2.3.7 Gaius's inn (cont.)
From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 3, Step 7.2.
Then they brought them up a dish of apples, and they were very good-tasted fruit. Then said Matthew, May we eat apples, since it was such by and with which the serpent beguiled our first mother?
Then said Gaius,
"Apples were they with which we were beguil'd,
Yet sin, not apples, hath our souls defil'd:
Apples forbid, if ate, corrupt the blood;
To eat such, when commanded, does us good:
Drink of his flagons then, thou church, his dove,
And eat his apples, who art sick of love."
Then said Matthew, I made the scruple, because I a while since was sick with the eating of fruit.
Gaius: Forbidden fruit will make you sick; but not what our Lord has tolerated.
While they were thus talking, they were presented with another dish, and it was a dish of nuts. (Song. 6:11). Then said some at the table, Nuts spoil tender teeth, especially the teeth of children: which when Gaius heard, he said,
"Hard texts are nuts, (I will not call them cheaters,)
Whose shells do keep the kernel from the eaters:
Open the shells, and you shall have the meat;
They here are brought for you to crack and eat."
Then were they very merry, and sat at the table a long time, talking of many things. Then said the old gentleman, My good landlord, while we are cracking your nuts, if you please, do you open this riddle:
"A man there was, though some did count him mad,
The more he cast away, the more he had."
Then they all gave good heed, wondering what good Gaius would say; so he sat still a while, and then thus replied:
"He who bestows his goods upon the poor,
Shall have as much again, and ten times more."
Then said Joseph, I dare say, sir, I did not think you could have found it out.
Oh, said Gaius, I have been trained up in this way a great while: nothing teaches like experience. I have learned of my Lord to be kind, and have found by experience that I have gained thereby. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty: There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. (Prov. 11:24; 13:7).
Then Samuel whispered to Christiana, his mother, and said, Mother, this is a very good man's house: let us stay here a good while, and let my brother Matthew be married here to Mercy, before we go any further.
The which Gaius the host overhearing, said, With a very good will, my child.
So they stayed there more than a month, and Mercy was given to Matthew to wife.
While they stayed here, Mercy, as her custom was, would be making coats and garments to give to the poor, by which she brought a very good report upon the pilgrims.
But to return again to our story: After supper the lads desired a bed, for they were weary with travelling: Then Gaius called to show them their chamber; but said Mercy, I will have them to bed. So she had them to bed, and they slept well: but the rest sat up all night; for Gaius and they were such suitable company, that they could not tell how to part. After much talk of their Lord, themselves, and their journey, old Mr Honest, he that put forth the riddle to Gaius, began to nod. Then said Great-Heart, What, sir, you begin to be drowsy; come, rub up, now here is a riddle for you. Then said Mr Honest, Let us hear it. Then replied Mr Great-heart,
"He that would kill, must first be overcome:
Who live abroad would, first must die at home."
Ha, said Mr Honest, it is a hard one; hard to expound, and harder to practise. But come, landlord, said he, I will, if you please, leave my part to you: do you expound it, and I will hear what you say.
No, said Gaius, it was put to you, and it is expected you should answer it. Then said the old gentleman,
"He first by grace must conquered be,
That sin would mortify;
Who that he lives would convince me,
Unto himself must die."
It is right, said Gaius; good doctrine and experience teach this. For, first, until grace displays itself, and overcomes the soul with its glory, it is altogether without heart to oppose sin. Besides, if sin is Satan's cords, by which the soul lies bound, how should it make resistance before it is loosed from that infirmity? Secondly, Nor will any one that knows either reason or grace, believe that such a man can be a living monument of grace that is a slave to his own corruptions. And now it comes into my mind, I will tell you a story worth the hearing. There were two men that went on pilgrimage; the one began when he was young, the other when he was old. The young man had strong corruptions to grapple with; the old man's were weak with the decays of nature. The young man trod his steps as even as did the old one, and was every way as light as he. Who now, or which of them, had their graces shining clearest, since both seemed to be alike?
Mr Honest: The young man's, doubtless. For that which makes head against the greatest opposition, gives best demonstration that it is strongest; especially when it also holdeth pace with that which meets not with half so much, as to be sure old age does not. Besides, I have observed that old men have blessed themselves with this mistake; namely, taking the decays of nature for a gracious conquest over corruptions, and so have been apt to beguile themselves. Indeed, old men that are gracious are best able to give advice to them that are young, because they have seen most of the emptiness of things: but yet, for an old and a young man to set out both together, the young one has the advantage of the fairest discovery of a work of grace within him, though the old man's corruptions are naturally the weakest. Thus they sat talking till break of day.
Now, when the family were up, Christiana bid her son James that he should read a chapter; so he read 53d of Isaiah. When he had done, Mr Honest asked why it was said that the Saviour was to come "out of a dry ground;" and also, that "he had no form nor comeliness in him."
Great-heart: Then said Mr Great-Heart, To the first I answer, because the church of the Jews, of which Christ came, had then lost almost all the sap and spirit of religion. To the second I say, the words are spoken in the person of unbelievers, who, because they want the eye that can see into our Prince's heart, therefore they judge of him by the meanness of his outside; just like those who, not knowing that precious stones are covered over with a homely crust, when they have found one, because they know not what they have found, cast it away again, as men do a common stone.