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Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 1

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.

I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and he cried out, “What shall I do?”

The Burden of Sin

At last he went home, and hid his grief as long as he could. But he could not be silent long, because his trouble increased. So he said, “Oh, my dear wife, and you my sweet children, I am troubled because of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am told that this our city will be burned with fire from heaven; should this fearful thing happen, both myself with you, my wife, and you, my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, unless some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.”

At this all his family were amazed; they did not doubt what he said to them was true, but they thought he was sick; therefore, hoping that sleep might settle his brain, with all haste they got him to bed. But the night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears.

So when the morning was come, they asked how he was. He told them, “Worse and worse.” He tried to talk with them, but they answered him harshly, offering him medicine to cure his trouble. This only made him worse, for the load of sin on his back grew heavier day by day. So he spent his time in his room, sorrowing over his misery. Or, he would walk in the fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying; and this for some days he spent his time.

Once upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind, he burst out as he had done before, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?”

Evangelist Meets Christian

I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still, because he could not tell which way to go. Then I saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, who asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?”

He answered, “Sir, I read in the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment. I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second.”

Then said Evangelist, “Why not willing to die, since this life is troubled with so many evils?”

The man answered, “Because I fear that this burden upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into hell and the thoughts of these things make me cry.”

Then said the Evangelist, “If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?”

He answered, “Because I know not where to go.” Then he gave him a parchment roll, on which was written, “Flee from the wrath to come.”

The man, therefore, read it, and asked Evangelist, “Whither must I fly?” Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, “Do you see yonder Wicket-Gate?” The man said, “No.” Then said the other, “Do you see yonder shining light?” He said, “I think I do.” Then said Evangelist, “Keep that light in your eyes, and go directly to it; so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.”

So I saw in my dream that the man began to run.

Now, he had not run far from his own door, when his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “Life! life! eternal life!” So Christian, for that was his name, looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the plain.

Pliable and Obstinate Meet Christian

The neighbors also came out to see him run; and as he ran, some laughed and some cried after him to return. There were two that resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of one was Obstinate, and the other Pliable. They soon overtook him and tried to persuade him to go back home. But he said, “That can by no means be: you dwell in the City of Destruction, that soon will be burned with fire. Be content, good neighbors, and go along with me.”

Obstinate:  What! And leave our friends and comforts behind us?

Christian:  Yes, because all which you forsake is nothing compared with a little of that I am seeking to enjoy. Come along with me, and prove my words.

Obstinate:  What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?

Christian:  I seek a place that can never be destroyed, one that is pure, and that fadeth not away, and it is laid up in heaven, and safe there, to be given, at the time appointed, to them that seek it with all their heart. Read it so, if you will, in my book.

Obstinate:  Away with your book; will you go back with us or no?

Christian:  No, not I. I have put my hand to the plough.

Obstinate:  Come, then neighbor Pliable, let us turn again and go home without him. There are many like him who take a crazy notion and are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.

Pliable:  If what good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours; my heart inclines to go with him.

Obstinate:  What! More fools still? Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you?

Christian:  Nay, but do thou come with me, Pliable; there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories besides. If you believe not me, read here in this book.

Pliable Follows Christian

Pliable:  Well, neighbor Obstinate, I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him. But, my good Christian, do you know the way to this desired place?

Christian:  I am directed by a man named Evangelist to a little gate that is before us, where we shall receive directions about the way.

Pliable:  Come, then good neighbor, let us be going. Then they went both together.

Now, I saw in my dream, that, when Obstinate went back, Christian and Pliable went away talking together and thus they began:

Christian:  Come, neighbor Pliable; I am glad you are going along with me. Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt he would not thus lightly have left us.

Pliable:  Come, neighbor Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, where we are going. And do you think the words of your book are certainly true?

Christian:  Yes, verily; for it was made by Him that cannot lie.

Pliable:  Well said; what things are they?

Christian:  There is an endless kingdom to be enjoyed, and everlasting life to be given us.

Pliable:  Well said; and what else?

Christian:  There are crowns of glory to be given us, and garments that will make us shine like the sun.

Pliable:  This is very pleasant; and what else?

Christian:  There shall be no more crying, nor sorrow; for he that is owner of the place will wipe all tears from our eyes.

Pliable:  And what company shall we have there?

Christian:  There we shall be with the angels. There also you shall meet the thousands and tens of thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are hurtful, but all loving and holy; every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. There we shall see the elders with their golden crowns, and the holy women with their golden harps. We shall see men that by the world were cut in pieces, burnt in flames, and drowned in the seas, for the love they bear to the Lord of the place.

Pliable:  This is enough to delight one’s heart. How shall we get to beshare these joys?

Christian:  The Lord, the Governor of the country, hath written that in this book; the substance of which is, “If we be truly willing to have it, he will bestow it upon us freely?”

Pliable:  Well, my good companion, glad am I to hear of these things; come on, let us mend our pace.

Christian:  I cannot go so fast as I would, by reason of this burden on my back.

The Slough of Despond

Now, I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough, or swamp, that was in the midst of the plain; and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond. Here, therefore, they struggled for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink into the mire.

Pliable:  Ah! neighbor Christian, where are you now?

Christian:  Truly, I do not know.

Pliable:  At this Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to Christian, “Is this the happiness you have told me of? If we fare so badly at our first setting out, what may we expect between this and our journey’s end? If I can get out with my life, you may have the whole country for yourself alone.” Giving a desperate struggle or two, he got out of the mire on that side of the swamp which was next to his own house; so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.

Christian Struggles Through and Help Lends a Hand

So Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he tried to struggle to that side of the slough which was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate. But he could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back. Then I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him whose name was Help, and asked him what he was doing there.

Christian:  Sir, I was told to go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and as I was going there I fell in here.

Help:  But why did you not look for the steps?

Christian:  I was so afraid that I fled the next way and fell in.

Then said Help, “Give me thine hand.” So he gave him his hand, and he drew him out, and set him upon solid ground, and bade him go on his way.

Christian Meets Mr. Worldly Wiseman

Now, as Christian was walking along by himself, he espied one far off come crossing over the field to meet him; and they chanced to meet just as they were crossing the way of each other.

The man he met was Mr. Worldly Wiseman; he dwelt in the town of Carnal Policy, a very great town, and near the town where Christian lived. This man, then, meeting with Christian remembered hearing about him. For there was much talk about Christian’s setting forth from the City of Destruction. Mr. Worldly Wiseman therefore, noticing his sighs and groans, began thus to talk with Christian:

Worldly Wiseman:  How now, good fellow! Whither away with so heavy a load?

Christian:  A heavy load indeed, as ever I think poor creature had! And as you ask me, “Whither away?” I tell you sir, I am going to yonder wicket-gate; for there, as I am informed, I shall be told how to be rid of my heavy burden.

Worldly Wiseman:  Hast thou a wife and children?

Christian:  Yes; but I am so laden with this burden, that I cannot take pleasure in them as formerly. I often feel like I had none.

Worldly Wiseman:  Wilt thou harken to me, if I give thee counsel?

Christian:  If it be good, I will; for I stand in need of good counsel.

Worldly Wiseman:  I would advise thee, then, that thou with all speed get thyself rid of thy burden; for thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till then; nor canst thou enjoy thy blessings which God hath bestowed upon thee till then.

Christian:  That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden but get it off myself I cannot; nor is there any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders; therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of my burden.

Worldly Wiseman:  Who bade thee go this way to be rid of thy burden?

Christian:  A man that appeared to me to be a very great and honorable person; his name is Evangelist.

Worldly Wiseman Condemns Evangelist

Worldly Wiseman:  I curse him for his counsel! There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than is that into which he hath directed thee. Thou hast met with something already; for I see the dirt of the Slough of Despond is upon thee; but that slough is the beginning of the sorrows that do attend those that go on in that way. Hear me: thou art like to meet with, in the way which thou goest, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and even death. These things are certainly true, having been proved by many people. And why should you so carelessly destroy yourself by giving heed to a stranger?

Christian:  Why, sir, this burden upon my back is more terrible to me than all these things which you have mentioned; I care not what I meet with in the way, if I can only meet with deliverance from my burden.

Worldly Wiseman:  How camest thou by thy burden at first?

Christian:  By reading this book in my hand.

Worldly Wiseman Condemns the Bible

Worldly Wiseman:  I thought so. You are like other weak men, who meddle with things too high for them. You are running a desperate risk to get something you know not what.

Christian:  I know what I would obtain; it is ease from my burden.

Worldly Wiseman:  But why will you seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? I could direct you to what you want without danger. Besides, instead of these dangers, you shall meet with safety, friendship, and content.

Christian:  I pray, open this secret to me.

Worldly Wiseman Suggests Morality

Worldly Wiseman:  Why, in yonder village named Morality, there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality, a very wise man who has skill to help men off with such burdens as yours. To my knowledge he hath done a great deal of good this way; and, besides, he hath skill to cure those that are somewhat crazed in their wits with their burdens. His home is not quite a mile away; and if he is not at home himself, he hath a son named Civility, that can do as well as the old gentleman himself. There, I say, thou mayest be eased of thy burden.

You could send for your wife and children to live with you there. You will find living to be good and cheap and you will be sure to live by honest neighbors in good fashion.

Christian Snared by Worldly Wiseman

Christian presently concluded, “If this be true which this gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his advice”; and with that he thus further spake:

Christian:  Sir, which is my way to this honest man’s house?

Worldly Wiseman:  Do you see yonder hill?

Christian:  Yes, very well.

Worldly Wiseman:  By that hill you must go, and the first house you come at is his.

So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr. Legality’s house for help; but, behold, when he got to the hill, it seemed so high, and also that side of it that was next to the wayside did hang so much over, that Christian was afraid the hill should fall on his head; therefore he stood still, and knew not what to do. Also his burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way.

There came also out of the hill flashes of fire that made Christian afraid. And he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel. Then he saw the Evangelist coming and he began to blush for shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and spoke severely thus with Christian:

Evangelist:  What dost thou here, Christian? At which words Christian knew not what to answer. Then said Evangelist further, Art thou not the man that I found crying, without the walls of the City of Destruction?

Christian:  Yes, dear sir, I am the man.

Evangelist:  Did not I direct thee the way to the little wicket-gate? How is it then, that you are so quickly turned aside? For you are now out of the way.

Christian:  I met with a gentleman, as soon as I had got over the Slough of Despond, who persuaded me that I might, in the village before me, find a man that could take off my burden.

Evangelist:  What was he?

Christian:  He looked like a gentleman, and talked much to me, and got me at last to yield.

Evangelist:  What said the gentleman to you?

Christian:  Why, he asked me whither I was going, and I told him. Furthermore I told him of the burden that is on my back.

Evangelist:  And what said he then?

Christian:  He bade me with speed get rid of my burden; and he showed me a better way, and short, not so hard as the way, sir, that you sent me in. He sent me to a gentleman’s house that hath skill to take off these burdens. So I believed him, and turned out of the way into this. But, when I came to this place, and beheld these things, I stopped for fear. I now know not what to do.

Evangelist Shows Christian His Error

Then said Evangelist, “Stand still, that I may show these the words of God.” So he stood trembling. Then said Evangelist, “God says in His book, ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.’ ” He also did thus apply them: “Thou are the man that art running into misery; thou hast begun to reject the counsel of the Most High.”

Then Christian fell down at his feet as dead, crying, “Woe is me, for I am undone!”

Then Evangelist caught him by the right hand, saying, “Be not faithless, but believing.” Then did Christian a little revive, and stood by trembling as at first before Evangelist.

Evangelist Describes Worldly Wiseman

Evangelist:  I will now show thee who it was that led thee astray, and who it was also to whom he sent thee. That man that met thee is one Worldly Wiseman; and rightly is he so called; partly because he seeks only for the things of this world (therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to church), and partly because he loveth that way best, for it saveth him from the Cross.

He to whom thou wast sent for ease, Legality by name, is not able to set thee free from thy burden. No man was as yet ever rid of his burden by him; no, nor ever is like to be. You cannot be set right by any such plan. Therefore, Mr. Worldly Wiseman is an enemy, and Mr. Legality is a cheat; and for his son, Civility, notwithstanding his simpering looks, he is but a fraud and cannot help thee. Believe me, there is nothing in all this noise that thou hast heard of these wicked men, but a design to rob thee of thy salvation, by turning thee from the way in which I had set thee.

After this, Evangelist called aloud to the heavens for proof of what he had said; and there came words and fire out of the mountain under which poor Christian stood. The words were these: “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.”

Now, Christian looked for nothing but death, and began to cry out, calling himself a thousand fools for listening to Worldly Wiseman. Then he said to Evangelist:

Christian:  Sir, what think you? Is there any hope? May I now go back, and go up to the wicket-gate? I am sorry I have hearkened to this man’s counsel; but may my sins be forgiven?

Evangelist:  Thy sin is very great, for by it thou hast committed two evils; thou hast forsaken the way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths. Yet will the man at the gate receive thee, for he has good will for men. Only take heed that thou turn not aside again, lest thou perish.

Then Christian went back to the right road; and Evangelist, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bade him godspeed. So he went on with haste, speaking not to any man by the way. He went like one that was all the while treading on forbidden ground, and could by no means think himself safe, till again he was got in the way which he had left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel.

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 14:5

A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.