Posted by Mark Herzer

STUDY SESSION 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.

 

Readers

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)

 

Vocabulary

“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

SPENDING MONEY (122)

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.

INCHANTED GROUND (130)

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)

 


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