Pilgrim’s Progress 3

CHRISTIAN ARRIVES AT THE WICKET-GATE

Pilgrim's Progress 4
Pilgrim’s Progress 4

John Bunyan

SO after a while Christian arrived at the Wicket-gate. Now over the gate there was written, Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Therefore he knocked more than once or twice while saying:

May I now enter here?

Will he within

Open to sorry me, though I have bin [been]

An undeserving rebel?

Then shall I

Not fail to sing his lasting praise on high.

At last their came to the Gate a grave [dignified] person named Good-will, who asked, “Who is there? From where have you come? What is your purpose in knocking?”

CHRISTIAN: Here is a poor burdened sinner who comes from the City of Destruction. But more importantly, I am going to Mount Zion [the Celestial City], so that I may be delivered from the wrath to come. Therefore sir, since I have been informed that the way to my destination is through this Gate, I would like to know if you are willing to let me enter.

GOOD-WILL: I am willing with all my heart. (And at that he immediately opened the Gate.)

Now as Christian was stepping through the Gate, he was quite surprised when suddenly, Good-will pulled him through.

In seeking an explanation for this forceful manner, Christian was told, “Just a little distance outside this Gate, a strong castle has been built and its captain is named Beelzebub. From there, both he and his army shoot arrows at those who seek entrance at the Gate, endeavoring to slay pilgrims before they pass through.” Then said Christian, “I rejoice and tremble.” So when the pilgrim was fully inside, Good-will asked him, “Who directed you to come this way?”

CHRISTIAN: Evangelist exhorted me to come this way and knock at the Gate, just as I did. He further told me that you, sir,would tell me what I must do next.

GOOD-WILL: An open door is set before you, and no man can shut it.

CHRISTIAN: Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

GOOD-WILL: But how is it that you have come alone?

CHRISTIAN: Because none of my neighbors saw their danger as I saw mine.

GOOD-WILL: Did any of them know of your coming?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, my wife and children were the first to notice my departure, and they called out for me to return home.

Also some of my neighbors cried out as a group for me to come back. But I put my fingers in my ears and continued on my way.

GOOD-WILL: But did none of them follow you to persuade you to go back?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, both Obstinate and Pliable. But when they realized that their arguments had not been successful, Obstinate turned back in a rage, though Pliable did come with me for a short while.

GOOD-WILL: But why did he not persevere even to this place?

CHRISTIAN: Quite frankly, we did press on together, that is until we came to the Slough of Despond into which we both suddenly tumbled. At that point, my neighbor Pliable was immediately discouraged and refused to go any further. As a result, he drew himself out of the mire on that side which was nearest to his house; he then told me that I would possess the brave country alone on his behalf. So he went back in the direction of Obstinate and I proceeded forward to this Gate.

GOOD-WILL: How sad it is concerning Pliable in that he had such little appreciation of the heavenly glory to come, so much so that he did not consider it worth encountering a few hazards and difficulties to obtain it.

CHRISTIAN: Yes, this account concerning Pliable is sadly true. Though the truth with regard to myself is really no
different. It is a fact that Pliable returned to his own house. But I also carnally yielded to the persuasive arguments of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, and consequently turned aside toward the way that leads to death.

GOOD-WILL: Oh, did he prey upon you as well? Did he beguile you by offering relief and ease by means of Mr. Legality? You know they are both cheats. But did you pay attention to his advice?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, I went ahead as far as I dared to find Mr. Legality, that is until I feared that the mountain that lies beside his house would fall upon my head. And so for this reason I was forced to stop.

GOOD-WILL: That mountain has been the death of many, and will be the death of many more. It is just as well you
escaped lest it dash you to pieces.

CHRISTIAN: Why, to be truthful, I do not know what would have become of me there had not Evangelist arrived at

just the right time when I was feeling sorry for myself and so miserably depressed. But it was the mercy of God that he came to me again, for otherwise I would never have come to this place. Nevertheless, I have come, unworthy as I certainly am, and am more deserving of death by means of that mountain than the privilege of standing before my Lord to talk with him.

But oh, what a gracious privilege it is for me to gain entrance here.

GOOD-WILL: We do not object to any entering here, notwithstanding all that they have done in the past; in no way

A pilgrim may have company when he first sets out for Heaven, and yet later find that he travels alone.

Therefore my good Christian, walk a little distance with me and I will instruct you about the way ahead that you must pursue. Look just ahead of you; do you see this narrow way and how it goes ahead of us? Then that is the way
along which you must go. It was established by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles; it is as straight a way as it is possible to find. This is the way that you must go.

CHRISTIAN: But are there no turnings or windings or detours by means of which a stranger can lose his way?

GOOD-WILL: Yes, there are many side paths that attach to this narrow way, and they are crooked and wide. But you must distinguish the right way from that which is wrong by observing that it is straight and narrow.

Then I saw in my dream that Christian further asked Goodwill if he was able to help him take off the burden remaining on his back, since it seemed impossible to remove without assistance. Good-will advised that he should be content to bear this load until he came to the Place of Deliverance further ahead; then the burden would fall from off his back by itself.

So Christian began to gird up his loins [prepare himself] and seriously pay attention to the journey before him. Good-will then told him that when he had traveled some distance from the Gate, he would come to the house of the Interpreter; having knocked at the door, there he would be shown excellent things. At this, Christian said farewell to Good-will who in turn bid [commended to] him Godspeed [traveling mercies].

 

CHRISTIAN IS INSTRUCTED AT

THE HOUSE OF THE INTERPRETER

THEN he went on till he came to the house of the Interpreter, where he knocked at the entrance over and over again. At last someone came to the door and asked, “Who is there?”

CHRISTIAN: Sir, I am a traveler who was advised by an acquaintance of the good man of this house to call here for my benefit. Therefore I would like to speak with the master of this house.

So the man at the door called for the master of the house, who soon came to Christian and asked him what was the reason for his visit.

CHRISTIAN: Sir, I am a man who has come from the City of Destruction and am on my way to Mount Zion. I was told by one Good-will at the Wicket-gate, the commencement of this narrow way, that if I called here you would show me excellent things that would be of help to me in my journey.

INTERPRETER: By all means come in, and I will certainly show you things that you will find beneficial. So he commanded his helper to light the candle and then invited Christian to follow him.

  1. The Portrait of the Godly Pastor

Now Interpreter led the pilgrim into a private room, and there he ordered his man to open a door. Then did Christian see the picture of a very grave [serious, important] person hanging against the wall, and its features were as follows. This man had his eyes directed up toward Heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold hung over his head.

CHRISTIAN: What then does this mean?

INTERPRETER: The man in the picture which you see is one in a thousand, who can beget children, travail in birth
with children, and nurse them himself when they are born.

And just as you see him with his eyes looking up toward Heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth
written on his lips, this is to show you that his work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners.

Similarly, just as you see him stand as if he pleaded with men, and also you notice that the world is cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head, this is to show you that, in slighting and despising the things of the present, on account of his love and devotion to his Master’s service, he is sure to have glory for his reward in the world to come.

Now I have showed you this picture first, because the man who it portrays is the only man who the Lord of the Celestial

City has authorized to be your guide in all of the difficult situations that you may encounter along the way. Therefore pay attention to what I have showed you, and carefully weigh in your mind what you have seen lest, in your journey, you meet with some that pretend to lead you along the right path, while in reality their way leads to death.

    1. The Distinction Between the Law and the Gospel Then Christian was taken by the hand and led into a very large parlor [living room] that was full of dust having never been swept. Now after he had observed this scene for a little while,

Interpreter called for a man to commence sweeping. As a result, the dust began to fly about so overwhelmingly that Christian was nearly choked to death. Interpreter immediately spoke to a gracious lady standing nearby, “Bring some water here and sprinkle this room.” The lady having done this, the parlor was then easily swept and cleansed.

CHRISTIAN: What does this mean?

 

INTERPRETER: This parlor is the heart of a man who has never been sanctified [regenerated and justified] by the sweet grace of the Gospel. The dust is his original [Adamic] sin and inward corruptions that have thoroughly defiled the whole man.

He who first began to sweep is the Law; but the gracious lady who brought water and sprinkled the room is the Gospel.

Now while you saw, as soon as the man began to sweep, that the dust so swirled about the room that it became even more difficult to cleanse, and you were near choked to death, this is to show you that the Law, instead of it effectively cleansing the heart from sin, does in fact arouse, give greater strength to, and cause sin to flourish in the soul. And this result is in spite of the fact that the Law both uncovers and condemns sin, for it does not have the power to subdue.

Furthermore, as you saw the gracious lady sprinkle the room with water, at which it was very easily cleansed, this is to show you that when the Gospel comes with its sweet and precious influences indwelling the heart, then, just as you saw the lady settle the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the heart made clean, through the faith of that soul; and consequently that same soul is then made a suitable place for the King of Glory to inhabit.

      1. The Virtue of Patience Contrasted with Passion

Moreover, I saw in my dream that Interpreter again took Christian by the hand and led him into a very small room in which there sat two little children, each one on his chair. The name of the elder was Passion and the other Patience. Passion seemed to be very discontented while Patience remained calm and quiet. Then Christian asked, “What is the reason for Passion’s unrest?” Interpreter replied, “The Governor of these children would have him wait for the best things that are to be bestowed at the beginning of the next year. But he wants to have his inheritance now, while Patience is quite willing to wait.”

Then I saw a person come to Passion and bring him a bag of treasure that was immediately poured out at his feet. At this the elder child rejoiced and at the same time scornfully laughed at Patience. However, I noticed that very soon Passion’s wealth wasted away, with the result that he found himself left with nothing but rags.

CHRISTIAN: Explain this matter to me more fully.

INTERPRETER: These two lads are figures [portrayals] of the men of this world. Now Patience represents those men who are prepared to wait for that which is to come. On the other hand you will notice that Passion must have all of his inheritance now, this very year, that is in this present world. So are the men of this world: they insist on having all of their good things now and cannot possibly wait till next year, that is in the world to come, for lasting treasure. That proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, is of more authority with them than all of the Divine Testimonies [Scripture accounts] of the good things promised in the world to come. But as you saw,Passion quickly wasted away all that he had so that he ended up having nothing but rags. And so it will be with all like men at the end of this age.

CHRISTIAN: Now I see that Patience has superior wisdom, and that for several reasons.

    1. Because he is willing to wait for the best things. And also because the glory of his inheritance will last when that of Passion has long ago been reduced to rags.INTERPRETER: Yes, and you may add another reason as well. It is that the glory of the next world will never wear out while the good things of the present decay and then suddenly are gone. Therefore Passion did not have a very good reason for laughing at Patience even if he did have his good things first; the reality is that Patience will have the last laugh because he eventually receives the best things that last eternally. For he who is first must yield to he who was last, because the last must have his time in the future, while the first must make way for nothing because his good things vanish!Therefore he who has his inheritance first, uses and spends it in time; but he who receives his portion last, has it for all of eternity! Therefore it is said of Dives [the rich man], “In your life you received the good things, and likewise Lazarus [the beggar] received evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”

      CHRISTIAN: Then I understand that it is not good to covet things that are now, but to wait for the best things that are to come.

      INTERPRETER: You certainly speak the truth. For the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not

      seen are eternal. However, though this be so, yet since present things and our fleshly desires are such close neighbors, one next to the other; and again, because things to come and our carnal appetite are such strangers [so opposed] to one another: therefore it is that the first of these [present things and fleshly desires] so quickly establish friendship, and that distance is maintained between the second [eternal things].

      1. The Grace of Christ Conquers the Assailed Heart

      Then I saw in my dream that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him to a place where there was a fire burning against a wall. In front of this fireplace was a man continually casting buckets of water on the fire in an effort to extinguish it. Nevertheless, the fire continued to burn higher and hotter.

      CHRISTIAN: What does this mean?

      INTERPRETER: This fire is the work of grace that has been ignited in the heart. He who casts water upon it, so as to extinguish this blaze, is the Devil. Even so, in that you see the fire burn higher and hotter, let me now show you the reason for this mystery.

       

      So Interpreter took Christian behind the wall and the fireplace; there the pilgrim saw a Man with a container in his hand, from which he cast oil upon the fire, though secretly.

      Then said Christian, “What does this mean?” Hence Interpreter replied, “This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by this means, notwithstanding what the Devil attempts to do, the souls of his people still prove to be gracious. And in that you saw that the Man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, this is to teach you that it is hard for those who are tempted to understand how this work of grace is upheld in the soul.”

      1. The Persevering Valiant Pilgrim

      I also saw that the Interpreter took him again by the hand, and led Christian into a very pleasant place where a stately palace had been built; it was a very beautiful building indeed.

      Now the pilgrim was greatly delighted at what he saw, and particularly with the sight of several people, clothed in gold, walking around the top of the palace. Then said Christian, “May we go inside?”

      Then the Interpreter led him closer to the main door, and there he noticed a large number of men who obviously desired to gain entrance, yet seemed to lack courage. Back a little from the door there was also a man sitting at a table with a book and inkhorn [ink container, used with a quill] in front of him; his role was that of recording the names of those who were determined to enter the palace. But Christian also saw that in the very doorway there stood many armored men who were intent on employing violence and mischief to stop any man from gaining entrance. At this the eager pilgrim pondered what all this meant.

      Then, while most of the men outside cowered at the thought of attempting to make a forceful entrance, Christian noticed one man, very resolute in appearance, stride up to the man at the desk and ask of him, “Sir, set down my name.” Immediately following this, the same man drew his sword, put a helmet on his head, and rushed toward the palace door with the men standing in the way. So the valiant entrant found himself opposed with deadly force; yet he was not discouraged, and consequently applied himself to fierce cutting and hacking of his opponents. He both received and gave many wounds to his enemies;  nevertheless this courageous man cut his way through so that he eventually gained entrance into the palace.

      Then those inside, and especially three at the top, cried out with a joyous chorus of welcome, Come in, come in,
      Eternal Glory you shall win.

      So he went in and was clothed with garments similar to those being worn by the citizens of the palace. Then Christian smiled and said, “I certainly know the meaning of this.”

      1. The Despairing Reprobate in the Iron Cage Then Christian said, “Now let me go forward.” But the Interpreter replied, “No, you must stay until I have showed you a little more. After this you can be on your way.” So he took him by the hand again and led him into a very dark room where a man sat in an iron cage. Now this man seemed very sad to look upon. He sat with his eyes looking down toward the ground, his hands tightly folded together; and he sighed as if his heart would break. Then said Christian, “What does this mean?”So the Interpreter told him to talk with the man.CHRISTIAN: What are you doing here?MAN: I am what I once was not.

        CHRISTIAN: What were you once?

        MAN: I was once a fair [attractive], flourishing [thriving] and professing Christian, in the eyes of both myself and others. At one time I was convinced of being fair [well set] for reaching the Celestial City; and even had joyous thoughts of arrival at that destination.

         

        CHRISTIAN: Yes, but what are you now?

        MAN: I am now a man of despair and am shut up [captive] to it, as this iron cage depicts. I cannot get out. Oh how
        miserable I am since now I cannot get out.

        CHRISTIAN: But how did you come to be in this condition?

        MAN: I neglected to watch and be sober; I loosed any restraint that had been on my lusts and gave them free reign; I sinned against the light of the Word and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Holy Spirit so that He has departed from me;I have provoked God to anger and He has abandoned me; I have so hardened my heart that I cannot repent.

        Then Christian spoke to the Interpreter, “But is there no hope for such a man as this?” “You ask him,” replied the Interpreter.

        CHRISTIAN: Do you have any hope that you will not be permanently kept in this iron cage of despair?

        MAN: No, none at all.

        CHRISTIAN: But why ought that to be so? Are you not aware that the Son of the Blessed is very merciful and compassionate?

        MAN: Nevertheless I have crucified him again by my life; I have despised his person; I have despised his righteousness; I have regarded his blood as something quite unholy; I have done despite to [spitefully opposed, insulted] the Spirit of grace.

        Therefore I have shut myself out of all of the promises of God; and there now remains for me nothing but threatenings, fearful prospects of rebuke, fiery indignation, and certain judgment that shall, as would some adversary, wholly consume me.

        CHRISTIAN: For what reasons did you bring yourself into this sorry condition?

        MAN: On account of the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world. It was in the enjoyment of these things that I promised myself increasing delight. But now they all, as it were, snap back and bite me; they gnaw at my soul like a burning worm.

        CHRISTIAN: But can you not now repent and turn from this wretched condition?

        MAN: [No], for God has denied me repentance; His Word gives me no encouragement to believe. Yes, He himself has shut me up in this iron cage so that even all the men in the world are unable to obtain my release. Oh eternity! eternity! How can I possibly grapple with the misery that I shall encounter in eternity?

        INTERPRETER: So remember this man’s misery, and let his sorry condition be a perpetual warning to you.

        CHRISTIAN: Well, this is a most fearful situation. May God help me to watch and be sober, and pray that I may shun the cause of this man’s grief. But sir, is it not now time for me to be on my way?

        INTERPRETER: Wait just a little longer so that I can show you one more thing, and then you can continue with your
        journey.

        1. The Warning of the Final Day of Judgment So once again he took Christian by the hand and led him
          a chamber [bedroom] where he observed a man getting out of his bed; and as he put on his clothing he shook and trembled.Then said Christian, “Why does this man tremble so much?”Interpreter then asked the man to explain the reason for his shaking.So he began and said, “This evening I was fast asleep, and at the same time I dreamed, and behold the heavens became extremely black; also the sky was laced with lightening and thunder in a manner that was terribly frightening, so much so that I was greatly distressed. Then I looked up in my dream and saw the clouds roll across the sky at an unusually swift rate, at which I heard the great sound of a trumpet and also saw a Man sit upon a cloud attended with thousands of heavenly beings; and they were all in the midst of flaming fire, even as the heavens were blazing with fire.”

          “Then I heard a voice calling, ‘Arise you who are dead, and come to your judgment!’ And at this the rocks shattered into pieces, the graves opened, and the dead that were in them came forth; some of them were exceedingly glad and joyously looked upward; and some sought to hide themselves under the mountains.”

          “Then I saw the Man that sat upon the cloud open the Book, and he commanded the world to draw near. Now on account of the fiery flame that came from his person and surrounded him, there was a necessary distance between he and those called into his presence. Similarly, in just the same way there is a necessary space between a judge and prisoners at the bar in this world. I also heard that those who attended the Man who sat on the cloud were ordered, ‘Gather together the tares, the chaff, and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake.’”

          “At this the Bottomless Pit immediately opened up, and I would add, very near where I stood; out of that yawning mouth there spewed forth great billows of smoke and coals of fire, along with hideous noises. To the same attendants it was also commanded, ‘Gather my wheat into my garner [storehouse].’

          And with that I saw many caught up and carried away into the clouds, but I was left behind. So I also sought to hide myself, but could not, for the Man who sat upon the cloud continuously kept his eye on me: further, my sins all came to mind and my conscience accused me from every direction. At this point I then awoke from my sleep.”

          CHRISTIAN: But what was it that made you so afraid of this sight?

          MAN: Why, I thought that the day of judgment had come and that I was not ready for it. But this frightened me the most, that the angels gathered up several standing near me while I was left behind; also the pit of Hell opened its mouth near where I was standing. Furthermore, my conscience was in an agony on account of the Judge keeping his eyes focused on me with a look of angry disapproval.

          Then said the Interpreter to Christian, “Have you carefully considered all of these things?”

          CHRISTIAN: Yes, and they confront me with both hope and fear.

          INTERPRETER: Well, keep all of these things at the forefront of your mind so that they can goad you and arouse
          you to move forward in the right direction. Then Christian began to gird up his loins [make serious preparation] for moving ahead on his journey. Then said the Interpreter, “I pray that the Comforter will always be with you, good Christian, to guide you in the way that leads to the Celestial City.”

          So Christian went on his way saying, Here I have seen things rare, and profitable;

          Things pleasant, dreadful, things to make me stable In what I have begun to take in hand:

          Then let me think on them, and understand  For what purpose they appeared, and let me be

          Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee.

          CHRISTIAN ARRIVES AT

          THE PLACE OF DELIVERANCE

          NOW I saw in my dream that the highway along which

          Christian was to proceed was fenced in on both sides with a

          Wall, and that Wall was called Salvation. Therefore burdened

          Christian ran up this way, though not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

          So he ran in this direction until he came to a place where the way ascended up a small hill; and at the top stood a Cross while below it was a sepulcher [stone tomb]. So I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up to the Cross, his burden fell from off his back; then it continued to tumble down the hill until it fell into the mouth of the sepulcher and was seen no more.

          At this, Christian felt glad and overjoyed, and in his excitement he exclaimed, “He has given me rest by means of his sorrow, and life by means of his death.” Then he stood still for a while to look with wonder and amazement; for it was so surprising to him that the sight of the Cross should accomplish the release of his burden. Therefore he looked again and again, even until inward springs of water flowed down his cheeks.

          Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones [angels] approached and saluted him with the benediction, “Let peace be upon you.”

          So the first Shining One said to him, “Your sins have been forgiven.” The second stripped Christian of his rags and clothed him with a complete change of garment. The third also set a mark upon his forehead, and gave him a scroll with a seal on it, which he directed should be looked at as he ran and handed in upon arrival at the gate of the Celestial City. So these messengers went their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing:

          Thus far did I come laden with my sin,

          Nor could anyone ease the grief that I was in, Until I came here. What a place is this!

          Must here be the beginning of my bliss?

          Must here the burden fall from off my back?

          Must here the cords that bound it to me crack?

          Blessed Cross! Blessed sepulcher! Blessed rather be

          The Man that there was put to shame for me.

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