Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, , at sacred-texts.com
Section IX. So they went on, and Ignorance followed. They went then till they came at a place where they saw a way put itself into their way, and seemed withal to lie as straight as the way which they should go: and here they knew not which of the two to take, for both seemed straight before them; therefore here they stool still to consider. And as they were thinking about the way, behold a man black, of flesh, but covered with a very light Robe, came to them, and asked them why they stood there? They answered they were going to the Coelestial City, but knew not which of these ways to take. Follow me, said the man, it is thither that I am going. So they followed him in the way that but now came into the road, which by degrees turned, and turned them so from the City that they desired to go to, that in little time their faces were turned away from it: yet they followed him. But by-and-by, before they were aware, he led them both within the compass of a Net, in which they were both so intangled, that they knew not what to do; and with that the white Robe fell off the black man's back: then they saw where they were. Wherefore there they lay crying some time, for they could not get themselves out. Chr. Then said Christian to his fellow, Now do I see myself in an error. Did not the Shepherds bid us beware of the flatterers? As is the saying of the Wise man, so we have found it this day, A man that flattereth his Neighbour, spreadeth a Net for his feet. Hope. They also gave us a Note of directions about the way, for our more sure finding thereof; but therein we have also forgotten to read, and have not kept ourselves from the paths of the destroyer. Here David was wiser than we; for saith he, Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Thus they lay bewailing themselves in the Net. At last they espied a Shining One coming towards them with a Whip of small cord in his hand. When he was come to the place where they were, he asked them whence they came? and what they did there? They told him that they were poor Pilgrims going to Sion, but were led out of their way by a black man, cloathed in white, who bid us, said they, follow him, for he was going thither too. Then said he with the Whip, It is Flatterer, a false Apostle, that hath transformed himself into an Angel of Light. So he rent the Net, and let the men out. Then said he to them, Follow me, that I may set you in your way again: so he led them back to the way which they had left to follow the Flatterer. Then he asked them, saying, Where did you lie the last night? They said, With the Shepherds upon the Delectable Mountains. He asked them then, If they had not of those Shepherds a Note of direction for the way? They answered, Yes. But did you, said he, when you were at a stand pluck out and read your Note? They answered, No. He asked them, Why? They said they forgot. He asked moreover, If the Shepherds did not bid them beware of the Flatterer? They answered, Yes; but we did not imagine, said they, that this fine-spoken man had been he. Then I saw in my Dream, that he commanded them to lie down; which when they did, he chastised them sore, to teach them the good way wherein they should walk; and as he chastised them he said, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. This done, he bid them go on their way, and take good heed to the other directions of the Shepherds. So they thanked him for all his kindness, and went softly along the right way, singing, Come hither, you that walk along the way, See how the Pilgrims fare that go astray; They catched are in an intangling Net, 'Cause they good Counsel lightly did forget; 'Tis true they rescu'd were, but yet you see They're scourg'd to boot: Let this your caution be. Now after a while, they perceived afar off one coming softly and alone all along the High-way to meet them. Then said Christian to his fellow, Yonder is a man with his back toward Sion, and he is coming to meet us. Hope. I see him, let us take heed to ourselves now, lest he should prove a Flatterer also. So he drew nearer and nearer, and at last came up unto them. His name was Atheist, and he asked them whither they were going. Chr. We are going to the Mount Sion. Then Atheist fell into a very great Laughter. Chr. What is the meaning of your Laughter? Atheist. I laugh to see what ignorant persons you are, to take upon you so tedious a Journey, and you are like to have nothing but your travel for your pains. Chr. Why man? Do you think we shall not be received? Atheist. Recepved! There is no such place as you dream of in all this World. Chr. But there is in the World to come. Atheist. When I was at home in mine own Country, I heard as you now affirm, and from that hearing went out to see, and have been seeking this City this twenty years; but find no more of it than I did the first day I set out. Chr. We have both heard and believe that there is such a place to be found. Atheist. Had not I when at home believed, I had not come thus far to seek; but finding none, (and yet I should, had there been such a place to be found, for I have gone to seek it further than you) I am going back again, and will seek to refresh myself with the things that I then cast away, for hopes of that which I now see is not. Chr. Then said Christian to Hopeful his fellow, Is it true which this man hath said? Hope. Take heed, he is one of the Flatterers; remember what it hath cost us once already for our hearkening to such kind of fellows. What! no Mount Sion? Did we not see from the Delectable Mountains the Gate of the City? Also, are we not now to walk by Faith. Let us go on, said Hopeful, lest the man with the Whip overtake us again. You should have taught me that lesson, which I will round you in the ears withal: Cease, my Son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. I say my Brother, cease to hear him, and let us believe to the saving of the Soul. Chr. My Brother, I did not put the question to thee for that I doubted of the Truth of our belief myself, but to prove thee, and to fetch from thee a fruit of the honesty of thy heart. As for this man, I know that he is blinded by the god of this World. Let thee and I go on, knowing that we have belief of the Truth, and no lie is of the Truth. Hope. Now do I rejoice in hope of the glory of God. So they turned away from the man; and he laughing at them went his way. I saw then in my Dream, that they went till they come into a certain Country, whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull and heavy of sleep; wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes, let us lie down here and take one nap. Chr. By no means, said the other, lest sleeping we never awake more. Hope. Why my Brother? Sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap. Chr. Do you not remember that one of the Shepherds bid us beware of the Inchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober. Hope. I acknowledge myself in a fault, and had I been here alone I had by sleeping run the danger of death. I see it is true that the Wise man saith, Two are better than one. Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy, and thou shalt have a good reward for thy labour. Now then, said Christian, to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse. Hope. With all my heart, said the other. Chr. Where shall we begin? Hope. Where God began with us. But do you begin, if you please. Chr. I will sing you first this song: When Saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither, And hear how these two Pilgrims talk together: Yea, let them learn of them in any wise, Thus to keep ope their drowsy, slumbring eyes. Saints' fellowship, if it be managed well, Keeps them awake, and that in spite of Hell. Chr. Then Christian began and said, I will ask you a question: How came you to think at first of doing as you do now? Hope. Do you mean, how came I at first to look after the good of my soul? Chr. Yes, that is my meaning. Hope. I continued a great while in the delight of those things which were seen and sold at our Fair; things which I believe now would have (had I continued in them still) drowned me in perdition and destruction. Chr. What things were they? Hope. All the Treasures and Riches of the World. Also I delighted much in Rioting, Revelling, Drinking, Swearing, Lying, Uncleanness, Sabbath - breaking, and what not, that tended to destroy the Soul. But I found at last, by hearing and considering of things that are Divine, which indeed I heard of you, as also of beloved Faithful, that was put to death for his faith and good living in Vanity Fair, That the end of these things is death. And that for these things' sake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. Chr. And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction? Hope. No, I was not willing presently to know the evil of sin, nor the damnation that follows upon the commission of it; but endeavoured, when my mind at first began to be shaken with the Word, to shut mine eyes against the light thereof. Chr. But what was the cause of your carrying of it thus to the first workings of God's blessed Spirit upon you? Hope. The causes were, 1. I was ignorant that this was the work of God upon me. I never thought that by awakenings for sin God at first begins the conversion of a sinner. 2. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loth to leave it. 3. I could not tell how to part with mine old Companions, their presence and actions were so desirable unto me. 4. The hours in which convictions were upon me, were such troublesome and such heart-affrighting hours, that I could not bear, no not so much as the remembrance of them upon my heart. Chr. Then as it seems, sometimes you got rid of your trouble. Hope. Yes verily, but it would come into my mind again, and then I should be as bad, nay worse, than I was before. Chr. Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again? Hope. Many things; as 1. If I did but meet a good man in the Streets; or, 2. If I have heard any read in the Bible; or, 3. If mine Head did begin to ake; or, 4. If I were told that some of my Neighbors were sick; or, 5. If I heard the Bell toll for some that were dead; or, 6. If I thought of Dying myself; or, 7. If I heard that sudden Death happened to others; 8. But especially, when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to Judgment. Chr. And could you at any time with ease get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you? Hope. No, not latterly, for then they got faster hold of my conscience; and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned against it) it would be double torment to me. Chr. And how did you do then? Hope. I thought I must endeavour to mend my life; for else, thought I, I am sure to be damned. Chr. And did you endeavour to mend? Hope. Yes, and fled from not only my sins, but sinful Company too; and betook me to religious duties, as Prayer, Reading, Weeping for Sin, speaking Truth to my Neighbors, &c. These things did I, with many others, too much here to relate. Chr. And did you think yourself well then? Hope. Yes, for a while; but at the last my trouble came tumbling upon me again, and that over the neck of all my reformations. Chr. How came that about, since you were now reformed? Hope. There were several things brought it upon me, especially such sayings as these: All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. By the works of the Law no man shall be justified. When you have done all things, says, We are unprofitable: with many more such like. From whence I began to reason with myself thus: If all my righteousnesses are filthy rags, if by the deeds of the Law, no man can be justified; and if, when we have done all, we are yet unprofitable, then 'tis but a folly to think of Heaven by the Law. I further thought thus: If a man runs i001. into the Shop-keeper's debt, and after that shall pay for all that he shall fetch; yet his old debt stands still in the Book uncrossed, for the which the Shop-keeper may sue him, and cast him into Prison till he shall pay the debt. Chr. Well, and how did you apply this to yourself? Hope. Why, I thought thus with myself: I have by my sins run a great way into God's Book, and that my now reforming will not pay off that score; therefore I should think still under all my present amendments, But how shall I be freed from that damnation that I have brought myself in danger of by my former transgressions? Chr. A very good application: but pray go on. Hope. Another thing that hath troubled me, even since my late amendments, is, that if I look narrowly into the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of that I do; so that now I am forced to conclude, that notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to Hell, though my former life had been faultless. Chr. And what did you do then? Hope. Do! I could not tell what to do, till I brake my mind to Faithful, for he and I were well acquainted. And he told me, that unless I could obtain the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither mine own, nor all the righteousness of the world could save me. Chr. And did you think he spake true? Hope. Had he told me so when I was pleased and satisfied with mine own amendments, I had called him Fool for his pains: but now, since I see mine own infirmity, and the sin that cleaves to my best performance, I have been forced to be of his opinion. Chr. But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said. That he never committed sin? Hope. I must confess the words at first sounded strangely; but after a little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it. Chr. And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified by him? Hope. Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the right hand of the Most High. And thus, said he, you must be justified by him, even by trusting to what he hath done by himself in the days of his flesh, and suffered when he did hang on the Tree. I asked him further, How that man's righteousness could be of that efficacy to justify another before God? And he told me he was the mighty God, and did what he did, and died the death also, not for himself, but for me; to whom his doings; and the worthiness of them should be imputed, if I believed on him. Chr. And what did you do then? Hope. I made my objections against my believing, for that I thought he was not willing to save me. Chr. And what said Faithful to you then? Hope. He bid me go to him and see: then I said it was presumption: but he said, No, for I was invited to come. Then he gave me a Book of Jesus his inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said concerning that Book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than Heaven and Earth. Then I asked him, What I must do when I came? and he told me, I must entreat upon my knees with all my heart and soul, the Father to reveal him to me. Then I asked him further, How I must make my supplication to him? And he said, Go, and thou shalt find him upon a mercy-seat, where he sits all the year long, to give pardon and forgiveness to them that come. I told him that I knew not what to say when I came. And he bid me say to this effect: God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness. I am utterly cast away: Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am, (and I am a sinner indeed) Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy grace in the Salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen. Chr. And did you do as you were bidden? Hope. Yes, over and over and over. Chr. And did the Father reveal his Son to you? Hope. Not at the first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, no nor at the sixth time neither. Chr. What did you do then? Hope. What! why I could not tell what to do. Chr. Had you not thought of leaving off praying? Hope. Yes, an hundred times twice told. Chr. And what was the reason you did not? Hope. I believed that that was true which had been told me, to wit, that without the righteousness of this Christ all the world could not save me; and therefore thought I with myself, If I leave off, I die, and can but die at the Throne of Grace. And withal, this came into my mind, If it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry. So I continued praying until the Father shewed me his Son. Chr. And how was he revealed unto you? Hope. I did not see him with my bodily eyes, but with the eyes of mine understanding; and thus it was: One day I was very sad, I think sadder than at any one time in my life, and this sadness was through a fresh sight of the greatness and vileness of my sins: and as I was then looking for nothing but Hell, and the everlasting damnation of my Soul, suddenly, as I thought, I saw the Lord Jesus look down from Heaven upon me, and saying, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. But I replied, Lord, I am a great, a very great sinner. And he answered My grace is sufficient for thee. Then I said, But Lord, what is believing? And then I saw from that saying, He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst, that believing and coming was all one; and that he that came, that, is, ran out in his heart and affections after salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ. Then the water stood in mine eyes, and I asked further, But Lord, may such a great sinner as I am be indeed accepted of thee, and be saved by thee? And I heard him say, And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Then I said, But how, Lord, must I consider of thee in my coming to thee, that my faith may be placed aright upon thee? Then he said, Christ Jesus came into the World to save sinners. He is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believes. He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. He loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. He is Mediator between God and us. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. From all which I gathered, that I must look for Righteousness in his Person, and for Satisfaction for my sins by his Blood; that what he did in obedience to his Father's Law, and in submitting to the penalty thereof, was not for himself, but for him that will accept it for his Salvation, and be thankful. And now was my heart full of joy, mine eyes full of tears, and mine affections running over with love to the Name, People, and Ways of Jesus Christ. Chr. this was revelation of Christ to your soul indeed; but tell me particularly what effect this had upon your spirit. Hope. It made me see that all the World, notwithstanding all the righteousness thereof, is in a state of condemnation. It made me see that God the Father, though he be just, can justly justify the coming sinner. It made me greatly ashamed of the vileness of my former life, and confounded me with the sense of mine own ignorance; for there never came thought into my heart before now, that shewed me so the beauty of Jesus Christ. It made me love a holy life, and long to do something for the Honour and Glory of the Name of the Lord Jesus yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.