Part 20 — By-Path Meadow by John Bunyan audio
I saw, then, that they went on their way to a pleasant river, which King David called “the river of God” — but the apostle John called “the river of the water of life.”
Now their way lay along the bank of the river. Here, therefore, Christian and his companion walked with great delight — they drank of the water of the river, which was pleasant and enlivening to their weary spirits. On the banks of both sides of this river, were green trees which bore all kinds of fruit — which the Pilgrims were also much pleased with. Furthermore, the leaves of the trees were also good for medicine. They prevented sicknesses and other diseases that are common to traveling Pilgrims.
On both sides of the river there was a meadow which remained green all the year long and was intricately beautified with lilies. In this meadow they lay down and slept — for here they could sleep in safety. When they awoke, they again gathered fruit from the trees, and drank of the water of the river — and once more lay down to sleep. Thus they did for several days and nights.
Then they sang:
“Behold how these crystal streams do glide,
To comfort Pilgrims by the highway side;
The meadows green, besides their fragrant smell,
Yield dainties for them, and he who can tell
What pleasant fruit — yes, leaves, these trees do yield,
Will soon sell all, that he may buy this field.”
So when they were prepared to travel on — for they were not as yet at their journey’s end — again they ate and drank, and departed.
Now, I beheld in my dream, that they had not journeyed far when their path separated away from the river. This saddened them, but they dared not depart from their course. Now their path became rough — and their feet were tender because of their long travels. So they became discouraged because of the difficulty of the way — and wished for an easier route.
Now, just ahead of them on the left side of the road, was a field named By-path Meadow — which could be entered by a stile.
Then Christian said to Hopeful, “If this meadow lies alongside our way — then let us go over into it.”
So he went to the stile to see — and behold, there was a path on the other side of the fence which ran alongside their way.
“It is just as I desired! Here is an easy-going way — come, good Hopeful, and let us go over!” Christian exclaimed.
HOPEFUL: “But what if this easy path should lead us out of the way?”
CHRISTIAN: “That is not likely. Look, it goes right alongside our pathway.”
So Hopeful, being persuaded by his fellow, left the path and followed Christian over the stile. Once in the meadow — they found it very easy for their feet.
Looking ahead of them, they saw a man named Vain-confidence. So they called after him, and asked him where this path led.
“To the Celestial Gate,” he replied.
“Look,” Christian said to Hopeful, “did I not tell you so? Now you see that we are in the right path!”
So they followed Vain-confidence, and he went on ahead of them. But, behold, as the night came on, it grew very dark — and they lost sight of him.
Vain-confidence, not seeing the way before him, fell into a deep pit and was dashed to pieces! This pit was purposely made by the king of those grounds in order to catch vain-glorious fools.
Now Christian and Hopeful heard him fall. So they called to him — but there was no answer. They only heard someone groaning.
Then Hopeful asked, “Where are we now?”
Christian did not answer, fearing that he had led Hopeful out of the right way.
It now began to rain — with thundering and lightening, in a most dreadful manner — and the water was rising around them.
Then Hopeful groaned within himself, saying, “O that I had remained on my way!”
CHRISTIAN: “Who could have thought that this path would have led us out of the way?”
HOPEFUL: “I was afraid of that at the very first, and therefore gave you a gentle caution. I would have spoken plainer — but for the fact that you are older than I.”
CHRISTIAN: “Good brother — do not be offended. I am sorry I have brought you out of the way, and that I have put you into such imminent danger. Please forgive me — I did not do it with an evil intent.”
HOPEFUL: “Be comforted, my brother — for I do forgive you. We must believe that this too shall be for our good.”
CHRISTIAN: “I am glad that you are such a merciful brother. We must not stay here — let us try to go back again.”
HOPEFUL: “But, good brother, let me go first.”
CHRISTIAN: “No, if you please, let me go ahead — so that if there is any danger, I may meet it first — because by my guidance we have both gone out of the way.”
HOPEFUL: “No — you shall not go first; for your mind is troubled, and you may lead us out of the way again.”
Then, for their encouragement, they heard the voice of one saying, “Set your heart toward the highway — even the way by which you came; turn back.”
But by this time the waters had greatly risen — so the way of going back was very dangerous. Then Christian realized that it is easier to go out of the right way — than to get back into it.
So they attempted to go back — but it was so dark, and the flood was so high, that they almost drowned nine or ten times. Neither could they, using all their skill — get back to the stile that night. At last, finding a little shelter — they sat down there. Being weary, they fell asleep until the day-break.