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 (Matthew 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 (a); for there it will fall from thy back of itself.”
Mason’s Note (a)
There is no deliverance from the guilt and burden of sin, but by the death and blood of Christ. Here observe, that, though a sinner, at his first coming to Christ, finds some comfort and encouragement, yet, he may not have a clear sense of pardon, and assurance of the forgiveness of his sins, but he may still feel the burden of them.
Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his journey. So the other told him, that by that he was gone some distance from the gate, he would come to the house of the Interpreter (b), at whose door he should knock, and he would show him excellent things. Then Christian took his leave of his friend, and he again bid him God speed.
Then he went on till he came at the house of the Interpreter (b), where he knocked over and over. At last one came to the door, and asked who was there.
Mason’s Note (b)
Christian comes to the house of the Interpreter; which means the Lord, the Spirit, the teacher of his people.
No 6 in a series of posts from Mason’s Notes on Pilgrim Progress.
Goodwill: That mountain (the Law) 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 favour is this to me, that yet I am admitted entrance here! (y)
Mason’s Note (y)
It is a sure sign of a genuine work of grace, when the heart ascribes all to grace. Here is no talk of being faithful to grace; no ascribing any thing to his own free-will or power; but his escaping from destruction, and being yet in the way of salvation, are wholly resolved in the grace of the gospel, the mercy of God, and into his free favour and almighty power. It is sweet to converse with Jesus of his free grace to wretched and a unworthy sinners. Do you not find it so?
Goodwill: We make no objections against any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither; they in no wise are cast out. 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, (z) are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way?
Mason’s Note (z)
Christian is afraid of losing his way; a blessed sign of a gracious heart when it possesses good jealousy.
For those that missed it, there’s some very brief info about Mason in a previous post.
These posts follow a sort of format: The text of Pilgrims Progress is followed by the relevant note by Mason and then some more text of PP text and another note and so on. The text of Pilgrims Progress is available from Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
PP Text: 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 (t). 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.
Mason’s Note (t)
A man may have company when he sets out for heaven, and yet go thither alone. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew xx.16.
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 (u).
Mason’s Note (u)
When there is true grace in the heart, it will take shame to itself, and give all the glory to God’s sovereign grace, for any difference there is between us and others. Free-grace kills free-will and pride, and lays the sinner low, while it exalts Christ, and causes sinners to triumph in His righteousness and salvation.
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 (x).
Mason’s Note (x)
Though Jesus knows what is in man, and all his ways, yet He will bring the soul to confession unto Him. See the loving heart of Christ to sinners, and the free communications he admits them to with himself. Oh! “ye his people, pour out your heart before him. God-Jesus is a refuge for us.” – Psalm lxii.8.
In part 4 of this occasional series of posts on Mason’s Notes we find Pilgrim (Christian) arriving at the gate or door as he journeys towards the Celestial City.
‘Now Christian looked for nothing but death, and began to cry out lamentably; even cursing the time in which he met with Mr. Worldly Wiseman; still calling himself a thousand fools for hearkening to his counsel. He also was greatly ashamed to think that this gentleman’s arguments, flowing only from the flesh, should have the prevalency with him so far as to cause him to forsake the right way. This done, he applied himself again to Evangelist in words and sense as follows.
Christian: Sir, (o) what think you? Is there any hope? May I now go back, and go up to the wicket-gate? Shall I not be abandoned for this, and sent back from thence ashamed? I am sorry I have hearkened to this man’s counsel; but may my sin be forgiven?’
Mason’s Note (o)
Christian inquires if he may yet be happy. Legal hopes will bring on distress of soul, and despondency of spirit, as well as outward sins, there is no hope of a sinner’s being comforted by the Cross of Cross, till he is made sensible of this.
‘Evangelist: Then said Evangelist to him, Thy sin is very great, for by it thou hast committed two evils: thou hast forsaken the way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths. Yet will the man at the gate receive thee, for he has good-will for men; only, said he, take heed that thou turn not aside again, lest thou “perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” (Psalm 2:12)
‘Then did Christian address himself to go back; and Evangelist, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bid him God speed; (p) So he went on with haste, neither spake he to any man by the way; nor if any asked him, would he vouchsafe them an answer. He went like one that was all the while treading on forbidden ground, and could by no means think himself safe, till again he was got into the way which he had left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel. So, in process of time, Christian got up to the gate. Now, over the gate there was written, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)’
Mason’s Note (p)
Nothing but e gospel of Christ can direct our steps in the right way, and bring peace and comfort to our souls. It salutes us wit a cheering smile, a kiss of peace, and a blessing of consolation; and hence it wings our speed to Christ and holiness.
He knocked, therefore, more than once or twice, (q) saying,
“May I now enter here? Will he within
Open to sorry me, though I have been
An undeserving rebel? Then shall I
Not fail to sing his lasting praise on high.”
Mason’s Note (q)
This is praying and pleading in faith with God, for mercy and forgiveness of sin, through the blood of Christ Jesus.
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: (r) I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.
Mason’s Note (r)
The gate will be opened to broken-hearted sinners. Here behold the love of Jesus, in freely and heartily recieveing every poor sinner who comes unto him. No matter how vile they have been, nor what sins they have committed: he love them freely, and recieves them graciously. For he has nothing but GOOD-WILL to them. Hence the heavenly host sang at his birth, Good-will towards men. (Luke 2:14)
‘So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull.’ (s)
Mason’s Note (s)
Every saved sinner is a brand plucked out of the fire by the loving arm of Christ. (Zechariah 3:2)
‘As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den*, *Bedford jail, in which the author was imprisoned for conscience’ sake.’
Mason’s Note for ‘den’
The Jail. Mr Bunyan wrote this precious book in Bedford Jail, where he was confined on account of his religion. The following anecdote is related of him: a Quaker came to the jail, and thus addressed him: “Friend Bunyan, the Lord sent me to seek for thee, and I have been through several counties in search of thee: and now I am glad I have found thee.” To which Mr Bunyan replied: ” Friend, thou doth not speak truth in saying, the Lord sent thee to seek me; for the Lord well knows that I have been in this jail for some years; and if he had sent thee, he would have sent thee here directly.