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2.3.4 Old Honest

From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 3, Step 4.

Now a little before them stood an oak; and under it, when they came to it, they found an old pilgrim fast asleep. They knew that he was a pilgrim by his clothes, and his staff, and his girdle.

So the guide, Mr Great-Heart, awaked him; and the old gentleman, as he lifted up his eyes, cried out, What's the matter? Who are you; and what is your business here?

Great-heart: Come, man, be not so hot; here are none but friends. Yet the old man gets up, and stands upon his guard, and will know of them what they are. Then said the guide, My name is Great-Heart: I am the guide of these pilgrims that are going to the Celestial country.

Then said Mr Honest, I cry you mercy: I feared that you had been of the company of those that some time ago did rob Little-Faith of his money; but, now I look better about me, I perceive you are honester people.

Great-heart: Why, what would or could you have done to have helped yourself, if indeed we had been of that company?

Mr Honest: Done! Why, I would have fought as long as breath had been in me: and had I so done, I am sure you could never have given me the worst on't; for a Christian can never be overcome, unless he shall yield of himself.

Great-heart: Well said, father Honest, quoth the guide; for by this I know thou art a cock of the right kind, for thou hast said the truth.

Mr Honest: And by this also I know that thou knowest what true pilgrimage is; for all others do think that we are the soonest overcome of any.

Great-heart: Well, now we are so happily met, pray let me crave your name, and the name of the place you came from.

Mr Honest: My name I cannot tell you, but I came from the town of Stupidity: it lieth about four degrees beyond the city of Destruction.

Great-heart: Oh, Are you that countryman? Then I deem I have half a guess of you: your name is Old Honesty, is it not?

Mr Honest: So the old gentleman blushed, and said, Not honesty in the abstract, but Honest is my name; and I wish that my nature may agree to what I am called. But, sir, said the old gentleman, how could you guess that I am such a man, since I came from such a place?

Great-heart: I had heard of you before, by my Master; for he knows all things that are done on the earth. But I have often wondered that any should come from your place; for your town is worse than is the city of Destruction itself.

Mr Honest: Yes, we lie more off from the sun, and so are more cold and senseless. But were a man in a mountain of ice, yet if the Sun of righteousness will arise upon him, his frozen heart shall feel a thaw; and thus it has been with me.

Great-heart: I believe it, father Honest, I believe it; for I know the thing is true.

Then the old gentleman saluted all the pilgrims with a holy kiss of charity, and asked them their names, and how they had fared since they set out on their pilgrimage.

Then said Christiana, My name I suppose you have heard of; good Christian was my husband, and these four are his children. But can you think how the old gentleman was taken, when she told him who she was? He skipped, he smiled, he blessed them with a thousand good wishes, saying,

Mr Honest: I have heard much of your husband, and of his travels and wars which he underwent in his days. Be it spoken to your comfort, the name of your husband rings all over these parts of the world: his faith, his courage, his enduring, and his sincerity under all, had made his name famous. Then he turned him to the boys, and asked them of their names, which they told him. Then said he unto them, Matthew, be thou like Matthew the publican, not in vice, but in virtue (Matt. 10:3). Samuel, said he, be thou like Samuel the prophet, a man of faith and prayer. (Ps. 99:6). Joseph, said he, be thou like Joseph in Potiphar's house, chaste, and one that flees from temptation (Gen. 39. And James, be thou like James the just, and like James the brother of our Lord (Acts. 1:13). Then they told him of Mercy, and how she had left her town and her kindred to come along with Christiana and with her sons. At that the old honest man said, Mercy is thy name: by mercy shalt thou be sustained and carried through all those difficulties that shall assault thee in thy way, till thou shalt come thither where thou shalt look the Fountain of mercy in the face with comfort. All this while the guide, Mr Great-Heart, was very well pleased, and smiled upon his companions.

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