And as he was troubled about this — he spotted two men come tumbling over the wall on the left side of the narrow way. They soon caught up to Christian, and entered into conversation with him. The name of the one was Formalist, and the name of the other Hypocrisy.
Christian asked, “Gentlemen, where have you come from — and where are you going?”
Formalist and Hypocrisy answered, “We were born in the land of Vain-glory, and are going to the Celestial City for reward.”
Christian responded, “Why did you not enter in at the gate which stands at the beginning of the way? Do you not know that it is written that the one who does not enter by the gate, but climbs up some other way — that person is a thief and a robber?”
Formalist and Hypocrisy replied, “To journey to the gate for entrance, was considered too far away by all our countrymen. Besides that, our custom is to always make a short-cut, and climb over the wall.”
Christian questioned, “But will it not be counted a trespass against the Lord of the city where we are going — to thus violate His revealed will?”
Formalist and Hypocrisy told Christian that he need not trouble his head about this. For they had a tradition for what they were doing; and, if need be — they could produce witnesses to it — showing that this has been done for more than a thousand years!
“But,” Christian said, “will your practice stand a trial at law?”
They told him that their tradition — being more than a thousand years old, would doubtless be admitted as legal by any impartial judge.
“And besides,” they said, “if we get into the way — what does it matter how we got there? If we are in — we are in! You are in the way to the Celestial City — and you came in at the gate. And we are in the same way — and we came tumbling over the wall. So how is your condition any better than ours?”
Christian explained, “I walk by the rule of my Master; but you walk by the vain working of your imaginations. You are accounted as thieves already, by the Lord of the way! Therefore, you will not be found to be true Pilgrims at the end of the journey. You came in by your own way, without His direction; and you shall go out by yourselves, without His mercy!”
To this, they made but little answer; they only told Christian to pay attention to himself.
Then I saw that they went on in their own ways, without much conversation with one another; except that the two men told Christian, that as to laws and ordinances, they had no doubt but that they were as careful to do them as he was. “Therefore,” said they, “we do not see how you differ from us — except for that coat which is on your back, which probably was given to you by some of your neighbors — to hide the shame of your nakedness.”
Christian answered, “You cannot be saved by laws and ordinances — and you did not come in at the narrow-gate. And as for this coat which is on my back — it was given to me by the Lord of the place where I am going — and just as you say — to cover my nakedness. I take this as a token of His kindness to me — for I had nothing but rags before! With this, I comfort myself as I go: Surely, when I come to the gate of the Celestial City, the Lord will recognize me, since I have His coat on my back — a coat which He gave me on the day when He stripped me of my rags.
“I have, moreover, a mark on my forehead — which perhaps you have not noticed, which one of my Lord’s most intimate associates fixed there on the day that my burden fell off my shoulders! I tell you, furthermore, that I was then given a sealed scroll — to comfort me by reading it as I travel along the way. I was also told to turn it in at the Celestial Gate, as my authorization to enter. But you lack all of these things — since you did not enter in at the narrow-gate!”
To this, they gave him no answer. They only looked at each other and laughed.
Then I saw that they went on, and that Christian walked on ahead — no longer talking to Formalist and Hypocrisy. He would ponder to himself — sometimes sighing, and sometimes content. Also, he would be often reading in the scroll that one of the Shining Ones had given him — which gave him refreshment.