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Pilgrim's Progress - Chapter 2

Pilgrim Reaches the Wicket Gate

After a time, Christian reached the Wicket Gate, and over it was written, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

He knocked, therefore, more than once or twice, saying:

“May I now enter here? Will He within Open to sorry me, though I have been An undeserving rebel? Then shall I Not fail to sing His lasting praise on high.”

At last there came a grave person to the gate named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.

Christian:  Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the City of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion. I would therefore know if you are willing to let me in.

Goodwill:  I am willing with all my heart. And, with that, he opened the gate.

So, when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then said Christian, “What means that?” The other told him, “A little distance from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub, the Evil One, is the captain; from whence both he and they that are with him shoot arrows at those that come up to the gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in.” Then said Christian, “I rejoice and tremble.”

Christian Enters and Talks with Goodwill

So when he was in, the man of the gate asked him who directed him thither.

Christian:  Evangelist bade me come hither and knock, as I did; and he said that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.

Goodwill:  An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.

Christian:  Now I begin to reap the benefit of the trouble which I have taken.

Goodwill:  But how is it that you came alone?

Christian:  Because none of my neighbors saw their danger, as I saw mine.

Goodwill:  Did any of them know you were coming?

Christian:  Yes, my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again; also some of my neighbors stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way. Obstinate and Pliable ran after me to fetch me back, but seeing that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back, but Pliable came with me a little way.

Goodwill:  But why did he not come through?

Christian:  We indeed came together to the Slough of Despond, into which we suddenly fell. Then was Pliable discouraged, and would not venture farther. Wherefore, getting out on the side next his own house, he went his way, and I came mine. But I turned aside into the way of death, being persuaded thereto by one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

Goodwill:  Oh! did he light upon you? Did he bid you seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality! They are both cheats. But did you take his counsel?

Christian:  Yes, as far as I dared. I went to find Mr. Legality, until I thought the mountain that stands by his house would fall on my head. So I stopped. Why, I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me. It was God’s mercy that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that mountain, than thus to stand talking with my Lord. But, oh! what a favor this is to me, that yet I am to enter here!

Goodwill:  We object to none. No matter what they have done before they come they in no wise are cast out. Therefore, good Christian, come a little with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee. Do you see this narrow way? That is the way you must go. It was cast up by the men of old, prophets, Christ and his apostles, and it is as straight as a rule can make it.

Christian:  But are there no turnings nor windings by which a stranger may lose his way?

Goodwill:  Yes, there are many ways branching from this, and they are crooked and wide; but thus you may distinguish the right from the wrong, for the right is straight and narrow.

Then I saw in my dream that Christian asked him further if he could not help him off with the burden that was upon his back. For as yet he had not got rid thereof, nor could he by any means get it off without help.

He told him, “Be content to bear it until you come to the place where it will fall from thy back of itself.”

Christian in the Interpreter's House

Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to turn again to his journey.

Goodwill told him that some distance from the gate he would come to the House of the Interpreter, at whose door he should knock. Inside he would be shown excellent things. Then Christian said good-bye to Goodwill, who bade him godspeed.

He went on till he came to the house of the Interpreter, where he knocked over and over. At last one came to the door, and asked who was there.

Christian:  Sir, here is a traveler who was told by a friend of the good man of this house to call here. I would therefore speak with the master of the house.

So he called for the master of the house, who, after a little time, came to Christian, and asked him what he would have.

Christian:  Sir, I am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion. I was told by the man that stands at the gate at the head of this way, that, if I called here, you would show me excellent things, such as would be helpful to me on my journey.

Pictures Seen in the Interpreter's House

Interpreter:  Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee.

First Picture

The Interpreter commanded his man to light the candle, and bade Christian follow him. He led him into a private room, and Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hung up against the wall. It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in its hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

Christian:  What means this?

Interpreter:  This picture is to show you that the man’s work is to know dark things and explain them to sinners. You see him stand as if pleading with men. You see that the world is cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee that he cares nothing for this present world. He loves only his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next to have glory for his reward. “Now,” said the Interpreter, “I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath chosen to be thy guide, in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in thy way.”

Second Picture

Then he took him by the hand, and led him into a very large parlor that was full of dust, because never swept. The Interpreter called for a man to sweep. When he began to sweep, the dust began so to fly about that Christian was almost choked. Then said the Interpreter to a girl that stood by, “Bring hither water, and sprinkle the room,” which, when she had done, it was swept and cleansed with ease.

Christian:  What means this?

Interpreter:  This parlor is the heart of a man that was never made pure by the sweet grace of the Gospel. The dust is his original sin, and inward evils, that have defiled the whole man. He who began to sweep at first is the Law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. As the first began to sweep, you were almost choked, this is to show that the Law, instead of cleansing the heart by its working, increases sin in the soul. Again you saw the girl sprinkle the room with water, and it was cleansed with ease; this is to show that when the Gospel comes, in the sweet and gracious power thereof, to the heart, then I say, even as thou sawest the maiden lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean through the faith of it, and, consequently, fit for the King of Glory to dwell in.

Third Picture

Then I saw Interpreter take Christian by the hand and lead him into a little room where sat two little children, each in his own chair. The eldest was named Passion, and the other Patience. Passion seemed much discontented, but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked, “What is the reason of the discontent of Passion?” The Interpreter answered, “The Master would have him wait for his best things till the beginning of next year; but he will have all now. Patience is willing to wait.”

Then I saw that one came to Passion, and brought him a bag of treasure, and poured it down at his feet. He took it up, and rejoiced and laughed Patience to scorn. But he had soon wasted all away, and had nothing left him but rags.

Christian:  Explain this matter more fully to me.

Interpreter:  These two lads are pictures; Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience of the men of the world to come. As you see Passion will have all now, this year, that is to say in this world; so are the men of this world; they must have all their good things now; they cannot wait until the next world for their portion of good. But, as thou sawest that he had quickly wasted all away, and had left nothing but rags, so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.

Then said Christian, “Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, both because he waits for the best things and because he will have the glory of his things when Passion’s are only rags.”

Interpreter:  You may add also that the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone. Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion, because he had his best things last.

Christian:  Then I see it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.

Interpreter:  You say truth; “for the things that are seen soon pass away, but the things that are not seen endure forever.”

Fourth Picture

Then I saw the Interpreter take Christian by the hand and lead him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.

Christian:  What means this?

Interpreter:  This fire is God’s work of grace in the heart. He who casts water upon it to put it out, is the devil; but you shall see why in spite of the water it still burns. So he led him to the other side of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, which oil he continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.

Christian:  What means this?

Interpreter:  This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of His grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart. So in spite of what the devil can do, grace never dies out in the heart. The man behind the wall to keep the fire is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is kept alive in the soul.

Fifth Picture

Then the Interpreter took him by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was built a stately palace, beautiful to behold, at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted. He saw also upon the top thereof certain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold.

Christian asked, “May we go in thither?”

Then the Interpreter led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, anxious to go in, but afraid. There also sat a man a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his ink-horn before him, to take the name of him that should enter therein. Also, in the doorway stood many men in armor. If any tried to enter, they would do him what hurt and mischief they could.

Now Christian was amazed at all this. At last as every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a very brave man come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, “Set down my name, sir.”

Then this man drew his sword and rushed upon the armed men, cutting his way through them, receiving and giving many wounds. He pressed forward into the palace. Then there were heard pleasant voices and those that walked upon the top of the palace said:

“Come in, come in; Eternal glory thou shalt win.”

So he went in, and was clothed in such garments as they. Then Christian smiled, and said, “I think verily I know the meaning of this.”

“Now,” said Christian, “let me go hence.” But the Interpreter said: “No. Wait till I have shown you a little more.”

Sixth Picture

So he led him into a very dark room where there sat a man in an iron cage.

The man seemed very sad. He sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and sighed as if his heart would break. Then said Christian, “What means this?” At which the Interpreter bade him talk with the man.

Christian asked the man, “What art thou?” the man answered, “I am not what I once was.”

Christian:  What wast thou once?

Man:  I was once a fair and flourishing Christian, both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others.

Christian:  Well, but what art thou now?

Man:  I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get out.

Christian:  But how camest thou in this condition?

Man:  I forgot to watch and be sober. I gave free rein to sin; I sinned against the light of the Word and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Spirit, and He is gone; I tempted the devil, and he has come to me; I have so hardened my heart that I cannot turn.

Then said Christian to the Interpreter, “But are there no hopes for such a man as this?” “Ask him,” said the Interpreter.

Then said Christian, “Is there no hope but you must be kept in the iron cage of despair?”

Man:  No, none at all.

Christian:  Why? “The Son of God is very merciful.”

Man:  I have crucified Him to myself afresh. I have despised His person. I have counted His blood an unholy thing; I have shown contempt to the Spirit of mercy. Therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises of God, and there now remains to me nothing but certain judgment and fiery anger, which shall devour me as an enemy.

Christian:  For what did you bring yourself into this condition?

Man:  For the pleasures and gains of this world, in the enjoyment of which I took much delight; but now every one of those things bite me like a burning worm.

Then said the Interpreter to Christian, “Let this man’s misery be remembered by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee.”

Christian:  Well, this is fearful! God help me to watch and be sober, and to pray, that I may shun the cause of this man’s misery. Sir, is it not time for me to go on my way now?

Interpeter:  Tarry till I show thee one thing more, and then thou shalt go on thy way.

Seventh Picture

So he took Christian by the hand again, and led him into a chamber, where there was one rising out of bed; and, as he put on his clothing, he shook and trembled.

Then said Christian, “Why doth this man thus tremble?”

The Interpreter bade him tell to Christian the reason of his so doing. So he said, “This night, as I was in my sleep, I dreamed, and behold the heavens grew exceedingly black; also it thundered and lightened in most fearful manner, that it put me into an agony. So I looked up in my dream, and saw the clouds rack at an unusual rate; upon which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a Man sitting upon a cloud, attended with the thousands of heaven; they were all in flaming fire; also the heavens were in a burning flame. I heard then a great voice saying, “Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.” And with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth: some of them were exceeding glad and looked upward and some thought to hide themselves under the mountains. Then I saw the Man that sat upon the cloud open the book and bid the world draw near. And he called out to them that stood around Him, “Gather together the tares, the chaff and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake.” And with that, the bottomless pit opened, just where about I stood. It was also said to the same person, “Gather my wheat into the garner.” And, with that, I saw many caught up into the clouds; but I was left behind. I also sought to hide myself, but I could not; for the Man that sat upon the cloud still kept His eye upon me; my sins also came into my mind, and my conscience did accuse me on every side. Upon this I awakened from my sleep.”

Christian:  But what was it that made you so afraid of this sight?

Man:  Why I thought that the day of judgment was come, and that I was not ready for it. But this frightened me most, that the angels gathered up others and left me behind; also the pit of hell opened her mouth just where I stood.

Then said Interpreter to Christian, “Keep all things in thy mind, that they may urge thee forward in the way thou must go.

Then Christian began to prepare for his journey. Then said the Interpreter, “The Comforter be always with thee, good Christian, to guide thee into the way that leads to the city.”

So Christian went on his way.

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 27:4

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?