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- BUNYAN CHARACTERS 3RD SERIES - 3/39 -


power. 'Your bodies and your bodily members,' he argues, with crushing indignation, 'are not your own to do with them as you like. Your bodies and your souls are both Christ's. He has bought your body and your soul at an incalculable cost. What! know ye not that your body is nothing less than the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and ye are not any more your own? know ye not that your bodies are the very members of Christ?' And then he says a thing so terrible that I tremble to transcribe it. For a more terrible thing was never written. 'Shall I then,' filled with shame he demands, 'take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot?' O God, have mercy on me! I knew all the time that I was abusing and polluting myself, but I did not know, I did not think, I was never told that I was abusing and polluting Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Oh, too awful thought. And yet, stupid sinner that I am, I had often read that if any man defile the temple of God and the members of Christ, him shall God destroy. O God, destroy me not as I see now that I deserve. Spare me that I may cleanse and sanctify myself and the members of Christ in me, which I have so often embruted and defiled. Assist me to summon up my imagination henceforth to my sanctification as Thine apostle has here taught me the way. Let me henceforth look at my whole body in all its senses and in all its members, the most open and the most secret, as in reality no more my own. Let me henceforth look at myself with Paul's deep and holy eyes. Let me henceforth seat Christ, my Redeemer and my King, in the very throne of my heart, and then keep every gate of my body and every avenue of my mind as all not any more mine own but His. Let me open my eye, and my ear, and my mouth, as if in all that I were opening Christ's eye and Christ's ear and Christ's mouth; and let me thrust in nothing on Him as He dwells within me that will make Him ashamed or angry, or that will defile and pollute Him. That thought, O God, I feel that it will often arrest me in time to come in the very act of sin. It will make me start back before I make Christ cruel or false, a wine-bibber, a glutton, or unclean. I feel at this moment as if I shall yet come to ask Him at every meal, and at every other opportunity and temptation of every kind, what He would have and what He would do before I go on to take or to do anything myself. What a check, what a restraint, what an awful scrupulosity that will henceforth work in me! But, through that, what a pure, blameless, noble, holy and heavenly life I shall then lead! What bodily pains, diseases, premature decays; what mental remorses, what shames and scandals, what self-loathings and what self- disgusts, what cups bitterer to drink than blood, I shall then escape! Yes, O Paul, I shall henceforth hold with thee that my body is the temple of Christ, and that I am not my own, but that I am bought with a transporting price, and can, therefore, do nothing less than glorify God in my body and in my spirit which are God's. 'This place,' says the Pauline author of the Holy War--'This place the King intended but for Himself alone, and not for another with Him.'

But, my brethren, lay this well, and as never before, to heart-- this, namely, that when you thus begin to keep any gate for Christ, your King and Captain and Better-self,--Ear-gate, or Eye-gate, or Mouth-gate, or any other gate--you will have taken up a task that shall have no end with you in this life. Till you begin in dead earnest to watch your heart, and all the doors of your heart, as if you were watching Christ's heart for Him and all the doors of His heart, you will have no idea of the arduousness and the endurance, the sleeplessness and the self-denial, of the undertaking.

'Mansoul! Her wars seemed endless in her eyes; She's lost by one, becomes another's prize. Mansoul! Her mighty wars, they did portend Her weal or woe and that world without end. Wherefore she must be more concern'd than they Whose fears begin and end the self-same day.'

'We all thought one battle would decide it,' says Richard Baxter, writing about the Civil War. 'But we were all very much mistaken,' sardonically adds Carlyle. Yes; and you will be very much mistaken too if you enter on the war with sin in your soul, in your senses and in your members, with powder and shot for one engagement only. When you enlist here, lay well to heart that it is for life. There is no discharge in this war. There are no ornamental old pensioners here. It is a warfare for eternal life, and nothing will end it but the end of your evil days on earth.

CHAPTER III--EAR-GATE

'Take heed what ye hear.'--Our Lord in Mark. 'Take heed how you hear.'--Our Lord in Luke.

This famous town of Mansoul had five gates, in at which to come, out at which to go, and these were made likewise answerable to the walls--to wit, impregnable, and such as could never be opened nor forced but by the will and leave of those within. 'The names of the gates were these, Ear-gate, Eye-gate,' and so on. Dr. George Wilson, who was once Professor of Technology in our University, took this suggestive passage out of the Holy War and made it the text of his famous lecture in the Philosophical Institution, and then he printed the passage on the fly-leaf of his delightful book The Five Gateways of Knowledge. That is a book to read sometime, but this evening is to be spent with the master.

For, after all, no one can write at once so beautifully, so quaintly, so suggestively, and so evangelically as John Bunyan. 'The Lord Willbewill,' says John Bunyan, 'took special care that the gates should be secured with double guards, double bolts, and double locks and bars; and that Ear-gate especially might the better be looked to, for that was the gate in at which the King's forces sought most to enter. The Lord Willbewill therefore made old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow, captain of the ward at that gate, and put under his power sixty men, called Deafmen; men advantageous for that service, forasmuch as they mattered no words of the captain nor of the soldiers. And first the King's officers made their force more formidable against Ear- gate: for they knew that unless they could penetrate that no good could be done upon the town. This done, they put the rest of their men in their places; after which they gave out the word, which was, Ye must be born again! And so the battle began. Now, they in the town had planted upon the tower over Ear-gate two great guns, the one called High-mind and the other Heady. Unto these two guns they trusted much; they were cast in the castle by Diabolus's ironfounder, whose name was Mr. Puff-up, and mischievous pieces they were. They in the camp also did stoutly, for they saw that unless they could open Ear-gate it would be in vain to batter the wall.' And so on, through many allegorical, and, if sometimes somewhat laboured, yet always eloquent, pungent, and heart-exposing pages.

With these for our text let us now take a rapid glance at what some of the more Bunyan-like passages in the prophets and the psalms say about the ear; how it is kept and how it is lost; how it is used and how it is abused.

1. The Psalmist uses a very striking expression in the 94th Psalm when he is calling for justice, and is teaching God's providence over men. 'He that planted the ear,' the Psalmist exclaims, 'shall he not hear?' And, considering his church and his day, that is not a bad remark of Cardinal Bellarmine on that psalm,--'the Psalmist's word planted,' says that able churchman, 'implies design, in that the ear was not spontaneously evolved by an act of vital force, but was independently created by God for a certain object, just as a tree, not of indigenous growth, is of set purpose planted in some new place by the hand of man.' The same thing is said in Genesis, you remember, about the Garden of Eden,--the Lord planted it and put the man and the woman, whose ears he had just planted also, into the garden to dress it and keep it. How they dressed the garden and kept it, and how they held the gate of their ear against him who squatted down before it with his innuendoes and his lies, we all know to our as yet unrepaired, though not always irreparable, cost.

2. One would almost think that the scornful apostle had the Garden of Eden in his eye when he speaks so bitterly to Timothy of a class of people who are cursed with 'itching ears.' Eve's ears itched unappeasably for the devil's promised secret; and we have all inherited our first mother's miserable curiosity. How eager, how restless, how importunate, we all are to hear that new thing that does not at all concern us; or only concerns us to our loss and our shame. And the more forbidden that secret is to us, and the more full of inward evil to us--insane sinners that we are--the more determined we are to get at it. Let any forbidden secret be in the keeping of some one within earshot of us and we will give him no rest till he has shared the evil thing with us. Let any specially evil page be published in a newspaper, and we will take good care that that day's paper is not thrown into the waste-basket; we will hide it away, like a dog with a stolen bone, till we are able to dig it up and chew it dry in secret. The devil has no need to blockade or besiege the gate of our ear if he has any of his good things to offer us. The gate that can only be opened from within will open at once of itself if he or any of his newsmongers but squat down for a moment before it. Shame on us, and on all of us, for our itching ears.

3. Isaiah speaks of some men in his day whose ears were 'heavy' and whose hearts were fat, and the Psalmist speaks of some men in his day whose ears were 'stopped' up altogether. And there is not a better thing in Bunyan at his very best than that surly old churl called Prejudice, so ill-conditioned and so always on the edge of anger. By the devil's plan of battle old Prejudice was appointed to be warder of Ear-gate, and to enable him to keep that gate for his master he had sixty deaf men put under him, men most advantageous for that post, forasmuch as it mattered not to them what Emmanuel and His officers said. There could be no manner of doubt who composed that inimitable passage. There is all the truth and all the humour and all the satire in Old Prejudice that our author has accustomed us to in his best pieces. The common people always get the best literature along with the best religion in John Bunyan. 'They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, and which will not hearken to the voice of charmers charming never so wisely,' says the Psalmist, speaking about some bad men in his day. Now, I will not stand upon David's natural history here, but his moral and religious meaning is evident enough. David is not concerned about adders and their ears, he is wholly taken up with us and our adder-like animosity against the truth. Against what teacher, then; against what preacher; against what writer; against what doctrine, reproof, correction, has your churlish prejudice adder-like shut your ear? Against what truth, human or divine, have you hitherto stopped up your ear like the Psalmist's serpent? To ask that boldly, honestly, and in the sight of God, at yourself to-night, would end in making you the lifelong friend of some preacher, some teacher, some soul-saving truth you have up till to-


BUNYAN CHARACTERS 3RD SERIES - 3/39

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