Friday, January 28, 2011

Encouragement from John Bunyan

It's been a busy month, and the pace isn't going to slacken until the end of the term, but I just wanted to share a portion from John Bunyan's allegory, The Holy War, which I'm reading / listening to now (yes, listening to, ah the wonders of eReaders!).

Don't be fooled by the kiddy-like picture. The Holy War is a serious piece of Puritan literature.

The story is about the town of Mansoul--how it was stolen from King Shaddai by the usurper Diabolus, and then retaken by the king's son, Prince Emmanuel. Here's my favorite scene so far:

When Emmanuel had put all things in a readiness to give Diabolus battle, he sent again to know of the town of Mansoul, if in peaceable manner they would yield themselves... They then, together with Diabolus their king, called a council of war, and resolved upon certain propositions that should be offered to Emmanuel, if he will accept thereof, so they agreed; and then the next was, who should be sent on this errand. Now, there was in the town of Mansoul an old man, a Diabolonian, and his name was Mr. Loth-to-stoop, a stiff man in his way, and a great doer for Diabolus; him, therefore, they sent, and put into his mouth what he should say. 
So he went and came to the camp to Emmanuel... and after a Diabolonian ceremony or two, he thus began and said, 'Great sir, that it may be known unto all men how good-natured a prince my master is, he has sent me to tell your
lordship that he is very willing, rather than go to war, to deliver up into your hands one half of the town of Mansoul. I am therefore to know if your Mightiness will accept of this proposition.'

Then said Emmanuel, 'The whole is mine by gift and purchase, wherefore I will never lose one half.'

Then said Mr. Loth-to-stoop, 'Sir, my master hath said that he will be content that you shall be the nominal and titular Lord of all, if he may possess but a part.'

Then Emmanuel answered, 'The whole is mine really, not in name and word only; wherefore I will be the sole lord and possessor of all, or of none at all, of Mansoul.'

Then Mr. Loth-to-stoop said again, 'Sir, behold the condescension of my master! He says, that he will be content, if he may but have assigned to him some place in Mansoul as a place to live privately in, and you shall be Lord of all the rest.'

Then said the golden Prince, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and of all that he giveth me I will lose nothing--no, not a hoof nor a hair. I will not, therefore, grant him, no, not the least corner of Mansoul to dwell in; I will have all to myself.'

Then Loth-to-stoop said again, 'But, sir, suppose that my Lord should resign the whole town to you, only with this proviso, that he sometimes, when he comes into this country, may, for old acquaintance' sake, be entertained as a wayfaring man for two days, or ten days or a month, or so. May not this small matter be granted?'

Then said Emmanuel, 'No. He came as a wayfaring man to David, nor did he stay long with him, and yet it had like to have cost David his soul. I will not consent that he ever should have any harbour more there.'

Then said Mr. Loth-to-stoop, 'Sir, you seem to be very hard. Suppose my master should yield to all that your lordship hath said, provided that his friends and kindred in Mansoul may have liberty to trade in the town, and to enjoy their present dwellings. May not that be granted, sir?'

Then said Emmanuel, 'No; that is contrary to my Father's will; for all, and all manner of Diabolonians that now are, or that at any time shall be found in Mansoul, shall not only lose their lands and liberties, but also their lives.'

Then said Mr. Loth-to-stoop again, 'But, sir, may not my master and great lord, by letters, by passengers, by accidental opportunities, and the like, maintain, if he shall deliver up all unto thee, some kind of old friendship with Mansoul?'

Emmanuel answered, 'No, by no means; forasmuch as any such fellowship, friendship, intimacy, or acquaintance, in what way, sort, or mode soever maintained, will tend to the corrupting of Mansoul, the alienating of their affections from me, and the endangering of their peace with my Father.'

Mr. Loth-to-stoop yet added further, saying, 'But, great sir, since my master hath many friends, and those that are dear to him, in Mansoul, may he not, if he shall depart from them, even of his bounty and good-nature, bestow upon them, as he sees fit, some tokens of his love and kindness that he had for them, to the end that Mansoul, when he is gone, may look upon such tokens of kindness once received from their old friend, and remember him who was once their king, and the merry times that they sometimes enjoyed one with another, while he and they lived in peace together?'

Then said Emmanuel, 'No; for if Mansoul come to be mine, I shall not admit of nor consent that there should be the least scrap, shred, or dust of Diabolus left behind, as tokens of gifts bestowed upon any in Mansoul, thereby to call to remembrance the horrible communion that was betwixt them and him.'

'Well, sir,' said Mr. Loth-to-stoop, 'I have one thing more to propound, and then I am got to the end of my commission. Suppose that, when my master is gone from Mansoul, any that shall yet live in the town should have such business of high concerns to do, that if they be neglected the party shall be undone; and suppose, sir, that nobody can help in that case so well as my master and lord, may not now my master be sent for upon so urgent an occasion as this? Or if he may not be admitted into the town, may not he and the person concerned meet in some of the villages near Mansoul, and there lay their heads together, and there consult of matters?'

This was the last of those ensnaring propositions that Mr. Loth-to- stoop had to propound to Emmanuel on behalf of his master Diabolus; but Emmanuel would not grant it; for he said, 'There can be no case, or thing, or matter fall out in Mansoul, when thy master shall be gone, that may not be solved by my Father; besides, it will be a great disparagement to my Father's wisdom and skill to admit any from Mansoul to go out to Diabolus for advice, when they are bid before, in everything, by prayer and supplication to let their requests be made known to my Father. Further, this, should it be granted, would be to grant that a door should be set open for Diabolus, and the Diabolonians in Mansoul, to hatch, and plot, and bring to pass treasonable designs, to the grief of my Father and me, and to the utter destruction of Mansoul.'
 Truly, our Emmanuel is mighty to save, and to "save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him" (Heb. 7:25)!

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  1. I remember a creative Youth announcement speaking of "Mansoul." That was in 2004/5 I think.

    I should read this. :D

  2. @ Koji: Nice, yes? :)

    @ Lance: It really is worth reading. The old English style of writing is a little hard to work through, but I'm treating the book half like a novel and half like a daily devotional. There are so many pearls of wisdom in the book that I'm looking forward to reading the book again (and I'm not even done with my first run through). :)

  3. A new post! I haven't read this, but it reminds me of another allegorical work, The Selfish Giant, by Oscar Wilde. You can read an excerpt here :

  4. Ang ganda ng illustration! :) I shall search for this book... kahit wala pa akong eReader. :p

  5. @ RG: Kuya, mayroong kopya nyan sa HR library. :)

  6. amazing... I will search for a PDF book

  7. @ benj: Ang galing 'no? John Bunyan's prose gets a little drawn out at times, but I'm sure you'll benefit much from reading it.