The wonderful story of Mr. Feeble-mind and its remarkable Providences

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Great-heart rescues Mr. Feeble-mind from Giant Slay-good by William Bell Scott, from The Victorian Web ~ literature, history, & culture in the age of Victoria

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“For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.”  Psalms 38:17

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. . . Then they asked Mr. FEEBLE-MIND how he fell into his [the Giant Slay-good’ s] hands.

Feeble-mind. Then said the poor man, “I am a sickly man, as you see; and because death did usually, once a day, knock at my door, I thought I should never be well at home. So I betook myself to a pilgrim’ s life; and have travelled hither from the town of Uncertain, where I and my father were born. I am a man of no strength at all, of body, nor yet of mind; but would, if I could, though I can but crawl, spend my life in the pilgrims’ way. When I came at the gate that is at the head of the way, the Lord of that place did entertain me freely. Neither objected he against my weakly looks, nor against my feeble mind; but gave me such things that were necessary for my journey, and bade me hope to the end. When I came to the house of the INTERPRETER, I received much kindness there; and because the hill Difficulty was judged too hard for me, I was carried up that by one of his servants. Indeed, I have found much relief from pilgrims; though none was willing to go so softly as I am forced to do. Yet still, as they came on, they bade me be of good cheer; and said, that it was the will of their Lord that comfort should be given to the feeble-minded, and so went on their own pace. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

When I was come up to Assault Lane, then this giant met with me, and bade me prepare for an encounter; but alas, feeble one that I was, I had more need of a cordial. So he came up and took me. I conceived he should not kill me; also when he had got me into his den, since I went not with him willingly, I believed I should come out alive again. For I have heard, that not any pilgrim that is taken captive by violent hands, if he keeps heart whole towards his Master, is, by the laws of Providence, to die by the hand of the enemy. Robbed, I looked to be, and robbed to be sure I am; but I am, as you see, escaped with life, for the which I thank my King as author, and you as the means. Other brunts I also look for: but this I have resolved on– to wit, to run when I can; to go when I cannot run; and to creep when I cannot go. As to the main, I thank him that loves me, I am fixed: my way is before me; my mind is beyond the river that has no bridge; though I am, as you see, but of a feeble mind.”

Honest. Then said old Mr. HONEST, “Have you not, some time ago, been acquainted with one Mr. FEARING, a pilgrim?”

Feeble-mind. Acquainted with him! yes. He came from the town of Stupidity, which lies four degrees to the northward of the city of Destruction, and as many off of where I was born. Yet we were well acquainted: for indeed he was mine uncle, my father’ s brother; he and I have been much of a temper; he was a little shorter than I, but yet we were much of a complexion.

Honest. I perceive you know him, and I am apt to believe also that you were related one to another: for you have his whitely look; a cast like his with your eye; and your speech is much alike.

Feeble-mind. Most have said so that have known us both; and besides, what I have read in him, I have for the most part found in myself.

Gaius. “Come, sir,” said good GAIUS, “be of good cheer! – you are welcome to me and to my house; and what thou hast a mind to, call for freely; and what thou wouldst have my servants do for thee, they will do it with a ready mind.”

Feeble-mind. Then said Mr. FEEBLE-MIND, “This is unexpected favour, and as the sun shining out of a very dark cloud. Did giant SLAY-GOOD intend me this favour when he stopped me, and resolved to let me go no farther? Did he intend that after he had rifled my pockets, I should go to GAIUS mine host? Yet so it is.”

Now, just as Mr. FEEBLE-MIND and GAIUS were thus in talk, there comes one running, and called at the door; and told, that about a mile and a half off there was one Mr. NOT-RIGHT, a pilgrim, struck dead upon the place where he was with a thunderbolt.

Feeble-mind. “Alas,” said Mr. FEEBLE-MIND, “is he slain! he overtook me some days before I came so far as hither, and would be my company keeper. He also was with me when SLAY-GOOD the giant took me; but he was nimble of his heels, and escaped. But it seems he escaped to die; and I was taken to live.

“What, one would think, doth seek to slay outright,

Oft times delivers from the saddest plight;

That very Providence, whose face is death,

Doth oft times to the lowly life bequeath.

I taken was, he did escape and flee;

Hands crossed give death to him, and life to me.”

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A Feast and a Farewell

Now about this time MATTHEW and MERCY were married; also GAIUS gave his daughter PHOEBE to JAMES, MATTHEW’S brother, to wife: after which time, they yet stayed above ten days at GAIUS’ s house, spending their time and the seasons like as pilgrims used to do.

When they were to depart, GAIUS made them a feast; and they did eat and drink, and were merry. Now the hour was come that they must be gone; wherefore Mr. GREAT-HEART called for a reckoning. But GAIUS told him that at his house it was not the custom for pilgrims to pay for their entertainment. He boarded them by the year; but looked for his pay from the good Samaritan, who had promised him, at his return, whatsoever charge he was at with them faithfully to repay him. (Luke 10:33-35)

Then said Mr. GREAT-HEART to him:

Great-heart. Beloved, “thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the Church: whom if thou (yet) bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well”.  (3 John 1:5,6)

Then GAIUS took his leave of them all: and of his children; and particularly of Mr. FEEBLE-MIND. He also gave him something to drink by the way.

Now Mr. FEEBLE-MIND, when they were going out of the door, made as if he intended to linger. The which, when Mr. GREAT-HEART espied, he said, “Come, Mr. FEEBLE-MIND, pray do you go along with us; I will be your conductor, and you shall fare as the rest.”

Feeble-mind. Alas! I want a suitable companion; you are all lusty and strong, but I, as you see, am weak. I choose therefore, rather to come behind; lest, by reason of my many infirmities, I should be both a burden to myself and to you. I am, as I said, a man of a weak and feeble mind; and shall be offended and made weak at that which others can bear. I shall like no laughing. I shall like no gay attire; I shall like no unprofitable questions. Nay, I am so weak a man, as to be offended with that which others have a liberty to do. I do not yet know all the truth; I am a very ignorant Christian man; sometimes, if I hear some rejoice in the Lord, it troubles me because I cannot do so too. It is with me, as it is with a weak man among the strong; or as with a sick man among the healthy; or as a lamp despised. (Job 12:5) So that I know not what to do.

Great-heart. “But, brother,” said Mr. GREAT-HEART, “I have it in commission to comfort the feeble-minded and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us: we will wait for you; we will lend you our help; we will deny ourselves of some things, opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you; we will be made all things to you rather than you shall be left behind”. (Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-8)

Now all this while they were at GAIUS’ s door; and behold, as they were thus in the heat of their discourse, Mr. READY-TO- HALT came by with his crutches in his hand, and he also was going on pilgrimage. (Psalms 38:17)

Feeble-mind. Then said Mr. FEEBLE-MIND to him, “Man, how camest thou hither? I was but just now complaining that I had not a suitable companion; but thou art according to my wish. Welcome, welcome, good Mr. READY-TO-HALT; I hope thee and I may be some help.”

Ready-to-halt. “I shall be glad of thy company,” said the other; “and good Mr. FEEBLE-MIND, rather than we will part, since we are thus happily met, I will lend thee one of my crutches.”

Feeble-mind. “Nay,” said he, “though I thank thee for thy good-will, I am not inclined to halt before I am lame. Howbeit, I think, when occasion is, it may help me against a dog.”

Ready-to-halt. If either myself or my crutches can do thee a pleasure, we are both at thy command, good Mr. FEEBLE-MIND.

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Grateful acknowledgement for this excerpt, and the work that went into making it available online, goes to Acacia John Bunyan – Online Library

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A song in the valley of humiliation

junge Lammer des Hausschafes by Bohringer Friedrich 2006 via Wikimedia

From part 2 of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Christiana, her sons, and good friend and sister in the Lord, Mercy, are being led through the Valley of Humiliation by Mr. Great-heart, their protector:

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Now as they were going along and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father’s sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favoured countenance, and as he sat by himself he sung. ‘Hark,’ said Mr. Great-heart, to what the shepherd’s boy saith. So they hearkened, and he said,

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‘He that is down, needs fear no fall,

He that is low, no pride:

He that is humble, ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

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‘I am content with what I have,

Little be it, or much:

And, Lord, contentment still I crave,

Because Thou savest such.

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‘Fullness to such, a burden is

That go on pilgrimage:

Here little, and hereafter bliss,

Is best from age to age.’

“… behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful…”

Do You See Yonder Wicket-Gate, The Pilgrim's Progress, Macgregor PubJack, 1907, by Byam ShawI’ve added a new page by this same name. Go there to read the entire account of events surrounding Christian’s stay there. 

Charles H. Spurgeon believed that the palace represented the Church. Please take this link to Sherry’s blog He Hath Said to get a pdf version of Spurgeon’s book about The Pilgrim’s Progress (the link is to the right of the image of the book cover). 

Pictures from The Pilgrim’s Progress

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The following is a lovely and encouraging excerpt from this part of John Bunyan’s book:

Thus they discoursed together till late at night; and after they had committed themselves to their Lord for protection, they betook themselves to rest: the Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, whose window opened towards the sun-rising: the name of the chamber was Peace; where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang— 

‘Where am I now? Is this the love and care
Of Jesus for the men that pilgrims are?
Thus to provide! that I should be forgiven!
And dwell already the next door to heaven!’”

a palace beautiful

“THEN Christian spoke to the porter, Sir, what is the purpose of this house? And may I reside here for the night? The porter answered, This house was built by the Lord of the Hill, and he built it for the relief and security of pilgrims…”

Pastor John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, part 1

Rosa acicularis, AKA Wild Rose, the Prickly Rose, or the Arctic Rose, Attribution I, Ravedave, 15 June 2007, Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to a ‘Palace Beautiful’ on the net, devoted to the safety and encouragement of pilgrims travelling to the ‘Celestial City,’ the place Jesus has prepared for us.  Take heart as you continue your journey.

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John 14:1-3

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.