Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 3 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

his own former religious life, 'I took no notice of them, neither
did I understand what Satan's temptations were, nor how they were
to be withstood and resisted.' But now all these things are his
deepest grief, as they are ours,--as many of us as have been truly
turned in our deepest hearts to God.

'But,' replied Prudence, 'do you not find sometimes as if those
things were vanquished which at other times are your perplexity?'
'Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours in
which such things happen to me.' 'Can you remember by what means
you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?'
'Yes, when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and
when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; also, when I
look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and
when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do
it.' Yes; and these same things have many a time done it to
ourselves also. We also, my brethren--let me tell you your own
undeniable experience--we also have such golden hours sometimes,
when we feel as if we should never again have such an evil heart
within us. The Cross of Christ to us also has done it. It is of
such golden hours that Isaac Watts sings in his noble hymn:

'When I survey the wondrous Cross;'

and as often as we sing that hymn with our eyes upon the object,
that will for a time vanquish our worst cogitations. Also, when we
read the roll that we too carry in our bosom--that is to say, when
we go back into our past life till we see it and feel it all, and
till we can think and speak of nothing else but the sin that
abounded in it and the grace that much more abounded, that has a
thousand times given us also golden hours, even rest from our own
evil hearts. And we also have often made our hearts too hot for
sin to show itself, when we read our hearts deep into such books as
The Paradiso, The Pilgrim's Progress, The Saint's Rest, The Serious
Call, The Religious Affections, and such like. These books have
often vanquished our annoyances, and given us golden hours on the
earth. Yes, but that is but seldom.

'Now, what is it,' asked Prudence, as she wound up this so
particular colloquy, 'that makes you so desirous to go to Mount

'Why,' replied the pilgrim, and the water stood in his eyes, 'why,
there I hope to see Him alive that did hang dead on the cross; and
there I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day are an
annoyance to me; there they say is no death, and there shall I
dwell with such company as I love best. For, to tell you truth, I
love Him, because by Him I was eased of my burden, and I am weary
of my inward sickness; and I would fain be where I shall die no
more, and for ever with that company that shall continually cry,
Holy, holy, holy.'


'I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.'--David.

There can be nobody here to-night so stark stupid as to suppose
that the pilgrim had run away from home and left his wife and
children to the work-house. There have been wiseacres who have
found severe fault with John Bunyan because he made his Puritan
pilgrim such a bad husband and such an unnatural father. But
nobody possessed of a spark of common sense, not to say religion or
literature, would ever commit himself to such an utter imbecility
as that. John Bunyan's pilgrim, whatever he may have been before
he became a pilgrim, all the time he was a pilgrim, was the most
faithful, affectionate, and solicitous husband in all the country
round about, and the tenderest, the most watchful, and the wisest
of fathers. This pilgrim stayed all the more at home that he went
so far away from home; he accomplished his whole wonderful
pilgrimage beside his own forge and at his own fireside; and he
entered the Celestial City amid trumpets and bells and harps and
psalms, while all the time sleeping in his own humble bed. The
House Beautiful, therefore, to which we have now come in his
company, is not some remote and romantic mansion away up among the
mountains a great many days' journey distant from this poor man's
everyday home. The House Beautiful was nothing else,--what else
better, what else so good could it be?--than just this Christian
man's first communion Sabbath and his first communion table (first,
that is, after his true conversion from sin to God and his
confessed entrance into a new life), while the country from whence
he had come out, and concerning which both Piety and Prudence
catechised him so closely, was just his former life of open
ungodliness and all his evil walk and conversation while he was as
yet living without God and without hope in the world. The country
on which he confessed that he now looked back with so much shame
and detestation was not England or Bedfordshire, but the wicked
life he had lived in that land and in that shire. And when Charity
asked him as to whether he was a married man and had a family, she
knew quite well that he was, only she made a pretence of asking him
those domestic questions in order thereby to start the touching

Beginning, then, at home, as she always began, Charity said to
Christian, 'Have you a family? Are you a married man?' 'I have a
wife and four small children,' answered Christian. 'And why did
you not bring them with you?' Then Christian wept and said, 'Oh,
how willingly would I have done so, but they were all of them
utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage.' 'But you should have
talked to them and have shown them their danger.' 'So I did,' he
replied, 'but I seemed to them as one that mocked.' Now, this of
talking, and, especially, of talking about religious things to
children, is one of the most difficult things in the world,--that
is, to do it well. Some people have the happy knack of talking to
their own and to other people's children so as always to interest
and impress them. But such happy people are few. Most people talk
at their children whenever they begin to talk to them, and thus,
without knowing it, they nauseate their children with their
conversation altogether. To respect a little child, to stand in
some awe of a little child, to choose your topics, your
opportunities, your neighbourhood, your moods and his as well as
all your words, and always to speak your sincerest, simplest, most
straightforward and absolutely wisest is indispensable with a
child. Take your mannerisms, your condescensions, your
affectations, your moralisings, and all your insincerities to your
debauched equals, but bring your truest and your best to your
child. Unless you do so, you will be sure to lay yourself open to
a look that will suddenly go through you, and that will swiftly
convey to you that your child sees through you and despises you and
your conversation too. 'You should not only have talked to your
children of their danger,' said Charity, 'but you should have shown
them their danger.' Yes, Charity; but a man must himself see his
own and his children's danger too, before he can show it to them,
as well as see it clearly at the time he is trying to show it to
them. And how many fathers, do you suppose, have the eyes to see
such danger, and how then can they shew such danger to their
children, of all people? Once get fathers to see dangers or
anything else aright, and then you will not need to tell them how
they are to instruct and impress their children. Nature herself
will then tell them how to talk to their children, and when Nature
teaches, all our children will immediately and unweariedly listen.

But, especially, said Charity, as your boys grew up--I think you
said that you had four boys and no girls?--well, then, all the
more, as they grew up, you should have taken occasion to talk to
them about yourself. Did your little boy never petition you for a
story about yourself; and as he grew up did you never confide to
him what you have never confided to his mother? Something, as I
was saying, that made you sad when you were a boy and a rising man,
with a sadness your son can still see in you as you talk to him.
In conversations like that a boy finds out what a friend he has in
his father, and his father from that day has his best friend in his
son. And then as Matthew grew up and began to out-grow his
brothers and to form friendships out of doors, did you study to
talk at the proper time to him, and on subjects on which you never
venture to talk about to any other boy or man? You men, Charity
went on to say, live in a world of your own, and though we women
are well out of it, yet we cannot be wholly ignorant that it is
there. And, we may well be wrong, but we cannot but think that
fathers, if not mothers, might safely tell their men-children at
least more than they do tell them of the sure dangers that lie
straight in their way, of the sorrow that men and women bring on
one another, and of what is the destruction of so many cities. We
may well be wrong, for we are only women, but I have told you what
we all think who keep this house and hear the reports and
repentances of pilgrims, both Piety and Prudence and I myself. And
I, for one, largely agree with the three women. It is easier said
than done. But the simple saying of it may perhaps lead some
fathers and mothers to think about it, and to ask whether or no it
is desirable and advisable to do it, which of them is to attempt
it, on what occasion, and to what extent. Christian by this time
had the Slough of Despond with all its history and all that it
contained to tell his eldest son about; he had the wicket gate also
just above the slough, the hill Difficulty, the Interpreter's
House, the place somewhat ascending with a cross standing upon it,
and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre, not to speak of her
who assaulted Faithful, whose name was Wanton, and who at one time
was like to have done even that trusty pilgrim a life-long
mischief. Christian rather boasted to Charity of his wariness,
especially in the matter of his children's amusements, but Charity
seemed to think that he had carried his wariness into other matters
besides amusements, without the best possible results there either.
I have sometimes thought with her that among our multitude of
congresses and conferences of all kinds of people and upon all
manner of subjects, room and membership might have been found for a
conference of fathers and mothers. Fathers to give and take
counsel about how to talk to their sons, and mothers to their
daughters. I am much of Charity's mind, that, if more were done at
home, and done with some frankness, for our sons and daughters,
there would be fewer fathers and mothers found sitting at the
Lord's table alone. 'You should have talked to them,' said
Charity, with some severity in her tones, 'and, especially, you
should have told them of your own sorrow.'

And then, coming still closer up to Christian, Charity asked him
whether he prayed, both before and after he so spoke to his
children, that God would bless what he said to them. Charity
believeth all things, hopeth all things, but when she saw this man
about to sit down all alone at the supper table, it took Charity
all her might to believe that he had both spoken to his children
and at the same time prayed to God for them as he ought to have
done. Our old ministers used to lay this vow on all fathers and
mothers at the time of baptism, that they were to pray both with
and for their children. Now, that is a fine formula; it is a most
comprehensive, and, indeed, exhaustive formula. Both with and for.
And especially with. With, at such and such times, on such and
such occasions, and in such and such places. At those times, say,
when your boy has told a lie, or struck his little brother, or
stolen something, or destroyed something. To pray with him at such
times, and to pray with him properly, and, if you feel able to do
it, and are led to do it, to tell him something after the prayer
about yourself, and your own not-yet-forgotten boyhood, and your
father; it makes a fine time to mix talk and prayer together in
that way. Charity is not easily provoked, but the longer she lives
and keeps the table in the House Beautiful the more she is provoked
to think that there is far too little prayer among pilgrims; far
too little of all kinds of prayer, but especially prayer with and
for their children. But hard as it was to tell all the truth at
that moment about Christian's past walk in his house at home, yet
he was able with the simple truth to say that he had indeed prayed
both with and for his children, and that, as they knew and could
not but remember, not seldom. Yes, he said, I did sometimes so
pray with my boys, and that too, as you may believe, with much
affection, for you must think that my four boys were all very dear
to me. And it is my firm belief that all that good man's boys will
come right yet: Matthew and Joseph and James and Samuel and all.
'With much affection.' I like that. I have unbounded faith in
those prayers, both for and with, in which there is much affection.
It is want of affection, and want of imagination, that shipwrecks
so many of our prayers. But this man's prayers had both these
elements of sure success in them, and they must come at last to
harbour. At that one word 'with much affection,' this man's closet
door flies open and I see the old pilgrim first alone, and then
with his arms round his eldest son's neck, and both father and son
weeping together till they are ashamed to appear at supper till
they have washed their faces and got their most smiling and
everyday looks put on again. You just wait and see if Matthew and
all the four boys down to the last do not escape into the Celestial
City before the gate is shut. And when it is asked, Who are these
and whence came they? listen to their song and you will hear those
four happy children saying that their father, when they were yet
boys, both talked with them and prayed for and with them with so
much affection that therefore they are before the throne.

Why, then, with such a father and with such makable boys, why was
this household brought so near everlasting shipwreck? It was the
mother that did it. In one word, it was the wife and the mother
that did it. It was the mistress of the house who wrought the
mischief here. She was a poor woman, she was a poor man's wife,
and one would have thought that she had little enough temptation to
harm upon this present world. But there it was, she did hang upon
it as much as if she had been the mother of the finest daughters
and the most promising boys in all the town. Things like this were
from time to time reported to her by her neighbours. One fine lady
had been heard to say that she would never have for her tradesman
any man who frequented conventicles, who was not content with the
religion of his betters, and who must needs scorn the parish church
and do despite to the saints' days. Another gossip asked her what
she expected to make of her great family of boys when it was well
known that all the gentry in the neighbourhood but two or three had
sworn that they would never have a hulking Puritan to brush their
boots or run their errands. And it almost made her husband burn
his book and swear that he would never be seen at another prayer-
meeting when his wife so often said to him that he should never
have had children, that he should never have made her his wife, and
that he was not like this when they were first man and wife. And
in her bitterness she would name this wife or that maid, and would
say, You should have married her. She would have gone to the
meeting-house with you as often as you wished. Her sons are far
enough from good service to please you. 'My wife,' he softly said,
'was afraid of losing the world. And then, after that, my growing
sons were soon given over, all I could do, to the foolish delights
of youth, so that, what by one thing and what by another, they left
me to wander in this manner alone.' And I suppose there is
scarcely a household among ourselves where there have not been
serious and damaging misunderstandings between old-fashioned
fathers and their young people about what the old people called the
'foolish delights' of their sons and daughters. And in thinking
this matter over, I have often been struck with how Job did when
his sons and his daughters were bent upon feasting and dancing in
their eldest brother's house. The old man did not lay an interdict
upon the entertainment. He did not take part in it, but neither
did he absolutely forbid it. If it must be it must be, said the
wise patriarch. And since I do not know whom they may meet there,
or what they may be tempted to do, I will sanctify them all. I
will not go up into my bed till I have prayed for all my seven sons
and three daughters, each one of them by their names; and till they
come home safely I will rise every morning and offer burnt-
offerings according to the number of them all. And do you think
that those burnt-offerings and accompanying intercessions would go
for nothing when the great wind came from the wilderness and smote
the four corners of the banqueting-house? If you cannot banish the
love of foolish delights out the hearts of your sons and daughters,
then do not quarrel with them over such things; a family quarrel in
a Christian man's house is surely far worse than a feast or a
dance. Only, if they must feast and dance and such like, be you
all the more diligent in your exercises at home on their behalf
till they are back again, where, after all, they like best to be,
in their good, kind, liberal, and loving father's house.

Have you a family? Are you a married man? Or, if not, do you hope
one day to be? Then attend betimes to what Charity says to
Christian in the House Beautiful, and not less to what he says back
again to her.


'Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me, and of My words, of him shall
the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and
in His Father's, and of the holy angels.'--Our Lord.

Shame has not got the attention that it deserves either from our
moral philosophers or from our practical and experimental divines.
And yet it would well repay both classes of students to attend far
more to shame. For, what really is shame? Shame is an original
instinct planted in our souls by our Maker, and intended by Him to
act as a powerful and pungent check to our doing of any act that is
mean or dishonourable in the eyes of our fellow-men. Shame is a
kind of social conscience. Shame is a secondary sense of sin. In
shame, our imagination becomes a kind of moral sense. Shame sets
up in our bosom a not undivine tribunal, which judges us and
sentences us in the absence or the silence of nobler and more awful
sanctions and sentences. But then, as things now are with us, like
all the rest of the machinery of the soul, shame has gone sadly
astray both in its objects and in its operations, till it demands a
long, a severe, and a very noble discipline over himself before any
man can keep shame in its proper place and directed in upon its
proper objects. In the present disorder of our souls, we are all
acutely ashamed of many things that are not the proper objects of
shame at all; while, on the other hand, we feel no shame at all at
multitudes of things that are really most blameworthy,
dishonourable, and contemptible. We are ashamed of things in our
lot and in our circumstances that, if we only knew it, are our
opportunity and our honour; we are ashamed of things that are the
clear will and the immediate dispensation of Almighty God. And,
then, we feel no shame at all at the most dishonourable things, and
that simply because the men around us are too coarse in their
morals and too dull in their sensibilities to see any shame in such
things. And thus it comes about that, in the very best of men,
their still perverted sense of shame remains in them a constant
snare and a source of temptation. A man of a fine nature feels
keenly the temptation to shrink from those paths of truth and duty
that expose him to the cruel judgments and the coarse and
scandalising attacks of public and private enemies. It was in the
Valley of Humiliation that Shame set upon Faithful, and it is a
real humiliation to any man of anything of this pilgrim's fine
character and feeling to be attacked, scoffed at, and held up to
blame and opprobrium. And the finer and the more affectionate any
man's heart and character are, the more he feels and shrinks from
the coarse treatment this world gives to those whom it has its own
reasons to hate and assail. They had the stocks and the pillory
and the shears in Bunyan's rude and uncivilised day, by means of
which many of the best men of that day were exposed to the insults
and brutalities of the mob. The newspapers would be the pillory of
our day, were it not that, on the whole, the newspaper press is
conducted with such scrupulous fairness and with a love of truth
and justice such that no man need shrink from the path of duty
through fear of insult and injury.

But it is time to come to the encounter between Shame and Faithful
in the Valley of Humiliation. Shame, properly speaking, is not one
of our Bunyan gallery of portraits at all. Shame, at best, is but
a kind of secondary character in this dramatic book. We do not
meet with Shame directly; we only hear about him through the report
of Faithful. That first-class pilgrim was almost overcome of
Shame, so hot was their encounter; and it is the extraordinarily
feeling, graphic, and realistic account of their encounter that
Faithful gives us that has led me to take up Shame for our reproof
and correction to-night.

Religion altogether, but especially all personal religion, said
Shame to Faithful, is an unmanly business. There is a certain
touch of smallness and pitifulness, he said, in all religion, but
especially in experimental religion. It brings a man into
junctures and into companionships, and it puts offices and
endurances upon one such as try a man if he has any greatness of
spirit about him at all. This life on which you are entering, said
Shame, will cost you many a blush before you are done with it. You
will lay yourself open to many a scoff. The Puritan religion, and
all the ways of that religious fraternity, are peculiarly open to
the shafts of ridicule. Now, all that was quite true. There was
no denying the truth of what Shame said. And Faithful felt the
truth of it all, and felt it most keenly, as he confessed to
Christian. The blood came into my face as the fellow spake, and
what he said for a time almost beat me out of the upward way
altogether. But in this dilemma also all true Christians can fall
back, as Faithful fell back, upon the example of their Master. In
this as in every other experience of temptation and endurance, our
Lord is the forerunner and the example of His people. Our Lord was
in all points tempted like as we are, and among all His other
temptations He was tempted to be ashamed of His work on earth and
of the life and the death His work led Him into. He must have
often felt ashamed at the treatment He received during His life of
humiliation, as it is well called; and He must often have felt
ashamed of His disciples: but all that is blotted out by the
crowning shame of the cross. We hang our worst criminals rather
than behead or shoot them, in order to heap up the utmost possible
shame and disgrace upon them, as well as to execute justice upon
them. And what the hangman's rope is in our day, all that the
cross was in our Lord's day. And, then, as if the cross itself was
not shame enough, all the circumstances connected with His cross
were planned and carried out so as to heap the utmost possible
shame and humiliation upon His head. Our prison warders have to
watch the murderers in their cells night and day, lest they should
take their own life in order to escape the hangman's rope; but our
Lord, keenly as He felt His coming shame, said to His horrified
disciples, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, when the Son of Man shall
be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall
scourge Him and put Him to death. Do you ever think of your Lord
in His shame? How they made a fool of Him, as we say. How they
took off His own clothes and put on Him now a red cloak and now a
white; how they put a sword of lath in His hand, and a crown of
thorns on His head; how they bowed the knee before Him, and asked
royal favours from Him; and then how they spat in His face, and
struck Him on the cheek, while the whole house rang with shouts of
laughter. And, then, the last indignity of man, how they stripped
Him naked and lashed His naked and bleeding body to a whipping-
post. And how they wagged their heads and put out their tongues at
Him when He was on the tree, and invited Him to come down and
preach to them now, and they would all become His disciples. Did
not Shame say the simple truth when he warned Faithful that
religion had always and from the beginning made its followers the
ridicule of their times?

If you are really going to be a religious man, Shame went on, you
will have to carry about with you a very tender conscience, and a
more unmanly and miserable thing than a tender conscience I cannot
conceive. A tender conscience will cost you something, let me tell
you, to keep it. If nothing else, a tender conscience will all
your life long expose you to the mockery and the contempt of all
the brave spirits of the time. That also is true. At any rate, a
tender conscience will undoubtedly compel its possessor to face the
brave spirits of the time. There is a good story told to this
present point about Sir Robert Peel, a Prime Minister of our Queen.
When a young man, Peel was one of the guests at a select dinner-
party in the West-end of London. And after the ladies had left the
table the conversation of the gentlemen took a turn such that it
could not have taken as long as the ladies were present. Peel took
no share in the stories or the merriment that went on, and, at
last, he rose up and ordered his carriage, and, with a burning
face, left the room. When he was challenged as to why he had
broken up the pleasant party so soon, he could only reply that his
conscience would not let him stay any longer. No doubt Peel felt
the mocking laughter that he left behind him, but, as Shame said to
Faithful, the tenderness of the young statesman's conscience
compelled him to do as he did. But we are not all Peels. And
there are plenty of workshops and offices and dinner-tables in our
own city, where young men who would walk up to the cannon's mouth
without flinching have not had Peel's courage to protest against
indecency or to confess that they belonged to an evangelical
church. If a church is only sufficiently unevangelical there is no
trial of conscience or of courage in confessing that you belong to
it. But as Shame so ably and honestly said, that type of religion
that creates a tender conscience in its followers, and sets them to
watch their words and their ways, and makes them tie themselves up
from all hectoring liberty--to choose that religion, and to cleave
to it to the end, will make a young man the ridicule still of all
the brave spirits round about him. Ambitious young men get
promotion and reward every day among us for desertions and
apostasies in religion, for which, if they had been guilty of the
like in war, they would have been shot. 'And so you are a Free
Churchman, I am told.' That was all that was said. But the sharp
youth understood without any more words, and he made his choice
accordingly; till it is becoming a positive surprise to find the
rising members of certain professions in certain churches. The
Quakers have a proverb in England that a family carriage never
drives for two generations past the parish church door. Of which
state of matters Shame showed himself a shrewd prophet two hundred
years ago when he said that but few of the rich and the mighty and
the wise remained long of Faithful's Puritan opinion unless they
were first persuaded to be fools, and to be of a voluntary fondness
to venture the loss of all.

And I will tell you two other things, said sharp-sighted and plain-
spoken Shame, that your present religion will compel you to do if
you adhere to it. It will compel you from time to time to ask your
neighbour's forgiveness even for petty faults, and it will insist
with you that you make restitution when you have done the weak and
the friendless any hurt or any wrong. And every manly mind will
tell you that life is not worth having on such humbling terms as
those are. Whatever may be thought about Shame in other respects,
it cannot be denied that he had a sharp eye for the facts of life,
and a shrewd tongue in setting those facts forth. He has hit the
blot exactly in the matter of our first duty to our neighbour; he
has put his finger on one of the matters where so many of us,
through a false shame, come short. It costs us a tremendous
struggle with our pride to go to our neighbour and to ask his
forgiveness for a fault, petty fault or other. Did you ever do it?
When did you do it last, to whom, and for what? One Sabbath
morning, now many years ago, I had occasion to urge this elementary
evangelical duty on my people here, and I did it as plainly as I
could. Next day one of my young men, who is now a devoted and
honoured elder, came to me and told me that he had done that
morning what his conscience yesterday told him in the church to do.
He had gone to a neighbour's place of business, had asked for an
interview, and had begged his neighbour's pardon. I am sure
neither of those two men have forgotten that moment, and the
thought of it has often since nerved me to speak plainly about some
of their most unwelcome duties to my people. Shame, no doubt,
pulled back my noble friend's hand when it was on the office bell,
but, like Faithful in the text, he shook him out of his company and
went in. I spoke of the remarkable justice of the newspaper press
in the opening of these remarks. And it so happens that, as I lay
down my pen to rest my hand after writing this sentence and lift a
London evening paper, I read this editorial note, set within the
well-known brackets at the end of an indignant and expostulatory
letter: ['Our correspondent's complaint is just. The paragraph
imputing bad motives should not have been admitted.'] I have no
doubt that editor felt some shame as he handed that apologetic note
to the printer. But not to speak of any other recognition and
recompense, he has the recompense of the recognition of all
honourable-minded men who have read that honourable admission and

Shame was quite right in his scoff about restitution also. For
restitution rings like a trumpet tone through the whole of the law
of Moses, and then the New Testament republishes that law if only
in the exquisite story of Zaccheus. And, indeed, take it
altogether, I do not know where to find in the same space a finer
vindication of Puritan pulpit ethics than just in this taunting and
terrifying attack on Faithful. There is no better test of true
religion both as it is preached and practised than just to ask for
and to grant forgiveness, and to offer and accept restitution.
Now, does your public and private life defend and adorn your
minister's pulpit in these two so practical matters? Could your
minister point to you as a proof of the ethics of evangelical
teaching? Can any one in this city speak up in defence of your
church and thus protest: 'Say what you like about that church and
its ministers, all I can say is, that its members know how to make
an apology; as, also, how to pay back with interest what they at
one time damaged or defrauded'? Can any old creditor's widow or
orphan stand up for our doctrine and defend our discipline pointing
to you? If you go on to be a Puritan, said Shame to Faithful, you
will have to ask your neighbour's forgiveness even for petty
faults, and you will have to make restitution with usury where you
have taken anything from any one, and how will you like that?

And what did you say to all this, my brother? Say? I could not
tell what to say at the first. I felt my blood coming up into my
face at some of the things that Shame said and threatened. But, at
last, I began to consider that that which is highly esteemed among
men is often had in abomination with God. And I said to myself
again, Shame tells me what men do and what men think, but he has
told me nothing about what He thinks with Whom I shall soon have
alone to do. Therefore, thought I, what God thinks and says is
wisest and best, let all the men of the world say what they will.
Let all false shame, then, depart from my heart, for how else shall
I look upon my Lord, and how shall He look upon me at His coming?


'A man full of talk.'--Zophar.
'Let thy words be few.'--The Preacher.
'The soul of religion is the practick part.'--Christian.

Since we all have a tongue, and since so much of our time is taken
up with talk, a simple catalogue of the sins of the tongue is
enough to terrify us. The sins of the tongue take up a much larger
space in the Bible than we would believe till we have begun to
suffer from other men's tongues and especially from our own. The
Bible speaks a great deal more and a great deal plainer about the
sins of the tongue than any of our pulpits dare to do. In the
Psalms alone you would think that the psalmists scarcely suffer
from anything else worth speaking about but the evil tongues of
their friends and of their enemies. The Book of Proverbs also is
full of the same lashing scourge. And James the Just, in a passage
of terrible truth and power, tells us that we are already as good
as perfect men if we can bridle our tongue; and that, on the other
hand, if we do not bridle our tongue, all our seeming to be
religious is a sham and a self-deception,--that man's religion is

With many men and many women great talkativeness is a matter of
simple temperament and mental constitution. And a talkative habit
would be a childlike and an innocent habit if the heart of talker
and the hearts of those to whom he talks so much were only full of
truth and love. But our hearts and our neighbours' hearts being
what they are, in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. So
much of our talk is about our absent neighbours, and there are so
many misunderstandings, prejudices, ambitions, competitions,
oppositions, and all kinds of cross-interests between us and our
absent neighbours, that we cannot long talk about them till our
hearts have run our tongues into all manner of trespass. Bishop
Butler discourses on the great dangers that beset a talkative
temperament with almost more than all his usual sagacity,
seriousness, and depth. And those who care to see how the greatest
of our modern moralists deals with their besetting sin should lose
no time in possessing and mastering Butler's great discourse. It
is a truly golden discourse, and it ought to be read at least once
a month by all the men and all the women who have tongues in their
heads. Bishop Butler points out to his offending readers, in a way
they can never forget, the certain mischief they do to themselves
and to other people just by talking too much. But there are far
worse sins that our tongues fall into than the bad enough sins that
spring out of impertinent and unrestrained loquacity. There are
many times when our talk, long or short, is already simple and
downright evil. It is ten to one, it is a hundred to one, that you
do not know and would not believe how much you fall every day and
in every conversation into one or other of the sins of the tongue.
If you would only begin to see and accept this, that every time you
speak or hear about your absent neighbour what you would not like
him to speak or hear about you, you are in that a talebearer, a
slanderer, a backbiter, or a liar,--when you begin to see and admit
that about yourself, you will not wonder at what the Bible says
with such bitter indignation about the diabolical sins of the
tongue. If you would just begin to-night to watch yourselves--on
the way home from church, at home after the day is over, to-morrow
morning when the letters and the papers are opened, and so on,--how
instinctively, incessantly, irrepressibly you speak about the
absent in a way you would be astounded and horrified to be told
they were at that moment speaking about you, then you would soon be
wiser than all your teachers in the sins and in the government of
the tongue. And you would seven times every day pluck out your
tongue before God till He gives it back to you clean and kind in
that land where all men shall love their neighbours, present and
absent, as themselves.

Take detraction for an example, one of the commonest, and, surely,
one of the most detestable of the sins of the tongue. And the
etymology here, as in this whole region, is most instructive and
most impressive. In detraction you DRAW AWAY something from your
neighbour that is most precious and most dear to him. In
detraction you are a thief, and a thief of the falsest and
wickedest kind. For your neighbour's purse is trash, while his
good name is far more precious to him than all his gold. Some one
praises your neighbour in your hearing, his talents, his
performances, his character, his motives, or something else that
belongs to your neighbour. Some one does that in your hearing who
either does not know you, or who wishes to torture and expose you,
and you fall straight into the snare thus set for you, and begin at
once to belittle, depreciate, detract from, and run down your
neighbour, who has been too much praised for your peace of mind and
your self-control. You insinuate something to his disadvantage and
dishonour. You quote some authority you have heard to his hurt.
And so on past all our power to picture you. For detraction has a
thousand devices taught to it by the master of all such devices,
wherewith to drag down and defile the great and the good. But with
all you can say or do, you cannot for many days get out of your
mind the heart-poisoning praise you heard spoken of your envied
neighbour. Never praise any potter's pots in the hearing of
another potter, said the author of the Nicomachean Ethics.
Aristotle said potter's pots, but he really all the time was
thinking of a philosopher's books; only he said potter's pots to
draw off his readers' attention from himself. Now, always remember
that ancient and wise advice. Take care how you praise a potter's
pots, a philosopher's books, a woman's beauty, a speaker's speech,
a preacher's sermon to another potter, philosopher, woman, speaker,
or preacher; unless, indeed, you maliciously wish secretly to
torture them, or publicly to expose them, or, if their
sanctification is begun, to sanctify them to their most inward and
spiritual sanctification.

Backbiting, again, would seem at first sight to be a sin of the
teeth rather than of the tongue, only, no sharpest tooth can tear
you when your back is turned like your neighbour's evil tongue.
Pascal has many dreadful things about the corruption and misery of
man, but he has nothing that strikes its terrible barb deeper into
all our consciences than this, that if all our friends only knew
what we have said about them behind their back, we would not have
four friends in all the world. Neither we would. I know I would
not have one. How many would you have? And who would they be?
You cannot name them. I defy you to name them. They do not exist.
The tongue can no man tame.

'Giving of characters' also takes up a large part of our everyday
conversation. We cannot well help characterising, describing, and
estimating one another. But, as far as possible, when we see the
conversation again approaching that dangerous subject, we should
call to mind our past remorse; we should suppose our absent
neighbour present; we should imagine him in our place and ourselves
in his place, and so turn the rising talk into another channel.
For, the truth is, few of us are able to do justice to our
neighbour when we begin to discuss and describe him. Generosity in
our talk is far easier for us than justice. It was this incessant
giving of characters that our Lord had in His eye when He said in
His Sermon on the Mount, Judge not. But our Lord might as well
never have uttered that warning word for all the attention we give
it. For we go on judging one another and sentencing one another as
if we were entirely and in all things blameless ourselves, and as
if God had set us up in our blamelessness in His seat of judgment
over all our fellows. How seldom do we hear any one say in a
public debate or in a private conversation, I don't know; or, It is
no matter of mine; or, I feel that I am not in possession of all
the facts; or, It may be so, but I must not judge. We never hear
such things as these said. No one pays the least attention to the
Preacher on the Mount. And if any one says to us, I must not
judge, we never forgive him, because his humility and his obedience
so condemn all our ill-formed, prejudiced, rash, and ill-natured
judgments of our neighbour. Since, therefore, so Butler sums up,
it is so hard for us to enter on our neighbour's character without
offending the law of Christ, we should learn to decline that kind
of conversation altogether, and determine to get over that strong
inclination most of us have, to be continually talking about the
concerns, the behaviour, and the deserts of our neighbours.

Now, it was all those vices of the tongue in full outbreak in the
day of James the Just that made that apostle, half in sorrow, half
in anger, demand of all his readers that they should henceforth
begin to bridle their tongues. And, like all that most practical
apostle's counsels, that is a most impressive and memorable
commandment. For, it is well known that all sane men who either
ride on or drive unruly horses, take good care to bridle their
horses well before they bring them out of their stable door. And
then they keep their bridle-hand firm closed on the bridle-rein
till their horses are back in the stable again. Especially and
particularly they keep a close eye and a firm hand on their horse's
bridle on all steep inclines and at all sharp angles and sudden
turns in the road; when sudden trains are passing and when stray
dogs are barking. If the rider or the driver of a horse did not
look at nothing else but the bridle of his horse, both he and his
horse under him would soon be in the ditch,--as so many of us are
at the present moment because we have an untamed tongue in our
mouth on which we have not yet begun to put the bridle of truth and
justice and brotherly love. Indeed, such woe and misery has an
untamed tongue wrought in other churches and in other and more
serious ages than ours, that special religious brotherhoods have
been banded together just on the special and strict engagement that
they would above all things put a bridle on their tongues. 'What
are the chief cares of a young convert?' asked such a convert at an
aged Carthusian. 'I said I will take heed to my ways that I
trespass not with my tongue,' replied the saintly father. 'Say no
more for the present,' interrupted the youthful beginner; 'I will
go home and practise that, and will come again when I have
performed it.'

Now, whatever faults that tall man had who took up so much of
Faithful's time and attention, he was a saint compared with the men
and the women who have just passed before us. Talkative, as John
Bunyan so scornfully names that tall man, though he undoubtedly
takes up too much time and too much space in Bunyan's book, was not
a busybody in other men's matters at any rate. Nobody could call
him a detractor or a backbiter or a talebearer or a liar.
Christian knew him well, and had known him long, but Christian was
not afraid to leave him alone with Faithful. We all know men we
feel it unsafe to leave long alone with our friends. We feel sure
that they will be talking about us, and that to our hurt, as soon
as our backs are about. But to give that tall man his due, he was
not given with all his talk to tale-bearing or scandal or
detraction. Had he been guilty of any of these things, Faithful
would soon have found him out, and would have left him to go to the
Celestial City by himself. But, after talking for half a day with
Talkative, instead of finding out anything wrong in the tall man's
talk, Faithful was so taken and so struck with it, that he stepped
across to Christian and said, 'What a brave companion we have got!
Surely this man will make a most excellent pilgrim!' 'So I once
thought too,' said Christian, 'till I went to live beside him, and
have to do with him in the business of daily life.' Yes, it is
near neighbourhood and the business of everyday life that try a
talking man. If you go to a meeting for prayer, and hear some men
praying and speaking on religious subjects, you would say to
yourself, What a good man that is, and how happy must his wife and
children and servants and neighbours be with such an example always
before them, and with such an intercessor for them always with God!
But if you were to go home with that so devotional man, and try to
do business with him, and were compelled to cross him and go
against him, you would find out why Christian smiled so when
Faithful was so full of Talkative's praises.

But of all the religiously-loquacious men of our day, your
ministers are the chief. For your ministers must talk in public,
and that often and at great length, whether they are truly
religious men at home or no. It is their calling to talk to you
unceasingly about religious matters. You chose them to be your
ministers because they could talk well. You would not put up with
a minister who could not talk well on religious things. You
estimate them by their talk. You praise and pay them by their
talk. And if they are to live, talk incessantly to you about
religion they must, and they do. If any other man among us is not
a religious man, well, then, he can at least hold his tongue.
There is no necessity laid on him to speak in public about things
that he does not practise at home. But we hard-bested ministers
must go on speaking continually about the most solemn things. And
if we are not extraordinarily watchful over ourselves, and
extraordinarily and increasingly conscientious, if we are not
steadily growing in inwardness and insight and depth and real
spirituality of mind and life ourselves, we cannot escape,--our
calling in life will not let us escape,--becoming as sounding
brass. There is an awful sentence in Butler that should be written
in letters of fire in every minister's conscience, to the effect
that continually going over religion in talk and making fine
pictures of it in the pulpit, creates a professional insensibility
to personal religion that is the everlasting ruin of multitudes of
eloquent ministers. That is true. We ministers all feel that to
be true. Our miserable experience tells us that is only too true
of ourselves. What a flood of demoralising talk has been poured
out from the pulpits of this one city to-day!--demoralising to
preachers and to hearers both, because not intended to be put in
practice. How few of those who have talked and heard talk all this
day about divine truth and human duty, have made the least
beginning or the least resolve to live as they have spoken and
heard! And, yet, all will in words again admit that the soul of
religion is the practick part, and that the tongue without the
heart and the life is but death and corruption.

Let us, then, this very night begin to do something practical after
all this talk about talk. And let us all begin to do something in
the direct line of our present talk. What a noble congregation of
evangelical Carthusians that would make us if we all put a bridle
on our tongue to-night before we left this house. For we all have
neighbours, friends, enemies, against whom we every day sin with
our unbridled tongue. We all have acquaintances we are ashamed to
meet, we have been so unkind and so unjust to them with our tongue.
We hang down our head when they shake our hand. Yes, we know the
men quite well of whom Pascal speaks. We know many men who would
never speak to us again if they only knew how, and how often, we
have spoken about them behind their back. Well, let us sin against
them, and against ourselves, and against our Master's command and
example no more. Let this night and this lecture on Talkative and
his kindred see the last of our sin against our ill-used neighbour.
Let us promise God and our own consciences to-night, that we shall
all this week put on a bridle about that man, and about that
subject, and in that place, and in that company. Let us say, God
helping me, I shall for all this week not speak about that man at
all, anything either good or bad, nor on that subject, nor will I
let the conversation turn into that channel at all if I can help
it. And God will surely help us, till, after weeks and years of
such prayer and such practice, we shall by slow degrees, and after
many defeats, be able to say with the Psalmist, 'I will take heed
to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my mouth
with a bridle. I will be dumb with silence. I will hold my peace
even from good.'


'Hear, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel . .
. who hate the good and love the evil.'--Micah.

The portrait of Judge Hate-good in The Pilgrim's Progress is but a
poor replica, as our artists say, of the portrait of Judge Jeffreys
in our English history books. I am sure you have often read, with
astonishment at Bunyan's literary power, his wonderful account of
the trial of Faithful, when, as Bunyan says, he was brought forth
to his trial in order to his condemnation. We have the whole
ecclesiastical jurisprudence of Charles and James Stuart put before
us in that single satirical sentence. But, powerful as Bunyan's
whole picture of Judge Hate-good's court is, it is a tame and a
poor picture compared with what all the historians tell us of the
injustice and cruelty of the court of Judge Jeffreys. Macaulay's
portrait of the Lord Chief Justice of England for ferocity and
fiendishness beats out of sight Bunyan's picture of that judge who
keeps Satan's own seal in Bunyan's Book. Jeffreys was bred for his
future work at the bar of the Old Bailey, a bar already proverbial
for the licence of its tongue and for the coarseness of its cases.
Jeffreys served his apprenticeship for the service that our two
last Stuarts had in reserve for him so well, that he soon became,
so his beggared biographer describes him, the most consummate bully
that ever disgraced an English bench. The boldest impudence when
he was a young advocate, and the most brutal ferocity when he was
an old judge, sat equally secure on the brazen forehead of George
Jeffreys. The real and undoubted ability and scholarship of
Jeffreys only made his wickedness the more awful, and his whole
career the greater curse both to those whose tool he was, and to
those whose blood he drank daily. Jeffreys drank brandy and sang
lewd songs all night, and he drank blood and cursed and swore on
the bench all day. Just imagine the state of our English courts
when a judge could thus assail a poor wretch of a woman after
passing a cruel sentence upon her. 'Hangman,' shouted the ermined
brute, 'Hangman, pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge
her soundly, man. Scourge her till the blood runs. It is the
Christmas season; a cold season for madam to strip in. See,
therefore, man, that you warm her shoulders thoroughly.' And you
all know who Richard Baxter was. You have all read his seraphic
book, The Saints' Rest. Well, besides being the Richard Baxter so
well known to our saintly fathers and mothers, he was also, and he
was emphatically, the peace-maker of the Puritan party. Baxter's
political principles were of the most temperate and conciliatory,
and indeed, almost royalist kind. He was a man of strong passions,
indeed, but all the strength and heat of his passions ran out into
his hatred of sin and his love of holiness, and an unsparing and
consuming care for the souls of his people. Very Faithful himself
stood before the bar of Judge Jeffreys in the person of Richard
Baxter. It took all the barefaced falsehood and scandalous
injustice of the crown prosecutors to draw out the sham indictment
that was read out in court against inoffensive Richard Baxter. But
what was lacking in the charge of the crown was soon made up by the
abominable scurrility of the judge. 'You are a schismatical
knave,' roared out Jeffreys, as soon as Baxter was brought into
court. 'You are an old hypocritical villain.' And then, clasping
his hands and turning up his eyes, he sang through his nose: 'O
Lord, we are Thy peculiar people: we are Thy dear and only
people.' 'You old blockhead,' he again roared out, 'I will have
you whipped through the city at the tail of the cart. By the grace
of God I will look after you, Richard.' And the tiger would have
been as good as his word had not an overpowering sense of shame
compelled the other judges to protest and get Baxter's inhuman
sentence commuted to fine and imprisonment. And so on, and so on.
But it was Jeffreys' 'Western Circuit,' as it was called, that
filled up the cup of his infamy--an infamy, say the historians,
that will last as long as the language and the history of England
last. The only parallel to it is the infamy of a royal house and a
royal court that could welcome home and promote to honour such a
detestable miscreant as Jeffreys was. But the slaughter in
Somerset was only over in order that a similar slaughter in London
might begin. Let those who have a stomach for more blood and tears
follow out the hell upon earth that James Stuart and George
Jeffreys together let loose on the best life of England in their
now fast-shortening day. Was Judge Jeffreys, some of you will ask
me, born and bred in hell? Was the devil his father, and original
sin his mother? Or, was he not the very devil himself come to
earth for a season in English flesh? No, my brethren, not so.
Judge Jeffreys was one of ourselves. Little George Jeffreys was
born and brought up in a happy English home. He was baptised and
confirmed in an English church. He took honours in an English
university. He ate dinners, was called to the bar, conducted
cases, and took silk in an English court of justice. And in the
ripeness of his years and of his services, he wore the honourable
ermine and sat upon the envied wool-sack of an English sovereign.
It would have been far less awful and far less alarming to think
of, had Judge Jeffreys been, as you supposed, a pure devil let
loose on the Church of Christ and the awakening liberty of England.
But some innocent soul will ask me next whether there has ever been
any other monster on the face of the earth like Judge Jeffreys; and
whether by any possibility there are any such monsters anywhere in
our own day. Yes, truth compels me to reply. Yes, there are,
plenty, too many. Only their environment, nowadays, as our
naturalists say, does not permit them to grow to such strength and
dimensions as those of James Stuart, and George Jeffreys, his
favourite judge. At the same time, be not deceived by your own
deceitful heart, nor by any other deceiver's smooth speeches.
Judge Jeffreys is in yourself, only circumstances have not yet let
him fully show himself in you. Still, if you look close enough and
deep enough into your own hearts, you will see the same wicked
light glancing sometimes there that used so to terrify Judge
Jeffreys' prisoners when they saw it in his wicked eyes. If you
lay your ear close enough to your own heart, you will sometimes
hear something of that same hiss with which that human serpent
sentenced to torture and to death the men and the women who would
not submit to his command. The same savage laughter also will
sometimes all but escape your lips as you think of how your enemy
has been made to suffer in body and in estate. O yes, the very
same hell-broth that ran for blood in Judge Jeffreys' heart is in
all our hearts also; and those who have the least of its poison
left in their hearts will be the foremost to confess its presence,
and to hate and condemn and bewail themselves on account of its
terrible dregs.

HATE-GOOD is an awful enough name for any human being to bear.
Those who really know what goodness is, and then, what hatred is,--
they will feel how awful a thing it is for any man to hate
goodness. But there is something among us sinful men far more
awful than even that, and that is to hate God. The carnal mind,
writes the apostle Paul to the Romans--and it is surely the most
terrible sentence that often terrible enough apostle ever wrote--
the carnal mind is enmity against God. And Dr. John Owen
annotating on that sentence is equally terrible. The carnal mind,
he says, has 'chosen a great enemy indeed.' And having mentioned
John Owen, will you let me once more beseech all students of
divinity, that is, all students, amongst other things, of the
desperate depravity of the human heart, to read John Owen's sixth
volume till they have it by heart,--by a broken, believing heart.
Owen On Indwelling Sin is one of the greatest works of the great
Puritan period. It is a really great, and as we nowadays say, a
truly scientific work to the bargain. But all that by the way.
Yes, this carnal heart that is still left in every one of us has
chosen a great enemy, and it would need both strong and faithful
allies in order to fight him. The hatred that His Son also met
with when He was in this world is one of the most hateful pages of
this hateful world's hateful history. He knew His own heart
towards His enemies, and thus He was able to say to the Searcher of
Hearts with His dying breath, They hated Me without a cause. Truly
our hatred is hottest when it is most unjust.

'Look to yourselves,' wrote the apostle John to the elect lady and
her children. Yes; let us all look sharply and suspiciously to
ourselves in this matter now in hand, and we shall not need John
Owen nor anybody else to discover to us the hatred and the
hatefulness of our own hearts. Look to yourselves, and the work of
the law will soon be fulfilled in you. Homo homini lupus, taught
an old philosopher who had studied moral philosophy not in books so
much as in his own heart. 'Is no man naturally good?' asked
innocent Lady Macleod of Dunvegan Castle at her guest, Dr. Samuel
Johnson. 'No, madam, no more than a wolf.' That is quite past all
question with all those who either in natural morals or in revealed
religion look to and know and characterise themselves. We have all
an inborn propensity to dislike one another, and a very small
provocation will suddenly blow that banked-up furnace into a flame.
It is ever present with me, says self-examining Paul, and hence its
so sudden and so destructive outbreaks. So the written or the
printed name of our enemy, his image in our mind, his passing step,
his figure out of the window; his wife, his child, his carriage,
his cart in the street, anything, everything will stir up our heart
at the man we do not like. And the whole of our so honest Bible,
our present text, and the illustrations of our text in Judge
Jeffreys' and Judge Hate-good's courts, all go to show that the
better a man is the more sometimes will we hate him. Good men,
better men than we are, men who in public life and in private life
pursue great and good ends, of necessity cross and go counter to us
in our pursuit of small, selfish, evil ends, and of necessity we
hate them. For, cross a selfish sinner sufficiently and you have a
very devil--as many good men, if they knew it, have in us. Again,
good men who come into contact with us cannot help seeing our bad
lives, our tempers, our selfishness, our public and private vices;
and we see that they see us, and we cannot love those whose averted
eye so goes to our conscience. And not only in the hatred of good
men, but if you know of God how to watch yourselves, you will find
yourselves out every day also in the hatred of good movements, good
causes, good institutions, and good works. There are doctors who
would far rather hear of their rival's patient expiring in his
hands than hear their rival's success trumpeted through all the
town. There are ministers, also, who would rather that the masses
of the city and the country sank yet deeper into improvidence and
drink and neglect of ordinances than that they were rescued by any
other church than their own. They hate to hear of the successes of
another church. There are party politicians who would rather that
the ship of the state ran on the rocks both in her home and her
foreign policy than that the opposite party should steer her amid a
nation's cheers into harbour. And so of good news. I will stake
the divine truth of this evening's Scriptures, and of their
historical and imaginative illustrations, on the feelings, if you
know how to observe, detect, characterise, and confess them,--the
feelings, I say, that will rise in your heart to-morrow morning
when you read what is good news to other men, even to good men, and
to the families and family interests of good men. It does not
matter one atom into what profession, office, occupation, interest
you track the corrupt heart of man, as sure as a substance casts a
shadow, so sure will you find your own selfish heart hating
goodness when the goodness does not serve or flatter you.

Now, though they will never be many, yet there must be some men
among us, one here and another there, who have so looked at and
found out themselves. I can well believe that some men here came
up to this house to-night trembling in their heart all the way.
They felt the very advertisement go through them like a knife:
they felt that they were summoned up hither almost by name as to
judgment. For they feel every day, though they have never told
their feelings to any, that they have this horrible heart deep-
seated within them to love evil and to hate good. They gnash their
teeth at themselves as they catch themselves rejoicing in iniquity.
They feel their hearts expanding, and they know that their faces
shine, when you tell them evil tidings. They sicken and lose heart
and sit solitary when you carry to them a good report. They feel
as John Bunyan felt, that no one but the devil can equal them in
pollution of heart. And their wonder sometimes is that the
Searcher of Hearts does not drive them down where devils dwell and
hate God and man and one another. They look around them when the
penitential psalm is being sung, and they smile bitterly to
themselves. O people of God, they say, you do not know what you
are saying. Leave that psalm to me. I can sing it. I can tell to
God what He knows about sin, and about sin in the heart. Stand
away back from me, that man says, for I am a leper. The chief of
sinners is beside you. A whited sepulchre stands open beside you.-
-Stop now, O hating and hateful man, and let me speak for a single
moment before we separate. Before you say any more about yourself,
and before you leave the house of God, lift up your broken heart
and with all your might bless God that He has opened your eyes and
taught you how to look at yourself and how to hate yourself. There
are hundreds of honest Christian men and women in this house at
this moment to whom God has not done as, in His free grace, He has
done to you. For He has not only begun a good work in you, but He
has begun that special and peculiar work which, when it goes on to
perfection, makes a great and an eminent saint of God. To know
your own heart as you evidently know it, and to hate it as you say
you hate it, and to hunger after a clean heart as, with every
breath, you hunger,--all that, if you would only believe it, sets
you, or will yet set you, high up among the people of God. Be
comforted; it is your bounden duty to be comforted. God deserves
it at your hands that you be more than comforted amid such
unmistakable signs of His eminent grace to you. And be patient
under your exceptional sanctification. Rome was not built in a
day. You cannot reverse the awful law of your sanctification. You
cannot be saved by Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit without seeing
yourself, and you cannot see yourself without hating yourself, and
you cannot begin to hate yourself without all your hatred
henceforth turning against yourself. You are deep in the red-hot
bosom of the refiner's fire. And when you are once sufficiently
tried by the Divine Refiner of Souls, He will in His own good time
and way bring you out as gold. Be patient, therefore, till the
coming of the Lord. And say continually amid all your increasing
knowledge of yourself, and amid all your increasing hatred of
yourself, 'As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I
shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.'


'Be thou faithful.'--Rev. 2. 10.

The breadth of John Bunyan's mind, the largeness of his heart, and
the tolerance of his temper all come excellently out in his fine
portrait of Faithful. New beginners in personal religion, when
they first take up The Pilgrim's Progress in earnest, always try to
find out something in themselves that shall somewhat correspond to
the recorded experience of Christian, the chief pilgrim. And they
are afraid that all is not right with them unless they, like him,
have had, to begin with, a heavy burden on their back. They look
for something in their religious life that shall answer to the
Slough of Despond also, to the Hill Difficulty, to the House
Beautiful, and, especially and indispensably, to the place somewhat
ascending with a cross upon it and an open sepulchre beneath it.
And because they cannot always find all these things in themselves
in the exact order and in the full power in which they are told of
Christian in Bunyan's book, they begin to have doubts about
themselves as to whether they are true pilgrims at all. But here
is Faithful, with whom Christian held such sweet and confidential
discourse, and yet he had come through not a single one of all
these things. The two pilgrims had come from the same City of
Destruction indeed, and they had met at the gate of Vanity and
passed through Vanity Fair together, but, till they embraced one
another again in the Celestial City, that was absolutely all the
experience they had in common. Faithful had never had any such
burden on his back as that was which had for so long crushed
Christian to the earth. And the all but complete absence of such a
burden may have helped to let Faithful get over the Slough of
Despond dry shod. He had the good lot to escape Sinai also and the
Hill Difficulty, and his passing by the House Beautiful and not
making the acquaintance of Discretion and Prudence and Charity may
have had something to do with the fact that one named Wanton had
like to have done him such a mischief. His remarkable experiences,
however, with Adam the First, with Moses, and then with the Man
with holes in His hands, all that makes up a page in Faithful's
autobiography we could ill have spared. His encounter with Shame
also, and soon afterwards with Talkative, are classical passages in
his so individual history. Altogether, it would be almost
impossible for us to imagine two pilgrims talking so heartily
together, and yet so completely unlike one another. A very
important lesson surely as to how we should abstain from measuring
other men by ourselves, as well as ourselves by other men; an
excellent lesson also as to how we should learn to allow for all
possible varieties among good men, both in their opinions, their
experiences, and their attainments. True Puritan as the author of
The Pilgrim's Progress is, he is no Procrustes. He does not cut
down all his pilgrims to one size, nor does he clip them all into
one pattern. They are all thinking men, but they are not all men
of one way of thinking. John Bunyan is as fresh as Nature herself,
and as free and full as Holy Scripture herself in the variety, in
the individuality, and even in the idiosyncrasy of his spiritual
portrait gallery.

Vanity Fair is one of John Bunyan's universally-admitted
masterpieces. The very name of the fair is one of his happiest
strokes. Thackeray's famous book owes half its popularity to the
happy name he borrowed from John Bunyan. Thackeray's author's
heart must have leaped in his bosom when Vanity Fair struck him as
a title for his great satire. 'Then I saw in my dream that when
they were got out of the wilderness they presently saw a town
before them, and the name of that town is Vanity, and at that town
there is a fair kept called Vanity Fair. The fair is kept all the
year long, and it beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town
where it is kept is lighter than Vanity. And, also, because all
that is sold there is vanity. As is the saying of the wise, All
that cometh is vanity. The fair is no new erected business, but a
thing of ancient standing: I will show you the original of it.
About five thousand years ago there were pilgrims walking to the
Celestial City, as these two honest persons now are, and Beelzebub,
Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving that by the
path that the pilgrims made, that their way to the city lay through
this town of Vanity, they contrived there to set up a fair: a fair
wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last
all the year long. Therefore at this fair are all such merchandise
sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments,
titles, countries, kingdoms, pleasures, and delights of all sorts,
as wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood,
bodies, souls, silver, gold, precious stones, and what not. And,
moreover, at this fair at all times there is to be seen juggling,
cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of
every kind.' And then our author goes on to tell us the names of
the various streets and rows where such and such wares are vended.
And from that again he goes on to tell how the Prince of princes
Himself went at one time through this same fair, and that upon a
fair day too, and how the lord of the fair himself came and took
Him from street to street to try to get Him induced to cheapen and
buy some of the vain merchandise. But as it turned out He had no
mind to the merchandise in question, and He therefore passed
through the town without laying out so much as one farthing upon
its vanities. The fair, therefore, you will see, is of long
standing and a very great fair. Now, our two pilgrims had heard of
all that, they remembered also what Evangelist had told them about
the fair, and so they buttoned up their pockets and pushed through
the booths in the hope of getting out at the upper gate before any
one had time to speak to them. But that was not possible, for they
were soon set upon by the men of the fair, who cried after them:
'Hail, strangers, look here, what will you buy?' 'We buy the truth
only,' said Faithful, 'and we do not see any of that article of
merchandise set out on any of your stalls.' And from that began a
hubbub that ended in a riot, and the riot in the apprehension and
shutting up in a public cage of the two innocent pilgrims. Lord
Hate-good was the judge on the bench of Vanity in the day of their
trial, and the three witnesses who appeared in the witness-box
against the two prisoners were Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank.
The twelve jurymen who sat on their case were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-
good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr.
High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and
Mr. Implacable,--Mr. Blindman to be the foreman. And it was before
these men that Faithful was brought forth to his trial in order to
his condemnation. And very soon after his trial Faithful came to
his end. 'Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a
chariot and a couple of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon
as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken up into it, and
straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound of
trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial gate.'

Now, I cannot tell you how it was, I cannot account for it to
myself, but it is nevertheless absolutely true that as I was
reading my author last week and was meditating my present
exposition, it came somehow into my mind, and I could not get it
out of my mind, that there is a great and a close similarity
between John Bunyan's Vanity Fair and a general election. And, all
I could do to keep the whole thing out of my mind, one similarity
after another would leap up into my mind and would not be put out
of it. I protest that I did not go out to seek for such
similarities, but the more I frowned on them the thicker they came.
And then the further question arose as to whether I should write
them down or no; and then much more, as to whether I should set
them out before my people or no. As you will easily believe, I was
immediately in a real strait as to what I should do. I saw on the
one side what would be sure to be said by ill-natured people and
people of a hasty judgment. And I saw with much more anxiety what
would be felt even when they restrained themselves from saying it
by timid and cautious and scrupulous people. I had the full fear
of all such judges before my eyes; but, somehow, something kept
this before my eyes also, that, as Evangelist met the two pilgrims
just as they were entering the fair, so, for anything I knew to the
contrary, it might be of God, that I also, in my own way, should
warn my people of the real and special danger that their souls will
be in for the next fortnight. And as I thought of it a procession
of people passed before me all bearing to this day the stains and
scars they had taken on their hearts and their lives and their
characters at former general elections. And, like Evangelist, I
felt a divine desire taking possession of me to do all I could to
pull my people out of gun-shot of the devil at this election. And,
then, when I read again how both the pilgrims thanked Evangelist
for his exhortation, and told him withal that they would have him
speak further to them about the dangers of the way, I said at last
to myself, that the thanks of one true Christian saved in anything
and in any measure from the gun of the devil are far more to be
attended to by a minister than the blame and the neglect of a
hundred who do not know their hour of temptation and will not be
told it. And so I took my pen and set down some similarities
between Vanity Fair and the approaching election, with some lessons
to those who are not altogether beyond being taught.

Well, then, in the first place, the only way to the Celestial City
ran through Vanity Fair; by no possibility could the advancing
pilgrims escape the temptations and the dangers of the fatal fair.
He that will go to the Celestial City and yet not go through Vanity
Fair must needs go out of the world. And so it is with the
temptations and trials of the next ten days. We cannot get past
them. They are laid down right across our way. And to many men
now in this house the next ten days will be a time of simply
terrible temptation. If I had been quite sure that all my people
saw that and felt that, I would not have introduced here to-night
what some of them, judging too hastily, will certainly call this so
secular and unseemly subject. But I am so afraid that many not
untrue, and in other things most earnest men amongst us, do not yet
know sufficiently the weakness and the evil of their own hearts,
that I wish much, if they will allow me, to put them on their
guard. ''Tis hard,' said Contrite, who was a householder and had a
vote in the town of Vanity, ''tis hard keeping our hearts and our
spirits in any good order when we are in a cumbered condition. And
you may be sure that we are full of hurry at fair-time. He that
lives in such a place as this is, and that has to do with such as
we have to do with, has need of an item to caution him to take heed
every hour of the day.' Now, if all my people, and all this day's
communicants, were only contrite enough, I would leave them to the
hurry of the approaching election with much more comfort. But as
it is, I wish to give them such an item as I am able to caution
them for the next ten days. Let them know, then, that their way
for the next fortnight lies, I will not say through a fair of
jugglings and cheatings, carried on by apes and knaves, but, to
speak without figure, their way certainly lies through what will be
to many of them a season of the greatest temptation to the very
worst of all possible sins--to anger and bitterness and ill-will;
to no end of evil-thinking and evil-speaking; to the breaking up of
life-long friendships; and to widespread and lasting damage to the
cause of Christ, which is the cause of truth and love, meekness and
a heavenly mind. Now, amid all that, as Evangelist said to the two
pilgrims, look well to your own hearts. Let none of all these evil
things enter your heart from the outside, and let none of all these
evil things come out of your hearts from the inside. Set your
faces like a flint from the beginning against all evil-speaking and
evil-thinking. Let your own election to the kingdom of heaven be
always before you, and walk worthy of it; and amid all the hurry of
things seen and temporal, believe steadfastly concerning the things
that are eternal, and walk worthy of them.

'We buy the truth and we sell it not again for anything,' was the
reply of the two pilgrims to every stall-keeper as they passed up
the fair, and this it was that made them to be so hated and hunted
down by the men of the fair. And, in like manner, there is nothing
more difficult to get hold of at an election time than just the
very truth. All the truth on any question is not very likely to be
found put forward in the programme of any man or any party, and,
even if it were, a general election is not the best time for you to
find it out. 'I design the search after truth to be the one
business of my life,' wrote the future Bishop Butler at the age of
twenty-one. And whether you are to be a member of Parliament or a
silent voter for a member of Parliament, you, too, must love truth
and search for her as for hid treasure from your youth up. You
must search for all kinds of truth,--historical, political,
scientific, and religious,--with much reading, much observation,
and much reflection. And those who have searched longest and dug
deepest will always be found to be the most temperate, patient, and
forbearing with those who have not yet found the truth. I do not
know who first said it, but he was a true disciple of Socrates and
Plato who first said it. 'Plato,' he said, 'is my friend, and
Socrates is my friend, but the truth is much more my friend.'
There is a thrill of enthusiasm, admiration and hope that goes
through the whole country and comes down out of history as often as
we hear or read of some public man parting with all his own past,
as well as with all his leaders and patrons and allies and
colleagues in the present, and taking his solitary way out after
the truth. Many may call that man Quixotic, visionary,
unpractical, imprudent, and he may be all that and more, but to
follow conscience and the love of truth even when they are for the
time leading him wrong is noble, and is every way far better both
for himself and for the cause he serves, than if he were always
found following his leaders loyally and even walking in the way of
righteousness with the love of self and the love of party at bottom
ruling his heart. How healthful and how refreshing at an election
time it is to hear a speech replete with the love of the truth,
full knowledge of the subject, and with the dignity, the good
temper, the respect for opponents, and the love of fair play that
full knowledge of the whole subject is so well fitted to bring with
it! And next to hearing such a speaker is the pleasure of meeting
such a hearer or such a reader at such a time. Now, I want such
readers and such hearers, if not such speakers, to be found all the
next fortnight among my office-bearers and my people. Be sure you
say to some of your political opponents something like this:- 'I do
not profess to read all the speeches that fill the papers at
present. I do not read all the utterances made even on my own
side, and much less all the utterances made on your side. But
there is one of your speakers I always read, and I almost always
find him instructive and impressive, a gentleman, if not a
Christian. He is fair, temperate, frank, bold, and independent;
and, to my mind at least, he always throws light on these so
perplexing questions.' Now, if you have the intelligence and the
integrity and the fair-mindedness to say something like that to a
member of the opposite party you have poured oil on the waters of
party; nay, you are in that a wily politician, for you have almost,
just in saying that, won over your friend to your own side. So
noble is the love of truth, and so potent is the high-principled
pursuit and the fearless proclamation of the truth.

A general election is a trying time to all kinds of public men, but
it is perhaps most trying of all to Christian ministers. Unless
they are to disfranchise themselves and are to detach and shut
themselves in from all interest in public affairs altogether, an
election time is to our ministers, beyond any other class of
citizens perhaps, a peculiarly trying time. How they are to escape
the Scylla of cowardice and the contempt of all free and true men
on the one hand, and the Charybdis of pride and self-will and scorn
of other men's opinions and wishes on the other, is no easy dilemma
to our ministers. Some happily constituted and happily
circumstanced ministers manage to get through life, and even
through political life, without taking or giving a wound in all
their way. They are so wise and so watchful; they are so
inoffensive, unprovoking, and conciliatory; and even where they are
not always all that, they have around them sometimes a people who
are so patient and tolerant and full of the old-fashioned respect
for their minister that they do not attempt to interfere with him.
Then, again, some ministers preach so well, and perform all their
pastoral work so well, that they make it unsafe and impossible for
the most censorious and intolerant of their people to find fault
with them. But all our ministers are not like that. And all our
congregations are not like that. And those of our ministers who
are not like that must just be left to bear that which their past
unwisdom or misfortune has brought upon them. Only, if they have
profited by their past mistakes or misfortunes, a means of grace,
and an opportunity of better playing the man is again at their
doors. I am sure you will all join with me in the prayer that all
our ministers, as well as all their people, may come well out of
the approaching election.

There is yet one other class of public men, if I may call them so,
many of whom come almost worse out of an election time than even
our ministers, and that class is composed of those, who, to
continue the language of Vanity Fair, keep the cages of the fair.
I wish I had to-night, what I have not, the ear of the conductors
of our public journals. For, what an omnipotence in God's
providence to this generation for good or evil is theirs! If they
would only all consider well at election times, and at all times,
who they put into their cages and for what reason; if they would
only all ask what can that man's motives be for throwing such dirt
at his neighbour; if they would only all set aside all the letters
they will get during the next fortnight that are avowedly composed
on the old principle of calumniating boldly in the certainty that
some of it will stick, what a service they would do to the cause of
love and truth and justice, which is, surely, after all, their own
cause also! The very best papers sin sadly in this respect when
their conductors are full for the time of party passion. And it is
inexpressibly sad when a reader sees great journals to which he
owes a lifelong debt of gratitude absolutely poisoned under his
very eyes with the malignant spirit of untruthful partisanship.
But so long as our public cages are so kept, let those who are
exposed in them resolve to imitate Christian and Faithful, who
behaved themselves amid all their ill-usage yet more wisely, and
received all the ignominy and shame that was cast upon them with so
much meekness and patience that it actually won to their side
several of the men of the fair.

My brethren, this is the last time this season that I shall be able
to speak to you from this pulpit; and, perhaps, the last time
altogether. But, if it so turns out, I shall not repent that the
last time I spoke to you, and that, too, immediately after the
communion table, the burden of my message was the burden of my
Master's message after the first communion table. 'If ye know
these things, happy are ye if ye do them. A new commandment I give
unto you, that ye love one another. By this shall all men know
that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another. Herein
is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be My
disciples. These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might
have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good
cheer, I have overcome the world. Know ye what I have done unto
you? Ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am.'


'Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did
eat of the loaves.'--Our Lord.

In no part of John Bunyan's ingenious book is his strong sense and
his sarcastic and humorous vein better displayed than just in his
description of By-ends, and in the full and particular account he
gives of the kinsfolk and affinity of By-ends. Is there another
single stroke in all sacred literature better fitted at once to
teach the gayest and to make the gravest smile than just John
Bunyan's sketch of By-ends' great-grandfather, the founder of the
egoistical family of Fairspeech, who was, to begin with, but a
waterman who always looked one way and rowed another? By-ends'
wife also is a true helpmate to her husband. She was my Lady
Feigning's favourite daughter, under whose nurture and example the
young lady had early come to a quite extraordinary pitch of good
breeding; and now that she was a married woman, she and her husband
had, so their biographer tells us, two firm points of family
religion in which they were always agreed and according to which
they brought up all their children, namely, never to strive too
much against wind and tide, and always to watch when Religion was
walking on the sunny side of the street in his silver slippers, and
then at once to cross over and take his arm. But abundantly
amusing and entertaining as John Bunyan is at the expense of By-
ends and his family and friends, he has far other aims in view than
the amusement and entertainment of his readers. Bunyan uses all
his great gifts of insight and sense and humour and scorn so as to
mark unmistakably the road and to guide the progress of his
reader's soul to God, his chiefest end and his everlasting portion.

It was no small part of our Lord's life of humiliation on the
earth,--much more so than His being born in a low condition and
being made under the law,--to have to go about all His days among
men, knowing in every case and on every occasion what was in man.
It was a real humiliation to our Lord to see those watermen of the
sea of Tiberias sweating at their oars as they rowed round and
round the lake after Him; and His humiliation came still more home
to Him as often as He saw His own disciples disputing and pressing
who should get closest to Him while for a short season He walked in
the sunshine; just as it was His estate of exaltation already
begun, when He could enter into Himself and see to the bottom of
His own heart, till He was able to say that it was His very meat
and drink to do His father's will, and to finish the work His
Father had given Him to do. The men of Capernaum went out after
our Lord in their boats because they had eaten of the multiplied
loaves and hoped to do so again. Zebedee's children had forsaken
all and followed our Lord, because they counted to sit the one on
His right hand and the other on His left hand in His soon-coming
kingdom. The pain and the shame all that cost our Lord, we can
only remotely imagine. But as for Himself, our Lord never once had
to blush in secret at His own motives. He never once had to hang
down His head at the discovery of His own selfish aims and by-ends.
Happy man! The thought of what He should eat or what He should
drink or wherewithal He should be clothed never troubled His head.
The thought of success, as His poor-spirited disciples counted
success, the thought of honour and power and praise, never once
rose in His heart. All these things, and all things like them, had
no attraction for Him; they awoke nothing but indifference and
contempt in him. But to please His Father and to hear from time to
time His Father's voice saying that He was well pleased with His
beloved Son,--that was better than life to our Lord. To find out
and follow every new day His Father's mind and will, and to finish
every night another part of His Father's appointed work,--that was
more than His necessary food to our Lord. The great schoolmen, as
they meditated on these deep matters, had a saying to the effect
that all created things take their true goodness or their true evil
from the end they aim at. And thus it was that our Lord, aiming
only at His Father's ends and never at His own, both manifested and
attained to a Divine goodness, just as the greedy crowds of Galilee
and the disputatious disciples, as long and as far as they made
their belly or their honour their end and aim, to that extent fell
short of all true goodness, all true satisfaction, and all true

By-ends was so called because he was full of low, mean, selfish
motives, and of nothing else. All that this wretched creature did,
he did with a single eye to himself. The best things that he did
became bad things in his self-seeking hands. His very religion
stank in those men's nostrils who knew what was in his heart. By-
ends was one of our Lord's whited sepulchres. And so deep, so
pervading, and so abiding is this corrupt taint in human nature,
that long after a man has had his attention called to it, and is
far on to a clean escape from it, he still--nay, he all the more--
languishes and faints and is ready to die under it. Just hear what
two great servants of God have said on this humiliating and
degrading matter. Writing on this subject with all his wonted
depth and solemnity, Hooker says, 'Even in the good things that we
do, how many defects are there intermingled! For God in that which
is done, respecteth especially the mind and intention of the doer.
Cut off, then, all those things wherein we have regarded our own
glory, those things which we do to please men, or to satisfy our
own liking, those things which we do with any by-respect, and not
sincerely and purely for the love of God, and a small score will
serve for the number of our righteous deeds. Let the holiest and
best things we do be considered. We are never better affected to
God than when we pray; yet, when we pray, how are our affections
many times distracted! How little reverence do we show to that God
unto whom we speak! How little remorse of our own miseries! How
little taste of the sweet influence of His tender mercy do we feel!
The little fruit we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt
and unsound; we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge
nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to a reckoning as
if we had Him in our debt-books; our continued suit to Him is, and
must be, to bear with our infirmities, and to pardon our offences.'
And Thomas Shepard, a divine of a very different school, as we say,
but a saint and a scholar equal to the best, and indeed with few to
equal him, thus writes in his Spiritual Experiences:- 'On Sabbath
morning I saw that I had a secret eye to my own name in all that I
did, for which I judged myself worthy of death. On another
Sabbath, when I came home, I saw the deep hypocrisy of my heart,
that in my ministry I sought to comfort and quicken others, that
the glory might reflect on me as well as on God. On the evening
before the sacrament I saw that mine own ends were to procure
honour, pleasure, gain to myself, and not to the Lord, and I saw
how impossible it was for me to seek the Lord for Himself, and to
lay up all my honour and all my pleasures in Him. On Sabbath-day,
when the Lord had given me some comfortable enlargements, I
searched my heart and found my sin. I saw that though I did to
some extent seek Christ's glory, yet I sought it not alone, but my
own glory too. After my Wednesday sermon I saw the pride of my
heart acting thus, that presently my heart would look out and ask
whether I had done well or ill. Hereupon I saw my vileness to make
men's opinions my rule. The Lord thus gave me some glimpse of
myself and a good day that was to me.' One would think that this
was By-ends himself climbed up into the ministry. And so it was.
And yet David Brainerd could write on his deathbed about Thomas
Shepard in this way. 'He valued nothing in religion that was not
done to the glory of God, and, oh! that others would lay the stress
of religion here also. His method of examining his ends and aims
and the temper of his mind both before and after preaching, is an
excellent example for all who bear the sacred character. By this
means they are like to gain a large acquaintance with their own
hearts, as it is evident he had with his.'

But it is not those who bear the sacred character of the ministry
alone who are full of by-ends. We all are. You all are. And
there is not one all-reaching, all-exposing, and all-humbling way
of salvation appointed for ministers, and another, a more external,
superficial, easy, and self-satisfied way for their people. No.
Not only must the ambitious and disputing disciples enter into
themselves and become witnesses and judges and executioners within
themselves before they can be saved or be of any use in the
salvation of others--not only they, but the fishermen of the Lake
of Tiberias, they also must open their hearts to these stabbing
words of Christ, and see how true it is that they had followed Him
for loaves and fishes, and not for His grace and His truth. And
only when they had seen and submitted to that humiliating self-
discovery would their true acquaintance with Christ and their true
search after Him begin. Come, then, all my brethren, and not
ministers only, waken up to the tremendous importance of that which
you have utterly neglected, it may be ostentatiously neglected, up
to this hour,--the true nature, the true character, of your motives
and your ends. Enter into yourselves. Be not strangers and
foreigners to yourselves. Let not the day of judgment be any
surprise to you. Witness against, judge, and execute yourselves,
and that especially because of your by-aims and by-ends. Take up
the touchstone of truth and lay it upon your most secret heart. Do
not be afraid to discover how double-minded and deceitful your
heart is. Hunt your heart down. Track it to its most secret lair.
Put its true name, and continue to put its true name, upon the main
motive of your life. Extort an answer by boot and by wheel, only
extort an answer from the inner man of the heart, to the torturing
question as to what is his treasure, his hope, his deepest wish,
his daily dream. Watch not against any outward enemy, keep all
your eyes and all your ears to your own thoughts. God keeps His
awful eye on your thoughts. His eye goes at every glance to that
great depth in you. Even His all-seeing eye can go no deeper into
you than to your secret thoughts. Go you as deep as God goes, and
you will be a wise man; go as deep and as often as He does, and
then you will soon come to see eye to eye with God, not only about
your own thoughts, but about His thoughts too, and about everything
else. Till you begin to watch your own thoughts, and to watch them
especially in their aims and their ends, you will have no idea what
that moral and spiritual life is that all God's saints live; that
life that Christ lived, and which He this night summons you all to
enter henceforth upon.

It is such a happy fact that it cannot be too often told, that in
the things of the soul really and truly to know and feel the
disease is to have already entered on the remedy. You will not
feel, indeed, that you have entered on the remedy; but that does
not much matter so long as you really have. And there is nothing
more certain among all the certainties of divine things than that
he who feels himself to be in death and hell with his heart so full
of by-ends is all the time as far from death and hell as any one
can be who is still on this side of heaven. When a man's whole
will and desire is set on God, as is now and then the case, that
man is perilously near a sudden and an abundant entrance into that
life and that presence where his heart has for so long been. When
a man is half mad with his own heart, as Thomas Shepard for one
was, that stranger on the earth is at last within a step of that
happy coast where all wishes end. Watch that man. Take a last
look at that man. He will soon be taken out of your sight. Ere
ever he is himself aware, he will be rapt up into that life where
saints and angels seek not their own will, labour not for their own
profit or promotion, listen not for their own praises, but find
their blessedness, the half of which had not here been told them,
in glorifying God and in enjoying Him for ever.

You must all have heard the name of a book that has helped many a
saint now in glory to the examination and the keeping of his own
heart. I refer to Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living and Dying. Take two
or three of Taylor's excellent rules with you as you go down from
God's house to-night. 'If you would really live a holy life and
die a holy death,' says Taylor, 'learn to reflect in your every
action on your secret end in it; consider with yourself why you do
it, and what you propound to yourself for your reward. Pray
importunately that all your purposes and all your motives may be
sanctified. Renew and rekindle your purest purposes by such
ejaculations as these: "Not unto us, O God, not unto us, but to
Thy name be all the praise. I am in this Thy servant; let all the
gain be Thine." In great and eminent actions let there be a
special and peculiar act of resignation or oblation made to God;
and in smaller and more frequent actions fail not to secure a pious
habitual intention.' And so on. And above all, I will add, labour
and pray till you feel in your heart that you love God with a
supreme and an ever-growing love. And, far as that may be above
you as yet, impress your heart with the assurance that such a love
is possible to you also, and that you can never be safe or happy
till you attain to that love. Other men once as far from the
supreme love of God as you are have afterwards attained to it; and
so will you if you continue to set it before yourself. Think often
on God; read the best books about God; call continually upon God;
hold an intimate communion with God, till you feel that you also
actually and certainly love God. And though you begin with loving
God because He first loved you, you will, beginning with that, rise
far above that till you come to love Him for what He is in Himself
as well as for what He has done for you. 'I have done this in
order to have a seat in the Academy,' said a young man, handing the
solution of a problem to an old philosopher. 'Sir,' was the reply,
'with such dispositions you will never earn a seat there. Science
must be loved for its own sake, and not for any advantage to be
derived from it.' And much more is that true of the highest of all
the sciences, the knowledge and the love of God. Love Him, then,
till you arrive at loving Him for Himself, and then you shall be
for ever delivered from all self-love and by-ends, and shall both
glorify and enjoy God for ever. As all they now do who engaged
their hearts on earth to the service and the love and the enjoyment
of God is such psalms and prayers as these: 'Whom have I in heaven
but Thee? and there is no one on earth that I desire beside Thee.
How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! The children of men
shall put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. For with Thee
is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light. As
for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be
satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness. Thou wilt show me the
path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy, and at Thy right
hand there are pleasures for evermore.'


'A wounded spirit who can bear?'--Solomon.

Every schoolboy has Giant Despair by heart. The rough road after
the meadow of lilies, the stile into By-Path-Meadow, the night
coming on, the thunder and the lightning and the waters rising
amain, Giant Despair's apprehension of Christian and Hopeful, their
dreadful bed in his dungeon from Wednesday morning till Saturday
night, how they were famished with hunger and beaten with a
grievous crab-tree cudgel till they were not able to turn, with
many other sufferings too many and too terrible to be told which
they endured till Saturday about midnight, when they began to pray,
and continued in prayer till almost break of day;--John Bunyan is
surely the best story-teller in all the world. And, then, over and
above that, as often as a boy reads Giant Despair and his dungeon
to his father and mother, the two hearers are like Christian and
Hopeful when the Delectable shepherds showed them what had happened
to some who once went in at By-Path stile: the two pilgrims looked
one upon another with tears gushing out, but yet said nothing to
the shepherds.

John Bunyan's own experience enters deeply into these terrible
pages. In composing these terrible pages, Bunyan writes straight
and bold out of his own heart and conscience. The black and bitter
essence of a whole black and bitter volume is crushed into these
four or five bitter pages. Last week I went over Grace Abounding
again, and marked the passages in which its author describes his
own experiences of doubt, diffidence, and despair, till I gave over
counting the passages, they are so many. I had intended to
illustrate the passage before us to-night out of the kindred
materials that I knew were so abundant in Bunyan's terrible
autobiography, but I had to give up that idea. It would have taken
two or three lectures to itself to tell all that Bunyan suffered
all his life long from an easily-wounded spirit. The whole book is
just Giant Despair and his dungeon, with a gleam here and there of
that sunshiny weather that threw the giant into one of his fits, in
which he always lost for the time the use of his limbs. Return
often, my brethren, to that masterpiece, Grace Abounding to the
Chief of Sinners. I have read it a hundred times, but last week it
was as fresh and powerful and consoling as ever to my sin-wounded

Let me select some of the incidents that offer occasion for a
comment or two.

1. And, in the first place, take notice, and lay well to heart,
how sudden, and almost instantaneous, is the fall of Christian and
Hopeful from the very gate of heaven to the very gate of hell. All
the Sabbath and the Monday and the Tuesday before that fatal
Wednesday, the two pilgrims had walked with great delight on the
banks of a very pleasant river; that river, in fact, which David
the King called the river of God, and John, the river of the water
of life. They drank also of the water of the river, which was
pleasant and enlivening to their weary spirits. On either side of
the river was there a meadow curiously beautified with lilies, and
it was green all the year long. In this meadow they lay down and
slept, for here they might lie down and sleep safely. When they
awoke they gathered again of the fruits of the trees, and drank
again of the water of the river, and then lay down again to sleep.
Thus they did several days and nights. Now, could you have
believed it that two such men as our pilgrims were could be in the
enjoyment of all that the first half of the week, and then by their
own doing should be in Giant Despair's deepest dungeon before the
end of the same week? And yet so it was. And all that is written
for the solemn warning of those who are at any time in great
enlargement and refreshment and joy in their spiritual life. It is
intended for all those who are at any time revelling in a season of
revival: those, for example, who are just come home from Keswick
or Dunblane, as well as for all those who at home have just made
the discovery of some great master of the spiritual life, and who
are almost beside themselves with their delight in their divine
author. If they are new beginners they will not take this warning
well, nor will even all old pilgrims lay it aright to heart; but
there it is as plain as the plainest, simplest, and most practical
writer in our language could put it.

Behold ye how these crystal streams do glide
To comfort pilgrims by the highway side;
The meadows green, besides their fragrant smell,
Yield dainties for them: And he that can tell
What pleasant fruits, yea leaves, these trees do yield,
Will soon sell all that he may buy this field.

Thus the two pilgrims sang: only, adds our author in a
parenthesis, they were not, as yet, at their journey's end.

2. 'Now, I beheld in my dream that they had not journeyed far when
the river and the way for a time parted. At which the two pilgrims
were not a little sorry.' The two pilgrims could not perhaps be
expected to break forth into dancing and singing at the parting of
the river and the way, even though they had recollected at that
moment what the brother of the Lord says about our counting it all
joy when we fall into divers temptations. But it would not have
been too much to expect from such experienced pilgrims as they by
this time were, that they should have suspected and checked and
commanded their sorrow. They should have said something like this
to one another: Well, it would have been very pleasant had it been
our King's will and way with us that we should have finished the
rest of our pilgrimage among the apples and the lilies and on the
soft and fragrant bank of the river; but we believe that it must in
some as yet hidden way be better for us that the river and our road
should part from one another at least for a season. Come, brother,
and let us go on till we find out our Master's deep and loving
mind. But, instead of saying that, Christian and Hopeful soon
became like the children of Israel as they journeyed from Mount
Hor, their soul was much discouraged because of the way. And
always as they went on they wished for a softer and a better way.
And it was so that they very soon came to the very thing they so
much wished for. For, what is that on the left hand of the hard
road but a stile, and over the stile a meadow as soft to the feet
as the meadow of lilies itself? ''Tis just according to my wish,'
said Christian; 'here is the easiest going. Come, good Hopeful,
and let us go over.' Hopeful: 'But how if the path should lead us
out of the way?' 'That's not like,' said the other; 'look, doth it
not go along by the wayside?' So Hopeful, being persuaded by his
fellow, went after him over the stile.

Call to mind, all you who are delivered and restored pilgrims, that
same stile that once seduced you. To keep that stile ever before
you is at once a safe and a seemly occupation of mind for any one
who has made your mistakes and come through your chastisements.
Christian's eyes all his after-days filled with tears, and he
turned away his face and blushed scarlet, as often as he suddenly
came upon any opening in a wall at all like that opening he here
persuaded Hopeful to climb through. It is too much to expect that
those who are just mounting the stile, and have just caught sight
of the smooth path beyond it, will let themselves be pulled back
into the hard and narrow way by any persuasion of ours. Christian
put down Hopeful's objection till Hopeful broke out bitterly when
the thunder was roaring over his head and he was wading about among
the dark waters: 'Oh that I had kept myself in my way!' Are you a
little sorry to-night that the river and the way are parting in
your life? Is your soul discouraged in you because of the soreness
of the way? And as you go do you still wish for some better way
than the strait way? And have you just espied a stile on the left
hand of your narrow and flinty path, and on looking over it is
there a pleasant meadow? And does your companion point out to your
satisfaction, and, almost to your good conscience, that the soft
road runs right along the hard road, only over the stile and
outside the fence? Then, good-bye. For it is all over with you.
We shall meet you again, please God; but when we meet you again,
your mind and memory will be full of shame and remorse and
suffering enough to keep you in songs of repentance for all the
rest of your life on earth. Farewell!

The Pilgrims now, to gratify the flesh,
Will seek its ease; but oh! how they afresh
Do thereby plunge themselves new grieves into:
Who seek to please the flesh themselves undo.

3. The two transgressors had not gone far on their own way when
night came on and with the night a very great darkness. But what
soon added to the horror of their condition was that they heard a
man fall into a deep pit right before them, and it sounded to them
as if he was dashed to pieces by his fall. So they called to know
the matter, but there was none to answer, only they heard a
groaning. Then said Hopeful: Where are we now? Then was his
fellow silent, as mistrusting that he had led Hopeful out of the
way. Now, all that also is true to the very life, and has been
taken down by Bunyan from the very life. We have all heard men
falling and heard them groaning just a little before us after we
had left the strait road. They had just gone a little farther
wrong than we had as yet gone,--just a very little farther; in some
cases, indeed, not so far, when they fell and were dashed to pieces
with their fall. It was well for us at that dreadful moment that
we heard the same voice saying to us for our encouragement as said
to the two trembling transgressors: 'Let thine heart be toward the
highway, even the way that thou wentest; turn again.' Now, what is
it in which you are at this moment going off the right road? What
is that life of disobedience or self-indulgence that you are just
entering on? Keep your ears open and you will hear hundreds of men
and women falling and being dashed to pieces before you and all
around you. Are you falling of late too much under the power of
your bodily appetites? It is not one man, nor two, well known to
you, who have fallen never to rise again out of that horrible pit.
Are you well enough aware that you are being led into bad company?
Or, is your companion, who is not a bad man in anything else,
leading you, in this and in that, into what at any rate is bad for
you? You will soon, unless you cut off your companion like a right
hand, be found saying with misguided and overruled Hopeful: Oh
that I had kept me to my right way! And so on in all manner of sin
and trespass. Those who have ears to hear such things hear every
day one man after another falling through lust or pride or malice
or idleness or infidelity, till there is none to answer.

4. 'All hope abandon' was the writing that Dante read over the
door of hell. And the two prisoners all but abandoned all hope
when they found themselves in Giant Despair's dungeon. Only,
Christian, the elder man, had the most distress because their being
where they now were lay mostly at his door. All this part of the
history also is written in Bunyan's very heart's blood. 'I found
it hard work,' he tells us of himself, 'to pray to God because
despair was swallowing me up. I thought I was as with a tempest
driven away from God. About this time I did light on that dreadful
story of that miserable mortal, Francis Spira, a book that was to
my troubled spirit as salt when rubbed into a fresh wound; every
groan of that man with all the rest of his actions in his dolours,
as his tears, his prayers, his gnashing of teeth, his wringing of
hands, was as knives and daggers in my soul, especially that
sentence of his was frightful to me: "Man knows the beginning of
sin, but who bounds the issues thereof?"' We never read anything
like Spira's experience and Grace Abounding and Giant Despair's
dungeon in the books of our day. And why not, do you think? Is
there less sin among us modern men, or did such writers as John
Bunyan overdraw and exaggerate the sinfulness of sin? Were they
wrong in holding so fast as they did hold that death and hell are
the sure wages of sin? Has divine justice become less fearful than
it used to be to those who rush against it, or is it that we are so
much better men? Is our faith stronger and more victorious over
doubt and fear? Is it that our hope is better anchored? Whatever
the reason is, there can be no question but that we walk in a
liberty that our fathers did not always walk in. Whether or no our
liberty is not recklessness and licentiousness is another matter.
Whether or no it would be a better sign of us if we were better
acquainted with doubt and dejection and diffidence, and even
despair, is a question it would only do us good to put to
ourselves. When we properly attend to these matters we shall find
out that, the holier a man is, the more liable he is to the
assaults of doubt and fear and even despair. We have whole psalms
of despair, so deep was David's sense of sin, so high were his
views of God's holiness and justice, and so full of diffidence was
his wounded heart. And David's Son, when our sin was laid upon
Him, felt the curse and the horror of His state so much that His
sweat was in drops of blood, and His cry in the darkness was that
His God had forsaken Him. And when our spirits are wounded with
our sins, as the spirits of all God's great saints have always been
wounded, we too shall feel ourselves more at home with David and
with Asaph, with Spira even, and with Bunyan. Despair is not good,
but it is infinitely better than indifference. 'It is a common
saying,' says South, 'and an observation in divinity, that where
despair has slain its thousands, presumption has slain its ten
thousands. The agonies of the former are indeed more terrible, but
the securities of the latter are far more fatal.'

5. 'I will,' says Paul to Timothy, 'that men pray everywhere,
lifting up holy hands without doubting.' And, just as Paul would
have it, Christian and Hopeful began to lift up their hands even in
the dungeon of Doubting Castle. 'Well,' we read, 'on Saturday
night about midnight they began to pray, and continued in prayer
till almost break of day. Now, before it was day, good Christian,
as one half amazed, broke out in this passionate speech: "What a
fool," quoth he, "am I thus to lie in a stinking dungeon when I may
as well walk at liberty; I have a key in my bosom, called Promise,
that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in all Doubting Castle."
Then said Hopeful: "That's good news, good brother; pluck it out
of thy bosom and try."' Then Christian pulled the key out of his
bosom and the bolt gave back, and Christian and Hopeful both came
out, and you may be sure they were soon out of the giant's

Now, I do not know that I can do better at this point, and in
closing, than just to tell you about some of that bunch of keys
that John Bunyan found from time to time in his own bosom, and
which made all his prison doors one after another fly open at their
touch. 'About ten o'clock one day, as I was walking under a hedge,
full of sorrow and guilt, God knows, and bemoaning myself for my
hard hap, suddenly this sentence bolted in upon me: The blood of
Christ remits all guilt. Again, when I was fleeing from the face
of God, for I did flee from His face, that is, my mind and spirit
fled before Him; for by reason of His highness I could not endure;
then would the text cry: Return unto Me; it would cry with a very
great voice: Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. And this
would make me look over my shoulder behind me to see if I could
discern that this God of grace did follow me with a pardon in His
hand. Again, the next day, at evening, being under many fears, I
went to seek the Lord, and as I prayed, I cried, with strong cries:
O Lord, I beseech Thee, show me that Thou hast loved me with an
everlasting love. I had no sooner said it but, with sweetness,
this returned upon me as an echo or sounding-again, I have loved
thee with an everlasting love. Now, I went to bed at quiet; also,
when I awaked the next morning it was fresh upon my soul and I
believed it . . . Again, as I was then before the Lord, that
Scripture fastened on my heart: O man, great is thy faith, even as
if one had clapped me on the back as I was on my knees before God .
. . At another time I remember I was again much under this
question: Whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my
soul? In which doubt I continued from morning till about seven or
eight at night, and at last, when I was, as it were, quite worn out
with fear, these words did sound suddenly within my heart: He is
able. Methought this word ABLE was spoke so loud unto me and gave
such a justle to my fear and doubt as I never had all my life
either before that or after . . . Again, one morning, when I was at
prayer and trembling under fear, that piece of a sentence dashed in
upon me: My grace is sufficient. At this, methought: Oh, how
good a thing it is for God to send His word! . . . Again, one day
as I was in a meeting of God's people, full of sadness and terror,
for my fears were again strong upon me, and as I was thinking that
my soul was never the better, these words did with great power
suddenly break in upon me: My grace is sufficient for thee, My
grace is sufficient for thee, three times together; and, oh!
methought that every word was a mighty word unto me; as MY, and
GRACE, and SUFFICIENT, and FOR THEE. These words were then, and
sometimes still are, far bigger words than others are. Again, one
day as I was passing in the field, and that, too, with some dashes
in my conscience, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul: Thy
righteousness is in heaven. And methought withal I saw, with the
eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God's right hand. I saw also,
moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my
righteousness better, nor my bad frame that made my righteousness
worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever . . . Again, oh, what did I see in
that blessed sixth of John: Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise
cast out. I should in those days often flounce toward that promise
as horses do toward sound ground that yet stick in the mire. Oh!
many a pull hath my heart had with Satan for this blessed sixth of
John . . . And, again, as I was thus in a muse, that Scripture also
came with great power upon my spirit: Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He
saved us. Now was I got on high: I saw my self within the arms of
Grace and Mercy, and though I was before afraid to think of a dying
hour, yet now I cried: Let me die. Now death was lovely and
beautiful in my sight; for I saw that we shall never live indeed
till we be gone to the other world. Heirs of God, methought, heirs
of God! God himself is the portion of His saints. This did
sweetly revive my spirit, and help me to hope in God; which when I
had with comfort mused on a while, that word fell with great weight
upon my mind: Oh Death, where is thy sting? Oh Grave, where is
thy victory? At this I became both well in body and mind at once,
for my sickness did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably in
my work for God again.'

Such were some of the many keys by the use of which God let John
Bunyan so often out of despair into full assurance and out of

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest