Part 24 — The Flatterer by John Bunyan audio
So the Pilgrims went on, and Ignorance followed. They came to a path which seemed to go as straight as the way which they were on — and hence they did not know which of the two to take, for both seemed straight before them. Therefore, they stood still to consider.
As they were thinking about the way, behold a black man clothed with a very light robe, came to them, and asked them why they were standing there. They answered that they were going to the Celestial City — but did not know which of these ways to take.
“Follow me,” the man said, “I am going there also.”
So they followed him into the adjoining way, which slowly by degrees turned them away from the Celestial City — so that, in a little time, their faces were completely turned away from it; yet they continued to follow him. By and by, before they were aware, he led them into a net, in which they were both so entangled, that they did not know what to do. With that, the white robe fell off the black man’s back. Then they saw where they were. There they lay crying for some time, for they could not extricate themselves from the net.
Then Christian said to his fellow, “Now I see my error. Did not the Shepherds bid us to beware of the Flatterer? As is the saying of the wise man — so we have found it this day: ‘Whoever flatters his neighbor, is spreading a net for his feet!'”
HOPEFUL: “They also gave us a note with directions so that we could surely find the way — but we forgot to read it, and have wandered into the paths of the destroyer. Here David was wiser than we; for he said, ‘By the word of Your lips, I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer.'”
Thus they lay in the net, bewailing themselves. At last they sighted a Shining One coming towards them, with a whip of small cords in his hand. When he arrived at the place where they were, he asked them where they came from, and what they were doing there.
They told him that they were poor Pilgrims going to the Celestial City — but were led out of their way by a black man who was clothed in white, who bid them to follow him, for he was going there also.
Then the Shining One replied, “That was the Flatterer! He is a false apostle, who transforms himself into an angel of light.”
So he cut the net, and freed the Pilgrims. Then he said to them, “Follow me, so that I may place you in the right path again.”
So he led them back to the way which they had left to follow the Flatterer. Then he asked them, “Where did you stay last night?”
They answered, “With the Shepherds, upon the Delectable Mountains.”
He then asked if the Shepherds had given them a note with directions for the way.
“Yes,” they responded.
“Did you not read your note?” he questioned.
“No,” they replied.
“And why not?” He asked them.
They answered that they had forgotten.
He asked, moreover, if the Shepherds told them to beware of the Flatterer.
“Yes,” they explained, “but we did not imagine that he was this fine-spoken man.”
Then I saw in my dream, that he commanded the Pilgrims to lie down. Having done this, he grievously chastised them, to teach them the good way in which they should walk. As he chastised them, he declared, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
This done, he bid them to go on their way, and to pay close attention to the other directions which the Shepherds had given them. So they thanked him for all his kindness, and went carefully along the right way, singing:
“Come here, you who walk along the way;
See how Pilgrims fare, who go astray!
They are catched in an entangling net,
Cause they good counsel, did forget.
‘Tis true, they were rescued — but yet you see,
They’re scourged to boot—let this your caution be.”