austin sparks, book ministry, christian ministry, daily devotional

July 2

2 JUL – Refusal of All Enticements

John Bunyan shows us that the pilgrims came to a place called the Enchanted Ground and the air in that country was so enervating and drowsy that they wanted to lie down and take a nap. It was all grown over with briars to slow up their progress and weary them so that they would succumb to the atmosphere. Mr. Feeble-mind has to be taken in hand very strongly by Greatheart, and Mr. Despondency has to be laid hold of by Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. In this Enchanted Ground there are many arbours in which you can turn aside and sleep, and some say that if you do, you may never wake up again in this life. There is one arbour which bears the name of The Slothful’s Friend; in another two men are asleep, Mr. Heedless and Mr. Too-Bold, and the pilgrims do their utmost to wake these two from their sleep, but they cannot be wakened.

And now note – for this is what I am getting at; Bunyan is here so full of wonderful insight and suggestion. ‘This Enchanted Ground is one of the last refuges that the enemy to pilgrims has; wherefore it is, as you see, placed almost at the end of the way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage, for when, thinks the enemy, will these fools be so desirous to sit down as when they are weary? And when so like to be weary as when almost at their journey’s end? Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted Ground is placed so nigh to the land Beulah and so near the end of their race. Wherefore let pilgrims look to themselves, lest it happen to them as it hath done to these that are fallen asleep and none can wake them’. I say again that a spirit of energy is needed if we are to prevail.

As they journeyed over the Enchanted Ground, they espied a man upon his knees, and as they drew up closely to him, he suddenly sprang from his knees with new vigour and energy. They interrogated him and found him to be Mr. Standfast. They asked him why he was on his knees, and, a little abashed that they had seen him, he explained that having come to this Enchanted Ground, he was met by Madame Bubble who came and offered him all her enticements not to go on, inviting him to turn aside, to take a rest, to receive premature prizes before he reached the City; and, lest he should weaken under her influence, he fell to prayer and so was saved, and could go on.

What need we say more? Oh, there is the fullness. It is there, it is ours, but we need a spirit to lay hold, to persist; this spirit – “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect.” “I count not myself yet to have apprehended (laid hold)”, “forgetting the things which are behind… I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the on-high calling”. That spirit alone will bring us into the experience of what is ours. It is a terrible thing to have been heir to a very great deal and yet never to have known what was ours. The Spirit of God would make us know. He would stir us to great earnestness in the quest that we may know, that we may possess the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.

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