« AnteriorContinuar »
THE VICTIMS OF THE ENEMY. 15
"But," said Luke, "methinks they must be fainthearted ones who are driven back even from the threshold."
Keeper. There are two sorts of persons that he has been known thus to decoy: they of little faith (who observe not the words of encouragement written over the gate), and they who trust entirely to their own strength, and consequently neglect to ask for spiritual aid. The first he intimidates, and the second he induces to hold a parley with him, when their fancied strength is soon overcome by his wicked subtlety, and turned to weakness. 'Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.'"
"Indeed, sir," said Paul, "I have need to regard that admonition, for while we were passing near the Slough of Despond I thought I had chosen sure ground, when I found myself on the Hill of Presumption, where I might have been choked as well as blinded by the dust, had not my good cousinhere helped me, and brought me back to the right path; wherein he acted the part of a true friend."
"Nay, dear Paul," said Luke, " you overrate my service; and I am sure you would have done the like for me, had the case been reversed."
"That, I trust, I should," replied the other.
"It pleasetk me," said the gatekeeper, " to see ye thus in friendly fellowship. 'By love serve one another.'"
Then I saw that they began to rise (though reluctantly) to take their departure, but He said to them,—" The night is advanced, and it is too dark for ye to see your way, therefore abide here till morning dawn, and then ye shall proceed on your road;' and so saying, after a little more profitable discourse, he left them to their peaceful slumbers, right glad that they were kindly bidden to remain.
Before the morning twilight was past they arose invigorated, and after washing in pure water provided for them, sought Him who .had given them rest. He, who is always "to be found of them that diligently seek Him," was not long in appearing; and before they departed gave them a small map of the country they were to pass through, with some brief instructions for their conduct on the way; warning them that they might encounter therein crosses, difficulties, and temptations, and at the same time advising them " not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good:"—" to do as they would be done by: "—" to mind not earthly
THE DEPASTURE. 17
things," remembering that they were but pilgrims and sojourners on the earth, which was not their abiding-place. The sun was now gradually appearing above the horizon as the travellers stood on the threshold ready to depart. "So shall the ' Sun of righteousness arise,'" said Paul to Luke; while, with grateful hearts, they took leave of the good Master of the gate; who directed them to keep in the straight narrow path, and blessed them. Then I saw in my dream that they went on their way rejoicing; though, at first, thoughtfully and in silence, each reflecting on the words of that good man, the light of whose countenance had just shone on them. At length Paul, looking over the map he held in his hand, remarked to his companion that the Interpreters house seemed to be the next place of note they should come to.
"Ay," said Luke, "I have heard (and so must you) of him, and his house, and what curious and instructive things our fathers, who were boys at the time, saw there."
"Yes," said Paul, "and I can just remember my mother, Mercy, who was three years older than my father, telling me of the lasting impression made or her mind by the sights shewn there; though of what
they were I have no distinct idea, being then too young fully to comprehend the subject."
Now I beheld, a little way ahead of the pilgrims, a middle-aged man and a boy walking along. Luke, observing them, said to Paul, " Do you know who those are before us?"
Paul. I cannot discern their faces; but the figure and gait of the elder reminds me of one Simon Stubborn, who came occasionally to our town; and the youngster, if I am not mistaken, is his son, Wilful.
Luke. Shall we ask them to join us company if we come up with them?
Paul. Why I have but a slight knowledge of the man; and from what I have heard of his disposition, I don't think we are likely to benefit much by his companionship.
Luke. Then we had better let him advance farther.
Paul. I fear we shall not easily do that without retarding our own progress; for the younger one is stopping to gather those unripe blackberries by the way-side.
"Then," said Luke, "shall we pass him by?"
"No," replied his cousin, "we will not do so either; for though we may gain nothing by his so
STUBBORN AND WILFUL. 19
ciety, it is possible that we (young pilgrims though we are) may prove of some advantage to him; and it is our duty, and should be our pleasure, to be as useful as we can to our fellow-wayfarers."
Luke. Does not this sound a little presumptuous in us to teach a man so much our senior?
Paul. I grant it may sound so, and would be so, were we to do it in a spirit of self-righteousness or pride; but we must consider ourselves merely as the instruments for imparting those truths which, as we are told, are oftentimes "hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes."
I perceived that by this time they overtook the persons in question, and Paul accosted the man civilly; who, in return, said his face seemed not unfamiliar to him. Paul then, at his request, told him who he was; and added, "I believe your name is Stubborn?"
Man. That is certainly the name we are called by at present; but I have heard that our family name was originally Steadfast.
Paul had never heard that, and rather doubted it now; however, he did not argue this matter with him, but inquired whether he had met Mr. Evangelist in his way? To which the other replied, he