Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
 
Christian Loses his Roll
By John Bunyan (1628–1688)
 

I LOOKED then after Christian, to see him go up the hill, when I perceived he fell from running to going, and from going to clambering upon his hands and his knees, because of the steepness of the place. Now about the midway to the top of the hill was a pleasant arbour, made by the lord of the hill, for the refreshing of weary travellers. Thither therefore Christian got, where also he sat down to rest him. Then he pulled his roll out of his bosom and read therein to his comfort: he also now began afresh to take a review of the coat or garment that was given him as he stood by the cross. Thus pleasing himself a while, he at last fell into a slumber, and thence into a fast sleep, which detained him in that place until it was almost night, and in his sleep his roll fell out of his hand. Now as he was sleeping, there came one to him, and awaked him saying, “go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise,” and with that Christian suddenly started up, and sped him on his way, and went apace till he came to the top of the hill.
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  Now when he was got to the top of the hill, there came two men running against him amain; the name of the one was Timorous, and the name of the other Mistrust, to whom Christian said, “Sirs, what’s the matter you run the wrong way?” Timorous answered, that they were going to the City of Zion, and had got up that difficult place; “but,” said he, “the farther we go, the more danger we meet with, wherefore we turned, and are going back again.”  2
  “Yes,” said Mistrust, “for just before us lie a couple of lions in the way (whether sleeping or waking we know not); and we could not think, if we came within reach, but they would presently pull us to pieces.”  3
  Then said Christian, “You make me afraid, but whither shall I fly to be safe? If I go back to mine own country, that is prepared for fire and brimstone; and I shall certainly perish there. If I can get to the celestial city, I am sure to be in safety there. I must venture. To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward.” So Mistrust and Timorous ran down the hill; and Christian went on his way. But thinking again of what he heard from the men, he felt in his bosom for his roll, that he might read therein and be comforted; but he felt and found it not. Then was Christian in great distress, and knew not what to do; for he wanted that which used to relieve him, and that which should have been his pass into the celestial city. Here therefore he began to be much perplexed, and knew not what to do; at last he bethought himself that he had slept in the arbour that is on the side of the hill: and falling down upon his knees, he asked God forgiveness for that his foolish fact; and then went back to look for his roll. But all the way he went back, who can sufficiently set forth the sorrow of Christian’s heart; sometimes he sighed, sometimes he wept, and oftentimes he chid himself, for being so foolish as to fall asleep in that place which was erected only for a little refreshment from his weariness. Thus therefore he went back; carefully looking on this side and on that, all the way as he went, if haply he might find his roll, that had been his comfort so many times on his journey. He went thus till he came again within sight of the arbour, where he sat and slept; but that sight renewed his sorrow the more, by bringing again, even afresh, his evil of sleeping into his mind. Thus therefore he now went on bewailing his sinful sleep, saying, “O wretched man that I am, that I should sleep in the daytime! that I should sleep in the midst of difficulty! that I should so indulge the flesh, as to use that rest for ease to my flesh, which the Lord of the hill hath erected only for the relief of the spirits of pilgrims! How many steps have I taken in vain! (Thus it happened to Israel for their sin, they were sent back again by the way of the Red Sea), and I am made to tread those steps with sorrow, which I might have trod with delight, had it not been for this sinful sleep. How far might I have been on my way by this time! I am made to tread those steps thrice over, which I needed not to have trod but once: Yea now also I am like to be benighted, for the day is almost spent. O that I had not slept!” Now by this time he was come to the arbour again, where for awhile he sat down and wept, but at last (as Christian would have it) looking sorrowfully down under the settle, there he espied his roll; the which he with trembling haste catched up, and put it into his bosom. But who can tell how joyful this man was, when he had gotten his roll again! For this roll was the assurance of his life and acceptance at the desired haven. Therefore he laid it up in his bosom, gave thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, and with joy and tears betook himself again to his journey. But oh how nimbly now did he go up the rest of the hill! Yet before he got up, the sun went down upon Christian, and this made him again recall the vanity of his sleeping to his remembrance, and thus he again began to condole with himself: “Oh thou sinful sleep! how for thy sake am I like to be benighted in my journey! I must walk without the sun, darkness must cover the path of my feet, and I must hear the noise of doleful creatures, because of my sinful sleep!” Now also he remembered the story that Mistrust and Timorous told him of, how they were frighted with the sight of the lions. Then said Christian to himself again, “These beasts range in the night for their prey, and if they should meet with me in the dark, how should I shift them? how should I escape being by them torn in pieces? Thus he went on his way, but while he was thus bewailing his unhappy miscarriage, he lifted up his eyes, and behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful, and it stood just by the highway side.  4
 
 
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