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Bunyan Characters: First Series by Alexander Whyte D.D.

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Those good things that from age to age
To others hid have been.
The butcher, garden, and the field,
The robin and his bait,
Also the rotten tree, doth yield
Me argument of weight;
To move me for to watch and pray,
To strive to be sincere,
To take my cross up day by day,
And serve the Lord with few.'

The significant rooms of that divine house instruct us also that
all the lessons requisite for our salvation are not to be found in
any one scripture or in any one sermon, but that all that is
required by any pilgrim or any company of pilgrims should all be
found in every minister's ministry as he leads his flock on from
one Sabbath-day to another, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Our ministers should have something in their successive sermons for
everybody. Something for the children, something for the slow-
witted and the dull of understanding, and something specially
suited for those who are of a quick apprehension; something at one
time to make the people smile, at another time to make them blush,
and at another time to make the water stand in their eyes.

3. And, then, the Interpreter's life was as full of work as his
house was of entertainment and instruction. Not only so, but his
life, it was well known, had been quite as full of work before he
had a house to work for as ever it had been since. The Interpreter
did nothing else but continually preside over his house and all
that was in it and around it, and it was all gone over and seen to
with his own eyes and hands every day. He had been present at the
laying of every stone and beam of that solid and spacious house of
his. There was not a pin nor a loop of its furniture, there was
not a picture on its walls, nor a bird nor a beast in its woods and
gardens, that he did not know all about and could not hold
discourse about. And then, after he had taken you all over his
house, with its significant rooms and woods and gardens, he was
full all supper-time of all wise saws and witty proverbs. 'One
leak will sink a ship,' he said that night, 'and one sin will
destroy a sinner.' And all their days the pilgrims remembered that
word from the Interpreter's lips, and they often said it to
themselves as they thought of their own besetting sin. Now, if it
is indeed so, that every gospel minister is an interpreter, and
every evangelical church an interpreter's house, what an important
passage this is for all those who are proposing and preparing to be
ministers. Let them reflect upon it: what a house this is that
the Interpreter dwells in; how early and how long ago he began to
lay out his grounds and to build his house upon them; how complete
in all its parts it is, and how he still watches and labours to
have it more complete. Understandest thou what thou here readest?
it is asked of all ministers, young and old, as they turn over John
Bunyan's pungent pages. And every new room, every new bird, and
beast, and herb, and flower makes us blush for shame as we contrast
our own insignificant and ill-furnished house with the noble house
of the Interpreter. Let all our students who have not yet fatally
destroyed themselves and lost their opportunity lay the
Interpreter's House well to heart. Let them be students not in
idle name only, as so many are, but in intense reality, as so few
are. Let them read everything that bears upon the Bible, and let
them read nothing that does not. They have not the time nor the
permission. Let them be content to be men of one book. Let them
give themselves wholly to the interpretation of divine truth as its
riddles are set in nature and in man, in scripture, in providence,
and in spiritual experience. Let them store their memories at
college with all sacred truth, and with all secular truth that can
be made sacred. And if their memories are weak and treacherous,
let them be quiet under God's will in that, and all the more labour
to make up in other ways for that defect, so that they may have
always something to say to the purpose when their future people
come up to church hungry for instruction and comfort and
encouragement. Let them look around and see the sin that sinks the
ship of so many ministers; and let them begin while yet their ship
is in the yard and see that she is fitted up and furnished, stored
and stocked, so that she shall in spite of sure storms and sunken
rocks deliver her freight in the appointed haven. When they are
lying in bed of a Sabbath morning, let them forecast the day when
they shall have to give a strict account of their eight years of
golden opportunity among the churches, and the classes, and the
societies, and the libraries of our university seats. Let them be
able to name some great book, ay, more than one great book, they
mastered, for every year of their priceless and irredeemable
student life. Let them all their days have old treasure-houses
that they filled full with scholarship and with literature and with
all that will minister to a congregation's many desires and
necessities, collected and kept ready from their student days.
'Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly up to them, that
thy profiting may appear unto all.'

4. And then with a sly stroke at us old ministers, our significant
author points out to us how much better furnished the Interpreter's
House was by the time Christiana and the boys visited it compared
with that early time when Christian was entertained in it. Our
pilgrim got far more in the Interpreter's House of delight and
instruction than he could carry out of it, but that did not tempt
the Interpreter to sit down and content himself with taking all his
future pilgrims into the same room, and showing them the same
pictures, and repeating to them the same explanations. No, for he
reflected that each coming pilgrim would need some new significant
room to himself, and therefore, as soon as he got one pilgrim off
his hands, he straightway set about building and furnishing new
rooms, putting up new pictures, and replenishing his woods and his
waters with new beasts and birds and fishes. I am ashamed, he
said, that I had so little to show when I first opened my gates to
receive pilgrims, and I do not know why they came to me as they
did. I was only a beginner in these things when my first visitor
came to my gates. Let every long-settled, middle-aged, and even
grey-headed minister read the life of the Interpreter at this point
and take courage and have hope. Let it teach us all to break some
new ground in the field of divine truth with every new year. Let
it teach us all to be students all our days. Let us buy, somehow,
the poorest and the oldest of us, some new and first-rate book
every year. Let us not indeed shut up altogether our old rooms if
they ever had anything significant in them, but let us add now a
new wing to our spiritual house, now a new picture to its walls,
and now a new herb to its gardens. 'Resolved,' wrote Jonathan
Edwards, 'that as old men have seldom any advantage of new
discoveries, because these are beside a way of thinking they have
been long used to; resolved, therefore, if ever I live to years,
that I will be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended
discoveries, and receive them, if rational, how long soever I have
been used to another way of thinking.'

5. The fickle, frivolous, volatile character of so many divinity
students is excellently hit off by Bunyan in our pilgrim's
impatience to be out of the Interpreter's House. No sooner had he
seen one or two of the significant rooms than this easily satisfied
student was as eager to get out of that house as he had been to get
in. Twice over the wise and learned Interpreter had to beg and
beseech this ignorant and impulsive pilgrim to stop and get another
lesson in the religious life before he left the great school-house.
All our professors of divinity and all our ministers understand the
parable at this point only too well. Their students are eager to
get into their classes; like our pilgrim, they have heard the fame
of this and that teacher, and there is not standing-room in the
class for the first weeks of the session. But before Christmas
there is room enough for strangers, and long before the session
closes, half the students are counting the weeks and plotting to
petition the Assembly against the length and labour of the
curriculum. Was there ever a class that was as full and attentive
at the end of the session as it was at the beginning? Never since
our poor human nature was so stricken with laziness and shallowness
and self-sufficiency. But what is the chaff to the wheat? It is
the wheat that deserves and repays the husbandman's love and
labour. When Plato looked up from his desk in the Academy, after
reading and expounding one of his greatest Dialogues, he found only
one student left in the class-room, but then, that student was
Aristotle. 'Now let me go,' said Christian. 'Nay, stay,' said the
Interpreter, 'till I have showed thee a little more.' 'Sir, is it
not time for me to go?' 'Do tarry till I show thee just one thing

6. 'Here have I seen things rare and profitable,
. . . Then let me be
Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee.'

Sydney Smith, with his usual sagacity, says that the last vice of
the pulpit is to be uninteresting. Now, the Interpreter's House
had this prime virtue in it, that it was all interesting. Do not
our children beg of us on Sabbath nights to let them see the
Interpreter's show once more; it is so inexhaustibly and
unfailingly interesting? It is only stupid men and women who ever
weary of it. But, 'profitable' was the one and universal word with
which all the pilgrims left the Interpreter's House. 'Rare and
pleasant,' they said, and sometimes 'dreadful;' but it was always
'profitable.' Now, how seldom do we hear our people at the church
door step down into the street saying, 'profitable'? If they said
that oftener their ministers would study profit more than they do.
The people say 'able,' or 'not at all able'; 'eloquent,' or
'stammering and stumbling'; 'excellent' in style and manner and
accent, or the opposite of all that; and their ministers, to please
the people and to earn their approval, labour after these approved
things. But if the people only said that the prayers and the
preaching were profitable and helpful, even when they too seldom
are, then our preachers would set the profit of the people far more
before them both in selecting and treating and delivering their
Sabbath-day subjects. A lady on one occasion said to her minister,
'Sir, your preaching does my soul good.' And her minister never
forgot the grave and loving look with which that was said. Not
only did he never forget it, but often when selecting his subject,
and treating it, and delivering it, the question would rise in his
heart and conscience, Will that do my friend's soul any good?
'Rare and profitable,' said the pilgrim as he left the gate; and
hearing that sent the Interpreter back with new spirit and new
invention to fill his house of still more significant, rare, and
profitable things than ever before. 'Meditate on these things,'
said Paul to Timothy his son in the gospel, 'that thy profiting may
appear unto all.' 'Thou art a minister of the word,' wrote the
learned William Perkins beside his name on all his books, 'mind thy


'A man subject to like passions as we are.'--James 5. 17.

That was a very significant room in the Interpreter's House where
our pilgrim saw Passion and Patience sitting each one in his chair.
Passion was a young lad who seemed to our pilgrim to be much
discontented. He was never satisfied. He would have all his good
things now. His governor would have him wait for his best things
till the beginning of next year; but no, he will have them all now.
And then, when he had got all his good things, he soon lavished and
wasted them all till he had nothing left but rags. Then said
Christian to the Interpreter, 'Expound this matter more fully to
me.' So he said, 'Those two lads are figures; Passion, of the men
of this world; and Patience of the men of that which is to come.'
'Then I perceive,' said Christian, ''tis not best to covet things
that are now, but to wait for things to come.' 'You say truth,'
replied the Interpreter, 'for the things that are seen are
temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.'

Now from the texts that I have taken out of James and out of this
so significant room in the Interpreter's House, let me try to tell
you something profitable, if so it may be, about passion; the
nature of it, the place it holds, and the part it performs both in
human nature and in the life and the character of a Christian man.

The name of Passion has already told us his nature, his past life,
and his present character. The whole nomenclature of The Pilgrim's
Progress and of The Holy War is composed on the divine, original,
and natural principle of embodying the nature of a man in his name.
God takes His own names to Himself on that principle. The Creator
gave Adam his name also on that same principle; and then Adam gave
their names to all cattle, to the fowls of the air, and to every
beast of the field on the same principle on which he had got his
own name. And so it was at first with all the Bible names of men
and of nations of men. Their name contained their nature. And
John Bunyan was such a student of the Bible, and of no other book
but the Bible, that all his best books are all full, like the
Bible, of the most descriptive and suggestive names. As soon as
Bunyan tells us the name of some new acquaintance or fellow-
traveller, we already know him, so exactly is his nature put into
his name. And thus it is that when we stop for a moment at the
door of this little significant room in the Interpreter's House and
ask ourselves the meaning of the name Passion, we see at once where
we are and what we have here before us. For a 'passion' is just
some excitement or agitation of the mind caused by some outward
thing acting on the mind. The inward world of the mind and heart
of man, and this outward world down into which God has placed man,
instantly and continually respond to one another. And what are
called, with so much correctness and propriety, our passions, are
just those inward responses, excitements, and agitations that the
outward world causes in the inward world when those two worlds meet
together. 'Passion' and 'perturbation' are the old classical names
that the ancient philosophers and moralists gave to what they felt
in themselves as their minds and their hearts were affected by the
world of men and things around them. And they used to illustrate
their teaching on the subject of the passions by the figure of a
storm at sea. They said that it was because God had made the sea
sensitive and responsive to the winds that blew over it that a
storm at sea ever arose. The storm did not arise and the ships
were not wrecked by anything from within the sea itself; it was the
outward world of the winds striking against the quiet and inward
world of the waters that roused the storms and sank the ships. And
with that illustration well printed in the minds and imaginations
of their scholars the old moralists felt their work among their
scholars was already all but done. For, so full of adaptation and
appeal is the whole outward world to the mind and heart of man, and
so sensitive and instantly responsive is the mind and heart of man
to all the approaches of the outward world, that the mind and heart
of man are constantly full of all kinds of passions, both bad and
good. And, then, this is our present life of probation and
opportunity, that all our passions are placed within us and are
committed and entrusted to us as so many first elements and so much
unformed material out of which we are summoned to build up our life
and to shape and complete our character. The springs of all our
actions are in our passions. All our activities in life, trace
them all up to their source, and they will all be found to run up
into the wellhead of our passions. All our virtues are cut as with
a chisel out of our passions, and all our vices are just the
disorders and rebellions of our passions. Our several passions, as
they lie still asleep in our hearts, have as yet no moral
character; they are only the raw material so to speak, of moral
character. Our passions are the life and the riches and the
ornaments of human nature, and it is only because human nature in
its present estate is so corrupt and disordered and degraded, that
the otherwise so honourable name of passion has such a sinister
sound to us. And the full regeneration and restitution of human
nature will be accomplished when every several passion is in its
right place, and when reason and conscience and the Spirit of God
shall inspire and rule and regulate all that is within us.

'On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale.'

And not Elijah only, as James says, and not Paul and Barnabas only,
as they themselves said, were men of like passions with ourselves,
but our Lord Himself was a man of like passions with us also. He
took to Himself a true body, full of all the appetites of the body,
and a reasonable soul, full of all the affections, passions, and
emotions of the soul. Only, in Him reason and conscience and the
law and the Spirit of God were the card and the compass according
to which He steered His life. We have all our ruling passion, and
our Lord also had His. As His disciples saw His ruling passion
kindled in His heart and coming out in His life, they remembered
that it was written of Him in an old Messianic psalm: 'The zeal of
Thine house hath eaten me up.' They were all eaten up of their
ruling passions also. One of ambition, one of emulation, one of
avarice, and so on,--each several disciple was eaten up of his own
besetting sin. But they all saw that it was not so with their
Master. He was eaten up always and wholly of the zeal of His
Father's house, and of absolute surrender and devotion to His
Father's service, till His ruling passion was seen to be as strong
in His death as it had been in His life. The Laird of Brodie's
Diary has repeatedly been of great use to us in these inward
matters, and his words on this subject are well worth repeating.
'We poor creatures,' he says, 'are commanded by our affections and
passions. They are not at our command. But the Holy One doth
exercise all His attributes at His own will; they are at His
command; they are not passions nor perturbations in His mind,
though they transport us. When I would hate, I cannot. When I
would love, I cannot. When I would grieve, I cannot. When I would
desire, I cannot. But it is the better for us that all is as He
wills it to be.'

And now, to come still closer home, let us look for a moment or two
at some of our own ruling and tyrannising passions. And let us
look first at self-love--that master-passion in every human heart.
Let us give self-love the first place in the inventory and
catalogue of our passions, because it has the largest place in all
our hearts and lives. Nay, not only has self-love the largest
place of any of the passions of our hearts, but it is out of self-
love that all our other evil passions spring. It is out of this
parent passion that all the poisonous brood of our other evil
passions are born. The whole fall and ruin and misery of our
present human nature lies in this, that in every human being self-
love has taken, in addition to its own place, the place of the love
of God and of the love of man also. We naturally now love nothing
and no one but ourselves. And as long as self-love is in the
ascendant in our hearts, all the passions that are awakened in us
by our self-love will be selfish with its selfishness, inhumane
with its inhumanity, and ungodly with its ungodliness. And it is
to kill and extirpate our so passionate self-love that is the end
and aim of all God's dealings with us in this world. All that God
is doing with us and for us in providence and in grace, in the
world and in the church,--it is all to cure us of this deadly
disease of self-love. We may never have had that told us before,
and we may not like it, and we may not believe it; but there can be
no better proof of the truth of what is now said than just this,
that we do not like it and will not have it. Self-love will not
let us listen to the truth about ourselves; it puts us in a passion
both against the truth and against him who tells the truth, as the
history of the truth abundantly testifies. Yes, your indignant
protest is quite true. Self-love has her divine rights,--no doubt
she has. But you are not commanded to attend to them. Your self-
love will look after herself. She will manage to have her full
share of what is right and proper for any passion to possess even
after she cries out that she is trampled upon and despoiled. My
brethren, till you begin to crucify yourselves and to pluck up your
self-love by the roots, you will never know what a cruel and
hopeless task the Christian life is--I do not say the Christian
profession. Nor, on the other hand, will you ever discover what a
noble task it is--what a divine task and how divinely assisted and
divinely recompensed. You will not know what a kennel of hell-
hounds your own heart is till you have long sought to enter it and
cleanse it out. And after you have done your utmost, and your
best, death will hurry you away from your but half-accomplished
task. Only, in that case you will be able to die in the hope that
what is impossible with man is possible with God, as promised by
Him, and that He will not leave your soul in hell, but will perfect
that good thing which alone concerneth you, even your everlasting
deliverance from all sinful self-love.

And if self-love is the fruitful mother of all our passions, then
sensuality is surely her eldest son. Indeed, so shallow are we,
and so shallow are our words, that when we speak of sinful passion
most men instantly think of sensuality. There are so many
seductive things that appeal to our appetites, and our appetites
are so easily awakened, and are so imperious when they are
awakened, that when passion is spoken about, few men think of the
soul, all men think instantly of the body. And no wonder. For,
stupid and besotted as we are, we must all at some time of our life
have felt the bondage and degradation of the senses. Passion in
the Interpreter's House had soon nothing left but rags. And in
this house to-night there are many men whose consciences and hearts
and characters are all in such rags from sensual sin, that when the
Scriptures speak of uncleanness, or rags, or corruption, their
thoughts flee at once to sensual sin and its conscience-rending
results. Cease from sensuality, said Cicero, for if once you give
your minds up to sensuality, you will never be able to think of
anything else.

Ambition, emulation, and envy are the leading members of a whole
prolific family of satanic passions in the human heart. Indeed,
these passions, taken along with their kindred passions of hatred
and ill-will, are, in our Lord's words, the very lusts of the devil
himself. The Jews hated our Lord the more for what He said about
these detestable passions, but His own disciples love Him only the
more that He so well knows the evil affections of their hearts, and
so well describes and denounces them. Anybody can denounce sensual
sin, and everybody will understand and approve. But spiritual
sin,--ambition and emulation and envy and ill-will--these things
are more easy to denounce than they are to detect and describe, and
more easy to detect and describe than they are to cast out. These
sins seem rather to multiply and to strike a deeper root when you
begin to cast them out. What an utterly and abominably evil
passion is envy which is awakened not by bad things but by the best
things! That another man's talents, attainments, praises, rewards
should kindle it, and that the blame, the depreciation, the hurt
that another man suffers should satisfy it,--what a piece of very
hell must that be in the human heart! What more do we need than
just a little envy in our hearts to make us prostrate penitents
before God and man all our days? What more doctrine, argument,
proof, authority, persuasion should a sane man need beyond a little
envy in his heart at his best friend to make him an evangelical
believer and an evangelical preacher? How, in the name of wonder,
is it that men can be so ignorant of the plague of their own hearts
as to remain indifferent, and, much more, hostile, to the gospel of
love and holiness? Pride, also,--what a hateful and intolerable
passion is that! How stone-blind to his own state must that sinner
be whose heart is filled with pride, and how impossible it is for
that man to make any real progress in any kind of truth or
goodness! And resentment,--what a deep-seated, long-lived, and
suicidal passion is that! How it hunts down him it hates, and how
surely it shuts the door of salvation against him who harbours it!
Forgive us our debts, the resentful man says in his prayer, as we
forgive our debtors. And detraction,--how some men's ink-horns are
filled with detraction for ink, and how it drops from their tongue
like poison! At their every word a reputation dies. Life and all
its opportunities of doing good and having good done to us is laid
like a bag of treasure at our feet, but, like the prodigal son in
the Interpreter's House, with all those passions raging in our own
hearts at other men, and in other men's hearts at us, we have soon
nothing left us but rags. God be thanked for every man here who
sees and feels that he has nothing left him but rags; and, still
more, thanks for all those who see and feel how, by their bad
passions, sensual and spiritual, they have left on other people
nothing but rags.

Now, from all this let us lay it to heart that our sanctification
and salvation lie in our mastery over all these and over many other
passions that have not even been named. He is an accepted saint of
God, who, taking his and other people's rags to God's mercy every
day, every day also in God's strength grapples with, bridles, and
tames his own wild and ungodly passions. Be not deceived, my
friends; he alone is a saint of God who is a sanctified man; and
his passions,--as they are the spring of his actions, so they are
the sphere and seat of his sanctification. Be not deceived; that
man, and no other manner of man, is, or ever will be, a partaker of
God's salvation. You often hear me recommending those students who
have first to subdue their own passions and then the passions of
those who hear them to study Jonathan Edwards' ethical and
spiritual writings. Well, just at this present point, to show you
how well that great man practised what he preached, let me read to
you a few lines from his biographer: 'Few men,' says Henry Rogers,
'ever attained a more complete mastery over their passions than
Jonathan Edwards did. This was partly owing to the ascendency of
his intellect; partly, and in a still greater degree, to the
elevation of his piety. For the subjugation of his passions he was
no doubt very greatly indebted to the prodigious superiority of his
reason. Such was the commanding attitude his reason assumed, and
such the tremendous power with which it controlled the whole man,
that any insurrection among his senses was hopeless; they had their
tenure only by doing fealty and homage to his intellect. Those
other and more dangerous enemies, because more subtle and more
spiritual, such as pride, vanity, wrath, and envy, which lurk in
the inmost recesses of our nature, and some of which have such
affinities for a genius like that of Edwards, yield not to such
exorcism. Such more powerful kind of demons go not forth but by
prayer and fasting; to their complete mortification, therefore,
Edwards brought incessant watchfulness and devotion; and seldom,
assuredly, have they been more nearly expelled from the bosom of a
depraved intelligence.' We shall be in the best company, both
intellectually and spiritually, if we work out our own salvation
among the sinful passions of our depraved hearts. And then, as
life goes on, and we continue in well-doing, we shall be able to
measure and register our growth in grace best by watching the
effect of outward temptations upon our still sinful and but half-
sanctified hearts. And among much to be humbled for, and much to
make us fear and tremble for the issue, we shall, from time to
time, have a good conscience and a holy and humble joy that this
passion and that is at last showing some signs of crucifixion and
mortification. And thus that death to sin shall gradually set in
which shall issue at last in an everlasting life unto holiness.

'Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean:
from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse
you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put
within you . . . Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from
thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. In that day
there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness . . . Bring
forth the best robe and put it upon him, for this my son was dead,
and is alive again; he was lost, and is found . . . What are these
that are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are
they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their
robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'


'In your patience possess ye your souls.' (Revised Version: 'In
your patience ye shall win your souls.')--Our Lord.

'I saw moreover in my dream that the Interpreter took the pilgrim
by the hand, and had him into a little room, where sate two little
children, each one in his chair. The name of the eldest was
Passion and of the other Patience. Passion seemed to be much
discontent, but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked,
What is the reason of the discontent of Passion? The interpreter
answered, The governor of them would have him stay for his best
things till the beginning of the next year; but he will have all
now. But Patience is willing to wait.'

Passion and Patience, like Esau and Jacob, are twin-brothers. And
their names, like their natures, spring up from the same root.
'Patience,' says Crabb in his English Synonyms, 'comes from the
active participle to suffer; while passion comes from the passive
participle of the same verb; and hence the difference between the
two names. Patience signifies suffering from an active principle,
a determination to suffer; while passion signifies what is suffered
from want of power to prevent the suffering. Patience, therefore,
is always taken in a good sense, and Passion always in a bad
sense.' So far this excellent etymologist. This is, therefore,
another case of blessing and cursing proceeding out of the same
mouth, and of the same fountain sending forth at the same place
both sweet water and bitter.

Our Lord tells us in this striking text that our very souls by
reason of sin are not our own. He tells us that we have lost hold
of our souls before we have as yet come to know that we have souls.
We only discover that we have souls after we have lost them. And
our Lord,--our best, indeed our only, authority in the things of
the soul,--here tells us that it is only by patience that we shall
ever win back our lost souls. More, far more, is needed to the
winning back of a lost soul than its owner's patience, and our Lord
knew that to His cost. But that is not His point with us to-night.
His sole point with each one of us to-night is our personal part in
the conquest and redemption of our sin-enslaved souls. He who has
redeemed our souls with His own blood tells us with all plainness
of speech, that His blood will be shed in vain, as far as we are
concerned, unless we add to His atoning death our own patient life.
Every human life, as our Lord looks at it, and would have us look
at it, is a vast field of battle in which a soul is lost or won;
little as we think of it or will believe it, in His sight every
trial, temptation, provocation, insult, injury, and all kinds and
all degrees of pain and suffering, are all so many divinely
appointed opportunities afforded us for the reconquest and recovery
of our souls. Sometimes faith is summoned into the battle-field,
sometimes hope, sometimes self-denial, sometimes prayer, sometimes
one grace and sometimes another; but as with the sound of a trumpet
the Captain of our salvation here summons Patience to the forefront
of the fight.

1. To begin with, how much impatience we are all from time to time
guilty of in our family life. Among the very foundations of our
family life how much impatience the husband often exhibits toward
the wife, and the wife toward her husband. Patience is the very
last grace they look forward to having any need of when they are
still dreaming about their married life; but, in too many cases,
they have not well entered on that life, when they find that they
need no grace of God so much as just patience, if the yoke of their
new life is not to gall them beyond endurance. However many good
qualities of mind and heart and character any husband or wife may
have, no human being is perfect, and most of us are very far from
being perfect. When therefore, we are closely and indissolubly
joined to another life and another will, it is no wonder that
sometimes the ill-fitting yoke eats into a lifelong sore. We have
all many defects in our manners, in our habits, and in our
constitutional ways of thinking and speaking and acting,--defects
that tempt those who live nearest us to fall into annoyances with
us that sometimes deepen into dislike, and even positive disgust,
till it has been seen, in some extreme cases, that home-life has
become a very prison-house, in which the impatient prisoner chafes
and jibs and strikes out as he does nowhere else. Now, when any
unhappy man or woman wakens up to discover how different life is
now to be from what it once promised to become, let them know that
all their past blindness, and precipitancy, and all the painful
results of all that, may yet be made to work together for good. In
your patience with one another, says our Lord, you will make a
conquest of your adverse lot, and of your souls to the bargain.
Say to yourselves, therefore, that perfection, faultlessness, and
absolute satisfaction are not to be found in this world. And say
also that since you have not brought perfection to your side of the
house any more than your partner has to his side, you are not so
foolish as to expect perfection in return for such imperfection.
You have your own share of what causes fireside silence, aversion,
disappointment, and dislike; and, with God's help, say that you
will patiently submit to what may not now be mended. And then, the
sterner the battle the nobler will the victory be; and the lonelier
the fight, the more honour to him who flinches not from it. In
your patience possess ye your souls.

What a beautiful, instructive, and even impressive sight it is to
see a nurse patiently cherishing her children! How she has her eye
and her heart at all their times upon them, till she never has any
need to lay her hand upon them! Passion has no place in her little
household, because patience fills all its own place and the place
of passion too. What a genius she displays in her talks to her
children! How she cheats their little hours of temptation, and
tides them over the rough places that her eye sees lying like
sunken rocks before her little ship! How skilfully she stills and
heals their impulsive little passions by her sudden and absorbing
surprise at some miracle in a picture-book, or some astonishing
sight under her window! She has a thousand occupations also for
her children, and each of them with a touch of enterprise and
adventure and benevolence in it. She is so full of patience
herself, that the little gusts of passion are soon over in her
presence, and the sunshine is soon back brighter than ever in her
little paradise. And, over and above her children rising up and
calling her blessed, what wounds she escapes in her own heart and
memory by keeping her patient hands from ever wounding her
children! What peace she keeps in the house, just by having peace
always within herself! Paul can find no better figure wherewith to
set forth God's marvellous patience with Israel during her fretful
childhood in the wilderness, than just that of such a nurse among
her provoking children. And we see the deep hold that same
touching and instructive sight had taken of the apostle's heart as
he returns to it again to the Thessalonians: 'We were gentle among
you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. So, being
affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted
unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls,
because ye were dear unto us.' What a school of divine patience is
every man's own family at home if he only were teachable,
observant, and obedient!

2. Clever, quick-witted, and, themselves, much-gifted men, are
terribly intolerant of slow and stupid men, as they call them. But
the many-talented man makes a great mistake here, and falls into a
great sin. In his fulness of all kinds of intellectual gifts, he
quite forgets from Whom he has his many gifts, and why it is that
his despised neighbour has so few gifts. If you have ten or twenty
talents, and I have only two, who is to be praised and who is to be
blamed for that allotment? Your cleverness has misled you and has
hitherto done you far more evil than good. You bear yourself among
ordinary men, among less men than yourself, as if you had added all
these cubits to your own stature. You ride over us as if you had
already given in your account, and had heard it said, Take the one
talent from them and give it to this my ten-talented servant. You
seem to have set it down to your side of the great account, that
you had such a good start in talent, and that your fine mind had so
many tutors and governors all devoting themselves to your
advancement. And you conduct yourself to us as if the Righteous
Judge had cast us away from His presence, because we were not found
among the wise and mighty of this world. The truth is, that the
whole world is on a wholly wrong tack in its praise and in its
blame. We praise the man of great gifts, and we blame the man of
small gifts, completely forgetful that in so doing we give men the
praise that belongs to God, and lay on men the blame, which, if
there is any blame in the matter, ought to be laid elsewhere.
Learn and lay to heart, my richly-gifted brethren, to be patient
with all men, but especially to be patient with all stupid, slow-
witted, ungifted, God-impoverished men. Do not add your insults
and your ill-usage to the low estate of those on whom, in the
meantime, God's hand lies so cold and so straitened. For who
maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou
didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou
glory as if thou hadst not received it? Call that to mind the next
time you are tempted to cry out that you have no patience with your
slow-witted servant.

3. 'Is patient with the bad' is one of the tributes of praise that
is paid in the fine paraphrase to that heart that is full of the
same love that is in God. A patient love to the unjust and the
evil is one of the attributes and manifestations of the divine
nature, as that nature is seen both in God and in all genuinely
godly men. And, indeed, in no other thing is the divine nature so
surely seen in any man as just in his love to and his patience with
bad men. He schools and exercises himself every day to be patient
and good to other men as God has been to him. He remembers when
tempted to resentment how God did not resent his evil, but, while
he was yet an enemy to God and to godliness, reconciled him to
Himself by the death of His Son. And ever since the godly man saw
that, he has tried to reconcile his worst enemies to himself by the
death of his impatience and passion toward them, and has more
pitied than blamed them, even when their evil was done against
himself. Let God judge, and if it must be, condemn that bad man.
But I am too bad myself to cast a stone at the worst and most
injurious of men. If we so much pity ourselves for our sinful lot,
if we have so much compassion on ourselves because of our inherited
and unavoidable estate of sin and misery, why do we not share our
pity and our compassion with those miserable men who are in an even
worse estate than our own? At any rate, I must not judge them lest
I be judged. I must take care when I say, Forgive me my
trespasses, as I forgive them that trespass against me. Not to
seven times must I grudgingly forgive, but ungrudgingly to seventy
times seven. For with what judgment I judge, I shall be judged;
and with what measure I mete, it shall be measured to me again.

'Love harbours no suspicious thought,
Is patient to the bad:
Grieved when she hears of sins and crimes,
And in the truth is glad.'

4. And then, most difficult and most dangerous, but most necessary
of all patience, we must learn how to be patient with ourselves.
Every day we hear of miserable men rushing upon death because they
can no longer endure themselves and the things they have brought on
themselves. And there are moral suicides who cast off the faith
and the hope and the endurance of a Christian man because they are
so evil and have lived such an evil life. We speak of patience
with bad men, but there is no man so bad, there is no man among all
our enemies who has at all hurt us like that man who is within
ourselves. And to bear patiently what we have brought upon
ourselves,--to endure the inward shame, the self-reproof, the self-
contempt bitterer to drink than blood, the lifelong injuries,
impoverishment, and disgrace,--to bear all these patiently and
uncomplainingly,--to acquiesce humbly in the discovery that all
this was always in our hearts, and still is in our hearts--what
humility, what patience, what compassion and pity for ourselves
must all that call forth! The wise nurse is patient with her
passionate, greedy, untidy, disobedient child. She does not cast
it out of doors, she does not run and leave it, she does not kill
it because all these things have been and still are in its sad
little heart. Her power for good with such a child lies just in
her pity, in her compassion, and in her patience with her child.
And the child that is in all of us is to be treated in the same
patient, hopeful, believing, forgiving, divine way. We should all
be with ourselves as God is with us. He knoweth our frame. He
remembereth that we are dust. He shows all patience toward us. He
does not look for great things from us. He does not break the
bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. He shall not fail nor
be discouraged till He have set judgment in the earth. And so
shall not we.

5. And, then,--it is a sufficiently startling thing to say, but--
we must learn to be patient with God also. All our patience, and
all the exercises of it, if we think aright about it, all run up in
the long-run into patience with God. But there are some exercises
of patience that have to do directly and immediately with God and
with God alone. When any man's heart has become fully alive to God
and to the things of God; when he begins to see and feel that he
lives and moves and has his being in God; then everything that in
any way affects him is looked on by him as come to him from God.
Absolutely, all things. The very weather that everybody is so
atheistic about, the climate, the soil he labours, the rain, the
winter's cold and the summer's heat,--true piety sees all these
things as God's things, and sees God's immediate will in the
disposition and dispensation of them all. He feels the
untameableness of his tongue in the indecent talk that goes on
everlastingly about the weather. All these things may be without
God to other men, as they once were to him also, but you will find
that the truly and the intelligently devout man no longer allows
himself in such unbecoming speech. For, though he cannot trace
God's hand in all the changes of the seasons, in heat and cold, in
sunshine and snow, yet he is as sure that God's wisdom and will are
there as that Scripture is true and the Scripture-taught heart.
'Great is our Lord, and His understanding is infinite. Who
covereth the heavens with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth,
and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth snow
like wool; He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes; He casteth forth
His ice like morsels. Who can stand before his cold?' Here is the
patience and the faith of the saints. Here are they that keep the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.

And, then, when through rain or frost or fire, when out of any
terror by night or arrow that flieth by day, any calamity comes on
the man who is thus pointed and practised in his patience, he is
able with Job to say, 'This is the Lord. What, shall we receive
good at the hand of God and not also receive evil?' By far the
best thing I have ever read on this subject, and I have read it a
thousand times since I first read it as a student, is Dr. Thomas
Goodwin's Patience and its Perfect Work. That noble treatise had
its origin in the great fire of London in 1666. The learned
President of Magdalen College lost the half of his library, five
hundred pounds worth of the best books, in that terrible fire. And
his son tells us he had often heard his father say that in the loss
of his not-to-be-replaced books, God had struck him in a very
sensible place. To lose his Augustine, and his Calvin, and his
Musculus, and his Zanchius, and his Amesius, and his Suarez, and
his Estius was a sore stroke to such a man. I loved my books too
well, said the great preacher, and God rebuked me by this
affliction. Let the students here read Goodwin's costly treatise,
and they will be the better prepared to meet such calamities as the
burning of their manse and their library, as also to counsel and
comfort their people when they shall lose their shops or their
stockyards by fire.

'Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.'

And, then, in a multitude of New Testament scriptures, we are
summoned to great exercise of patience with the God of our
salvation, because it is His purpose and plan that we shall have to
wait long for our salvation. God has not seen it good to carry us
to heaven on the day of our conversion. He does not glorify us on
the same day that He justifies us. We are appointed to salvation
indeed, but it is also appointed us to wait long for it. This is
not our rest. We are called to be pilgrims and strangers for a
season with God upon the earth. We are told to endure to the end.
It is to be through faith and patience that we, with our fathers,
shall at last inherit the promises. Holiness is not a Jonah's
gourd. It does not come up in a night, and it does not perish in a
night. Holiness is the Divine nature, and it takes a lifetime to
make us partakers of it. But, then, if the time is long the thing
is sure. Let us, then, with a holy and a submissive patience wait
for it.

'I saw moreover in my dream that Passion seemed to be much
discontent, but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked,
What is the reason of the discontent of Passion? The Interpreter
answered, The governor of them would have him stay for his best
things till the beginning of the next year; but he will have them
all now. But Patience is willing to wait.'


'Ye did run well, who did hinder you?'--Paul.

It startles us not a little to come suddenly upon three pilgrims
fast asleep with fetters on their heels on the upward side of the
Interpreter's House, and even on the upward side of the cross and
the sepulchre. We would have looked for those three miserable men
somewhere in the City of Destruction or in the Town of Stupidity,
or, at best, somewhere still outside of the wicket-gate. But John
Bunyan did not lay down his Pilgrim's Progress on any abstract
theory, or on any easy and pleasant presupposition, of the
Christian life. He constructed his so lifelike book out of his own
experiences as a Christian man, as well as out of all he had
learned as a Christian minister. And in nothing is Bunyan's power
of observation, deep insight, and firm hold of fact better seen
than just in the way he names and places the various people of the
pilgrimage. Long after he had been at the Cross of Christ himself,
and had seen with his own eyes all the significant rooms in the
Interpreter's House, Bunyan had often to confess that the fetters
of evil habit, unholy affection, and a hard heart were still firmly
riveted on his own heels. And his pastoral work had led him to see
only too well that he was not alone in the temptations and the
dangers and the still-abiding bondage to sin that had so surprised
himself after he was so far on in the Christian life. It was the
greatest sorrow of his heart, he tells us in a powerful passage in
his Grace Abounding, that so many of his spiritual children broke
down and came short in the arduous and perilous way in which he had
so hopefully started them. 'If any of those who were awakened by
my ministry did after that fall back, as sometimes too many did, I
can truly say that their loss hath been more to me than if one of
my own children, begotten of my body, had been going to its grave.
I think, verily, I may speak it without an offence to the Lord,
nothing hath gone so near me as that, unless it was the fear of the
salvation of my own soul. I have counted as if I had goodly
buildings and lordships in those places where my children were
born; my heart has been so wrapped up in this excellent work that I
counted myself more blessed and honoured of God by this than if He
had made me the emperor of the Christian world, or the lord of all
the glory of the earth without it.' And I have no doubt that we
have here the three things that above everything else bereft Bunyan
of so many of his spiritual children personified and then laid down
by the heels in Simple, Sloth, and Presumption.


Let us shake up Simple first and ask him what it was that laid him
so soon and in such a plight and in such company in this bottom.
It was not that which from his name we might at first think it was.
It was not the weakness of his intellects, nor his youth, nor his
inexperience. There is danger enough, no doubt, in all these
things if they are not carefully attended to, but none of all these
things in themselves, nor all of them taken together, will lay any
pilgrim by the heels. There must be more than mere and pure
simplicity. No blame attaches to a simple mind, much less to an
artless and an open heart. We do not blame such a man even when we
pity him. We take him, if he will let us, under our care, or we
put him under better care, but we do not anticipate any immediate
ill to him so long as he remains simple in mind, untainted in
heart, and willing to learn. But, then, unless he is better
watched over than any young man or young woman can well be in this
world, that simplicity and child-likeness and inexperience of his
may soon become a fatal snare to him. There is so much that is not
simple and sincere in this world; there is so much falsehood and
duplicity; there are so many men abroad whose endeavour is to
waylay, mislead, entrap, and corrupt the simple-minded and the
inexperienced, that it is next to impossible that any youth or
maiden shall long remain in this world both simple and safe also.
My son, says the Wise Man, keep my words, and lay up my
commandments with thee. For at the window of my house I looked
through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned
among the youths, a young man void of understanding;--and so on,--
till a dart strike through his liver, and he goeth as an ox to the
slaughter. And so, too often in our own land, the maiden in her
simplicity also opens her ear to the promises and vows and oaths of
the flatterer, till she loses both her simplicity and her soul, and
lies buried in that same bottom beside Sloth and Presumption.

It is not so much his small mind and his weak understanding that is
the fatal danger of their possessor, it is his imbecile way of
treating his small mind. In our experience of him we cannot get
him, all we can do, to read an instructive book. We cannot get him
to attend our young men's class with all the baits and traps we can
set for him. Where does he spend his Sabbath-day and week-day
evenings? We cannot find out until we hear some distressing thing
about him, that, ten to one, he would have escaped had he been a
reader of good books, or a student with us, say, of Dante and
Bunyan and Rutherford, and a companion of those young men and young
women who talk about and follow such intellectual tastes and
pursuits. Now, if you are such a young man or young woman as that,
or such an old man or old woman, you will not be able to understand
what in the world Bunyan can mean by saying that he saw you in his
dream fast asleep in a bottom with irons on your heels. No; for to
understand the Pilgrim's Progress, beyond a nursery and five-year-
old understanding of it, you must have worked and studied and
suffered your way out of your mental and spiritual imbecility. You
must have for years attended to what is taught from the pulpit and
the desk, and, alongside of that, you must have made a sobering and
solemnising application of it all to your own heart. And then you
would have seen and felt that the heels of your mind and of your
heart are only too firmly fettered with the irons of ignorance and
inexperience and self-complacency. But as it is, if you would tell
the truth, you would say to us what Simple said to Christian, I see
no danger. The next time that John Bunyan passed that bottom, the
chains had been taken off the heels of this sleeping fool and had
been put round his neck.


Sloth had a far better head than Simple had; but what of that when
he made no better use of it? There are many able men who lie all
their days in a sad bottom with the irons of indolence and
inefficiency on their heels. We often envy them their abilities,
and say about them, What might they not have done for themselves
and for us had they only worked hard? Just as we are surprised to
see other men away above us on the mountain top, not because they
have better abilities than we have, but because they tore the
fetters of sloth out of their soft flesh and set themselves down
doggedly to their work. And the same sloth that starves and
fetters the mind at the same time casts the conscience and the
heart into a deep sleep. I often wonder as I go on working among
you, if you ever attach any meaning or make any application to
yourselves of all those commands and counsels of which the
Scriptures are full,--to be up and doing, to watch and pray, to
watch and be sober, to fight the good fight of faith, to hold the
fort, to rise early, and even by night, and to endure unto death,
and never for one moment to be found off your guard. Do you attach
any real meaning to these examples of the psalmists, to these
continual commands and examples of Christ, and to these urgent
counsels of his apostles? Do you? Against whom and against what
do you thus campaign and fight? For fear of whom or of what do you
thus watch? What fort do you hold? What occupies your thoughts in
night-watches, and what inspires and compels your early prayers?
It is your stupefying life of spiritual sloth that makes it
impossible for you to answer these simple and superficial
questions. Sloth is not the word for it. Let them give the right
word to insanity like that who sleep and soak in sinful sloth no

We have all enemies in our own souls that never sleep, whatever we
may do. There are no irons on their heels. They never
procrastinate. They never say to their master, A little more
slumber. Now, could you name any hateful enemy entrenched in your
own heart, of which you have of yourself said far more than that?
And, if so, what have you done, what are you at this moment doing,
to cast that enemy out? Have you any armour on, any weapons of
offence and precision, against that enemy? And what success and
what defeat have you had in unearthing and casting out that enemy?
What fort do you hold? On what virtue, on what grace are you
posted by your Lord to keep for yourself and for Him? And with
what cost of meat and drink and sleep and amusement do you lose it
or keep it for Him? Alexander used to leave his tent at midnight
and go round the camp, and spear to his post the sentinel he found

There is nothing we are all so slothful in as secret, particular,
importunate prayer. We have an almighty instrument in our hand in
secret and exact prayer if we would only importunately and
perseveringly employ it. But there is an utterly unaccountable
restraint of secret and particularising prayer in all of us. There
is a soaking, stupefying sloth, that so fills our hearts that we
forget and neglect the immense concession and privilege we have
afforded us in secret prayer. Our sloth and stupidity in prayer is
surely the last proof of our fall and of the misery of our fallen
state. Our sloth with a gold mine open at our feet; a little more
sleep on the top of a mast with a gulf under us that hath no
bottom,--no language of this life can adequately describe the
besottedness of that man who lies with irons on his heels between
Simple and Presumption.


The greatest theologian of the Roman Catholic Church has made an
induction and classification of sins that has often been borrowed
by our Protestant and Puritan divines. His classification is made,
as will be seen, on an ascending scale of guilt and aggravation.
In the world of sin, he says, there are, first, sins of ignorance;
next, there are sins of infirmity; and then, at the top, there are
sins of presumption. And this, it will be remembered, was the
Psalmist's inventory and estimate of sins also. His last and his
most earnest prayer was, that he might be kept back from all
presumptuous sin. Now you know quite well, without any
explanation, what presumption is. Don't presume, you say, with
rising and scarce controlled anger. Don't presume too far. Take
care, you say, with your heart beating so high that you can
scarcely command it, take care lest you go too far. And the word
of God feels and speaks about presumptuous sin very much as you do
yourself. Now, what gave this third man who lay in fetters a
little beyond the cross the name of Presumption was just this, that
he had been at the cross with his past sin, and had left the cross
to commit the same sin at the first opportunity. Presumption
presumed upon his pardon. He presumed upon the abounding grace of
God. He presumed upon the blood of Christ. He was so high on the
Atonement, that he held that the gospel was not sufficiently
preached to him, unless not past sin only and present, but also all
future sin was atoned for on the tree before it was committed.
There is a reprobate in Dante, who, all the time he was repenting,
had his eye on his next opportunity. Now, our Presumption was like
that. He presumed on his youth, on his temptations, on his
opportunities, and especially on his future reformation and the
permanence and the freeness of the gospel offer. When he was in
the Interpreter's House he did not hear what the Interpreter was
saying, the blood was roaring so through his veins. His eyes were
so full of other images that he did not see the man in the iron
cage, nor the spider on the wall, nor the fire fed secretly. He
had no more intention of keeping always to the way that was as
straight as a rule could make it, than he had of cutting off both
his hands and plucking out both his eyes. When the three shining
ones stripped him of his rags and clothed him with change of
raiment, he had no more intention of keeping his garments clean
than he had of flying straight up to heaven on the spot. Now, let
each man name to himself what that is in which he intentionally,
deliberately, and by foresight and forethought sins. Have you
named it? Well, it was for that that this reprobate was laid by
the heels on the immediately hither side of the cross and the
sepulchre. Not that the iron might not have been taken off his
heels again on certain conditions, even after it was on; but, even
so, he would never have been the same man again that he was before
his presumptuous sin. You will easily know a man who has committed
much presumptuous sin,--that is to say, if you have any eye for a
sinner. I think I would find him out if I heard him pray once, or
preach once, or even select a psalm for public or for family
worship; even if I heard him say grace at a dinner-table, or
reprove his son, or scold his servant. Presumptuous sin has so
much of the venom and essence of sin in it that, forgiven or
unforgiven, even a little of it never leaves the sinner as it found
him. Even if his fetters are knocked off, there is always a piece
of the poisonous iron left in his flesh; there is always a fang of
his fetters left in the broken bone. The presumptuous saint will
always be detected by the way he halts on his heels all his after
days. Keep back Thy servant, O God, from presumptuous sin. Let
him be innocent of the great transgression.

Dr. Thomas Goodwin says somewhere that the worm that dieth not only
comes to its sharpest sting and to its deadliest venom when it is
hatched up under gospel light. The very light of nature itself
greatly aggravates some of our sins. The light of our early
education greatly aggravates others of our sins. But nothing
wounds our conscience and then exasperates the wound like a past
experience of the same sin, and, especially, an experience of the
grace of God in forgiving that sin. Had we found young Presumption
in his irons before his conversion, we would have been afraid
enough at the sight. Had we found him laid by the heels after his
first uncleanness, it would have made us shudder for ourselves.
But we are horrified and speechless as we see him apprehended and
laid in irons on the very night of his first communion, and with
the wine scarcely dry on his unclean lips. Augustine postponed his
baptism till he should have his fill of sin, and till he should no
longer return to sin like a dog to his vomit. Now, next Sabbath is
our communion day in this congregation. Let us therefore this week
examine ourselves. And if we must sin as long as we are in this
world, let it henceforth be the sin of ignorance and of infirmity.

So the three reprobates lay down to sleep again, and Christian as
he left that bottom went on in the narrow way singing:

'O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.'


'Salvation shall God appoint for walls.'--Isaiah.

John Bunyan's autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of
Sinners, is the best of all our commentaries on The Pilgrim's
Progress, and again to-night I shall have to fall back on that
incomparable book. 'Now, I saw in my dream that the highway up
which Christian was to go was fenced on either side with a wall,
and that wall is called Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did
burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because
of the load on his back.' In the corresponding paragraph in Grace
Abounding, our author says, speaking about himself: 'But forasmuch
as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could
not but with great difficulty enter in thereat, it showed me that
none could enter into life but those that were in downright
earnest, and unless also they left this wicked world behind them;
for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul
and sin.' 'He ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending,
and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below in the bottom
a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up
with this cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders and fell
from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till
it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw
it no more.' Turning again to the Grace Abounding, we read in the
115th paragraph: 'I remember that one day as I was travelling into
the country and musing on the wickedness and blasphemy of my heart,
and considering of the enmity that was in me to God, that scripture
came into my mind, He hath made peace by the blood of His Cross.
By which I was made to see both again and again and again that day
that God and my soul were friends by that blood: yea, I saw that
the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace and kiss each
other through that blood. That was a good day to me; I hope I
shall not forget it. I thought I could have spoken of His love and
of His mercy to me that day to the very crows that sat upon the
ploughed lands before me had they been capable to have understood
me. Wherefore I said in my soul with much gladness, Well, I would
I had a pen and ink here and I would write this down before I go
any farther, for surely I will not forget this forty years hence.'

From all this we learn that the way to the Celestial City lies
within high and close fencing walls. There is not room for many
pilgrims to walk abreast in that way; indeed, there is seldom room
for two. There are some parts of the way where two or even three
pilgrims can for a time walk and converse together, but for the
most part the path is distressingly lonely. The way is so fenced
up also that a pilgrim cannot so much as look either to the right
hand or the left. Indeed, it is one of the laws of that road that
no man is to attempt to look except straight on before him. But
then there is this compensation for the solitude and stringency of
the way that the wall that so encloses it is Salvation. And
Salvation is such a wall that it is companionship and prospect
enough of itself. Dante saw a long reach of this same wall running
round the bottom of the mount that cleanses him who climbs it,--a
long stretch of such sculptured beauty, that it arrested him and
instructed him and delighted him beyond his power sufficiently to
praise it. And thus, that being so, burdened and bowed down to the
earth as our pilgrim was, he was on the sure way, sooner or later,
to deliverance. Somewhere and sometime and somehow on that steep
and high fenced way deliverance was sure to come. And, then, as to
the burdened man himself. His name was once Graceless, but his
name is Graceless no longer. No graceless man runs long between
these close and cramping-up walls; and, especially, no graceless
man has that burden long on his back. That is not Graceless any
longer who is leaving the Interpreter's House for the fenced way;
that is Christian, and as long as he remains Christian, the
closeness of the fence and the weight of his burden are a small
matter. But long-looked-for comes at last. And so, still carrying
his burden and keeping close within the fenced-up way, our pilgrim
came at last to a cross. And a perfect miracle immediately took
place in that somewhat ascending ground. For scarcely had
Christian set his eyes on the cross, when, without his pulling at
it, or pushing it, or even at that moment thinking of it, ere ever
he was aware, he saw his burden begin to tumble, and so it
continued to do till it fell fairly out of his sight into an open

The application of all that is surely self-evident. For our way in
a holy life is always closely fenced up. It is far oftener a
lonely way than otherwise. And the steepness, sternness, and
loneliness of our way are all aggravated by the remembrance of our
past sins and follies. They still, and more and more, lie upon our
hearts a heart-crushing burden. But if we, like Christian, know
how to keep our back to our former house and our face to heaven,
sooner or later we too shall surely come to the cross. And then,
either suddenly, or after a long agony, our burden also shall be
taken off our back and shut down into Christ's sepulchre. And I
saw it no more, says the dreamer. He does not say that its owner
saw it no more. He was too wise and too true a dreamer to say

It will be remembered that the first time we saw this man, with
whose progress to the Celestial City we are at present occupied, he
was standing in a certain place clothed with rags and with a burden
on his back. After a long journey with him, we have just seen his
burden taken off his back, and it is only after his burden is off
and a Shining One has said to him, Thy sins be forgiven, that a
second Shining One comes and strips him of his rags and clothes him
with change of raiment. Now, why, it may be asked, has Christian
had to carry his burden so long, and why is he still kept so ragged
and so miserable and he so far on in the pilgrim's path? Surely,
it will be said, John Bunyan was dreaming indeed when he kept a
truly converted man, a confessedly true and sincere Christian, so
long in bonds and in rags. Well, as to his rags: filthy rags are
only once spoken of in the Bible, and it is the prophet Isaiah,
whose experience and whose language John Bunyan had so entirely by
heart, who puts them on. And that evangelist among the prophets
not only calls his own and Israel's sins filthy rags, but Isaiah is
very bold, and calls their very righteousnesses by that opprobrious
name. Had that bold prophet said that all his and all his people's
UNrighteousnesses were filthy rags, all Israel would have
subscribed to that. There was no man so brutish as not to admit
that. But as long as they had any sense of truth and any self-
respect, multitudes of Isaiah's first hearers and readers would
resent what he so rudely said of their righteousnesses. On the
other hand, the prophet's terrible discovery and comparison, just
like our dreamer's dramatic distribution of Christian experience,
was, to a certainty, an immense consolation to many men in Israel
in his day. They gathered round Isaiah because, but for him and
his evangelical ministry, they would have been alone in their
despair. To them Isaiah's ministry was a house of refuge, and the
prophet himself a veritable tower of strength. They felt they were
not alone so long as Isaiah dwelt in the same city with them. And
thus, whatever he might be to others, he was God's very prophet to
them as his daily prayers in the temple both cast them down and
lifted them up. 'Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come
down . . . But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and our iniquities like the
wind have taken us away.' Thousands in Israel found in these
terrible words a door of hope, a sense of fellowship, and a call to
trust and thanksgiving. And tens of thousands have found the same
help and consolation out of what have seemed to others the very
darkest and most perplexing pages of the Pilgrim's Progress and the
Grace Abounding. 'It made me greatly ashamed,' says Hopeful, 'of
the vileness of my former life, and confounded me with the sense of
mine own ignorance, for there never came into mine heart before now
that showed me so by contrast the beauty of the Lord Jesus. My own
vileness and nakedness made me love a holy life. Yea, I thought
that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my body, I could
spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.' And if you, my
brother, far on in the way of Salvation, still think sometimes
that, after all, you must be a reprobate because of your filthy
rags, read what David Brainerd wrote with his half-dead hand on the
last page of his seraphic journal: 'How sweet it is to love God
and to have a heart all for God! Yes; but a voice answered me, You
are not all for God, you are not an angel. To which my whole soul
replied, I as sincerely desire to love and glorify God as any angel
in heaven. But you are filthy, and not fit for heaven. When
hereupon there instantly appeared above me and spread over me the
blessed robes of Christ's righteousness which I could not but exult
and triumph in. And then I knew that I should be as active as an
angel in heaven, and should then be for ever stripped of my filthy
garments and clothed with spotless raiment.' Let me die the death
of David Brainerd, and let my latter end be like his!

The third Shining One then came forward and set a mark on the
forehead of this happy man. And it was a most ancient and a most
honourable mark. For it was the same redeeming mark that was set
by Moses upon the foreheads of the children of Israel when the Lord
took them into covenant with Himself at the Passover in the
wilderness. It was the same distinguishing mark also that the man
with the slaughter-weapon in his hand first set upon the foreheads
of the men who sighed and cried for the abominations that were done
in the midst of Jerusalem. And it was the same glorious mark that
John saw in the foreheads of the hundred and forty and four
thousand who stood upon Mount Zion and sang a song that no man knew
but those men who had been redeemed from the earth by the blood of
the Lamb. The mark was set for propriety and for ornament and for
beauty. It was set upon his forehead so that all who looked on him
ever after might thus know to what company and what country he
belonged, and that this was not his rest, but that he had been
called and chosen to a heavenly inheritance. And, besides, it was
no sooner set upon his forehead than it greatly added to his
dignity and his comeliness. He had now the gravity and beauty of
an angel; nay, the beauty in his measure and the gravity of
Goodwill at the gate himself. And, then, as if that were not
enough, the third Shining One also gave him a roll with a seal upon
it, which he was bidden look on as he ran, and which he was to give
in when he arrived at the Celestial Gate. Now, what was that
sealed roll but just the inward memory and record of all this
pilgrim's experiences of the grace of God from the day he set out
on pilgrimage down to that day when he stood unburdened of his
guilt, unclothed of his rags, and clothed upon with change of
raiment? The roll contained his own secret life, all sealed and
shone in upon by the light of God's countenance. The secret of the
Lord with this pilgrim was written within that roll, a secret that
no man could read but he himself alone. It was the same roll that
this same Shining One gave to Abraham, the first pilgrim and the
father of all true pilgrims, after Melchizedek, the priest of the
Most High God, had brought forth bread and wine and had blessed
that great believer. 'Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy
exceeding great reward.' And, again, after Abram had lost his
roll, like our pilgrim in the arbour, when he recovered it he read
thus in it: 'I am the Almighty God: walk before Me, and be thou
perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee.' And
Abram fell on his face for joy. It was the same roll out of which
the Psalmist proposed to read a passage to all those in his day who
feared God. 'Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will
declare what He hath done for my soul.' It was the same roll also
that God sent to Israel in his sore captivity. 'Fear not, O
Israel, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name,
thou art Mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be
with thee.' The high priest Joshua also had the same roll put into
his hand, and that not only for his own comfort, but to make him
the comforter of God's afflicted people. For after the Lord had
plucked Joshua as a brand out of the fire, and had made his
iniquity to pass from him, and had clothed him with change of
raiment, and had set a fair mitre on his head, the Lord gave to
Joshua a sealed roll, the contents of which may be read to this day
in the book of the prophet Zechariah. Nay, more: 'Will you have
me to speak plainly?' says great Goodwin on this matter. 'Then,
though our Lord had the assurance of faith that He was the Son of
God, for He knew it out of the Scriptures by reading all the
prophets, yet, to have it sealed to Him with joy unspeakable and
glorious,--this was deferred to the time of His baptism. He was
then anointed with the oil of assurance and gladness in a more
peculiar and transcendent manner.' 'In His baptism,' says Bengel,
'our Lord was magnificently enlightened. He was previously the Son
of God, and yet the power of the Divine testimony to His Sonship at
His baptism long affected Him in a lively manner.' And we see our
Lord reading His roll to assure and sustain His heart when all
outward acceptance and sustenance failed Him. 'There is One who
beareth witness of Me, and His witness is true. I receive not
witness from men. I have a greater witness than even that of John.
For the Father Himself that hath sent Me, He beareth witness of
Me.' No wonder that our heavy-laden pilgrim of yesterday gave
three leaps for joy and went on singing with such a roll as that in
his bosom. For, at that supreme moment he had that inward
illumination and assurance sealed on his heart that had so
gladdened and sustained so many prophets and psalmists and apostles
and saints before his day. And though, like Abraham and all the
other saints who ever had that noble roll put into their keeping,
except Jesus Christ, he often lost it, yet as often as he again
recovered it, it brought back again with it all his first joy and

But, as was said at the beginning, the Grace Abounding is the best
of all our commentaries on The Pilgrim's Progress. As thus here
also: 'Now had I an evidence, as I thought, of my salvation from
heaven, with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight.
Now could I remember this manifestation and that other discovery of
grace with comfort, and should often long and desire that the last
day were come, that I might be for ever inflamed with the sight and
joy of Him and communion with Him whose head was crowned with
thorns, whose face was spit on, and body broken, and soul made an
offering for my sins. For whereas, before, I lay continually
trembling at the mouth of hell, now, methought, I was got so far
therefrom that I could not, when I looked back, scarce discern it.
And oh! thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that I
might die quickly, that my soul might be gone to rest.'

Then Christian gave three leaps for joy and went on singing:

'Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in
Till I came hither: . . .
Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me.'


'A form of godliness.'--Paul.

We all began our religious life by being formalists. And we were
not altogether to blame for that. Our parents were first to blame
for that, and then our teachers, and then our ministers. They made
us say our psalm and our catechism to them, and if we only said our
sacred lesson without stumbling, we were straightway rewarded with
their highest praise. They seldom took the trouble to make us
understand the things we said to them. They were more than content
with our correct repetition of the words. We were never taught
either to read or repeat with our eyes on the object. And we had
come to our manhood before we knew how to seek for the visual image
that lies at the root of all our words. And thus the ill-taught
schoolboy became in us the father of the confirmed formalist. The
mischief of this neglect still spreads through the whole of our
life, but it is absolutely disastrous in our religious life. Look
at the religious formalist at family worship with his household
gathered round him all in his own image. He would not on any
account let his family break up any night without the habitual
duty. He has a severe method in his religious duties that nothing
is ever allowed to disarrange or in any way to interfere with. As
the hour strikes, the big Bible is brought out. He opens where he
left off last night, he reads the regulation chapter, he leads the
singing in the regulation psalm, and then, as from a book, he
repeats his regulation prayer. But he never says a word to show
that he either sees or feels what he reads, and his household break
up without an idea in their heads or an affection in their hearts.
He comes to church and goes through public worship in the same
wooden way, and he sits through the Lord's Table in the same formal
and ceremonious manner. He has eyes of glass and hands of wood,
and a heart without either blood or motion in it. His mind and his
heart were destroyed in his youth, and all his religion is a
religion of rites and ceremonies without sense or substance.
'Because I knew no better,' says Bunyan, 'I fell in very eagerly
with the religion of the times: to wit, to go to church twice a
day, and that, too, with the foremost. And there should I sing and
say as others did. Withal, I was so overrun with the spirit of
superstition that I adored, and that with great devotion, even all
things, both the high place, priest, clerk, vestment, service, and
what else belonged to the church: counting all things holy that
were therein contained. But all this time I was not sensible of
the danger and evil of sin. I was kept from considering that sin
would damn me, what religion soever I followed, unless I was found
in Christ. Nay, I never thought of Christ, nor whether there was
one or no.'

A formalist is not yet a hypocrite exactly, but he is ready now and
well on the way at any moment to become a hypocrite. As soon now
as some temptation shall come to him to make appear another and a
better man than he really is: when in some way it becomes his
advantage to seem to other people to be a spiritual man: when he
thinks he sees his way to some profit or praise by saying things
and doing things that are not true and natural to him,--then he
will pass on from being a bare and simple formalist, and will
henceforth become a hypocrite. He has never had any real
possession or experience of spiritual things amid all his formal
observances of religious duties, and he has little or no
difficulty, therefore, in adding another formality or two to his
former life of unreality. And thus the transition is easily made
from a comparatively innocent and unconscious formalist to a
conscious and studied hypocrite. 'An hypocrite,' says Samuel
Rutherford, 'is he who on the stage represents a king when he is
none, a beggar, an old man, a husband, when he is really no such
thing. To the Hebrews, they were faciales, face-men; colorati,
dyed men, red men, birds of many colours. You may paint a man, you
may paint a rose, you may paint a fire burning, but you cannot
paint a soul, or the smell of a rose, or the heat of a fire. And
it is hard to counterfeit spiritual graces, such as love to Christ,
sincere intending of the glory of God, and such like spiritual
things.' Yes, indeed; it is hard to put on and to go through with
a truly spiritual grace even to the best and most spiritually-
minded of men; and as for the true hypocrite, he never honestly
attempts it. If he ever did honestly and resolutely attempt it, he
would at once in that pass out of the ranks of the hypocrites
altogether and pass over into a very different category. Bunyan
lets us see how a formalist and a hypocrite and a Christian all
respectively do when they come to a real difficulty. The three
pilgrims were all walking in the same path, and with their faces
for the time in the same direction. They had not held much
conference together since their first conversation, and as time
goes on, Christian has no more talk but with himself, and that
sometimes sighingly, and sometimes more comfortably. When, all at
once, the three men come on the hill Difficulty. A severe act of
self-denial has to be done at this point of their pilgrimage. A
proud heart has to be humbled to the dust. A second, a third, a
tenth place has to be taken in the praise of men. An outbreak of
anger and wrath has to be kept under for hours and days. A great
injury, a scandalous case of ingratitude, has to be forgiven and
forgotten; in short, as Rutherford says, an impossible-to-be-
counterfeited spiritual grace has to be put into its severest and
sorest exercise; and the result was--what we know. Our pilgrim
went and drank of the spring that always runs at the bottom of the
hill Difficulty, and thus refreshed himself against that hill;
while Formalist took the one low road, and Hypocrisy the other,
which led him into a wide field full of dark mountains, where he
stumbled and fell and rose no more. When, after his visit to the
spring, Christian began to go up the hill, saying:

'This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come, pluck up heart; let's neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.'

Now, all this brings us to the last step in the evolution of a
perfect hypocrite out of a simple formalist. The perfect and
finished hypocrite is not your commonplace and vulgar scoundrel of
the playwright and the penny-novelist type; the finest hypocrite is
a character their art cannot touch. 'The worst of hypocrites,'
Rutherford goes on to say, 'is he who whitens himself till he
deceives himself. It is strange that a man hath such power over
himself. But a man's heart may deceive his heart, and he may
persuade himself that he is godly and righteous when he knows
nothing about it.' 'Preaching in a certain place,' says Boston,
'after supper the mistress of the house told me how I had terrified
God's people. This was by my doctrine of self-love, self-
righteousness, self-ends, and such like. She restricted hypocrites
to that sort that do all things to be seen of men, and harped much
on this--how can one be a hypocrite who hates hypocrisy in other
people? how can one be a hypocrite and not know it? All this led
me to see the need of such doctrine.' And if only to show you that
this is not the dismal doctrine of antediluvian Presbyterians only,
Canon Mozley says: 'The Pharisee did not know that he was a
Pharisee; if he had known it he would not have been a Pharisee. He
does not know that he is a hypocrite. The vulgar hypocrite knows
that he is a hypocrite because he deceives others, but the true
Scripture hypocrite deceives himself.' And the most subtle teacher
of our century, or of any century, has said: 'What is a hypocrite?
We are apt to understand by a hypocrite one who makes a profession
of religion for secret ends without practising what he professes;
who is malevolent, covetous, or profligate, while he assumes an
outward sanctity in his words and conduct, and who does so
deliberately, deceiving others, and not at all self-deceived. But
this is not what our Saviour seems to have meant by a hypocrite;
nor were the Pharisees such. The Pharisees deceived themselves as
well as others. Indeed, it is not in human nature to deceive
others for any long time without in a measure deceiving ourselves
also. When they began, each in his turn, to deceive the people,
they were not at the moment self-deceived. But by degrees they
forgot that outward ceremonies avail nothing without inward purity.
They did not know themselves, and they unawares deceived themselves
as well as the people.' What a terrible light, as of the last day
itself, does all that cast upon the formalisms and the hypocrisies
of which our own religious life is full! And what a terrible light
it casts on those miserable men who are complete and finished in
their self-deception! For the complete and finished hypocrite is
not he who thinks that he is better than all other men; that is
hopeless enough; but the paragon of hypocrisy is he who does not
know that he is worse than all other men. And in his stone-
blindness to himself, and consequently to all reality and
inwardness and spirituality in religion, you see him intensely
interested in, and day and night occupied with, the outside things
of religion, till nothing short of a miracle will open his eyes.
See him in the ministry, for instance, sweating at his sermons and
in his visiting, till you would almost think that he is the
minister of whom Paul prophesied, who should spend and be spent for
the salvation of men's souls. But all the time, such is the
hypocrisy that haunts the ministerial calling, he is really and at
bottom animated with ambition for the praise of men only, and for
the increase of his congregation. See him, again, now assailing or
now defending a church's secular privileges, and he knowing no
more, all the time, what a church has been set up for on earth than
the man in the moon. What a penalty his defence is and his support
to a church of Christ, and what an incubus his membership must be!
Or, see him, again, making long speeches and many prayers for the
extension of the kingdom of Christ, and all the time spending ten
times more on wine or whisky or tobacco, or on books or pictures or
foreign travel, than he gives to the cause of home or foreign
missions. And so on, all through our hypocritical and self-blinded
life. Through such stages, and to such a finish, does the
formalist pass from his thoughtless and neglected youth to his
hardened, blinded, self-seeking life, spent in the ostensible
service of the church of Christ. If the light that is in such men
be darkness, how great is that darkness! We may all well shudder
as we hear our Lord saying to ministers and members and church
defenders and church supporters, like ourselves: 'Now ye say, We
see; therefore your sin remaineth.'

Now, the first step to the cure of all such hypocrisy, and to the
salvation of our souls, is to know that we are hypocrites, and to
know also what that is in which we are most hypocritical. Well,
there are two absolutely infallible tests of a true hypocrite,--
tests warranted to unmask, expose, and condemn the most finished,
refined, and even evangelical hypocrite in this house to-night, or
in all the world. By far and away the best and swiftest is prayer.
True prayer, that is. For here again our inexpugnable hypocrisy
comes in and leads us down to perdition even in our prayers. There
is nothing our Lord more bitterly and more contemptuously assails
the Pharisees for than just the length, the loudness, the number,
and the publicity of their prayers. The truth is, public prayer,
for the most part, is no true prayer at all. It is at best an open
homage paid to secret prayer. We make such shipwrecks of devotion
in public prayer, that if we have a shred of true religion about
us, we are glad to get home and to shut our door. We preach in our
public prayers. We make speeches on public men and on public
events in our public prayers. We see the reporters all the time in
our public prayers. We do everything but pray in our public
prayers. And to get away alone,--what an escape that is from the
temptations and defeats of public prayer! No; public prayer is no
test whatever of a hypocrite. A hypocrite revels in public prayer.
It is secret prayer that finds him out. And even secret prayer
will sometimes deceive us. We are crushed down on our secret knees
sometimes, by sheer shame and the strength of conscience. Fear of
exposure, fear of death and hell, will sometimes make us shut our
door. A flood of passing feeling will sometimes make us pray for a
season in secret. Job had all that before him when he said, 'Will
the hypocrite delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call
upon God?' No, he will not. And it is just here that the
hypocrite and the true Christian best discover themselves both to
God and to themselves. The true Christian will, as Job again says,
pray in secret till God slays him. He will pray in his dreams; he
will pray till death; he will pray after he is dead. Are you in
earnest, then, not to be any more a hypocrite and to know the
infallible marks of such? Ask the key of your closet door. Ask
the chair at your bedside. Ask the watchman what you were doing
and why your light was in so long. Ask the birds of the air and
the beasts of the field and the crows on the ploughed lands after
your solitary walk.

Almost a better test of true and false religion than even secret
prayer, but a test that is far more difficult to handle, is our
opinion of ourselves. In His last analysis of the truly justified
man and the truly reprobate, our Lord made the deepest test to be
their opinion of themselves. 'God, I thank Thee that I am not as
this publican,' said the hypocrite. 'God be merciful to me a
sinner,' said the true penitent. And then this fine principle
comes in here--not only to speed the sure sanctification of a true
Christian, but also, if he has skill and courage to use it, for his
assurance and comfort,--that the saintlier he becomes and the riper
for glory, the more he will beat his breast over what yet abides
within his breast. Yes; a man's secret opinion of himself is
almost a better test of his true spiritual state than even secret
prayer. But, then, these two are not competing and exclusive
tests; they always go together and are never found apart. And at
the mouth of these two witnesses every true hypocrite shall be
condemned and every true Christian justified.

Dr. Pusey says somewhere that the perfect hypocrite is the man who
has the truth of God in his mind, but is without the love of God in
his heart. 'Truth without love,' says that saintly scholar, 'makes
a finished Pharisee.' Now we Scottish and Free Church people
believe we have the truth, if any people on the face of the earth
have it; and if we have not love mixed with it, you see where and
what we are. We are called to display a banner because of the
truth, but let love always be our flag-staff. Let us be jealous
for the truth, but let it be a godly, that is to say, a loving
jealousy. When we contend for purity of doctrine and for purity of
worship, when we protest against popery and priestcraft, when we
resist rationalism and infidelity, when we do battle now for
national religion, as we call it, and now for the freedom of the
church, let us do it all in love to all men, else we had better not
do it at all. If we cannot do it with clean and all-men-loving
hearts, let us leave all debate and contention to stronger and
better men than we are. The truth will never be advanced or
guarded by us, nor will the Lord of truth and love accept our
service or bless our souls, till we put on the divine nature, and
have our hearts and our mouths still more full of love than our
minds and our mouths are full of truth. Let us watch ourselves,
lest with all our so-called love of truth we be found reprobates at
last because we loved the truth for some selfish or party end, and
hated and despised our brother, and believed all evil and
disbelieved all good concerning our brother. Truth without love
makes a hypocrite, says Dr. Pusey; and evangelical truth without
evangelical love makes an evangelical hypocrite, says Thomas
Shepard. Only where the whole truth is united to a heart full of
love have we the perfect New Testament Christian.


'There is a lion in the way.'--The Slothful Man.
'I must venture.'--Christian.

'I at any rate must venture,' said Christian to Timorous and
Mistrust. 'Whatever you may do I must venture, even if the lions
you speak of should pull me to pieces. I, for one, shall never go
back. To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of
death and everlasting life beyond it. I will yet go forward.' So
Mistrust and Timorous ran down the hill, and Christian went on his
way. George Offor says, in his notes on this passage, that civil
despotism and ecclesiastical tyranny so terrified many young
converts in John Bunyan's day, that multitudes turned back like
Mistrust and Timorous; while at the same time, many like Bunyan
himself went forward and for a time fell into the lion's mouth.
Civil despotism and ecclesiastical tyranny do not stand in our way
as they stood in Bunyan's way--at least, not in the same shape:
but every age has its own lions, and every Christian man has his
own lions that neither civil despots nor ecclesiastical tyrants
know anything about.

Now, who or what is the lion in your way? Who or what is it that
fills you with such timorousness and mistrust, that you are almost
turning back from the way to life altogether? The fiercest of all
our lions is our own sin. When a man's own sin not only finds him
out and comes roaring after him, but when it dashes past him and
gets into the woods and thickets before him, and stands pawing and
foaming on the side of his way, that is a trial of faith and love
and trust indeed. Sometimes a man's past sins will fill all his
future life with sleepless apprehensions. He is never sure at what
turn in his upward way he may not suddenly run against some of them
standing ready to rush out upon him. And it needs no little quiet
trust and humble-minded resignation to carry a man through this
slough and that bottom, up this hill and down that valley, all the
time with his life in his hand; and yet at every turn, at every
rumour that there are lions in the way, to say, Come lion, come
lamb, come death, come life, I must venture, I will yet go forward.
As Job also, that wonderful saint of God, said, 'Hold your peace,
let me alone that I may speak, and let come on me what will.
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my
hand? Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. He also shall
be my salvation; for an hypocrite shall not come before Him.'

One false step, one stumble in life, one error in judgment, one
outbreak of an unbridled temperament, one small sin, if it is even
so much as a sin, of ignorance or of infirmity, will sometimes not
only greatly injure us at the time, but, in some cases, will fill
all our future life with trials and difficulties and dangers. Many
of us shall have all our days to face a future of defeat,
humiliation, impoverishment, and many hardships, that has not come
on us on account of any presumptuous transgression of God's law so
much as simply out of some combination of unfortunate circumstances
in which we may have only done our duty, but have not done it in
the most serpent-like way. And when we are made to suffer unjustly
or disproportionately all our days for our error of judgment or our
want of the wisdom of this world, or what not, we are sorely
tempted to be bitter and proud and resentful and unforgiving, and
to go back from duty and endurance and danger altogether. But we
must not. We must rather say to ourselves, Now and here, if not in
the past, I must play the man, and, by God's help, the wise man. I
must pluck safety henceforth out of the heart of the nettle danger.
Yes, I made a mistake. I did what I would not do now, and I must
not be too proud to say so. I acted, I see now, precipitately,
inconsiderately, imprudently. And I must not gloom and rebel and
run away from the cross and the lion. I must not insist or expect
that the always wise and prudent man's reward is to come to me.
The lion in my way is a lion of my own rearing; and I must not turn
my back on him, even if he should be let loose to leap on me and
rend me. I must pass under his paw and through his teeth, if need
be, to a life with him and beyond him of humility and duty and
quiet-hearted submission to his God and mine.

Then, again, our salvation itself sometimes, our true
sanctification, puts on a lion's skin and not unsuccessfully
imitates an angry lion's roar. Some saving grace that up till now
we have been fatally lacking in lies under the very lip of that
lion we see standing straight in our way. God in His wisdom so
orders our salvation, that we must work out the best part of it
with fear and trembling. Right before us, just beside us, standing
over us with his heavy paw upon us, is a lion, from under whose paw
and from between whose teeth we must pluck and put on that grace in
which our salvation lies. Repentance and reformation lie in the
way of that lion; resignation also and humility; the crucifixion of
our own will; the sacrifice of our own heart; in short, everything
that is still lacking but is indispensable to our salvation lies
through that den of lions. One man here is homeless and loveless;
another is childless; another has a home and children, and much
envies the man who has neither; one has talents there is no scope
for; another has the scope, but not the sufficient talent; another
must now spend all his remaining life in a place where he sees that
anger and envy and jealousy and malevolence will be his roaring
lions daily seeking to devour his soul. There is not a Christian
man or woman in this house whose salvation, worth being called a
salvation, does not lie through such a lion's thicket as that. Our
Lord Himself was a roaring lion to John the Baptist. For the
Baptist's salvation lay not in his powerful preaching, but in his
being laid aside from all preaching; not in his crowds increasing,
but in his Successor's crowds increasing and his decreasing. The
Baptist was the greatest born of woman in that day, not because he
was a thundering preacher--any ordinary mother in Israel might have
been his mother in that: but to decrease sweetly and to steal down
quietly to perfect humility and self-oblivion,--that salvation was
reserved for the son of Elisabeth alone. I would not like to say
Who that is champing and pawing for your blood right in your
present way. Reverence will not let me say Who it is. Only, you
venture on Him.

'Yes, I shall venture!' said Christian to the two terrified and
retreating men. Now, every true venture is made against risk and
uncertainty, against anxiety and danger and fear. And it is just
this that constitutes the nobleness and blessedness of faith.
Faith sells all for Christ. Faith risks all for eternal life.
Faith faces all for salvation. When it is at the worst, faith
still says, Very well; even if there is no Celestial City anywhere
in the world, it is better to die still seeking it than to live on
in the City of Destruction. Even if there is no Jesus Christ,--I
have read about Him and heard about Him and pictured Him to myself,
till, say what you will, I shall die kissing and embracing that
Divine Image I have in my heart. Even if there is neither mercy-
seat nor intercession in heaven, I shall henceforth pray without
ceasing. Far far better for me all the rest of my sinful life to
be clothed with sackcloth and ashes, even if there is no fountain
opened in Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness, and no change of
raiment. Christian protested that, as for him, lions and all, he
had no choice left. And no more have we. He must away somewhere,
anywhere, from his past life. And so must we. If all the lions
that ever drank blood are to collect upon his way, let them do so;
they shall not all make him turn back. Why should they? What is a
whole forest full of lions to a heart and a life full of sin?
Lions are like lambs compared with sin. 'Good morning! I for one
must venture. I shall yet go forward.' So Mistrust and Timorous
ran down the hill, and Christian went on his way.

So I saw in my dream that he made haste and went forward, that if
possible he might get lodging in the house called Beautiful that
stood by the highway side. Now, before he had gone far he entered
into a very narrow passage which was about a furlong off from the
porter's lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he
espied two lions in the way. Then was he afraid, and thought also
to go back, for he thought that nothing but death was before him.
But the porter at the lodge, whose name was Watchful, perceiving
that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him,
saying, 'Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they
are chained, and are only placed there for the trial of faith where
it is, and for the discovery of those who have none. Keep the
midst of the path and no hurt shall come to thee.' Yes, that is
all we have to do. Whatever our past life may have been, whatever
our past sins, past errors of judgment, past mistakes and mishaps,
whatever of punishment or chastisement or correction or instruction
or sanctification and growth in grace may be under those lions'
skins and between their teeth for us, all we have got to do at
present is to leave the lions to Him who set them there, and to go
on, up to them and past them, keeping always to the midst of the
path. The lions may roar at us till they have roared us deaf and
blind, but we are far safer in the midst of that path than we would
be in our own bed. Only let us keep in the midst of the path.
When their breath is hot and full of blood on our cheek; when they
paw up the blinding earth; when we feel as if their teeth had
closed round our heart,--still, all the more, let us keep in the
midst of the path. We must sometimes walk on a razor-edge of fear
and straightforwardness; that is the only way left for us now.
But, then, we have the Divine assurance that on that perilous edge
no hurt shall come to us. 'Temptations,' says our author in
another place, 'when we meet them at first, are as the lion that
roared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see
them we shall find a nest of honey in them.' O God, for grace and
sense and imagination to see and understand and apply all that to
our own daily life! O to be able to take all that home to-night
and see it all there; lions and runaways, venturesome souls, narrow
paths, palaces of beauty, everlasting life and all! Open Thou our
eyes that we may see the wonderful things that await us in our own
house at home!

'Things out of hope are compassed oft with venturing.'

So they are; and so they were that day with our terrified pilgrim.
He made a venture at the supreme moment of his danger, and things
that were quite out of all hope but an hour before were then
compassed and ever after possessed by him. Make the same venture,
then, yourselves to-night. Naught venture, naught have. Your lost
soul is not much to venture, but it is all that Christ at this
moment asks of you--that you leave your lost soul in His hand, and
then go straight on from this moment in the middle of the path:
the path, that is, as your case may be, of purity, humility,
submission, resignation, and self-denial. Keep your mind and your
heart, your eyes and your feet, in the very middle of that path,
and you shall have compassed the House Beautiful before you know.
The lions shall soon be behind you, and the grave and graceful
damsels of the House--Discretion and Prudence and Piety and
Charity--shall all be waiting upon you.


'Let a man examine himself.'--Paul.

Let a man examine himself, says the apostle to the Corinthians, and
so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. And thus it
was, that before the pilgrim was invited to sit down at the supper
table in the House Beautiful, quite a number of most pointed and
penetrating questions were put to him by those who had charge of
that house and its supper table. And thus the time was excellently
improved till the table was spread, while the short delay and the
successive exercises whetted to an extraordinary sharpness the
pilgrim's hunger for the supper. Piety and Charity, who had joint
charge of the house from the Master of the house, held each a
characteristic conversation with Christian, but it was left to
Prudence to hold the most particular discourse with him until
supper was ready, and it is to that so particular discourse that I
much wish to turn your attention to-night.

With great tenderness, but at the same time with the greatest
possible gravity, Prudence asked the pilgrim whether he did not
still think sometimes of the country from whence he had come out.
Yes, he replied; how could I help thinking continually of that
unhappy country and of my sad and miserable life in it; but,
believe me,--or, rather, you cannot believe me,--with what shame
and detestation I always think of my past life. My face burns as I
now speak of my past life to you, and as I think what my old
companions know and must often say about me. I detest, as you
cannot possibly understand, every remembrance of my past life, and
I hate and never can forgive myself, who, with mine own hands, so
filled all my past life with shame and self-contempt. Gently
stopping the remorseful pilgrim's self-accusations about his past
life, Prudence asked him if he had not still with him, and, indeed,
within him, some of the very things that had so destroyed both him
and all his past life. 'Yes,' he honestly and humbly said. 'Yes,
but greatly against my will: especially my inward and sinful
cogitations.' At this Prudence looked on him with all her deep and
soft eyes, for it was to this that she had been leading the
conversation up all the time. Prudence had a great look of
satisfaction, mingled with love and pity, at the way the pilgrim
said 'especially my inward and sinful cogitations.' Those who
stood by and observed Prudence wondered at her delight in the sad
discourse on which the pilgrim now entered. But she had her own
reasons for her delight in this particular kind of discourse, and
it was seldom that she lighted on a pilgrim who both understood her
questions and responded to them as did this man now sitting beside
her. Now, my brethren, all parable apart, is that your religious
experience? Are you full of shame and detestation at your inward
cogitations? Are you tormented, enslaved, and downright cursed
with your own evil thoughts? I do not ask whether or no you have
such thoughts always within you. I do not ask, because I know.
But I ask, because I would like to make sure that you know what,
and the true nature of what, goes on incessantly in your mind and
in your heart. Do you, or do you not, spit out your most inward
thoughts ten times a day like poison? If you do, you are a truly
religious man, and if you do not, you do not yet know the very ABC
of true religion, and your dog has a better errand at the Lord's
table than you have. And if your minister lets you sit down at the
Lord's table without holding from time to time some particular
discourse with you about your sinful thoughts, he is deceiving and
misleading you, besides laying up for himself an awakening at last
to shame and everlasting contempt. What a mill-stone his communion
roll will be round such a minister's neck! And how his
congregation will gnash their teeth at him when they see to what
his miserable ministry has brought them!

Let a man examine himself, said Paul. What about your inward and
sinful cogitations? asked Prudence. How long shall thy vain
thoughts lodge within thee? demanded the bold prophet. Now, my
brethren, what have you to say to that particular accusation? Do
you know what vain thoughts are? Are you at all aware what
multitudes of such thoughts lodge within you? Do they drive you
every day to your knees, and do you blush with shame when you are
alone before God at the fountain of folly that fills your mind and
your heart continually? The Apostle speaks of vain hopes that make
us ashamed that we ever entertained them. You have been often so
ashamed, and yet do not such hopes still too easily arise in your
heart? What castles of idiotic folly you still build! Were a sane
man or a modest woman even to dream such dreams of folly overnight,
they would blush and hide their heads all day at the thought. Out
of a word, out of a look, out of what was neither a word nor a look
intended for you, what a world of vanity will you build out of it!
The question of Prudence is not whether or no you are still a born
fool at heart, she does not put unnecessary questions: hers to you
is the more pertinent and particular question, whether, since you
left your former life and became a Christian, you feel every day
increasing shame and detestation at yourself, on account of the
vanity of your inward cogitations. My brethren, can you satisfy
her who is set by her Master to hold particular discourse with all
true Christians before supper? Can you say with the Psalmist,--
could you tell Prudence where the Psalmist says,--I hate vain
thoughts, but Thy law do I love? And can you silence her by
telling her that her Master alone knows with what shame you think
that He has such a fool as you are among His people?

Anger, also, sudden and even long-entertained anger, was one of the
'many failings' of which Christian was so conscious to himself.
His outbursts of anger at home, he bitterly felt, might well be one
of the causes why his wife and children did not accompany him on
his pilgrimage. And though he knew his failing in this respect,
and was very wary of it, yet he often failed even when he was most
wary. Now, while anger is largely a result of our blood and
temperament, yet few of us are so well-balanced and equable in our
temperament and so pure and cool in our blood, as altogether to
escape frequent outbursts of anger. The most happily constituted
and the best governed of us have too much cause to be ashamed and
penitent both before God and our neighbours for our outbursts of
angry passion. But Prudence is so particular in her discourse
before supper, that she goes far deeper into our anger than our
wives and our children, our servants and our neighbours, can go.
She not only asks if we stamp out the rising anger of our heart as
we would stamp out sparks of fire in a house full of gunpowder; but
she insists on being told what we think of ourselves when the house
of our heart is still so full of such fire and such gunpowder. Any
man, to call a man, would be humbled in his own eyes and in his
walk before his house at home after an explosion of anger among
them; but he who would satisfy Prudence and sit beside her at
supper, must not only never let his anger kindle, but the simple
secret heat of it, that fire of hell that is hid from all men but
himself in the flint of his own hard and proud heart,--what, asks
Prudence, do you think of that, and of yourself on account of that?
Does that keep you not only watchful and prayerful, but, what is
the best ground in you of all true watchfulness and prayerfulness,
full of secret shame, self-fear, and self-detestation? One
forenoon table would easily hold all our communicants if Prudence
had the distribution of the tokens.

And, then, we who are true pilgrims, are of all men the most
miserable, on account of that 'failing,' that rankling sting in our
hearts, when any of our friends has more of this world's
possessions, honours, and praises than we have, that pain at our
neighbour's pleasure, that sickness at his health, that hunger for
what we see him eat, that thirst for what we see him drink, that
imprisonment of our spirits when we see him set at liberty, that
depression at his exaltation, that sorrow at his joy, and joy at
his sorrow, that evil heart that would have all things to itself.
Yes, said Christian, I am only too conversant with all these sinful
cogitations, but they are all greatly against my will, and might I
but choose mine own thoughts, do you suppose that I would ever
think these things any more? 'The cause is in my will,' said
Caesar, on a great occasion. But the true Christian, unhappily,
cannot say that. If he could say that, he would soon say also that
the snare is broken and that his soul has escaped. And then the
cause of all his evil cogitations, his vain thoughts, his angry
feelings, his envious feelings, his ineradicable covetousness, his
hell-rooted and heaven-towering pride, and his whole evil heart of
unbelief would soon be at an end. 'I cannot be free of sin,' said
Thomas Boston, 'but God knows that He would be welcome to make
havoc of my lusts to-night and to make me henceforth a holy man. I
know no lust that I would not be content to part with. My will
bound hand and foot I desire to lay at His feet.' Yes: such is
the mystery and depth of sin in the hearts of all God's saints,
that far deeper than their will, far back behind their will, the
whole substance and very core of their hearts is wholly corrupt and
enslaved to sin. And thus it is that while their renewed and
delivered will works out, so far, their salvation in their walk and
conversation among men, the helplessness of their will in the
cleansing and the keeping of their hearts is to the end the sorrow
and the mystery of their sanctification. To will was present with
Paul, and with Bunyan, and with Boston; but their heart--they could
not with all their keeping keep their heart. No man can; no man
who has at all tried it can. 'Might I but choose mine own
thoughts, I would choose never to think of these things more: but
when I would be doing of that which is best, that which is worst is
with me.' We can choose almost all things. Our will and choice
have almost all things at their disposal. We can choose our God.
We can choose life or death. We can choose heaven or hell. We can
choose our church, our minister, our books, our companions, our
words, our works, and, to some extent, our inward thoughts, but
only to some extent. We can encourage this or that thought; we can
entertain it and dwell upon it; or we can detect it, detest it, and
cast it out. But that secret place in our heart where our thoughts
hide and harbour, and out of which they spring so suddenly upon the
mind and the heart, the imagination and the conscience,--of that
secretest of all secret places, God alone is able to say, I search
the heart. 'As for secret thoughts,' says our author, speaking of

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