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which you are travelling: its name is Christianity; and though it has been cruelly attacked and injured in various ways by the enemy, who has done all he can to hew it down, it never has, and never will be, destroyed; but, on the contrary, good and able gardeners have gone forth at divers times to plant it in distant parts of the country, where it was before unknown. Not a few have proved their courage and faithful care of it by dying in its defence. The Lord of the land has also promised that the time will come when it shall abound over all the earth; which, indeed, without it, is little better than a desert."
Then I saw that all three walked up close to the tree, whilst the Interpreter proceeded to explain its different parts; and as they approached it, Paul and Luke were charmed by the fragrance of its blossoms.
"Its root," continued he, "is Faith, which is necessary to its existence ; its stem, naturally springing from this root, is Piety, and that is nourished and strengthened continually by its sap, which is Prayer: its leaves are Charity; its blossoms, Holiness; its fruit, which is good both in its green and ripe state, Good Works and Godly Love; and its bark is Righteousness, in which it is clothed."
THE TREE OF CHRISTIANITY. 31
Now I saw that just as the pilgrims were quitting this valuable tree, which they had contemplated with admiration, a pair of beauteous white doves' flying to roost on its branches shook down two of its oranges, as I shall call them, for they appeared, in my dream, most to resemble that fruit. The Interpreter picked them up, and presented them to the travellers, saying, " Ye have not yet ascended the Hill of Difficulty, and are, therefore, not permitted to pluck these; but if any chance to fall, I may give them to you. Do not eat them now, though, but keep them against a time of need; that is, should any distress or dilemma overtake you, for then you will find more benefit from them."
They thanked him, and he took them back into the house, where he talked with them concerning the elders of their family, whom he remembered better than they could, while supper was preparing. They rested there the night; and on the morrow expressed their desire to proceed on their journey.
"That you shall do," said the Interpreter, "when I have shewn you one thing more." Now the venerable man was fond of animals and of natural history, delighting to observe the ways of the inferior creatures, their innocence, and the sagacity bestowed on them by their wise Creator; so he shewed them an aviary, which was not, as in some cases, a prison, for the light wire-gates of it swung to and fro without fastening, so that the birds could easily push them either way, and come in and out as they pleased, and being fed and kindly treated, were glad to shelter there at night, or in cold weather. There they saw a variety of the feathered tribe, some charming to the eye and some to the ear, from their exquisite plumage and melodious song; the affection, too, which they evinced towards each other, might serve as a pattern to man, who might go to the birds to learn brotherly love, as he is told to go to the ant to learn industry and prudence. In a smaller division of this aviary they saw a collection of caterpillars of different colours, all feeding eagerly on some fresh green leaves. Near them were some in the state of chrysalis; and flying about amidst the flowers of the garden, appeared some beautiful butterflies,
"There is an evident meaning in this," cried Paul.
"Explain it, then," said Luke.
Paul. The caterpillars shew mankind in the present state, intently occupied on the things of earth, as these are, in devouring leaf after leaf. The
THE AVIARY. 83
chrysalis is man laid in the tomb, when this earth with all its concerns and delights shall have passed from him for ever; and the butterfly is man risen again with a more glorious body, and soaring far above the sensual pleasures that once engrossed his dull thoughts.
"Right," said the Interpreter; "that is the obvious meaning: but though such is the natural state of man, he is enabled, through faith and Divine assistance, to look forward to his future state, and thence to overlook many of the earthly trifles that seem so important in the view of the worldling, who, like a young child, holding up his hat to screen his eyes from the sun, and thus hiding it from his sight, should imagine the hat to be the largest of the two.
Now I saw in my dream that it was time for the pilgrims to leave the Interpreter's house and betake themselves to their journey, so thanking him for all he had shewn them, and for his hospitality, they bade him a grateful farewell. He reminded them of the Hill Difficulty, which was but a few hours' walk farther on, and told them not to be discouraged by its appearance, for that all good pilgrims travelling that way, besides their grandfather, Christian, had ascended it. They remembered this, and had also seen it marked down in the map, as well as the Palace Beautiful, which was situated at no great distance beyond. He recommended them to the good virgins who dwelt there, and giving them his blessing, they once more set forward on the way, which I observed lay pleasantly enough between verdant fields with neat hedges. The dew-drops glittered in the sun-beams, and the lark's clear and joyous matin song was heard as he mounted high in air; the hearts of the cousins also felt light and cheerful as they faced the mild breath of morning, and they walked briskly on, conversing of their agreeable visit at the Interpreter's. But I beheld that this did not last very long, for when I looked again, the sky was overcast with dark heavy clouds, the soft breeze had turned to a chilling wind, the sun was thickly veiled, and the birds were mute.