2.3.5 The story of Mr Fearing (cont.)
From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 3, Step 5.3.
Mr Honest: Then it seems he was well at last?
Great-heart: Yes, yes, I never had doubt about him. He was a man of a choice spirit, only he was always kept very low, and that made his life so burdensome to himself, and so troublesome to others (Ps. 88). He was, above many, tender of sin: he was so afraid of doing injuries to others, that he often would deny himself of that which was lawful, because he would not offend (Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:13).
Mr Honest: But what should be the reason that such a good man should be all his days so much in the dark?
Great-heart: There are two sorts of reasons for it. One is, the wise God will have it so: some must pipe, and some must weep (Matt. 11:16). Now Mr Fearing was one that played upon the bass. He and his fellows sound the sackbut, whose notes are more doleful than the notes of other music are: though indeed, some say, the bass is the ground of music. And for my part, I care not at all for that profession which begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in tune for himself. Only there was the imperfection of Mr Fearing; he could play upon no other music but this till towards his latter end.
I make bold to talk thus metaphorically for the ripening of the wits of young readers, and because, in the book of Revelation, the saved are compared to a company of musicians, that play upon their trumpets and harps, and sing their songs before the throne (Rev. 5:8; 14:2,3).
Mr Honest: He was a very zealous man, as one may see by the relation you have given of him. Difficulties, lions, or Vanity Fair, he feared not at all; it was only sin, death, and hell, that were to him a terror, because he had some doubts about his interest in that celestial country.
Great-heart: You say right; those were the things that were his troublers; and they, as you have well observed, arose from the weakness of his mind thereabout, not from weakness of spirit as to the practical part of a pilgrim's life. I dare believe that, as the proverb is, he could have bit a firebrand, had it stood in his way; but the things with which he was oppressed, no man ever yet could shake off with ease.
Christina: Then said Christiana, This relation of Mr Fearing has done me good; I thought nobody had been like me. But I see there was some semblance betwixt this good man and me: only we differed in two things. His troubles were so great that they broke out; but mine I kept within. His also lay so hard upon him, they made him that he could not knock at the houses provided for entertainment; but my trouble was always such as made me knock the louder.
Mercy: If I might also speak my heart, I must say that something of him has also dwelt in me. For I have ever been more afraid of the lake, and the loss of a place in paradise, than I have been of the loss other things. O, thought I, may I have the happiness to have a habitation there! 'Tis enough, though I part with all the world to win it.
Matthew: Then said Matthew, Fear was one thing that made me think that I was far from having that within me which accompanies salvation. But if it was so with such a good man as he, why may it not also go well with me?
James: No fears no grace, said James. Though there is not always grace where there is the fear of hell, yet, to be sure, there is no grace where there is no fear of God.
Great-heart: Well said, James; thou hast hit the mark. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; and to be sure, they that want the beginning have neither middle nor end. But we will here conclude our discourse of Mr Fearing, after we have sent after him this farewell.
"Well, Master Fearing, thou didst fear
Thy God, and wast afraid
Of doing any thing, while here,
That would have thee betrayed.
And didst thou fear the lake and pit?
Would others do so too!
For, as for them that want thy wit,
They do themselves undo."