The Valley of Humiliation
By John Bunyan
From "The Pilgrim's Progress"
hen he began to go forward; but Discretion,
Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So
they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go
down the hill. Then said Christian, As it was difficult coming up, so, so far as
I can see, it is dangerous going down. Yes, said Prudence, so it is, for it is a
hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as thou art now,
and to catch no slip by the way; therefore, said they, are we come out to accompany
thee down the hill. So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip
Then I saw in my dream that these good companions, when Christian was gone to the
bottom of the hill, gave him a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a cluster of
raisins; and then he went on his way.
Christian has no armour for his back
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. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast
in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that
he had no armour for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him
might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.
Christian's resolution at the approach of Apollyon
Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no
more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.
So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was
clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon,
feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as
the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful
countenance, and thus began to question with him.
APOLLYON: Whence come you? and whither are you bound?
CHRISTIAN: I am come from the City of Destruction, which is the place of all evil,
and am going to the City of Zion.
Discourse betwixt Christian and Apollyon
APOLLYON: By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects, for all that country is
mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that thou hast run away
from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike
thee now, at one blow, to the ground.
CHRISTIAN: I was born, indeed, in your dominions, but your service was hard, and
your wages such as a man could not live on, "for the wages of sin is death"
[Rom 6:23]; therefore, when I was come to years, I did, as other considerate persons
do, look out, if, perhaps, I might mend myself.
APOLLYON: There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects, neither will
I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content
to go back: what our country will afford, I do here promise to give thee.
CHRISTIAN: But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how
can I, with fairness, go back with thee?
Apollyon undervalues Christ's service
APOLLYON: Thou hast done in this, according to the proverb, "Changed a bad for
a worse"; but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves his servants,
after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me. Do thou so too, and all
shall be well.
CHRISTIAN: I have given him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to him; how, then,
can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor?
Apollyon pretends to be merciful
APOLLYON: Thou didst the same to me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now
thou wilt yet turn again and go back.
CHRISTIAN: What I promised thee was in my nonage; and, besides, I count the Prince
under whose banner now I stand is able to absolve me; yea, and to pardon also what
I did as to my compliance with thee; and besides, O thou destroying Apollyon! to
speak truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company,
and country, better than thine; and, therefore, leave off to persuade me further;
I am his servant, and I will follow him.
Apollyon pleads the grievous ends of Christians, to dissuade Christian from persisting
in his way
APOLLYON: Consider, again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet
with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that, for the most part, his servants
come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many
of them have been put to shameful deaths! and, besides, thou countest his service
better than mine, whereas he never came yet from the place where he is to deliver
any that served him out of their hands; but as for me, how many times, as all the
world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power, or fraud, those that have
faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them; and so I will deliver
CHRISTIAN: His forbearing at present to deliver them is on purpose to try their love,
whether they will cleave to him to the end; and as for the ill end thou sayest they
come to, that is most glorious in their account; for, for present deliverance, they
do not much expect it, for they stay for their glory, and then they shall have it
when their Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels.
APOLLYON: Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him; and how dost thou
think to receive wages of him?
CHRISTIAN: Wherein, O Apollyon! have I been unfaithful to him?
Apollyon pleads Christian's infirmities against him
APOLLYON: 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.
CHRISTIAN: All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince
whom I serve and honour 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.
Apollyon in a rage falls upon Christian
APOLLYON: 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
CHRISTIAN: Apollyon, beware what you do; for I am in the King's highway, the way
of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.
APOLLYON: 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.
And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in
his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.
Christian wounded in his understanding, faith, and conversation
Then did Christian draw, for he saw it was time to bestir him; and Apollyon as fast
made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that
Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot.
This made Christian give a little back; Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain,
and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore
combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent; for
you must know that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and
Apollyon casteth to the ground the Christian
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
"Rejoice not against me, O
mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be
a light unto me."
~ Micah 7:8 ~
Christian's victory over Apollyon
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
"Nay, in all these things we
are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
~ Romans 8:37 ~
And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon's wings, and sped him away, that Christian
for a season saw him no more.
"Submit yourselves therefore
to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
~ James 4:7 ~
A brief relation of the combat by the spectator
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 it was the dreadfullest sight that ever I saw.
A more unequal match can hardly be,--
CHRISTIAN must fight an Angel; but you see,
The valiant man by handling Sword and Shield,
Doth make him, tho' a Dragon, quit the field.
Christian gives God thanks for deliverance
So when the battle was over, Christian said, "I will here give thanks to him
that delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that did help me against Apollyon."
And so he did, saying--
Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend,
Design'd my ruin; therefore to this end
He sent him harness'd out: and he with rage
That hellish was, did fiercely me engage.
But blessed Michael helped me, and I,
By dint of sword, did quickly make him fly.
Therefore to him let me give lasting praise,
And thank and bless his holy name always.
Christian goes on his journey with his sword drawn in his hand
Then there came to him a hand, with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which
Christian took, and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and
was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink
of the bottle that was given him a little before; so, being refreshed, he addressed
himself to his journey, with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not
but some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from Apollyon
quite through this valley.