you could further by taking your
letter of introduction to him?  Had you heard while yet at home, had your
father and mother talked of such things to you, that rich men, and men of
place and power, political men and men high in society, sat in that
church and took notice of who attended it and who did not?  Do you, down
to this day, know one church from another so far as spiritual and soul-
saving knowledge is concerned?  Do you know that two big buildings,
called churches, may stand in the same street, and have men, called
ministers, carrying on certain services in them from week to week, and
yet, for all the purposes for which Christ came and died and rose again
and gave ministers to His church, these two churches and their ministers
are farther asunder than the two poles?  Do you understand what I am
saying?  Do you understand what I have been saying all night, or are you
one of those of whom the prophet speaks in blame and in pity as being
destroyed for lack of knowledge?  Well, that is your first danger, that
you are so ignorant, and as a consequence, so careless, as not to know
one minister from another.

2.  And your second danger in connection with your minister is, that you
have, and may have long had, a good minister, but that you still remain
yourself a bad man.  My brethren, be you all sure of it, there is a
special and a fearful danger in having a specially good minister.  Think
twice, and make up your mind well, before you call a specially good
minister, or become a communicant, or even an adherent under a specially
good minister.  If two bad men go down together to the pit, and the one
has had a good minister, as, God have mercy on us, sometimes happens, and
the other has only had one who had the name of a minister, the
evangelised reprobate will lie in a deeper bed in hell, and will spend a
more remorseful eternity on it than will the other.  No man among you,
minister or no minister, good minister or bad, will be able to sin with
impunity.  But he who sins on and on after good preaching will be beaten
with many stripes.  'Woe unto thee, Chorazin!  Woe unto thee, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and
Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I
say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of
judgment than for you.'  'Thou that hast knowledge,' says a powerful old
preacher, 'canst not sin so cheap as another that is ignorant.  Places of
much knowledge'--he was preaching in the university pulpit of Oxford--'and
plentiful in the means of grace are dear places for a man to sin in.  To
be drunken or unclean after a powerful sermon, and after the Holy Ghost
has enlightened thee, is more than to have so sinned twenty times before.
Thou mightest have sinned ten times more and been damned less.  For does
not Jesus Christ the Judge say to thee, This is thy condemnation, that so
much light has come to thee?'  And, taking the then way of execution as a
sufficiently awful illustration, the old Oxford Puritan goes on to say
that to sin against light is the highest step of the ladder before
turning off.  And, again, that if there are worms in hell that die not,
it is surely gospel light that breeds them.




EXPERIENCE


   'My heart had great experience.'--The Preacher.

   'I will give them pastors after Mine own heart.'

Experience, the excellent shepherd of the Delectable Mountains, had a
brother in the army, and he was an equally excellent soldier.  The two
brothers--they were twin-brothers--had been brought up together till they
were grown-up men in the same town of Mansoul.  All the Experience
family, indeed, had from time immemorial hailed from that populous and
important town, and their family tree ran away back beyond the oldest
extant history.  The two brothers, while in all other things as like as
two twin-brothers could be, at the same time very early in life began to
exhibit very different talents and tastes and dispositions; till, when we
meet with them in their full manhood, the one is a soldier in the army
and the other a shepherd on the Delectable Mountains.  The
soldier-brother is thus described in one of the military histories of his
day: 'A man of conduct and of valour, and a person prudent in matters.  A
comely person, moreover, well-spoken in negotiations, and very successful
in undertakings.  His colours were the white colours of Mansoul and his
scutcheon was the dead lion and the dead bear.'

The shepherd-brother, on the other hand, is thus pictured out to us by
one who has seen him.  A traveller who has visited the Delectable
Mountains, and has met and talked with the shepherds, thus describes
Experience in his excellent itinerary: 'Knowledge,' he says, 'I found to
be the sage of the company, spare in build, high of forehead, worn in
age, and his tranquil gait touched with abstractedness.  While Experience
was more firmly knit in form and face, with a shrewd kindly eye and a
happy readiness in his bearing, and all his hard-earned wisdom evidently
on foot within him as a capability for work and for control.'  This,
then, was the second of the four shepherds, who fed Immanuel's sheep on
the Delectable Mountains.

But here again to-night, and in the case of Experience, just as last
Sabbath night and in the case of Knowledge, in all this John Bunyan
speaks to children,--only the children here are the children of the
kingdom of heaven.  The veriest child who reads the Delectable Mountains
begins to suspect before he is done that Knowledge and Experience are not
after all two real and true shepherds going their rounds with their
staves and their wallets and their wheeling dogs.  Yes, though the little
fellow cannot put his suspicions into proper words for you, all the same
he has his suspicions that he is being deceived by you and your Sabbath
book; and, ten to one, from that sceptical day he will not read much more
of John Bunyan till in after-life he takes up John Bunyan never for a
single Sabbath again to lay him down.  Yes, let the truth be told at
once, Experience is simply a minister, and not a real shepherd at all; a
minister of the gospel, a preacher, and a pastor; but, then, he is a
preacher and a pastor of no ordinary kind, but of the selectest and very
best kind.

1.  Now, my brethren, to plunge at once out of the parable and into the
interpretation, I observe, in the first place, that pastors who are
indeed to be pastors after God's own heart have all to pass into their
pastorate through the school of experience.  Preaching after God's own
heart, and pastoral work of the same divine pattern, cannot be taught in
any other school than the school of experience.  Poets may be born and
not made, but not pastors nor preachers.  Nay, do not all our best poets
first learn in their sufferings what afterwards they teach us in their
songs?  At any rate, that is certainly the case with preachers and
pastors.  As my own old minister once said to me in a conversation on
this very subject, 'Even God Himself cannot inspire an experience.'  No.
For if He could He would surely have done so in the case of His own Son,
to Whom in the gift of the Holy Ghost He gave all that He could give and
all that His Son could receive.  But an experience cannot in the very
nature of things be either bestowed on the one hand or received and
appropriated on the other.  An experience in the unalterable nature of
the thing itself must be undergone.  The Holy Ghost Himself after He has
been bestowed and received has to be experimented upon, and taken into
this and that need, trial, cross, and care of life.  He is not sent to
spare us our experiences, but to carry us through them.  And thus it is
(to keep for a moment in sight of the highest illustration we have of
this law of experience), thus it is, I say, that the apostle has it in
his Epistle to the Hebrews that though Christ Himself were a Son, yet
learned He obedience by the things that He suffered.  And being by
experience made perfect He then went on to do such and such things for
us.  Why, for instance, for one thing, why do you think was our Lord able
to speak with such extraordinary point, impressiveness, and assurance
about prayer; about the absolute necessity and certainty of secret,
importunate, persevering prayer having, sooner or later, in one shape or
other, and in the best possible shape, its answer?  Why but because of
His own experience?  Why but because His own closet, hilltop, all-night,
and up-before-the-day prayers had all been at last heard and better heard
than He had been able to ask?  We can quite well read between the lines
in all our Lord's parables and in all the passages of His sermons about
prayer.  The unmistakable traces of otherwise untold enterprises and
successes, agonies and victories of prayer, are to be seen in every such
sermon of His.  And so, in like manner, in all that He says to His
disciples about the sweetness of submission, resignation, and
self-denial, as also about the nourishment for His soul that He got out
of every hard act of obedience,--and so on.  There is running through all
our Lord's doctrinal and homiletical teaching that note of reality and of
certitude that can only come to any teaching out of the long and deep and
intense experience of the teacher.  And as the Master was, so are all His
ministers.  When I read, for instance, what William Law says about the
heart-searching and heart-cleansing efficacy of intercessory prayer in
the case of him who continues all his life so to pray, and carries such
prayer through all the experiences and all the relationships of life, I
do not need you to tell me where that great man of God made that great
discovery.  I know that he made it in his own closet, and on his own
knees, and in his own evil heart.  And so, also, when I come nearer home.
Whenever I hear a single unconventional, immediate, penetrating,
overawing petition or confession in a minister's pulpit prayer or in his
family worship, I do not need to be told out of what prayer-book he took
that.  I know without his telling me that my minister has been, all
unknown to me till now, at that same school of prayer to which his Master
was put in the days of His flesh, and out of which He brought the
experiences that He afterwards put into the Friend at midnight, and the
Importunate widow, as also into the Egg and the scorpion, the Bread and
the stone, the Knocking and the opening, the Seeking and the finding.

   His children thus most dear to Him,
   Their heavenly Father trains,
   Through all the hard experience led
   Of sorrows and of pains.

And if His children, then ten times more the tutors and governors of His
children,--the pastors and the preachers He prepares for His people.

2.  Again, though I will not put those two collegiate shepherds against
one another, yet, in order to bring out the whole truth on this matter, I
will risk so far as to say that where we cannot have both Knowledge and
Experience, by all means let us have Experience.  Yes, I declare to you
that if I were choosing a minister for myself, and could not have both
the book-knowledge and the experience of the Christian life in one and
the same man; and could not have two ministers, one with all the talents
and another with all the experiences; I would say that, much as I like an
able and learned sermon from an able and learned man, I would rather have
less learning and more experience.  And, then, no wonder that such
pastors and preachers are few.  For how costly must a thoroughly good
minister's experience be to him!  What a quantity and what a quality of
experience is needed to take a raw, light-minded, ignorant, and
self-satisfied youth and transform him into the pastor, the tried and
trusted friend of the tempted, the sorrow-laden, and the shipwrecked
hearts and lives in his congregation!  What years and years of the
selectest experiences are needed to teach the average divinity student to
know himself, to track out and run to earth his own heart, and thus to
lay open and read other men's hearts to their self-deceived owners in the
light of his own.  A matter, moreover, that he gets not one word of help
toward in all his college curriculum.  David was able to say in his old
age that he fed the flock of God in Israel according to the integrity of
his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.  But what
years and years of shortcoming and failure in private and in public life
lie behind that fine word 'integrity'! as also what stumbles and what
blunders behind that other fine word 'skilfulness'!  But, then, how a
lightest touch of a preacher's own dear-bought experience skilfully let
fall brightens up an obscure scripture!  How it sends a thrill through a
prayer!  How it wings an arrow to the conscience!  How it sheds abroad
balm upon the heart!  Let no minister, then, lose heart when he is sent
back to the school of experience.  He knows in theory that tribulation
worketh patience, and patience experience, but it is not theory, but
experience, that makes a minister after God's own heart.  I sometimes
wish that I may live to see a chair of Experimental Religion set up in
all our colleges.  I fear it is a dream, and that it must have been
pronounced impracticable long ago by our wisest heads.  Still, all the
same, that does not prevent me from again and again indulging my dream.  I
indulge my fond dream again as often as I look back on my own tremendous
mistakes in the management of my own personal and ministerial life, as
well as sometimes see some signs of the same mistakes in some other
ministers.  In my dream for the Church of the future I see the programme
of lectures in the Experimental Class and the accompanying examinations.
I see the class library, and I envy the students.  I am present at the
weekly book-day, and at the periodical addresses delivered to the class
by those town and country ministers who have been most skilful in their
pastorate and most successful in the conversion and in the character of
their people.  And, unless I wholly deceive myself, I see, not all the
class--that will never be till the millennium--but here and there twos
and threes, and more men than that, who will throw their whole hearts
into the work of such a class till they come out of the hall in
experimental religion like Sir Proteus in the play:

   Their years but young, but their experience old,
   Their heads unmellowed, but their judgment ripe.

It is quite true, that, as my old minister shrewdly said to me, even the
Holy Ghost cannot inspire an experience.  No.  But a class of genuine
experimental divinity would surely help to foster and develop an
experience.  And, till the class is established, any student who has the
heart for it may lay in the best of the class library for a few
shillings.  Mr. Thin will tell you that there is no literature that is
such a drug in the market as the best books of Experimental Divinity.  No
wonder, then, that we make such slow and short way in the skilfulness,
success, and acceptance of our preaching and our pastorate.

3.  But, at the same time, my brethren, all your ministers' experience of
personal religion will be lost upon you unless you are yourselves
attending the same school.  The salvation of the soul, you must
understand, is not offered to ministers only.  Ministers are not the only
men who are, to begin with, dead in trespasses and sins.  The Son of God
did not die for ministers only.  The Holy Ghost is not offered to
ministers only.  A clean, humble, holy heart is not to be the pursuit of
ministers only.  It is not to His ministers only that our Lord says, Take
up My yoke and learn of Me.  The daily cross is not the opportunity of
ministers only.  It is not to ministers only that tribulation worketh
patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.  It was to all
who had obtained like precious faith with their ministers that Peter
issued this exhortation that they were to give all diligence to add to
their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance,
and to temperance patience,--and so on.  Now, my brethren, unless all
that is on foot in yourselves, as well as in your ministers, then their
progress in Christian experience will only every new Sabbath-day separate
you and your ministers further and further away from one another.  When a
minister is really making progress himself in the life of religion that
progress must come out, and ought to come out, both in his preaching and
in his prayers.  And, then, two results of all that will immediately
begin to manifest themselves among his people.  Some of his people will
visibly, and still more will invisibly, make corresponding progress with
their minister; while some others, alas! will fall off in interest, in
understanding, and in sympathy till at last they drop off from his
ministry altogether.  That is an old law in the Church of God: 'like
people like priest,' and 'like priest like people.'  And while there are
various influences at work retarding and perplexing the immediate
operation of that law, at the same time, he who has eyes to see such
things in a congregation and in a community will easily see Hosea's great
law of congregational selection in operation every day.  Like people
gradually gravitate to like preachers.  You will see, if you have the
eyes, congregations gradually dissolving and gradually being consolidated
again under that great law.  You will see friendships and families even
breaking up and flying into pieces; and, again, new families and new
friendships being built up on that very same law.  If you were to study
the session books of our city congregations in the light of that law, you
would get instruction.  If you just studied who lifted their lines, and
why; and, again, what other people came and left their lines, and why,
you would get instruction.  The shepherds in Israel did not need to hunt
up and herd their flocks like the shepherds in Scotland.  A shepherd on
the mountains of Israel had nothing more to do than himself pass up into
the pasture lands and then begin to sing a psalm or offer a prayer, when,
in an instant, his proper sheep were all round about him.  The sheep knew
their own shepherd's voice, and they fled from the voice of a stranger.
And so it is with a true preacher,--a preacher of experience, that is.
His own people know no voice like his voice.  He does not need to bribe
and flatter and run after his people.  He may have, he usually has, but
few people as people go in our day, and the better the preacher sometimes
the smaller the flock.  It was so in our Master's case.  The multitude
followed after the loaves but they fled from the feeding doctrines, till
He first tasted that dejection and that sense of defeat which so many of
His best servants are fed on in this world.  Still, as our Lord did not
tune His pulpit to the taste of the loungers of Galilee, no more will a
minister worth the name do anything else but press deeper and deeper into
the depths of truth and life, till, as was the case with his Master, his
followers, though few, will be all the more worth having.  The Delectable
Mountains are wide and roomy.  They roll far away both before and behind.
Immanuel's Land is a large place, and there are many other shepherds
among those hills and valleys besides Knowledge and Experience and
Watchful and Sincere.  And each several shepherd has, on the whole, his
own sheep.  Knowledge has his; Experience has his; Watchful has his; and
Sincere has his; and all the other here unnamed shepherds have all theirs
also.  For, always, like shepherd like sheep.  Yes.  Hosea must have been
something in Israel somewhat analogous to a session-clerk among
ourselves.  'Like priest like people' is certainly a digest of some such
experience.  Let some inquisitive beginner in Hebrew this winter search
out the prophet upon that matter, consulting Mr. Hutcheson and Dr. Pusey,
and he will let me hear the result.

4.  Now, my brethren, in closing, we must all keep it clearly before our
minds, and that too every day we live, that God orders and overrules this
whole world, and, indeed, keeps it going very much just that He may by
means of it make unceasing experiment upon His people.  Experiment, you
know, results in experience.  There is no other way by which any man can
attain to a religious experience but by undergoing temptation, trial,
tribulation:--experiment.  And it gives a divine dignity to all things,
great and small, good and bad, when we see them all taken up into God's
hand, in order that by means of them He may make for Himself an
experienced people.  Human life on this earth, when viewed under this
aspect, is one vast workshop.  And all the shafts and wheels and pulleys;
all the crushing hammers, and all the whirling knives; all the furnaces
and smelting-pots; all the graving tools and smoothing irons, are all so
many divinely-designed and divinely-worked instruments all directed in
upon this one result,--our being deeply experienced in the ways of God
till we are for ever fashioned into His nature and likeness.  Our faith
in the unseen world and in our unseen God and Saviour is at one time put
to the experiment.  At another time it is our love to Him; the reality of
it, and the strength of it.  At another time it is our submission and our
resignation to His will.  At another time it is our humility, or our
meekness, or our capacity for self-denial, or our will and ability to
forgive an injury, or our perseverance in still unanswered prayer; and so
on the ever-shifting but never-ceasing experiment goes.  I do beseech
you, my brethren, take that true view of life home with you again this
night.  This true view of life, namely, that experience in the divine
life can only come to you through your being much experimented upon.  Meet
all your trials and tribulations and temptations, then, under this
assurance, that all things will work together for good to you also if you
are only rightly exercised by means of them.  Nothing else but this
growing experience and this settling assurance will be able to support
you under the sudden ills of life; but this will do it.  This, when you
begin by experience to see that all this life, and all the good and all
the ill of this life, are all under this splendid divine law,--that your
tribulations also are indeed working within you a patience, and your
patience an experience, and your experience a hope that maketh not
ashamed.




WATCHFUL


   'Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of
   Israel.'--The word of the Lord to Ezekiel.

   'They watch for your souls.'--The Apostle to the Hebrews.

There were four shepherds who had the care of Immanuel's sheep on the
Delectable Mountains, and their names were Knowledge, Experience,
Watchful, and Sincere.  Now, in that very beautiful episode of his great
allegory, John Bunyan is doing his very utmost to impress upon all his
ministerial readers how much there is that goes to the making of a good
minister, and how much every good minister has to do.  Each several
minister must do all that in him lies, from the day of his ordination to
the day of his death, to be all to his people that those four shepherds
were to Immanuel's sheep.  He is to labour, in season and out of season,
to be a minister of the ripest possible knowledge, the deepest and widest
possible experience, the most sleepless watchfulness, and the most
absolute and scrupulous sincerity.  Now, enough has perhaps been said
already about a minister's knowledge and his experience; enough,
certainly, and more than enough for some of us to hope half to carry out;
and, therefore, I shall at once go on to take up Watchful, and to supply,
so far as I am able, the plainest possible interpretation of this part of
Bunyan's parable.

1.  Every true minister, then, watches, in the words of the apostle, for
the souls of his people.  An ordinary minister's everyday work embraces
many duties and offers many opportunities, but through all his duties and
through all his opportunities there runs this high and distinctive duty
of watching for the souls of his people.  A minister may be a great
scholar, he may have taken all sacred learning for his province, he may
be a profound and a scientific theologian, he may be an able church
leader, he may be a universally consulted authority on ecclesiastical
law, he may be a skilful and successful debater in church courts, he may
even be a great pulpit orator, holding thousands entranced by his
impassioned eloquence; but a true successor of the prophets of the Old
Testament and of the apostles of the New Testament he is not, unless he
watches for the souls of men.  All these endowments, and all these
occupations, right and necessary as, in their own places, they all
are,--great talents, great learning, great publicity, great
popularity,--all tend, unless they are taken great care of, to lead their
possessors away from all time for, and from all sympathy with, the
watchfulness of the New Testament minister.  Watching over a flock brings
to you none of the exhilaration of authority and influence, none of the
intoxication of publicity and applause.  Your experiences are the quite
opposite of all these things when you are watching over your flock.  Your
work among your flock is all done in distant and lonely places, on
hillsides, among woods and thickets, and in cloudy and dark days.  You
spend your strength among sick and dying and wandering sheep, among
wolves and weasels, and what not, of that verminous kind.  At the same
time, all good pastors are not so obscure and forgotten as all that.  Some
exceptionally able and exceptionally devoted and self-forgetful men
manage to combine both extremes of a minister's duties and opportunities
in themselves.  Our own Sir Henry Moncreiff was a pattern pastor.  There
was no better pastor in Edinburgh in his day than dear Sir Henry was; and
yet, at the same time, everybody knows what an incomparable
ecclesiastical casuist Sir Henry was.  Mr. Moody, again, is a great
preacher, preaching to tens of thousands of hearers at a time; but, at
the same time, Mr. Moody is one of the most skilful and attentive pastors
that ever took individual souls in hand and kept them over many years in
mind.  But these are completely exceptional men, and what I want to say
to commonplace and limited and everyday men like myself is this, that
watching for the souls of our people, one by one, day in and day
out,--that, above everything else, that, and nothing else,--makes any man
a pastor of the apostolic type.  An able man may know all about the
history, the habitat, the various species, the breeds, the diseases, and
the prices of sheep, and yet be nothing at all of a true shepherd.  And
so may a minister.

2.  Pastoral visitation, combined with personal dealing, is by far the
best way of watching for souls.  I well remember when I first began my
ministry in this congregation, how much I was impressed with what one of
the ablest and best of our then ministers was reported to have testified
on his deathbed.  Calling back to his bedside a young minister who had
come to see him, the dying man said: 'Prepare for the pulpit; above
everything else you do, prepare for the pulpit.  Let me again repeat it,
should it at any time stand with you between visiting a deathbed and
preparing for the pulpit, prepare for the pulpit.'  I was immensely
impressed with that dying injunction when it was repeated to me, but I
have lived,--I do not say to put my preparation for the pulpit, such as
it is, second to my more pastoral work in my week's thoughts, but--to put
my visiting in the very front rank and beside my pulpit.  'We never were
accustomed to much visiting,' said my elders to me in their solicitude
for their young minister when he was first left alone with this whole
charge; 'only appear in your own pulpit twice on Sabbath: keep as much at
home as possible: we were never used to much visiting, and we do not look
for it.'  Well, that was most kindly intended; but it was much more kind
than wise.  For I have lived to learn that no congregation will continue
to prosper, or, if other more consolidated and less exacting
congregations, at any rate not this congregation, without constant
pastoral attention.  And remember, I do not complain of that.  Far, far
from that.  For I am as sure as I am of anything connected with a
minister's life, that a minister's own soul will prosper largely in the
measure that the souls of his people prosper through his pastoral work.
No preaching, even if it were as good preaching as the apostle's itself,
can be left to make up for the neglect of pastoral visitation and
personal intercourse.  'I taught you from house to house,' says Paul
himself, when he was resigning the charge of the church of Ephesus into
the hands of the elders of Ephesus.  What would we ministers not give for
a descriptive report of an afternoon's house-to-house visitation by the
Apostle Paul!  Now in a workshop, now at a sickbed, now with a Greek, now
with a Jew, and, in every case, not discussing politics and cursing the
weather, not living his holidays over again and hearing of all the
approaching marriages, but testifying to all men in his own incomparably
winning and commanding way repentance toward God and faith toward the
Lord Jesus Christ.  We city ministers call out and complain that we have
no time to visit our people in their own houses; but that is all
subterfuge.  If the whole truth were told about the busiest of us, it is
not so much want of time as want of intention; it is want of set and
indomitable purpose to do it; it is want of method and of regularity such
as all business men must have; and it is want, above all, of laying out
every hour of every day under the Great Taskmaster's eye.  Many country
ministers again,--we, miserable men that we are, are never happy or well
placed,--complain continually that their people are so few, and so
scattered, and so ignorant, and so uninteresting, and so unresponsive,
that it is not worth their toil to go up and down in remote places
seeking after them.  It takes a whole day among bad roads and wet bogs to
visit a shepherd's wife and children, and two or three bothies and
pauper's hovels on the way home.  'On the morrow,' so runs many an entry
in Thomas Boston's _Memoirs_, 'I visited the sick, and spent the
afternoon in visiting others, and found gross ignorance prevailing.
Nothing but stupidity prevailed; till I saw that I had enough to do among
my handful.  I had another diet of catechising on Wednesday afternoon,
and the discovery I made of the ignorance of God and of themselves made
me the more satisfied with the smallness of my charge . . . Twice a year
I catechised the parish, and once a year I visited their families.  My
method of visitation was this.  I made a particular application of my
doctrine in the pulpit to the family, exhorted them all to lay all these
things to heart, exhorted them also to secret prayer, supposing they kept
family worship, urged their relative duties upon them,' etc. etc.  And
then at his leaving Ettrick, he writes: 'Thus I parted with a people
whose hearts were knit to me and mine to them.  The last three or four
years had been much blessed, and had been made very comfortable to me,
not in respect of my own handful only, but others of the countryside
also.'  Jonathan Edwards called Thomas Boston 'that truly great divine.'
I am not such a judge of divinity as Jonathan Edwards was, but I always
call Boston to myself that truly great pastor.  But my lazy and deceitful
heart says to me: No praise to Boston, for he lived and did his work in
the quiet Forest of Ettrick.  True, so he did.  Well, then, look at the
populous and busy town of Kidderminster.  And let me keep continually
before my abashed conscience that hard-working corpse Richard Baxter.
Absolutely on the same page on which that dying man enters diseases and
medicines enough to fill a doctor's diary after a whole day in an
incurable hospital, that noble soul goes on to say: 'I preached before
the wars twice each Lord's Day, but after the wars but once, and once
every Thursday, besides occasional sermons.  Every Thursday evening my
neighbours that were most desirous, and had opportunity, met at my house.
Two days every week my assistant and I myself took fourteen families
between us for private catechising and conference; he going through the
parish, and the town coming to me.  I first heard them recite the words
of the Catechism, and then examined them about the sense, and lastly
urged them, with all possible engaging reason and vehemency, to
answerable affection and practice.  If any of them were stalled through
ignorance or bashfulness, I forbore to press them, but made them hearers,
and turned all into instruction and exhortation.  I spent about an hour
with a family, and admitted no others to be present, lest bashfulness
should make it burdensome, or any should talk of the weakness of others.'
And then he tells how his people's necessity made him practise physic
among them, till he would have twenty at his door at once.  'All these my
employments were but my recreations, and, as it were, the work of my
spare hours.  For my writings were my chiefest daily labour.  And blessed
be the God of mercies that brought me from the grave and gave me, after
wars and sickness, fourteen years' liberty in such sweet employment!'  Let
all ministers who would sit at home over a pipe and a newspaper with a
quiet conscience keep Boston's _Memoirs_ and Baxter's _Reliquiae_ at
arm's-length.

3.  Our young communicants' classes, and still more, those private
interviews that precede and finish up our young communicants' classes,
are by far our best opportunities as pastors.  I remember Dr. Moody
Stuart telling me long ago that he had found his young communicants'
classes to be the most fruitful opportunities of all his ministry; as,
also, next to them, times of baptism in families.  And every minister who
tries to be a minister at all after Dr. Moody Stuart's pattern, will tell
you something of the same thing.  They get at the opening history of
their young people's hearts before their first communion.  They make
shorthand entries and secret memoranda at such a season like this: 'A. a
rebuke to me.  He had for long been astonished at me that I did not speak
to him about his soul.  B. traced his conversion to the singing of 'The
sands of time are sinking' in this church last summer.  C. was spoken to
by a room-mate.  D. was to be married, and she died.  Of E. I have great
hope.  F., were she anywhere but at home, I would have great hopes of
her,'--and so on.  But, then, when a minister takes boldness to turn over
the pages of his young communicants' roll for half a lifetime--ah me, ah
me!  What was I doing to let that so promising communicant go so far
astray, and I never to go after him?  And that other.  And that other.
And that other.  Till we can read no more.  O God of mercy, when Thou
inquirest after blood, let me be hidden in the cleft of that Rock so
deeply cleft for unwatchful ministers!

4.  And then, as Dr. Joseph Parker says, who says everything so plainly
and so powerfully: 'There is pastoral preaching as well as pastoral
visitation.  There is pastoral preaching; rich revelation of divine
truth; high, elevating treatment of the Christian mysteries; and he is
the pastor to me who does not come to my house to drink and smoke and
gossip and show his littleness, but who, out of a rich experience, meets
me with God's word at every turn of my life, and speaks the something to
me that I just at that moment want.'  Let us not have less pastoral
visitation in the time to come, but let us have more and more of such
pastoral preaching.

5.  But, my brethren, it is time for you, as John said to the elect lady
and her children, to look to yourselves.  The salvation of your soul is
precious, and its salvation is such a task, such a battle, such a danger,
and such a risk, that it will take all that your most watchful minister
can do, and all that you can do yourself, and all that God can do for
you, and yet your soul will scarcely be saved after all.  You do not know
what salvation is nor what it costs.  You will not be saved in your
sleep.  You will not waken up at the last day and find yourself saved by
the grace of God and you not know it.  You will know it to your bitter
cost before your soul is saved from sin and death.  You and your minister
too.  And therefore it is that He Who is to judge your soul at last says
to you, as much as He says it to any of His ministers, Watch!  What I say
unto one I say unto all, Watch.  Watch and pray, lest you enter into
temptation.  Look to yourself, then, sinner.  In Christ's name, look to
yourself and watch yourself.  You have no enemy to fear but yourself.  No
one can hurt a hair of your head but yourself.  Have you found that out?
Have you found yourself out?  Do you ever look in the direction of your
own heart?  Have you begun to watch what goes on in your own heart?  What
is it to you what goes on in the world around you compared with what goes
on in the world within you?  Look, then, to yourself.  Watch, above all
watching, yourself.  Watch what it is that moves you to do this or that.
Stop sometimes and ask yourself why you do such and such a thing.  Did
you ever hear of such a thing as a motive in a human heart?  And did your
minister, watching for your soul, ever tell you that your soul will be
lost or saved, condemned or justified at the last day according to your
motives?  You never knew that!  You were never told that by your
minister!  Miserable pair!  What does he take up his Sabbaths with?  And
what leads you to waste your Sabbaths and your soul on such a stupid
minister?  But, shepherd or no shepherd, minister or no minister, look to
yourself.  Look to yourself when you lie down and when you rise up; when
you go out and when you come in; when you are in the society of men and
when you are alone with your own heart.  Look to yourself when men praise
you, and look to yourself when men blame you.  Look to yourself when you
sit down to eat and drink, and still more when you sit and speak about
your absent brother.  Look to yourself when you meet your enemy or your
rival in the street, when you pass his house, or hear or read his name.
Yes, you may well say so.  At that rate a man's life would be all
watching.  So it would.  And so it must.  And more than that, so it is
with some men not far from you who never told you how much you have made
them watch.  Did you never know all that till now?  Were you never told
that every Christian man, I do not mean every communicant, but every
truly and sincerely and genuinely Christian man watches himself in that
way?  For as the one essential and distinguishing mark of a New Testament
minister is not that he is an able man, or a studious man, or an eloquent
man, but that he is a pastor and watches for souls, so it is the chiefest
and the best mark, and to himself the only safe and infallible mark, that
any man is a sincere and true Christian man, that he watches himself
always and in all things looks first and last to himself.




SINCERE


   'In all things showing sincerity.'--Paul to Titus.

Charles Bennett has a delightful drawing of Sincere in Charles Kingsley's
beautiful edition of _The Pilgrim's Progress_.  You feel that you could
look all day into those clear eyes.  Your eyes would begin to quail
before you had looked long into the fourth shepherd's deep eyes; but
those eyes of his have no cause to quail under yours.  This man has
nothing to hide from you.  He never had.  He loves you, and his love to
you is wholly without dissimulation.  He absolutely and unreservedly
means and intends by you and yours all that he has ever said to you and
yours, and much more than he has ever been able to say.  The owner of
those deep blue eyes is as true to you when he is among your enemies as
he is true to the truth itself when he is among your friends.  Mark also
the unobtrusive strength of his mouth, all suffused over as it is with a
most winning and reassuring sweetness.  The fourth shepherd of the
Delectable Mountains is one of the very best of Bennett's excellent
portraits.  But Mr. Kerr Bain's pen-and-ink portrait of Sincere in his
_People of the Pilgrimage_ is even better than Bennett's excellent
drawing.  'Sincere is softer in outline and feature than Watchful.  His
eye is full-open and lucid, with a face of mingled expressiveness and
strength--a lovable, lowly, pure-spirited man--candid, considerate,
willing, cheerful--not speaking many words, and never any but true
words.'  Happy sheep that have such a shepherd!  Happy people! if only
any people in the Church of Christ could have such a pastor.

It is surely too late, too late or too early, to begin to put tests to a
minister's sincerity after he has been licensed and called and is now
standing in the presence of his presbytery and surrounded with his
congregation.  It is a tremendous enough question to put to any man at
any time: 'Are not zeal for the honour of God, love to Jesus Christ, and
desire of saving souls your great motives and chief inducement to enter
into the function of the holy ministry?'  A man who does not understand
what it is you are saying to him will just make the same bow to these
awful words that he makes to all your other conventional questions.  But
the older he grows in his ministry, and the more he comes to discover the
incurable plague of his own heart, and with that the whole meaning and
full weight of your overwhelming words, the more will he shrink back from
having such questions addressed to him.  Fools will rush in where Moses
and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Peter and Paul feared to set their foot.  Paul
was to be satisfied if only he was let do the work of a minister all his
days and then was not at the end made a castaway.  And yet, writing to
the same church, Paul says that his sincerity among them had been such
that he could hold up his ministerial life like spotless linen between
the eye of his conscience and the sun.  But all that was written and is
to be read and understood as Paul's ideal that he had honestly laboured
after, rather than as an actual attainment he had arrived at.  Great as
Paul's attainments were in humility, in purity of intention, and in
simplicity and sincerity of heart, yet the mind of Christ was not so
given even to His most gifted apostle, that he could seriously say that
he had attained to such utter ingenuity, simplicity, disengagement from
himself, and surrender to Christ, as to be able to face the sun with a
spotless ministry.  All he ever says at his boldest and best on that
great matter is to be read in the light of his universal law of personal
and apostolic imperfection--Not that I have attained, either am already
perfect; but I follow after.  And blessed be God that this is all that He
looks for in any of His ministers, that they follow all their days after
a more and more godly sincerity.  It was the apostle's love of absolute
sincerity,--and, especially, it was his bitter hatred of all the
remaining dregs of insincerity that he from time to time detected in his
own heart,--it was this that gave him his good conscience before a God of
pity and compassion, truth and grace.  And with something of the same
love of perfect sincerity, accompanied with something of the same hatred
of insincerity and of ourselves on account of it, we, too, toward this
same God of pity and compassion, will hold up a conscience that would
fain be a good conscience.  And till it is a good conscience we shall
hold up with it a broken heart.  And that genuine love of all sincerity,
and that equally genuine hatred of all remaining insincerity, will make
all our ministerial work, as it made all Paul's apostolic work, not only
acceptable, but will also make its very defects and defeats both
acceptable and fruitful in the estimation and result of God.  It so
happens that I am reading for my own private purposes at this moment an
old book of 1641, Drexilius _On a Right Intention_, and I cannot do
better at this point than share with you the page I am just reading.  'Not
to be too much troubled or daunted at any cross event,' he says, 'is the
happy state of his mind who has entered on any enterprise with a pure and
pious intention.  That great apostle James gained no more than eight
persons in all Spain when he was called to lay down his head under
Herod's sword.  And was not God ready to give the same reward to James as
to those who converted kings and whole kingdoms?  Surely He was.  For God
does not give His ministers a charge as to what they shall effect, but
only as to what they shall intend to effect.  Wherefore, when his art
faileth a servant of God, when nothing goes forward, when everything
turneth to his ruin, even when his hope is utterly void, he is scarce one
whit troubled; for this, saith he to himself, is not in my power, but in
God's power alone.  I have done what I could.  I have done what was fit
for me to do.  Fair and foul is all of God's disposing.'

And, then, this simplicity and purity of intention gives a minister that
fine combination of candour and considerateness which we saw to exist
together so harmoniously in the character of Sincere.  Such a minister is
not tongue-tied with sinister and selfish intentions.  His sincerity
toward God gives him a masterful position among his people.  His words of
rebuke and warning go straight to his people's consciences because they
come straight out of his own conscience.  His words are their own witness
that he is neither fearing his people nor fawning upon his people in
speaking to them.  And, then, such candour prepares the way for the
utmost considerateness when the proper time comes for considerateness.
Such a minister is patient with the stupid, and even with the wicked and
the injurious, because in all their stupidity and wickedness and
injuriousness they have only injured and impoverished themselves.  And if
God is full of patience and pity for the ignorant and the evil and the
out of the way, then His sincere-hearted minister is of all men the very
man to carry the divine message of forgiveness and instruction to such
sinners.  Yes, Mr. Bain must have seen Sincere closely and in a clear
light when he took down this fine feature of his character, that he is at
once candid and considerate--with a whole face of mingled expressiveness
and strength.

Writing about sincerity and a right intention in young ministers, old
Drexilius says: 'When I turn to clergymen, I would have sighs and groans
to speak for me.  For, alas! I am afraid that there be found some which
come into the ministry, not that they may obtain a holy office in which
to spend their life, but for worse ends.  To enter the ministry with a
naughty intention is to come straight to destruction.  Let no minister
think at any time of a better living, but only at all times of a holier
life.  Wherefore, O ministers and spiritual men, consider and take heed.
There can be no safe guide to your office but a right, sincere, pure
intention.  Whosoever cometh to it with any other conduct or companion
must either return to his former state of life, or here he shall
certainly perish . . . What is more commendable in a religious man than
to be always in action and to be exercised one while in teaching the
ignorant, another while in comforting such as are troubled in mind,
sometimes in making sermons, and sometimes in admonishing the sick?  But
with what secret malignity doth a wrong intention insinuate itself into
these very actions that are the most religious!  For ofttimes we desire
nothing else but to be doing.  We desire to become public, not that we
may profit many, but because we have not learned how to be private.  We
seek for divers employments, not that we may avoid idleness, but that we
may come into people's knowledge.  We despise a small number of hearers,
and such as are poor, simple, and rustical, and let fly our endeavours at
more eminent chairs, though not in apparent pursuit; all which is the
plain argument of a corrupt intention.  O ye that wait upon religion, O
ministers of God, this is to sell most transcendent wares at a very low
rate--nay, this is to cast them, and yourselves too, into the fire.'

There are some outstanding temptations to insincerity in some ministers
that must be pointed out here.  (1) Ministers with a warm rhetorical
temperament are beset continually with the temptation to pile up false
fire on the altar; to dilate, that is, both in their prayers and in their
sermons, upon certain topics in a style that is full of insincerity.
Ministers who have no real hold of divine things in themselves will yet
fill their pulpit hour with the most florid and affecting pictures of
sacred and even of evangelical things.  This is what our shrewd and
satirical people mean when they say of us that So-and-so has a great
_sough_ of the gospel in his preaching, but the _sough_ only.  (2)
Another kindred temptation to even the best and truest of ministers is to
make pulpit appeals about the evil of sin and the necessity of a holy
life that they themselves do not feel and do not attempt to live up to.
Butler has a terrible passage on the heart-hardening effects of making
pictures of virtue and never trying to put those pictures into practice.
And readers of Newman will remember his powerful application of this same
temptation to literary men in his fine sermon on Unreal Words.  (3)
Another temptation is to affect an interest in our people and a sympathy
with them that we do not in reality feel.  All human life is full of this
temptation to double-dealing and hypocrisy; but, then, it is large part
of a minister's office to feel with and for his people, and to give the
tenderest and the most sacred expression to that feeling.  And, unless he
is a man of a scrupulously sincere, true, and tender heart, his daily
duties will soon develop him into a solemn hypocrite.  And if he feels
only for his own people, and for them only when they become and as long
as they remain his own people, then his insincerity and imposture is only
the more abominable in the sight of God.  (4) Archbishop Whately, with
that strong English common sense and that cultivated clear-headedness
that almost make him a writer of genius, points out a view of sincerity
that it behoves ministers especially to cultivate in themselves.  He
tells us not only to act always according to our convictions, but also to
see that our convictions are true and unbiassed convictions.  It is a
very superficial sincerity even when we actually believe what we profess
to believe.  But that is a far deeper and a far nobler sincerity which
watches with a strict and severe jealousy over the formation of our
beliefs and convictions.  Ministers must, first for themselves and then
for their people, live far deeper down than other men.  They must be at
home among the roots, not of actions only, but much more of convictions.
We may act honestly enough out of our present convictions and principles,
while, all the time, our convictions and our principles are vitiated at
bottom by the selfish ground they ultimately stand in.  Let ministers,
then, to begin with, live deep down among the roots of their opinions and
their beliefs.  Let them not only flee from being consciously insincere
and hypocritical men; let them keep their eye like the eye of God
continually on that deep ground of the soul where so many men unknown to
themselves deceive themselves.  And, thus exercised, they shall be able
out of a deep and clean heart to rise far above that trimming and hedging
and self-seeking and self-sheltering in disputed and unpopular questions
which is such a temptation to all men, and is such a shame and scandal in
a minister.

Now, my good friends, we have kept all this time to the fourth shepherd
and to his noble name, but let us look in closing at some of his
sheep,--that is to say, at ourselves.  For is it not said in the prophet:
Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith
the Lord God.  All, therefore, that has been said about the sincerity and
insincerity of ministers is to be said equally of their people also in
all their special and peculiar walks of life.  Sincerity is as noble a
virtue, and insincerity is as detestable a vice, in a doctor, or a
lawyer, or a schoolmaster, or a merchant,--almost, if not altogether, as
much so as in a minister.  Your insincerity and hypocrisy in your daily
intercourse with your friends and neighbours is a miserable enough state
of mind, but at the root of all that there lies your radical insincerity
toward God and your own soul.  In his _Christian Perfection_ William Law
introduces his readers to a character called Julius, who goes regularly
to prayers, and there confesses himself to be a miserable sinner who has
no health in him; and yet that same Julius cannot bear to be informed of
any imperfection or suspected to be wanting in any kind or degree of
virtue.  Now, Law asks, can there be a stronger proof that Julius is
wanting in the sincerity of his devotions?  Is it not as plain as
anything can be that that man's confessions of sin are only words of
course, a certain civility of sacred speech in which his heart has not a
single atom of share?  Julius confesses himself to be in great weakness,
corruption, disorder, and infirmity, and yet he is mortally angry with
you if at any time you remotely and tenderly hint that he may be just a
shade wrong in his opinions, or one hair's-breadth off what is square and
correct in his actions.  Look to yourself, Julius, and to your insincere
heart.  Look to yourself at all times, but above all other times at the
times and in the places of your devotions.  Ten to one, my hearer of to-
night, you may never have thought of that before.  And what would you
think if you were told that this Sincere shepherd was appointed us for
this evening's discourse, and that you were led up to this house, just
that you might have your attention turned to your many miserable
insincerities of all kinds, but especially to your so Julius-like
devotions?  'And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man.  And David
said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.'

What, then, my truly miserable fellow-sinner and fellow-worshipper, what
are we to do?  Am I to give up preaching altogether because I am
continually carried on under the impulse of the pulpit far beyond both my
attainments and my intentions?  Am I to cease from public prayer
altogether because when engaged in it I am compelled to utter words of
contrition and confession and supplication that little agree with the
everyday temper and sensibility of my soul?  And am I wholly to eschew
pastoral work because my heart is not so absolutely clean and simple and
sincere toward all my own people and toward other ministers' people as it
ought to be?  No!  Never!  Never!  Let me rather keep my heart of such
earth and slag in the hottest place of temptation, and then, such
humiliating discoveries as are there continually being made to me of
myself will surely at last empty me of all self-righteousness and self-
sufficiency, and make me at the end of my ministry, if not till then, the
penitent pastor of a penitent people.  And when thus penitent, then
surely, also somewhat more sincere in my designs and intentions, if not
even then in my attainments and performances.

'O Eternal God, Who hast made all things for man, and man for Thy glory,
sanctify my body and my soul, my thoughts and my intentions, my words and
my actions, that whatsoever I shall think or speak or do may be by me
designed to the glory of Thy name.  O God, turn my necessities into
virtue, and the works of nature into the works of grace, by making them
orderly, regular, temperate, subordinate, and profitable to ends beyond
their own proper efficacy.  And let no pride or self-seeking, no
covetousness or revenge, no impure mixtures or unhandsome purposes, no
little ends and low imaginations, pollute my spirit or unhallow any of my
words or actions.  But let my body be the servant of my spirit, and both
soul and body servants of my Lord, that, doing all things for Thy glory
here, I may be made a partaker of Thy glory hereafter; through Jesus
Christ, my Lord.  Amen.'




FOOTNOTES


{1}  Delivered on the Sabbath before Communion.

{2}  Delivered June 26th, 1892, on the eve of a general election.



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