’I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.’—David.
There can be nobody here to-night so stark stupid as to suppose that the pilgrim had run away from home and left his wife and children to the work-house. There have been wiseacres who have found severe fault with John Bunyan because he made his Puritan pilgrim such a bad husband and such an unnatural father. But nobody possessed of a spark of common sense, not to say religion or literature, would ever commit himself to such an utter imbecility as that. John Bunyan’s pilgrim, whatever he may have been before he became a pilgrim, all the time he was a pilgrim, was the most faithful, affectionate, and solicitous husband in all the country round about, and the tenderest, the most watchful, and the wisest of fathers. This pilgrim stayed all the more at home that he went so far away from home; he accomplished his whole wonderful pilgrimage beside his own forge and at his own fireside; and he entered the Celestial City amid trumpets and bells and harps and psalms, while all the time sleeping in his own humble bed. The House Beautiful, therefore, to which we have now come in his company, is not some remote and romantic mansion away up among the mountains a great many days’ journey distant from this poor man’s everyday home. The House Beautiful was nothing else,—what else better, what else so good could it be?—than just this Christian man’s first communion Sabbath and his first communion table (first, that is, after his true conversion from sin to God and his confessed entrance into a new life), while the country from whence he had come out, and concerning which both Piety and Prudence catechised him so closely, was just his former life of open ungodliness and all his evil walk and conversation while he was as yet living without God and without hope in the world. The country on which he confessed that he now looked back with so much shame and detestation was not England or Bedfordshire, but the wicked life he had lived in that land and in that shire. And when Charity asked him as to whether he was a married man and had a family, she knew quite well that he was, only she made a pretence of asking him those domestic questions in order thereby to start the touching conversation.
Beginning, then, at home, as she always began, Charity said to Christian, ‘Have you a family? Are you a married man?’ ’I have a wife and four small children,’ answered Christian. ’And why did you not bring them with you?’ Then Christian wept and said, ’Oh, how willingly would I have done so, but they were all of them utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage.’ ’But you should have talked to them and have shown them their danger.’ ‘So I did,’ he replied, ’but I seemed to them as one that mocked.’ Now, this of talking, and, especially, of talking about religious things to children, is one of the most difficult things in the world,—that