Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 4

In the Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone a little way before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon. Then Christian began to be afraid, and to wonder whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he remembered that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn around might give Apollyon greater ease to pierce him with darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground.

THE FIGHT WITH APOLLYON

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, and feet like a bear, and out of him came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with scorn, and thus began to question with him:

APOLLYON:   Who are you and wither bound?

CHRISTIAN:   I was a citizen of the City of destruction, but am now bound for the City of Zion.

APOLLYON:   By this I perceive that thou art one of my subjects; for all that country is mine, and I am the prince of it. How is it then that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope that you may do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

CHRISTIAN:   I was indeed born in your kingdom; but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on; for the wages of sin is death; therefore, when I was come to years, I did as other thoughtful persons do, looked out, if perhaps I might better myself.

APOLLYON:   There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects, neither will I as yet lose you; but since you complain of my wages, be content to go back, and what our country will afford I do here promise to give thee.

CHRISTIAN:   But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how can I with fairness go back with thee?

APOLLYON:   You have in this “changed a bad for a worse,” but it is common for those that have called themselves His servants, after awhile to give Him the slip, and return again to me. Do so and all shall be well.

CHRISTIAN:   I have given Him my faith, and sworn my service to Him; how, then, can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor?

APOLLYON:   You did the same to me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now you will turn again and go back.

CHRISTIAN:   The Prince under whose banner I now stand is able to set me free, and to pardon also my service with thee. And besides, O thou destroying Apollyon, to speak the truth, I like His service, His wages, His servants, His government, His company, and country, better than yours; persuade me no further; I am His servant, and I will follow Him.

APOLLYON:   You know that for the most part His servants come to a bad end, because they are disobedient against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! He never came yet from the place where He is, to save any that served Him. 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 you.

CHRISTIAN:   His waiting, at present, to deliver them is on purpose to try their love, to see if they will be true to Him to the end. As for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for they wait for their glory, and they shall have it when their prince comes in His and the glory of the angels.

APOLLYON:   You have already been unfaithful to Him; and now do you think to receive wages of Him?

CHRISTIAN:   Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to Him?

APOLLYON:   You have already been unfaithful to Him and I see, by the mud on your clothes, you almost choked in the Gulf of Despond. You attempted wrong ways to be rid of your burden. You slept and lost your roll. You almost went back at the sight of the lions. And when you talk about your young days and what you saw and heard you like to have praise for it all, yourself.

CHRISTIAN:   All this is true, and much more which you have left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful and ready to forgive. Besides, these sins possessed me in your own country; I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, but now have obtained pardon from my Prince.

APOLLYON:   Then Apollyon broke out into a terrible rage, saying, “I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate His person, His laws, and people; I came out on purpose to kill you.”

CHRISTIAN:   Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King’s highway, the way of holiness: therefore behave yourself.

APOLLYON:   Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, “I have no fear in this matter. Prepare to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that you shall go no farther: here will I spill your blood.”

And, with that, he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian held a shield in his hand, with which he caught it and turned it aside.

Then Christian drew his sword, for he saw he must be quick to save himself; and Apollyon made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail, by which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in the head, his hand, and foot. This made Christian draw back a little; Apollyon, therefore, followed him up, but Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, till Christian almost gave out. For you must know that Christian, by reason of his wounds, grew weaker and weaker.

Then Apollyon, seeing his opportunity, began to close in on 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.” And, with that, he almost crushed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, before Apollyon could give Christian the death blow, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise”; 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 loves us.” And, with that, Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and flew away and Christian for a season saw him no more.

CHRISTIAN THANKS GOD FOR VICTORY

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 five 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 dreadfulest sight that ever I saw.

CHRISTIAN:   So, when the battle was over, Christian said, “I will here give thanks to him that hath delivered me out of the mouth of the lion; to him that did help me against Apollyon.” And so he did saying:

“Great Satan, the captain of this fiend,
Designed my ruin; therefore to this end
He sent him harnessed out: and he with rage
That hellish was, did fiercely me engage;
But blessed angels helped me; and I,
By dint of sword, did quickly make him fly:
Therefore to God let me give lasting praise,
And thank and bless His holy name always.”

HIS WOUNDS ARE HEALED

Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of life, which Christian took and laid upon the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given to him a little before; so, being refreshed, he went forth on 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 harm from Apollyon through this valley.

VALLEY OF SHADOW OF DEATH

At the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must 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 pits, a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, a land that no man” but a Christian “passeth through, and where no man dwelt.”

Here Christian was more severely tried than in his fight with Apollyon, as in the story you shall see.

I saw then in my dream, that when Christian came to the borders of the Shadow of death there met him two men hurrying to go back, to whom he said:

CHRISTIAN:   Where are you going?

MEN:   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?

MEN:  Matter! we were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we dared and, indeed, were almost past coming back; for had we gone a little farther, we would not have been here to bring the news.

CHRISTIAN:   But what have you met with?

MEN:   Why, we were almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but by good luck we looked before us, and saw the danger before we came to it.

CHRISTIAN:   But what have you seen?

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 hung the discouraging clouds of confusion; Death also spread his wings over it. In a word, it is in every way dreadful, being utterly without order.

CHRISTIAN:   But this must still be the way to the celestial City.

MEN:   It may be; but 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 he should be attacked.

I saw them in my dream, as 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 there miserably perished. Again, on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, or marsh, into which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on: into that quag King David once fell and would have been smothered, had not He that is able plucked him out.

The pathway was also exceedingly 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, he would be ready to fall into the ditch. Thus he went on, and I heard him sigh bitterly, for besides the danger mentioned above, the pathway was so dark that ofttimes, when he lifted up his foot to go forward, he knew not where or upon what he should set it next.

BESET BY FIENDS

About the middle of the valley, close by the path, I saw the mouth of hell. 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 take another weapon, called “All-prayer.” So he cried in my hearing, “O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul.” Thus he went on with the flames reaching toward 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.

At last he thought he heard a company of fiends coming to meet him; he stopped and began to wonder what to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be halfway through the valley. He remembered, also, how he had already overcome many a danger, and that the danger of going back might be much more than going forward. So he resolved to go on, yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer. When they were almost at him, he cried out, “I will walk in the strength of the Lord God.” So they gave back, and came no farther.

As Christian made his way on through the valley, he thought he heard the voice of a man 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 knew that some others who feared God were in this valley as well as himself.

Secondly, -Because he knew that God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state. “And why not,” thought he, “with me?”

Thirdly, -Because he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by-and-by. So he went on, and called to him that was before; but did not receive an answer. By-and-by the day broke. Then said Christian, “He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning.”

Now, morning being come, he looked back, not out of desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what dangers he had gone though I 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 which led betwixt them both. Also he saw the hobgoblins, and satyrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off; for, after daybreak, they do not come near.

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 was yet before him, was if possible far more dangerous. But, as I said just now, the run was rising. Then said he, “His candle shineth on my head, and by His light I go through darkness.”

POPE AND PAGAN

In this light, therefore, he came to the end of the valley. Now, I saw in my dream that at the end of the valley, lay blood, bones, ashes, and mangled bodies of men, even of pilgrims that had gone this way formerly; and, while I was wondering about the reason, I saw 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.

But Christian got by this place without danger, whereat I somewhat wondered; but I have learned 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 the many attacks on him, 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 to them.

So I saw that Christian went on his way; and this is the song he sang:

“O world of wonders (I can say no less),
That I should be preserved in that distress
That I have met with here! Oh, blessed be
That hand that from it hath delivered me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin,
Did compass me, while I this vale was in;
Yes, snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catched, entangled, and cast down;
But, since I live, let Jesus wear the crown.”

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 3:6

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.