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I saw them so much engaged in conversing with each other, I thought it a good fign, and listened attentively to their talk, not doubting but the chief turn of it would be about the climate, or treasures, or society they should probably meet with in the far country. I supposed they might be also discussing about the best and safest road to it, and that each was availing himself of the knowledge of his neighbour, on a subject of equal importance to all. I listened to every party, but in scarcely any did I hear one word about the land to which they were bound, though it was their home, the place where their whole interest, expectation, and inheritance lay; to which also great part of their friends were gone before, and whither they were sure all the rest would follow. Instead of this, their whole talk was about the business, or the pleasures, or the fashions of the strange but bewitching country which they were merely passing through, and in which they had not one foot of land which they were sure
of calling their own for the next quarter of an hour. What little estate they had was perfonal; and not real, and that was a mortgaged, life-hold tenement of clay, not properly their own, but only lent to them on a short uncertain lease, of which threescore' years and ten was considered as the longest period, and very few indeed lived in it to the end of the term; for this was always at the will of the Lord, part of whose prerogative it was, that he could take away the lease at pleasure, knock down the stoutest tenant at a single blow, and turn out the poor shivering, helpless inhabitant naked, to that far country for which he had made no provision. Sometimes, in order to quicken the Pilgrim in his preparation, the Lord would break down the tenement by flow degrees; sometimes he would let it tumble by its own natural decay; for as it was only built to last a certain term, it would often grow fo uncomfortable by increasing dilapidations, even before the ordinary lease was out,
that the lodging was hardly worth keeping, though the tenant could feldom be persuaded to think so, but fondly clung to it to the last. First the thatch on the top of the tenement changed colour, then it fell off and left the roof bare; then, “the “ grinders ceased because they were few;" then the : windows became so darkened that the owner could scarcely see through them; then one prop fell away, then ano. ther, then the uprights became bent, and the whole fabric trembled and tottered, with every other symptom of a falling house. But what was remarkable, the more uncomfortable the house became, and the less prospect there was of staying in it, the more preposterously fond did the tenant grow of his precarious habitation. 1.On some occasions the Lord ordered his messengers, of which he had a great variety, to batter, injure, deface, and almost demolish the frail building, even while it seemed new and strong; this was what the landlord called giving warning ; but many a tenant would not take warning, and was so fond of staying where he was, even under all these inconveniences, that at last he was cast out by ejectment, not being prevailed on to leave his dwelling in a proper manner, though one would have thought the fear of being turned out would have whetted his diligence in preparing for a better and a more enduring inberitance. For though the people were only tenants at will in these crazy tenements, yet, through the goodness of the fame Lord, they were assured that he never turned them out of these habitations before he had on his part provided for them a better, so that there was not such another landlord in the world, and though their prefent dwelling was but frail, being only slightly run up to serve the occasion, yet they might hold their future possession by a most certain tenure, the word of the Lord himself. This word was entered in a covenant, or title-deed, consisting of many
sheets, and because a great many good things were given away in this deed, a book was made of which every soul might. get a copy.'
This indeed had not always been the case; because, till a few ages back, there had been a sort of monopoly in the case, and “ the wise and prudent;" that is, the cunning and fraudful, had hid these things from “ the babes and sucklings;" that is, from the low and ignorant, and many frauds had been practised, and the poor had been cheated of their right; so that not being allowed to read and judge for themselves, they had been sadly imposed upon; but all these tricks had been put an end to more than two hundred years when I passed through the country, and the meanest man who could read might then have a copy; so that he might see himself what he had to trust to ; and even those who could not read, might hear it read once or twice every week, at least, without pay, by learned and holy men