Battle with Apollyon

Christian arrives at the palace Beautiful and recounts to the Porter and his three daughters Prudence, Charity, and Piety his experiences up to this point. Since it is a recounting — and already this is post #18 in this Pilgrim’s Progress series — we will skip over it. Fast-forward just a bit to the Valley of Humiliation where Christian encounters Apollyon.

“But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon.

After some conversing Apollyon makes this charge:

Apol. Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him, and how dost thou think to receive wages of him?

Chr. Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

Apol. Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the Gulf of Despond; thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldst have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off; thou didst sinfully sleep and lose thy choice thing; thou wast also almost persuaded to go back, at the sight of the Lions; and when thou talkest of thy Journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou sayest or doest.

Chr. All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to forgive; but besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy Country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained Pardon of my Prince.

Bunyan’s Christian cedes much ground, eh?

Apol. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate His Person, His Laws, and People; I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.

Chr. Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King’s High-way, the way of Holiness, therefore take heed to yourself.

As we’ve seen thus far, Bunyan’s Christian is NOT in the true King’s High-way. But let’s continue.

Apol. Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter, prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal Den, that thou shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul!

Christian and Apollyon fall to it and commence a sore combat “for above half a day, even till Christian was quite spent.”

“Then Apollyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s Sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now! And with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life.

But as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine Enemy! when I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound.

Christian, perceiving that, made at him again, saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors through him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his Dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more.

In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight, he spake like a Dragon; and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart. I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged Sword; then indeed he did smile, and look upward; but ’twas the dreadfullest fight that ever I saw.”

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