Pilgrims Progress

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The Only Way

Evangelist. "What are you doing here, CHRISTIAN?" said he. At which words CHRISTIAN knew not what to answer; wherefore at present he stood speechless before him. Then said EVANGELIST further, "Are you not the man that I found crying outside the walls of the city of Destruction?"

Christian. Yes, dear sir, I am the man.

Evangelist. Did not I direct you the way to the little Wicket gate?

Christian. "Yes, dear sir," said CHRISTIAN.

Evangelist. How is it, then, that you art so quickly turned aside? for you are now out of the way.

Christian. I met with a gentleman, so soon as I had got over the Slough of Despond, who persuaded me that I might, in the village before me, find a man that could take off my burden.

Evangelist. What was he?

Christian. He looked like a gentleman, and talked much to me, and got me at last to yield; so I came here: but when I saw this hill, and how it hangs over the way, I suddenly made a stand, lest it should fall on my head.

Evangelist. What said that gentleman to you?

Christian. Why, he asked me where I was going; and I told him.

Evangelist. And what said he then?

Christian. He asked me if I had a family; and I told him. But, said I, I am so loaded with the burden that is on my back, that I cannot take pleasure in them as formerly.

Evangelist. And what said he then?

Christian. He bade me with speed get rid of my burden; and I told him it was ease that I sought. And, said I, I am therefore going to yonder gate to receive further direction how I may get to the place of deliverance. So he said that he would show me a better way, and short, not so attended with difficulties as the way, sir, that you set me in; this short way, said he, will direct you to a gentleman’s house that has skill to take off these burdens. So I believed him, and turned out of that way into this, if haply I might be soon eased of my burden. But when I came to this place, and saw things as they are, I stopped for fear, as I said, of danger. But I now know not what to do.

Evangelist. Then said EVANGELIST, "Stand still a little, that I may show you the words of God." So he stood trembling. Then said EVANGELIST, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven" (Heb 12:25). He said, moreover, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Heb 10:38). He also did thus apply them: "You are the man that is running into this misery; you have begun to reject the counsel of the Most High, and to draw back your foot from the way of peace, even almost to the hazarding of your perdition."

Then CHRISTIAN fell down at his foot as dead, crying, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" At the sight of which, EVANGELIST caught him by the right hand, saying, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: be not faithless, but believing" (Mt 12:31 John 20:27). Then did CHRISTIAN again a little revive, and stood up trembling, as at first, before EVANGELIST.

Then EVANGELIST proceeded, saying, "Give more earnest heed to the things that I shall tell you of. I will now show you who it was that deluded you, and who it was also to whom he sent you. The man that met you is one WORLDLY WISEMAN: and rightly is he so called; partly because he savours only the doctrine of this world (1 John 4:5) (therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to Church) and partly because he loves that doctrine best, for it saves him from the cross (Ga 6:12); and because he is of this carnal temper, therefore he seeks to pervert my ways, though right. Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that you must utterly abhor:

"1. His turning you out of the way. "2. His labouring to render the cross odious to you. "3. And his setting your feet in that way that leads unto the administration of death.

"First, you, must abhor turning you out of the Way—yea, and your own consenting thereto; because this is to reject the counsel of God for the sake of the counsel of a Worldly Wiseman. The Lord says, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate’ (Lu 13:24), —the gate to which I sent you; ‘for strait is the gate that leads unto life, and few there be that find it’ (Mt 7:13,14). From this little Wicket gate, and from the way thereto, has this wicked man turned you, to the bringing of you almost to destruction. Hate, therefore, his turning you out of the way; and abhor yourself for listening to him.

"Secondly, you must abhor his labouring to render the cross odious unto you; for you are to prefer it before the treasures in Egypt (Heb 11:26). Besides, the King of Glory hath told you, that he that will save his life shall lose it; and, he that comes after him, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife and children, his brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be his disciple (Mt 10:39 Mr 8:35 Lu 14:26 John 12:25). I say, therefore, for man to labour to persuade you that that shall be your death, without which, the Truth hath said, thou canst not have eternal life— this doctrine thou must abhor.

"Thirdly, you must hate his setting of your feet in the way that leads to the ministration of death. And for this you must consider to whom he sent you; and also how unable that person was to deliver you from your burden.

"He to whom you were sent for ease, being by name LEGALITY is the son of the bondwoman who now is, and is in bondage with her children (Ga 4:22-27); and is, in a mystery, this Mount Sinai which you have feared will fall on thy head. Now if she with her children are in bondage, how can you expect by them to be made free? This LEGALITY, therefore, is not able to set you free from your burden. No man was as yet ever rid of his burden by him; no, nor ever is like to be. You cannot be justified by the works of the law; for by the deeds of the law no man living can be rid of his burden. Therefore Mr. WORLDLY WISEMAN is an alien, and Mr. LEGALITY is a cheat; and for his son CIVILITY, notwithstanding his simpering looks, he is but a hypocrite, and cannot help thee. Believe me, there is nothing in all his noise that you have heard of these sottish men, but at design to beguile you of your salvation, by turning you from the way in which I had set you." After this, EVANGELIST called aloud to the heavens for confirmation of what he had said; and with that there came words and fire out of the mountain under which poor CHRISTIAN stood, that made the hair of his flesh stand up. The words were thus pronounced: "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Ga 3:10).

Now CHRISTIAN looked for nothing but death, and began to cry out lamentably; even cursing the time in which he met with Mr. WORLDLY WISEMAN, still calling himself a thousand fools for hearkening to his counsel. He also was greatly ashamed to think that this gentleman’s arguments, flowing only from the flesh, should have that prevalency with him as to cause him to forsake the right way. This done, he applied himself again to EVANGELIST in words and sense as follows:

Christian. Sir, what do you think?—Is there any hope? May I now go back, and go up to the Wicket gate? Shall I not be abandoned for this, and sent back from here ashamed? I am sorry I have hearkened to this man’s counsel; but may my sin be forgiven.

Evangelist. Then said EVANGELIST to him, "Your sin is very great; for by it you have committed two evils: you have forsaken the way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths; yet will the man at the gate receive you, for he has good will for men; only," said he, "take heed that you turn not aside again, lest you perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little" (Ps 2:12). Then did CHRISTIAN address himself to go back; and EVANGELIST, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bade him Godspeed.