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The Interpretee's HOUSE. 25
the avenue, admiring the cheerful prospect now opening on them, and then walked up to the house, where they rang at a bell, which was soon answered by a civil serving-man, to whom they told their names. "I will let my master know," said he; and presently his master, the Interpreter, came himself to speak to them. He asked them by what way they had arrived at his house; and when they said they had come through the Wicket Gate, and he saw in Paul's hand the map given him by the keeper thereof, he immediately let them in; and, moreover, when he found from some further discourse that they were the grandsons of Christian and Christiana, whom he so well remembered, he greeted them with most friendly kindness, and made them partake of his hospitable fare: after which he asked them if they would like to see some of those emblems usually shewn there to pilgrims, to which proposal (as may be concluded) they willingly acceded. So he took them, first, into a small square court, inclosed by walls, except on one side, which had high iron railings, on the outside of which they stood. He bade them look on the ground within; they did so, but could see nothing.
"Then," said he, "look more closely."
They obeyed; and at last Paul said, "I can see nothing but a little worm."
"That is it," said the Interpreter.
They both felt surprised; and, if truth must be told, half inclined to laugh, though our two young pilgrims were by no means of that class of persons who are apt to ridicule whatever they do not understand. Their companion, guessing their thoughts, said good-naturedly, "I dare say you think to yourselves, 'Is this all we are brought here to see?' But have patience. Look again."
"Then," said Luke, "is it my fancy only, or is the worm larger than when we first saw it?"
"Indeed," said Paul, " it actually appears to me to be growing larger whilst I look!"
They now watched it attentively, and were not left long in doubt, for it evidently and rapidly increased in size, till, at last, with astonishment, they beheld before them a formidable serpent rearing itself on high, and darting forth its envenomed tongue: they drew back in alarm, thankful that the iron railing was between it and them; and Luke, in rather a tremulous voice, asked the Interpreter the meaning of this.
"Perhaps you can guess?" said he.
RAPID GROWTH OF SIN. 27
"I think I see," said Paul; "but I may not be right. Will you explain it to us, good sir?"
Interpreter. It is sin; which, at first beginning, seems an insignificant thing, and with too many passes almost unnoticed, but suffer it to continue without a check, and you see the strength, power, and magnitude it gradually, but quickly, acquires, and how hard to conquer; whereas, at its commencement, like the worm, it might be easily crushed.
He then touched the reptile with a wand he held in his hand, and they saw it, with much satisfaction, diminish to its former size.
"This," continued the Interpreter, "should teach us to dread sin as the greatest evil, and to watch its small beginnings in our hearts, lest, by degrees, it overpower us."
Luke said he hoped he should always remember what they had just seen, and resist every slight inclination to transgress. "But," continued he to the Interpreter, "how soon your touch made the snake dwindle to a worm again!"
"Yes," answered he, shewing them the stick in his hand, which was formed of the wood of the weeping willow, and surmounted by a cross; "this is the rod of godly sorrow, which, by virtue of the cross of Christ, is endued with the power you have just seen."
After this he led them on a little further, where they saw a man lying on the ground, who every now and then made a feeble effort to rise; but, after each short struggle, sank down again as before.
"Then," said Paul, "this man seems wishing to raise himself up, but some obstacle apparently prevents him, though what it is I cannot perceive."
The Interpreter replied by taking a magnifying glass from his pocket, and desiring the pilgrims to look through; which, when they did, they saw that the man was bound by numerous diminutive chains: they begged their guide to explain this
Interpreter. The reason this man cannot rise from his low position is, that he is fettered by the chains of habit; which, though so small that you could not see them without the glass, are yet very strong; and the more so because the poor victim scarcely sees them himself, though he feels their power.
Luke. If he had been more watchful over himself at first, I suppose he would not have been thus under their dominion?"
Interpreter. No; they glided imperceptibly over
THE POWER OF HABIT. 29
him, one by one, as it were, till at length they pressed him down, and made him the slave he now is.
Paul. And must he always remain so? Can nothing loosen him?
Interpreter. Nothing but the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, which may be obtained by sincere and earnest prayer, through the mediation of the merciful Redeemer.
Now I saw in my dream that the Interpreter bade the pilgrims follow him to a pleasant smooth lawn adjoining the house, where there grew a green and flourishing tree, bearing leaves, blossoms, and fruit. This object attracted the attention of them both, and they remarked to the friendly Interpreter that they had never before seen so goodly a tree.
"It is, indeed," said he, "most pleasing to every eye not blinded by the smoke of worldly-mindedness; and besides being highly ornamental, it is supremely beneficial to mankind.
"Pray tell us its history, sir, and its name?" asked Luke.
"The original tree (of which this is a specimen) was planted more than 1800 years ago," replied the Interpreter, "and has since been cultivated in various parts of the Land of Imperfection, through