The Valley of Humiliation
Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence, would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill. Then, said Christian, as it was difficult coming up, so, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down. Yes, said Prudence, so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way; therefore, said they, are we come out to accompany thee down the hill. So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.82 Then I saw in my dream that these good companions, when Christian was gone to the bottom of the hill, gave him a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a cluster of raisins; and then he went on his way.
But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armour for his back; and, therefore, thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage, with ease to pierce him with his darts.83 Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.
So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish (and they are his pride), he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion.84 When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.
APOL. Whence come you? and whither are you bound?
CHR. I am come from the City of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and am going to the City of Zion.
APOL. By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects, for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now, at one blow, to the ground.
CHR. I was born, indeed, in your dominions, but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23); therefore, when I was come to years, I did as other considerate persons do, look out, if, perhaps, I might mend myself.
APOL. There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects,85 neither will I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content to go back; what our country will afford, I do here promise to give thee.
CHR. But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how can I, with fairness, go back with thee?
APOL. Thou hast done in this according to the proverb, “Changed a bad for a worse”; but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves His servants, after a while to give Him the slip, and return again to me. Do thou so too, and all shall be well.
CHR. I have given Him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to Him; how, then, can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor?
APOL. Thou didst the same to me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn again and go back.
CHR. What I promised thee was in my nonage;86 and, besides, I count the Prince under whose banner now I stand is able to absolve me; yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee; and besides, O thou destroying Apollyon! to speak truth, I like His service, His wages, His servants, His government, His company, and country, better than thine; and, therefore, leave off to persuade me further; I am His servant, and I will follow Him.
APOL. Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that, for the most part, His servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! and, besides, thou countest His service better than mine, whereas He never came yet from the place where He is to deliver any that served Him out of their hands; but as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from Him and His, though taken by them; and so I will deliver thee.
CHR. His forbearing at present to deliver them is on purpose to try their love, whether they will cleave to Him to the end; and as for the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most glorious in their account; for, for present deliverance, they do not much expect it, for they stay for their glory, and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in His and the glory of the angels.
APOL. Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to Him; and how dost thou think to receive wages of Him?
CHR. Wherein, O Apollyon! have I been unfaithful to Him?
APOL. Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the Gulf of Despond; thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas against thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off; thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice thing; thou wast, also, almost persuaded to go back, at the sight of the lions; and when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou sayest or doest.87
CHR. All this is true, and much more which thou has left out; but the Prince, whom I serve and honour, is merciful, and ready to forgive; but, besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in; and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.88
COMBAT WITH APOLLYON
APOL. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate His person, His laws, and people; I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.
CHR. Apollyon, beware what you do; for I am in the king’s highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.
APOL. Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter: prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul.
And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast;89 but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.
Then did Christian draw; for he saw it was time to bestir him: and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot. This made Christian give a little back; Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent; for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.
Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that, Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now.90 And with that he had almost pressed him to death; so that Christian began to despair of life: but as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah. 7:8); and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season91 saw him no more92 (James 4:7).
In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight—he spake like a dragon; and, on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart. I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward; but it was the most dreadful sight that ever I saw.93
So when the battle was over, Christian said, “I will here give thanks to Him that delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to Him that did help me against Apollyon.” And so he did, saying—
Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,
Design’d my ruin; therefore to this end
He sent him harness’d out; and he with rage,
That hellish was, did fiercely me engage.
But blessed Michael helped me, and I,
By dint of sword, did quickly make him fly.
Therefore to him let me give lasting praise,
And thank and bless his holy name always.
Then there came to him a hand, with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which Christian took, and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately.94 He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before; so being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey, with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from Apollyon quite through this valley.
Now, at the end of this valley, was another, The Valley of the Shadow of Death. and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now this valley is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: “A wilderness, a land of deserts, and of pits, a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, a land that no man” (but a Christian) “passed through, and where no man dwelt” (Jer. 2:6).
Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon; as by the sequel you shall see.95
I saw then in my dream, that when Christian was got to the borders of the Shadow of Death, there met him two men, children of them that brought up an evil report of the good land (Num. 13), making haste to go back; to whom Christian spake as follows—
CHR. Whither are you going?
MEN. They said, Back! back! and we would have you to do so too, if either life or peace is prized by you.
CHR. Why? what’s the matter? said Christian.
MEN. Matter! said they; we were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we durst; and indeed we were almost past coming back; for had we gone a little further, we had not been here to bring the news to thee.
CHR. But what have you met with? said Christian.
CHR. But what have you seen? said Christian.
MEN. Seen! Why, the valley itself, which is as dark as pitch; we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit; we heard also in that Valley a continual howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons; and over that Valley hangs the discouraging clouds of confusion. Death also doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order (Job 3:5; 10:26).
MEN. Be it thy way; we will not choose it for ours. So they parted, and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword drawn in his hand; for fear lest he should be assaulted.
I saw then in my dream so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch: that ditch is it into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished97 (Psa. 69:14, 15). Again, behold, on the left hand, there was a very dangerous quag, into which, if even a good man falls, he can find no bottom for his foot to stand on. Into that quag king David once did fall, and had no doubt therein been smothered, had not HE that is able plucked him out.
The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought, in the dark, to shun the ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other; also when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch. Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly; for besides the dangers mentioned above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes, when he lift up his foot to set forward, he knew not where, or upon what he should set it next.
About the midst of this valley, I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the way-side. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises (things that cared not for Christian’s sword, as did Apollyon before), that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer (Eph. 4:18). So he cried in my hearing, “O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul!” (Psa. 116:4). Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him.98 Also be heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him for several miles together. And, coming to a place, where be thought he heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopped and began to muse what he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be half way through the valley; he remembered also how be had already vanquished many a danger, and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward; so he resolved to go on. Yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer; but when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement voice, “I will walk in the strength of the Lord God”; so they gave back, and came no further.
One thing I would not let slip; I took notice that now poor Christian was so confounded, that he did not know his own voice; and thus I perceived it. Just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up softly to him, and, whisperingly, suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than anything that he met with before; even to think that he should now blaspheme Him that he loved so much before; yet, if he could have helped it, he would not have done it; but he had not the discretion either to stop his ears, or to know from whence these blasphemies came.99
When Christian had traveled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me” (Psa. 23:4).100
Then he was glad, and that for these reasons:
First, Because he gathered from thence, that some who feared God, were in this valley as well as himself.
Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state; and why not, thought he, with me? though, by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it (Job. 9:11).
Thirdly, For that he hoped, could he overtake them, to have company by and by. So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer; for that he also thought himself to be alone. And by and by the day broke; then said Christian, He hath turned “the shadow of death into the morning” (Amos 5:8).101
Now morning being come, he looked back, not out of desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what hazards he had gone through in the dark. So he saw more perfectly the ditch that was on the one hand, and the quag that was on the other; also how narrow the way was which led betwixt them both; also now he saw the hobgoblins, and satyrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off (for after break of day, they came not nigh); yet they were discovered to him, according to that which is written, “He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death” (Job 12:22).
Now was Christian much affected with his deliverance from all the dangers of his solitary way; which dangers, though he feared them more before, yet he saw them more clearly now, because the light of the day made them conspicuous to him. And about this time the sun was rising, and this was another mercy to Christian; for you must note, that though the first part of the Valley of the Shadow of Death was dangerous, yet this second part which he was yet to go, was, if possible, far more dangerous:102 for from the place where he now stood, even to the end of the valley, the way was all along set so full of snares, traps, gins, and nets here, and so full of pits, pitfalls, deep holes, and shelvings down there, that had it now been dark, as it were when he came the first part of the way, had he had a thousand souls, they had in reason been cast away;103 but, as I said, just now the sun was rising. Then said he, “His candle shineth upon my head, and by His light I walk through darkness” (Job 29:3).
In this light, therefore, he came to the end of the valley. Now I saw in my dream, that at the end of this valley lay blood, bones, ashes, and mangled bodies of men, even of pilgrims that had gone this way formerly; and while I was musing what should be the reason, I espied a little before me a cave, where two giants, POPE and PAGAN, dwelt in old time; by whose power and tyranny the men whose bones, blood, ashes, etc., lay there, were cruelly put to death.104 But by this place Christian went without much danger, whereat I somewhat wondered; but I have learnt since, that PAGAN has been dead many a day; and as for the other, though he be yet alive, he is, by reason of age, and also of the many shrewd brushes that he met with in his younger days, grown so crazy and stiff in his joints, that he can now do little more than sit in his cave’s mouth, grinning at pilgrims as they go by, and biting his nails because he cannot come at them.105
So I saw that Christian went on his way; yet, at the sight of the Old Man that sat in the mouth of the cave, he could not tell what to think, especially because he spake to him, though he could not go after him; saying, “You will never mend, till more of you be burned.” But he held his peace, and set a good face on it, and so went by and catched no hurt.106 Then sang Christian,
O world of wonders! (I can say no less)
That I should be preserv’d in that distress
That I have met with here! O blessed be
That hand that from it hath deliver’d me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin,
Did compass me, while I this vale was in:
Yea, snares and pits, and traps, and nets, did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catch’d, entangled, and cast down;
But since I live, let JESUS wear the crown.
Now, as Christian went on his way, he came to a little ascent, which was cast up on purpose, that pilgrims might see before them. Up there, therefore, Christian went; and looking forward, he saw Faithful before him, upon his journey. Then said Christian aloud, “Ho! ho! Soho! stay, and I will be your companion.”107 At that, Faithful looked behind him; to whom Christian cried again, “Stay, stay, till I come up to you.” But Faithful answered, “No, I am upon my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me.”