Faithful in Vanity Fair
Christian and Faithful, passing on from the wilderness, approached the town of Vanity. An all-year-round fair was there so that it came to be called Vanity Fair. This was no newly erected business, for it was a thing of ancient standing, going back actually, to the Tower of Babel. Babel represents the anti-christian world-power, and every world’s fair has a tower or space-needle which may be seen from every point in the fair. It symbolizes the Man of Sin’s dominion over all things against God and against His Christ. Yet, it goes back even farther, to Cain’s city, where the junior chamber of commerce boasted the original masters of agriculture, industry, arts and sciences. One of them, Jubal, belonged to a family of musicians, expert in the art of music. Jubal invented the musical pipe, for the horn, for the organ. The word in Genesis 4:21 is ooghshbe, an onomatopoetic word, one which imitates the sound imbedded in its meaning. (Even today you can still purchase an old fashioned oopah horn for your car.) This and all the other inventions of the Cainites, as well as the beginnings of their year-round fair, were for the purpose of shutting out God. It is not the thing as such, but the use and purpose of the thing which make it good or bad.
Now Vanity Fair had on sale simply everything – houses, lands, trades, places, honors, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures and delights of all sorts, as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, bloods, bodies, souls, silver, gold and precious stones. Going on at all times are jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves and rogues. To be seen, and for nothing, are thefts, murders, adulteries, false swearers and that of blood-red color. Dominating the fair is a space-needle stretching to the sky in the sinners form of a huge red dragon standing on its tail, with its revolving head forming a restaurant platform, and topped with a black crown which houses the office of the head of the fair. The door of the office bears the name, Diabolus. Those “in” with Vanity Fair profess nothing of Christ or His kingdom, for He commands His own to come out from among them and be separate. Here God is shut out. Here Diabolus teaches men to abuse the good creatures of God to vile purposes. Here the Devil commercializes birth-control, abortion, heart (and other organs) transplants, legalizes prostitution, gambling, dangerous-drug use and euthanasia (mercy killing). The people of the fair are deluded and bemused into thinking that genuine satisfaction from and enjoyment of all these things is perfectly consistent with humanity. In fact, he who opposes any of these things is immediately pounced on as an inhuman monster. So these wares of the fair are used to bait man’s lust, avarice, levity, sensuality and carnal mind to the point of degrading him below animal level and rendering him totally incapable of even ordinary accomplishment. Man is thus reduced to a low-brow menial of the state. Completely fulfilled is the divine word, God gave them up to vile passions!
Every fair has its own rows and streets representing countries and kingdoms. There are the priests in the Italian Row with their beads and crucifixes. There are the higher critics in the German Row with their philosophies and their scripture-shredding theories. There are the fashion models in the French Row with their mod-styles emphasizing floppy, bloodless, pipe-stem limbs protruding from baggy but truncated “hallowe’en” costumes. The Italian Row for years ran and operated the fair. But you know who then and still does own and finance it. Since the Renaissance and the Reformation, the Romish counter-reformation had given place to the more plausible and intellectual issuance of modern skepticism in the Enlightenment, to the prideful supremacy of so called science and humanism.
It was through this fair Faithful and Christian had to go. For travelers on the way to the Above-Jerusalem who would avoid and not go through this town “must needs go out of the world.” Prince Immanuel himself went through it, where He encountered the lord of the fair who flattered Him with becoming Lord of Vanity if He would but Bow to his dominion. But the Prince of princes did not so cheapen himself, having no mind to the merchandise, and so brought nothing of it.
Every fair throbs with the noise and bustle of a vain show. But the presence of these pilgrims caused a furor to arise. The first cause of this furor was the dress of the pilgrims, different from the denizens of the fair (Rom. 3:22; 13:14; Gal. 3:27). Such clothing made the people stare at them. Some called them fools; others said they were insane (the cage-keepers of the fair); and still others said they were “too far out.” The second cause of the furor was their speech. Few could understand what they said. They spoke the language of New Canaan, while the people of the fair were men of this world. Hence, they seemed barbarians to each other. The third cause of the furor was that the pilgrims paid no attention to the displays or the goods of the fair, never caring so much as to glance at them. The merchants were not amused at this. Their cry of “buy! buy! why don’t you buy?” was only met with their pilgrims’ putting their fingers in their ears and running off with, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” The fourth cause of the furor was when one merchant tried to pull them into his concession with “What will you buy?” and they answered, “We buy the truth! and sell it not!” Then you never saw such mocking, ridicule and inciting of others to riot against them. Then the furor became so bad all order was destroyed and pandemonium reigned. What a confusion of voices! Some were yelling, “O Baal, hear us!” Some were screaming, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” Others waddled like apes with heads down chanting, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” And others raised left-handed fists in the air shouting, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Together the mad babel of sound made one hellish roar from morning to noon. It almost blew the fair apart.
Word was brought to the big man of the fair. In fact he had already seen and heard everything about it on his inter-circuit TV set. Soon his roustabouts apprehended the men, taking them into custody for examination. Pilgrims are suspect at Vanity Fair. Not only are Christians under continual surveillance, but there are more spies against them than they know. Espionage is unceasingly carried on against them. Then the two were taken to UN Row where an agent of H.E.W., examined them. They were told who they were, where they came from, where they were going, what they were doing there in the dress they wore and why they would buy only the truth. But their inquisitors did not believe them, putting them down as either escapees from a mental institution or worthy of committal to same. They were then turned over to some huge, wild-eyed men who beat them with crab-tree cudgels, smeared them with dirt (I Cor. 4:13) and put them in the cage.1
Their behavior in the cage was that of patience, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing,” and giving good words for bad. Nevertheless, they were made the authors of the disturbance. For this they were beaten pitilessly, put in irons and led up and down the fair (I Cor. 4:9) in chains to terrorize the city. Then they were remanded to the cage again, with the feet fast in the stocks. Here they learned the truth of
Behold Vanity Fair! The Pilgrims there
Are chained, and stoned beside:
Even so it was our Lord passed here,
And on Mt. Calvary died.
Here they recalled the words of Evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5) in which he had warned them: “in that town you will be hardly beset with enemies who will strain hard to kill you; and be sure that one or both of you must seal the testimony which you hold with blood. But be faithful unto death, and the King will give you a crown of life! The one who shall die here, although his death shall be unnatural, and his pain great, yet will have the better of his fellow; not only because he will arrive sooner in Zion, but because he will escape many miseries the other sill suffer the rest of his journey.” Then they began to comfort one another with the thought that the one whose lot it was to die here should have the better of the two, each man secretly wishing he might be that one.
1. a. Cp. Gen. Edwin A. Walker’s case; arrested, taken into custody in the Lyceum building on the Ole Miss campus for about an hour; from there taken to the federal building in Oxford, Miss.; then in a few hours, spirited away in irons secretly to a mental institution in Springfield, Mo., without benefit of counsel, notice of a hearing. – Read “The Invasion of Mississippi,” Amer. Opinion Reprints, pp. 91-97, $1.00. Belmont, Mass, 02178.
b. Cp. Fox’s Book of Martyrs, especially the cases of Wm. Lithgow, Anthony Rivetti, Mary Revol, Capt. Joshua Gianavel, John Wicliffe, John Huss, Jerome of Prague.
c. Cp. The same treatment of Pilgrims repeated over and over in the Book of Acts, itself both an amazing and rewarding study in: 3:13-21; 4:17-29, 40-42; 7:54-60; 12:1-19; 16:19-24; 17:5-9, 13; 18:12-17; 19:23-40; 20:1-3; 21:27-36; 22:22-30; 23:1-2, 12-15.
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