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- BUNYAN CHARACTERS 3RD SERIES - 2/39 -


must be ready and willing to have the whole of this terrible and exacting book fulfilled and experienced in himself, in his own body and in his own soul.

2. And, then, you will not all like the Holy War. The mass of men could not be expected to like any such book. How could the vain and blind citizen of a vain and blind city like to be wakened up, as Paris was wakened up within our own remembrance, to find all her gates in the hands of an iron-hearted enemy? And how could her sons like to be reminded, as they sit in their wine gardens, that they are thereby fast preparing their city for that threatened day when she is to be hung up on her own walls and bled to the white? Who would not hate and revile the book or the preacher who prophesied such rough things as that? Who could love the author or the preacher who told him to his face that his eyes and his ears and all the passes to his heart were already in the hands of a cruel, ruthless, and masterful enemy? No wonder that you never read the Holy War. No wonder that the bulk of men have never once opened it. The Downfall is not a favourite book in the night- gardens of Paris.

3. And then, few, very few, it is to be feared, will be any better of the Holy War. For, to be any better of such a terrible book as this is, we must at all costs lay it, and lay it all, and lay it all at once, to heart. We must submit ourselves to see ourselves continually in its blazing glass. We must stoop to be told that it is all, in all its terrors and in all its horrors, literally true of ourselves. We must deliberately and resolutely set open every gate that opens in on our heart--Ear-gate and Eye-gate and all the gates of sense and intellect, day and night, to Jesus Christ to enter in; and we must shut and bolt and bar every such gate in the devil's very face, and in the face of all his scouts and orators, day and night also. But who that thinks, and that knows by experience what all that means, will feel himself sufficient for all that? No man: no sinful man. But, among many other noble and blessed things, the Holy War will show us that our sufficiency in this impossibility also is all of God. Who, then, will enlist? Who will risk all and enlist? Who will matriculate in the military school of Mansoul? Who will submit himself to all the severity of its divine discipline? Who will be made willing to throw open and to keep open his whole soul, with all the gates and doors thereof, to all the sieges, assaults, capitulations, submissions, occupations, and such like of the war of gospel holiness? And who will enlist under that banner now?

'Set down my name, sir,' said a man of a very stout countenance to him who had the inkhorn at the outer gate. At which those who walked upon the top of the palace broke out in a very pleasant voice,

'Come in, come in; Eternal glory thou shalt win.'

We have no longer, after what we have come through, any such stoutness in our countenance, yet will we say to-night with him who had it, Set down my name also, sir!

CHAPTER II--THE CITY OF MANSOUL AND ITS CINQUE PORTS

'--a besieged city.'--Isaiah.

Our greatest historians have been wont to leave their books behind them and to make long journeys in order to see with their own eyes the ruined sites of ancient cities and the famous fields where the great battles of the world were lost and won. We all remember how Macaulay made a long winter journey to see the Pass of Killiecrankie before he sat down to write upon it; and Carlyle's magnificent battle-pieces are not all imagination; even that wonderful writer had to see Frederick's battlefields with his own eyes before he could trust himself to describe them. And he tells us himself how Cromwell's splendid generalship all came up before him as he looked down on the town of Dunbar and out upon the ever- memorable country round about it. John Bunyan was not a great historian; he was only a common soldier in the great Civil War of the seventeenth century; but what would we not give for a description from his vivid pen of the famous fields and the great sieges in which he took part? What a find John Bunyan's 'Journals' and 'Letters Home from the Seat of War' would be to our historians and to their readers! But, alas! such journals and letters do not exist. Bunyan's complete silence in all his books about the battles and the sieges he took his part in is very remarkable, and his silence is full of significance. The Puritan soldier keeps all his military experiences to work them all up into his Holy War, the one and only war that ever kindled all his passions and filled his every waking thought. But since John Bunyan was a man of genius, equal in his own way to Cromwell and Milton themselves, if I were a soldier I would keep ever before me the great book in which Bunyan's experiences and observations and reflections as a soldier are all worked up. I would set that classical book on the same shelf with Caesar's Commentaries and Napier's Peninsula, and Carlyle's glorious battle-pieces. Even Caesar has been accused of too great dryness and coldness in his Commentaries, but there is neither dryness nor coldness in John Bunyan's Holy War. To read Bunyan kindles our cold civilian blood like the waving of a banner and like the sound of a trumpet.

The situation of the city of Mansoul occupies one of the most beautiful pages of this whole book. The opening of the Holy War, simply as a piece of English, is worthy to stand beside the best page of the Pilgrim's Progress itself, and what more can I say than that? Now, the situation of a city is a matter of the very first importance. Indeed, the insight and the foresight of the great statesmen and the great soldiers of past ages are seen in nothing more than in the sites they chose for their citadels and for their defenced cities. Well, then, as to the situation of Mansoul, 'it lieth,' says our military author, 'just between the two worlds.' That is to say: very much as Germany in our day lies between France and Russia, and very much as Palestine in her day lay between Egypt and Assyria, so does Mansoul lie between two immense empires also. And, surely, I do not need to explain to any man here who has a man's soul in his bosom that the two armed empires that besiege his soul are Heaven above and Hell beneath, and that both Heaven and Hell would give their best blood and their best treasure to subdue and to possess his soul. We do not value our souls at all as Heaven and Hell value them. There are savage tribes in Africa and in Asia who inhabit territories that are sleeplessly envied by the expanding and extending nations of Europe. Ancient and mighty empires in Europe raise armies, and build navies, and levy taxes, and spill the blood of their bravest sons like water in order to possess the harbours, and the rivers, and the mountains, and the woods amid which their besotted owners roam in utter ignorance of all the plots and preparations of the Western world. And Heaven and Hell are not unlike those ancient and over-peopled nations of Europe whose teeming millions must have an outlet to other lands. Their life and their activity are too large and too rich for their original territories, and thus they are compelled to seek out colonies and dependencies, so that their surplus population may have a home. And, in like manner, Heaven is too full of love and of blessedness to have all that for ever shut up within itself, and Hell is too full of envy and ill-will, and thus there continually come about those contentions and collisions of which the Holy War is full. And, besides, it is with Mansoul and her neighbour states of Heaven and Hell just as it is with some of our great European empires in this also. There is no neutral zone, no buffer state, no silver streak between Mansoul and her immediate and military neighbours. And thus it is that her statesmen, and her soldiers, and even her very common-soldier sentries must be for ever on the watch; they must never say peace, peace; they must never leave for one moment their appointed post.

And then, as for the wall of the city, hear our excellent historian's own words about that. 'The wall of the town was well built,' so he says. 'Yea, so fast and firm was it knit and compact together that, had it not been for the townsmen themselves, it could not have been shaken or broken down for ever. For here lay the excellent wisdom of Him that builded Mansoul, that the walls could never be broken down nor hurt by the most mighty adverse potentate unless the townsmen gave their consent thereto.' Now, what would the military engineers of Chatham and Paris and Berlin, who are now at their wits' end, not give for a secret like that! A wall impregnable and insurmountable and not to be sapped or mined from the outside: a wall that could only suffer hurt from the inside! And then that wonderful wall was pierced from within with five magnificently answerable gates. That is to say, the gates could neither be burst in nor any way forced from without. 'This famous town of Mansoul had five gates, in at which to come, out of which to go; and these were made likewise answerable to the walls; to wit, impregnable, and such as could never be opened or forced but by the will and leave of those within. The names of the gates were these: Ear-gate, Eye-gate, Mouth-gate; in short, 'the five senses,' as we say.

In the south of England, in the time of Edward the Confessor and after the battle of Hastings, there were five cities which had special immunities and peculiar privileges bestowed upon them, in recognition of the special dangers to which they were exposed and the eminent services they performed as facing the hostile shores of France. Owing to their privileges and their position, the 'Cinque Ports' came to be cities of great strength, till, as time went on, they became a positive weakness rather than a strength to the land that lay behind them. Privilege bred pride, and in their pride the Cinque Ports proclaimed wars and formed alliances on their own account: piracies by sea and robberies by land were hatched within their walls; and it took centuries to reduce those pampered and arrogant ports to the safe and peaceful rank of ordinary English cities. The Revolution of 1688 did something, and the Reform Bill of 1832 did more to make Dover and her insolent sisters like the other free and equal cities of England; but to this day there are remnants of public shows and pageantries left in those old towns sufficient to witness to the former privileges, power, and pride of the famous Cinque Ports. Now, Mansoul, in like manner, has her cinque ports. And the whole of the Holy War is one long and detailed history of how the five senses are clothed with such power as they possess; how they abuse and misuse their power; what disloyalty and despite they show to their sovereign; what conspiracies and depredations they enter into; what untold miseries they let in upon themselves and upon the land that lies behind them; what years and years of siege, legislation, and rule it takes to reduce our bodily senses, those proud and licentious gates, to their true and proper allegiance, and to make their possessors a people loyal and contented, law-abiding and happy.

The Apostle has a terrible passage to the Corinthians, in which he treats of the soul and the senses with tremendous and overwhelming


BUNYAN CHARACTERS 3RD SERIES - 2/39

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