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that they had no time so much as to look at the King's directions. Many went wrong because they preferred a merry journey to a safe one, and because they were terrified by certain notices, chiefly intended for the Narrow Way travellers; such as, “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice:" but had these foolish people allowed themselves time or patience to read to the end, which they seldom would do, they would have seen these comfortable words added, “But your sorrow shall be turned into joy ;” also, “ Your joy no man taketh from you;” and, “ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
Now, I also saw in my dream, that many travellers, who had a strong dread of ending at the Land of Misery, walked up to the Strait Gate, hoping, that though the entrance was narrow, yet if they could once get in, the road would widen; but what was their grief, when, on looking more closely, they saw written on the inside, “Narrow is the way!” this made them take fright; they compared the inscriptions with which the whole way was lined, such as, “Be ye not conformed to this world; deny yourselves, take up your cross,” with all the tempting pleasures of the wilderness. Some indeed recollected the fine descriptions they had read of the Happy Land, the Golden City, and the Rivers of Pleasure, and they sighed; but then those joys were distant, and from the faintness of their light they soon got to think that what was remote might be uncertain; and while the present good increased in bulk, the distant good receded, diminished, disappeared. Their faith failed; they would trust no farther than they could see; they drew back and got into the Broad Way, taking a common but sad refuge in the number, the fashion, and the gayety of their companions. When these faint-hearted people, who yet had set out well, turned back, their light was quite put out, and then they became worse than those who had made no attempt to get in. “ For it is impossible,” that is, it is next to impossible, “ for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance."
A few honest, humble travellers, not naturally stronger than the rest, but strengthened by their trust in the King's word came up by the light of their lamps, and meekly entered in at the Strait Gate. As they advanced farther, they felt less heavy; and though the way did not in reality grow wider, yet they grew reconciled to the narrowness of it, especially when they saw the walls here and there studded with certain jewels called promises, such as, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved ;” and “My grace is sufficient for you." Some, when they were almost ready to faint, were encouraged by seeing that many niches in the Narrow Way were filled with statutes and pictures of saints and martyrs, who had borne their testimony at the stake, that the Narrow Way was the safe way; and these travellers, instead of sinking at the sight of the painted wheel and gibbet, the sword and furnace, were animated with these words written under them, “ Those that wear white robes came out of great tribulation,” and “ Be ye followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
In the mean time there came a great multitude of travellers all from Laodicea : this was the largest party I had yet seen: these were “neither hot nor cold;" they would not give up future hope, and they could not endure present pain. So they contrived to deceive themselves, by fancying that though they resolved to keep the Happy Land in view, yet there must needs be many different ways which led to it, no doubt all equally sure, without being all equally rough; so they set on foot certain little contrivances to attain the end without using the means, and softened down the spirit of the King's directions to fit them to their own practice. Sometimes they would split a direction in two, and only use that half which suited them. For instance, when they met with the following rule on the way-post, “ Trust in the Lord, and be doing good,” they would take the first half, and make themselves easy with a general sort of trust, that through the mercy of the King all would go well with them, though they themselves did nothing. And on the other hand, many made sure that a few good works of their own would do their business, and carry them safely to the Happy Land, though they did not trust in the Lord, nor place any faith in his word. So they took the second half of the spliced direction. Thus some perished by a lazy faith, and others by a working pride.
A large party of Pharisees now appeared, who had so neglected their lamp that they did not see their way at all, though they fancied themselves to be full of light; they kept up appearances so well as to delude others, and most effectually to delude themselves, with a notion that they might be found in the right way at last. In this dreadful delusion they went on to the end; and, till they were finally plunged in the Dark Valley, never discovered the horrors which awaited them on the dismal shore. It was remarkable, that while these Pharisees were often boasting how bright their light burnt, in order to get the praise of men, the humble travellers, whose steady light showed their good works to others, refused all commendation; and the brighter their light shined before men, so much the more they insisted that they ought to glorify not themselves, but their Father which is in heaven.
I now set myself to observe what was the particular let, molestation, and hinderance, which obstructed particular travellers in their endeavors to enter in at the strait gate. I remarked a huge, portly man, who seemed desirous of getting in, but he carried about him such a vast provision of bags full of gold, and had on so many rich garments, which stuffed him out so wide, that though he pushed and squeezed, like one who had really a mind to get in, yet he could not possibly do so. Then I heard a voice, crying, “Wo to him who loadeth himself with thick clay.” The poor man felt something was wrong, and even went so far as to change some of his more cumbersome vanities into others which seemed less bulky; but still he and his pack were much too wide for the gate. He would not, however, give up the matter so easily, but began to throw away a little of the coarser part of his baggage; but still I remarked that he threw away none of the vanities which lay near his heart. He tried again, but it would not do; still his dimensions were too large. He now looked up, and read these words, “How hardly shall those who have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” The poor man sighed, to find that it was impossible to enjoy his fill of both worlds, and “went away sorrowing." If he ever afterwards cast a thought towards the Happy Land, it was only to regret that the road which led to it was too narrow to admit any but the meagre children of want, who were not so encumbered by wealth as to be too big for the passage. Had he read on, he would have seen, that“ with God all things are possible.”
Another advanced with much confidence of success, for, having little worldly riches or honors, the gate did not seem so strait to him. He got to the threshold triumphantly, and seemed to look back with disdain on all that he was quitting. He soon found, however, that he was so bloated with pride, and stuffed out with self-sufficiency, that he could not get in. Nay, he was in a worse way than the rich man just named ; for he had been willing to throw away some of his outward luggage, whereas this man refused to part with a grain of that vanity and self-applause which made him too large for the way. The sense of his own worth so swelled him out, that he stuck fast in the gateway, and could neither get in nor out. Finding, now, that he must cut off all those big thoughts of himself, if he wished to be reduced to such a size as to pass the gate, he gave up all thoughts of it. He scorned that humility and self-denial which might have shrunk him
down to the proper dimensions; the more he insisted on his own qualifications for entrance, the more impossible it became to enter, for the bigger he grew. Finding that he must be come quite another manner of man, before he could hope to get in, he gave up the desire; and I now saw, that though, when he set his face towards the Happy Land, he could not get an inch forward, yet the instant he made a motion to turn back into the world, his speed became rapid enough, and he got back into the Broad Way much sooner than he got out of it.
Many, who for a time were brought down from their usual bulk by some affliction, seemed to get in with ease. They now thought all their difficulties over, for, having been surfeited with the world during their late disappointment, they turned their backs upon it willingly enough, and fancied they were tired of it. A fit of sickness, perhaps, which is very apt to reduce, had for a time brought their bodies into subjection, so that they were enabled just to get in at the gateway; but, as soon as health and spirits returned, the way grew narrower and narrower to them; they could not get on, but turned short, and got back into the world. I saw many attempt to enter who were stopped short by a large burden of worldly cares ; others by a load of idolatrous attachments ; but I ob served that nothing proved a more complete bar than that vast bundle of prejudices with which multitudes were loaded. Others were fatally obstructed by loads of bad habits, which they would not lay down, though they knew it prevented their entrance.
Some few, however, of most descriptions, who had kept their light alive by craving constant supplies from the King's treasury, got through at last by a strength which they felt not to be their own. One poor man, who carried the largest bundle of bad habits I had seen, could not get on a step; he never ceased, however, to implore for light enough to see where his misery lay; he threw down one of his bundles, then another, but all to little purpose; still he could not stir. At last, striving as if in agony (which is the true way of entering), he threw down the heaviest article in his pack; this was selfishness: the poor fellow felt relieved at once ; his light burnt brightly, and the rest of his pack was as nothing.
Then I heard a great noise as of carpenters at work. I looked what this might be, and saw many sturdy travellers, who, finding they were too bulky to get through, took it into their heads not to reduce themselves, but to widen the gate : they hacked on this side, and hewed on that; but all their hacking, and hewing, and hammering, was to no purpose :
they got only their labor for their pains. It would have been possible for them to have reduced themselves, had they attempted it; but to widen the Narrow Way was impossible.
What grieved me most was, to observe that many who had got on successfully a good way, now stopped to rest, and to admire their own progress. While they were thus valuing themselves on their attainments, their light diminished. While these were boasting how far they had left others behind, who had set out much earlier, some slower travellers, whose beginning had not been so promising, but who had walked meekly and circumspectly, now outstripped them. These last walked “not as though they had already attained; but this one thing they did, forgetting the things which were behind, they pushed forward toward the mark for the prize of their high calling." These, though naturally weak, “yet by laying aside every weight, finished the race that was before them." Those who had kept their “light burning," who were not “wise in their own conceit,” who “ laid their help on One that is mighty," who had “ chosen to suffer affliction rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” came at length to the Happy Land. They had indeed the Dark and shadowy Valley to cross, but even there they found a “ rod and a staff” to comfort them. Their light, instead of being put out by the damps of the Valley and of the Shadow of Death, often burnt with added brightness. Some indeed suffered the terrors of a short eclipse; but even then their light, like that of a dark lantern, was not put out; it was only turned for a while from him who carried it, and even these often finished their course with joy. But be that as it might, the instant they reached the Happy Land, all tears were wiped from their eyes, and the King himself came forth, and welcomed them into his presence, and put a crown upon their heads, with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”