Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Do you not perceive then,” said Inbred-Sin, “how he seeks her company at all times, and how frequently he shares his morsel with her? And even now,” continued he,“ see how he leads her by the hand, and bends his ear to her prattle.”

Here I perceived that the poison began to work Playful's cheek grew flushed, and her eye began to kindle with anger: nevertheless she stood her ground a little longer, and made this reply—“If my brother prefers the company of yonder little stranger to that of his only remaining sister, does it not become me, as a follower of our meek and lowly Master, to bear this seeming neglect without murmuring ? nay, and even to return love for hatred ?”

“ Assuredly,” said Inbred-Sin, who could talk religion whenever it suited his purpose, even while he was seeking to undermine it, “ assuredly it is your duty, if need be, to forgive your offending brother, not only seven times, but seventy times seven: nevertheless I see no occasion why you should bear every affront he chooses to put upon you, when perhaps, by a single word, you might bring him back to a more attentive behaviour." I heard then that Inbred-Sin proceeded to place the conduct of Humble Mind in a still stronger light, till he had gradually wrought Playful into such a humour as prepared her for the commission of any kind of folly that could be proposed to her.

Inbred-Sin then, perceiving his advantage, was not long before he actually proposed what at another time she would have started from with abhorrence, but which now, by reason of the ill state of her mind, she closed with immediately : this proposal was, that she should turn her back upon the whole company, ay, and upon Mount Zion itself, directly setting her face as if she intended to return. This indignity she was to put upon her King, by way of testifying, as Inbred-Sin expressed it, the great displeasure she felt at her brother's marked neglect. Without therefore considering the consequences of so unreasonable an action, she turned herself about, and began to measure her steps back again.

Now Playful meant nothing more, when she turned about, than to recall the attention of her brother, and to exercise her power of tormenting him : but when InbredSin had influenced her thus far, it was not in his nature to stop there. No sooner therefore did he see her with her back towards Mount Zion, than he began to whisper in her ears expressions of contempt for the religion of Jesus; outrageously railing at a pilgrim's life, and setting before her the advantage she would derive from an immediate return to the town of Vanity. And to such lengths did he proceed that I could hardly believe my own ears; never supposing it possible that he could exercise such power over the heart of a regenerate person, as now appeared evident. So Playful hearkened to Inbred-Sin: and how long or how far he might have misled her cannot easily be determined, had not the other pilgrims who had gone forward about a stone's throw before they perceived her defection, disturbed her communications with the tempter by calling to her aloud. Whereupon she came to a sudden stand : yet would she not make any movement towards them.

I heard then that the pilgrims called earnestly to her to come on; and Humble Mind was on the point of running back to her in order to persuade her to reconsider her ways. But the pilgrim Martha would not allow him so to do, saying that not even to save a brother was it lawful for a pilgrim to turn his back on Mount Zion. Humble Mind, therefore, having nothing in his power but prayer, I saw that he prostrated himself on the ground in earnest intercession for his sister. And while he made his request known to God in the name of his · Saviour, behold, the pilgrim Martha and the two little ones joined in his importunate supplica

tion.

Now I saw in my dream that, while the pilgrims were engaged in prayer, behold, the Evil One, who is ever going about seeking whom he may devour, having discovered the advantage which Inbred-Sin had obtained over Playful, judged this a suitable time for the successful exertion of his own superior influence. So drawing near to the young pilgrim, without her perceiving it (because, being a spirit, he is invisible to eyes of flesh), he began, as aforetime, to practise his enchantments. And first, by a process which I could not understand, but by which it is well known one spirit can act upon another, he began to entice and entangle the affections of Playful, setting before her the many pleasures which she might enjoy in the City of Vanity, could she be prevailed upon to give up a pilgrim's life and return thither. And behold, when he had in some measure excited her affections and inflamed her imagination with the delusive pleasures of sense, he caused his servants (for he was accompanied by several of his ministering spirits) to throw certain invisible hands around the limbs of the young pilgrim; by which he directed them to draw her back with a gentle force. And behold, the young pilgrim gave way as the enemies applied their strength; insomuch that, unless assistance were given from on high, it appeared to me that she would assuredly be lost; there seeming to be no power of resistance left in her, nor indeed even so much as the will to resist, or to call out for help.

But while I looked on, I perceived one coming along the King's highway, who held in his hand a whip of small cords. And behold, he came up close to Playful, whom he first sharply rebuked, and then sorely chastised. Whereupon, starting up as from a deep sleep or trance, she suddenly broke all the ligatures with which the enemy had bound her. And behold, as she continued to feel the lash which was appointed to correct her wanderings, she hastily turned her back on the City of Vanity, and fled forward till she reached the place where the other pilgrims were anxiously tarrying for her. So she happily escaped for that time.

Then did Humble Mind and Martha receive her joy. fully. Nevertheless Martha reproved her, but with maternal tenderness ; taking occasion, from her late apostacy, to point out to her the exceeding weakness and frailty even of regenerate persons—that even the best are continually liable to fall into gross and grievous sins ; that whosoever is saved is saved by grace alone; and that no man can in his own strength do any thing towards the advancement of his own salvation.“ For the condition of man,” said she, “after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God without the grace of God by Christ going before us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will." (See 10th Article of the Church.)

“ According to this view of things,” said Humble Mind, “ it is marvellous how any man can be saved.”

“ Marvellous, indeed !" returned Martha : “ but what

is impossible with man is possible with God. And hence it is written-Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.'” Heb. X. 23.

Now I saw in my dream that Playful remained for a while much dejected after her heinous transgression, and greatly humbled. Moreover, through the painful views she had of her own exceeding sinfulness, she was led to look more to her Saviour than she had done in the former part of her pilgrimage, and thereby to make a more rapid growth in grace. Thus was the malice of the enemy defeated, through the infinite mercy and wisdom of God, who by his overruling providence brought good out of evil, in the same manner as honey was once produced from the carcass of the lion.

After this, I saw that the company of pilgrims went on their way till they came to a pleasant river, called the River of the Water of Life, by which their road lay, and where grew many green and shady trees, producing a rich variety of sacred fruits. And as the pilgrims passed along, they took of the fruits and drank of the water; upon which their hearts were filled with joy and peace unspeakable. In this place also the elder pilgrims held much sweet discourse together, while the little ones enjoyed their innocent play in the meadows : neither would any of the pilgrims, at this time, allow Inbred-Sin to disturb their minds. For though he was as busy as usual, whispering in the ear of one and another, yet they were all enabled by the Holy Spirit to watch against his wiles, and to say, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Jude 9. So Inbred-Sin here obtained no advantage against them, though he was unwearied in his attempts to prevail. As night drew on the pilgrims arrived at a place in which many lilies grew; where laying themselves down to rest, they slept as sweetly as they had done in any part of their pilgrimage.

For several days they travelled through these pleasant meadows; where I observed that the pilgrim Martha continually laboured with the young ones, in order, as much as in her lay, to bring them into a nearer acquaintance with their Saviour. And she took great delight in speaking of this dear Saviour, describing the manner of his birth, his life, his death, and pointing out some of the most remarkable passages of his pilgrimage upon earth. She spoke much also of his tender love to pil

grims, weeping often over those wounds of his by which sinners are healed, and that voluntary death of his by which the dead are restored to life. Martha was indeed as a mother to all the younger pilgrims, and they were to her as so many sons and daughters.

At length they reached a place where the way separated itself from the pleasant meadows and trees. At this the children complained; but Martha admonished them contentedly to go straight forward, although the way might not appear inviting. So they went on without murmuring; while, in order to pass the time profitably, they had recourse to their books. And so deeply were they engaged in this employment, that they passed by the stile and path leading to the ruined castle of giant Despair without even perceiving them.

Now, towards sunset, Humble Mind, looking up, said, “Behold, I see far away certain beautiful blue hills directly before us.”

Martha. Those are the Delectable Mountains, upon which our Lord's shepherds dwell. We have made a considerable progress to-day; and if we do as well tomorrow, we shall reach those mountains before night comes on.

Then were the little pilgrims pleased; for they had heard much of the Delectable Mountains, and had letters of recommendation with them from Mr. Orthodox to the shepherds who dwell there. So they continued their journey till it was dark, without heeding their weariness: and they were up the next morning before sunrise to proceed on their way, so impatient were they to reach the Delectable Mountains.

Now early in the morning it was pleasant to feel the breezes, fraught with all manner of fragrant odours, which descended from the flowery sides of the mountains. At length the pilgrims saw the sun rising behind the lofty range of hills which lay eastward of them ; and as it ascended above them, the pilgrims could distinguish the little dwellings of the shepherds scattered here and there among the hills, with their hanging gardens and their sheep-cotes: they could also hear at intervals the pipes of the shepherds, and the bells of the flock. Then Humble Mind looked into a map of the road, which Mr. Orthodox had given him, in order to find the names of the hills : by which he soon distinguished Mount Marvel, Mount Caution, and Mount Error

« PreviousContinue »