‘Things out of hope are compassed oft with venturing.’
So they are; and so they were that day with our terrified pilgrim. He made a venture at the supreme moment of his danger, and things that were quite out of all hope but an hour before were then compassed and ever after possessed by him. Make the same venture, then, yourselves to-night. Naught venture, naught have. Your lost soul is not much to venture, but it is all that Christ at this moment asks of you—that you leave your lost soul in His hand, and then go straight on from this moment in the middle of the path: the path, that is, as your case may be, of purity, humility, submission, resignation, and self-denial. Keep your mind and your heart, your eyes and your feet, in the very middle of that path, and you shall have compassed the House Beautiful before you know. The lions shall soon be behind you, and the grave and graceful damsels of the House—Discretion and Prudence and Piety and Charity—shall all be waiting upon you.
’Let a man examine himself.’—Paul.
Let a man examine himself, says the apostle to the Corinthians, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. And thus it was, that before the pilgrim was invited to sit down at the supper table in the House Beautiful, quite a number of most pointed and penetrating questions were put to him by those who had charge of that house and its supper table. And thus the time was excellently improved till the table was spread, while the short delay and the successive exercises whetted to an extraordinary sharpness the pilgrim’s hunger for the supper. Piety and Charity, who had joint charge of the house from the Master of the house, held each a characteristic conversation with Christian, but it was left to Prudence to hold the most particular discourse with him until supper was ready, and it is to that so particular discourse that I much wish to turn your attention to-night.
With great tenderness, but at the same time with the greatest possible gravity, Prudence asked the pilgrim whether he did not still think sometimes of the country from whence he had come out. Yes, he replied; how could I help thinking continually of that unhappy country and of my sad and miserable life in it; but, believe me,—or, rather, you cannot believe me,—with what shame and detestation I always think of my past life. My face burns as I now speak of my past life to you, and as I think what my old companions know and must often say about me. I detest, as you cannot possibly understand, every remembrance of my past life, and I hate and never can forgive myself, who, with mine own hands, so filled all my past life with shame and self-contempt. Gently stopping the remorseful pilgrim’s self-accusations about his past life, Prudence asked him if he had not still with him, and, indeed, within him, some of the very things that had so destroyed both him and