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by it, while much might be lost:“ For,” continued they, "he that stays at home, and does his duty, is in as sure a way of salvation as he that forsaketh all to follow his own fancy."
Now Humble Mind knew not every argument proper to be used against this false reasoning of his neighbours, on account of his youth and inexperience; but he made answer to the best of his ability, and said, “I have not only been made to know my sins, but am convinced that I can do nothing to save myself, all my best actions being marred and spoiled by sin. I find therefore that the assistance of one who is both able and willing to save me is absolutely necessary to my deliverance; and to such a deliverer I must fly. I do not however presume to judge or decide for other people : there may, perhaps, be some who do not stand in such need of a Saviour as I do; but, for my own part, I have been made to know that I am dead in trespasses and sins.”
“And these little ones, thy sisters," said the neighbours, “what have they done, that they should be exposed to all the hardships of a pilgrim's life ?"
To this Humble Mind replied, " I have heard it said, and have also read in my book, that we are all born in sin ; and that, unless our nature is changed, and a right spirit renewed within us, we must all surely perish. It appears, then, that the youngest among us stands in as much need of a Saviour as those who have committed more actual offences; and hence it becomes the duty of every child, as soon as he has any discernment, to inquire after this Saviour. On this account, therefore,” continued Humble Mind, “I, who esteem myself the chief of sinners, am, with God's help, about to leave all things, in order to seek the way of salvation pointed out in this holy book which I hold in my hand.”
I perceived then, that, when the neighbours saw the firmness of Humble Mind, after ridiculing and mocking him, they proceeded to loud abuse, invectives, and threatenings : but Conviction-of-Sin had dealt with Humble Mind to such purpose, that his determination to go on pilgrimage was not to be shaken. Nevertheless, the little girls were much terrified by the harsh language of their neighbours; and their trouble was not a little increased by the whisperings of Inbred-Sin, who would have it that they were running themselves into a thousand needless snares and troubles, by giving heed to the advice of Evangelist.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, when the neighbours perceived that they could prevail nothing, they took counsel aside one with another; and this was the purport of their consultation :
There dwelt in those parts a certain schoolmaster, one who was countenanced by the king of the country, even the prince of this world ; and one who stood high in favour with all the chief inhabitants and honourable men of the land. This schoolmaster, whose name was Worldly-Prudence, was descended from an ancient family, and could boast of a long line of ancestry, all of whom had been employed by the prince of this world in the instruction of youth. He was a person of a venerable appearance, and knew how to make himself agreeable to all ranks and orders of men, having wit at will, and arguments always ready to support his opinions. He was well skilled in ancient learning, had much to say in favour of human wisdom, and could speak largely of the dignity of the human mind; but if he did not utterly despise religion, as some confidently assert, he at least gave it but a secondary and inferior place in all the concerns of life.
Now as this schoolmaster was held in general respect and fear by the children of the land, it was proposed by the neighbours, when they discovered Humble Mind's unyielding inclination to a pilgrim's life, that this school. master should be brought to him and his sisters;“ For,” said they, “the children will assuredly acknowledge his authority, although they despise our arguments.”
So they made haste; and when they had found Mr. Worldly-Prudence, they brought him to Humble Mind's house. Then I hearkened to what should pass between the schoolmaster and Humble Mind, confidently expecting that Mr. Worldly-Prudence would begin to rail at religion and pour contempt upon a pilgrim's life; because I knew that he was in the service of the prince of this world. But I was mistaken; for he went more cautiously to work, opening the conversation by speaking highly of the religion of Christ, and praising those men who faithfully devoted themselves to his service. And having thus thrown Humble Mind off his guard, he proceeded in a more direct manner to the accomplishment of the business he had undertaken, namely, to turn the child from that way of salvation which Evangelist had pointed out.
“Have you been informed, my son,” said Mr. WorldlyPrudence, addressing himself to Humble Mind, “ that this way, into which you are so rashly and hastily determined to set your foot, is a way abounding in all manner of snares and dangers ; and that if you go unprepared to meet these dangers, you must inevitably perish ?”
“I know, sir,” replied Humble Mind," that the way of the pilgrim is thickly set with dangers, and that I am weak, and unprovided with any means of self-defence ; but Evangelist has taught me to trust in Him for help who will assuredly bring me through every trial.”
“ The Lord our God," said Mr. Worldly-Prudence, as Evangelist has taught you, will no doubt ultimately become our Saviour; but this consideration is by no means to prevent us from exerting ourselves in the use of those powers which God has given us for the promotion of his glory, and for our own preservation. In the way which Evangelist has persuaded you to take, you will meet with thieves, with wild beasts, with giants, and dragons ; with adversaries who will ridicule and scoff at you; with some who will endeavour to shake your faith by learned and wily arguments; and others who will endeavour to mislead you by cunning misrepresentations.
Now, in order properly to meet all these difficulties,” continued Mr. Worldly-Prudence," you ought to understand the whole art of offence and defence as it is taught in my school; and this I can speedily put you in the way of acquiring, if you will but delay for a short time your perilous undertaking, and put yourself under my care. Moreover, you should have a familiar acquaintance with such facts and objections, such reasonings and representations, as your adversaries are likely to produce ; lest, by your ignorance, you should bring the Christian profession into disgrace. For the enemies of our Lord are often found to be men of such deep learning, ready wit, and shining talents, as enable them very readily to perplex and confound their opponents. And how, I ask, can a child like you expect to prevail against such wily antagonists ?"
“ Is it not written," said Humble Mind. “ Out of the
mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?" Matt. xxi. 16.
“It is so written," said Mr. Worldly-Prudence, " and it doth so happen, sometimes, that even babes in Christ appear to triumph over the wise and learned of this world. But these are extreme and rare cases; and such results can only be expected where the ordinary means of improvement have not been enjoyed. But can the blessing of God be expected to follow a youth who, on being offered the advantages of human learning, rejects them all, either from the indolence of his nature or from his false notions of religion? Come with me, therefore, I entreat you, Humble Mind,” continued the schoolmaster; “ remain but a while under my tuition, and you shall then go forth not unprepared for that mighty warfare with demons and infidels, which he must needs engage in who becomes a pilgrim.”
Now I perceived that Humble Mind did not thoroughly understand all these big words which were used by Mr. Worldly-Prudence; but so far he thought he understood their meaning, viz. that the way of salvation was an extremely dangerous way, and such a one as could not be safely travelled by an ignorant or untutored child. Here therefore the poor boy felt himself in a strait, not knowing what to do or say: for as he was pressed on one side by the dread of Conviction-of-Sin, from whose assaults he was still exceedingly sore; so on the other he was vehemently urged by Inbred-Sin and Mr. WorldlyPrudence, which last held him at this moment by the arm, and seemed by no means inclined to leave his hold.
Now after a while I looked again, and, behold, the enemy had prevailed; so I saw Mr. Worldly-Prudence leading away Humble Mind to his school, having quieted Playful and Peace by a promise that their brother should soon return to them completely armed and prepared to be their defender in the perilous journey which they were desirous to undertake.
Then I looked again after Humble Mind, whom Mr. Worldly-Prudence had conveyed to his school-house, a very ancient building, situated on an unenclosed ground, among wild olives and other trees, which had never been grafted, and which therefore produced but little fruit. And behold, many boys were passing to and fro through the courts of the school-house; and I heark. ened to the language which they used, but it bore no resemblance to the language of Zion.
So Mr. Worldly-Prudence led Humble Mind into his study; and having examined him concerning what he had learned, he directed him to lay aside for the present the book which Evangelist had given him; instead of which he put into his hands certain heathen writers of ancient date, which he assured him it was necessary that he should study, in order effectually to refute the adversa ries of religion. So having finished the examination, the schoolmaster brought Humble Mind into the school. room among the other boys and Inbred-Sin was with him.
There Humble Mind remained for a season in the school of Mr. Worldly-Prudence, studying such books as were placed before him, and playing with his schoolfellows at their customary games.
Now I perceived, in my dream, that all who belonged to the school were called Christians, and that certain moral forms were observed by the master : while the religion of Christ was never mentioned in the school; neither was any reference made to our Lord's will and pleasure in the conduct either of scholars or masters; nor was I able to discover how that which was taught the boys could have any tendency, either directly or indirectly, to the advancement of religious knowledge.
Then anxiously watching to observe what effect this mode of life would have upon Humble Mind, I speedily remarked, that he grew utterly dull and dead with respect to the concerns of his soul; that he conversed with Inbred-Sin as with a bosom friend and brother; and that Inbred-Sin ruled him as entirely as he formerly had done. Thus the enemies of the Lord for a while were permitted to triumph. In the mean time I looked around for help: but, for the present, could perceive none.