Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress

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A Commentary on Portions of John Bunyan’s Immortal Allegory

C. H. Spurgeon

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First published in 1903 by Passmore & Alabaster, London © The Banner of Truth Trust 2024

ISBN Print: 978 1 80040 418 2 Epub: 978 1 80040 419 9

Typeset in 10/14 pt Sabon Oldstyle Figures at the Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh

Printed in the USA by Versa Press Inc., East Peoria, IL.




Introduction by Thomas Spurgeon 1. Pliable Sets out with Christian 2. The Two Pilgrims in the Slough 3. The Man Whose Name Was Help


11 21 35 49 59 71 83 93

4. ‘Helps’

5. Christian and the Arrows of Beelzebub

6. Christian at the Cross 7. Formalist and Hypocrisy

8. Formalist and Hypocrisy ( concluded ) 9. Christian Arrives at the Palace Beautiful 10. ‘Come in, Thou Blessed of the Lord’ 12. What Faithful Met with in the Way 13. What Faithful Met with in the Way ( concluded ) 11. Christian and Apollyon

101 107 119 127 135 145 155

14. Vanity Fair

15. ‘Beware of the Flatterer’ 16. The Enchanted Ground



17. How Mr Fearing Fared

165 173 183 195

18. How Mr Fearing Fared ( concluded ) 19. Mr Feeble-mind and Mr Ready-to-halt 20. Christiana at the Gate and the River



W HEN it was first reported to me that a series of addresses on The Pilgrim’s Progress had been discovered, I rejoiced as one that findeth great spoil, for I hoped that after enriching the pages of The Sword and the Trowel these fragrant flowers might be gathered together into a delightful nosegay. In the mercy of God, my hopes have been fulfilled. Month by month, the ‘Pictures’ have appeared, for nearly a year and a half, in the magazine, and abundant testimony is to hand that they have proved welcome to its readers. And now the full time has come for the issue of the book, and here it is—a sparkling circlet now that the gems are strung together. Three additional ‘Pictures’ will be found herein, to wit: ‘Christian at the Cross,’ ‘Christian and Apollyon,’ and ‘Vanity Fair.’ It is not a little surprising that no trace could be found of any reference in the course of lectures to these outstanding features of the story. It does not follow, however, that the great preacher passed them by. Possibly they were not reported, or the manuscripts may have gone astray. A little search in C. H. Spurgeon’s



Sermons and other works secured sufficient, and, I venture to think, appropriate material for the missing sketches. So in love with John Bunyan, and so akin to him in faith and thought and language was the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, that I am persuaded another volume could be compiled comprising ‘Pictures’ of other striking scenes and characters in the glorious allegory. Who can doubt that abundant material could be found in ‘The Spurgeon Library’ for ‘Pictures’ of ‘Christian under Mount Sinai,’ ‘Hill Difficulty,’ ‘Doubting Castle,’ ‘Little-faith,’ ‘Beulah Land,’ and ‘Valiant-for-truth,’ for instance? There is internal evidence that these addresses were delivered at Monday evening prayer meetings with the special purpose of edifying such as had just begun to go on pilgrimage. ‘You young converts,’ said the preacher again and again, in his personal and incisive style. Never theless, the more advanced in his congregation, I am certain, were eager and delighted listeners, too. So will it be with this book. Here is milk for babes and meat for men. Moreover, the meat is such that the ‘babes’ will enjoy a taste of it, and the ‘men’ will be all the better for a sip or two of the milk. C. H. Spurgeon was a past master in the art of commenting. Who that ever heard him did not rejoice as much in his exposition of the Scriptures as in his prayers and sermons? He has commented in print on the Psalms ( The Treasury of David ), and on Matthew ( The Gospel of the Kingdom ), and on Manton ( Illustrations and



Meditations, or Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden ); and here we have his Commentary on The Pilgrim’s Progress , ‘that sweetest of all prose poems’ as he himself describes it. It is easy to see that the commentator is in sympathy with his author, and that he loves his task. If Mr Spurgeon were ever prevailed upon to fill up a page of the once popular Confession Album, I am pretty sure that his answer to the query, ‘Who is your favourite author?’ was, ‘John Bunyan.’ He has spoken of him over and over again as ‘my great favourite,’ and has left it on record that he had read The Pilgrim’s Progress at least one hundred times. The reason for his liking is not far to seek. They both loved ‘the Book of books.’ Urging the earnest study of the Scriptures, C. H. Spurgeon once said: Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the word of God, and get that word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord. I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is



almost like reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress —that sweetest of all prose poems—without continually making us feel and say, ‘Why, this man is a living Bible!’ Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved. Moreover, the language of the Illustrious Dreamer was to the mind of the Tabernacle pastor. They spake the same tongue. In an address delivered in 1862 on the occasion of the restoration of Bunyan’s tomb, Mr Spurgeon assured his hearers that Bunyan’s works would not try their constitutions as might those of Gill and Owen. ‘They are pleasant reading,’ said he, ‘for Bunyan wrote and spoke in simple Saxon, and was a diligent reader of the Bible in the old version.’ It was doubtless my dear father’s intention to publish these addresses, for he had commenced the revision of them. Would that he had been able to accomplish the task. They would have been much more perfect then. As it is, we have them very much as he uttered them. There is no mistaking his voice in these sententious sentences. I fancy that if he had been spared to issue these homilies, and to write an introduction, he would have urged his readers, as he did his hearers on the occasion referred to above,


to raise a monument to John Bunyan in their hearts, to become his descendants by imbibing the truth that he taught, and to keep his memory green by living in his faith. May the perusal of these pages create a love for the book which they explain and apply, as well as for the Book with which both the writers were ‘saturated.’ THOMAS SPURGEON Clapham , 1903 Introduction


1 Pliable Sets out with Christian N EXT to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress . I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures. It is really biblical teaching put into the form of a simple yet very striking allegory. It has been upon my mind to give a series of addresses upon The Pilgrim’s Progress , for the characters described by John Bunyan have their living representatives today, and his words have a message for many who are found in our congregations at the present time. You remember that, when Christian, with ‘a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back,’ cried out, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ he ‘saw a man named Evangelist coming to him,’ who pointed him to the Wicket-gate and



the Shining Light. Then Bunyan says: So, I saw, in my dream, that the man began to run. Now, he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, ‘Life! life! eternal life!’ (Luke 14:26). So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the plain (Gen. 19:17). The neighbours also came out to see him run (Jer. 20:10); and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return. Now, among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force; the name of the one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable. Instead of yielding to them, Christian began at once to plead with them to go along with him. Obstinate met all his pleas with mockery and abuse, but Pliable was easily persuaded to go. He is a type of those who, apparently, set out for heaven, but who have not the root of the matter in them, and, therefore, soon turn back. The likeness that Bunyan has drawn of him is worthy of our attentive consideration, for it is true in every line. It is significant that, in the first instance, Pliable went with Obstinate upon the evil errand of endeavouring to bring Christian back to the City of Destruction. In like manner, some of those who have been in the habit of keeping the worst of company may, sometimes, even without the operation upon them of the grace of God, be


Pliable Sets out with Christian induced to forsake their evil companions, and to cast in their lot, for a season, with the followers of Christ. These pliable people, who are still a very numerous family, are very dependent upon those by whom they are surrounded. If they happen to have been born in a godly household, it is probable that they will make a profession of religion. It is even possible that they will be highly esteemed, and perhaps for years will bear a most reputable Christian character. If, on the other hand, they happen to be thrown among bad companions, they will be very easily allured by them, and be made to drink, to swear, and to fall into all the vices of the stronger persons by whom they are influenced. They scarcely seem to be men. They are mere jellyfish, swept along by every turn of the tide. They lack the true element of manhood, which is firmness. This, by the way, Obstinate had in excess. If you could put an Obstinate and a Pliable together, and make them one, you might, speaking of the natural man, have something more nearly approaching true manliness than either of them would be separately. Obstinate had all the firmness, while Pliable had none of it. I think Pliable was a mouldable sort of creature; and, hence, Obstinate did with him as he liked until the poor feeble fellow came into the grasp of a stronger man than Obstinate, namely, Christian. After all, there is no man who is a match for a Christian in the matter of influence. There is a force about the truth, which is committed to our charge, when it is brought into fair play, that is not


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