Conviction of the Necessity of Flying
Then said Evangelist, If this be thy condition, why standest thou still? He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, “Fly from the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7).
The man therefore, read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, Do you see yonder wicket gate? (Matt. 7:13). The man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder shining light? (Psa. 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19). He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.7 So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now, he had not ran far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return (Luke 14:26); but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, Life! life! Eternal life ! So he looked not behind him (Gen. 19:17), but fled towards the middle of the plain.8
The neighbours also came out to see him run, and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force (Jer. 20:10). The name of the one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable.9 Now by this time, the man was got a good distance from them; but, however, they were resolved to pursue him; which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, Neighbours, wherefore are ye come? They said, To persuade you to go back with us. But he said, That can by no means be. You dwell, said he, in the City of Destruction, the place also where I was born; I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone. Be content, good neighbours, and go along with me.
What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us?10
Yes, said Christian, for that was his name, because that all “which you shall forsake” (2 Cor. 4:18), is not worthy to be compared with a little of that which I am seeking to enjoy; and if you will go along with me, and hold it, you shall fare as I myself, for there, where I go, is enough and to spare (Luke 15:17). Come away, and prove my words.
OBST. What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?
CHR. I seek an “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 1:4), and it is laid up in Heaven (Heb. 11:16), and safe there, to be bestowed, at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my book.
OBST. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your book; will you go back with us, or no?
CHR. No, not I, saith the other; because I have laid my hand to the plough (Luke 9:62).
OBST. Come, then, neighbour Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him; there is a company of these crazed-headed coxcombs, that when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason (Prov. 26:16).
PLI. Then said Pliable, Do not revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours; my heart inclines to go with my neighbour.
OBST. What! more fools still? Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be wise.
CHR. Nay, but do thou come with thy neighbour Pliable: there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories besides; if you believe not me, read here in this book, and for the truth of what is expressed therein, behold, all is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it (Heb. 13:20, 21; 9:17–21).
PLI. Well, neighbour Obstinate, saith Pliable, I begin to come to a point; I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him. But, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place?
CHR. I am directed by a man whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a little gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the way.
PLI. Come then, good neighbour, let us be going. Then they went both together.
OBST. And I will go back to my place, said Obstinate; I will be no companion of such misled fantastical fellows.