Part 15 — Christian Meets with Faithful by John Bunyan audio
Christian Meets with Faithful by John Bunyan read-along text
Now, as Christian went on his way, he came to a little ascent, which was built on purpose, that Pilgrims might see ahead of them. Therefore, Christian went up — and looking forward, he saw Faithful ahead of him, on his journey.
Then Christian cried aloud, “Ho! Ho! Wait for me, and I will be your companion.”
At that, Faithful looked behind him — and Christian called again, “Stop, wait until I catch up to you!”
But Faithful answered, “No, I am running for my life, for the Avenger of Blood is behind me!”
At this, Christian roused, and putting forth all his strength, quickly caught up with Faithful, and even ran past him — so the last became the first. Then Christian smugly smiled, because he had gotten ahead of Faithful — but, not watching where he was going — he suddenly stumbled and fell, and was unable to get back up, until Faithful came to help him.
Then I saw in my dream, that they went on very amiably together, and had sweet conversation about the things that had happened to each of them on their pilgrimage.
CHRISTIAN: “My honored and well-beloved brother, I am glad that I have caught up with you; and that God has made us so like-minded, that we can walk as companions in this very pleasant path.”
FAITHFUL: “I had thought, dear friend, to have had your company much sooner; for you started out before me — therefore I was forced to come alone thus far.”
CHRISTIAN: “How long did you stay in the City of Destruction, before you set out on your pilgrimage?”
FAITHFUL: “Until I could stay no longer; for right after you left, there was great talk that our city would soon be burned down to the ground with fire from Heaven!”
CHRISTIAN: “What! Did our neighbors really talk so?”
FAITHFUL: “Yes, for a while it was the talk of the town!”
CHRISTIAN: “Were you the only one who fled to escape the danger?”
FAITHFUL: “Though there was, as I said, great talk about the eminent destruction of our city — yet I do not think they truly believed it. For in the heat of the discussions, I heard some of them deridingly speak of you, and of your desperate journey — for so they called your pilgrimage. But I did believe, and still do, that our city will be destroyed with fire and brimstone from above — and therefore I have made my escape!”
CHRISTIAN: “Did you hear any talk of neighbor Pliable?”
FAITHFUL: “Yes, I heard that he followed you until he came to the Swamp of Despond, where, as some said, he fell in. Yet he would never admit to having done so — but I am sure he was bedabbled with the mire from the swamp.”
CHRISTIAN: “And what did the neighbors say about him?”
FAITHFUL: “Since his coming back to the city, he has been harshly derided by all sorts of people! Some mock and despise him — and scarcely will any employ him. He is now seven times worse off than if he had never left the city!”
CHRISTIAN: “But why should they be so much against him, since they despise the narrow way that he forsook?”
FAITHFUL: “O! they say, ‘Hang him, he is a turn-coat! He is not true to his profession of religion!’ I think that God has even stirred up his enemies to hiss at him, and make him a proverb, because he has forsaken the narrow way!”
CHRISTIAN: “Were you able to talk with him before you left the City of Destruction?”
FAITHFUL: “I did meet him once in the streets — but he slunk away on the other side, as one ashamed of what he had done. So I was unable to speak with him.”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, at my first setting out, I had hope for Pliable, but now I fear he will perish in the overthrow of the city. For it has happened to him according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his vomit; and a sow, having been washed, to her wallowing in the mire!'”
FAITHFUL: “These are my fears for him too — but who can prevent his downfall?”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, neighbor Faithful, let us now talk of things which more immediately concern ourselves. So tell me what you have met with as you traveled along the way.”
FAITHFUL: “I escaped the Swamp which you fell into, and got up to the gate without that danger — but I met with one named Wanton, who would have liked to have done great harm to me.”
CHRISTIAN: “It was well that you escaped her net. Joseph also was greatly tempted by her, and he escaped her just as you did; but it nearly cost him his life. What did she do to you?”
FAITHFUL: “You cannot imagine what a flattering tongue she had! She strongly urged me to go with her, promising me all kinds of fleshly delights.”
CHRISTIAN: “But did she promise you the contentment of a good conscience?”
FAITHFUL: “No, only the delights of the flesh.”
CHRISTIAN: “Thank God that you have escaped her! The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit — he who is abhorred by the Lord will fall into it!”
FAITHFUL: “I do not know whether I wholly escaped her or not.”
CHRISTIAN: “Why, I trust that you did not consent to her evil desires?”
FAITHFUL: “No, not to defile myself; for I remembered an old writing which said, ‘Her steps lead to Hell!’ So I shut my eyes, that I would not be bewitched with her seductive looks. Then she maligned me — at which I quickly left her!”
CHRISTIAN: “Did you meet with any other assaults as you journeyed?”
FAITHFUL: “When I came to the foot of the Hill of Difficulty, I met with a very aged man, who asked me who I was and where I was going. I told him that I am a Pilgrim going to the Celestial City. Then the old man said, ‘You look like an honest fellow — will you be content to dwell with me for the wages that I shall give you?’ I asked him his name, and where he lived. He said his name was Adam the First, and that he dwelt in the town of Deceit.
“I further asked him what his work was, and what were the wages that he would pay. He told me that his work was many delights; and his wages were that I should be his heir at last. He told me that his house was filled with all the dainties of the world. Then I asked if he had any children. He said that he had three daughters — the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life, and that I could marry them all if I desired. Then I asked how long he would have me to live with him. And he told me, as long as he lived himself.”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, what conclusion did you and the old man come to at last?”
FAITHFUL: “Why, at first, I found myself somewhat inclined to go with the man, for his words were very appealing to me. But as I talked with him, I saw written on his forehead, ‘Put off the old man with his wicked deeds!'”
CHRISTIAN: “And what then?”
FAITHFUL: “Then it flashed into my mind, that whatever he said, and however he flattered me — that if he brought me to his house, he would sell me for a slave! So I told him to be quiet, for I would not come near the door of his house. Then he reviled me, and told me that he would send one after me, who would make my way most bitter! So just as I turned to leave him, I felt him take hold of my flesh, and he pulled me with such a fierce wrench, that I thought he had torn part of me off. This made me cry out, ‘O what a wretched man I am!’ So I escaped, and went on my way up the hill.
“Now when I had gone about half way up, I looked behind me, and saw one coming after me, as swift as the wind. He overtook me just about the place where the arbor stands.”
CHRISTIAN: “That was the same place where I sat down to rest; and being overcome with sleep, I lost my scroll!”
FAITHFUL: “But, good brother, hear me out. As soon as the man overtook me, he gave me a blow, and knocked me down, nearly killing me. When I somewhat revived, I asked him why he abused me so. He replied, ‘Because of your secret inclining to Adam the First!’
“With that he struck me another deadly blow on my chest, and beat me down backward — so I lay at his feet as dead. When I recovered again, I cried to him for mercy — but he said, ‘I do not know how to show mercy!’ And with that he knocked me down again. No doubt he would have made an end of me — but that One came by, and commanded him to refrain.”
CHRISTIAN: “Who was it that made him stop?”
FAITHFUL: “I did not know Him at first — but as He went by, I noticed the holes in His hands, and in His side — then I concluded that He was our Lord. So I continued up the hill.”
CHRISTIAN: “That man who overtook you was Moses. He spares none — neither does he know how to show mercy to those who transgress his law.”
FAITHFUL: “I know it very well — for it was not the first time that he has met with me. It was he who came to me when I dwelt securely at home, and who told me that he would burn my house down over my head, if I stayed there.”
CHRISTIAN: “But did you not see the Palace which stood there on the top of the hill?”
FAITHFUL: “Yes, and the lions too! But for the lions, I think they were asleep — for it was about noon. Because I had so much of the day before me, I passed by the porter, and continued down the hill.”
CHRISTIAN: “He told me indeed, that he saw you go by — but I wish you had called at the house, for they would have shown you so many rarities, that you would have never forgotten them to the day of your death. But please tell me — did you meet anyone in the Valley of Humiliation?”
FAITHFUL: “Yes, I met with one named Discontent, who attempted to persuade me to go back with him. His reason was, that the valley was entirely without honor. He told me, moreover, that to go there would displease all my relatives — such as Pride, Arrogance, Self-conceit, Worldly-glory, along with others, whom, he said, would be very much offended if I made such a fool of myself as to travel through the Valley of Humiliation.”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, and how did you answer him?”
FAITHFUL: “I told him that although all these whom he named might claim friendship with me, rightly so — for indeed they were my relatives according to the flesh — yet since I became a Pilgrim, they have disowned me — as I also have rejected them. Therefore they were now to me no more than if they had never been my kinsmen.
“I told him, moreover, that he had misrepresented this valley, for humility comes before honor. I told Discontent that I would rather go through this valley to obtain the honor so highly valued by the wise — than to choose that which he esteemed more worthy.”
CHRISTIAN: “Did you meet with anything else in that valley?”
FAITHFUL: “Yes, I met with Shame; but of all the men that I met with in my pilgrimage — I think that he bore the wrong name. He would have been more appropriately named Shameless.”
CHRISTIAN: “Why, what did he say to you?”
FAITHFUL: “What! Why, he objected against religion itself! He said that it was a pitiful, inferior, unmanly business for one to mind religion. He said that a tender conscience was an unmanly thing — and that for a man to watch over his words and ways, which the most popular people use, would make him the ridicule of the times. He also said that only a few of the mighty, rich, or wise, were ever of my opinion — and that these few were fools to venture the loss of all, for who knows what!
“He also objected to the poor and despised condition of all the Pilgrims of the past — along with their ignorance, and lack of understanding of all the new scientific theories.
“Yes, he also berated me about a great many more things than I relate here. He told me that it was a shame to sit convicted and mourning under a sermon — or to be deeply concerned about eternal realities. He also said that it was a shame to ask my neighbor to forgive my petty faults, or to make restitution where I had stolen from any.
“He also said that religion made a man appear odd and strange to the great people of this world — and that Pilgrims were, for the most part, poor and lowly. To him, this was a great shame.”
CHRISTIAN: “And what did you say to him?”
FAITHFUL: “Say! I was so ashamed and humiliated that I could not say anything at first. But at last, I began to consider, that ‘What is highly valued among men, is detestable in God’s sight!’ Shame had told me what is acceptable by worldly men — but he told me nothing about what God desires and commands.
“I also thought that at the final judgment, we shall not be designated to death or life, according to the standards of the world — but according to the wisdom and law of the most High God. Therefore, what God says is indeed the best — though all men in the world may disagree with Him.
“Seeing, then, that God prefers His divine religion, and a tender conscience; and that those who make themselves fools for the kingdom of Heaven are the wisest; and that the poor man who loves Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world who hates Him — depart Shame, for you are an enemy to my salvation! Shall I take your side, against my sovereign Lord? If I am now ashamed of His ways and servants — how then shall I look Him in the face, and receive His blessing at His coming?
“Indeed, this Shame was a bold villain! I could scarcely shake him off. Yes, he continued haunting me and whispering in my ear, some of the hindrances which attend true religion. But at last I told him that it was in vain to attempt to further dissuade me. For those things which he so disdained — were the most glorious in my eyes. So at last I got past this most troublesome person. When I had finally shaken him off, then I began to sing:
The trials that those men do meet withal,
Who are obedient to the heavenly call,
Are manifold, and suited to the flesh,
And come, and come, and come again afresh;
That now, or sometime else, we by them may
Be taken, overcome, and cast away.
O let the Pilgrims, let the Pilgrims, then,
Be vigilant, and act courageous like men.”
CHRISTIAN: “I am glad, my brother, that you withstood this villain so bravely; for as you say, I think he has the wrong name. For he is so bold as to follow us in the streets, and to attempt to put us to shame before all men. He seeks to make us ashamed of that which is good. If he were not so audacious, he would never attempt to do as he does. But let us still resist him, for notwithstanding all his bravadoes, he is nothing but a brazen fool. ‘The wise shall inherit honor,’ said Solomon, ‘but He holds fools up to shame!'”
FAITHFUL: “I think we must cry to Him for help against Shame. He would have us to be valiant for the truth upon the earth.”
CHRISTIAN: “That is true. Did you meet anybody else in the Valley of Humiliation?”
FAITHFUL: “No, not I, for I had sunshine all the rest of the way through — and also through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”
CHRISTIAN: “It was well for you — but it fared far otherwise with me. Almost as soon as I entered into the Valley of Humiliation, I had a long and dreadful combat with that foul fiend Apollyon! Yes, I truly thought he would have killed me, especially when he got me down and pressed me under him, as if he would have crushed me to pieces. Then he threw me, and my sword flew out of my hand. He railed that he was sure of me now. But I cried to God, and He heard me, and delivered me out of all my troubles.
“Then I entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and had no light for almost half the way through it. I thought I would have been killed there, over and over — but at last the day broke, and the sun arose, and I went through the remainder of this Valley with far more ease and quiet.”