Category Archives: Book Study

Practical Lessons from the Book of Job

The following extract comes from Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Assembly divine. I took the text from the 1959 reprint edition with very few minor changes. Our church read this out loud in our Sunday School class and discussed its content. You will find the reading very practical, insightful, and moving. Caryl lists all the major lessons the book of Job teaches us and I’ve not found anything as succinct and helpful as his. John Calvin’s sermons on Job come close but Caryl’s introductory essay to the book of Job remains unparalleled in my judgment.

Practical Lessons from the Book of Job

Joseph Caryl, An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Job[1]

Now, for the third thing which I proposed, which was the use, or scope, or intention of this book, it aims at our instruction in divers [various] things, first, (which much concerns every Christian to learn), it instructs us how to handle a cross; how to behave ourselves in a conflict, whether outward or inward; what the postures of the spiritual war are; and with what patience we ought to bear the hand of God and his dealings with us. This the apostle James speaks of, —you have heard of the patience of Job, as if he should say, “Do you know why the book of Job was written? Why God in his providence did bring such a thing to pass concerning Job?” It was that all men should take notice of his patience, and might learn the wisdom of suffering, that noble art of enduring.

Job was full of many other excellent graces, and, indeed, had all the graces of the Spirit of God in him; but patience was his principal grace. As it is with natural men, they have every sin in them; but there are some sins which are the master sins, or some one sin, it may be, does denominate a wicked man; sometimes he is a proud man, sometimes he is covetous, sometimes he is a deceiver, sometimes he is an oppressor, sometimes he is unclean, and sometimes he has a profane spirit. He has all sins in him, and they are all reigning in him, but one as it were reigns above the rest and sits uppermost in his heart. So it is with the saints of God, every saint and servant of God has all grace in him; every grace, in some degree or other, for all the limbs and lineaments of the new man are formed together in the soul of those that are in Christ.[2] But there is some special grace which gives the denomination to a servant of God as that which gave the denomination to Abraham was faith, to Moses meekness and to Job patience.

2nd, Another instruction which we are to take from the whole book is this God would have us learn, that afflictions come not by chance, that they are all ordered by providence in the matter, in the manner, and in the measure, both for the kinds and the degrees, they are all ordered, even the very least, by the wisdom, by the hand and the providence of God.

3rd, Another thing which we are to learn generally from this book, is this — the Sovereignty of God; that he has power over us, over our estates, and over our bodies, and over our families, and over our spirits; that he may use us as he pleases, and we must be quiet under his hand; when he comes and will take all from us, all our comforts, we must give all glory to him. This book is written for this especially, to teach us the Sovereignty of God, and the submission of the creature.

4th, It teaches us, that God sometimes afflicts his children out of prerogative; that though there be no sin in them which he makes the occasion of afflicting them — such was Job’s case — yet for exercise of his grace in them, for trial of their graces, or to set them up for patterns to the world, God may and does afflict them. Though no man be without sin, yet the afflictions of many are not for their sins.

5th, There is this general instruction which God would have us learn out of this book, namely, the best gotten and the best founded estate in outward things, is uncertain; that there is no trusting to any creature-comforts. God could unbottom us quite from the creature by holding forth this history of Job to us.

6th, God would also show forth this for our learning — the strength, the unmoveableness of faith, how unconquerable it is, what a kind of omnipotency there is in grace, — God would have all the world take notice of this in the Book of Job, that a godly man is in vain assaulted by friends or enemies, by men or devils, by wants or wounds, though he even be benighted[3] in his spirit, though God himself take away the light of his countenance from him, yet He would have us learn and know, that over all those, a true believer, is more, than a conqueror, for here is one of the greatest battles fought between man and man, between man and hell, yea, between man and God; yet Job went away with a victory; true grace is often assaulted; it never was or shall be overthrown.

7th, This also we may learn, that God never leaves or forsakes his people totally or finally.

Lastly, The book teaches this general lesson, — That the judgments of God are often times very secret, but they are never unjust. That though the creature be not able to give a reason for them, yet there is infinite reason for them.

Such are some of the general lessons which may be deduced from this book. But how unsearchable are God’s judgments, and who can find them out to perfection? This book serves also to confute the slander of worldly men, and Satan, who sometimes affirm that the people of God serve him for their own ends. God did, on purpose, cause these things to be acted, and the history to be written, to stop the mouth of Satan and all iniquity, and to show that his people follow him for love; for the excellency they find in him, and in his service. Though he strip them naked of all they have, yet they will cleave to him.

This history serves to reprove those who judge of men’s spiritual estate by their outward condition, or by some unbecoming and rash speeches uttered when under the hand of God in sore affliction, and refutes the opinion, that a man may fall totally and finally away from grace, and from the favor of God. God has shown by this history, that such an opinion is a lie. If ever any man were in danger of falling quite away from grace received, or might seem to have lost the favor of God formerly shown, surely it was Job; and if he were upheld in the grace of holiness, and continued in the grace of God’s love, notwithstanding all that came upon him; certainly God would have all the world know that free grace will uphold his people forever.

This book also reproves the pride and extreme presumption of those who think to find out the secrets of God’s counsel, the secrets of God’s eternal decrees, the secrets of all his works of providence; whereas, God shows them in this book, that they are not able to find out, or comprehend his ordinary works, those which we call the works of nature, the things of creation, the things that are before them, which they converse with every day, which they see and feel, and have in their ordinary use. They are not able to find out the secrets of the air, of the meteors, of the waters, of the earth, of beasts or birds, everyone of these puts the understanding of man to a stand. How are they able then to find out the counsels of God in his decrees, and purposes, and

judgments? and for that end it is, that God sets forth here so much of the works of nature, that all men may be stopped in that presumptuous way of searching too far into his counsels.

In conclusion, from this book may be deduced the two following exhortations. 1st, We are exhorted to the meditation and admiration of the power and wisdom of God manifested in the creatures. The invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, may be clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.

2nd, To glorify God in every condition, to have good thoughts of God, to speak good words for God in every condition. We are drawn to this, by considering how Job, though sometimes in the midst of his conflict he overshot himself, yet he recovers again, and breathes sweetly concerning God, showing that his spirit was full of sweetness towards God, even when God was writing bitter things against him; even when he says, though he slay me yet will I trust in him; than which, nothing could express a more holy and submissive frame of spirit, in reference to God’s dealings with him. Surely he thought God was very good, who had that thought of God, to trust him even while he slew him.

From the history of this afflicted saint we may also draw the two following consolations.

1st, That all things do work for the good of those that love God.

2nd, That no temptation shall take hold of us, but such as God will either make us able to bear, or make a way for us to escape out of it. We can be in no condition cast so low but the hand of God can reach us, send us deliverance, and raise us up again.

[1] Joseph Caryl, An Exposition With Practical Observations Upon the Three First Chapters of the Book of Job (London, 1651), 10-15; Joseph Caryl, An Exposition of Job (Evansville, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1959), x-xii. The 1959 edition is a remarkable summary or a condensed rendition (367 pages) of the massive twelve volume work. It was originally published in 1836 by John Berrie and republished in 1959. It has not been republished since (though I believe one could probably get a “print on demand” copy). John Berrie wisely included the entire first lecture because that introduction by itself remains valuable on its own. This extract covers only the last several pages (pages which deal with the practical applications of the book of Job) of the introductory essay and I have slightly updated the format and modernized the sentences.

[2] He says the same on p. 100 (of the 1651 edition).

[3] Overtaken by darkness

CCPC Reading Groups for 2019 (DV)

CGG                                                                           CCC

Christian Growth Group                                            Christian Classics Club

1St Sunday of the Month                                              3rd Sunday of the Month


William Gurnall                                                          Wilhelmus a’Brakel

The Christian in Complete Armour                       The Christian’s Reasonable Service

3 Vols. (Abridged) BOT                                             4 Vols. (Unabridged) RHB


Jan.                                                                             Jan. (Vol. 1)

2:21-58                                                                        1:381-425



Feb.                                                                             Feb.

2:58-94                                                                        1:427-463



March                                                                         March

2:94-137                                                                      1:465-491



April                                                                          April

2:137-172                                                                    1:493-537



May                                                                            May

2:172-208                                                                    1:539-574



June                                                                            June

2:209-244                                                                    1:575-623



July                                                                            July

2:245-281                                                                    1:625-658



Aug.                                                                            Aug. (Vol. 2)

2:281-314                                                                    2:3-54



Sept.                                                                           Sept.

2:314-348                                                                    2:55-106



Oct.                                                                             Oct.

2:348-371                                                                    2:107-155



Nov.                                                                            Nov.

2:372-398                                                                    2:157-187

CCPC Reading Groups

Here is the reading schedule for the next several months! Outlines of each reading section will be provided on the day we meet. Please try to read as much as you can. If you cannot read all the material, show up anyway because you can still learn from the outline and discussion. DV, we’ll meet after lunch, around 3PM or so.

CCPC Reading Groups, 2018

CGG                                                                           CCC

Christian Growth Group                                            Christian Classics Club

1St Sunday of the Month                                              3rd Sunday of the Month


William Gurnall                                                          Wilhelmus a’Brakel

The Christian in Complete Armour                       The Christian’s Reasonable Service

3 Vols. (Abridged) BOT                                             4 Vols. (Unabridged) RHB


Feb.                                                                             Feb.

1:23-58                                                                            1:3-46



March                                                                         March

1:59-93                                                                             1:46-81



April                                                                          April

1:93-123                                                                         1:83-138



May                                                                            May

1:124-161                                                                        1:139-191



June                                                                            June

1:161-1867                                                                       1:193-250



July                                                                            July

1:186-219                                                                       1:251-303



Aug.                                                                            Aug.

1:219-247                                                                        1:307-354

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 11


Introduction (pp. 145-154)

Christian and Hopeful come to Beulah land and then enter the gates of the celestial city. Their death before entering heaven and their struggles with their own personal failures also come to light.



Narrator (145) – does most of the reading

Gardener (146-7) — a few lines

Christian & Hopeful have very little apart from the summary statements made by the narrator.

Shining ones, Heavenly Host, etc. — several lines here and there



“Beulah” (145 †) — “married” in Hebrew [from Isaiah 62:4, “but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”]


Questions (pp. 145-154)

Page #

145      What do you think the “Country of Beulah” represents?

146      Explain the “pangs” or sickness that overcame Christian and Hopeful.

147      What does the river represent? How is the depth (148) dependent upon the Pilgrim’s faith? (“You shall find it deeper or shallower, as you believe in the King of the place.”)

148      What frightened Christian as he crossed the river?

153-4   Ignorance comes up again. What was his problem? How did he get across the river of death? Explain what “Vain-hope a Ferry-man” represented.

154      Why is this sentence so important, “Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the Gates of Heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.” (154)


Observations & Notes

BEULAH (145)

Bunyan seems to view Beulah as those last sweet peaceful moments some believers face before their death. What he says of this place is remarkable: “…this was beyond the Valley of the shadow of death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair; neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle.” (146) It is a scent of heaven before entering heaven (“…within the sight of the City they were going to”). It is “almost a suburb of heaven” (Horner, 273) or the “foretastes of heaven as we draw near to the River of Death” (Cheever, 454) — Bunyan calls it “the Borders of Heaven” (146). Not all believers experience this but some do. (cf. Thomas Scott, 202-3)

Horner takes this to mean the kind of pastoral ministry ministers utilize to comfort senior saints as they prepare for death (Horner, 74, 274). His interpretation seems to make sense of the experience but it could simply be the comforting grace many believers receive before they die.


This is considered spiritual love sickness. At times mystical in character, such language characterized the Puritan way of viewing the Song of Solomon. The love of the bride represented the love of the Saint/church for Christ. Thomas Scott explained “sick of love” in these words: “In the immediate view of heavenly felicity, Paul ‘desired’ to depart hence and be with Christ, as far better than life; and David ‘fainted for God’s salvation.’ In the lively exercise of holy affections, the believer grows weary of this sinful world; and longs to have his faith changed for sight, his hope swallowed up in enjoyment, and his love perfected, and secured from all interruption and abatement.” (203)


Each man must die on his own; he alone can cross the river and go to the gates of the celestial city. There is no proxy dying. A king and a pauper must both cross the river on their own and each shall obtain salvation as he looks in faith to Christ.

VAIN-HOPE (153-154)

“Vain-hope ever dwells in the bosom of fools, and is ever ready to assist Ignorance. He wanted him at the last, and he found him. He had been his companion through life, and will not forsake him in the hour of death. You see Ignorance had no bands in his death, no fears, doubts, and sorrows, no terror from the enemy, but all was serene and happy. Vain-hope was his ferryman, and he, as the good folk say, died like a lamb: ah ! but did such lambs see what was to follow, when Vain-hope had wafted them over the river — they would roar like lions!” (Mason, 190)


He was supposed to present his certificate. He did not have one. He willfully resisted all the gospel teaching he received and believed it will fare well with him. “His final fumbling for a certificate that he does not have represents Ignorance searching his heart for a faith that he never possessed. Ignorance stands for the cool, skeptical modern person who wants to ground his or her faith in conscience and conduct, not in the grace of God to an unworthy sinner.” (Calhoun, 78)


Some unacquainted with genuine saving grace die composed and assured of their salvation. But their faith is delusional. “But what do they prove? What evidence is there, that such men are saved? Is it not far more likely that they continued to the end under the power of ignorance and self-conceit; that Satan took care not to disturb them; and that God gave them over to a strong delusion, and left them to perish with a lie in their right hand? Men, who have neglected religion all their lives, or have habitually for a length of years disgraced an evangelical profession, being when near death visited by pious persons, sometimes obtain a sudden and extraordinary measure of peace and joy, and die in this frame. This should in general be considered as a bad sign: for deep humiliation, yea distress, united with some trembling hope in God’s mercy through the gospel, is far more suited to their case, and more likely to be the effect of spiritual illumination.” (Thomas Scott, 211)



John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 10


Introduction (pp. 137-145)

            Christian and Hopeful discourse about good spiritual matters. Hopeful gave a wonderful account of the Lord’s dealings with his soul. Ignorance is also invited to the conversation and his misunderstanding of God’s method of justifying sinners comes to light. After this, they discuss how or why a man would end up turning away from the faith.



Narrator (137) — not much

Christian (137) — a good amount

Hopeful (140) — not as much as Christian but a fair amount

Ignorance (137) — a good amount



tro (137; 40, 69) = trow (believe, think)

Halter (145) = noose, a rope for hanging criminals


Questions (pp. 137-145)

Page #

137-8   How does ignorance come to believe he is going to heaven? Does he believe God’s judgment of his sinfulness? Can a person be a Christian and not have the same judgment on this matter? Explain.

140      What is justification? Ignorance says he believes in it. Does he? Is anything wrong with his view? How does he respond to Christian’s explanation of what justifying faith is?

140-1   Explain the point Hopeful and Christian were trying to make regarding a need for “revelation”?

142-3   Christian and Hopeful discourse about right and godly fear. They talk about conviction of sin. What purpose does a conviction of sin serve before one comes to Christ?

143-4   In their journey, they talk about Temporary,[1] Turnback, and Save-self. Mr. Temporary’s own backsliding is rehearsed. Four reasons are given for the backsliding into hell. What are they (put them into your own words as best as you can)?

145      Christian also describes what happens once those four reasons for backsliding occur. Explain why #1 is #1. Also, explain how #1 leads to #2. Explain why #5 works. What advantage is there in doing such a thing?


Observations & Notes


Ignorance’s response indicates that he understood what Christian was saying. He draws a different (and wrong) conclusion. Ignorance believed that if we looked solely to Christ for justification, then what we do would not matter at all. He is saying that Christian’s view of justification would lead to licentiousness (or antinomianism – “lawlessness”).

All unbelievers believe the same; the wonderful doctrine of justification, if rightly preached, always prompts Rom. 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” or Rom. 3:31, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?”

Neonomians in Bunyan’s time along with Roman Catholics all responded as ignorance did in reaction to the biblical view of justification by faith. Many modern Protestants do not understand this glorious doctrine and would find ignorance’s own view to be theirs.


This is not a word we use very often. It was a common word in Bunyan’s time and a generation of two after. It denotes the experience of sinner who has been arrested by conviction and alarmed by his predicament through the preaching of the Gospel. The question for most of them was over how deep the awakening went. Did it issue in new life or did it only issue in a shallow temporary faith? Too often, people confuse awakening with conversion. One could be awakened and not converted.


This is a reference to apostasy. Depending on how one defines backslide, Bunyan has in mind the ultimate backsliding, namely, the falling away from the faith (apostasy). Christians can stumble and slide back for a season but their recovery alone will show that it was a set back and not a final fall.

FOUR REASONS (143-145)

Christian explains how a person can come under conviction and yet turn away from the Lord.

  1. The conscience is awakened but the mind is not changed. Like a man feeling guilty because he was caught, he intends to mend his ways. Once the “danger” of being caught, exposed, implicated, etc. passes away, then the guilt recedes. When this happens, his religion disappears. Fear must not be the only motivation.
  2. Once the fear recedes, the fear of man dominates. They don’t want to be too religious and hazard everything (trying to be “wise” about all this).
  3. Once the sense of Hell abates, their sense of shame increases — shame of religion.
  4. They don’t like to see their guilt and sense their misery.


“See how gradually, step by step, apostates go back. It begins in the unbelief of the heart, and ends in open sins in the life. Why is the love of this world so forbidden? why is covetousness call idolatry? Because, whatever draws away the heart from God, and prevents enjoying close fellowship with him, naturally tends to apostasy from him. Look well to your hearts and affections. Daily learn to obey that command, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.’ (Prov. iv. 23) If you neglect to watch, you will be sure to smart — under the sense of sin on earth, or its curse in hell. ‘See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.’ (Eph. v. 15, 16)” (Mason, 179)

[1] “Temporary was doctrinally acquainted with the gospel, but a stranger to its sanctifying power. Such men have been forward in religion, but that is now past; for they were always graceless, and came short of honesty in their profession, if not in their moral conduct, and were ever ready to turn back into the world as convenient season.” (T. Scott, 199)

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 9


Introduction (pp. 119-137)

            Christian and Hopeful leave the delectable mountain and run into several unique characters on their way towards the Celestial City. Ignorance, Flatterer, and the Enchanted ground await them. One altercation between the two (Christian and Hopeful) is very instructive for all of us.



Narrator (119) – a good amount

Christian (120) — large amount

Ignorance (120) — very little (he’ll show up again later)

Hopeful (122) — large amount

man in the Robe -Flatterer (127) — a sentence or two

The Shining One (128) — a few lines

Atheist (129-30) — short (a few lines)



“white as a clout” († 121) = “a proverbial expression, more usually in the form ‘as place as a clout’. (A clout was a sheet.)” (p. 305)

mist (122) = missed

Caytiff (123) = a coward

“he went to the walls” († 125) = “the weakest go to the wall” was proverbial. In medieval churches, which did not have pews, benches were set along the walls for the aged and infirm.” (pp. 305-6)

Habergeon (126) = (pronounced, ha’ bur jun) “a medieval jacket of mail shorter than a hauberk” (Webster) or “a short, sleeveless coat of mail”

brunts (127) = shock or stress (as of an attack)

tro (69, 137) = trow (believe, think)


Questions (pp. 119-137)

Page #

120      How does Ignorance intend to get into the Celestial city (cf. Luke 18:12)? What is his response to Christian’s challenge?

121      Describe “little faith.” What happened to him? What did Christian mean when he said that the “Thieves got most of his spending Money”?

123      Why did Christian more or less rebuke Hopeful? Explain the nature of the issue.[1]

123      How does Christian distinguish Little Faith from Esau? What is meant by “typical” (“Esau’s Birth-right was Typical”)?

125      Christian and Hopeful discuss the differences between believers and that some are of little faith while others have great grace. We are all different when tried. How should we respond when we see other believers struggle so much?[2] Read below:

“Young converts often view temptations, conflicts, and persecutions, in a very different light than experienced believers do. Warm with zeal, and full of confidence, which they imagine to be wholly genuine, and knowing comparatively little of their own hearts, or the nature of the Christian conflict, they resemble new recruits, who are apt to boast what great things they will do: but the old disciple, though much stronger in faith, and possessing habitually more vigour of holy affection, knows himself too well to boast, and speaks with modesty of the past, and diffidence of the future…” (Scott, 178)

130      They encountered “Inchanted grounds” in their journey. What does this represent? How does this show up in our generation? What does it look like now? How does one know that he or she has not fallen prey to the woes of the enchanted ground?

132      Hopeful explains what experiences he had before coming to Christ. Are these the regular experiences of coming to Christ? Must a person undergo all of them? What ones (if any) do you think must happen?

He also talks about his attempts to mend his life (133). Why do most people respond this way? Is this conversion?

Explain the illustration of the debt to the Shop-keeper (133). Is it true to say “I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to Hell” (134)? Explain.

135      How is this “Sinner’s Prayer” (as it were) different from the modern version? Did this one prayer convert him?

135      Bunyan revealed his remarkable pastoral and theological insight into the nature of conversion when answering why he didn’t leave off praying. Why didn’t he leave off praying when it didn’t “stick” or “work” the first time? What lessons should we learn from this?

136      NOTE: “believing and coming was all one” — two different verbs but the same idea. Coming to Christ is to believe in Him (it is not the same as coming to the “altar”).


Observations & Notes


The notation takes this to mean the Christian’s (“Little Faith’s”) sense of assurance. Faint-heart, Mistrust, and Guilt all conspired to ruin “Little Faith.” Scott says that “these robbers represent the inward effects of unbelief and disobedience” (Scott, 172). Kelman says, “It may be permissible, without pressing the allegory too far, to see in the detailed account of the attack a very definite sequence of spiritual experiences. Faint-heart speaks, Mistrust robs, Guilt strikes down.” (cited in Calhoun, 73)

JEWELS (122, 123)

All believers have jewels, namely, that they are meet for heaven and are accepted by the Lord on account of Christ. The jewel represents that they are true believers and perhaps this is the “seed of God” spoken of in 1 Jn. 3:9. Nonetheless, “But he may by sin lose his comforts, and not be able to perceive the evidences of his own safety: and even when again enabled to hope that it will be well with him in the event; he may be so harassed by the recollection of the loss he has sustained, the effects of his misconduct on others, and the obstructions he hath thrown in the way of his own comfort and usefulness, that his future life may be rendered as constant scene of disquietude and painful reflections.” (Scott, 174) David Calhoun (74) cites a passage from another author regarding this allusion:

A Scottish woman ‘underwent a dangerous operation that might have robbed her of her speech. After the operation, [her] pastor visited her in the hospital. Turning to him, she whispered, ‘The jewels are all safe!’ Her phrase refers to a scene in which the character Little Faith is robbed. The assailants make off with his spending money but fail to find his jewels—his belief in Christ. The woman in hospital uses the image to signal that both her voice and her faith have survived the operation. (Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan, 100)

NOTE (127): “a man black of flesh, but covered with a very light Robe” — this is a reference to a false teacher, a false minister of the gospel (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-14) as p. 128 indicates. Unfortunately, this wicked figure (false apostle) misled Christian and Hopeful and entrapped them in a net.

ATHEIST (129-130)

This is a very curious encounter because atheism wasn’t as prominent in that generation. There were some but most of them were not very influential or popular.


Christiana will encounter this ground as well. The Guide explains what it means: “For this inchanted Ground is one of the last Refuges that the Enemy to Pilgrims has; wherefore it is as you see, placed almost at the end of the Way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage.” (278) One is most tired at the journey’s end and entertains a little rest. In resting, one falls asleep and never awakes. Alexander Whyte said that this enchanted ground “proved so fatal to so many false pilgrims, and so all but fatal to so many true pilgrims” (Bunyan Characters, 2:273).

Spurgeon’s initial word on this is searching and worth pondering. “There are, no doubt, many of us who are passing over this plain; and I fear that this is the condition of the majority of churches in the present day. They are lying down on the settles of Lukewarmness in the Arbours of the Enchanted Ground.” (Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, 182)

[1] “Bunyan, as a Calvinist, was, of course, a firm believer in the perseverance of the saints; so he could not have had Little-faith lose his jewels. Hope was not the first or last to be ‘almost angry’ in an argument about the doctrine of perseverance.” (Calhoun, 73-74)

[2] “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.” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, 126)


John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 8


Introduction (pp. 115-119)

Christian and Hopeful escaped Giant Despair’s Doubting Castle. In this session, we will read of Christian’s experience of the “delectable Mountain.” He encounters four shepherds (Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere) on that mountain.



Narrator (115) – a good normal amount

Christian (115) — normal amount

Shepherds (115, 117) — relatively short

Hopeful (119) — short



stile (115) = a step or set of steps for passing over a fence or wall (a small ladder)

staves (115) = staffs

thither (115) = to that place; there


Questions (pp. 115-119)

Page #

117      Christians come upon the “delectable Mountains” and gain some respite. What do you think these mountains represent?

117      Though the name is simple, explain the description given to the Hill called “Errour.” See 2 Tim. 2:17, 18. What kind of “errors” should we avoid in our generation?

118      Christian and Hopeful are led to Mount Caution, the very mountain in which they almost died. After that, they are shown “a By-way to Hell.” Explain what this represents.

118      Why is it important to recognize that a door to Hell can be found right in the middle of the delectable mountain? What lessons should we learn here?

119      They were given a sight of the Celestial City through the “Perspective Glass.” When did they best see the celestial city? When in peace or when afraid? Is getting a glimpse of the “Celestial City” a vital necessity? Why or why not? If someone has never gotten a sight of it, can he or she persevere?[1] Why or why not?


Observations & Notes


Maureen Bradley lists many interpretations (below, pp. 74-75). Thomas Scott says, “The Delectable Mountains seem intended to represent those calm seasons of peace and comfort, which consistent believers often experience in their old age.” (Scott, 163) Horner takes it to be “a fellowship in association with the Palace Beautiful. Instruction, comfort and rest are to be found here” (p. 271).

Various meanings have been applied to the Delectable Mountains. Some see them as representing nothing in particular other than a time of quiet rest. Others see these mountains as a picture of the local church. Still others say that the mountains represent the ministry of the Word of God by godly pastors and its effect on pilgrims. While all these are good interpretations of the Delectable Mountains, might I add another possibility? The Puritans called the Sabbath a ‘market day for the soul.” Could these mountains represent the Sabbath and all that Sabbath rest entails (i.e., a day set aside for instruction in Sunday school, for sitting under the preaching of godly ministers, and for meditation on Scripture and prayer)? If this is what they represent, how do the Delectable Mountains remind you of a market day for the soul? (Bradley, 74-5)


Whyte sees these four shepherds (Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere) as the basic characteristics of a good pastor. Thomas Scott takes these names to be “the more extensive acquaintance of many aged Christians with the Ministers and Churches of Christ…” (Scott, 163)

[1] “Sometimes this vision is revealed to Pilgrims much more clearly than at other times; but no language can describe the glory of the vision, whenever and however it is manifested to the soul; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God reveals them by his Spirit, and sometimes doubtless with such a revelation as language cannot compass” (Cheever, 420).

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 7


Introduction (pp. 95-115)

At this point, Hopeful joins Christian after Faithful is killed. On their journey, they encounter “By-ends” and several other men. They end up being captured by Giant Despair.



Narrator (95) – normal amount

Christian (97) — normal amount

Hopeful (97) — normal amount

By-ends (97) — a large amount

Mony-love (99) — a good amount

Mr. Save-all (99) — short

Mr. Hold-the-world (100) — short

Demas (104) — short

Vain-Confidence (108) — one line

Giant Despair (109) — little

Mrs. Diffidence — little (means a lack of faith or confidence, mistrust, distrust, doubt, etc. and not reticence as it is now used, see † 304).



By-ends († 97) = “a ‘by-end’ is a secondary consideration” (303)

Fainings (97) = feigning’s = pretender, disguiser

Conje (99) = conge, a farewell, a ceremonious bow, a formal permission to depart (Webster)

Save-all (99, see †) = “a miserly person who saves all his money. Bunyan may also intend this character to represent the belief that Christ died for all, not only the elect.” (303)

Gripe (99) = a covetous man, one who grasps and clutches tightly

cousenage (99) = cozenage (pronounced “cousin –eej”) the art of cheating, fraud

ridged (99) = rigid

benefice (101) = an ecclesiastical office which is funded by an endowment

stalking horse (102, see †) = a proverbial saying (?)

Lucre (103) = monetary gain; profit (often used negatively “filthy lucre”)

surfeit (107) = means excess, effects of excess

stile (108) = a step or set of steps for passing over a fence or wall (a small ladder)

rate (110) = to rebuke angrily or violently (berate)

halter (110) = a rope with a noose for hanging a person


Questions (pp. 95-115)

Page #

96        Christian and Hopeful enter into a “brotherly covenant.” What do you think that means? Is it a good thing? Would it help us in our generation? Why or why not?

97        Describe the kind of family from which By-ends comes. What kind of picture is he trying to paint?

98        How is he different from the “stricter sort” of religious people? Explain what he is saying.

98        How did By-ends get his name?

99        How does By-ends describe Christian and Hopeful? Why? Does this happen often?

100      By-ends understanding of the Christian walk is all wrong. What kind of people would make this statement? Explain how one can argue By-ends case.

100      Mr. Mony-love believes they have Scripture and Reason on their side. How would he come to that conclusion?

101      Explain By-ends’s question?

102      NOTE: See Jn. 6:25ff. Christian gives good examples from Scripture. By-ends and his friends could not answer and yet, they thought before they had a good case. Being convinced by something doesn’t mean you are right! It must be in accordance with Scripture.

104      Who is Demas (2Tim. 4:10)? Are there men and women like him in the church today?

104-5   Why would it have been wrong for Christian and Hopeful to accept Demas’s invitation? Isn’t an effort to make a profit legitimate?

106      What made Hopeful different from Lot’s wife? Hopeful wanted to go into the Silver-mine whereas Lot’s wife only turned and looked – what was the difference between the two? How helpful was Christian in preventing Hopeful? What can we learn from him?

109      Why didn’t Hopeful express his disagreement with Christian more forcefully?

110      Giant Despair suggests that they commit suicide. Why would some Christians actually consider that?

114      How did they escape Doubting Castle?[1] How do we get the same key?


Observations & Notes


Puritans often covenanted with each other as well as privately before the Lord. This was their holy resolve to pursue godly matters. Some times, they wrote down their covenants with God.


“…Pilgrims, having been enabled to resist the temptation to turn aside for lucre, were indulged with more abundant spiritual consolations. … All believers partake of this sacred influences [of the Spirit], which prepare the soul for heavenly felicity, and are earnests and pledges of it: but there are seasons when he communicates his holy comforts in larger measure; when the Christian sees such glory in the salvation of Christ… forgets, for the moment, the pain of former conflicts and the prospect of future trials; finds his inbred corruptions reduced to a state of subjection, and his maladies healed by lively exercises of faith in the divine Savior… Then communion with humble believers, (the lilies that adorn the banks of the river) is very pleasant; and the soul’s rest and satisfaction in God and his service are safe, and his calm confidence is well grounded…” The writer takes these to be the “abundant consolations of the Spirit” (T. Scott, 150-151)

[1] “The promise of eternal life, to every one without exception, who believeth in Christ, is especially intended by the key; but without excluding any of other of ‘the exceeding great and precious promises’ of the gospel” (Thomas Scott, 162).

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 6


Introduction (pp. 83-95)

Christian and Faithful come upon the Town of Vanity. Evangelist had already warned them of its dangers. In Vanity Fair, our Pilgrims meet with men and women who are greatly offended by their speech and lifestyle. Their faith is tried and Faithful dies as a martyr.



Narrator (83) – a good amount

Christian (83) — normal amount

Faithful (83) – normal amount (he dies)

Evangelist (83) —about two pages

a citizen of Vanity (87) — one line

Lord Hate-good – a judge (90) — not too much

Envy (91) — half a page

Superstition (91) — very short

Pickthank (92) — very short

Mr. Blind-man, No-good, etc. (94-5) — short statements



“quit your selves” (85) = conduct yourselves

thorow (86, 87) = through

Bedlams (87) = madman, lunatic

Pillory (88) = “a device formerly used for publicly punishing offenders consisting of a wooden frame with holes in which the head and hands can be locked” (Merrian-Webster)

on’t (90) = “of it”

Pickthank (91 — see †) = “one who ‘picks a thank’, i.e. flatters, or curries favour” (302)

Runagate (92) — a vagabond, fugitive, runaway

Sirrah (92) — “sir” (pronounced “seer –rah”)


Questions (pp. 83-95)

Page #

85        Both the town and the fair were called “vanity.” Simple as the question might be, what does “Vanity Fair” represent? Why must all Pilgrims go through (“thorow”) it? Isn’t there a way to avoid it?

86        Explain what Bunyan is referring to on p. 86 (the exchange between Beelzebub and the Prince of Princes).[1]

87        Why was there such a “hubbub” over the Pilgrims’ arrival into the Town of Vanity? What “three” things made these Pilgrims so different from the rest of the people? Should that be the case with all Christians? Why or why not?

87-88   Why would the people of Vanity think that the Pilgrims were lunatics (“Bedlams”)? Is their anger against the Pilgrims reasonable? Is this depiction realistic? Why or why not?

88        When the Pilgrims were beaten, they did not respond in anger. Why was that? Can all Christians do that? Ought they? Why or why not? How will you know if you will be able to when the time comes?

91-94   The Judge[2] along with witnesses against the Pilgrims present their case. Explain how they come across as sane and lawful in this court of law? Are all “legal” matters necessarily holy and good? Could a trial like this happen in America? Why or why not?

95        We are told that Christian escaped. How did that happen?[3] What does this teach us?


Observations & Notes


Christian called “Evangelist” a “Prophet.” Why? Reformers and Puritans often called preachers and/or evangelists “Prophets.” Preaching was a form of prophesying. Prophesying meant either foretelling (speaking about future events) or forth-telling (setting forth God’s truth as revealed in His Word). Many of them believed that eminent godly men could prophesy regarding the future. Though we may disagree with them, some of the anecdotes are quite interesting if not persuasive.


Calhoun says that this Vanity Fair represents “the days of Charles II and the Restoration. Kelman comments that ‘in the figures of these two pilgrims austerely walking through the noisy streets of Vanity, we can see the forms of such men as Owen, Baxter, Goodwin, and Howe, walking apart amidst the dance of contemporary English life.” (Calhoun, 65)[4] Cheever gets at the essence of this city: “Vanity Fair is the City of Destruction in its gala dress, in it most seductive sensual allurements. It is this world in miniature, with its various temptations.” (Cheever, 363)

Barry Horner makes an important observation from this (something we must always remember). When the Pilgrims entered Vanity Fair, they did not “incorporate the lifestyle of Vanity into their methodology; they are not to reach out with the media that are so popular in Vanity.” Rather, they witnessed by their holy lifestyle, by speaking the truth of Scripture and by their manifest graciousness. “In this situation, it is particularly the uncluttered consistency of the truth, its uncompromising proclamation, even unto death, that begins to make inroads into Satan’s entrenched domain.”[5]

Cheever perceives another danger in Vanity Fair. It is something against which our own generation must fight. “Vanity Fair itself may be full of professed pilgrims, and the pilgrimage itself may be held in high esteem, and yet the practice of the pilgrimage, as Christian and Faithful followed it, may almost have gone out of existence. With the increase of nominal Christians there is always an increase of conformity to the world; and the world appears better than it did to Christians, not so much because it has changed, as because they have changed; the wild beasts and tame ones dwell together, not so much because the leopards eat straw like the ox, as because the ox eats flesh like the leopard.…there is not so such a marked and manifest distinction between the church and the world as there should be; their habits, maxims, opinions, pursuits, amusements, whole manner of life, are too much the same; so that the Pilgrims in our day have lost the character of a peculiar people, not so much because they have become vastly more numerous than formerly, as because they have become conformed to the world, not like strangers, but natives in Vanity Fair” (Cheever, 371-2).


Following Bishop Ussher and other similar divines, almost all the Puritans calculated the year of the earth from Adam unto their present time to be a bit over 5,000 years old. Bunyan is stating that the town of Vanity existed from the beginning.


These three “contrived here to set up a Fair…” The town is a trap, it is the world in which we live; it is seduction of the world (“This Fair therefore is an Ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great Fair.” p. 87). It is remarkably similar to the role of Babylon in the book of Revelation (chs. 17-18). The beast carries Babylon (Rev. 17:3, 7, 8) and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion erected this Fair. The world and its “stuff” present themselves to us. Will we yield to vanity or will we reject her wares? That was the question Christian and Faithful had to answer with their very lives.

[1] Note, this small episode is not found in some versions of Pilgrim’s Progress, for example, it is not found in The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World to That which is to Come, Special Tercentenary Edition (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.).

[2] Apparently, the Judge’s words and manners mirror some of the judges who served on King Charles, cf. Cheever, 368.

[3] “But he that over-rules all things, having the power of their rage in his own hand, so wrought it about, that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way.” (95)

[4] Calhoun is citing Kelman, The Road, A Study of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (Port Washington, NY, 1970), 1:205.

[5] Horner, 368-370.


John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 5


Introduction (pp. 55-66)

Christian needed good Christian fellowship and he meets with Faithful after braving the “Valley of the shadow of Death. “ Faithful tells of his own personal encounters. After a season of godly fellowship, they run into Talkative which opens up for them another important opportunity to discuss holy matters.



Narrator (66) – a shorter role though by no means very short

Christian (67) – a great amount

Faithful (67) – more than Christian

Talkative (74) – several pages



Vale (67) = valley

bedabled (68) = bedabbled, namely, to wet or soil by dabbling

“writ for a wonder” (69, see †) = “it would be surprising”

tro (69) = trow (believe, think)

hectoring (72, 73) = intimidate, harass, bully

Prating-row (76) = from “prate” (pratingly is the adverb) to chatter, talk long and idly

bruit (77) = pronounced like “brute”; it means noise, report, rumor, etc.

churl (77) = a rude ill-bred person; peasant like

Turk (77) = often used to mean a Muslim

“you lie at the catch (80, see †) = “you are watching for an opportunity to catch me out”

peevish (82) = easily irritated or bothered


Questions (pp. 66-83)

Page #

66        Explain what “Pope and Pagan” meant. Why did he not fear them? Was his assessment of “Pagan” accurate? Of Pope?

69        What allure does “Wanton” represent (69)? Is that a concern in our generation? How is the proverb (22:14) cited by Christian relevant to the situation? What did he mean he wasn’t sure if he wholly escaped her? [

69-70   The “Old Man” was “Adam the first.” What does he represent? Who is this man that kept knocking Faithful down? What is the point of this encounter? How do we avoid this danger or pitfall?

71        Faithful met Discontent in the Valley of Humility. What was Discontent’s method of argumentation?

72        Summarize Shame’s line of argument. Is his argument used today? What was Faithful’s response? Which for you is more formidable, Discontent or Shame?

76        Is “Talkative” someone we might run into? What would he or she look like? How does Christian describe him? What kind of “religion” is found in Talkative’s house (77)?

79-80   In discussing the grace of God in the heart, Talkative mentions his first point. What was it and why did Faithful insist in making a distinction from Talkative’s first point? Explain Faithful’s answer.

80        Isn’t a great knowledge of Gospel Mysteries a sure sign that a person is a genuine convert? What was Faithful’s response? Is he right?

81        Faithful further explains what “grace in the soul” looks like. What is “an experimental confession”? Also, how does Faithful’s explanation unmask Talkative’s religion? What is the difference?


Observations & Notes


This is one of those curious historic observations Bunyan made which turned out to be incorrect. He viewed the two giants as being practically dead. Paganism suffered a severe blow in the seventeenth century but it grew in great force in the eighteenth. Papism never died and had (and still has) more power than Bunyan expected. However, Catholicism did not have the official backing like it used to in England. Perhaps it was his limited understanding of the world that made him view Catholicism as being so weak or as Calhoun suggested, maybe he had an expectation according to God’s purpose for his Church.[1] [The “old man” papism talks about more people being burned. This is a reference to Queen Mary’s bloody reign. Regarding this, Fox’s Acts and Monuments gives a thorough account and this book was the only other books Bunyan had next to the Bible (while in prison).]

This scene has been changed in the Dangerous Journey (where Paganism is alive and Papism is the same). Some versions delete the scene entirely.[2] Paganism is a growing giant in our generation and historians of philosophical ideas have shown that it had not really died during Bunyan’s era (it merely did not have the political clout to influence society).[3]


This is probably a reference to Luke 11:26, “Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Pliable’s state is worse off than before. Apostasy does not just place a man in the same situation as before; it makes him worse. (cf. 2 Pet. 2:22)


Spurgeon’s words on Faithful’s statement are sobering. “I know not whether I did wholly escape her, or no.”

The probability is, that the temptations of the flesh, even when resisted, do us an injury. If the coals do not burn us, they blacken us. The very thought of evil, and especially of such evil, is sin. We can hardly read a newspaper report of anything of this kind without having our minds in some degree defiled. There are certain flowers which matters that they scatter an ill savour as they are repeated in our ears. So much for Wanton’s assault on Faithful. From her net, and her ditch, may every pilgrim be preserved!”[4]


Puritans held a variety of views concerning the relationship between the covenant made with Adam (Covenant of Works) and the one made with Moses (Mosaic Covenant). Many of them believed that the Mosaic Covenant was a re-publication of the Covenant of Works and in some manner very similar to it.[5] Yet, the Mosaic Covenant had an element of grace through its sacrificial system and promises.

This encounter teaches that once a believer looks to the old way of trusting in his human efforts to save himself, he will be pummeled with the harsh demands of the law — there can be no mercy in the Law. To obey the law because one is saved is proper but to be inclined towards the law (to Adam the First) in the sense depicted by Bunyan is to court spiritual disaster and death.


Puritans believed in “typological” interpretations. Namely, there is the literal sense but also a deeper Gospel sense to many parts of the Bible. It is different from the true allegorical sense found in Medieval theologians who believed each passage had four senses to it. What is truly wonderful and edifying about the Puritans was their insistence on digging deeper to gain something beneficial for their souls. We see something similar in Spurgeon. Many modern readers and exegetes find this method to be distasteful.

[1] Cf. Calhoun, Grace Abounding, 81-82 n.40.

[2] Cf. Horner, Pilgrim’s Progress: Themes and Issues, 420-422.

[3] For example, Thomas Hobbes is a good example of a type of paganism against whom men like Cudworth devoted their intellectual attacks. In the end of seventeenth century, “Deism” began to develop. Cf. Alister McGrath, The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World (New York: Doubleday, 2004).

[4] Spurgeon, Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, 146-147. Also, see Bradley’s helpful observations in her study, p. 49.

[5] Cf. Pieter de Vries, John Bunyan on the Order of Salvation, translated by C. van Haaften (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 100-102.