Part 5 — The Narrow Gate by John Bunyan audio
So, in process of time, Christian arrived at the narrow-gate. Now, over the gate there was written, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
He knocked, therefore, several times, saying, “May I now enter here — though I have been an undeserving wretch? If so, I shall sing His everlasting praise!”
At last, a serious person came to the gate, named Good-will, and asked who was there — from whence he came — and what he wanted.
Christian responded, “I am a poor burdened sinner, coming from the City of Destruction. I am going to the Celestial City, that I may be saved from the wrath to come. I have been informed Sir, that the way to the Celestial City is through this gate. Are you willing to let me enter?”
Good-will replied, “I am willing with all my heart!” And with this, he opened the gate.
As Christian was stepping in, Good-will gave him a sudden yank.
Surprised, Christian asked, “Why did you do that!”
Good-will then explained, “A short distance from this gate, there is a strong castle erected, of which Beelzebub is the prince. From there, both he and his minions shoot arrows at those who come up to this gate — hoping to kill them before they can enter in!”
Then Christian said, “I both rejoice and tremble!”
When Christian was safely inside, the man at the narrow-gate asked him who had directed him there.
“Evangelist directed me to come here and knock — as I did,” said Christian, “and that you, Sir, would then tell me what I must do.”
“An open door is set before you — and no man can shut it!” responded Good-will.
“I am now beginning to reap the benefits of my hazardous journey!” replied Christian.
“But how is it that you came alone?” asked Good-will.
“Because none of my neighbors saw their danger — as I saw mine,” answered Christian.
“Did any of them know of your coming?” inquired Good-will.
Christian replied, “Yes! My wife and children saw me at first, and called after me to come back. Also, some of my neighbors stood crying and calling for me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears — and so I started on my journey.”
“But did none of them follow you — to attempt to persuade you to turn back?” asked Good-will.
“Yes!” replied Christian, “both Obstinate and Pliable tried to turn me back; but when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate railed at me, and went back alone. But Pliable came with me for a little way.”
“But why did Pliable not come all the way here with you?” questioned Good-will.
Christian explained, “Indeed, he did come with me — until we came to the Swamp of Despond, into which we suddenly fell! At that, Pliable became so discouraged, that he would not venture with me any further. Being thus disheartened, he got out of the swamp on the side nearest to his own house — and he told me I could possess the heavenly country alone! So he went his way, following after Obstinate — and I continued traveling to this narrow-gate.”
Then Good-will said, “Alas, poor Pliable! Is Celestial Glory of so small a value to him — that he does not count it worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?”
Christian then said, “I have stated the truth concerning Pliable; but if I would also tell all the truth about myself — it would reveal that there is no difference between us! It is true that he went back to his own house — but I had also turned aside into the way of destruction, being persuaded by the worldly arguments of Mr. Worldly-wiseman.”
“Oh! That deceiver would have you seek ease from your burden at the hands of Mr. Legality! Both of them are liars and cheats! And did you take his counsel?” asked Good-will.
“Yes, as far as I dared!” confessed Christian, “I went to find Mr. Legality, until I thought that the mountain on the way to his house would fall upon my head! So I was forced to stop!”
“That mountain has been the death of many — and will be the death of many more! It is fortunate that you escaped without being dashed to pieces!” exclaimed Good-will.
Christian answered, “Truly, I do not know what would have become of me — had not Evangelist found me in my sad plight! But it was of God’s mercy that he came to me — otherwise I would never have arrived at this narrow-gate. But now I am here safe — even I, who certainly am more fit to have died under that mountain, than to have arrived safely here. O! what a choice favor is this!”
Good-will then said, “We refuse entrance to no sincere Pilgrim, notwithstanding all the wickedness they have done before they arrive here. Therefore my friend, come with me, and I will teach you about the way in which you must go. Look ahead of you — do you see that narrow way? That is the way you must go. It was built by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ and His Apostles; and is as straight as can be. This is the only way you must go!”
“But,” inquired Christian, “Are there no turnings nor windings, by which a Pilgrim may lose his way?”
“Yes, there are many side paths which intersect with the narrow way — but they are crooked and wide. This is how you may distinguish the right from the wrong — only the right path is straight and narrow!”
Then I saw in my dream, that Christian further asked if Good-will could help him remove the burden which was upon his back; for he could not remove it without help.
Good-will told him, “Be content to bear your burden until you come to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from your back all by itself.”