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After the town of Mansoul had been in this sad and lamentable condition for so long a time as I have told you, and no petitions that they presented their Prince with, all this while, could prevail, the inhabitants of the town, namely, the elders and chief of Mansoul, gathered together, and, after some time spent in condoling their miserable state and this miserable judgment coming upon them, they agreed together to draw up yet another petition, and to send it away to Emmanuel for relief. But Mr. Godly-Fear stood up and answered, that he knew that his Lord the Prince never did nor ever would receive a petition for these matters, from the hand of any whoever, unless the Lord Secretary’s hand was to it; ‘and this,’ quoth he, ‘is the reason that you prevailed not all this while.’ Then they said they would draw up one, and get the Lord Secretary’s hand unto it. But Mr. Godly-Fear answered again, that he knew also that the Lord Secretary would not set his hand to any petition that himself had not an hand in composing and drawing up. ‘And besides,’ said he, ‘the Prince doth know my Lord Secretary’s hand from all the hands in the world; wherefore he cannot be deceived by any pretence whatever. Wherefore my advice is that you go to my Lord, and implore him to lend you his aid.’ (Now he did yet abide in the castle, where all the captains and men-at-arms were.)
So they heartily thanked Mr. Godly-Fear, took his counsel, and did as he had bidden them. So they went and came to my Lord, and made known the cause of their coming to him; namely, that since Mansoul was in so deplorable a condition, his Highness would be pleased to undertake to draw up a petition for them to Emmanuel, the Son of the mighty Shaddai, and to their King and his Father by him.
Then said the Secretary to them, ‘What petition is it that you would have me draw up for you?’ But they said, ‘Our Lord knows best the state and condition of the town of Mansoul; and how we are backslidden and degenerated from the Prince: thou also knowest who is come up to war against us, and how Mansoul is now the seat of war. My Lord knows, moreover, what barbarous usages our men, women, and children have suffered at their hands; and how our home-bred Diabolonians do walk now with more boldness than dare the townsmen in the streets of Mansoul. Let our Lord therefore, according to the wisdom of God that is in him, draw up a petition for his poor servants to our Prince Emmanuel.’ ‘Well,’ said the Lord Secretary, ‘I will draw up a petition for you, and will also set my hand thereto.’ Then said they, ‘But when shall we call for it at the hands of our Lord?’ But he answered, ‘Yourselves must be present at the doing of it; yea, you must put your desires to it. True, the hand and pen shall be mine, but the ink and paper must be yours; else how can you say it is your petition? Nor have I need to petition for myself, because I have not offended.’
He also added as followeth: ‘No petition goes from me in my name to the Prince, and so to his Father by him, but when the people that are chiefly concerned therein do join in heart and soul in the matter, for that must be inserted therein.’
So they did heartily agree with the sentence of the Lord, and a petition was forthwith drawn up for them. But now, who should carry it? that was next. But the Secretary advised that Captain Credence should carry it; for he was a well-spoken man. They therefore called for him, and propounded to him the business. ‘Well,’ said the captain, ‘I gladly accept of the motion; and though I am lame, I will do this business for you with as much speed and as well as I can.’
The contents of the petition were to this purpose:—
‘O our Lord, and Sovereign Prince Emmanuel, the potent, the long-suffering Prince! grace is poured into thy lips, and to thee belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against thee. We, who are no more worthy to be called thy Mansoul, nor yet fit to partake of common benefits, do beseech thee, and thy Father by thee, to do away our transgressions. We confess that thou mightest cast us away for them; but do it not for thy name’s sake: let the Lord rather take an opportunity, at our miserable condition, to let out his bowels and compassions to us. We are compassed on every side, Lord; our own backslidings reprove us; our Diabolonians within our town fright us; and the army of the angel of the bottomless pit distresses us. Thy grace can be our salvation, and whither to go but to thee we know not.
‘Furthermore, O gracious Prince, we have weakened our captains, and they are discouraged, sick, and, of late, some of them grievously worsted and beaten out of the field by the power and force of the tyrant. Yea, even those of our captains, in whose valour we did formerly use to put most of our confidence, they are as wounded men. Besides, Lord, our enemies are lively, and they are strong; they vaunt and boast themselves, and do threaten to part us among themselves for a booty. They are fallen also upon us, Lord, with many thousand Doubters, such as with whom we cannot tell what to do; they are all grim-looked and unmercifuI ones, and they bid defiance to us and thee.
‘Our wisdom is gone, our power is gone, because thou art departed from us; nor have we what we may call ours but sin, shame, and confusion of face for sin. Take pity upon us, O Lord, take pity upon us, thy miserable town of Mansoul, and save us out of the hands of our enemies. Amen.’
This petition, as was touched afore, was handed by the Lord Secretary, and carried to the court by the brave and most stout Captain Credence. Now he carried it out at Mouth-gate (for that, as I said, was the sally-port of the town), and he went and came to Emmanuel with it. Now how it came out, I do not know; but for certain it did, and that so far as to reach the ears of Diabolus. Thus I conclude, because that the tyrant had it presently by the end, and charged the town of Mansoul with it, saying, ‘Thou rebellious and stubborn-hearted Mansoul, I will make thee to leave off petitioning. Art thou yet for petitioning? I will make thee to leave.’ Yea, he also knew who the messenger was that carried the petition to the Prince, and it made him both to fear and rage.
Wherefore he commanded that his drum should be beat again, a thing that Mansoul could not abide to hear: but when Diabolus will have his drum beat, Mansoul must abide the noise. Well, the drum was beat, and the Diabolonians were gathered together.
Then said Diabolus, ‘O ye stout Diabolonians, be it known unto you, that there is treachery hatched against us in the rebellious town of Mansoul; for albeit the town is in our possession, as you see, yet these miserable Mansoulians have attempted to dare, and have been so hardy as yet to send to the court to Emmanuel for help. This I give you to understand, that ye may yet know how to carry it to the wretched town of Mansoul. Wherefore, O my trusty Diabolonians, I command that yet more and more ye distress this town of Mansoul, and vex it with your wiles, ravish their women, deflower their virgins, slay their children, brain their ancients, fire their town, and what other mischief you can; and let this be the reward of the Mansoulians from me, for their desperate rebellions against me.’
This, you see, was the charge; but something stepped in betwixt that and execution, for as yet there was but little more done than to rage.
Moreover, when Diabolus had done thus, he went the next way up to the castle gates, and demanded that, upon pain of death, the gates should be opened to him, and that entrance should be given him and his men that followed after. To whom Mr. Godly-Fear replied (for he it was that had the charge of that gate), that the gate should not be opened unto him, nor to the men that followed after him. He said, moreover, that Mansoul, when she had suffered a while, should be made perfect, strengthened, settled.
Then said Diabolus, ‘Deliver me, then, the men that have petitioned against me, especially Captain Credence, that carried it to your Prince; deliver that varlet into my hands, and I will depart from the town.’
Then up starts a Diabolonian, whose name was Mr. Fooling, and said, ‘My lord offereth you fair: it is better for you that one man perish, than that your whole Mansoul should be undone.’
But Mr. Godly-Fear made him this replication, ‘How long will Mansoul be kept out of the dungeon, when she hath given up her faith to Diabolus? As good lose the town, as lose Captain Credence; for if one be gone, the other must follow.’ But to that Mr. Fooling said nothing.
Then did my Lord Mayor reply, and said, ‘O thou devouring tyrant, be it known unto thee, we shall hearken to none of thy words; we are resolved to resist thee as long as a captain, a man, a sling, and a stone to throw at thee, shall be found in the town of Mansoul.’
But Diabolus answered, ‘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. Think you that you shall be prevailers, and prosper in this design? 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?’
Then said the Lord Mayor, ‘We have sinned indeed; but that shall be no help to thee, for our Emmanuel hath said it, and that in great faithfulness, “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” He hath also told us, O our enemy, that “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven” to the sons of men. Therefore we dare not despair, but will look for, wait for, and hope for deliverance still.’
Now, by this time Captain Credence was returned and come from the court from Emmanuel to the castle of Mansoul, and he returned to them with a packet. So my Lord Mayor, hearing that Captain Credence was come, withdrew himself from the noise of the roaring of the tyrant, and left him to yell at the wall of the town, or against the gates of the castle. So he came up to the captain’s lodgings, and, saluting him, he asked him of his welfare, and what was the best news at court. But when he asked Captain Credence that, the water stood in his eyes. Then said the captain, ‘Cheer up, my lord, for all will be well in time.’ And with that he first produced his packet, and laid it by; but that the Lord Mayor, and the rest of the captains, took for sign of good tidings. Now a season of grace being come, he sent for all the captains and elders of the town, that were here and there in their lodgings in the castle and upon their guard, to let them know that Captain Credence was returned from the court, and that he had something in general, and something in special, to communicate to them. So they all came up to him, and saluted him, and asked him concerning his journey, and what was the best news at the court. And he answered them as he had done the Lord Mayor before, that all would be well at last. Now, when the captain had thus saluted them, he opened his packet, and thence did draw out his several notes for those that he had sent for.
And the first note was for my Lord Mayor, wherein was signified:-That the Prince Emmanuel had taken it well that my Lord Mayor had been so true and trusty in his office, and the great concerns that lay upon him for the town and people of Mansoul. Also, he bid him to know that he took it well that he had been so bold for his Prince Emmanuel, and had engaged so faithfully in his cause against Diabolus. He also signified, at the close of his letter, that he should shortly receive his reward.
The second note that came out was for the noble Lord Willbewill, wherein there was signified:-That his Prince Emmanuel did well understand how valiant and courageous he had been for the honour of his Lord, now in his absence, and when his name was under contempt by Diabolus. There was signified also, that his Prince had taken it well that he had been so faithful to the town of Mansoul, in his keeping of so strict a hand and eye over and so strict a rein upon the neck of the Diabolonians, that did still lie lurking in their several holes in the famous town of Mansoul. He signified, moreover, how that he understood that my lord had, with his own hand, done great execution upon some of the chief of the rebels there, to the great discouragement of the adverse party, and to the good example of the whole town of Mansoul; and that shortly his lordship should have his reward.
The third note came out for the subordinate preacher, wherein was signified:-That his Prince took it well from him, that he had so honestly and so faithfully performed his office, and executed the trust committed to him by his Lord, while he exhorted, rebuked, and forewarned Mansoul according to the laws of the town. He signified, moreover, that he took it well at his hand that he called to fasting, to sackcloth, and ashes, when Mansoul was under her revolt. Also, that he called for the aid of the Captain Boanerges to help in so weighty a work; and that shortly he also should receive his reward.
The fourth note came out for Mr. Godly-Fear, wherein his Lord thus signified:-That his Lordship observed that he was the first of all the men in Mansoul that detected Mr. Carnal-Security as the only one that, through his subtlety and cunning, had obtained for Diabolus a defection and decay of goodness in the blessed town of Mansoul. Moreover, his Lord gave him to understand that he still remembered his tears and mourning for the state of Mansoul. It was also observed, by the same note, that his Lord took notice of his detecting of this Mr. Carnal-Security, at his own table among his guests, in his own house, and that in the midst of his jolliness, even while he was seeking to perfect his villainies against the town of Mansoul. Emmanuel also took notice that this reverend person, Mr. Godly-Fear, stood stoutly to it, at the gates of the castle, against all the threats and attempts of the tyrant; and that he had put the townsmen in a way to make their petition to their Prince, so as that he might accept thereof, and as they might obtain an answer of peace; and that therefore shortly he should receive his reward.
After all this, there was yet produced a note which was written to the whole town of Mansoul, whereby they perceived-That their Lord took notice of their so often repeating of petitions to him; and that they should see more of the fruits of such their doings in time to come. Their Prince did also therein tell them that he took it well that their heart and mind, now at last, abode fixed upon him and his ways, though Diabolus had made such inroads upon them; and that neither flatteries on the one hand, nor hardships on the other, could make them yield to serve his cruel designs. There was also inserted at the bottom of this note—That his Lordship had left the town of Mansoul in the hands of the Lord Secretary, and under the conduct of Captain Credence, saying, ‘Beware that you yet yield yourselves unto their governance; and in due time you shall receive your reward.’
So, after the brave Captain Credence had delivered his notes to those to whom they belonged, he retired himself to my Lord Secretary’s lodgings, and there spends time in conversing with him; for they two were very great one with another, and did indeed know more how things would go with Mansoul than did all the townsmen besides. The Lord Secretary also loved the Captain Credence dearly; yea, many a good bit was sent him from my Lord’s table; also, he might have a show of countenance, when the rest of Mansoul lay under the clouds: so, after some time for converse was spent, the captain betook himself to his chambers to rest. But it was not long after when my Lord did send for the captain again; so the captain came to him, and they greeted one another with usual salutations. Then said the captain to the Lord Secretary, ‘What hath my Lord to say to his servant?’ So the Lord Secretary took him and had him aside, and after a sign or two of more favour, he said, ‘I have made thee the Lord’s lieutenant over all the forces in Mansoul; so that, from this day forward, all men in Mansoul shall be at thy word; and thou shalt be he that shall lead in and that shall lead out Mansoul. Thou shalt therefore manage, according to thy place, the war for thy Prince, and for the town of Mansoul, against the force and power of Diabolus; and at thy command shall the rest of the captains be.’18
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