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in fewer hours than their ancestors had spent years in getting them together. O, what a strange, unaccountable medley it was! and what was ridiculous enough, I observed that the greatest quantity of the clay was always exchanged for things that were of no use, that I could discover, owing, I suppose, to my ignorance of the manners of that country.
In one place I saw large heaps exhausted, in order to set two idle, pampered horses a running; but the worst part of the joke was, the horses did not run to fetch or carry any thing, of course were of no kind of use, but merely to let the gazers see which could run fastest. Now, this gift of swiftness, exercised to no one useful purpose, was only one out of many instances, I observed, of talents employed to no end. In another place I saw whole piles of the clay spent to maintain long ranges of buildings full of dogs, on provisions which would have nicely fattened some thousands of pilgrims who sadly wanted fattening, and whose ragged tenements were out at elbows, for want of a little help to repair them. Some of the piles were regularly pulled down once in seven years, in order to corrupt certain needy pilgrims to belie their consciences, by doing that for a bribe which they were bound to do from principle. Others were spent in playing with white stiff bits of paper, painted over with red and black spots, in which I thought there must be some conjuring, because the very touch of these painted pasteboards made the heaps fly from one to another, and back again to the same, in a way that natural causes could not account for. · There was another proof that there must be some magic in this business, which was, that if a pasteboard with red spots fell into a hand which wanted a black one, the person changed color, his eyes flashed fire, and he discovered other symptoms of madness, which showed there was some witchcraft in the case. These clean little pasteboards, as harmless as they looked, had the wonderful power of pulling down the highest piles in less time than all the other causes put together. I observed that many small piles were given in exchange for an enchanted liquor, which when the purchaser had drunk to a little excess, he lost all power of managing the rest of his heap without losing the love of it; and thus the excess of indulgence, by making him a beggar, deprived him of that very gratification on which his heart was set.
Now, I find it was the opinion of sober pilgrims, that either hoarding the clay, or trucking it for any such purposes as the above, was thought exactly the same offence in the eyes of the Lord; and it was expected that when they should come under his more immediate jurisdiction in the « far country,"
the penalty annexed to hoarding and squandering would be nearly the same. While I examined the countenances of the owners of the heaps, I observed that those who I well knew never intended to make any use at all of their heap, were far more terrified at the thought of losing it, or of being torn from it, than those who were employing it in the most useful manner. Those who best knew what to do with it, set their hearts least upon it; and were always most willing to leave it. But such riddles were common in this odd country. It was indeed a very land of paradoxes.
Now I wondered why these pilgrims, who were naturally made erect, with an eye formed to look up to “ the things above," yet had their eyes almost constantly bent in the other direction, riveted to the earth, and fastened “on things below," just like those animals who walk on all four. I was told they had not always been subject to this weakness of sight, and proneness to earth; that they had originally been upright and beautiful, having been created after the image of the Lord, who was himself the perfection of beauty ; that he had, at first, placed them in a far superior situation, which he had given them in perpetuity, but that their first ancestors fell from it through pride and carelessness; that upon this the freehold was taken away, they lost their original strength, brightness, and beauty, and were driven out into this strange country; where, however, they had every opportunity given them of recovering their original health, and the Lord's favor and likeness; for they were become so disfigured, and were grown so unlike him, that you would hardly believe they were his own children, though, in some, the resemblance was become again visible.
The Lord, however, was so merciful, that, instead of give ing them up to the dreadful consequences of their own folly, as he might have done without any impeachment of his justice, he gave them immediate, comfort, and promised them that, in due time, his own Son should come down and restore them to the future inheritance, which he should purchase for them. And now it was, that, in order to keep up their spirits, after they had lost their estate through the folly of their ancestors, that he began to give them a part of their former title-deed. He continued to send them portions of it from time to time by different faithful servants; whom, however, these ungrateful people generally used ill, and some of whom they murdered. But for all this, the Lord was so very for giving, that he at length sent these mutineers a proclamation of full and free pardon by his Son. This Son, though they used him in a more cruel manner than they had done any of
his servants, yet, after having “finished the work his Father gave him to do," went back into the far country, to prepare a place for all them who believe in him; and there he still lives, begging and pleading for those unkind people, whom he still loves and forgives, and will restore to the purchased inheritance on the easy terms of their being heartily sorry for what they have done, thoroughly desirous of pardon, and convinced that “he is able and willing to save to the utmost all them that come unto him.”
I saw, indeed, that many old offenders appeared to be sorry for what they had done; that is, they did not like to be punished for it. They were willing enough to be delivered from the penalty of their guilt, but they did not heartily wish to be delivered from the power of it. Many declared, in the most public manner, once every week, that they were very sorry they had done amiss; “ that they had erred and strayed like lost sheep;” but it was not enough to declare their sortow ever so often, if they gave no other sign of their penitence. For there was so little truth in them, that the Lord required other proofs of their sincerity beside their own word, for they often lied with their lips and dissembled with their tongue. But those who professed to be penitents must give some outward proof of it. They were neither allowed to raise heaps of clay, by circumventing their neighbors, or to keep great piles lying by them useless; nor must they barter them for any of those idle vanities which reduced the heaps on a sudden; for I found that among the grand articles of future reckoning, the use they had made of the heaps would be a principal one.
I was sorry to observe many of the fairer part of these pilgrims spend too much of their heaps in adorning and beautifying their tenements of clay ; in painting, whitewashing, and enamelling them. All these tricks, however, did not preserve them from decay; and when they grew old, they even looked worse for all this cost and varnish. Some, however, acted a more sensible part, and spent no more upon their mouldering tenements than just to keep them whole and clean, and in good repair, which is what every tenant ought to do; and I observed that those who were most moderate in the care of their own tenements, were most attentive to repair and warm the ragged tenements of others. But none did this with much zeal or acceptance, but those who had acquired a habit of overlooking the things below, and who also, by the constant use of the telescope, had got their natural weak and dim sight so strengthened, as to be able to discern pretty distinctly the nature of the things above. The habit of fixing their eyes on these glories, made all the shining trifles, which compose the mass of things below, at last appear in their own diminutive littleness. For it was in this case particularly true, that things are only big or little by comparison; and there was no other way of making the things belowo appear as small as they really were, but by comparing them, by means of the telescope, with the things above. But I oba served that the false judgment of the pilgrims ever kept pace with their wrong practices; for those who kept their eyes fastened on the things below, were reckoned wise in their generation, while the few who looked forward to the future glories, were accounted by the bustlers, or heapers, to be either fools or mad.
Most of these pilgrims went on in adorning their tenements, adding to their heaps, grasping the things below as if they would never let them go, shutting their eyes, instead of using their telescope, and neglecting their title-deed, as if it was the parchment of another man's estate, and not of their own; till, one after another, each felt his tenement tumbling about his ears. O! then, what a busy, bustling, anxious, terrifying, distracting moment was that! What a deal of business was to be done, and what a strange time was this to do it in! Now, to see the confusion and dismay occasioned by having left every thing to the last minute! First, some one was sent for to make over the yellow heaps to another, which the heaper now found would be of no use to himself in shooting the gulf; a transfer which ought to have been made while the tenement was sound. Then there was a consultation between two or three masons at once perhaps, to try to patch up the walls, and strengthen the props, and stop the decays of the tumbling tenement; but not till the masons were forced to declare it was past repairing (a truth they were rather too apt to keep back), did the tenant seriously think it was time to pack up, prepare, and be gone. Then what sending for the wise men who professed to explain the title-deed! And, O! what remorse that they had neglected to examine it till their senses were too confused for so weighty a business! What reproaches, or what exhortations to others, to look better after their own affairs than they had done! Even to the wisest of the inhabitants, the falling of their tenements was a solemn thing; solemn, but not surprising; they had long been packing up, and preparing; they praised the Lord's goodness, that they had been suffered to stay so long; many acknowledged the mercy of their frequent warnings, and confessed that those very dilapidations which had made the house uncomfortable, had been a blessing, as it had set
them on diligent preparation for their future inheritance; had made them more earnest in examining their title to it, and had set them on such a frequent application to the telescope, that the things above had seemed every day to approach, nearer and nearer, and the things below to recede and vanish in proportion. These desired not to be “unclothed, but to be clothed upon, for they knew that if their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."