Illustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 1) online

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letter for thee, which T have brought from thy husband's king : so she took
it and opened it, but it smelt after the manner of the best perfume. Also,
it was written in letters of gold. The contents of the letter was this :
" That the King would have her to do as did Christian her husband, for
that was the way to come to his city, and to dwell in his presence with
joy for ever." At this the good woman was quite overcome; so she
cried out to her visitor, Sir, will you carry me and my children with you,
that we may also go and worship the King ?

Then said the visitor, Christiana ! the bitter is before the sweet. Thou
must, through troubles, as did he that went before thee, enter this celestial
city. Wherefore I advise thee to do as did Christian thy husband. Go to
the wicket-gate yonder over the plain, for that stands in the head of the
way up which thou must go ; and I wish thee all good speed. Also I
advise tliee, that thou put this letter in thy bosom ; that thou read therein
to thyself, and to thy children, until they have got it by heart. For it is
one of the songs that thou must sing while thou art in this house of thy
pilgrimage ; also this thou must deliver in at the further gate.

Now I saw in my dream, that this old gentleman, as he told me the
story, did himself seem to be greatly affected therewith. He moreover
proceeded, and said — So Christiana called her sons together, and began to


address herself unto them : My sons, I have, as you may perceive, been of
late under much exercise in my soul about the death of your father ; not
for that I doubt at all of his happiness ; for I am satisfied now that he is
well. I have been also much affected with due thoughts of mine own state
and yours, which I verily beheve is by nature miserable. My carriage also
to your father in his distress is a great load to my conscience ; for x
hardened both my own heart and yours against him, and refused to
go with him on pilgrimage.

The thoughts of these things would now kill me outright, but that for
a dream which I had last night, and but that for the encouragement that
this stranger has given me this morning. Come, my children, let us pack
up, and begone to the gate that leads to that celestial country, that we may
see your father, and be with him and his companions in peace, according
to the laws of that land.

Then did her children burst out into tears, for joy that the heart of their
mother was so inclined : so their visitor bade them farewell : and they
began to prepare to set out for their journey.

But while they were thus about to be gone, two of the women that were
Christiana's neighbours came up to her house, and knocked at the door.
To whom she said as before. At this the women were stunned ; for this
kind of language they used not to hear, or to perceive to drop from the
lips of Christiana : yet they came in ; but behold they found the good
woman preparing to be' gone from her house.

So they began, and said. Neighbour, pray what is your meaning
by this ?

Christiana answered, and said to the eldest of them, whose name was
Mi's. Timorous, I am preparing for a journey. (This Timorous was
daughter to him that met Christian upon the hill Difiiculty, and would
have had him gone back for fear of the hons.)

Tim. For what journey, I pray ?

Chr. Even to go after my old husband ; and with that she fell a weeping.

Tim. I hope not so, good neighbour ; pray, for your poor children's
sake, do not so unwomanly cast away yourself.

Chr. Nay, my children shall go with me ; not one of them is willing to
stay behind.

Tim. I wonder in my heart, what or who has brought you into
this mind.


Chr. Oh, neighbour, knew you but as much as I do, I doubt not
but that you would go along with me.

TY/rt. Prithee, what new knowledge hast thou got, that so worketh
ofi" thy mind from thy friends, and that tempteth thee to go nobody
knows where ?

Chr. Then Christiana replied, I have been sorely afflicted since my
husband's departure from me ; but especially since he went over the
river. But that which troubleth me most, is my churlish carriage to him
when he was under his distress. Besides, I am now, as he was then ;
nothing will serve me but going on pilgrimage. I was dreaming last
night that I saw him. O that my soul was with him ! He dwelleth in
the presence of the King of the country ; he sits and eats with him at his
table ; he is become a companion of immortals, and has a house now
given him to dwell in, to which the best palaces on earth, if compared,
seem to me but as a dunghill.' The Prince of the palace has also sent for
me, with promises of entertainment, if I shall come to him ; his messenger
was here even now, and brought me a letter which invites me to come.
And with that she plucked out her letter, and read it, and said to them,
What now will you say to this ?

Ti'tti. Oh ! the madness that has possessed thee and thy husband, to
run yourselves upon such difficulties. You have heard, I am sure, what
your husband did meet with, even in a manner at the first step that he
took on his way, as our neighbour Obstinate can yet testify, for he went
along with him ; yea, and Pliable too, until they, hke wise men, were
afraid to go any further. We also heard over and above, how he met
with the lions, ApoUyon, the Shadow of Death, and many other things.
Nor is the danger that he met with at Vanity-Fair to be forgotten by
thee ; for if he, though a man, was so hard put to it, what canst thou,
being but a poor woman, do ? Consider, also, that these four sweet babes
are thy children, thy flesh, and thy bones. Therefore, though thou
shouldst be so rash as to cast away thyself, yet, for the sake of the fruit of
thy body, keep thou at home.

But Christiana said unto her, Tempt me not, my neighbour : I have
now a prize put into my hand to sret again, and I should be a fool of the

' " I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them : and I
saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,
and wliich had not worshipped the beast." — Revelations, xx., 4.


greatest sort, if I should have no heart to strike in with the opportunity.
And for that you tell me of all these troubles that I am like to meet with
in the way, they are so far fi-om being to me a discouragement, that they
show I am in the right. The bitter must come before the sweet, and that
also wUl make the sweet the sweeter. Wherefore, since you came not to
my house in God's name, as I said, T pray you be gone, and do not
disquiet me further.

Then Timorous also reviled her, and said to her fellow, Come, neighbour
Mercy, let us leave her in her own hands ; she scorns our counsel and
company. But Mercy was at a stand, and could not so readily comply
with her neighbour, and that for a twofold reason: 1st. Her bowels
yearned over Christiana ; so she saith within herself, If my neighbour will
be gone, I will go a little way along with her, and help her. 2dly. Her
bowels yearned over her own soul (for what Christiana had said had taken
some hold upon her mind.) Wherefore she said within herself again,
I will yet have more talk with this Christiana ; and if I find truth and life
in what she shall say, myself with all my heart shall also go with her.
Wherefore Mercy began thus to reply to her neighbour Timorous.

Mercy. Neighbour, I did indeed come with you to see Christiana
this morning ; and since she is, as you see, a taking her last farewell of
the country, I think to walk this sunshiny morning a little with her, to
help her on her way. But she told her not of the second reason,
but kept it to herself

Tim. Well, I see you have a mind to go a foohng too ; but take heed
in time, and be wise : while we are out of danger, we are out ; but when
we are in, we are in. So Mrs. Timorous returned to her house, and
Christiana betook herself to her journey. But when Timorous was got
home to her house, she sends for some of her neighbours, to wit, Mrs.
Bat's-eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-mind, and Mrs. Know-nothing.
So when they were come to her house, she falls to telling of the story of
Christiana, and of her intended journey. And thus she began her tale :

Tim. Neighbours, having but little to do this morning, I went to give
Christiana a visit ; and when I came at the door, I knocked, as you know-
it is our custom : and she answered. If you come in God's name, come in.
So in I went, thinking all was well ; but when I came in, I found her
preparing herself to depart the town, she and also her children. So I
asked her what was her meaning by that ? And she told me, in short.


That she was now of a mind to go on pilgrimage, as did her husband.
She told me also a dream that she had, and how the King of the country
where her husband was, had sent her an inviting letter to come thither.

Then said Mrs. Know-nothing, And what, do you think she will go ?

Tim. Ay, go she will, whatever comes on it ; and methinks I know it
by this ; for that which was my great argument to persuade her to stay at
home (to wit, the troubles she was like to meet with in the way), is one
great argument with her, to put her forward on her journey. For she
told me in so many words, The bitter goes before the sweet: yea,
and forasmuch as it doth, it makes the sweet the sweeter.

Mrs. Bat's-eyes. Oh ! this blind and foolish woman, said she ; and will
she not take warning by her husband's afflictions ? For my part, I see, if
he were here again, he would rest him content in a whole skin, and never
run so many hazards for nothing.

Mrs. Inconsiderate also replied, saying. Away with such fantastical fools
from the town ; a good riddance, for my pai't, I say, of her : should she
stay where she dwells, and retain this mind, who could live quietly by her?
for she will either be dumpish or unneighbourly, to talk of such matters
as no wise body can abide : whei'efore, for my part, I shall never be sorry
for her departure : let her go, and let better come in her room. It was
never a good world since these whimsical fools dwelt in it.

Then Mrs. Light-mind added as foUoweth : Come, put this kind of talk
away. I was yesterday at Madam Wanton's, where we were as merry as
the maids. For who do you think should be there, but I and Mrs. Love-
the-flesh, and three or four more, with Mrs. Lechery, Mrs. Filth, and
some others. So there we had music and dancing, and what else was
meet to fill up the pleasure. And I dare say my lady herself is an admi-
rable well-bred gentlewoman, and Mr. Lechery is as pretty a fellow. By this
time Christiana was got on her way, and Mercy went along with her. So
as they went (her children being there also), Christiana began to dis-
course. And Mercy, said Christiana, I take this as an unexpected favour,
that thou shouldst set foot out of doors, with me to accompany me a
little in my way.

Mercy. Then said young Mercy (for she was but young) , If I thought
it would be to purpose to go with you, I would never go near the town.

Chr. Well, Mercy, said Christiana, cast in thy lot with me ; I well
know what will be the end of our pilgrimage; my husband is where he


would not but be for all the gold in the Spanish mines. Nor shalt thou
be rejected, though thou goest but upon my invitation. The King, who
hath sent for me and my children, is one that delighteth in mercy. ^ Be-
sides, if thou wilt, I will hire thee, and thou shalt go along with me as my
servant. Yet we will have all things in common betwixt thee and me ;
only go along with me.

Mercy. But how shall I be ascertained that I also should be entertained?
Had I this hope from one that can tell, I would make no stick at all, but
would go, being helped by him that can help, though the way was nev<"r
so tedious.

Chr. Well, loving Mercy, I will tell thee what thou shalt do ; go with
me to the wicket-gate, and there I will further inquire for thee : and if
there thou shalt not meet with encouragement, I will be content that thou
return to thy place ; I will also pay thee for thy kindness which thou
showest to me and my children, in the accompanying of us in our way, as
thou dost.

Mercy. Then will I go thither, and will take what shall follow ; and the
Lord grant that my lot may there fall, even as the King of Heaven shall
have his heart upon me.

Christiana then was glad at her heart, not only that she had a com-
panion, but also for that she had prevailed with this poor maid to fall in
love with her own salvation. So they went on together, and Mercy began
to weep. Then said Christiana, Wherefore weepeth my sister so ?

Mercy. Alas ! said she, who can but lament, that shall but rightly con-
sider what a state and condition my poor relations are in, that yet remain
in our sinful town : and that which makes my grief the more is, because
they have no instruction, nor any to tell them what is to come.

Chr. Bowels become pilgrims; and thou dost for thy friends, as my good
Christian did for me when he left me ; he mourned for that I would not
heed nor regard him ; but his Lord and ours did gather up his tears, and
put them into his bottle, and now both I and thou, and these my sweet
babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, that
these tears of thine will not be lost ; for the truth hath said, " That they
that sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. And he that goeth forth

e " We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who
Bre the called, according to his purpose." — Romans, viii., 28,


and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again wth re-
joicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Then said Mercy,

Let the most blessed be my guide.

If 't be his blessed will,
Unto his gate, into his fold,

U\) to his holy hill :
And let him never suffer me

To sv;erve or turn aside
From his free grace and holy ways,

Whate'er shall me betide.
And let them gather them of mine.

That I have left behind ;
Lord, make them pray they may be thine,

With all their heart and mind.

Now my old friend proceeded, and said,— But when Christiana came to
the slough of Despond, she began to be at a stand ; for, said she. This is
the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with
mud. She perceived also, that notwithstanding the command of the King
to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly.
So I asked if that was true ? Yes, said the old gentleman, too true ; for
many there be that pretend to be the King's labourers, and say, they are
for mending the King's highways, that bring dirt and dung instead of
stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here Christiana therefore, and her
boys did make a stand. But, said Mercy, Come, let us venture, only let
us be wary. Then they looked well to their steps, and made a shift to get
staggering over.

Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once or twice.
Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words,
that said unto them, " Blessed is she that believeth, for there shall be a
performance of what has been told her from the Lord."

Then they went on again, and said Mercy to Christiana, Had I as good
gi-ound to hope for a loving reception at the wicket-gate as you, I think no
slough of Despond would discourage me.""

Well, said the other, you know your sore, and I know mine ; and, good

>■ " Dost fly to him that is a Saviour from the wrath to come, for life ? If these be thy
desires, and if they be unfeigned, fear not. Thou art one of those runaways which God hath
commanded our Lord to receive, and not to send thee back to the devil thy master again, but
to give thee a place in his house, even the place which liketh thee best."— Jerusalem Sinner


friend, we shall all have enough of evil before we come to our jour-
ney's end.

For it cannot be imagined, that the people that design to attain such
excellent glories as we do, and that are so envied that happiness as we are,
but that we shall meet with what fears and snares, with what troubles and
afflictions, they can possibly assault us with that hate us.

And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself.
Wherefore, methought I saw Christiana and Mercy, and the boys, go all of
them up to the gate ; to which when they came, they betook themselves
to a short debate, about how they must manage their calling at the gate ;
and what should be said unto him that did open unto them. So it was
concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for
entrance, and that she should speak to him that did open, for the rest.
So Christiana began to knock, and as her poor husband did, she knocked
and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought
that they heard as if a dog came barking upon them : a dog, and a great
one too, and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they
for awhile to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them.
Now therefore they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds,
and knew not what to do. Knock they durst not, for fear of the dog ; go
back they durst not, for fear the keeper of the gate should espy them as
they so went, and be offended with them : at last they thought of knocking
again, and knocking more vehemently than they did at first. Then said
the keeper of the gate, Who is there ? So the dog left off to bark, and he
opened unto them.

Then Christiana made low obeisance, and said. Let not our Lord be
offended with his handmaidens, for that we have knocked at his princely
gate. Then said the keeper, Whence come ye, and what is it that you
would have ?

Christiana answered. We are come from whence Christian did come, and
upon the same errand as he ; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously
admitted, by this gate, into the way that leads into the celestial city.
And I answer, my Lord, in the next place, that I am Christiana, once the
wife of Christian, that is now gotten above.

With that the keeper of the gate did marvel, saying. What ! is she now
become a pilgi-im, that but a while ago abhorred that life ? Then she
bowed her head, and said Yea, and so are these my sweet babes also.


Then he took her by the hand, and let her in, and said also, " Suffer
the little children to come unto me ;" and with that he shut up the gate.
This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above, over the gate, to
entertain Christiana with shouting, and sound of trumpet, for joy. So he
obeyed, and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes.'

Now, all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying,
fbr fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had gotten admittance
for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.

Chr. And she said. My Lord, I have a companion of mine that stands
yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one
that is much dejected in her mind, for that she comes, as she thinks,
without sending for ; whereas I was sent to by my husband's King
to come.

Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each moment was as long
to her as an hour ; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller inter-
ceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself. And she knocked then so
loud, that she made Christiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate,
who is there ? And Christiana said. It is my friend.

So he opened the gate, and looked out ; but Mercy was fallen down
without in a swoon ; for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate would be
opened to her.

Then he took her by the hand, and said. Damsel, I bid thee arise.
O Sir, said she, I am faint ; there is scarce life left in me. But he
answered, that one said, " When my soul fainted within me, I remembered
the Lord, and my prayer came unto thee, into thy holy temple." Fear
not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell me wherefore thou art come.

Mercy. I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend
Christiana was. Her's was from the King, and mine was but fi-ora her.
Wherefore I presume.

Did she desire thee to come with her to this place ?
Mercy. Yes ; and as my Lord sees, I am come ; and if there is any
grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy poor handmaid
may be partaker thereof.

' " Now, sinners, dry your tears.

Let hopeless sorrow cease ;

Bow to the sceptre of his love,

And take the offered peace." — Watts.


Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said,
I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come
unto me.^ Then said he to those that stood by. Fetch something, and
give it Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her faintings: so they fetched
her a bundle of myrrh ; awhile after she revived.

And now was Chiistiana and her boys, and Mercy, received of the Lord
at the head of the way, and spoke kindly unto by him. Then said they
yet farther unto him, we are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his
pardon, and farther information what we must do.

I grant pardon, said he, by word and deed ; by word, in the promise of
forgiveness ; by deed, in the way I obtained it. Take the first from my
lips with a kiss, and the other as it shall be revealed.

Now I saw in my dream, that he spake many good words unto them,
whereby they were greatly glad. He also had them up to the top of the
gate, and showed them by what deed they were saved ; and told them
withal, that that sight they would have again as they went along in the
way, to their comfort.

So he left them awhile in a summer parlour below, where they entered
into a talk by themselves ; and thus Christiana began : O Lord ! how glad
am I we are got in hither !

Mercy. So you well may ; but I of all have cause to leap for joy.

Chr. I thought one time as I stood at the gate, (because I had knocked,
and none did answer,) that all our labour had been lost, especially when
that ugly cur made such a heavy barking at us.

Mercy. But my worst fear was, after I saw that you was taken into his
favour, and that I was left behind. Now, thought I, it is fulfilled which is
written, " Two women shall be gi-inding together, the one shall be
taken, and the other left." I had much ado to forbear crying out, " Un-

And afraid I was to knock any more ; but when I looked up to what
was written over the gate, I took courage. I also thought, that I must
either knock again, or die : so 1 knocked, but I cannot tell how ; for my
spirit now struggled between life and death.

Chr. Can you not teU how you knocked? I am sure your knocks
were so earnest, that the very sound made me start. I thought I never

' " For the father himself loveth you because ye have loved me, and have believed that I
came out of God." — John, xvi., 30.


heard such knocking in all my life ; I thought you would come in by a
violent hand, or take the kingdom by storm.

Mercy. Alas ! to be in my case, who that so was, could but have done
so ■? You saw that the door was shut upon me, and that there was a most
cruel dog thereabout. Who,! say, that was so faint-hearted as I, would
not have knocked with all their might ? But pray, what said my Lord
unto my rudeness ? Was he not angry with me ?

Chr. When he heard your lumbering noise, he gave a wonderful inno-
cent smile. I believe what you did pleased him well, for he showed no
sign to the contrary.'' But I marvel in my heart why he keeps such a
dog ; had I known that before, I should not have had heart enough to
have ventured myself in this mannei'. But now we are in, we are in, and
I am glad with all my heart.

Mercy. I will ask, if you please, next time he comes down, why he
keeps such a filthy cur in his yard ; I hope he will not take it amiss.

Do so, said the children, and persuade him to hang him ; for we are
afraid he will bite us when we go hence.

So at last he came down to them again, and Mercy fell to the ground
on her face before him, and worshipped, and said. Let my Lord accept the
sacrifice of praise which I now offer unto him with the calves of my lips.

So he said unto her. Peace be to thee, stand up.' But she continued
upon her face, and said, " Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with
thee, yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments." Wherefore dost thou
keep so cruel a dog in thy yard, at the sight of which such women and

Online LibraryUnknownIllustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 67)