Category Archives: Puritan

A Practical Guide to Prayer

A Practical Guide to Prayer[1]

Before they call I will answer. Isaiah 65:24

Introduction: George Swinnock offers some very helpful and practical steps to praying. He presents several things we should meditate on before praying. It may be appropriate to take each topic separately and then pray in response. He lists six categories on which we can meditate.

Meditation prepares the heart for prayer. “Meditation is the best beginning of prayer, and prayer is the best conclusion of meditation. Prayer is a building which reaches up to heaven, meditation lays in all the costly materials which are requisite for this building.” (p. 112)[2]

1. Meditate on your sins, and hunt them out of their lurking holes; this helps in our confession.[3] “Your duty in prayer is to indict, arraign, and condemn and execute those malefactors and transgressors of the royal law, which can never be done till they are apprehended. If you want to kill those foxes that spoil the vine, those lusts which hinder your regenerate part from thriving, your care must be by meditation to hunt them out of their lurking holes and take them.” (p. 113) [Name the sins before God in your meditation and confess and repent of them.]

2. Meditate on your needs, for God is fully able to supply them. Consider what you need—pardoning mercy, strength for victory, power against sin—that you may entreat God to give them to you. “Consider…what sin you lately prevented, and are afraid it will recover again, that you may beg strength to pursue the victory; what lust lately got the better of you, that you may entreat pardon of it, and power against it… This consideration of your needs, with the weight of them, will make you more urgent and instant with God for supply; they that feel hunger, how hard will they beg for bread!” (p. 114) [Consider your spiritual needs more than your material needs.]

3. Meditate upon his mercies to you from birth. Look at the dangers you have been delivered from, the journeys you have been protected in, the seasonable help he has sent you, the suitable support he has afforded you in distress, the counsel he has given you in doubts, and the comforts he has provided you in sorrow and darkness. These are present with you by meditation. Every breath in your life is a gift of mercy. Do not forget the former favours bestowed on you and your family. An empty perfume bottle still smells when the perfume is gone. “These thoughts before prayer may stir you up to bless the giver. If you should bless men when they curse you, much more should you bless God, when he blesses you.” (pp. 115-116) [Look over all the specific mercies God has given you.]

4. Then meditate upon your present mercies. How many do you enjoy—your house, family, body, and soul, are all full of blessings! Think of them particularly. Spread them out like jewels to your view. Meditate on how freely they are bestowed, on their fullness and greatness. But O, your soul’s mercies—the image of God, the blood of Christ, eternal life, and seasons of grace! Your whole life is a bundle of mercies. These stir us up to bless the Giver.  [Consider both “body-mercies” (things that benefit your body, physical life, etc.) and especially “soul-mercies” (things that benefit your soul) you receive on a daily basis.]

5. Then meditate on God to whom we pray. O how we are ashamed of our drops when we stand by this ocean! “As God rises in our thoughts, self falls. That sun discovers all our dust… This serious apprehension of your distance will quicken you to reverence. God’s greatness and man’s vileness are both arguments to make man humble and serious in the worship of God.” (p. 116) [Go through His attributes in your mind and consider how infinitely higher He is than you. This helps us to maintain a proper perspective in prayer.]

6. Meditate on his mercy and goodness.[4] These like Moses’ strokes will fetch water out of a rock. God delights to be sought and found. He delights to see men joyful in the house of prayer. God will not send you away sad. When you have by mediation put the wood in order upon the altar, you may by prayer set fire to it and offer up a sacrifice of sweet smelling savour. “Believe before you pray, that your hand of prayer shall not knock at heaven’s gate in vain, that God will not send you away sad.” (p. 116) [As a believer, this is the one thing you must be convinced of in your prayer or your prayers will be drudgery, legal, burdensome, and something you will want to dispense with as soon as possible. “Believe before you pray!”]

[1] Enlarged from Nov. 11, Voices from the Past, Vol. 1 (George Swinnock, Works, 1:111-117). The editor extracted this reading from Swinnock’s The Christian Man’s Calling. In particular, it represents a portion from chapter 12 entitled, “How a Christian may exercise himself to godliness in prayer.” I added extra sentences from the original work to the selection from Voices from the Past.

[2] This along with the rest of the quotes will be modernized.

[3] Swinnock says three things relate to us, “thy sins, wants [needs], and mercies.”

[4] “…what promises He has made to prayer, how bountiful he is to those who call upon Him. He does more than they can ask or think; he gives liberally without upbraiding.” (p. 116)

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

The Glory of Heaven for the Dregs of Earth

The Glory of Heaven for the Dregs of Earth

These three sentences from Stephen Charnock represent only a small sample of the veritable riches of heart warming theological reflections and meditations found in his The Existence and Attributes of God. Though it is taking me an interminably long time to work through his classic work, I cannot complain because I have been relishing these opportunities to read it.

Technically, the second sentence cannot be a “run on sentence” but if it were, it would be a glorious run on sentence! He has been delineating the numerous ways in how our God is GOOD. The following passage comes from one of the sections detailing this statement: “In God’s giving Christ to be our Redeemer, he gave the highest gift that it was possible for divine goodness to bestow” (324). The Father’s Son was given to rescue us “by his death.” Meditate on the wonders of God’s goodness to us in all that our gracious Lord Jesus underwent for us!

He gave him to us, to suffer for us as a man, and redeem us as a God; to be a sacrifice to expiate our sin by translating the punishment upon himself, which was merited by us. Thus was he made low to exalt us, and debased to advance us, made poor to enrich us, 2 Cor. 8:9, and eclipsed to brighten our sullied natures, and wounded that he might be a physician for our languishments; he was ordered to taste the bitter cup of death, that we might drink of the rivers of immortal life and pleasures; to submit to the frailties of the human nature, that we might possess the glories of the divine; he was ordered to be a sufferer, that we might be no longer captives, and to pass through the fire of divine wrath, that he might purge our nature from the dross it had contracted. Thus was the righteous given for sin, the innocent for criminals, the glory of heaven for the dregs of earth, and the immense riches of a Deity expended to re-stock man.[1]

[1] Stephen Charnock, The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864–1866), 2:326.

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.