Studies in Bunyan’s ‘Holy War’.
A key to the characters in Bunyan’s ‘The Holy War’. A key to the characters
- Plan of the Town of Mansoul. The Town of Mansoul
The great warfare of which Daniel writes (Dan. 10:1) is an eternal warfare. It did not begin with Daniel, nor did it end with him. The Bible discloses that this war began before man was found on the earth, and long before man became involved in it; and every true child of God knows that the war is still going on, and that he is involved in a great conflict. We know so well, do we not, that the more truly we are set to go on with the Lord, the more our lives become a veritable battlefield, and the more we seek to cooperate with Him in the working out of His purposes in the world, the more we realise that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against a vast regime of evil which is determined to destroy man and rob God of His heart’s desire in man’s creation. It is indeed a great warfare, and are we not discovering that as the day of the Lord’s triumph draws nearer, the battle is getting more intense and the malignity and ferocity of the enemy more apparent? It is only too true. There is nothing theoretical about this war. The world in which we live, the situation among the Lord’s own people, and the experience of our own hearts and lives provide an abundance of evidence that we are involved in a conflict in which the powers of heaven and hell engage for more than death or life.
But of Daniel it is written that he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision (Dan.10:1). How important it is for us to be alive to the issues at stake in this war, to understand what it is all about, to be awake to the strategy of the enemy—the wiles of the devil, as Paul writes (Eph. 6:11)—and most of all to know our God and Captain, with all the heavenly resources, forces and weapons that are His, so that we may stand fast in the evil day and be strong and do exploits under His command. If we are to march on continually in the train of His triumph, then we must be those who are instructed, trained and equipped for the battle. It is not enough that our Captain has triumphed gloriously. By the Holy Spirit we must be brought ourselves into the power of His victory. The Lord wants us with Him in the battle. We shall be spectators at our peril. This is no time for spiritual laxity. Let us put on the whole armour of God that we may be able to stand with Him in this holy war.
It is with this sense of the urgency of the hour and the up-to-dateness of this issue, that we turn to John Bunyan’s great allegory, The Holy War.
Ours is no mere academic interest in a book or theme, but here we shall find a wealth of value and instruction in the art of spiritual warfare. Bunyan was a true soldier of the cross, and he writes out of his heart and experience. He does not write about a subject: his subject is in his heart and history. He knew the terrible power of the enemy and the greater power of the Lord in his own experience. He learnt the art of holy warfare in the heat of the battle, not in the privacy of his study! Here in his book we have the spoils that he has gathered from the battlefield of his own experience. It is ever that way, is it not? We can only give what we have gained. John Bunyan is, of course, a classic example and embodiment of a great principle, that value comes by the way of suffering surmounted, that spoil for the Lord and His people comes from battles fought through to victory. The Lord can and will turn the darkest experiences to account, if we will only trust Him. How much turns upon the attitude of our hearts!
How easily Bunyan could have been submerged by his sufferings, if he had allowed himself to pity himself and to doubt the Lord. The long years of imprisonment might have driven him to despair and bitterness, but he believed God in spite of it all, and God made him fruitful in the land of his affliction. His, was a resolute spirit. The steadfastness of Christ was in him, with the result that the spoils he gathered by living in the victory of Christ are with us to this day. God is faithful; no servant of His suffers in vain.
The Holy War was written between the two parts of The Pilgrim’s Progress, which in itself is significant, for holy warfare is an integral part of a pilgrim’s progress! Our own spiritual progress and the advancement of the Lord’s interests on the earth have to be fought for. If we are having an easy time, it is doubtful whether we are making any progress. Every inch of progress in the Christian life is contested by the enemy, in one way or another. He has many ways of arresting our progress, as we shall see presently. The point is that, while our lives are not to resound solely with the clash of arms, for the Lord is not only the Lord of Hosts but the God of Peace, we are as a matter of hard fact involved in the titanic conflict between the authority of darkness and the kingdom of the Son of God’s love (Colossians 1:13).
The Holy War never has been nor ever will be as popular as The Pilgrim’s Progress. There is an appeal, a romantic element about the latter, which has made it a popular classic even with the world! The onward march of this great story to some extent obscures the deep spiritual values beneath the surface, so that the worldly mind manages to enjoy the story and at the same time to avoid very largely the spiritual challenge. Not so The Holy War. This book is too directly spiritual. It has no appeal whatever for the natural man. While not so readable as The Pilgrim’s Progress, it is surely its equal as to spiritual value. In many ways these two great allegories are complementary, the one generally viewing the Christian life objectively, the other subjectively; the one picturing it as a journey from one world to another, the other portraying it as a war between two contending empires in which man is the longed-for prize.
An outline of the story
There is, of course, no substitute for a reading and re-reading of the book itself, but it will help us to have an outline of the story before us.
(1) We learn from Bunyan first of all that two great kingdoms are at war. Over the one reigns the King Shaddai, over the other the Giant Diabolus. The greatest prize in this war is then seen to be the famous town of Mansoul, built by Shaddai for his own delight, and that he might give it to His Son, the Prince Emmanuel. This town of Mansoul, a picture of mankind as a whole and also of every man, is sought, deceived and captured by Diabolus, who proceeds to make it at every point the opposite of what it was, and to strengthen it against its former King. Terrible indeed is the picture that Bunyan draws of the condition of fallen humanity, of man by nature.
(2) But heaven has foreseen everything. The King and His Son have already sufficiently provided for the relief of Mansoul. The Father and the Son in the secrecy of the privy-chamber have already covenanted together and laid the foundations of redemption. Heaven now marches upon Mansoul, in the persons of the four captains of Shaddai and their men. The town rocks beneath the hammer blows of these captains, and there is mutiny within; but the enemy keeps his prize, for the Law, good and holy though it is, is impotent to rescue man.
(3) The four captains appeal to the court in heaven and Emmanuel then takes the field accompanied by five further captains. Grace and Righteousness now besiege the town together. The power of Emmanuel’s sword prevails, and Diabolus is stripped of his power and cast out. Not until Mansoul has learnt the horror of its complicity with Diabolus does Emmanuel allow His grace to shine forth upon the town. Thus the town is truly won to His allegiance and Emmanuel takes possession of the castle (the heart). Emmanuel now reconstructs and fortifies the town, sets its true inhabitants in their places, and by the cross provides for the destruction of the allies of Diabolus (the ‘Diabolonians’) who still lurk in and about the walls of the town, (the flesh). Blessings now abound in the town. Mansoul receives her large charter of salvation; the Lord Chief Secretary of the Father’s house (the Holy Spirit) takes up His blessed office in the town; Mr. God’s Peace presides over all; in the persons of the captains the Energies of heaven are present; the town is adorned with Emmanuel’s livery, and the image of Shaddai and that of His Son are seen more fairly drawn than ever upon the castle gates.
(4) But there is a man in Mansoul called Mr. Carnal-Security (Paul calls him ‘Confidence in the flesh’), and he brings the town into fearful bondage again. Emmanuel is offended and withdraws from the town; the Lord Chief Secretary is ill at ease while still remaining there; Mr. God’s Peace lays down his commission; the heavenly captains are weakened and a great sickness afflicts the townsmen; the lurking Diabolonians within the town and the powers of hell without are encouraged to plot the ruin of Mansoul. First Mr. Godly-Fear and later Mr. Prywell rouse the town to its condition and peril, so that when Diabolus returns with his great army of Doubters, the town is prepared to offer stout resistance. Mansoul now reaps the bitter consequences of its backsliding. The battle sways to and fro. Mansoul makes a foolish sortie upon the enemy, which gives the latter the opportunity of overrunning the town, but the castle holds out.
(5) Mansoul’s stout resistance draws out the help of the Lord Chief Secretary, who sets His hand to a petition which is carried to Emmanuel by captain Credence (faith). While the plottings of Diabolus continue, Emmanuel is on His way, and soon the enemy is crushed between His forces and those of Mansoul under the command of captain Credence. The final scenes tell of Mansoul’s restored joy, the last vain onslaught of Diabolus, the hunting down of certain Diabolonian traitors within the town, and of how Emmanuel opened His heart to his beloved Mansoul: “My design … is to make thee meet for my Father’s presence, blessing, and glory; for thou, my Mansoul, art created to be prepared unto these. O my Mansoul, how have I set my heart, my love upon thee!”
This is, of course, but the briefest of outlines, but it suffices to indicate the range of this great story. Here indeed is a veritable gold-mine!
The great background to The Holy War
In a war of this magnitude, as one would expect, there are many phases. There are local skirmishes as well as major battles; temporary tactics are to be seen, as well as an overall strategy; different generals and armies are employed at different times. But we must not allow the details of the campaign to obscure the great background of the war. How necessary and how helpful it is to see our own battles in their true setting. Our own every-day battles are not just our personal affair; they are part of the great war. We must learn to see our little lives (as they seem) in their true setting. Every detail of our lives is significant, and takes its significance from the great issues that are at stake. How often the issue of the day, we might say the issue of the whole war, has depended on some small, apparently trivial factor. Achan was the key to a big situation. Jonathan’s, more or less private, victory over the Philistines was the key to a far greater triumph of the people of God over their foes (1 Sam. 14).
The issues that are at stake in this war are these. Firstly, the Father’s honour must be vindicated: for, as Bunyan puts it, the enemy has put the lie upon God, he has gained Mansoul by making insinuations as to the character of God, and Emmanuel comes to vindicate His Father. Further, the Son’s inheritance must be recovered from the Usurper. By every right Mansoul belongs to the Son. Heaven is warring to secure His rightful inheritance. Then again, there is a great purpose to be realised in Mansoul. There is an unspeakably great purpose in the heart of God which He is longing to fulfil in and through man.
These are great issues, you will agree. Consider these excerpts: “As to the situation of this town, it lieth just between the two worlds; and one Shaddai built it for his own delight. He made it the mirror and glory of all that he made; even the top-piece, beyond anything else that he did in that country. And as he made it goodly to behold, so also mighty to have dominion over all the country round about.”
“There was reared up in the midst of this town, a most famous and stately palace; for strength, it might be called a Castle; for pleasantness, a Paradise; for largeness, a place so copious as to contain all the world. This place the King Shaddai intended but for himself alone, and not another with him.”
“Well, upon a time there was one Diabolus, a mighty giant, made an assault upon this famous town of Mansoul, to take it, and make it his own habitation. As to his original he was at first one of the servants of King Shaddai. He was made Son of the morning, and a brave place he had of it.”
“Well, he seeing himself thus exalted to greatness and honour, and raging in his mind for higher state and degree, what doth he but begins to think with himself how he might be set up as Lord over all, and have the sole power under Shaddai. (Now that did the King reserve for His Son, yea, and had already bestowed it upon him.) Wherefore … he breaks his mind to some other of his companions … and they came to this issue, that they should make an attempt upon the King’s Son to destroy him, that the inheritance might be theirs. Now the King and his Son being all and always eye … take them in the very Nick and first Trip … and cast them altogether out.”
“Now they being cast out … and considering that that town (Mansoul) was one of the chief works and delights of King Shaddai, what do they but, after counsel taken, make an assault upon that … saying, Now we have found the prize, and how to be revenged on. King Shaddai for what he hath done to us. So they sat down and called a Council of War.”
Note too Emmanuel’s controversy with Diabolus over Mansoul, “Oh, thou great Emmanuel … wherefore art thou come … to cast me out of my possession!? This town of Mansoul … is mine … by right of conquest; I won it in the open field. It is mine also by their subjection. Moreover, this town … hath disavowed thee. Leave me to my just inheritance peaceably.”
“When this pretended King had made an end … Emmanuel … spake, Thou deceiving one … thou pretendest a right, a lawful right, to the deplorable town of Mansoul, when it is most apparent to all my Father’s court that the entrance which thou hast obtained in at the gates of Mansoul was through thy lie and falsehood. Thou didst put the lie upon my Father, and madest him (to Mansoul) the greatest deluder in the world. I am therefore come to avenge the wrong that thou hast done to my Father.”
“This town of Mansoul is my Father’s. My Father built and did fashion it with his hand.”
“This town of Mansoul is mine, for that I am my Father’s heir, his first-born, and the only delight of his heart. I have a right and title to Mansoul … also by my Father’s donation. His it was, and he gave it me.”
“Mansoul is mine by right of purchase! I gave body for body, soul for soul, life for life, blood for blood, and so redeemed my beloved Mansoul.”
“My Father’s law and justice … are both now satisfied. Nor am I come out this day against thee, but by commandment of my Father. I am not come … without my Father.”
These brief extracts indicate the scope of the story, the great background against which the war is fought out. And what is the hard-fought-for prize?
The prize is man
If only we saw more clearly what is in the heart of God for man in Christ, it would have a transforming effect on our lives. Man himself is the longed-for prize; every man; every one of us. God is set upon having one new man in His Son (Eph. 2:15). The Church is a new humanity, a new creation. The Son of Man has revealed the meaning of man-hood. God is after people like His Son, real people in absolute fellowship with Him. This is what Satan is contesting. He is saying in effect: ‘God shall not have what His heart is set on in man. I will wreck His purpose: man is destined to govern the whole universe, under God, in union with God’s Son, the heir of all things; man is destined to take my place. Very well, I will fight to the bitter end to avert this.’
This, then, is the issue being fought out every day in our lives—in every detail of our lives and in our life together. The Lord give us to see the significance of our lives, the meaning of our union with Christ, and to be wholly on His side in this great warfare.
We have already seen something of the issues that are at stake in this great warfare and we must now return to these for a moment by way of reminder. In the heat of the battle of every-day life, we ever tend to forget the background of this war. What a help it is to realise that no detail of our lives is without meaning. Every day and every situation provide an opportunity for the vindicating of the Father’s honour. The questions as to the absolute worthiness of God and His complete trustworthiness are ever present. Daily we face the issue as to whether we will worship God alone or whether other gods shall, have a place too. How often, we find the Lord’s interests and our own in conflict! How often we discover that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are not ours! But what do we to do then? Do we worship? Do we vindicate the worthiness of God? And when everything shouts at us, as at Job long ago, that God has let us down, do we vindicate His trustworthiness—do we still worship? The vindicating of God is one of the great issues in this war, and it is an issue with us every day of our lives.
Then again, we ever need to have it before us that heaven is making war for the recovery of the Son’s inheritance in man, His inheritance in the saints. The church belongs to the Son. Making this very personal, we belong to Christ. “Ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price,” is Paul’s word (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). How the usurper loves to occupy Christ’s place! He will do anything to have even a foothold in Mansoul.
Another great issue, closely connected with those above, is the fulfilling of a purpose concerning man, man is a wonderful creation! Man is God’s masterpiece! Bunyan rightly speaks of ‘The Famous town of Mansoul’. Mansoul is the top-piece, and when the whole story is told, it will be seen that the malice of the enemy and the tragic fall of the town have only provided the Lord with His greatest opportunity to glorify His Name. Such is the grace and power of God! Who can comprehend the transcendent glory of God’s new creation in Christ? Bunyan puts it this way: “As Mansoul should in time be suffered to be lost, so as certainly it should be recovered again; recovered, I say, in such a way, as that both the King and his Son would get themselves eternal fame and glory thereby.” And again he discloses Emmanuel’s purpose toward the town to be: ”To put Mansoul, through the power of his matchless love into a far better and more happy condition than ‘twas in before it was taken by Diabolus.”
Having reminded ourselves of these great issues which lie in the background of the controversy over Mansoul, we now turn to consider some features of the campaign. In the first place, let us weigh up…
The strength of the enemy
In a war, it is of the greatest importance to have intelligence as to the strength of the opposing army. Each side jealously guards the secrets of its strength (and weakness) and each commander strives to discover the battle plan of his enemy. Battles are often won by the side having the superior intelligence. The whole war may depend upon this matter of intelligence. How true this is in spiritual warfare! Our enemy is a strategist. He has a plan of campaign. He knows where we are vulnerable. He knows he has many willing allies in the human heart. The Lord would have us alive to the devices, the stratagems of our cunning foe. Not that we are to become occupied with him; our eyes are to be fixed upon our Captain. But we need to be alert and intelligent in fellowship with Him, the only wise God (Rom. 16:27).
With Bunyan’s help, then, let us spy out some of the secrets of the enemy’s strength, and seek to discover that upon which he relies for victory.
(i) Mansoul’s new and terrible constitution
When Diabolus captured Mansoul, through subtlety, he immediately set about “New modelling the town”; that is, he gave it a new constitution, according to his own mind and nature. Mansoul had been given a constitution by Shaddai, and the image of Shaddai was in the town. Now everything was changed by Diabolus, in order that Mansoul might be the fit expression of his own fallen nature. This is the terrible truth about man’s fallen state: man is involved in a terrible alliance with Satan, a horrible communion.
First, Diabolus turned his attention to the elders of the town, the governing body in Mansoul, the Lord Mayor, whose name was my Lord Understanding, Mr. Recorder, whose name was Mr. Conscience, and my Lord Willbewill.
Now Diabolus was afraid of my Lord Understanding, “Because he was a seeing man. Wherefore he darkened it (i.e. his understanding), not only by taking from him his office and power, but by building a high and strong tower, just between the sun’s reflections and the windows of my Lord’s palace; by which means his house and all, and the whole of his habitation, was made as dark as darkness itself. And thus being alienated from the light, he became as one that was born blind. To this his house, my Lord was confined as to a prison. So then, so long as Mansoul was under the power and government of Diabolus, so long my Lord Mayor was rather an impediment in, than an advantage to the famous town of Mansoul.”
The new Lord Mayor, appointed by Diabolus in the stead of my Lord Understanding, was the Lord Lustings, a man that had neither eyes nor ears. What a disclosure of the condition of man by nature, and of the enemy’s strength in man! Man has no understanding; he is in the dark; he neither understands his true state nor the truth about the Lord. Captain Blindfold stands sentinel at Eye Gate. Lord Lustings has, taken over, “The lusts of our flesh … the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Eph. 2:3). How pitifully true it is that man is no longer the understanding, sane being he was created; he is no longer in his right mind, he is out of his senses, driven by lusts and ambitions, without eyes to see where he is going, or ears to hear the voice of the Lord. This is not just Bunyan’s imagination, but the view of heaven.
“Without understanding…” (Rom. 1:31).
“Being darkened in their understanding…” (Eph. 1:18).
No wonder Paul prayed for the saints at Colossae that they might, “Be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). We, as the Lord’s true children, are still without understanding by nature, that is in ourselves. We have an understanding in Christ, and as we abide in Him—but only in Him (1 John 5:20).
Next, Diabolus did his utmost to put Mr. Recorder, that is Mr. Conscience, out of action. “He was a man well read in the Laws of his King, and also a man of courage and faithfulness to speak truth at every occasion. And he had a tongue as bravely hung, as he had a head filled with judgment. Now, this man Diabolus could by no means abide.”
Paul discloses in Rom. 2:14, 15 that the ministry of conscience is closely related to the law. Mr. Conscience administers the law. Someone has well said that ‘Conscience is the moral memory of man.’ Conscience is always reminding us of the righteous requirement of the law.
“Diabolus, therefore, feared the Recorder more than any that was left alive in the town of Mansoul, because, as I said, his words did shake the whole town.”
Diabolus, therefore, did all he could to debauch the old Gentleman, to stupefy his mind and to harden his heart in the ways of vanity. Moreover, he sought to persuade the men of the town that Mr. Recorder was mad, and to slight, neglect and despise him. But he could not make him wholly his, and when the power of heaven was presently brought to bear upon the town, both Mr. Conscience and my Lord Understanding gave Diabolus and the town under his spell many a sleepless night.
In the place of Mr. Conscience, Diabolus set up one, Forget-Good, the spirit of forgetfulness in regard to the Lord and the things of heaven. How true this is of man! ‘Remember’ is a great word in Scripture.
While Diabolus darkened the understanding and corrupted the conscience, he took man’s will into his service. “My Lord Willbewill was as high born as any man in Mansoul, and was as much, if not more, a freeholder than many of them were; besides, if I remember my tale aright, he had some privilege peculiar to himself in the famous town of Mansoul. He was a man of great strength, resolution, and courage. He scorned now to be a slave in Mansoul; and therefore resolved to bear office under Diabolus. The tyrant, therefore, made him the captain of the castle, governor of the wall, and keeper of the gates of Mansoul. So that now, next to Diabolus himself, who but my Lord Willbewill in all the town of Mansoul! He had also one Mr. Mind for his clerk, a man to speak on every way like his master, and a deputy under him, and his name was Mr. Affection, one that was also greatly debauched in his principles, and answerable thereto in his life.”
What a problem is the enslaved human will! The Lord Willbewill was a great doer for Diabolus. As far as man’s being is concerned the war turns upon the will. Oh, the strength of the enemy entrenched within the will of fallen man!
“Ye will not…” (John 5:40).
“Ye would not…” (Matt. 23:37).
Thus it was that Diabolus proceeded with his terrible work. The image of Shaddai was defaced, and his own horrible image set up. The laws of Shaddai were destroyed, and his own vain statutes made law. At every point, Mansoul was debased and constituted the enemy of its true King. Well might Diabolus now think himself safe, but the cross is in the field!
(ii) The weapon of deception
The devil is a liar. He is a master of deception. He knows how to disguise himself and how to hide his real intentions. Again and again in the course of the war we find the weapon of deceit being employed. Diabolus gained the town in the first place by deceiving it, by making insinuations as to the character and purpose of Shaddai. He held the town by the same means. Later he sought to regain the town by, “Sugaring his lips, and seeming to be a very sweet-mouthed prince.”
The terrible thing about being deceived is that we do not find out until afterwards, until it is too late. How often people and things are not what they seem to be! The Gibeonites are always appearing and taking us in! (Joshua 9). And how the enemy loves to conjure up within us a host of imaginations, questions, reactions, doubts and feelings! The human soul, with all its variableness, provides him with just the ground he needs. The disguised Diabolonians were found in the Market-place, the realm of man’s conscious life. There is no defence against “the deceiving one” except a very close and humble walk with the Lord. The truth is a wonderfully emancipating thing! The Lord Jesus said: “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).
“We know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 20).
(iii) Old Mr. Prejudice, the keeper of Ear-Gate
Old Mr. Prejudice was one of Lord Willbewill’s officers and was by him given command of Ear-Gate, “the gate in at which the King’s forces sought most to enter.” He had under his command sixty deaf men! Oh, the enemy knows the value of spiritual deafness due to prejudice! How tragically true it is that people cannot hear the Lord because they have made up their minds already. Old Mr. Prejudice has always been one of the enemy’s most valuable and trusted allies. It was prejudice, as much as anything else, that was the ruin of the leaders of Israel when the Lord Jesus was here, and that led to the cross. It is prejudice that is crippling many of the Lord’s children to-day. We all tend to pre-judge people and situations, to make up our minds finally without knowing all the facts, to have our convictions which we will never abandon. Oh, the tragedies that have resulted from deeply-held convictions! The history of the church is strewn with them. The Lord deliver us from old Mr. Prejudice and make us teachable, adjustable people, willing, if need be, to abandon our most cherished convictions, in pursuit of the truth.
(iv) Ill-Pause, Diabolus’ orator and the ancient enemy of Mansoul
Whenever Diabolus had a difficult matter on hand, he took old Ill-Pause with him, that is, the spirit of hesitation, the spirit of procrastination. Both in the gaining of the town and in the retaining of the town Ill-Pause rendered Diabolus invaluable service. The enemy knows the value of gaining time when he is in difficulties. He knows that if only he can get us to parley with him, if only he can persuade us to put off till to-morrow that whole-hearted response to the Lord which He is looking for to-day, that adjustment to or faith in the Lord which is needed to-day, then almost certainly he will have won the day.
Is it not for this reason that the Lord is so practical in His dealings with us? He is not interested in what we know but in what we are. The letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians begin in the heavenlies and end in the home! The Lord knows how easy it is to be hearers of the Word and not doers, and we shall never be doers of the word if we listen to Ill-Pause.
(v) Mr. Puff-Up, Diabolus’ founder, and Mr. Loth-to-Stoop, a great doer for Diabolus
Here we find in the service of Diabolus, the spirit of pride, together with the unbending spirit. It was Puff-Up who cast in the castle the two great guns, High-Mind and Heady, which were planted upon the tower over Ear-Gate “and mischievous pieces they were.” It was Mr. Loth-to-Stoop that Diabolus sent to Emmanuel in the hope of coming to terms with Him and retaining at least a corner in Mansoul for himself.
The strength of Satan himself lurks within human pride and self-exaltation. All our unyieldedness to the Lord is but the expression of the nature of one who has defied God. But Satan knows that while the pride of man is his strength, the meekness of man is his undoing. It was the meekness, the mighty submissiveness of Christ that cast out Satan. Here are great principles of far-reaching significance. The devil encamps upon our pride and unyieldedness, but is overthrown by a meek and submissive spirit.
(vi) Captain Anything, a great doer in the town
The trouble with captain Anything was that he could not concentrate, neither would he commit himself to either side. For all that he was ever on the side of Diabolus and a great favourite with him. Our God is the God of purpose, of concentration, the God who is doing one thing. There is nothing indefinite in Him. But the enemy is the spirit of dissipation: he loves to scatter, to disintegrate, to have us busy about many things, about anything. He fears the united heart; he fears a united people. “Divide, scatter, disintegrate,” are his watchwords. This is of the evil one. How this race is marked by dissipation, by a preoccupation with a thousand things that do not matter. How we need a spirit of concentration upon the Lord, upon His interests, upon the things which are eternal. Paul had met captain Anything; that is why he wrote: “… one thing I do …” (Phil. 3:13).
(vii) Old Incredulity, universal deputy and generalissimo under Diabolus
Old Incredulity is second to none among all the forces marshalled under Diabolus. He was one of the usurper’s Lord Mayors. By his faithfulness(!) to Diabolus he earned the position of his Universal Deputy. Emmanuel’s captains list Diabolus, Incredulity and Willbewill as the great doers against them. This old fox was the only ally of Diabolus to break prison and make his escape before being executed, after Emmanuel’s taking of the town. We find him finally at the head of the whole army of the Pit. Such is the enemy’s confidence in the spirit of unbelief! As we find Captain Credence, the spirit of faith, as Emmanuel’s Lord Lieutenant over all the forces in Mansoul, so we find. Old Incredulity leading out. the powers of darkness. How suggestive is this! How revealing as to where the enemy’s strength lies, and how helpful to know the Lord’s answer to the power of His enemy, an answer of victory.
“This is the victory … even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
“And what shall I more say? For the time will fail me if I tell of”—Mr. Carnal-Security, who brought the town into grievous bondage; of Mr. No-Truth, who was entrusted with the work of defacing the image of Shaddai; of Mr. False Peace, a great man, and son of Mr. Flatter and Mrs. Soothe-up; of the Lord Covetousness, who disguised himself as one Prudent-Thrifty; of old Evil-Questioning, who preferred to go by the name of Honest-Inquiry, and his children, Doubt (the eldest), Legal-Life, Wrong-Thoughts-of-Christ, Clip-Promise (abuser of the King’s Coin). Carnal Sense the elusive, Live-by-Feeling, and Self-Love (who was brained by Captain Self-Denial); of the terrible Captain Sepulchre; of the drumming of Diabolus’ Drummer; and of the great Army of Doubters which sought to engulf the town.
To a further consideration of some of these we may later return. but enough has been said to indicate some of the secrets of the enemy’s strength. Let us, in closing, set over against the power of the enemy…
The greater strength of the Lord
“The Lord is a man of war” (Ex. 15:3).
If we have given close and detailed consideration of the power of the enemy, it does after all only serve to magnify the transcendent power of God, for when the Devil has done his worst—and what a terrible worst it is—the final victory is with the Lord! Oh, the wisdom, the power and the grace of God which are expressed in the face of such opposition! How the Lord delights to turn the darkest night into the brightest day!
While any detailed consideration must wait, let us see a little now of the Lord in action as a Man of War.
The Lord has foreseen everything and provided for every eventuality before the war for Mansoul has even begun! The victory is won before the war has begun. The triumph of the cross is an eternal fact, which the enemy is seeking in vain to circumvent. “Mansoul is won!” is the battle cry before Mansoul is in fact won! See Diabolus crouch and cringe before Emmanuel. He knows it is only a question of time, he knows he has lost the battle, and yet he will fight it out to the bitter end. See the mighty armies of heaven, under Emmanuel and His Captains, on the move with the great battering rams and golden slings. Watch the breaking open of Ear-Gate, in spite of Old Prejudice and his Deaf Men. See the power of the enemy disintegrate until Diabolus is made a spectacle and cast out, and then see the wisdom and grace of Emmanuel win the town to His allegiance. It is one thing to make us bow the knee, it is quite another to win our hearts. It is grace that wins our hearts always, and the Lord will be satisfied with nothing less.
See again the wonderful transformation of Mansoul through the presence of Emmanuel and His Captains. Heaven has come in, the old constitution set up by Diabolus is swept away, and a heavenly constitution takes its place.
And when the folly of the town gives the enemy another opportunity of expressing his power, the sovereign grace of Emmanuel only finds new ways of bringing good out of evil and glory out of shame. Well do we worship Him, who is greater than all; greater than all that we are, greater than all our sin and limitations, and greater than the enemy at his worst. The Lord make us alive to the secret strength of the enemy, both in our lives and in the wider realm of his interest in this world, but above all give us a deeper, ever deeper, appreciation of His transcendent greatness and worthiness.
In our last study we gave a fairly detailed review of the strength of the enemy as it is revealed in Bunyan’s book, the word of God and our own experience. This we did because of the supreme importance of spiritual intelligence in this great conflict over Mansoul, and to magnify the surpassing greatness of the power of God. Before we turn to a fuller consideration of heaven’s supremacy, of “Christ crucified … the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23, 24), let us once again remind ourselves of the greatness of the issues at stake in this war.
The famous town of Mansoul lies between two contending empires. Built by the good King Shaddai for His own delight and as a gift to His Son, the town has fallen a prey to the insinuating usurper, Diabolus, whose governing motive in assaulting Mansoul is an unquenchable hatred of Shaddai and His Son. With the recovery of Mansoul, therefore, is bound up the satisfaction and vindication of Shaddai, the rightful inheritance of Emmanuel His Son, and the realisation of the purpose for which the town was built. Only as we come into an ever deeper understanding of these issues shall we be able to comprehend our own lives and experiences and to, “Suffer hardship … as good soldiers of Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 2:3).
Now let us turn to a consideration of heaven‘s power as disclosed by Bunyan in this allegory.
The sovereignty of God
“The Lord is King for ever and ever” (Psalm 10:16).
The sovereignty of God is a mighty reality. He cannot fail! He cannot be outwitted. In the very nature of things He cannot lose the war. He is God; all things lie within His control. However much things may seem to have got out of hand in this world or in our lives, the Lord still in fact has everything in His hands. It is one of the good things in this book that we are continually discovering the complete mastery the Lord has of the whole situation.
Heaven’s power takes its rise, Bunyan discloses, in an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son. The destiny of Mansoul is secured, before the town has in fact been built. The enemy has been out manoeuvred even before he has appeared on the field of battle! Herein is the greatness of God, that He has foreseen everything, provided for every eventuality beforehand, and has done so without touching the free will of man, and in spite of the enemy. He could have destroyed Satan long ago, but He has chosen rather to let him do his worst and thus provide a background for His abounding grace and power. Here is an important key to the spiritual life. Why do the Lord’s people suffer so much? Why is the enemy allowed to have things apparently so much his own way? Because the Lord is after character in His people, and character is only formed in the face of opposition (Rom. 5:3, 4). The enemy provides us with the opportunity of discovering the Lord, and as we discover Him we are changed into the same image. Further, Satan has raised an issue in the universe as to the worthiness of God, which God must and will answer. His answer is first in Christ and then in the Church. We are part of God’s answer to His enemy. This explains much, (Eph. 3:9-11).
The most glorious manifestation of the sovereignty of God is thus seen in His ability to transcend evil and to make it serve His own good purposes. Herein is the greatness of God that, while He could so easily remove the opposition, He chooses rather to make it His servant! When the whole story is told it will be found that the devil has been God’s servant. Here indeed is a great mystery. But is not this the glory of the cross? At the cross the devil did his worst against God, and in so doing cast himself out! Truly it takes a great general so to outmanoeuvre his enemy that he is found fighting against himself! The fury and malice of the enemy at the cross only provided the Lord with the ground required to cast him out, to redeem man from his terrible captivity, to recover and secure for ever His own purpose and inheritance, and to glorify His Name, that is, to establish for ever beyond question throughout the created universe His unutterable worthiness to be God alone. “The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). May the Lord enlarge and encourage our hearts by a new sense of His power. The power of the enemy is so terribly real in these days. The Lord give us grace to lay hold of the fact that, as we abide within His sovereignty, the enemy has no power other than to serve us. How else can we explain Paul’s words: “We … rejoice in our tribulations” (Romans 5:3), and: “Our light affliction … worketh for us … an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
The triumph of the cross
We have already indicated that the cross is the suprel1e manifestation of the power of God. Now: in the background of the Holy War lies this absolute triumph of the cross. Heaven marches :,on Mansoul out of this absolute victory. The infinite meaning of the cross is Heaven’s greatest weapon. From the beginning of the war until the end’ the cross is in the field t. Indeed, the cross was in Heaven before the war began, and long after it is all over the theme of Heaven’s song will be: “Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain”.
Bunyan puts it like this: “The Son of Shaddai, having stricken hands with his Father, and promised that he would be his Servant to recover his Mansoul again, (before Mansoul had fallen) stood by his resolution, nor would he repent of the same. The purport of which agreement was this: to wit, that at a certain time, prefixed by both, the King’s Son should take a journey into the Country of Universe, and there, in a way of justice and equity, by making amends for the follies of Mansoul, He should lay a foundation of her perfect deliverance from Diabolus and from his Tyranny.”
The cross is to be found everywhere in Bunyan’s history of the Great War. It is in virtue of that victory that Emmanuel casts Diabolus out of Mansoul. The emancipating power of the cross is brought to bear upon the Mansoulians, the true inhabitants of the town. The destructive power of the cross is brought to bear upon the Diabolonians, the allies of Diabolus within the town. The power of the cross is in the town for its full recovery and development.
The Energies of life: the nine heavenly captains
As soon as the news of Mansoul’s fall reaches the Court above, heaven goes into action for the recovery of the town. Heaven’s siege of Mansoul, Bunyan reveals, falls into two distinct phases. which culminate in the recapture of the town by Emmanuel. First the four Captains of Shaddai take the field with their men; later Emmanuel takes the field in person, accompanied by His five Captains. These heavenly captains surely set forth the energy of Divine life. We see these captains first besieging the town and then taking up residence in it. When heaven has conquered our hearts, heaven takes up residence there.
(i) The four captains of Shaddai
These four captains are described as, “Very stout and rough-hewn men, men that were fit to break the ice, and to make their way by dint of sword,” and they describe themselves as, “The power and force of Shaddai.” Their names are Captain Boanerges (his ensign was Mr. Thunder), Captain Conviction, Captain Judgment. and Captain Execution.
In the persons of these captains we see heaven marching by way of the law, and see the Energies of Righteousness besieging the town. These captains offer Mansoul conditions of peace: the law proffers peace to those who keep it. They call, they command Mansoul to return to the way of righteousness. But Mansoul has no ability to respond. Well do we know that the law provides us with no ability to live up to its righteous requirements. There is a fatal inability about us all, until grace takes the field.
Now we must pause a moment to remind ourselves that, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good” (Rom. 7:12). There is nothing wrong with the law; it is the expression of the nature of God. The trouble is with us, the trouble is in us. “The law … was weak through the flesh” (Rom. 7:3). We are totally unable to answer to the law. For this reason, in Christ we are not under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). But let us be careful not to misunderstand this verse. The life under grace is not a lawless life, far from it. We are not under law simply because the law is now in us. Through grace, “The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4). The law thunders at us from above and calls us to climb upward. But grace comes to us where we are in all our weakness, gives us a new heart and causes us to walk in the way of righteousness (Ezek. 36:25-27). Grace lifts us upward.
So, the four captains were unable to recover the town. Their mission was an important one, of course. Theirs was a preparatory work. Their failure was not their fault. If only they had had, “But one substantial friend in the town,” but alas. Mansoul was in the grip of a tyrant. True, there was a mutiny in the town as a result of the activities of these captains, but it was soon put down. My Lord Understanding and Mr. Conscience had been awakened and had made their voices heard in the town, but they were soon clapped into prison. The captains, therefore, could only appeal to heaven for reinforcements, and for a Man to head them, that the town may both love and fear.
(ii) The five captains of Emmanuel
Emmanuel, the Golden Prince, now takes the field in person, accompanied by His five captains and their men. The names of these captains were Captain Credence. Captain Good-Hope, Captain Charity, Captain Innocent and Captain Patience. These captains embody the Energies of grace. Grace has now taken the field. Heaven is now marching by the way of grace. Be it noted that the four captains of Shaddai, the Energies of Righteousness, are still taking part in the siege of the town, under Emmanuel. They are fighting alongside of the five captains. Grace and righteousness fight together in this war. The holiness and the love of God always move together. But the immediate point is this: by the coming of Emmanuel and His captains, grace has provided for Mansoul an ability, a new basis of life, which the four captains could not provide. The coming of Emmanuel marks a great turning point in the campaign. Grace has made the impossible possible!
(iii) The town captured and possessed
So now we read of how the great battering-rams and slings of the Word of God were brought to bear upon the town; we see the white flag planted upon Mount Gracious and the red flag upon Mount Justice, and also the black flag of defiance, but “Neither Mercy nor Judgment, nor Execution of Judgment, would or could come near to the heart of Mansoul;” we look on and listen while Emmanuel encounters Diabolus; we hear of Mr. Loth-to-Stoop’s ensnaring propositions, and of Diabolus’ offer to set up a Ministry of Reformation in Mansoul with himself in charge as a Minister of Righteousness!
However, the time comes when Ear-Gate is broken open. At the command of Emmanuel, Captains Boanerges, Conviction and Judgment take possession of the house of Mr. Conscience, which was hard by the castle; whilst Captain Execution is busy securing the back streets, pursuing Lord Willbewill, and slaying such as old Mr. Prejudice. As yet the five captains have not entered the town, but Good-Hope and Charity are very much in evidence at Eye-Gate. Not until the Energies of Righteousness, set forth in the four captains, have. done their work, do Emmanuel and His captains reside in the town.
What lessons are here! The breaking open of Ear-Gate! What a need in all of us, even among the Lord’s people! By nature we are all stone-deaf to the voice of the Lord. Then, the Energies of Righteousness breaking through to the house of Conscience and being quartered there! Surely it is true to say that the spurious or unsatisfactory conversions, and the superficial Christian living, which are such a feature of our day, are due, in part at any rate, to an altogether inadequate conception, in the Church and in her ministry, of the meaning of sin and righteousness. Emmanuel does not allow His grace to shine forth upon the town until it has been brought very low, until Conscience has felt the weight of the law, until Lord Willbewill comes forth with a rope around his neck, and until the town has come to realise the appalling implications of its alliance with Satan. The Lord never heals lightly. He brings low before He raises up. He knows what is in man; He knows what is involved in saving a soul.
After the capture of the town, the casting out of the tyrant and the bringing of Mansoul to a point of realisation and capitulation, Emmanuel’s grace shines forth in pardon and the town is won completely to His allegiance. Captain Credence, the spirit of faith, then takes over the castle from Judgment and Execution, and the town is delivered from the terror of the first four Captains. The way is now clear for Emmanuel to enter. The townsmen want His presence and the castle has been prepared for Him by Captain Credence. It is through faith that Christ dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17).
(iv) The Energies of life resident in the town
When Emmanuel came to abide in the town, He brought with Him all nine Captains. When Christ comes in, heaven itself comes into our hearts! We sometimes sing about full salvation in these words: ‘Life immortal. heaven descending, Lo! my heart the Spirit’s shrine’.
The point is that, in the gift of His Son, God has given us all things. The infinite content of eternal life is ours in Christ. These heavenly captains bring before us something of this content.
At first sight it may seem strange that all nine captains should enter with Emmanuel. Surely the first four captains have no permanent place in Mansoul? Surely, now that the town is under grace, the law may retire from the scene? What need has Mansoul now of such ministry as theirs?
But here is Bunyan’s wisdom. He sees that grace: and righteousness must dwell together in the town, and whereas the four captains were formerly a terror to Mansoul in her rebellion, now, in her submission, they are welcomed as friends! Captain Boanerges and Captain Conviction, who had once so terrified Mr. Conscience, are now invited by him to take up their quarters in his house! The Lord Willbewill, who had not long before suffered so much at the hands of Captain Execution, now takes him and Captain Judgment to help him rule under the Prince for the good of the town. Perfect imagery! Righteousness is our friend and ally when we are on the right side! The law of the Lord should be our delight. The psalmist could say: “Oh, how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
And so the Energies of Righteousness returned with Emmanuel. Boanerges would preach in the town as necessary. How much we need the voice of righteousness in our hearts! And the captains were always on call and willing to lend their power against the lurking allies of Diabolus if they emerged from their dens. The righteousness of God is active and powerful like the light of the sun, and this righteousness is in us. The five Captains also, of course, dwelt in the town. Captain Innocent stayed with Mr. Reason; Captain Patience with Mr. Mind; Captain Charity with Mr. Affection; and Captain Good-Hope with my Lord Understanding. How suggestive it all is! Captain Credence made his home in the castle, where the Lord Chief Secretary also had his lodgings. And, “They two were very great one with another.”
These captains express what Peter speaks of as the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7). As the four speak to us of the righteousness of God, so the five represent the grace of God, Surely, Captain Good-Hope with his standard bearer, Mr. Expectation, point us to, “The God of hope”, who, “Begat us again unto a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3). What a wonderful thing is hope! Hope is one of the abiding things (1 Cor. 13:13), True hope takes its rise in the nature of God, for God is always moving on in a way of increase and enlargement. “Of the increase of his government … there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). There is no end with God and His purpose. The end of this world-order only introduces a boundless future of unending and increasing glory. He is the God of Hope!
And Captain Charity, with his standard bearer, Mr. Pitiful: well. he is just saying, “God is love.” There is a heart behind the universe. How important it is for us to lay hold of this, to grasp this. God’s purpose is a purpose of love, not some cold, mechanical conception. It is possible for us to see something of the purpose of God and to be standing for it, and yet at the same time to be out of heart-fellowship with God about it. “If I have not love, I am nothing,” is Paul’s drastic word.
And Captain Innocent, with his standard bearer. Mr. Harmless; what shall we say of them? Surely, here again we are confronted with yet another attribute of the divine nature. There is something awful about innocence, about guilelessness. We sometimes sense it in a little child, a wonderful transparency, a complete lack of duplicity. God is like this. It is written of the Lord Jesus that He was guileless; that He, “Did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22). He walked in the power of a wonderful transparency, a wonderful innocence. This too is our calling in Him. May Captain Innocent have a fuller place in all our hearts.
And Captain Patience, with his standard bearer, Mr. Suffer-Long. We all know something of the long-suffering, the steadfast, persevering grace of God. He is the God of patience. He patiently pursues His purpose, ‘unresting, unhasting, and silent as light’. How deeply we need the spirit of perseverance in these days, Sometimes it seems as if we cannot go on a minute longer; we are sorely tempted to retire from the race. And how deeply we need its complement, the spirit of forbearance. How intolerant and unkind we are by nature: how lacking in sensitiveness, Truly, if the Lord dealt with us as we so often deal with one another, it would go ill with us all. “Love suffereth long, and is kind … Love beareth all things.” Now, Christ is in us as the God of patience.
And then there is the noble Captain Credence with his standard bearer, Mr. Promise. But is faith an attribute of the divine nature? Well, what is faith really? Is it not essentially the spirit of confidence? And is not confidence the very breath of heaven? Is it not beautiful to observe the perfect mutual confidence which exists between the Father and the Son, as indicated, say, in the gospel of John? Confidence binds together. Where there is no confidence there is disintegration. This is why the enemy is so set upon shaking our confidence in the Lord, and in one another. If we are not sure of the Lord, we shall never be able to, “Fight the good fight of the faith.“ If we are not sure of one another in the Lord, we shall never be able to fight together in this great warfare. How the enemy delights to see us fighting one another! The Lord show us our folly.
Now, these great Captains, these Energies of life, are in us. They have come in with Emmanuel. “He that hath the Son, hath the life” (1 John 5:12). “Greater is he that is in you” (1 John 4:4). But we must realise that these Captains did not come into Mansoul to oust the true inhabitants of the town. The fact that Christ is in us does not make us less than real people. God always deals with us as moral, responsible beings. The Mansoulians must play their part and work together with the captains. The Christian life is a holy communion between the grace of God and us. While all things are of God, we must receive, use and co-operate with the grace of life.
The weapons of life
When Emmanuel went to war, He took with Him not only His Captains, but His weapons, the weapons of life.
That great weapon of the cross we have already considered a little. But there are also the great battering rams and golden slings, the sword of Emmanuel and the shield of Captain Credence, the silver armour of the Captains and the melodious silver trumpets. For the present we will think of two only of these weapons of life.
(i)Emmanuel’s golden slings
These slings (and the battering rams) came from the court and represent, of course, the word of God, The truth is a mighty weapon; the truth liberates. “Thy word is truth.” “I am the truth.“ First. the slings are brought to bear upon the town. The truth makes war upon Mansoul as it lies under the tyranny of the liar. Later, the slings are set up in the town for its protection, When Diabolus returns again, he is greeted by the slings, and Bunyan comments:. “There is nothing to Diabolus so terrible as the well playing of Emmanuel’s slings.” Now, Christ is the Word of God, and as we bring Him to bear upon the enemy, the enemy will flee. The fact is that Satan cannot stand up to Christ, and as we abide in Him, in His authority, in His victory, our enemy will have to give way to us. The Lord make us good slingers!
(ii) Emmanuel’s invincible weapon of war
“There was also an instrument, invented by Emmanuel, that was to throw stones from the castle of Mansoul, out at Mouth-gate; an instrument that could not be resisted, nor that would miss of execution. Wherefore, for the wonderful exploits that it did when used, it went without a name: and it was committed to the care of, and to be managed by, the brave captain, the Captain Credence, in case of War.”
Surely, this irresistible weapon can only signify the utterance of faith. True faith cannot be silent. What the heart believes the mouth will confess. Now this instrument, Bunyan says, was invented by Emmanuel. How He used it in the days of His flesh! Do we not recall His words in the wilderness of temptation: “It is written … it is written,” and His words at the tomb of Lazarus: “Father. I thank thee that thou heardest me … Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:41, 43)? This is the utterance of faith, and it is invincible. “From the castle”, we read—that is from the heart, springing out of heart-fellowship with God; “Out at Mouth-gate”—that is, a faith which is expressed and definite. And it was managed by Captain Credence, the spirit of faith. May the Lord give us such a confidence in Himself in our hearts as will find a definite expression in relation to real needs and situations.
May the Lord, our Rock, teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight. And, “Though wrestling … against principalities .. powers … world rulers … spiritual hosts of wickedness,” give us to know Him inwardly as the God of peace.
In our earlier studies we have seen something of the great issues at stake in the long-drawn-out conflict over Mansoul, and we can never be too deeply impressed with these issues. Not only is the destiny of man involved (and that means our destiny), but heaven is warring to vindicate and to satisfy God, and to win for God’s Son all that is rightfully His. How solemn are the issues behind every Christian’s life! How glorious will be the end if we cooperate fully with the grace of God!
We have spied out and discovered something of the strategy and strength of the enemy, and found good cause not to underestimate him; but then, with Bunyan’s invaluable help, we have also surveyed the overwhelming superiority of heaven’s power. We must now turn to consider…
Mansoul’s responsibility and cooperation
The Christian life is a holy communion between the grace of God and us. It is of the greatest importance that we realise that God always deals with us as free, moral beings. He may and does use a thousand means to bring us to Himself and to urge us on to glory, but always in His dealings with us a point is reached when ‘it is up to us’ and He waits for our response. He must have our co-operation. God is not interested in automatons. His purpose is bound up with real people, who are responding fully, gladly and voluntarily to Him. The moment we cease to be real people (and this is what is really involved in a certain erroneous view of predestination), the whole purpose of God in man has gone down in ruins. God has a heart that can never be satisfied by puppets.
When Mansoul fell to Emmanuel, we saw that He entered the town bringing with Him a great heavenly company. With Him came The Lord Chief Secretary of the Father’s House (the Holy Spirit), who was to be First Minister in the town. Then, there were the nine heavenly captains, the Energies of Heavenly Life, the Energies of Righteousness and Grace; and with Emmanuel came also Mr. God’s Peace, who, “Was … made Governor of the town in general, especially over the Castle” (cf. Phil. 4:7). In a word, Heaven came into Mansoul We know it is true. When Christ comes into our hearts, heaven comes in.
Now, we might have supposed that, with the coming of Emmanuel and His heavenly retinue, the Mansoulians, the true and native inhabitants of the town, would have been ousted or at best given very subordinate and insignificant positions in the new regime. But here is Bunyan’s wisdom: when Emmanuel forms His government and ‘newmodels’ the town, we find that the new constitution consists of a wonderful fellowship, a beautiful partnership between Heaven and the Mansoulians. In fact, as we shall see, presently, Emmanuel insists on having Mansoul’s full cooperation. Emmanuel appoints my Lord Willbewill (the human will), who had but lately been such a great doer for Diabolus, “To rule under Him for the good of the town.” My Lord Understanding once again takes up his office as Lord Mayor, and Emmanuel bids him that he should build him a Palace near Eye-gate, and that he should build it in fashion like a Tower for defence. He bid him also that he should read in the Revelation of Mysteries all the days of his life, that he might know how to perform his office aright: Old Mr. Conscience takes up a new appointment as junior minister to the Lord Chief Secretary, Bunyan thereby indicating the close relationship between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit.
Now, what is the main point of all this? It is that the wonderful fact that Christ is in us, as the hope of glory, does not make us less than real people. On the one hand we must avoid the pitfall of legality, that is, trying to produce what God wants, of ourselves and from ourselves. Oh, the futility of self-effort! The word of the Lord Jesus is final: “Apart from me ye can do nothing.” On the other hand we must avoid the pitfall of passivity, that is, expecting God to do everything, while we sit back, without our exercise of faith and cooperation. Too often, perhaps, the Lord has to say: “Apart from you, I can do nothing.” We need to keep the balance which we see in Paul’s life: “I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:13).
How the enemy loves to see us in this pit of passivity, frightened to do anything lest perchance we should move in the flesh, constantly trying to analyse ourselves to see whether we are in the flesh or in the Spirit. We may be quite as useless to the Lord in our futile passivity as in our fleshly activity. Of course, there is a true waiting upon and for the Lord. We have to learn to be, silent unto God (Psalm 62:1), but let us watch against that lack of faith that tends to spiritual limpness. Christ is to be expressed through real people, not colourless nonentities. While God has a tremendous work on to make us whole in Christ, we shall always be ourselves fundamentally. Human personality is a wonderful creation of God. The infinite variety in human personality, when redeemed and made whole by the miracle of transforming grace, is to provide the Lord with His chief means of expressing His glories. When. Paul wrote Galatians 2:20, he did not mean that Paul had ceased to exist. There will always be a real man called Paul ‘in Christ’. While Paul begins this verse, “I have been crucified with Christ … it is no longer I that live … Christ liveth in me,” he goes on to say that, “That life which I now live … I live in faith.” The fact is that until Paul was in Christ he was only the shadow of a real man. It is only in. Christ that we are really alive. Christ is our glorious destiny. Outside of Christ man is but a travesty of the real thing, a tragic passing shadow. Not until the Golden Prince, Emmanuel, came to dwell in Mansoul did the town begin to appreciate something of that high destiny for which it had been built by the good King Shaddai.
The true work of the cross
In our Key to the Characters in The Holy War we see that there are two sides to the cross. There is what we will call the redemptive aspect of the cross on the one hand, and on the other what we will call the destructive aspect. In the diagram we see that there are four groups of characters in Bunyan’s allegory. There are those that issue from Heaven, from the Court, and we need only say that the cross is a glory and a wonder in Heaven. On the other side we have the characters that issue from the Pit, headed by the Giant Diabolus. For them the cross spells ruin and destruction, and they know it. For the Diabolonians, the true Sons of the Pit, the offspring and allies of Diabolus in the town, the cross also means terror and destruction. But what of the Mansoulians: what did the cross mean to them? Redemption, not extinction.
Now, here is something of the greatest importance. The Lord, by His cross, is making war upon the Diabolonians for the deliverance of the Mansoulians. The Lord purposes to exterminate the Diabolonians in us—that which is of Satan in us; but the power of His cross is established in our lives by the Holy Spirit, not to kill us, but to free us. This is a most important distinction. Because Satan has got such a terrible foothold in human nature, because we are so deeply involved in an unholy alliance with the evil one, it sometimes seems as if the Lord is killing us, whereas He is really destroying the works of the devil in us. Let us make no mistake about it: there is that in us which is going to die, which must die, which has no place in heaven. In the cross of the Lord Jesus a certain kind of person (the kind we are by nature) goes out for ever, but the grace of God is at work in us to make us of a different kind, like Christ.
See how clear and helpful Bunyan is on this point. When Emmanuel was giving His captains their final orders prior to the capture of Mansoul, He told them, “To be sure to show themselves men of war against Diabolus and all Diabolonians; but favourable, merciful, and meek to the old inhabitants of Mansoul.” The Lord show us the far reaching significance of this distinction between Mansoulians and Diabolonians.
The cross and the Diabolonians
When Mansoul had been recaptured by Emmanuel, the cross was set up in the town, as a power against the lurking Diabolonians who still remained in their dens in and about the wall. Of these Diabolonians there were two species. There were the pure-bred variety who came with Diabolus from the Pit, such as Mr. Puff-up, who were easily recognised and therefore fairly easily brought to the cross. But there were also the home-bred Diabolonians, such as Mr. Carnal-Security, who. being born in the town, were much more difficult to discover and deal with, since they often looked like Mansoulians, and especially so if Mansoul was in a poor spiritual state. The case of Mr. Carnal-Security (confidence in the flesh) is a significant one, for it indicates the depth of Satan’s grip upon human nature. and helps us to understand why the Lord has sometimes to deal with us so drastically and so deeply. In the time of Mansoul’s rebellion, the Lord Willbewill, who was then a great one for Diabolus, was pleased to give his daughter, the Lady Fear-Nothing, to a Diabolonian. Mr. Self-Conceit, to wife. The fruit of their union was Mr. Carnal-Security, who presently did great injury to the town. Now, there is nothing wrong with fearlessness, but when fearlessness is wedded to self-conceit the result will be that spiritual plague of self-confidence.
Well, the Lord’s answer to Diabolonians of whatever sort is the cross, and we must now quote Bunyan’s most illuminating report of the execution of some Diabolonians who had been caught, tried, and condemned in Mansoul after Emmanuel’s capture of the town.
“Now, the day was come in which the prisoners in Mansoul were to be executed. So they were brought to the cross, and that by Manoul, in most solemn manner; for the Prince said that this should be done by the hand of Mansoul. Proof of sincerity pleases me well; let Mansoul, therefore, first lay their hands upon these Diabolonians to destroy them.
“So the town of Mansoul slew them, according to the word of their Prince; but when the prisoners were brought to the cross to die, you can hardly believe what troublesome work Mansoul had of it to put the Diabolonians to death; for the men knowing that they must die, what did they but took courage at the cross, and there resisted the men of the town? Wherefore, the men of Mansoul were forced to cry out for help to the captains and men of war. Now the great Shaddai had a Secretary in the town, and he was a great lover of the men of Mansoul, and he was at the place of execution also; so he, hearing the men of Mansoul cry out against the strugglings and unruliness of the prisoners, rose up from his place, and came and put his hands upon the hands of the men of Mansoul. So they crucified the Diabolonians that had been a plague, a grief, and an offence to the town.”
The cross and the Mansoulians
We have said that for the: true inhabitants of Mansoul, that is, for man, created by God and recreated in Christ, the cross brings redemption, deliverance, cleansing and healing; but we shall be mistaken if we think that Emmanuel just overlooked the fact that the Mansoulians had been so deeply and willingly involved with His enemy. The cross has many aspects and the Lord is very wise in all His dealings with us. Let us take the case of the Lord Willbewill first, by way of illustrating what we mean.
The Lord Willbewill, who, of course, represents the will of man, the human will, had been the most active Mansoulian in the service of Diabolus during Mansoul’s rebellion. Well do we know, as we have said before the strength of the enemy entrenched within the will of fallen man. The will is the key to man’s being. Now, when Emmanuel came in, Willbewill was not put to death, but he had a very bad time. We read that: “Captain Execution hunted the Lord Willbewill sorely; he suffered him not to rest in any corner. He pursued him so hard that he drove his men from him, and made him glad to thrust his head into a hole.”
Now, Captain Execution really represents the cross in action. Human self-will must be chased until it buries its head in a hole. It takes the Lord a long time to get our wills completely over on to His side. Sometimes we sing:
‘Chase this self-will through all my heart,
Through all its latent mazes there;
Make me Thy duteous child, that I
Ceaseless may Abba, Father, cry.’
And this really sums it up. But note: Willbewill is destined to live to serve Emmanuel. Mansoul would not be Mansoul without him; man would no longer be man without a will of his own: yet Heaven will be filled one day with happy slaves who have been conquered by the love of God and overcome by His grace.
A further illustration of the way in which the Mansoulians learnt the meaning of the cross is to be found in the way in which Emmanuel dealt with the town after its capture. At first Emmanuel is very reserved and there is much heart-searching in Mansoul. The growing realisation of its sin confounds the town. Mr. Desires-Awake and Mr. Wet-Eyes are sent to petition the Prince, while the ruling powers in the town are kept in ward by Emmanuel’s captains. At length, the elders of the town, including Willbewill, are summoned by the Prince, and when they appear before Him as Man; soul’s representatives, they do so as self-condemned prisoners, with ropes about their necks. “Thou art just, for we have sinned,” is all they have to say; “These ropes are to bind us withal, to the place of execution, if mercy be not pleasing in thy sight.” Mansoul has at last realised that it deserves. nothing but death. The judicial meaning of the cross has been brought home to the town—the fact of guiltiness before the law. Up to this moment Emmanuel has withheld the shining forth of His grace, but now it is safe for the town to be overwhelmed with the wonder of forgiveness, the possibility of which Emmanuel has Himself secured in His cross. How. wise the Lord is! This is love’s wisdom, that it lets the prodigal come to himself. It was sentiment, not love, that brought Absalom back. Absalom never came to himself, with what tragic results we know. God’s love is very, very wise. He knows what is in man.
The ministry of Lord Willbewill, governor of the town under Emmanuel
Bunyan’s study of the Lord Willbewill is one of the most valuable things in his history of the war. We have already seen that Willbewill was Diabolus’ staunchest friend in Mansoul, and how strongly he came under Emmanuel’s hand of chastening at the town’s deliverance. We must now see the vital part he was called upon to play in Emmanuel’s new regime.
Willbewill was appointed, “To rule under the Prince for the good of the Town”. The will is a ruling factor in man’s constitution. Decision and decisiveness are important factors in spiritual progress and warfare. Very often everything turns upon an act of will. Further, Willbewill was charged, “To take care of the Gates (the senses), the Wall (the body, the flesh), and Towers in Mansoul; also the Prince gave him the Militia into his hand, and a special charge to withstand all insurrections and tumults against the peace. He also gave him in commission, that if he found any of the Diabolonians lurking in any corner of Mansoul, he should apprehend them.”
Willbewill had thus to rule over the gates, the senses. It is true that we sometimes need quite deliberately to shut our ears and our eyes and even our mouths! At other times the gates need to be thrown open. And Feel-Gate especially needs ruling. The Wall also needs careful watching. When Paul said, I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage,” (1 Cor. :27) he was just saying that as far as he was concerned Willbewill was continually patrolling the wall, since it was in the wall that so many of the Diabolonians had their dens.
Then we come to Willbewill’s close comradeship with the heavenly Captains, and with Captain Credence in particular. While he enlisted the help of Judgment and Execution, that in the power of righteousness he might rule the town, it is his succouring of Captain Credence in the day of adversity that we shall find most instructive.
Credence, the spirit of faith, had suffered defeat in an encounter with the enemy and lay wounded. It was a dark hour with the leading Captain out of action, but now it was that, “Willbewill did play the Man,” for he stood up and made a brave speech of defiance to the enemy, which, “Did somewhat abate the boldness of Diabolus, and … succour the townsmen and Captains: yea, it was as a plaister to the brave Captain Credence’s Wound.” How instructive this is! There are times when faith is baffled, defeated and wounded, and the enemy is on top of us. Then it is that we are inclined to wallow in our weakness and to give way. It is at such times that an act of will is needed. We shall find the Lord responds very swiftly if we say resolutely: “I will not give way to myself, my feelings, this impossible situation; I will be strong in the Lord; God is still on the throne!” It is not that our wills are adequate in themselves, It is not a question of being strong-willed. But heaven’s power is right behind us when we are positive, on the ground of all that Christ is. Our wills may provide heaven with the only channel in a hopeless situation. What Paul says in another connection, in Romans 7:18, is capable of a wider application: “For to will is present with me.“
There is so much in the Word about this matter. Again and again we have the exhortation to be strong (Joshua 1:6, 9, 18; 1 Chron. 28:20; Haggai 2:4; Eph. 6:10). The Lord does not say, “Feel strong, imagine yourself strong,” but, “Be strong in Me,” and that is a matter of the will.
Consider also the implication of such verses as:
“Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14),
“Set your mind on the things above” (Col. 3:2),
“Put to death … your members … upon the earth” (Col. 3:5), and
“Be ye doers of the word” (James 1:22).
The Lord is just calling us to cooperate fully with the grace of life which is in us.
On another notable occasion we find Willbewill wielding the cross to great effect against the enemy. Having discovered two young Diabolonians, “He has them to Eye-Gate, where he raised a very high cross, just in the face of Diabolus and of his army, and there he hanged the young villains, in defiance to Captain Past-Hope, and of the horrible Standard of the Tyrant.” The redeemed and renewed will should be a great factor in the war. Of Willbewill, Bunyan says:.”Now Willbewill’s blows were like the blows of a giant,” as he fought alongside of Captain Credence. Faith and Resolution must fight together. The Psalmist puts it in a nutshell: “Through Thee will we push down our adversaries: Through Thy Name will we tread them under that rise up against us” (Psalm 44:5).
The significance of Captain Experience
While the Nine Captains came from Heaven, Experience was born in the town. He was a Mansoulian, as was his fellow, Captain Self-Denial. Captain Experience was trained by Captain Credence and always closely associated with him. Faith and experience always go hand in hand. We read that, “Captain Experience came under command to Emmanuel, for the good of the town of Mansoul,“ and that, “His Scutcheon was the dead Lion and the dead Bear!”
The significance of Captain Experience is just this: he did not come from heaven, he was born in the town. God does not give us experience as a gift. He give us the comprehensive gift of Christ and requires us to use and exploit what is in Him. Christ is like an inexhaustible mine of treasure which has to be exploited, like a vast and wealthy continent which has to be explored and possessed. Our experience is what we really possess of Christ, what we have discovered in Him for ourselves.
“Work out your own salvation … for it is God who worketh in you” (Phil. 2:12, 13).
Christ has come into our hearts, and in Him all the potentialities of eternal life, heaven itself. How wonderful! But we must use these inexhaustible resources, we must have a heart to ‘gain Christ’, we must go up and possess our possessions. God is dealing with us as real people; there is that which He will not do for us. He must have a full response from us. Then we shall find that ours is not a life of self-effort and strain, for like Joseph, our hands will be, “Made strong, by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob” (Gen.49:24). God is with us when we are with Him.
“Now there was in the Market-place in Mansoul, and also upon the Gates of the Castle, an image of the blessed King Shaddai. This image was so exactly ingraven (and it was ingraven in gold), that it did the most resemble Shaddai himself of anything that then was extant in the World. This Diabolus basely commanded to be defaced.”
In these words Bunyan vividly brings before us one of the supreme issues in the gigantic controversy which has raged for so long in and around the town of Mansoul. The question of the image, which is in and upon the town, lies at the centre of Heaven’s controversy with Hell. In Genesis 1:26, 27 we read: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ … And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” What a wonderful, holy and unique destiny was man’s in his creation! Created in the image of God! But, alas, the image has been defaced, and we find, “Set up in its stead the horrid and formidable image of Diabolus, to the great contempt of the former king and debasing of his town of Mansoul.” How terribly true is Bunyan’s picture. Man, who was created in the image of God, to reveal what God is like, to be His unique channel of expressing Himself, is now a tragic caricature and the expression of another nature. Not all the feverish efforts of civilisation can cover over the fact that man now belongs to the under-world. “Ye are from beneath,” is the word of the Lord Jesus (John 8:23). But the Lord is jealous for His Name. In defacing God’s image in Mansoul, Diabolus has taken His Name in vain, so that when Emmanuel comes for the town’s deliverance He has this to say to Diabolus:
“Oh, thou Master of Enmity, thou hast of spite defaced my Father’s Image in Mansoul, and set up thy own in its place, to the great contempt of my Father, the heightening of thy sin, and to the intolerable damage of the perishing town of Mansoul.”
And when Diabolus has been cast out by one stronger than he, we read that Emmanuel, “Commanded that the Image of Diabolus should be taken down from the place where it was set up, and that they should destroy it utterly, beating of it into powder, and casting it into the wind, without the town wall; and that the Image of Shaddai, his Father, should be set up again, with his own, upon the Castle gates; and that it should be more fairly drawn than ever, forasmuch as both his Father and himself were come to Mansoul in more Grace and Mercy than heretofore. He would also that his Name should be fairly engraven upon the front of the town, and that it should be done in the best of Gold, for the honour of the town of Mansoul.”
The Lord has clearly set His heart upon having. in man, that which reveals Him, that which represents Him, that which fully responds to Him. The Lord Jesus, of course, alone, has revealed what is in the heart of God for man. In Him alone is the meaning of manhood seen. In Him we see the Father’s perfect representative, for He said: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Him we see one fully responsive to the Father, for He said: “I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me,” and: “I do always the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 6:38; 8:29). Now, we are being conformed to the image of Him who is the image of the invisible God. We are destined, “To be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15). Thus, the Christian life has at its centre this matter of the removal of the usurper’s image and the bringing in of the image and likeness of Him who is all His Father’s delight. Our destiny is to be like him and to have His Name on our foreheads (1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4). How immediate, ever-present and far reaching are the implications of our destiny in union with Christ! One of our deepest needs is an adequate sense of destiny.
It will help us to a better understanding of Mansoul’s destiny if we spend time considering certain features of the town itself, and in particular the significance of the Gates, the Castle and the Market-place.
The five gates of Mansoul
“This famous town of Mansoul had five Gates, in at which to come, out at which to go; and these were made likewise answerable to the Walls: to wit, Impregnable, and such as could never be opened nor forced but by the will and leave of those within. The names of the Gates were these: Ear-gate, Eye-gate, Mouth-gate, Nose-gate, and Feel-gate.”
The gates speak, in the first place, of the five senses, but it is a consideration of the spiritual counterparts of our physical senses that we shall find most instructive. If our outward ears and eyes are important, how much more the inward ears and eyes of the heart. By means of our physical senses we live in this world, but the Lord is concerned to develop spiritual faculties in us, whereby we shall live with Him above. He is not of the world and we are not of the world (John 17:16), but how shall we live as those who belong to Heaven without spiritual senses? Let us look more closely at these gates.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15, etc.)
Ear-gate, Bunyan tells us, was the chief Gate of Mansoul, and many were the battles that raged around it during the course of the war. By nature man is spiritually deaf. We hear with our outward ears, but the inner ear of the heart is stone deaf. This is what the Lord Jesus meant when He said again and again: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This is what John meant when he said: “They are of the world: therefore speak they as of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God heareth us not” (1 John 4:5, 6). This is why it is possible to have a great store of Bible knowledge in the mind and at the same time to be a spiritual pauper. It is not enough to hear with the outward ear; we must hear the Lord speaking to our hearts, and this is only granted to those who are acutely aware of their need. Only as we are cast upon Him will the Lord teach us; He has nothing to say to the wise and prudent and self-sufficient.
But while it is true that we have no ear for God by nature—and this is true of Christians in themselves as well as of the unregenerate (see Rev. 3:22)—the Lord is set upon having a people who know His voice: “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). The Lord Jesus as a Man had an ear for His Father’s voice: “All things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). By new birth the life of this one is in us, and the increase of His life in us will include the development of this faculty of spiritual hearing. How important it is to the Lord that He should have, in such a day as this, those in this world who are in tune with Him, those who know what He is saying and wanting. After all, a deaf servant is not very much use to his master. The great process of conforming us to the image of His Son, the perfect Man, includes the development of this faculty.
“Having the eyes of your heart enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).
What a lot there is in the Word about our eyes, about spiritual sight and spiritual blindness. Eye-gate was regarded as of the greatest strategic importance in the war, both by Emmanuel and by Diabolus. Unfortunately the history of the gates is too detailed for us to attempt to trace it all out here. To put it in a nutshell, while the enemy is always seeking to draw our gaze to himself and the things which are seen, the temporal things, and to frighten us by the display of his power, the Lord is ever seeking to draw our eyes away to His glory and grace and sufficiency, to the things which are not seen, the eternal realities (2 Cor. 4:18). We must learn to look at the things which are not seen! Moses endured, as seeing him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27). In other words, his spiritual eyes were wide open toward Heaven. Moses had a single eye, a singleness of purpose toward God. He also had his eyes open to the greater riches to of Christ. This too is our need, to be people walking in the full light of Heaven, because we have no eyes for anything or anyone save the Lord Himself, to be people the eyes of whose hearts are being more and more enlightened to understand the glorious meaning of our being united to the Lord of glory (Matt. 6:22, 23 ; Ephesians 1:18, 19)
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).
By our mouths, of course, we are able to taste, to eat and to speak, but these natural functions immediately bring before us their deeper significance. We read: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good,” and: “If ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious to (Psalm 34:8; 1 Pet. 2:3). Well, we, who know the Lord, have tasted Him, that He is both good and gracious. And are we not learning, as we go on with Him, that there are many things in ourselves and in this world that leave a nasty taste in the mouth, things that are better left alone!
Then again, we read in John 6:53, 54: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.” Well, we who are the Lord’s know that He is our life and that we have to feed upon Him continually, and are we not also learning to keep off all food that does not agree with us! We need the true bread and the living bread which is Christ, and to keep off everything else. A wrong diet surely accounts for many spiritual ailments among the Lord’s people. It is the rich, nourishing food of the living Christ that we need. We all know the difference between home-made cakes and those we generally have to buy. It is the food that cometh down out of heaven, where we belong, that we need and must have.
But Mouth-gate is also the gate by which we express ourselves, and quite naturally it is with this aspect of Mouth-gate that Bunyan is occupied in his story. He speaks of it as a sally-port, that is, an opening in the fortifications through which petitions could be sent to the Court above, and through which the enemy could be assailed with the Slings of the Word. In an earlier study we have seen something of the importance of the utterance of faith in assaulting the enemy and withstanding his assaults. But, as with the other gates, there is an inner meaning to Mouth-gate, for there is a language of the heart, a speaking with the Lord in our hearts. We commune with the Lord in our hearts, in the first instance; we worship Him in spirit. If this is not true, then no words that we may utter will be true or have any value. What a lot there is in the Word about Mouth-gate, about our talking! What we say gives us away. We are revealed by our words, and, “If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man” (James 3:2). But it is the inner Mouth-gate of our hearts that must be our chief concern, what we are saying in our hearts to the Lord and about people. How easily we fall into murmuring against the Lord in our trials, not with our lips, perhaps, but in our hearts; how easily criticism of others wells up within. The Lord would establish His victory in our hearts as well as at the door of our lips.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
“We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
At first sight it seems strange that there should be any spiritual significance in Nose-gate! Perhaps the thought of Nose-gate makes us smile! Bur there is such a thing as a spiritual sense of smell. Consider what it says of Noah’s burnt-offerings in Genesis 8:21: “And the Lord smelled the sweet savour.” Then, Paul speaks about the savour of the knowledge of God, thus likening the knowledge of Christ to a fragrant smell. Again, Paul speaks of the cross as an offering and a sacrifice to. God for an odour of a sweet smell” (Eph. 5:2). Clearly, then, there is such a thing as a spiritual sense of smell.
In Bunyan’s history of the war,. we read that Diabolus placed Captain Brimstone and Captain Sepulchre at Nose-gate. Well, we have probably all encountered at some time the stifling smell of fumes and fire, and the offensive smell of death and corruption. Captain Brimstone and Captain Sepulchre are terrible spiritual forces bent upon stifling and corrupting our spiritual lives. The powers of hell can be terribly real, pervading, as it were, the very atmosphere.
Then again, a sense of smell can often be our salvation: but for it many of us would have been gassed long ago! If it is true—and it is—to speak of the fragrance of Christ, it is also true to speak of the noisome odour of the under-world. The Lord make us those who are quick to scent where the fragrance of Christ is, and those who carry His fragrance upon us; the Lord make us quick to scent and to avoid everything unsavoury or dangerous.
“Wisdom … her ways are ways of pleasantness” (Proverbs 3:13, 17).
“In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9).
“Captain Cruel and Captain Torment, these Diabolus drew up, and placed against Feel-gate, and commanded them to sit down there for the war. And he also appointed that, if need were, Captain No-Ease should come in to their relief.”
“So the Night was come, and all things by the Tyrant made ready for the work, he suddenly makes his assault upon Feel-gate, and after he had a while struggled there he throws the Gates wide open: for the truth is, those Gates were but weak, and so most easily made to yield.”
The enemy knows how to deploy his forces to the best advantage! How well he knows our weak points! He knows all about Feel-gate, and how to put the pressure on, using Cruel and Torment, and how to keep it on with the help of No-Ease. At one time in the campaign, the body of the town was overrun through Feel-gate. Oh, yes, we know a little of what Paul meant when he said: “We were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, in so much that we despaired even of life.” But then Paul also had the experience of a glorious deliverance: “Out of so great a death” (2 Cor. 1:1-10). The victorious Christian life is not a life in which we are always feeling happy and glibly praising the Lord—it is rather a life in which we triumph in His triumph in the face of overwhelming, impossible odds. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians throws a great deal of light on this.
But Feel-gate also brings before us the spiritual faculty of touch, or spiritual sensitiveness. We all know how wonderfully the physical faculty of touch is developed in a person afflicted with blindness, so that it is even possible for him to read by touch. Spiritual sensitivity is a wonderful thing. We should be learning all the time, from the reactions of the Holy Spirit in our spirits, what we may and what we may not touch.
Now the sum of what we have said is this: that the conforming of us to the image of Christ involves and includes the development in us of spiritual senses. In Adam we possess natural senses, in Christ we possess spiritual senses. Our natural faculties are inherent in human life, but they have to develop none the less. Our spiritual faculties are inherent in Christ’s life in us, but they too must develop. To this end the Holy Spirit is with us that we may grow up in all things into Him, that is, that His image may be increasingly found in us.
The castle-palace in the midst of Mansoul
“There was reared up in the midst of this town a most famous and stately Palace; for strength it might be called a Castle; for pleasantness a Paradise; for largeness a place so copious as to contain all the world. This place the King Shaddai intended but for himself alone.”
In these graphic words Bunyan pictures to us the inward man (Eph. 3:16), the very heart of Mansoul, the inner citadel of the human spirit. It was in this Palace that Shaddai intended to dwell, for the human spirit constitutes man a being who is able to have communion with God, who is spirit. Man is fundamentally a spiritual being. When Diabolus captured the town, he made the Castle his headquarters. The human spirit has thus made possible an unholy alliance with the evil one, so that we read of, “The spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). We need to see that salvation involves a very deep work of grace in us, reaching down to the hidden recesses of our beings, far below the world of our consciousness. The Castle has got to be cleared of the enemy as well as the Market-place and the Walls. Our redemption includes that of our spirits, souls and bodies (1 Thess. 5:23). If we realised something of the magnitude of the Holy Spirit’s task to sanctify us wholly, we should understand better some of His deep ways with us.
Bunyan speaks of the Castle as ‘the whole strength of the town’ and the ‘Prerogative-royal of Mansoul’; which means just this, that whoever possessed the Castle possessed the town. The Castle was the key to the town. How illuminating this is! Satan’s objective in assailing man at the beginning was to sever man’s link with God and to establish a spiritual link between man and his kingdom of darkness. The Lord’s first objective in seeking fallen man is to establish a bridgehead in the human spirit, and this is just what happens at new birth: the Holy Spirit establishes a bridgehead of life in the human spirit (John 3:6). Emmanuel knew that in order to gain the whole town He had to be. Master of the Castle. Now, here is something of the greatest importance. Until the Lord has captured the inner citadel of the heart, however much the outer defences may have been battered, the town remains in enemy hands. It is quite possible for a life to take a terrible battering, to feel the impact of Emmanuel’s slings, to have the emotions stirred, to have the mind convinced and to hear the booming voice of con science. to have reached a point of apparent surrender, and still to remain in the hands of the enemy. Until a life has capitulated to the Lord and He has taken up residence within there can be no certainty as to the issue of the battle. But once
the Lord is Master of the castle the issue is settled.
The Castle in contrast to the Market-place
Now while the Castle pictures to us the spirit, the residence of the Holy Spirit and the seat of God-consciousness, the Market-place brings before us the sphere of conscious life, the soul, the sphere of self-conscious and world-conscious life. While we need to beware of the pitfall of self analysis, it is clearly possible to distinguish between soul and spirit, or the Word of God would not talk about the dividing of soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). A very great deal is bound up with our so learning to distinguish, but only the Holy Spirit can explain the difference and this He will do largely in experience.
The Market-place was the place where the townsmen congregated, where proclamations were read; it was the place of Audience. It was there that business was transacted, for Mansoul was a Market-town. How well the picture of a market portrays the human soul; a place of traffic, of turbulent desires and emotions, of eager self-interest, of incessant hubbub! How well we know the whirl of this life as it makes its impact upon us every day, and how great is the need of retiring into the castle, as it were, that is, into quiet communion with the Lord in our spirits, deeper down than all the turmoil.
But our immediate point is this, that our souls are the vantage ground of the enemy. At one point in the war the enemy broke into the town and, “The body of the town was the Seat of War,” for about two years and a half. It may be that we have known times when the enemy has got right on top of us, when we have felt at the end of everything, when Conscience has been upon a rack, when Understanding has almost had his eyes put out and we have been battered into bewilderment. Then it is that we need to recall that in the hour of crisis the Castle held out. The Lord Secretary was still in the Castle, and with him the Heavenly captains and Willbewill also, and Godly-Fear was keeper of the Castle gates. When the enemy comes in like a flood we must learn to retire to the quiet strength of the Castle, and as we do we shall find that the Lord lifts up a standard against him (Isa. 59:19). We are united to the Lord much deeper down than our feelings and understanding. It is only the surface of the sea that is whipped up by the storm: the deep is quite unaffected by it. The Lord would have us learn to live with Him in the Castle: so will the rest of the town come under the power of His peace.
The cross and the image, in the Market-place
We have already said that the Market-place of the soul is in a particular way the haunt of the enemy. It was here that the disguised Diabolonians offered their services to the Mansoulians, and Mr. Mind hired Prudent-Thrifty (really Lord Covetousness), Mr. Godly-Fear hired Good-Zeal (really Lord Anger), and Willbewill hired Harmless-Mirth (really Lord Lasciviousness). It is in the realm of our feelings our emotions, our desires, our likes and dislikes, our ideas and opinions, that the enemy deceives us and takes us in. For this reason the cross was set up in the Market-place. Wherever the enemy is found the cross comes in to answer him. The power of the cross has to be planted deeply into our corrupted and deceivable souls for their recovery.
Now, the soul is the man. It is written: “And man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Man is a spiritual being but he is also a soul. We are real people, real individuals. Man’s soul is wonderful material for good or evil. While the enemy is out to degrade and to destroy us and to utilise us for his own ends, the Lord is out to recover and gain our souls, us, by His cross for His glory. See how Satan employs the souls of fallen men for his own ends: why, this world is serving Satan day and night, through its ambitions, longings, desires, thoughts, intentions and self-seeking. But the Lord’s concern is to set up His image in the Market. In the beginning the image was upon the castle gates and in the Market-place also. When Emmanuel recaptured the town, a still fairer image was set upon the Castle gates, and His Name engraven upon the front of the town, but there is no mention of the image in the Market-place. How significant is this omission! We may in a moment come to bear His image upon our spirits at new birth, for He has entered; we may in a moment come to bear His Name upon us when we become His; but the image in the Market-place involves a great work in us whereby we are changed in character, transformed into the same image from glory to glory, until we are conformed to the image of his Son, and to this great work the Lord the Spirit has set His hand.
“Remember, therefore, O my Mansoul, that thou art beloved of me: as I have, therefore, taught thee to watch, to fight, to pray, and to make war against my foes, so now I command thee to believe that my love is constant to thee. O my Mansoul, how have I set my Heart, my Love upon thee! Watch! Behold, I lay none other burden upon thee than what thou hast already. Hold fast till I come.”
With these strong, loving, words from the lips of Emmanuel, Bunyan closes his history of ‘Holy War’, and it now remains for us, in this our concluding study, to round off, to sum up, and to hear the conclusion of the matter. Of course, the war will still go on, as far as we are concerned—very much so! We shall continue to experience the overwhelming strength of the enemy—and also to find that the Lord is greater. We shall be tested to breaking point, that patience may have its perfect work and that we, “May be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). But the Lord will always have the last word, and that will be life and resurrection for us. The need will remain of our cooperation with the grace of life, moment by moment, and that immense work of recovery to which the Lord has set His hand will go on in the face of all the enemy can do, until heaven’s glorious design for Mansoul is accomplished, and it is, “A spectacle of wonder, a monument of mercy, and the admirer of its own mercy.”
From the many things which we might still consider with profit (there seems to be no end to Bunyan’s treasure-house!), we must now select a few for our closing consideration. Time would fail to tell of Emmanuel’s shining livery, which the Mansoulians put on, “According to their size and stature;” nor can we speak of how the town, “Minded her trade that she had with the Country that was afar off,” and of how she, “Was busy in her Manufacture.” The story of the three young fellows that had a mind to go for soldiers’ must wait upon our interest. Their names, of course, were Mr. Tradition, Mr. Human-Wisdom, and Mr. Man’s-Invention: “Proper men they were, and men of courage and skill, to appearance.” We must also pass by the armoury of Diabolus, where he furnished enslaved Mansoul with such pieces as the breastplate of a hard heart, and the shield of unbelief. To Bunyan we must go for the full story of how Mr. Conscience became Junior Minister and Under-Secretary to the Lord Chief Secretary: of how this most noble Secretary helped the town to draw up its petition to Emmanuel, and of His close friendship with Captain Credence. Time indeed would fail to tell of the heavenly food and music that Emmanuel brought with Him into Mansoul; of the curious riddles of secrets drawn up by his Father’s Secretary; of how the roaring of Diabolus’ drum was answered by the melodious silver trumpets; of how Lord Reason was wounded in the head; of how the wounded Captain Experience went out to battle on his crutches, to the dismay of the enemy; and of much more besides.
We must turn now to consider a few of Bunyan’s so pregnant phrases.
“Spy out the weakness of the town.”
The enemy is particularly interested in our weak points! Diabolus, bent upon regaining Mansoul, writes as follows to his allies within: “Endeavour to spy out the weakness of the town of Mansoul. Send us word also by what means you think we had best to attempt the regaining thereof: namely, whether by persuasion to a vain and loose life; or, whether by tempting them to doubt and despair; or, whether by blowing up the town by the gunpowder of pride and self-conceit.”
The reply he received runs as follows: “We have concluded, that though to blow them up with the gunpowder of pride would do well, and to do it by tempting them to be loose and vain will help on, yet to contrive to bring them into the gulf of desperation we think will do best of all. And of all the nations that are at your whistle, we think that an army of doubters may be the most likely to attack and overcome the town of Mansoul.”
Bunyan is, of course, writing out of his own history. For long years he was assailed by doubts, terrible doubts as to whether he had any part with Christ; doubts as to his election (he tells us that the Election-doubters were the life-guard of Diabolus); doubts as to his calling: doubts as to his salvation. His whole life was overshadowed by a terrible question-mark; he had no assurance of salvation. But this is the point: Bunyan did not realise then that the enemy was playing him up and concentrating on his weak spot. He was inclined to be introspective and melancholic, and the enemy knew it. That is why he employed his army of terrible Doubters against him, and that is why we find this particular form of assault in the ‘Holy War’. If Bunyan had been of, say, the proud type the story would doubtless have gone differently, and we should have found the enemy concentrating upon the use of the gunpowder of pride for the destruction of the town.
Here, surely, is something of great importance. The enemy knows us and he will adapt his method of assault according to our vulnerability. Are we inclined to introspection and continually falling under condemnation? Then the enemy will keep us very busy with our wretchedness, and put us out of the fight in that way. Are we impulsive? Then he will trap us through our impulsiveness. Are we placid by nature? Then the enemy will lull us into a soul-destroying complacency. Are we among the light-hearted and easy-going? Then a spirit of superficiality will be our undoing. Of one thing we can be certain: the enemy will play upon our weaknesses, our temperaments, our make-up. Have we not all proved it again and again? Take the story of Samson, and watch the enemy plot his undoing: or take the history of Peter, and see him trapped in the net of his own impetuosity. What shall we do then? Let us ask the Lord to make us wise to our own vulnerable points and strong to abide in Him who has none.
“Inventing a way to make them sin.”
The enemy’s objective is to obtain and maintain a foothold in us. His ground in the saints is the measure of his strength in them. Our flesh is his ground: hence the great importance of the Lord’s word in Romans 6 and kindred passages. Satan has a great deal of ground, a terrible foothold, in everyone of us by nature; but the glory of Romans 6:6 is this, that the cross has robbed him of his ground, and we are now, “Alive unto God in Christ Jesus.” Of course, while we remain in this world, the enemy will always have potential ground in us, but he need have no actual ground in us. While the possibility of sin will remain to the end, the need to sin has gone for ever.
Now, it was for this reason that Diabolus was so concerned to invent ways in which to make Mansoul sin. Through sin the town would become linked up with him, and provide him with a standing within it; further, sin would keep Emmanuel at a distance. How deeply we need to realise that only as we are separated from Satan and his kingdom by the Blood and the cross, can God be with us. God cannot be with us if we are in any way cooperating with His enemy. Let us listen to Bunyan’s record of the counsels of hell: “And this I will tell you, that two or three Diabolonians, if entertained and countenanced by the town of Mansoul, will do more to the keeping of Emmanuel from them, and towards making the town your own, there can an army of a legion … but this must be done by time.”
“There is no way to bring them into bondage to us, like inventing a way to make them sin … you know Mansoul is a Market-town; what if some of our Diabolonians feign themselves far country men, and bring to the Market some of our wares to sell? May we not, by this means, so cumber Mansoul with abundance, that they shall be forced to make of their Castle a Warehouse? Thus, if we get our goods thither, I reckon that the Castle is more than half ours.”
What shall we do then, in face of such insidious intrigue? Let us abide in Him in whom the enemy has no foothold; let us abide in the emancipating power of His cross; let us trust the Lord in His mercy and faithfulness to uncover to us any ground that the enemy may have or get in our lives, and let us be swift to take such ground from him. Only as we abide in Him, and cleave to one another in Him, as one body, one family, will the enemy be stripped of his power to make havoc of our lives and of our life together as the church.
“That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (1 Cor. 2:11).
“Remember my captains; nourish them, my Mansoul”
Here is the positive side. Not only must we watch to see that the enemy gains no ground in our flesh, but we must nourish, encourage and co-operate with the heavenly Captains, that is, with the ‘energies’ of divine life resident in us. What we have said before, we say again: that the Christian life is a holy communion between the grace of God and us. While, on the one hand, the Lord will take great pains to deliver us from everything of self effort, on the other He will always be seeking to draw us out in cooperation. He wants our cooperation and He needs it. It is a solemn thought that we have power over our destinies—that is, that we may despise or neglect our calling and resources in Christ. How easy it is for the spiritual life to become, “Choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life”. How many of the Lord’s people are languishing spiritually as the result of neglecting their life with the Lord, their calling in Him, or their life in His family, or both. Such neglect is always disastrous; we thereby weaken Emmanuel’s captains, and quench the Spirit. Let us listen again to Emmanuel’s charge to Mansoul as recorded by Bunyan: “These Captains are your Fence and your Guard, your Wall, your Gates, your Locks, and your Bars. If they be weak, Mansoul cannot be strong; if they be strong, then Mansoul cannot be weak: your safety, therefore, doth lie in their health, and in your countenancing them. Remember also that if they be sick, they catch that disease of the town itself.”
“Thou seest what a company of my Father’s host I have lodged within thy borders; Captains and Rulers … they are my Servants, and thine, too, Mansoul. Yea, my design of possessing of thee with them, and the natural tendency of each of them, is to defend, purge, strengthen, and sweeten thee for myself.”
“Remember my Captains; nourish them, my Mansoul.”
May the Lord open our eyes, and show us how to sow to the Spirit and to cooperate with the grace of life.
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7, 8).
“Fast joyned together”
This descriptive little phrase comes in Bunyan’s beautiful account of Mansoul’s beginnings, where we read: “There was not a Rascal, Rogue, or Traitorous person then within its Walls: They were all true men, and fast joyned together; and this, you know, is a great matter.”
Truly, unity, harmony, is a great matter! Sin has brought discord into the universe and into our hearts. We, by nature, are out of tune with God, with ourselves and with one another. Grace is at work to restore the unity and harmony. In ourselves we are just one great discord, a bundle of divided loyalties, an agony of irreconcilable interests. Only in Christ, and as we are centred in Him, do our lives know any unity and harmony and order. The Lord Jesus embodies Heaven’s harmony—a Man in tune with God; a Man with a united heart; with no inward conflict; a Man poured out for others in self-less love. Oh, the effectiveness of such a life and of such a Church! Small wonder the enemy spends so much of his time creating chaos, disunity and discord. Well do we pray with David: “Unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11). Well do we seek with Paul, “To keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Listen again to Bunyan’s description of Mansoul when Mr. God’s-Peace, one of Emmanuel’s officers, presided over all: “Now there were no jars, no chiding, no interferings, no unfaithful doings in all the town of Mansoul; every man in Mansoul kept close to his own imployment. The Gentry, the Officers, the Soldiers, and all in place, observed their order. And as for the Women and Children of the town, they followed their business joyfully: they would work and sing, work and sing, from morning till night: so that quite through the town of Mansoul now, nothing was to be found but Harmony, Quietness, Joy, and Health.”
“Thou deceiving one didst put the lie upon my Father”
The enemy in the role of slanderer is a notable feature of the ‘Holy War’. He delights to slander the Lord, to insinuate as to His motives, to cast doubts upon His love to us, to misinterpret His ways; in a word, to make the Lord out to be what He is not, to, “Put the lie upon Him.” We need to be very alive to this device, especially as the war draws on to its climax and close. The enemy is never more pleased than when he has managed to bring a cloud over our relationship with the Lord. If he can succeed here we are an easy prey.
When Diabolus assaulted Mansoul at the first, he made out that the town was being kept in ignorance and slavery and poverty by an unreasonable tyrant. How many people have swallowed Satan’s lie and think of God in this way!
Then, when Diabolus was entrenched in the town and heard that Shaddai was on the move for its recovery, he lied again in these words: “Your old King Shaddai is raising of an Army to come against you, to destroy you root and branch … do not believe him upon any terms.” What a master of misinterpretation is Satan!
Then again, when Mansoul had sinned and Emmanuel had temporarily withdrawn, Diabolus came again with these sinister suggestions: “Do you hope, do you wait, do you look for help and deliverance? You have sent to Emmanuel, but your wickedness sticks too close in your skirts, to let innocent prayers come out of your lips. You will fail in your wish, you will fail in your attempts; for it is not only I, but your Emmanuel is against you: yea, it is he that hath sent me against you to subdue you. For what, then, do you hope? or by what means will you escape?”
How the enemy loves to take hold of our failures and our experiences of chastening, and to make us feel God-forsaken, that the Lord is against us! No way to paralyse us like this! Oh, let us settle it in our hearts, that the Lord is always for us if we are cleaving to Christ, having no plea but His precious blood. Let us beware of that paralysing lie that hints otherwise, and listen to Emmanuel’s command: “Believe that my love is constant to thee.”
“Live upon my word”
“Nor must thou think always to live by sense: thou must live upon my Word. Thou must believe, O my Mansoul, when I am from thee, that yet I love thee, and bear thee upon my heart for ever.”
As we walk by faith with the Lord, oft-times we have to pass through dark places where we cannot see Him; He is veiled from sight. It is at these times, when we seem to be alone, that we must learn to live in simple trust upon His Word, His promises. Such times are part of our training in trustworthiness. It is a great thing to be able to rise above our feelings, our fears and our problems. Old Evil-Questioning so frequently stalks our hearts; we must hang him. Or perchance it is his child, Live-by-Feeling, who is troubling us. Let us take note that he was arrested, with his brother Legal-Life, by Captain Self-Denial and Lord Willbewill, who, “Put them in hold till they died.”
We not only live by faith in the Word, but by obedience to it. At one point in the campaign, when Mansoul had set the meaning of the cross aside and become familiar with the Diabolonians again, the townsmen came to the Lord Secretary for help: but He, being, “Ill at ease,” had nothing to say to them but this: “You must look to the Law of the Prince, and there see what is laid upon you to do.” We shall get no response from Heaven unless we abide in the meaning of the cross. Joshua may rend his clothes, fall upon his face and pour out his complaint to the Lord, but the Lord will only say: “Get thee up … Israel hath sinned … Up, sanctify the people” (Joshua 7:10, 11, 13). The Lord will not come down to us in our disobedience; He insists that we arise and do His will.
“It was I!”
“We are his workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).
We have had occasion in earlier studies to remark upon the wonderful sovereignty of the Lord which lies behind the whole course of the conflict. As we contemplate the struggle in its details and parts, the issue would sometimes seem to be in doubt, but when we look off to the throne in Heaven the issue is gloriously certain. Listen to Emmanuel speaking to Mansoul at the end of the story: “Thou seest, my Mansoul, how I have passed by thy backslidings, and have healed thee … because I loved thee still. The way of backsliding was thine, but the way and means of thy recovery was Mine. I invented the means of thy return; it was I that made an Hedge and a Wall, when thou wast beginning to turn to things in which I delighted not. ‘Twas I that made thy sweet bitter, thy day night, thy smooth way thorny, and that also confounded all that sought thy destruction. It was I that set Mr. Godly-Fear to work in Mansoul. ‘Twas I that stirred up thy Conscience and Understanding, thy Will and thy Affections, after thy great and woful decay. ‘Twas I that put life into thee, O Mansoul, to seek me, that thou mightest find me, and in thy finding find thine own health, happiness, and salvation. ‘Twas I…”
How wonderful are the Lord’s ways with our lives! When we see Him we shall have many surprises, for then all our questions will be answered. He will say to us, perhaps: “You remember that dark, puzzling experience, through which you passed in such anguish: well, it was I; I was behind that, doing a work in you and for you, which could be done in no other way. You know now that it was I; it was no cruel misfortune, it was I. You see, I love you.” Yes, we shall be amazed in that day, to discover just how wonderfully we have been in His hands. But shall we not here and now rejoice and rest in the fact that we are His workmanship, and that He is working all things—not just some things, but all things—together for good in our lives?
“O My Mansoul!”
There is a great heart behind this universe. The Lord loves Mansoul. “He built it for his own delight … He built it and beautified it for Himself.” No words can express what is in His heart toward us, His children, His people, but we know what is written: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my resting-place for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13, 14).
“Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it … that He might present the church to Himself a glorious church” (Eph. 5:25, 27).
The Lord is concerned not merely to oust the enemy, but to win Mansoul. The Lord wants to win our hearts, to find a full and intelligent love in us. This is the supreme issue of the war. The Lord wants us wholly for Himself. How far has the Lord captured our hearts? The Lord is calling us on into ever deeper fellowship with Himself. He will not be content until from full hearts we cry: “Come and dwell in the midst of us, and let us be thy people … accept of our Palace for thy place of residence … conquer us with thy love, and overcome us with thy grace.”
The prize for which Heaven and hell contend is man. In the Lord Jesus, God has revealed His thought and will for humanity, for man-kind—for us. What a conception! What a destiny, to be conformed to such a Man, a glorified Man! God is at war to secure a race of people like His Son—a glorious, harmonious, ordered race. His own satisfaction and vindication in the eternal ages, and His Son’s inheritance, are bound up with this race, this new creation, this glorious church: that is, with us! What a destiny! Mansoul is destined to be God’s masterpiece, the top-piece, a spectacle of wonder, a monument of mercy, and the admirer of its own mercy. May the Lord enlighten us.
“You, my Mansoul, and the beloved of my heart … have I singled out from others, and have chosen you to myself … I have also redeemed you … I have bought thee for myself … bear in mind my love … Nothing can hurt thee but sin; nothing can grieve me but sin; nothing can make thee base before thy foes but sin: take heed of sin, my Mansoul … Show me, then, thy Love, my Mansoul … Love me against temptation, and I will love thee notwithstanding thine infirmities … Remember, therefore, O my Mansoul, that thou art beloved of me … Hold fast till I come.”