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)

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