Pilgrims Progress

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Mr. Worldly Wiseman

Now as CHRISTIAN was walking solitarily by himself, he spied one afar off come crossing over the field to meet him and their hap was to meet just as they were crossing the way of each other. The gentleman’s name that met him was Mr. WORLDLY WISEMAN: he dwelt in the town of Carnal Policy; a very great town, and also hard by from whence CHRISTIAN came. This man, then, meeting with CHRISTIAN, and having some inkling of him—for CHRISTIAN’S setting forth from the city of Destruction was much noised abroad, not only in the town where he dwelt, but also it began to be the town talk in some other places—Master WORLDLY WISEMAN, therefore, having some guess of him, by beholding his laborious going, by observing his sighs and groans and the like, began thus to enter into some talk with CHRISTIAN.

Worldly Wiseman. How now, good fellow?—whither away after this burdened manner?

Christian. A burdened manner indeed, as ever, I think, poor creature had! And whereas you asked me, Whither away? I tell you, sir, I am going to yonder wicket gate before me; for there, as I am informed, I shall be put into a way to be rid of my heavy burden.

Worldly Wiseman. Hast thou a wife and children?

Christian. Yes; but I am so laden with this burden, that I cannot take that pleasure in them as formerly: I think I am as if I had none (1 Cor 7:29).

Worldly Wiseman. Will you listen to me, if I give thee counsel?

Christian. If it be good, I will; for I stand in need of good counsel.

Worldly  Wiseman. I would advise you, then, that you with all speed get yourself rid of your burden: for you will never be settled in your mind till then: nor can you enjoy the benefits of the blessing which God has bestowed upon you till then.

Christian. That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden: but get it off myself I cannot; nor is there any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders. Therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of my burden.

Worldly Wiseman. Who bade you go this way to be rid of your burden?

Christian. A man that appeared to me to be a very great and honourable person; his name, as I remember, is EVANGELIST.

Worldly Wiseman. Avoid him for his counsel! There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than is that unto which he hath directed you; and that you shall find if thou will be ruled by his counsel. You have met with something, as I perceive already; for I see the dirt of the Slough of Despond upon you; but that slough is the only beginning of the sorrows that do attend those that go on in that way. Hear me—I am older than you: you are likely to meet with, in the way which you are going, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and what not! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should a man so carelessly cast away himself by giving heed to a stranger?

Christian. Why, sir, this burden upon my back is more terrible to me than are all these things which you have mentioned: no, I think I care not what I meet with in the way, if so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden.

Worldly Wiseman. How did you come by your burden at first?

Christian. By reading this book in my hand.

Worldly Wiseman. I thought so. And it has happened unto you as to other weak men, who, meddling with things too high for them, do suddenly fall into your distractions; which distractions do not only unman men (as yours I perceive has done to you), but they run them upon desperate ventures, to obtain they know not what.

Christian. I know what I would obtain; it is ease for my heavy burden.

Worldly Wiseman. But why will you seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? Especially since, if you had but patience to hear me, I could direct you to the obtaining of what you desire without the dangers that you, in this way, will run yourself into. Yea, and the remedy is at hand. Besides, I will add, that instead of those dangers, you will meet with much safety, friendship, and content.

Christian. Sir, I pray, open this secret to me.

Worldly Wiseman. Why, in yonder village (the village is named Morality) there dwells a gentleman whose name is LEGALITY, a very judicious man, and a man of a very good name, that has skill to help men off with such burdens as you have from their shoulders; yea, to my knowledge, he hath done a great deal of good this way: aye, and besides, he has skill to cure those that are somewhat crazed in their wits with their burdens. To him, as I said, you may go, and be helped presently. His house is not quite a mile from this place; and if he should not be at home himself, he hath a pretty young man, his son, whose name is CIVILITY, that can do it as well as the old gentleman himself. There, I say, you may be eased of your burden; and if you are not minded to go back to your former habitation, as indeed I would not wish you to, you may send for your wife and children to come to you to this village, where there are houses now stand empty, one of which you may have at reasonable rates: provision is there also cheap and good; and that which will make your life the more happy is there to be sure, for you shall live by honest neighbours, in credit and good fashion.

Now was CHRISTIAN somewhat at a stand; but presently he concluded, "If this be true what this gentleman has said, my wisest course is to take his advice;" and with that he thus further spoke.

Christian. Sir, which is my way to this honest man’s house?

Worldly Wiseman. Do you see yonder high hill? (Mount Sinai.)

Christian. Yes, very well.

Worldly Wiseman. By that hill you must go, and the first house you come to is his.

So CHRISTIAN turned out of his way to go to Mr. LEGALITY’S house for help. But, behold, when he was hard by the hill, it seemed so high, and also the side of it that was next to the wayside did hang so much over, that CHRISTIAN was afraid to venture farther, lest the hill should fall on his head; wherefore there he stood still, and did not what to do. Also his burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way. There came also flashes of fire out of the hill, that made CHRISTIAN afraid that he should be burned (Ex 19:16-18): here, therefore, he sweat and did quake for fear (Heb 12:21). And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. WORLDLY WISEMAN’S counsel. And with that he saw EVANGELIST coming to meet him; at the sight also of whom he began to blush for shame. So EVANGELIST drew nearer and nearer; and coming up to him, he looked upon him with a severe and dreadful countenance, and thus began to reason with CHRISTIAN.