The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Now, at the end of this valley was another, called 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.
|||Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon, as by the sequel you shall see.|
|The children of the spies go back
|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, making haste
to go back; to whom Christian spake as follows:--
CHRISTIAN: 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.
CHRISTIAN: 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.
CHRISTIAN: But what have you met with? said Christian.
|Psalm 44:19; 107:10||MEN: Why, we were almost in the Valley of the
Shadow of Death; but that, by good hap, we looked before us, and saw the
danger before we came to it.
CHRISTIAN: But what have you seen? said Christian.
|Job 3:5; 10:22
|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.
CHRISTIAN: Then, said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have said, but that *this is my way to the desired haven.
|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 perished.
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, and ofttimes, when he lift up his foot to set forward, he knew not where or upon what he should set it next.
Poor man! where art thou now? thy day is night.
|Christian put to a stand, but
for a while
So he cried in my hearing, O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul!
|||Thus he went on a great while, yet still the
flames would be reaching towards him. Also he 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 he 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 he 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.
|Christian made believe that he
spake blasphemies, when it was Satan that suggested them into his mind
|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 stepped
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
When Christian had travelled 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.
|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.
|Christian glad at break of day
|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 to be alone. And by and by the day broke; then said Christian, He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning.|
|Job 12:22||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.|
|The second part of this valley
|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;
for from the place where he now stood, even to the end of the valley, the
way was all along set
|Job 29:3||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 was when he came the first part of the way, had he had a thousand souls, they had in reason been cast away; 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.|
|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, and
ashes, &c., lay there, were cruelly put to death. 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.
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. Then sang Christian:
O world of wonders! (I can say no less),