Thursday, July 30, 2009



It's been very good reading Pilgrim's Progress with my three little girls and at the same time consulting a commentary and a curriculum to expand our understanding of what we read.

click here for link to commentary
click here for link to curriculum

Though through freqent readigns and listenings there is not yet so much familiarity with Bunyan's allegory that a little outside resources can't provide some additional input.

Click here to see how we listen to Pilgrim's Progress

Having just finished reading and discussing Christian's entering in through the wicket gate and his introduction to Mr. Goodwill I give you the text and following that a brief example of how the curriculum aided our discussion.


Click here to read in context

At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.

Christian: Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.

Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.

So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then said Christian, What means that? The other told him, A little distance from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain: from thence both he and they that are with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.

Christian: Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.

Goodwill: An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.

Christian: Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

Goodwill: But how is it that you came alone?

Christian: Because none of my neighbors saw their danger as I saw mine.

Goodwill: Did any of them know of your coming?

Christian: Yes, my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again: also, some of my neighbors stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way.

Goodwill: But did none of them follow you, to persuade you to go back?

Christian: Yes, both Obstinate and Pliable; but when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back; but Pliable came with me a little way.

Goodwill: But why did he not come through?

Christian: We indeed came both together until we came to the Slough of Despond, into the which we also suddenly fell. And then was my neighbor Pliable discouraged, and would not venture farther. Wherefore, getting out again on the side next to his own house, he told me I should possess the brave country alone for him: so he went his way, and I came mine; he after Obstinate, and I to this gate.

Goodwill: Then said Goodwill, Alas, poor man; is the celestial glory of so little esteem with him, that he counteth it not worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?

Christian: Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say all the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment betwixt him and myself. It is true, he went back to his own house, but I also turned aside to go in the way of death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

Goodwill: Oh, did he light upon you? What, he would have had you seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality! They are both of them a very cheat. But did you take his counsel?

Christian: Yes, as far as I durst. I went to find out Mr. Legality, until I thought that the mountain that stands by his house would have fallen upon my head; wherefore there I was forced to stop.

Goodwill: That mountain has been the death of many, and will be the death of many more: it is well you escaped being by it dashed in pieces.

Christian: Why truly I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me again as I was musing in the midst of my dumps; but it was God’s mercy that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that mountain, than thus to stand talking with my Lord. But O, what a favor is this to me, that yet I am admitted entrance here!

Goodwill: We make no objections against any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither; they in no wise are cast out. John 6:37. And therefore good Christian, come a little way with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? That is the way thou must go. It was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles, and it is as strait as a rule can make it; this is the way thou must go.

Christian: But, said Christian, are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way?

Goodwill: Yes, there are many ways butt down upon this, and they are crooked and wide: but thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being strait and narrow. Matt. 7:14.

Then I saw in my dream, that Christian asked him further, if he could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back. For as yet he had not got rid thereof; nor could he by any means get it off without help.

He told him, “As to thy burden, be content to bear it until thou comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from thy back of itself.”

Some Scriptures to Consider accompanying this section:
Joh 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Q. Who is this man Goodwill?
A. Jesus
See I never quite thought of Goodwill as Jesus himself in Bunyan's allegory but rather as God's good will personified. Both resources I consulted held forth Mr. Goodwill as Christ and certainly it fits as we think of the good will of Jesus Christ to receive all that come to God by Him. And also here in John 10:9 where Jesus, himself, tells us that He is the door. We are to enter through him and entering through him we shall be saved!

Note: it is my goal that as we read Pilgrim's Progress together, we will in fact spend more time in the word of God searching out the truth behind the allegory. So the time we spend here with Mr. Goodwill opens the door to discuss several things.

Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

and again:

Joh 6:35-40 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

2Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Q. Why is Christ thus so willing to receive all comers?
A. Christ is thus so willing because they were given to him by the Father. How can he not receive any whom the Father has given to himself? And not only is Christ willing to receive all that come to him being given to him by the Father, but HE is also ABLE to receive all comers as he, himself, is God our Saviour. In him we live. He has undertaken to be our surety, our sins are forgiven in him - nothing bars us from him, for to him we have been given, and by him our debt to wrath was satisfied, and in him we are counted perfect and righteous.

For a wonderful exposition of John 6:37, I recommend, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, by John Bunyan. click here

The curriculum also asked:
Q. How did Christian display honesty when talking with Goodwill even when it hurt is own
reputation? Explain in your own words.

A. One quote could be: "Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say all the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment betwixt him and myself. It is true, he went back to his own house, but I also turned aside to go in the way of death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman." Where Christian did not hide his own sin. 1John 1:9

Also asked:
Q. What did Christian call the road that Mr. Worldly Wiseman sent him down?
A. "Way of Death"

and then:
Q. How does what Christian says there relate to our own times where it is very popular to say that "all roads lead to heaven?"

A. Answer was open ended and meant to spark discussion. But I'm thinking of John 14:6 and
Prov 14:12 or even Acts 4:12. All roads do NOT lead to heaven. In fact, as my girls pointed out this morning, not only is Jesus the wicket gate, and Mr. Goodwill, but he, himself, is also the way. And he is the only way to heaven. If you are not on that strait and narrow way which alone is the way of life then you are in the way of death.

For more on both Goodwill and Interpreter check out Bunyan Characters by Alexander Whyte by clicking here.

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