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2.4.4 Mr Valiant-for-truth

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

Then they went on; and just at the place where Little-Faith formerly was robbed, there stood a man with his sword drawn, and his face all over with blood. Then said Mr Great-Heart, Who art thou? The man made answer, saying, I am one whose name is Valiant-for-truth. I am a pilgrim, and am going to the Celestial City. Now, as I was in my way, there were three men that did beset me, and propounded unto me these three things:

  1. Whether I would become one of them.
  2. Or go back from whence I came.
  3. Or die upon the place (Prov. 1:11-14).

To the first I answered, I had been a true man for a long season, and therefore it could not be expected that I should now cast in my lot with thieves. Then they demanded what I would say to the second. So I told them that the place from whence I came, had I not found incommodity there, I had not forsaken it at all; but finding it altogether unsuitable to me, and very unprofitable for me, I forsook it for this way. Then they asked me what I said to the third. And I told them my life cost far more dear than that I should lightly give it away. Besides, you have nothing to do thus to put things to my choice; wherefore at your peril be it if you meddle. Then these three, to wit, Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic, drew upon me, and I also drew upon them. So we fell to it, one against three, for the space of above three hours. They have left upon me, as you see, some of the marks of their valor, and have also carried away with them some of mine. They are but just now gone; I suppose they might, as the saying is, hear your horse dash, and so they betook themselves to flight.

Great-heart: But here was great odds, three against one.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: 'Tis true; but little and more are nothing to him that has the truth on his side: "Though an host should encamp against me," said one, (Ps. 27:3), "my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident," etc. Besides, said he, I have read in some records, that one man has fought an army: and how many did Samson slay with the jawbone of an ass!

Great-heart: Then said the guide, Why did you not cry out, that some might have come in for your succor?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: So I did to my King, who I knew could hear me, and afford invisible help, and that was sufficient for me.

Great-heart: Then said Great-Heart to Mr Valiant-for-truth, Thou hast worthily behaved thyself; let me see thy sword. So he showed it him.

When he had taken it in his hand, and looked thereon awhile, he said, Ha, it is a right Jerusalem blade.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: It is so. Let a man have one of these blades, with a hand to wield it, and skill to use it, and he may venture upon an angel with it. He need not fear its holding, if he can but tell how to lay on. Its edge will never blunt. It will cut flesh and bones, and soul, and spirit, and all. (Heb. 4:12).

Great-heart: But you fought a great while; I wonder you was not weary.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand; and then they were joined together as if a sword grew out of my arm; and when the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.

Great-heart: Thou hast done well; thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Thou shalt abide by us, come in and go out with us; for we are thy companions. Then they took him and washed his wounds, and gave him of what they had, to refresh him: and so they went together. Now, as they went on, because Mr Great-Heart was delighted in him, (for he loved one greatly that he found to be a man of his hands,) and because there were in company those that were feeble and weak, therefore he questioned with him about many things; as first, what countryman he was.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: I am of Dark-land; for there was I born, and there my father and mother are still.

Great-heart: Dark-land! said the guide; doth not that lie on the same coast with the City of Destruction?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Yes, it doth. Now that which caused me to come on pilgrimage was this. We had one Mr Tell-true come into our parts, and he told it about what Christian had done, that went from the City of Destruction; namely, how he had forsaken his wife and children, and had betaken himself to a pilgrim's life. It was also confidently reported, how he had killed a serpent that did come out to resist him in his journey; and how he got through to whither he intended. It was also told what welcome he had at all his Lord's lodgings, especially when he came to the gates of the Celestial City; for there, said the man, he was received with sound of trumpet by a company of shining ones. He told also how all the bells in the city did ring for joy at his reception, and what golden garments he was clothed with; with many other things that now I shall forbear to relate. In a word, that man so told the story of Christian and his travels that my heart fell into a burning haste to be gone after him; nor could father or mother stay me. So I got from them, and am come thus far on my way.

Great-heart: You came in at the gate, did you not?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Yes, yes; for the same man also told us, that all would be nothing if we did not begin to enter this way at the gate.

Great-heart: Look you, said the guide to Christiana, the pilgrimage of your husband, and what he has gotten thereby, is spread abroad far and near.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Why, is this Christian's wife?

Great-heart: Yes, that it is; and these also are his four sons.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: What, and going on pilgrimage too?

Great-heart: Yes, verily, they are following after.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: It glads me at the heart. Good man, how joyful will he be when he shall see them that would not go with him, yet to enter after him in at the gates into the Celestial City.

Great-heart: Without doubt it will be a comfort to him; for, next to the joy of seeing himself there, it will be a joy to meet there his wife and children.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: But now you are upon that, pray let me hear your opinion about it. Some make a question whether we shall know one another when we are there.

Great-heart: Do you think they shall know themselves then, or that they shall rejoice to see themselves in that bliss? And if they think they shall know and do this, why not know others, and rejoice in their welfare also? Again, since relations are our second self, though that state will be dissolved there, yet why may it not be rationally concluded that we shall be more glad to see them there than to see they are wanting?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Well, I perceive whereabouts you are as to this. Have you any more things to ask me about my beginning to come on pilgrimage?

Great-heart: Yes; were your father and mother willing that you should become a pilgrim?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: O no; they used all means imaginable to persuade me to stay at home.

Great-heart: Why, what could they say against it?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: They said it was an idle life; and if I myself were not inclined to sloth and laziness, I would never countenance a pilgrim's condition.

Great-heart: And what did they say else?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Why, they told me that it was a dangerous way; yea, the most dangerous way in the world, said they, is that which the pilgrims go.

Great-heart: Did they show you wherein this way is so dangerous?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Yes; and that in many particulars.

Great-heart: Name some of them.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: They told me of the Slough of Despond, where Christian was well-nigh smothered. They told me, that there were archers standing ready in Beelzebub-castle to shoot them who should knock at the Wicket-gate for entrance. They told me also of the wood and dark mountains; of the hill Difficulty; of the lions; and also of the three giants, Bloody-man, Maul, and Slay-good. They said, moreover, that there was a foul fiend haunted the Valley of Humiliation; and that Christian was by him almost bereft of life. Besides, said they, you must go over the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where the hobgoblins are, where the light is darkness, where the way is full of snares, pits, traps, and gins. They told me also of Giant Despair, of Doubting Castle, and of the ruin that the pilgrims met with here. Further they said I must go over the Enchanted Ground, which was dangerous; And that after all this I should find a river, over which there was no bridge; and that that river did lie betwixt me and the Celestial country.

Great-heart: And was this all?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: No. They also told me that this way was full of deceivers, and of persons that lay in wait there to turn good men out of the path.

Great-heart: But how did they make that out?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: They told me that Mr Wordly Wiseman did lie there in wait to deceive. They said also, that there were Formality and Hypocrisy continually on the road. They said also, that By-ends, Talkative, or Demas, would go near to gather me up; that the Flatterer would catch me in his net; or that, with green-headed Ignorance, I would presume to go on to the gate, from whence he was sent back to the hole that was in the side of the hill, and made to go the by-way to hell.

Great-heart: I promise you this was enough to discourage you; but did they make an end here?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: No, stay. They told me also of many that had tried that way of old, and that had gone a great way therein, to see if they could find something of the glory there that so many had so much talked of from time to time, and how they came back again, and befooled themselves for setting a foot out of doors in that path, to the satisfaction of all the country. And they named several that did so, as Obstinate and Pliable, Mistrust and Timorous, Turn-away and old Atheist, with several more; who, they said, had some of them gone far to see what they could find, but not one of them had found so much advantage by going as amounted to the weight of a feather.

Great-heart: Said they any thing more to discourage you?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Yes. They told me of one Mr Fearing, who was a pilgrim, and how he found his way so solitary that he never had a comfortable hour therein; also, that Mr Despondency had like to have been starved therein: yea, and also (which I had almost forgot) that Christian himself, about whom there has been such a noise, after all his adventures for a celestial crown, was certainly drowned in the Black River, and never went a foot further; however it was smothered up.

Great-heart: And did none of these things discourage you?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: No; they seemed but as so many nothings to me.

Great-heart: How came that about?

Mr Valiant-for-truth: Why, I still believed what Mr Tell-true had said; and that carried me beyond them all.

Great-heart: Then this was your victory, even your faith.

Mr Valiant-for-truth: It was so. I believed, and therefore came out, got into the way, fought all that set themselves against me, and, by believing, am come to this place.

"Who would true valor see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avow'd intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He'll with a giant fight,
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He'll not fear what men say;
He'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.
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