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THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

   

Part II

 


Section 1

Author's Apology for the Second Part - Christiana and Mercy - Slough of Despond - knocking at the gate - the Dog - talk between the Pilgrims


 

 

SLOUGH OF DESPOND

Now my old friend proceeded, and said, "But when CHRISTIANA came up 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 that many there be that pretend to be the King's labourers, and that say they are for mending the King's highway, that bring din and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here CHRISTIANA therefore, with her boys, did make a stand. But said MERCY, 'Come, let us venture, only let us be wary.' Then they looked well to the steps, and made a shift to get staggeringly over.


"Yet CHRISTIANA had like to have been in, and that not once nor twice. Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, 'Blessed is she that believes; for there shall be a performance of those things that have been told her from the Lord'.

"And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." Luke 1:45

"Then they went on again. And said MERCY to CHRISTIANA, 'Had I as good ground 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 friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come at our journey's end. For can it 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 scares, with what troubles and afflictions, they can possibly assault us with that hate us? '"


Knocking at the Wicket Gate

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 were come, they betook themselves to a short debate about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said to him that did open to 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 that the keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them. At last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at the 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 that ye 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 to the Celestial City. And I answer my Lord in the next place, that I am CHRISTIANA, once the wife of CHRISTIAN that now is gotten above."

With that the keeper of the gate did marvel saying, "What, is she become now a pilgrim, that but awhile ago abhorred that life?" Then she bowed her head, and said, "Yes; 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.

"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Luke 15:7

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 for fear that she was rejected. But when CHRISTIANA had gotten admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for MERCY.

Chris. 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, for each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented CHRISTIANA from a fuller interceding 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 said CHRISTIANA, "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."

"Oh, sir," said she, "I am faint; there is scarce life left in me." But he answered that "one once said, 'When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thy holy temple'.

"When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." John 2:7

Fear not, but stand upon thy feet, and tell Me wherefore thou art come."

Mer. I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend CHRISTIANA was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her; wherefore I fear I presume.

Keeper of Gate. "Did she desire thee to come with her to this place?"

Mer. Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that I, thy poor handmaid, may be partaker thereof.

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 to MERCY to smell on, thereby to stay her fainting." So they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, and awhile after she was revived.

And now was CHRISTIANA 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 further unto him, "We are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his pardon; and further 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".

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine." Song of Solomon 1:2

"And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." John 20:20

Now I saw in my dream that he spake many good words unto them, whereby they were greatly gladdened. 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 talk by themselves. And thus CHRISTIANA began, "O Lord, how glad am I that we are got in hither!"

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

Chris. 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; specially when that ugly cur made such a heavy barking against us.

Mer. But my worst fear was after I saw that you were taken into his favour, and that I was left behind. Now, thought I, 'tis fulfilled which is written, "Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left".

"Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." Matthew 24:41

I had much ado to forbear crying out, Undone, undone! 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 I knocked; but I cannot tell how, for my spirit now struggled betwixt life and death.

Chris. Can you not tell how you knocked? I am sure your knocks were so earnest, that the very sound of them made me start; I thought I never heard such knocking in all my life. I thought you would have come in by violent hands, or have taken the Kingdom by storm.

"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Matthew 11:12

Mer. 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, I say, that was so fainthearted as I, that would not have knocked with all their might? But pray, what said my Lord to my rudeness? Was he not angry with me?

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

Mer. 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.

"Ay, do," 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 of 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:

"Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins." Jeremiah 12:1, 2

wherefore dost Thou keep so cruel a dog in thy yard, at the sight of which such women and children as we are ready to fly from thy gate for fear?"

He answered, and said, "That dog has another owner; he also is kept close in another man's ground, only my pilgrims hear his barking. He belongs to the castle which you see there at a distance, but can come up to the walls of this place. He has frightened many an honest pilgrim from worse to better by the great voice of his roaring. Indeed, he that owns him doth not keep him of any good will to Me or mine; but with intent to keep the pilgrims from coming to Me, and that they may be afraid to knock at this gate for entrance. Sometimes also he has broken out, and has worried some that I love; but I take all at present patiently. I also give my pilgrims timely help; so that they are not delivered up to his power, to do to them what his doggish nature would prompt him to. But what! My purchased one, I trow, hadst thou known never so much beforehand, thou wouldst not have been afraid of a dog. The beggars that go from door to door will, rather than they will lose a supposed alms, run the hazard of the bawling, barking, and biting too, of a dog; and shall a dog, a dog in another man's yard, a dog whose barking I turn to the profit of pilgrims, keep any from coming to Me? I deliver them from the lions, their darling from the power of the dog."

Mer. Then said MERCY, "I confess my ignorance; I spake what I understand not: I acknowledge that Thou doest all things well."

Then CHRISTIANA began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them, and washed their feet; and set them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before.

 

The Pilgrim's Progress - The Devil's Garden

 


 

The Pilgrim's Progress - Contents