(Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress. part 11)
"Behold, I am at the point to die, (said he), and what profit
shall this birthright do me?" [Gen. 25:32] But Little-faith,
though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by his
little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and prize
his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright.
You read not anywhere that Esau had faith, no,
not so much as a little; therefore, no marvel if, where the flesh only
bears sway, (as it will in that man where no faith is to resist),
if he sells his birthright, and his soul and all, and that to
the devil of hell; for it is with such, as it is with the ass,
who in her occasions cannot be turned away. [Jer. 2:24]
When their minds are set upon their lusts, they will have them
whatever they cost.
But Little-faith was of another temper, his mind was on things divine;
his livelihood was upon things that were spiritual, and from above;
therefore, to what end should he that is of such a temper
sell his jewels (had there been any that would have bought them)
to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a penny to fill his belly
with hay; or can you persuade the turtle-dove to live upon carrion
like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for carnal lusts, pawn,
or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves outright to boot;
yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a little of it,
cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy mistake.
HOPE. I acknowledge it; but yet your severe reflection
had almost made me angry.
CHR. Why, I did but compare thee to some of the birds that are
of the brisker sort, who will run to and fro in untrodden paths,
with the shell upon their heads; but pass by that, and consider
the matter under debate, and all shall be well betwixt thee and me.
HOPE. But, Christian, these three fellows, I am persuaded in my heart,
are but a company of cowards; would they have run else, think you,
as they did, at the noise of one that was coming on the road?
Why did not Little-faith pluck up a greater heart? He might, methinks,
have stood one brush with them, and have yielded when
there had been no remedy.
CHR. That they are cowards, many have said, but few have found it so
in the time of trial. As for a great heart, Little-faith had none;
and I perceive by thee, my brother, hadst thou been the man concerned,
thou art but for a brush, and then to yield.
And, verily, since this is the height of thy stomach,
now they are at a distance from us, should they appear to thee
as they did to him they might put thee to second thoughts.
But, consider again, they are but journeymen thieves,
they serve under the king of the bottomless pit, who, if need be,
will come into their aid himself, and his voice is as
the roaring of a lion. [1 Pet. 5:8] I myself have been engaged
as this Little-faith was, and I found it a terrible thing.
These three villains set upon me, and I beginning, like a Christian,
to resist, they gave but a call, and in came their master. I would,
as the saying is, have given my life for a penny, but that,
as God would have it, I was clothed with armour of proof.
Ay, and yet, though I was so harnessed, I found it hard work
to quit myself like a man. No man can tell what in that combat
attends us, but he that hath been in the battle himself.
HOPE. Well, but they ran, you see, when they did but suppose
that one Great-grace was in the way.
CHR. True, they have often fled, both they and their master,
when Great-grace hath but appeared; and no marvel; for he is
the King's champion. But, I trow, you will put some difference betwixt
Little-faith and the King's champion. All the King's subjects are not
his champions, nor can they, when tried, do such feats of war as he.
Is it meet to think that a little child should handle Goliath
as David did? Or that there should be the strength of an ox in a wren?
Some are strong, some are weak; some have great faith, some have little.
This man was one of the weak, and therefore he went to the wall.
HOPE. I would it had been Great-grace for their sakes.
CHR. If it had been, he might have had his hands full;
for I must tell you, that though Great-grace is excellent good
at his weapons, and has, and can, so long as he keeps them
at sword's point, do well enough with them; yet, if they get within him,
even Faint-heart, Mistrust, or the other, it shall go hard
but they will throw up his heels. And when a man is down, you know,
what can he do?
Whoso looks well upon Great-grace's face, shall see those scars
and cuts there, that shall easily give demonstration of what I say.
Yea, once I heard that he should say, (and that when he
was in the combat), "We despaired even of life." How did these
sturdy rogues and their fellows make David groan, mourn, and roar?
Yea, Heman, and Hezekiah, too, though champions in their day,
were forced to bestir them, when by these assaulted; and yet,
notwithstanding, they had their coats soundly brushed by them. Peter,
upon a time, would go try what he could do; but though some do say
of him that he is the prince of the apostles, they handled him so,
that they made him at last afraid of a sorry girl.
Besides, their king is at their whistle. He is never out of hearing;
and if at any time they be put to the worst, he, if possible,
comes in to help them; and of him it is said, The sword of him
that layeth at him cannot hold the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon;
he esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot
make him flee; sling stones are turned with him into stubble.
Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
[Job 41:26-29] What can a man do in this case? It is true, if a man could, at every turn,
have Job's horse, and had skill and courage to ride him,
he might do notable things; for his neck is clothed with thunder,
he will not be afraid of the grasshopper; the glory of his nostrils
is terrible: he paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength,
he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear,
and is not affrighted, neither turneth he back from the sword.
The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear, and the shield.
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage, neither believeth he
that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets,
Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of
the captains, and the shouting. [Job 39:19-25]
But for such footmen as thee and I are, let us never desire to meet with
an enemy, nor vaunt as if we could do better, when we hear of others
that they have been foiled, Nor be tickled at the thoughts
of our own manhood; for such commonly come by the worst when tried.
Witness Peter, of whom I made mention before. He would swagger, ay,
he would; he would, as his vain mind prompted him to say, do better,
and stand more for his Master than all men; but who so foiled,
and run down by these villains, as he?
When, therefore, we hear that such robberies are done on
the King's highway, two things become us to do:
1. To go out harnessed, and to be sure to take a shield with us;
for it was for want of that, that he that laid so lustily at Leviathan
could not make him yield; for, indeed, if that be wanting,
he fears us not at all. Therefore, he that had skill hath said,
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able
to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." [Eph. 6:16]
2. It is good, also, that we desire of the King a convoy,
yea, that he will go with us himself. This made David rejoice
when in the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Moses was rather
for dying where he stood, than to go one step without his God.
[Exo. 33:15] Oh, my brother, if he will but go along with us,
what need we be afraid of ten thousands that shall set themselves
against us? [Ps. 3:5-8, 27:1-3] But, without him, the proud helpers
"fall under the slain". [Isa. 10:4]
I, for my part, have been in the fray before now; and though,
through the goodness of him that is best, I am, as you see, alive,
yet I cannot boast of my manhood. Glad shall I be, if I meet with
no more such brunts; though I fear we are not got beyond all danger.
However, since the lion and the bear have not as yet devoured me,
I hope God will also deliver us from the next uncircumcised Philistine.
Then sang Christian--
Poor Little-faith! Hast been among the thieves?
Wast robb'd? Remember this, whoso believes,
And gets more faith, shall then a victor be
Over ten thousand, else scarce over three.
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 stood 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 Celestial 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 entangled 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 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." [Ps. 17:4] 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 Zion, but were led out of their way by a black man,
clothed 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. [Prov. 29:5, Dan. 11:32, 2 Cor. 11:13,14]
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. [Rom. 16:18]
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 [Deut. 25:2]; and as he chastised them he said,
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore,
and repent." [2 Chron. 6:26,27, Rev. 3:19] 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 entangling net,
'Cause they good counsel lightly did forget:
'Tis true they rescued were, but yet you see,
They're scourged to boot. Let this your caution be.
Now, after a while, they perceived, afar off, one coming softly
and alone, all along the highway to meet them. Then said Christian
to his fellow, Yonder is a man with his back towards Zion,
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 Mount Zion.
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. Received! 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. [Jer. 22:12, Eccl. 10:15]
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 Zion? 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. [2 Cor. 5:7] 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." [Prov. 19:27] I say, my brother, cease to hear him,
and let us "believe to the saving of the soul". [Heb. 10:39]
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". [1 John 2:21]
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 came 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 Enchanted Ground? He meant by that that we should beware
of sleeping; "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others,
but let us watch and be sober." [1 Thess. 5:6]
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. [Eccl. 9:9]
CHR. 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 slumb'ring 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 so 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 are 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".
[Rom.6:21-23] And that for these things' sake "cometh the wrath of God
upon the children of disobedience". [Eph.5:6]
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 loath 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 ache; or,
4. If I were told that some of my neighbours 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 I, 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 neighbours, &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." [Isa. 64:6] "By the works of the law
shall no flesh be justified." [Gal. 2:16] "When ye shall have done
all those things, say, We are unprofitable", [Luke 17:10] 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 it is but a folly to think of heaven
by the law.
I further thought thus: If a man runs a hundred pounds
into the shopkeeper's debt, and after that shall pay for all that he
shall fetch; yet, if this old debt stands still in the book uncrossed,
for that the shopkeeper 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, until I brake my mind
to Faithful, for he and I were well acquainted. And he told me,
(continued in part 12...)