2.2.4 The House Beautiful (cont.)
From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 2, Step 4.4.
Then she addressed herself to the eldest, whose name was Matthew; and she said to him, Come, Matthew, shall I also catechise you?
Matthew: With a very good will.
Prudence: I ask then, if there was ever any thing that had a being antecedent to or before God?
Matthew: No, for God is eternal; nor is there any thing, excepting himself, that had a being until the beginning of the first day. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.
Prudence: What do you think of the Bible?
Matthew: It is the holy word of God.
Prudence: Is there nothing written therein but what you understand?
Matthew: Yes, a great deal.
Prudence: What do you do when you meet with places therein that you do not understand?
Matthew: I think God is wiser than I. I pray also that he will please to let me know all therein that he knows will be for my good.
Prudence: How believe you as touching the resurrection of the dead?
Matthew: I believe they shall rise the same that was buried; the same in nature, though not in corruption. And I believe this upon a double account: first, because God has promised it; secondly, because he is able to perform it.
Then said Prudence to the boys, You must still hearken to your mother; for she can teach you more. You must also diligently give ear to what good talk you shall hear from others: for your sakes do they speak good things. Observe also, and that with carefulness, what the heavens and the earth do teach you; but especially be much in the meditation of that book which was the cause of your father's becoming a pilgrim. I, for my part, my children, will teach you what I can while you are here, and shall be glad if you will ask me questions that tend to godly edifying.
Now by that these pilgrim's had been at this place a week, Mercy had a visitor that pretended some good-will unto her, and his name was Mr Brisk; a man of some breeding, and that pretended to religion, but a man that stuck very close to the world. So he came once or twice, or more, to Mercy, and offered love unto her. Now Mercy was of a fair countenance, and therefore the more alluring.
Her mind also was to be always busying of herself in doing; for when she had nothing to do for herself, she would be making hose and garments for others, and would bestow them upon those that had need. And Mr Brisk not knowing where or how she disposed of what she made, seemed to be greatly taken, for that he found her never idle. I will warrant her a good housewife, quoth he to himself.
Mercy then revealed the business to the maidens that were of the house, and inquired of them concerning him, for they did know him better than she. So they told her that he was a very busy young man, and one who pretended to religion, but was, as they feared, a stranger to the power of that which is good.
Nay then, said Mercy, I will look no more on him; for I purpose never to have a clog to my soul. Prudence then replied, that there needed no matter of great discouragement to be given to him; her continuing so as she had begun to do for the poor, would quickly cool his courage.
So the next time he comes he finds her at her old work, making things for the poor. Then said he, What, always at it? Yes, said she, either for myself or for others. And what canst thou earn a day? said he. I do these things, said she, that I may be rich in good works, laying up in store for myself a good foundation against the time to come, that I may lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Why, prithee, what doest thou with them? said he. Clothe the naked, said she. With that his countenance fell. So he forbore to come at her again. And when he was asked the reason why, he said, that Mercy was a pretty lass, but troubled with ill conditions.