Now all the while that the raging runagates and hellish Diabolonians were thus contriving the ruin of the town of Mansoul, they (namely the poor town itself) were in a sad and woful case; partly because they had so grievously offended Shaddai and his Son, and partly because that the enemies thereby got strength within them afresh; and also because, though they had by many petitions made suit to the Prince Emmanuel, and to his Father Shaddai by him, for their pardon and favour, yet hitherto obtained they not one smile; but contrariwise, through the craft and subtilty of the domestic Diabolonians, their cloud was made to grow blacker and blacker, and their Emmanuel to stand at farther distance.
The sickness also did still greatly rage in Mansoul, both among the captains and the inhabitants of the town; and their enemies only were now lively and strong, and likely to become the head, whilst Mansoul was made the tail.
By this time the letter last mentioned, that was written by the Diabolonians that yet lurked in the town of Mansoul, was conveyed to Diabolus in the black den, by the hand of Mr. Profane. He carried the letter by Hell-Gate Hill as afore, and conveyed it by Cerberus to his lord.
But when Cerberus and Mr. Profane did meet, they were presently as great as beggars, and thus they fell into discourse about Mansoul, and about the project against her.
‘Ah! old friend,’ quoth Cerberus, ‘art thou come to Hell-Gate Hill again? By St. Mary, I am glad to see thee!’
Prof.Yes, my lord, I am come again about the concerns of the town of Mansoul.
Cerb.Prithee, tell me what condition is that town of Mansoul in at present?
Prof.In a brave condition, my lord, for us, and for my lords, the lords of this place, I trow; for they are greatly decayed as to godliness, and that is as well as our heart can wish; their Lord is greatly out with them, and that doth also please us well. We have already also a foot in their dish, for our Diabolonian friends are laid in their bosoms, and what do we lack but to be masters of the place! Besides, our trusty friends in Mansoul are daily plotting to betray it to the lords of this town; also the sickness rages bitterly among them; and that which makes up all, we hope at last to prevail.
Then said the dog of Hell-Gate, ‘No time like this to assault them. I wish that the enterprise be followed close, and that the success desired may be soon effected: yea, I wish it for the poor Diabolonians’sakes, that live in the continual fear of their lives in that traitorous town of Mansoul.’
Prof.The contrivance is almost finished, the lords in Mansoul that are Diabolonians are at it day and night, and the other are like silly doves, they want heart to be concerned with their state, and to consider that ruin is at hand. Besides you may, yea, must think, when you put all things together, that there are many reasons that prevail with Diabolus to make what haste he can.
Cerb.Thou hast said as it is; I am glad things are at this pass. Go in, my brave Profane, to my lords; they will give thee for thy welcome as good a coranto€* as the whole of this kingdom will afford. I have sent thy letter in already.
Then Mr. Profane went into the den, and his lord Diabolus met him, and saluted him with, ‘Welcome, my trusty servant: I have been made glad with thy letter.’ The rest of the lords of the pit gave him also their salutations. Then Profane, after obeisance made to them all, said, ‘Let Mansoul be given to my lord Diabolus, and let him be her king for ever.’ And with that, the hollow belly and yawning gorge of hell gave so loud and hideous a groan (for that is the music of that place), that it made the mountains about it totter, as if they would fall in pieces.
Now, after they had read and considered the letter, they consulted what answer to return; and the first that did speak to it was Lucifer.
Then said he, ‘The first project of the Diabolonians in Mansoul is likely to be lucky, and to take; namely, that they will, by all the ways and means they can, make Mansoul yet more vile and filthy: no way to destroy a soul like this. Our old friend Balaam went this way and prospered many years ago; let this therefore stand with us for a maxim, and be to Diabolonians for a general rule in all ages; for nothing can make this to fail but grace, in which I would hope that this town has no share. But whether to fall upon them on a market-day, because of their cumber in business, that I would should be under debate. And there is more reason why this head should be debated, than why some other should; because upon this will turn the whole of what we shall attempt. If we time not our business well, our whole project may fail. Our friends, the Diabolonians, say that a market-day is best; for then will Mansoul be most busy, and have fewest thoughts of a surprise. But what if also they should double their guards on those days? (and methinks nature and reason should teach them to do it;) and what if they should keep such a watch on those days as the necessity of their present case doth require? yea, what if their men should be always in arms on those days?
then you may, my lords, be disappointed in your attempts, and may bring our friends in the town to utter danger of unavoidable ruin.’
Then said the great Beelzebub, ‘There is something in what my lord hath said; but his conjecture may, or may not, fall out. Nor hath my lord laid it down as that which must not be receded from; for I know that he said it only to provoke to a warm debate thereabout.
Therefore we must understand, if we can, whether the town of Mansoul has such sense and knowledge of her decayed state, and of the design that we have on foot against her, as doth provoke her to set watch and ward at her gates, and to double them on market-days. But if, after inquiry made, it shall be found that they are asleep, then any day will do, but a market-day is best; and this is my judgment in this case.’
Then quoth Diabolus, ‘How should we know this?’ and it was answered, ‘Inquire about it at the mouth of Mr. Profane.’ So Profane was called in, and asked the question, and he made his answer as follows:— Prof.My lords, so far as I can gather, this is at present the condition of the town of Mansoul: they are decayed in their faith and love; Emmanuel, their Prince, has given them the back; they send often by petition to fetch him again, but he maketh not haste to answer their request, nor is there much reformation among them.
Diab.I am glad that they are backward in a reformation, but yet I am afraid of their petitioning. However, their looseness of life is a sign that there is not much heart in what they do, and without the heart things are little worth. But go on, my masters; I will divert you, my lords, no longer.
Beel.If the case be so with Mansoul, as Mr. Profane has described it to be, it will be no great matter what day we assault it; not their prayers, nor their power, will do them much service.
When Beelzebub had ended his oration, then Apollyon did begin. ‘My opinion,’ said he, ‘concerning this matter is, that we go on fair and softly, not doing things in a hurry. Let our friends in Mansoul go on still to pollute and defile it, by seeking to draw it yet more into sin (for there is nothing like sin to devour Mansoul). If this be done, and it takes effect, Mansoul, of itself, will leave off to watch, to petition, or anything else that should tend to her security and safety; for she will forget her Emmanuel, she will not desire his company, and can she be gotten thus to live, her Prince will not come to her in haste. Our trusty friend, Mr. Carnal-Security, with one of his tricks, did drive him out of the town; and why may not my Lord Covetousness, and my Lord Lasciviousness, by what they may do, keep him out of the town? And this I will tell you (not because you know it not), 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 of Mansoul your own, than can an army of a legion that should be sent out from us to withstand him. Let, therefore, this first project that our friends in Mansoul have set on foot, be strongly and diligently carried on, with all cunning and craft imaginable; and let them send continually, under one guise or another, more and other of their men to play with the people of Mansoul; and then, perhaps, we shall not need to be at the charge of making a war upon them; or if that must of necessity be done, yet the more sinful they are, the more unable, to be sure, they will be to resist us, and then the more easily we shall overcome them. And besides, suppose (and that is the worst that can be supposed) that Emmanuel should come to them again, why may not the same means, or the like, drive him from them once more? Yea, why may he not, by their lapse into that sin again, be driven from them for ever, for the sake of which he was at the first driven from them for a season? And if this should happen, then away go with him his rams, his slings, his captains, his soldiers, and he leaveth Mansoul naked and bare. Yea, will not this town, when she sees herself utterly forsaken of her Prince, of her own accord open her gates again unto you, and make of you as in the days of old? But this must be done by time; a few days will not effect so great a work as this.’
So soon as Apollyon had made an end of speaking, Diabolus began to blow out his own malice, and to plead his own cause; and he said, ‘My lords, and powers of the cave, my true and trusty friends, I have with much impatience, as becomes me, given ear to your long and tedious orations. But my furious gorge, and empty paunch, so lusteth after a repossession of my famous town of Mansoul, that whatever comes out, I can wait no longer to see the events of lingering projects. I must, and that without further delay, seek, by all means I can, to fill my insatiable gulf with the soul and body of the town of Mansoul. Therefore lend me your heads, your hearts, and your help, now I am going to recover my town of Mansoul.’
When the lords and princes of the pit saw the flaming desire that was in Diabolus to devour the miserable town of Mansoul, they left off to raise any more objections, but consented to lend him what strength they could, though had Apollyon’s advice been taken, they had far more fearfully distressed the town of Mansoul. But, I say, they were willing to lend him what strength they could, not knowing what need they might have of him, when they should engage for themselves, as he. Wherefore they fell to advising about the next thing propounded, namely, what soldiers they were, and also how many, with whom Diabolus should go against the town of Mansoul to take it; and after some debate, it was concluded, according as in the letter the Diabolonians had suggested, that none were more fit for that expedition than an army of terrible Doubters. They therefore concluded to send against Mansoul an army of sturdy Doubters. The number thought fit to be employed in that service was between twenty and thirty thousand. So, then, the result of that great council of those high and mighty lords was-That Diabolus should even now, out of hand, beat up his drum for men in the land of Doubting, which land lieth upon the confines of the place called Hell-Gate Hill, for men that might be employed by him against the miserable town of Mansoul.
It was also concluded, that these lords themselves should help him in the war, and that they would to that end head and manage his men. So they drew up a letter, and sent back to the Diabolonians that lurked in Mansoul, and that waited for the back-coming of Mr. Profane, to signify to them into what method and forwardness they at present had put their design.
The contents whereof now follow:
‘From the dark and horrible dungeon of hell, Diabolus, with all the society of the princes of darkness, sends to our trusty ones, in and about the walls of the town of Mansoul, now impatiently waiting for our most devilish answer to their venomous and most poisonous design against the town of Mansoul.
‘Our native ones, in whom from day to day we boast, and in whose actions all the year long we do greatly delight ourselves, we received your welcome, because highly esteemed letter, at the hand of our trusty and greatly beloved, the old gentleman, Mr. Profane; and do give you to understand, that when we had broken it up, and had read the contents thereof, to your amazing memory be it spoken, our yawning, hollow-bellied place, where we are, made so hideous and yelling a noise for joy, that the mountains that stand round about Hell-Gate Hill had like to have been shaken to pieces at the sound thereof.
‘We could also do no less than admire your faithfulness to us, with the greatness of that subtilty that now hath showed itself to be in your heads to serve us against the town of Mansoul. For you have invented for us so excellent a method for our proceeding against that rebellious people, a more effectual cannot be thought of by all the wits of hell. The proposals, therefore, which now, at last, you have sent us, since we saw them, we have done little else but highly approved and admired them.
‘Nay, we shall, to encourage you in the profundity of your craft, let you know, that, at a full assembly and conclave of our princes and principalities of this place, your project was discoursed and tossed from one side of our cave to the other by their mightinesses; but a better, and as was by themselves judged, a more fit and proper way by all their wits, could not be invented, to surprise, take, and make our own, the rebellious town of Mansoul.
‘Wherefore, in fine, all that was said that varied from what you had in your letter propounded, fell of itself to the ground, and yours only was stuck to by Diabolus, the prince; yea, his gaping gorge and yawning paunch was on fire to put your invention into execution.
‘We therefore give you to understand that our stout, furious, and unmerciful Diabolus is raising, for your relief, and the ruin of the rebellious town of Mansoul, more than twenty thousand Doubters to come against that people. They are all stout and sturdy men, and men that of old have been accustomed to war, and that can therefore well endure the drum. I say, he is doing this work of his with all the possible speed he can; for his heart and spirit is engaged in it. We desire, therefore, that, as you have hitherto stuck to us, and given us both advice and encouragement thus far, you still will prosecute our design; nor shall you lose, but be gainers thereby; yea, we intend to make you the lords of Mansoul.
‘One thing may not by any means be omitted, that is, those with us do desire that every one of you that are in Mansoul would still use all your power, cunning, and skill, with delusive persuasions, yet to draw the town of Mansoul into more sin and wickedness, even that sin may be finished and bring forth death.
For thus it is concluded with us, that the more vile, sinful, and debauched the town of Mansoul is, more backward will be their Emmanuel to come to their help, either by presence or other relief; yea, the more sinful, the more weak, and so the more unable will they be to make resistance when we shall make our assault upon them to swallow them up. Yea, that may cause that their mighty Shaddai himself may cast them out of his protection; yea, and send for his captains and soldiers home, with his slings and rams, and leave them naked and bare; and then the town of Mansoul will of itself open to us, and fall as the fig into the mouth of the eater. Yea, to be sure that we then with a great deal of ease shall come upon her and overcome her.
‘As to the time of our coming upon Mansoul, we, as yet, have not fully resolved upon that, though at present some of us think as you, that a market-day, or a market-day at night, will certainly be the best. However, do you be ready, and when you shall hear our roaring drum without, do you be as busy to make the most horrible confusion within. So shall Mansoul certainly be distressed before and behind, and shall not know which way to betake herself for help. My Lord Lucifer, my Lord Beelzubub, my Lord Apollyon, my Lord Legion, with the rest, salute you, as does also my Lord Diabolus; and we wish both you, with all that you do, or shall possess, the very selfsame fruit and success for their doing as we ourselves at present enjoy for ours.
‘From our dreadful confines in the most fearful pit, we salute you, and so do those many legions here with us, wishing you may be as hellishly prosperous as we desire to be ourselves.
By the letter-carrier, Mr. Profane.’
Then Mr. Profane addressed himself for his return to Mansoul, with his errand from the horrible pit to the Diabolonians that dwelt in that town. So he came up the stairs from the deep to the mouth of the cave where Cerberus was. Now when Cerberus saw him, he asked how did matters go below, about and against the town of Mansoul.
Prof.Things go as well as we can expect. The letter that I carried thither was highly approved, and well liked by all my lords, and I am returning to tell our Diabolonians so. I have an answer to it here in my bosom, that I am sure will make our masters that sent me glad; for the contents thereof are to encourage them to pursue their design to the utmost, and to be ready also to fall on within, when they shall see my lord Diabolus beleaguering the town of Mansoul.
Cerb.But does he intend to go against them himself?
Prof.Does he! Ay! and he will take along with him more than twenty thousand, all sturdy Doubters, and men of war, picked men from the land of Doubting, to serve him in the expedition.
Then was Cerberus glad, and said, ‘And is there such brave preparations a-making to go against the miserable town of Mansoul? And would I might be put at the head of a thousand of them, that I might also show my valour against the famous town of Mansoul.’
Prof.Your wish may come to pass; you look like one that has mettle enough, and my lord will have with him those that are valiant and stout. But my business requires haste.
Cerb.Ay, so it does. Speed thee to the town of Mansoul, with all the deepest mischiefs that this place can afford thee. And when thou shalt come to the house of Mr. Mischief, the place where the Diabolonians meet to plot, tell them that Cerberus doth wish them his service, and that if he may, he will with the army come up against the famous town of Mansoul.
Prof.That I will. And I know that my lords that are there will be glad to hear it, and to see you also.
So after a few more such kind of compliments, Mr. Profane took his leave of his friend Cerberus; and Cerberus again, with a thousand of their pit-wishes, bid him haste, with all speed, to his masters. The which when he had heard, he made obeisance, and began to gather up his heels to run.
Thus, therefore, he returned, and went and came to Mansoul; and going, as afore, to the house of Mr. Mischief, there he found the Diabolonians assembled, and waiting for his return. Now when he was come, and had presented himself, he also delivered to them his letter, and adjoined this compliment to them therewith: ‘My lords, from the confines of the pit, the high and mighty principalities and powers of the den salute you here, the true Diabolonians of the town of Mansoul. Wishing you always the most proper of their benedic-tions, for the great service, high attempts, and brave achievements that you have put yourselves upon, for the restoring to our prince Diabolus the famous town of Mansoul.’
This was therefore the present state of the miserable town of Mansoul: she had offended her Prince, and he was gone; she had encouraged the powers of hell, by her foolishness, to come against her, to seek her utter destruction.
True, the town of Mansoul was somewhat made sensible of her sin, but the Diabolonians were gotten into her bowels; she cried, but Emmanuel was gone, and her cries did not fetch him as yet again. Besides, she knew not now whether, ever or never, he would return and come to his Mansoul again; nor did they know the power and industry of the enemy, nor how forward they were to put in execution that plot of hell that they had devised against her.
They did, indeed, still send petition after petition to the Prince, but he answered all with silence. They did neglect reformation, and that was as Diabolus would have it; for he knew, if they regarded iniquity in their heart, their King would not hear their prayer; they therefore did still grow weaker and weaker, and were as a rolling thing before the whirlwind. They cried to their King for help, and laid Diabolonians in their bosoms: what therefore should a King do to them? Yea, there seemed now to be a mixture in Mansoul: the Diabolonians and the Mansoulians would walk the streets together. Yea, they began to seek their peace; for they thought that, since the sickness had been so mortal in Mansoul, it was in vain to go to handygripes with them. Besides, the weakness of Mansoul was the strength of their enemies; and the sins of Mansoul the advantage of the Diabolonians. The foes of Mansoul did also now begin to promise themselves the town for a possession: there was no great difference now betwixt Mansoulians and Diabolonians: both seemed to be masters of Mansoul. Yea, the Diabolonians increased and grew, but the town of Mansoul diminished greatly. There were more than eleven thousand men, women, and children, that died by the sickness in Mansoul.
But now, as Shaddai would have it, there was one whose name was Mr. Prywell, a great lover of the people of Mansoul. And he, as his manner was, did go listening up and down in Mansoul, to see and to hear, if at any time he might, whether there was any design against it or no. For he was always a jealous man, and feared some mischief sometime would befall it, either from the Diabolonians within, or from some power without. Now upon a time it so happened, as Mr. Prywell went listening here and there, that he lighted upon a place called Vile Hill, in Mansoul, where Diabolonians used to meet; so hearing a muttering (you must know that it was in the night), he softly drew near to hear; nor had he stood long under the house-end (for there stood a house there), but he heard one confidently affirm that it was not, or would not be long, before Diabolus should possess himself again of Mansoul; and that then the Diabolonians did intend to put all Mansoulians to the sword, and would kill and destroy the King’s captains, and drive all his soldiers out of the town. He said, moreover, that he knew there were above twenty thousand fighting men prepared by Diabolus for the accomplishing of this design, and that it would not be months before they all should see it.
When Mr. Prywell had heard this story, he did quickly believe it was true: wherefore he went forthwith to my Lord Mayor’s house, and acquainted him therewith; who, sending for the subordinate preacher, brake the business to him; and he as soon gave the alarm to the town; for he was now the chief preacher in Mansoul, because, as yet, my Lord Secretary was ill at ease. And this was the way that the subordinate preacher did take to alarm the town therewith. The same hour he caused the lecture-bell to be rung; so the people came together: he gave them then a short exhortation to watchfulness, and made Mr. Prywell’s news the argument thereof. ‘For,’ said he, ‘an horrible plot is contrived against Mansoul, even to massacre us all in a day, nor is this story to be slighted; for Mr. Prywell is the author thereof.
Mr. Prywell was always a lover of Mansoul, a sober and judicious man, a man that is no tattler, nor raiser of false reports, but one that loves to look into the very bottom of matters, and talks nothing of news, but by very solid arguments.
‘I will call him, and you shall hear him your own selves.’ So he called him, and he came and told his tale so punctually, and affirmed its truth with such ample grounds, that Mansoul fell presently under a conviction of the truth of what he said. The preacher did also back him, saying, ‘Sirs, it is not irrational for us to believe it, for we have provoked Shaddai to anger, and have sinned Emmanuel out of the town; we have had too much correspondence with Diabolonians, and have forsaken our former mercies; no marvel, then, if the enemy both within and without should design and plot our ruin; and what time like this to do it?
The sickness is now in the town, and we have been made weak thereby. Many a good meaning man is dead, and the Diabolonians of late grow stronger and stronger.
‘Besides,’ quoth the subordinate preacher, ‘I have received from this good truth-teller this one inkling further, that he understood by those that he overheard, that several letters have lately passed between the furies and the Diabolonians in order to our destruction.’
When Mansoul heard all this, and not being able to gainsay it, they lift up their voice and wept. Mr. Prywell did also, in the presence of the townsmen, confirm all that their subordinate preacher had said. Wherefore they now set afresh to bewail their folly, and to a doubling of petitions to Shaddai and his Son. They also brake the business to the captains, high commanders, and men of war in the town of Mansoul, entreating them to use the means to be strong, and to take good courage; and that they would look after their harness, and make themselves ready to give Diabolus battle by night and by day, shall he come, as they are informed he will, to beleaguer the town of Mansoul.
When the captains heard this, they being always true lovers of the town of Mansoul, what do they but, like so many Samsons, they shake themselves, and come together to consult and contrive how to defeat those bold and hellish contrivances that were upon the wheel by the means of Diabolus and his friends against the now sickly, weakly, and much impov-erished town of Mansoul; and they agreed upon these following particulars:
1. That the gates of Mansoul should be kept shut, and made fast with bars and locks, and that all persons that went out or came in should be very strictly examined by the captains of the guards, ‘to the end,’ said they ‘that those that are managers of the plot amongst us, may, either coming or going, be taken; and that we may also find out who are the great contrivers, amongst us, of our ruin.’
2. The next thing was, that a strict search should be made for all kind of Diabolonians throughout the whole town of Mansoul; and that every man’s house from top to bottom should be looked into, and that, too, house by house, that if possible a further discovery might be made of all such among them as had a hand in these designs.
3. It was further concluded upon, that wheresoever or with whomsoever any of the Diabolonians were found, that even those of the town of Mansoul that had given them house and harbour, should, to their shame, and the warning of others, take penance in the open place.
4. It was, moreover, resolved by the famous town of Mansoul, that a public fast, and a day of humiliation, should be kept throughout the whole corporation, to the justifying of their Prince, the abasing of themselves before him for their transgressions against him, and against Shaddai, his Father. It was further resolved, that all such in Mansoul as did not on that day endeavour to keep that fast, and to humble themselves for their faults, but that should mind their worldly employs, or be found wandering up and down the streets, should be taken for Diabolonians, and should suffer as Diabolonians for such their wicked doings.
5. It was further concluded then, that with what speed, and with what warmth of mind they could, they would renew their humiliation for sin, and their petitions to Shaddai for help; they also resolved to send tidings to the court of all that Mr. Prywell had told them.
6. It was also determined that thanks should be given by the town of Mansoul to Mr.
Prywell, for his diligent seeking of the welfare of their town: and further, that forasmuch as he was so naturally inclined to seek their good, and also to undermine their foes, they gave him a commission of scoutmaster-general, for the good of the town of Mansoul.
When the corporation, with their captains, had thus concluded, they did as they had said; they shut up their gates, they made for Diabolonians strict search, they made those with whom any were found to take penance in the open place: they kept their fast, and renewed their petitions to their Prince; and Mr. Prywell managed his charge and the trust that Mansoul had put in his hands with great conscience and good fidelity; for he gave himself wholly up to his employ, and that not only within the town, but he went out to pry, to see, and to hear.