Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Pilgrim's Progress—Part 1 with Christian—Illustrated Quotes

The Pilgrim's Progress may be my second favorite book after the Holy Bible because of its accuracy and honesty in describing the Christian life in memorable story form. When making a pilgrimage through the book recently, I decided to highlight poignant quotes that follow the story's chronology:

Christian with the Book by Him Who Cannot Lie


hristian, at the beginning of his pilgrimage, fields this question from Pliable: "Do you think that the words of your Book are certainly true?" Christian answers, "Yes, for it was made by Him who cannot lie."
he first thing Interpreter shows to Christian in his wonderful house of life lessons is the pastor's portrait, who "had eyes lifted to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the Law of truth written upon his lips, the world ... behind his back. It stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over his head.... His work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners." Interpreter tells Christian, "I have showed you this picture first because the [pastor] ... is the only man whom the Lord of the place to where you are going has authorized to be your guide in all difficult places you may meet with in the way."
Christian Loses His Burden at the Cross
hristian "came up to the Cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and felt light as a feather. He said with a merry heart, 'Jesus has given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death.'"
Christian Receives the Key of Promise

aithful to Talkative: "When Christ said, 'Do you know all these things?' and the disciples had answered, 'Yes'; He added, 'Blessed are you if you do them.' He did not lay the blessing in the knowing of them but in the doing of them."

hen Christian and Hopeful strayed from the straight Way, which was difficult in some parts, onto soft, easy By-path Meadow, they later heard, "'Let your heart be towards the highway, even the way that you went; turn again.' But by this time the waters were greatly risen so the way of going back was very dangerous. (Then I thought that it is easier going out of the way when we are in than going in when we are out.)"

hristian and Hopeful were then captured by Giant Despair, who made life miserable for them. The giant taunted them, repeatedly saying, "Why .. .should you choose life, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness?" Christian was now depressed enough to agree but Hopeful told him, "Indeed our present condition is dreadful ... but ... the Lord of the country to which we are going has said, 'You shall do no murder.'... Moreover, my brother, you talk of ease in the grave, but have you forgotten the hell to which ... murderers go? For 'no murderer has eternal life.'... The time may come that may give us a happy release." That time came when "Christian, as one half amazed, broke out in this passionate speech: 'What a fool I am to lie in a stinking dungeon when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my pocket called Promise that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.'" It did indeed!

hen Christian and Hopeful reached the Delectable Mountains, they leaned on their walking staffs and spoke with the kindly shepherds there, named Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere, who taught them some of the lessons of the land. Then said the pilgrims to one another, "We have need to cry to the Strong for strength!" The shepherds replied, "Aye, and you will have need to use it when you have it, too."

orced to travel where they dare not fall asleep, Christian and Hopeful kept each other awake with good conversation about how Hopeful began to be concerned about the state of his soul. He told Christian, "For a long time I enjoyed those things that .. .I believe now, would have (had I continued in them) destroyed me ... all the treasures and riches of the world. I also delighted in debauchery, partying, drinking, swearing, lying, immorality, Sabbath-breaking, and every other thing that tends to destroy the soul. But by hearing and considering divine things, which I learned about you, as well as from beloved Faithful, who was put to death at Vanity Fair for his faith and goodness, I discovered at last that 'the end of those things is death' (Romans 6:21).... I tried not to sin, and I avoided sinful company ... but then my trouble came tumbling upon me again, despite all my changes." Hopeful thought he was basically a good person, but his opinion about himself began to change when he started taking seriously such sayings as these: "All our good deeds are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6), "By the works of the Law no one shall be justified" (Galatians 2:16), and "When you have done all things, say 'We are unprofitable'" (Luke 17:10). "I thought to myself," said Hopeful, "If all my good deeds are like filthy rags in God's sight, if no one can be justified by obeying the Law, and if, when we have done all we can, we are still unworthy, then it is foolish to think we can get to heaven by our good works. Furthermore I thought that if a man runs up a bill of a hundred pounds with a shopkeeper and after that he pays for everything he buys but still owes his old bill, the shopkeeper can still sue him and send him to prison until he pays the debt.... I have by my sins run up a great charge in God's Book, and my reforming now will not pay off that debt.... How shall I be freed from the damnation I have brought upon myself by my former transgressions?" Another thing that weighed upon his mind was this: "If I look carefully at the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of what I do so I am forced to conclude that, even if my former life had been faultless, I have now committed sin enough in one action to send me to hell."   The apostle Paul wrote about the same experience: "I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong" (Romans 7:21). The breakthrough for Hopeful (and countless others) came when realized that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). "He is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). "He died for our sins and rose again for our justification" (Romans 4:25). "He is the mediator between God and us" (1 Timothy 2:5). "I gathered from all these Scriptures," said Hopeful, "that I must look for righteousness in His person and for satisfaction for my sins through His blood.... Now my heart was filled with joy, my eyes filled with tears, and my heart brimming over with love for the name, people, and ways of Jesus Christ."

opeful and Christian meet a young man named Ignorance, who assumes he will go to heaven someday because he is pleased with his own views. He is not at all open to hearing otherwise. That leads to a discussion of what causes people to be like that or to profess faith in Christ, but then backslide or fall away. Hopeful observes that though the consciences of such people are awakened, "their minds are not changed; therefore, when the guilt passes, they cease to be religious.... Thus they are eager for heaven only because they fear the torments of hell, but as soon as their sense of hell and their fears of damnation chill and cool, so does their desire for heaven and salvation ... and they return to their old course again. Another reason is that they are slaves to certain fears that overpower them; particularly the fear of men, for 'the fear of men brings a snare' (Proverbs 29:25).... The stigma that surrounds religion is also a stumbling block to them.... Because they shun even the thoughts of guilt and fear, when once they are rid of their concerns about ... the wrath of God, they gladly harden their hearts and choose ways that will harden them more and more." Christian then discusses how "the hardening of heart takes place: 1. As much as they can, they turn their thoughts away from any reminder of God, death, and judgment to come. 2. Then they gradually cease their private duties, such as prayer, restraining their lusts, and being vigilant and repentant regarding sin. 3. Then they shun the company of lively and sincere Christians. 4. After that they grow indifferent to public duties such as hearing and reading the Word, gathering together for worship, and the like. 5. Then they begin to find fault with some of the godly, and the devilish purpose behind this is to find some alleged reason for turning away from faith in Christ. 6. Then they begin to associate with worldly and immoral people. 7. Then they indulge in worldly and lewd conversations, and are happy if they can find any who are considered honest doing the same so they may use their example as an excuse to indulge more boldly. 8. After this they begin to play with little sins openly. 9. And then, being hardened, they show themselves as they really are. Launched into a gulf of misery, they are lost forever in their own deception unless a miracle of grace prevents it."

ater on, when crossing the River of Death, Hopeful calls out, "Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom and it is good!" Christian, remembering old sins, is tempted to forget that God already forgave them all through Christian's faith in Christ, so he struggles in the River. Hopeful encourages him again, saying, "Be of good cheer: Jesus Christ makes you whole!" Christian then calls out loudly, "Oh! I see Him and He tells me, 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and ... they shall not overflow you.' Then they both took courage and the Enemy was after that as still as a stone."

wo shining ones (angels) greet Christian and Hopeful on heaven's side of the River of Death, explaining, "We are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation." Christian and Hopeful "left their mortal garments behind them in the River, for though they went in with them, they came out without them. They therefore went up with much agility and speed....The talk they had with the shining ones was about the glory of the place.... 'There,' said they, 'is ... the paradise of God.... Your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity. There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon the earth ... sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death.... You are now going to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to the prophetspeople who are now resting upon their beds, each one walking in his or her righteousness.' The men then asked, 'What must we do in the holy place?' To whom it was answered, 'You must there receive the comforts of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King by the way. In that place you shall ... enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One, for there you shall see Him as He is. There also you shall serve Him continually with praise.... You shall enjoy your friends again who have gone there before you; and there with joy you will greet those who  follow into the holy place after you. There you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and made fit to ride out with the King of Glory. When He shall come with sound of trumpet in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with Him; and when He shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit by Him; yea, and when He shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were His and your enemies. And when He shall again return to the city, you shall go too, with sound of trumpet, and be ever with Him.'"
A Glimpse of the Celestial City

See also The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2 with Christiana—Illustrated Quotes
and A Detailed Summary of The Pilgrim's Progress

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