Part 19 — The Hill Lucre by John Bunyan audio
Then Christian and Hopeful traveled on ahead of the others, until they came to a pleasant meadow, called Ease, where they journeyed with much delight. As the meadow was only a short length — they quickly traveled over it.
Now at the farthest side of that meadow was a little hill called Lucre — and in that hill was a silver mine. Because this was so rare, some of those who had formerly gone that way had turned aside to see it — but going too near to the brink of the pit, and the ground being unstable under them — it broke away, and they were killed. Some others were so injured that they could not, to their dying day, be recovered.
Then I saw in my dream, that a little way off the road, near the silver mine stood a gentleman named Demas. He called out to passing travelers to come and see. He beckoned to Christian and Hopeful, “Ho! turn aside here — and I will show you something quite special!”
CHRISTIAN: “What is so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?”
DEMAS: “Here is a silver mine — and some are digging in it for treasure. If you come, with a little effort you may be richly rewarded.”
Then Hopeful responded, “Let us go and see!”
“Not I,” Christian cautioned, “I have heard of this place before. Many have been destroyed there. And besides that, worldly treasure is a snare to those who seek it — for it hinders them in their pilgrimage.”
Then Christian called to Demas, “Is not the place dangerous? Has it not hindered many in their pilgrimage?”
DEMAS: “It is not very dangerous — except to those who are careless” — but he blushed as he spoke.
Then Christian said to Hopeful, “Let us not turn a step out of the way — but still keep on our path.”
HOPEFUL: “I assure you, that when By-ends arrives here, if he has the same invitation as we did — that he will turn aside and go to Hill Lucre.”
CHRISTIAN: “No doubt about that, for his principles lead him that way. A hundred to one, that he dies there!”
Then Demas called again, saying, “Will you not even come over and look?”
Then Christian firmly answered, “Demas, you are an enemy to the right ways of the Lord. You have been already condemned for your own turning aside. Why are you seeking to bring us into the same condemnation? Furthermore, if we turn aside at all — then our Lord the King will certainly hear of it; and rather than standing with boldness before Him — we would instead be put to shame.”
Then Demas cried out that he was one of their kinsmen; and that if they would only tarry a little, he also would walk with them.
Then Christian asked, “What is your name? Is it not Demas?”
DEMAS: “Yes, my name is Demas. I am the son of Abraham.”
CHRISTIAN: “I know you! Gehazi was your great-grandfather, Judas was your father — and you are treading in their steps. You are using a devilish prank! Your father was hanged as a traitor — and you deserve no better recompense. Assure yourself, that when we come to the King, we will tell Him of your behavior.”
Thus they continued on their way.
By this time By-ends and his companions had come within sight — and they, at the first beckoning, went over to Demas. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over its brink, or whether they went down to dig in the silver mine, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the fumes which commonly arise — of these things I am not certain. Yet this I observed — that they were never again seen in the way.
Then Christian sang:
“By-ends and silver Demas both agree;
One calls, the other runs, that he may be
A sharer in his lucre; so these do
Take up in this world, and no further go.”
Now I saw that, just on the other side of this plain, the Pilgrims came to a place where an old monument stood near the side of the highway. Upon seeing it, they were both concerned because of the strangeness of its form — for it seemed to them as if it had been a woman transformed into the shape of a pillar.
They therefore stood looking upon it — and for a time, could not tell what they should make of it. At last Hopeful spotted an inscription in an unusual dialect written above the monument; but being no scholar, he called to Christian (who was more learned) to see if he could understand the meaning. So Christian came, and after examining the letters — he found its meaning to be: “Remember Lot’s wife!”
After reading it to Hopeful — they both concluded that this was the pillar of salt which Lot’s wife had been turned into, for her looking back with a covetous heart — when she was fleeing Sodom for safety. This sudden and amazing sight prompted the following discourse.
CHRISTIAN: “Ah, my brother — this is a timely warning! It came providentially to us after Demas’ invitation to come over to view the Hill Lucre. Had we gone as he desired, and as you were first inclined to do, my brother — we ourselves would probably have been made like this woman — a spectacle to behold, for those who come after.”
HOPEFUL: “I am sorry that I was so foolish, and am astonished that I am not now as Lot’s wife — for what is the difference between her sin and mine? She only looked back — but I had a desire to go and see. Let God’s grace be adored — and let me be ashamed, that such a thing should ever have been in my heart.”
CHRISTIAN: “Let us take notice of what we have seen here, for our help in times to come. This woman escaped one judgment — for she escaped the destruction of Sodom; yet she was destroyed by another judgment — as we see that she was turned into a pillar of salt.”
HOPEFUL: “True, and she serves both as a warning and an example to us. She is a warning, in that we should shun her sin — or receive her judgment. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with the two hundred and fifty men who perished in their sin — are also an example for others to beware.
“But above all, I am astonished at one thing — how Demas and his fellows can so confidently stand looking for that treasure, which Lot’s wife — just for looking behind her was turned into a pillar of salt. For we do not read that she stepped one foot out of the way! More especially so, since the judgment which overtook her, made her a monument within sight of where they are. For they cannot but see her — if they would only lift up their eyes.”
CHRISTIAN: “It is a thing to be amazed at. It argues that their hearts have grown so hardened in this case. I cannot tell who to compare them to so aptly, as to those who pick pockets in the presence of the judge, or would rob purses under the gallows.
“It is said of the men of Sodom, that they were exceedingly wicked and sinful before the Lord — that is, in His eyesight; and notwithstanding the kindnesses which He had shown them — for the land of Sodom was like the garden of Eden at that time. This, therefore, more provoked Him, and made their punishment as hot as the fire of the Lord out of Heaven could make it. It is most rationally to be concluded, that those who shall sin in God’s sight — although such examples are continually set before them to caution them to the contrary — must be partakers of the most severe judgments!”
HOPEFUL: “Doubtless you have spoken the truth. What a mercy it is, that neither you, nor especially I, were made to be similar examples as that forsaken woman! This gives us an occasion to thank God, to fear Him, and always to remember Lot’s wife.”