Part 16 Pilgrim’s Progress — Talkative

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Part 16 — Talkative by John Bunyan audio

Talkative by John Bunyan read-along text

Moreover, I saw in my dream, that as they went on, Faithful happened to look on one side, and saw a man whose name is Talkative, walking at a distance besides them — for in this place, there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and somewhat better looking at a distance than near at hand. Faithful addressed Talkative in this manner.

Bunyan A man whose name is Talkative

FAITHFUL: “Friend, where are you going — to the heavenly country?”

TALKATIVE: “Yes, I am going to that very place.”

FAITHFUL: “That is good — and I hope we may have your good company.”

TALKATIVE: “I would be glad to be your companion.”

FAITHFUL: “Come on, then, let us travel together — and let us spend our time discussing profitable things.”


TALKATIVE: “To talk of good things is very acceptable to me, whether with you, or with any others. I am glad that I have met with you who are inclined to such a good use of time; for, to tell you the truth, most choose to speak of things of no profit — and this has been a distress to me.”

FAITHFUL: “That is indeed a thing to be lamented — for what is more worthy to converse about, than the things of the God of Heaven?”


TALKATIVE: “I am very glad to join you, for you speak with conviction. There is nothing so pleasant and so profitable, as to talk of the things of God. For instance, if a man delights to talk of the history or the mystery of things; or if a man loves to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs — where shall he find things recorded so delightfully, and so sweetly penned, as in the Holy Scripture?”

FAITHFUL: “That is true, but to be profited by such things in our conversation should be our objective.”

TALKATIVE: “That is what I said — for to talk of such things is most profitable. In so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things — such as of the vanity of earthly things, and the benefit of heavenly things in general. More particularly, a man may learn the necessity of the new birth; the insufficiency of our works; the need of Christ’s righteousness, and so forth. Besides this, a man may learn, by talk, what it is to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, and the like. By this also a man may learn what are the great promises and consolations of the Gospel, to his own comfort. Further, by this, a man may learn to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth, and also to instruct the ignorant.”

FAITHFUL: “All this is true, and I am glad to hear these things from you.”

TALKATIVE: “Alas! the lack of such talk is the cause why so few understand the need for faith, and the necessity of a work of grace in their soul, in order to have eternal life — but they ignorantly live in the works of the law, by which a man can by no means obtain the kingdom of Heaven.”

FAITHFUL: “But, if I may clarify, heavenly knowledge of these things is the gift of God. No man attains them by human effort, or only by talking about them.”

TALKATIVE: “All this I know very well. For a man can receive nothing, unless it is given him from Heaven. All is by grace — not by works. I could give you a hundred scriptures for the confirmation of this.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, then, what shall we discuss now?”

TALKATIVE: “Whatever you desire. I will talk of heavenly things — or earthly things; moral things — or evangelical things; sacred things — or secular things; past things — or things to come; foreign things — or things at home; essential things — or extraneous things — provided that all is done to our profit.”

Now Faithful began to marvel, and stepping towards Christian — for all this time he had been walking by himself, he softly said to him, “What a noble companion we have! Surely this man will make a very excellent Pilgrim.”

At this Christian meekly smiled, and said, “This man, with whom you are so enamored, will beguile twenty people who do not know him, with that tongue of his.”

FAITHFUL: “Do you know him, then?”

CHRISTIAN: “Know him! Yes, better than he knows himself.”

FAITHFUL: “Tell me — what is he?”

CHRISTIAN: “His name is Talkative, and he dwells in our town. I am surprised that you are a stranger to him — yet that is somewhat understandable because our town is so large.”

FAITHFUL: “Whose son is he — and where does he dwell?”

CHRISTIAN: “He is the son of Say-well and lived on Prating Row. He is known by all who are acquainted with him, by the name of Talkative on Prating Row. Notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a sorry fellow.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, he seems to be a very charming man.”

CHRISTIAN: “That he is, to those who do not have a thorough acquaintance with him. He appears good at a distance — but up close he is quite the opposite. Your saying that he is a charming man, brings to my mind what I have observed in the work of the painter, whose pictures look best at a distance — but very near, they are quite unattractive.”

FAITHFUL: “I almost think you are not serious, because you smiled.”

CHRISTIAN: “God forbid that I should jest — although I smiled in this matter — or that I should accuse anyone falsely! I will tell you something more about him. Talkative is for any company, and for any talk. Just as he now talks with you — so he will talk when he is at the tavern — and the more drink he has in his head, the more talk he has in his mouth. True religion has no place in his heart, or house, or conduct. All his boasted religion lies merely in his tongue.”


FAITHFUL: “Then I have been greatly deceived by this man.”

CHRISTIAN: “Deceived! You may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, ‘They say — but they do not do.’ For the kingdom of God is not in word — but in power. He talks of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth — but he only knows how to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad — and I know what I say about him is the truth.

“His house is as empty of religion, as the white of an egg is of flavor. At his home, there is neither prayer, nor repentance for sin — even the brute animals serve God far better than he. To all who know him, he is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion! Because of him, God’s name is blasphemed at that end of town where he dwells. Thus the people who know him say, ‘A saint abroad — and a devil at home!’ His poor family finds it so, as he is such an ogre. He is so unreasonable with his servants and scolds them so — that they neither know what to do for him, or how to speak to him.


“Men who have any business with him, say that it is better to deal with infidels than with him — for then they would have fairer dealings. For Talkative would go beyond them to defraud, beguile and cheat them.

“He also brings up his sons to follow his steps; and if he finds in any of them a foolish timidity — for so he calls the first appearance of a tender conscience — then he calls them fools and blockheads, and will neither employ them, nor recommend them to others. For my part, I am of the opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall; and will be, if God does not prevent it, the ruin of many more.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, my brother, I am bound to believe you; not only because you say that you know him — but also because, like a Christian, you give honest reports of men. For I know that you do not speak these things out of ill-will — but because it is the truth.”

CHRISTIAN: “Had I known him no more than you do — I might have thought of him as you did at first. Yes, had Talkative received this report from the enemies of true religion, I would have thought that it was a slander — which often falls from wicked men’s lips upon good men’s names and professions. But all these things, yes, along with a great many more that I know of, which are just as bad, I can prove him guilty of. Besides, godly men are ashamed of him — they can neither call him brother, nor friend. The very naming of him among them makes them blush, if they know him.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, I see that saying and doing are two different things, and hereafter I shall better observe this distinction.”

CHRISTIAN: “They are two different things indeed, and are as diverse as the soul and the body are — for the body without the soul is but a dead carcass. The soul of religion is the practical part: ‘Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this — to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ Talkative is not aware of this — he thinks that merely hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceives his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed. Talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart and life. We are sure that at the last day, men shall be judged according to their fruits. It will not be said then, ‘Did you believe?’ But, ‘Were you doers — or talkers only?’ All shall be judged accordingly. The end of the world is compared to our harvest — and you know men at harvest want nothing but fruit. Not that anything can be accepted by God which is not done in faith — but I only desire to show you how insignificant the profession of Talkative will be at that day.”

FAITHFUL: “This brings to my mind that chapter of Moses, by which he describes the clean animals for eating. They are such as part the hoof and chew the cud — not which part the hoof only, or which chew the cud only. The rabbit chews the cud — but yet is unclean, because it does not part the hoof. And this truly resembles Talkative; he chews the cud — that is, he seeks knowledge, he chews upon the Word. But he does not divide the hoof — that is, he does not part with the way of sinners. He is therefore unclean.”

CHRISTIAN: “For all that I know, you have spoken the true Gospel sense of those texts. And I will add another thing: Paul calls some men, yes, and those great talkers too, ‘sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.’ They are ‘things without life, giving sound.’ Things without life, that is — without the true faith and grace of the Gospel. Consequently, they are those who shall never be placed in the kingdom of Heaven among those who are the children of life — though their talk is, as if it were, the tongue or voice of an angel.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, I was not so fond of his company at first — but I am sick of it now! What shall we do to get rid of him?”

CHRISTIAN: “Take my advice, and do as I tell you, and you shall find that he will soon be sick of your company too — unless God touches his heart, and converts it.”

FAITHFUL: “What would you have me to do?”

CHRISTIAN: “Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion. Then ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether the power of religion is set up in his heart, house, and conduct?”

Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, “How is it with you?”

TALKATIVE: “Very well, thank you. I thought we would have had a great deal of talk by this time.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, if you desire, we shall begin now. Since you left it with me to state the question, let it be this: How does the saving grace of God reveal itself, when it is in the heart of a man?”

TALKATIVE: “I perceive then, that our talk must be about the power of things. Well, it is a very good question, and I shall be willing to answer you. First, where the grace of God is at work in the heart, it causes there a great outcry against sin. Secondly. . . ”

FAITHFUL: “Wait a moment — let us consider one thing at a time. I think you should rather say: Saving grace reveals itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin.”

TALKATIVE: “Why, what difference is there between crying out against sin — and abhorring of sin?”

FAITHFUL: “O! a great deal. A man may cry out against sin out of principle — but he can only abhor sin by virtue of a holy antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit — who yet can tolerate it well enough in the heart, house, and conduct. Joseph’s mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been very holy — but, notwithstanding that, she would have willingly committed adultery with him. Some cry out against sin, even as the mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calls it a naughty girl — and then begins hugging and kissing it.”

TALKATIVE: “I perceive that you are trying to trap me in my words.”

FAITHFUL: “No, not I! I am only trying to be precise. But what is the second sign whereby you would prove a work of grace in the heart?”

TALKATIVE: “Great knowledge of Gospel mysteries.”

FAITHFUL: “This sign should have been first — but first or last, it is also false. For knowledge, great knowledge of the mysteries of the Gospel may be obtained — and yet there be no work of grace in the soul. Yes, a man may have all knowledge — and yet be nothing, and consequently not be a child of God.

“When Christ said, ‘Do you know all these things?’ and the disciples had answered, ‘Yes’ — He adds, ‘Blessed are you if you do them.’ He does not lay the blessing in the knowing of them — but in the doing of them. For there is a head knowledge which is not attended with a corresponding practice: ‘He who knows his master’s will, and does not carry out those instructions, will be severely punished!’ A man may have the knowledge of an angel — and yet not be a Christian. Therefore your sign of it is not true.

“Indeed, to know is a thing that pleases talkers and boasters; but to do is that which pleases God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge; for without knowledge, the heart knows nothing. There are two very distinct kinds of knowledge. There is a knowledge which rests in the bare speculation of things — and there is a knowledge which is accompanied with the graces of faith and love; which puts a man upon obeying the will of God from the heart. The first of these will serve the mere talker — but the true Christian is not content without obedience. ‘Give me understanding — and I shall keep Your law. Yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart!'”

TALKATIVE: “You are trying to trap me in my words again! This is not pleasing conversation.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, if you please, propound another sign which shows how this work of grace reveals itself in the heart.”

TALKATIVE: “Not I, for I see that we shall not agree.”

FAITHFUL: “Well, if you will not, will you give me permission to do it?”

TALKATIVE: “You may if you desire.”

FAITHFUL: “A work of grace in the soul reveals itself, both to him who has it — and to others. To him who has it, thus: It gives him conviction of sin, especially of the defilement of his nature and the sin of unbelief — for the sake of which he is sure to be damned, if he does not find mercy at God’s hand, by faith in Jesus Christ. This sight and sense of sin, works in him sorrow and shame for sin. He finds, moreover, that Jesus is revealed as the Savior of the world — and the absolute necessity of believing in Him for eternal life, whereby he hungers and thirsts after Him; to which hungerings and thirstings, the promise of salvation is made.

“Now, according to the strength or weakness of his faith in his Savior — so is his joy and peace — so is his love to holiness — so are his desires to know Him more, and to serve Him in this world.

“But though it reveals itself thus unto him — yet it is but seldom that he is able to conclude that this is a true work of grace. For his corruptions, along with his sin-tainted reason, cause his mind to misjudge in this matter. Therefore, a very sound judgment in him who has this divine work, is required before he can, with certainty, conclude that he has a genuine work of grace in his heart.

“Now to others, this work of grace is thus manifested:

“First, by a heart-felt confession of his faith in Christ.

“Secondly, by a life consistent with that confession. Namely, a life of holiness — heart-holiness, family-holiness — if he has a family, and by conduct-holiness in the world. This work of grace in his heart teaches him, inwardly, to abhor his sin, and himself for his sin, in secret. It also teaches him outwardly to suppress sin in his family, and to promote holiness in the world — not by talk only, as a hypocrite or talkative person may do — but by a practical obedience, in faith and love, to the Word of God.

“And now, Sir, as to this brief description of the work of grace, and also the manifestation of it, if you have anything to object — then object. But if not, then give me permission to propose a second question to you.”

TALKATIVE: “My part is not now to object — but to hear. Let me, therefore, have your second question.”

FAITHFUL: “It is this: Do you experience this first part of this description of a saving work of grace? That is, does your life and conduct testify to the same? Or is your religion only in word and tongue — but not in deed and truth? Please, if you decide to answer me — then say no more than you know that God will acknowledge as true. Also, say nothing but what your conscience will justify you in — for it is not he who commends himself who is approved — but he whom the Lord commends. Besides, to say that you are such and such — when your daily conduct, and all your neighbors can tell that you are lying, is great wickedness.”

Talkative then began to blush; but, recovering himself, he thus replied: “You are now discoursing upon a person’s experience and conscience, and appealing to God for justification of what is spoken. I was not expecting this kind of discourse — nor am I disposed to answer such questions, because I am not obligated to do so — unless you have appointed yourself to be my teacher. And even if you should do so — I refuse to make you my judge. But, please, tell me why you ask me such questions?”

FAITHFUL: “Because I saw that you were so eager to talk, and because I did not know if you had anything but mere notions. Besides, to tell you the truth, I have heard of you — that you are a man whose religion lies only in talk, and that your conduct gives your profession the lie. They say that you are a blemish among Christians; and that religion fares the worse because of your ungodly conduct; that some already have stumbled because of your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby. Your religion — and an ale-house, and covetousness, and impurity, and swearing, and lying, and vain company keeping — all join in your conduct. The proverb is true which is said of a harlot, namely, that she is a shame to all women — just so, you are a shame to all professors.”

TALKATIVE: “Since you are so ready to believe any report, and to judge so rashly as you do — I cannot but conclude that you are some peevish or critical man, not fit to be discoursed with. So I bid you farewell.”


Then Christian came and said to his brother Faithful, “I told you what would happen — your words and his lusts would not agree! He would rather leave your company, than reform his life. But he is gone — let him go, the loss is no man’s but his own. He has saved us the trouble of leaving him — for if he had continued with us, he would have only been a reproach in our company; besides, the apostle says, ‘Withdraw yourself from such people.'”

FAITHFUL: “But I am glad that we had this little discourse with him — as perhaps he will think of it again. However, I have dealt plainly with him, and so I am clear of his blood if he perishes.”

CHRISTIAN: “You did well to talk so plainly to him. There is very little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days — and that makes religion a stench in the nostrils of many. For these talkative fools whose religion is only in word, and are debauched and vain in their conduct, (being admitted into the fellowship of the godly) — only puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere believer. I wish that all men would deal with such hypocrites as you have done; then they would either become sincere believers — or the company of saints would be too hot for them to remain in.

Then Faithful said,

“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely does he speak! How he presumes
To drive down all before him! But so soon
As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon
That’s past the full, into the wane he goes.
And so will all — but he who heart-work knows.”

Thus they went on talking of what they had seen along the way — which made their tedious journey easier, for now they were traveling through a wilderness.

When they were almost out of this wilderness, Faithful happened to look back, and spotted someone he knew coming after them.

“Oh!” said Faithful to his brother, “Someone is coming!”


Then Christian looked, and said: “It is my good friend Evangelist!”

“Yes, and my good friend, also.” said Faithful, “For it was he who showed me the way to the gate.”

Now Evangelist caught up to them, and greeted them saying: “Peace be with you, dearly beloved — and peace be with those who were your helpers.”


CHRISTIAN: “Welcome, welcome, my good friend! The sight of your face brings your past kindness and unwearied laboring for my eternal good, to my remembrance.”

FAITHFUL: “And a thousand times welcome! Your company, O sweet Evangelist — how desirable it is to us poor Pilgrims!”

EVANGELIST: “How has it fared with you, my friends, since the time of our last parting? What have you met with, and how have you conducted yourselves?”

Then Christian and Faithful told him of all the things which had happened to them along the way — and what difficulties they had met with.

EVANGELIST: “How glad I am — not that you have met with trials — but that you have been victors; and that in spite of many weaknesses, you have continued in the narrow way even to this very day.

“I am glad both for my own sake and for yours. I have sowed — and you have reaped. The day is coming, when both those who sowed and those who reaped shall rejoice together. That is, if you persevere — for in due season you shall reap — if you do not grow weary. The crown is before you, and it is an incorruptible one. So run, that you may obtain it.

“There are some who have set out for this crown, and, after they have gone far for it — have had it taken from them. Hold fast, therefore, what you have — let no man take your crown! You are not yet out of the gun-shot reach of the devil. You have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Let the kingdom be always before your eyes. Steadfastly believe the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Let nothing in this world capture your highest affections. Above all, pay attention to your fleshly desires, and your hearts — for they are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked! Be steadfast — you have all power in Heaven and earth on your side.”

Then Christian thanked him for his exhortation, and asked that he would speak further to them for their help the rest of the way. They knew that he was a prophet, and could tell them of things that might happen unto them, and also how they might resist and overcome them.

So Evangelist began as follows: “My sons, you have heard in the truths of the Gospel, that you must, through many tribulations, enter into the kingdom of Heaven — and again, that in every city bonds and afflictions await you. Therefore you cannot expect that you should go long on your pilgrimage without them, in some sort or other. You have found something of the truth of these testimonies already — and more will immediately follow.


“For now you are almost out of this wilderness, and therefore you will soon come to a town which you will shortly see ahead of you. In that town you will be grievously assaulted by enemies, who will make great attempts to kill you. Be sure that one or both of you must seal the testimony which you hold, with your blood. Be faithful unto death, and the King will give you a crown of life! The one who dies there, although his death will be violent, and his pain perhaps great — will be better off than the other. For he will arrive at the Celestial City the soonest — and because he will escape many miseries that the other will meet with along the rest of his journey. But when you have come to the town, and find what I have told you fulfilled — then remember what I have said, and be men of courage, committing yourselves to your faithful Creator, while continuing to do what is right.”


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