图书图片
PDF
ePub

Some

fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. also have wished, that the next way to their father's house were here, that they might be troubled no more with either hills or mountains to go over: but the way is the way, and there is an end.

Now as they were going along, and talking, they spied a boy feeding his father's sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a fresh and well-favoured countenance and as he sat by himself he sung. Hark, said Mr. Great-heart, to what the shepherd's boy saith:* so they hearkened, and he said,

He that is down, needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;

He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.

I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;

And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because thou savest such.

Fulness to such a burden is
That go on pilgrimage:
Here little, and hereafter bliss

Is best from age to age. 1

Then said the guide, Do you hear him? I will dare to to say, this boy lives a merrier life,† and wears more of the herb called heart's ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet. But we will proceed in our discourse.

1 Heb. xiii. 5.

Hark to what the shepherd's boy saith.] Perhaps there is no passage in this work so truly impressive and singularly beautiful as this of the shepherd's boy in the valley of Humiliation. The verses breathe an air of rural simplicity, and of the pastoral life. Mr. Bunyan, though he wrote many rhymes, did not view himself as a poet, though these simple stanzas possess great merit.

This boy lives a merrier life, &c.] Setting aside the spiritual allegory, How much to be preferred is a life of humble simplicity to the pomps and vanities of this world. How often have Sovereigns wished to change their diadems and sceptres for the heart's ease in the Losom of a shepherd boy. Divine providence has wisely ordained that the most corroding cares shall attend on the riches and honours of this world. They are like Belzebub's grapes which Matthew plucked, pleasant in the mouth, but afterward productive of much pain,

In this valley our Lord formerly had his country house, he loved much to be here: he loved also to walk in these meadows, and he found the air was pleasant. Besides, here a man shall be from the noise, and from the hurryings of this life: all states are full of noise and confusion, only the valley of Humiliation is that empty and solitary place. Here a man shall not be let and hindered in his contemplation, as in other places he is apt to be. This is a valley that nobody walks in, but those that love a pilgrim's life. And though Christian had the hard hap to meet with Apollyon, and to enter with him a brisk encounter; yet I must tell you, that in former times men have met with angels here, have found pearls here, and have in this place found the words of life.'

Did I say our Lord had here in former days his country house, and that he loved here to walk? I will add, in this place, and to the people that live and trace these grounds, he has left a yearly revenue, to be faithfully paid them at certain seasons for their maintenance by the way, and for their further encouragement to go on their pilgrimage.

Now, as they went on, Samuel said to Mr. Great-heart, 'Sir, I perceive that in this valley my father and Apollyon had their battle; but whereabout was the fight? for I perceive this valley is large.

Gr.-h. Your father had the battle with Apollyon, at a place yonder before us, in a narrow passage, just beyond Forgetful Green. And indeed that place is the most dangerous place in all these parts: for if at any time pilgrims meet with any brunt, it is when they forget what favours they have received, and how unworthy they are of them. This is the place also, where others have been hard put to it.--But more of the place when we are come to it; for I persuade myself, that to this day there remains either some sign of the battle, or some monument to testify that such a battle there was fought.

Then said Mercy, I think I am as well in this valley as I have been any where else in all our journey: the place, methinks, suits with my spirit. I love to be in such places where there is no rattling with coaches, nor 1 Hos. ii. 4, 5.

66

rumbling with wheels: methinks, here one may, without, much molestation, be thinking what he is, whence he came, what he has done, and to what the King has called him here one may think, and break at heart, and melt in one's spirit, until one's eyes become as the fish-pools of Heshbon.' They that go rightly through this valley of Bacha, "make it a well; the rain" that God sends down from heaven upon them that are here, "also filleth the pools." This valley is that from whence also the King will give to them their vineyards; and they that go through it shall sing as Christian did, for all he met with Apollyon.

It is true, said their guide, I have gone through this valley many a time, and never was better than when here. I have also been a conductor to several pilgrims, and they have confessed the same. "To this man will I look," (saith the King), even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word."

:

66

Now they were come to the place where the aforementioned battle was fought. Then said the guide to Christiana, her children, and Mercy, This is the place: on this ground Christian stood, and up there came Apollyon against him: and, look, did not I tell you, here is some of your husband's blood upon these stones to this day behold, also, how here and there are yet to be seen upon the place some of the shivers of Apollyon's broken, darts see also, how they did beat the ground with their feet as they fought, to make good their places against each other; how also, with their by-blows, they did split the very stones in pieces; verily Christian did here play the man, and showed himself as stout as Hercules could, had he been there, even he himself. When Apollyon was beat, he made his retreat to the next valley, that is called the valley of the Shadow of Death, unto which we shall come anon. Lo, yonder also stands a monument, on which is engraven this battle, and Christian's victory, to his fame throughout all ages.

So because it stood just on the way-side before them, they stepped to it, and read the writing, which word for word was this:

1 Sol. Song, vii. 4. Psal. lxxxiv. 5-7. Hos. ii. 15.

Hard by here was a battle fought,
Most strange and yet most true:
Christian and Apollyon sought

Each other to subdue.

The man so bravely played the man,
He made the fiend to fly;

Of which a monument I stand.
The same to testify.'

When they had passed by this place, they came upon the borders of the Shadow of Death, and this valley was longer than the other; a place also most strangely haunted with evil things, as many are able to testify: but these women and children went the better through it, because they had day-light, and because Mr. Greatheart was their conductor.

When they were entered upon this valley, they thought that they heard a groaning, as of dead men; a very great groaning. They thought also that they did hear words of lamentation, spoken as of some in extreme torment. These things made the boys to quake, the women also looked pale and wan; but their guide bid them be of good comfort.

So they went on a little further, and they thought that they felt the ground begin to shake under them, as if some hollow place was there; they heard also a kind of hissing, as of serpents, but nothing as yet appeared. Then said the boys," Are not we yet at the end of this doleful place?' But the guide also bid them be of good courage, and look well to their feet, lest haply, said he, you be taken in some snare.

Now James began to be sick, but I think the cause thereof was fear; so his mother gave him some of that glass of spirits that she had given her at the Interpreter's house, and three of the pills that Mr. Skill had prepared; and the boy began to revive. Thus they went on, till they came to about the middle of the valley; and then Christiana said, 'Methinks, I see something yonder upon the road before us; a thing, of a shape such as I have not seen.' Then said Joseph, Mother, what is it ??*

[ocr errors]

Then said Joseph, Mother what is it.'] The descriptive powers of the author are here admirably displayed. The reader becomes so

An ugly thing, child; an ugly thing,' said she. 'But, mother, what is it like ?' said he. 'Tis like, I cannot tell what,' said she. 'And now it is but a little way off.' Then said she, 'It is nigh.'

'Well,' said Mr. Great-heart, ‘let them that are most afraid, keep close to me.' So the fiend came on, and the conductor met it; but when it was just come to him, it vanished to all their sights: then remembered they what had been said some time ago; "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

They went therefore on, as being a little refreshed; but they had not gone far, before Mercy looking behind her, saw, as she thought, something almost like a lion, and it came a great padding pace after; and it had a hollow voice of roaring; and at every roar that it gave, it made the valley echo, and all their hearts to ache, save the heart of him that was their guide. So it came up; and Mr. Great-heart went behind, and put the pilgrims all before him. The lion also came on apace, and Mr. Great-heart addressed himself to give him battle. But when he saw that it was determined that resistance should be made, he also drew back and came no further.'

Then they went on again, and their conductor did go before them, till they came at a place where was cast up a pit the whole breadth of the way; and, before they could be prepared to go over that, a great mist and a darkness fell upon them, so that they could not see.Then said the Pilgrims, 'Alas! now what shall we do?' But their guide made answer, ' Fear not, stand still, and see what an end will be put to this also.' So they staid there, because their path was marred. They then also thought they did hear more apparently the noise and rushing of the enemies; the fire also, and smoke of the pit was much easier to be discerned. Then said Christiana to Mercy, Now I see what my poor husband went through;

1 1st Pet. v. 8.

interested in the narrative, that he almost forgets it is an allegory.Most children have an apprehension of danger in the dark; and too frequently the absurd conversation of persons around them, in the Nursery more especially, instils into their tender minds ideas of Fiends, ugly Monsters, and Hobgoblins.

« 上一页继续 »