« AnteriorContinuar »
HILL OF PRESUMPTION. 5
Whilst they were thus talking, a grave and venerable man met and accosted them, inquiring from whence they came, and whither they were bound; to which Luke replied, " We come from the Town of Trouble, our native place; and are journeying to the Celestial country, whither some of our ancestors have travelled before. But my companion and cousin has just had a fall."
"Then," said Evangelist (for it was he), addressing Paul, "I see, by the dust on your garments, that you have strayed upon the Hillock of Presumption, and the redness of your eyes testifies the same."
Paul. It is true, indeed, sir; but it was in avoiding the Slough of Despond, the perils of which we had heard of, that I ran on the opposite bank, of which I had not heard.
Evangelist. That may be; for in former times, when the slough was larger and deeper, the other was scarcely perceptible: but in the frequent attempts to mend the former, much dirt and mud were cast on one side, and by degrees formed this mound, which in spring and summer is as you found it, and rendered more obnoxious by the strong puffs of wind that occasionally blow across the plains of Self-conceit. There was once a board erected, with this notice,—" Beware of the Hill of Presumption;" but some foolish, inconsiderate persons, passing by from time to time, defaced, and at last broke it down, saying there was no occasion for it. But you have not told me your name and family.
Paul. I am called Paul: my father's name was Matthew, and my mother's name Mercy.
Evangelist. Ay, indeed! then they were old acquaintances of mine, though your father was a boy, and your mother I well remember, as the meek young friend and faithful follower of Christiana, the wife of your grandfather Christian, for whom I felt a true interest and regard.
Paul. You surprise me! for I should not guess you could be old enough to remember him so well.
Evangelist. Your remark is natural, as, in the common course of things, such would be the case; but I and two or three more, whom Christian met with in his journey, are gifted with patriarchal length of days. He applied to me, when heavily laden with his burden, and I gave him some advice, and pointed out the way to the Wicket Gate, as I am appointed by my Lord to do.
Paul. Then, sir, you must be Mr. Evangelist.
TOWN OF TROUBLE. 7
Evangelist. The same. Is this your brother who is with you?
Paul. He is, indeed, unto me as a brother, but is my cousin, being the son of my uncle Joseph.
Then Evangelist took Luke kindly by the hand, saying,—" I will go a little way with you on your road, my young friends, if agreeable to you." To which they both replied, "They should be happy if he would." And as they walked he asked them of their dwelling and way of life before they set out on pilgrimage.
"The Town of Trouble, where we dwelt," said Paul, "is but a few miles from the "City of Destruction," which, as you know, is a very old place, and a good deal dilapidated from frequent fires that have occurred there, through the carelessness of the inhabitants: it is even suspected that some of these have been caused by worse motives than mere carelessness, owing to the bad characters of many that dwell therein."
Evangelist. You, then, were fortunate in not living there, as your ancestors did; for I suppose your town is more safe and quiet?
Luke. Much more so; though, like most of the towns and villages in this our Land of Imperfection, it has its evils and annoyances; one is, that in some parts the water is very bitter.
Paul. But you know, Luke, the Doctors say those bitter waters are very wholesome.
Evangelist. I have heard of them, for they have various springs rising in different places, and have known persons much benefited by them; indeed, they have sometimes cured when other remedies have failed; especially in the cases of ossified or stony heart, and in the plethora of pride: neither of which diseases will, I hope, attack you or your cousin.
Paul. I hope not; but I fancied I felt some symptoms of the latter when I was wandering on the Hill of Presumption; and, methinks, it would be well if the dust of that hill were to be occasionally laid, by some of these Waters of Affliction, as they are called.
Evangelist. It would so; and the showers of Penitence have sometimes fallen there with good effect. But had you any other evil to complain of in Trouble town?
Luke. Yes; one was the party-spirit, prejudice, and disputations about things of small moment, amongst our neighbours; and though Paul and myself endeavoured to avoid taking part in their disputes, we
THE WICKET GATE.
could with difficulty escape censure, from each party fancying we inclined to the opposite one, or else accusing us of lukewarm indifference to that which most vitally concerned us: yet at the same time we knew several well-meaning persons on both sides.
Now I saw in my dream that during this conversation they came within view of the Wicket Gate, which, being still distant, the pilgrims did not perceive, till Evangelist pointed it out: then were they glad, and said to their friendly guide,—" We could scarcely doubt we were in the right way, having you with us, but the sight of that blessed gate confirms us in the opinion."
Evangelist. Ye say well that it is a blessed gate, for it only is "the way, the truth, and the life."
Luke. But, dear sir, shall we easily gain admittance there?
Evangelist. If you approach it in humility and trusting belief, for you will see written over the gate, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you;" and the compassionate Keeper has said, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Luke. These are, indeed, comforting words; and perhaps you will allow us to mention your name to him?