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Saturday, August 19, 2017
Date Posted:

Pilgrim's Progress

The Theology Of Compromise Shattered

Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley

John Bunyan in his Immortal Dream, The Pilgrim’s Progress tells of the shattering by the Holy Scriptures, of the Theology of Compromise and non-separation from evil thinking and evil practising

Christian and his fellow pilgrim Hopeful, fall in with an unholy bunch of hypocrites, including Mr By-ends, Mr Hold-the-World, Mr Money-Love and Mr Save-All.

This bunch of flourishing hypocrites had been educated by one Mr Gripe-man a schoolmaster in the city of Love-gain in the County of Coveting and they challenged Christian and Hopeful on the great issue of absolute truth in belief and practice.

Let us take up the story as related by Bunyan:-

MR BY‑ENDS. My brethren, we are, as you see, going all on pilgrimage; and for our better diversion from things that are bad, give me leave to propound unto you this question:-

Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman, &c., should have an advantage lie before him, to get the good blessings of this life, yet so as that he can by no means come by them except, in appearance at least, he becomes extraordinarily zealous in some points of religion that he meddled not with before; may he not use these means to attain his end, and yet be a right honest man?

Mr Money‑Love I see the bottom of your question; and, with these gentlemen’s good leave, I will endeavour to shape you an answer. And first, to speak to your question as it concerns a minister himself: Suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small benefice, and has in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he has also now an opportunity of getting of it, yet so as by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zeaously, and, because the temper of the people requires it, by altering of some of his principles; for my part, I see no reason but a man may do this (provided he has a call), aye, and more a great deal besides, and yet be an honest man. For why­-

1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful (this cannot be contradicted), since it is set before him by Providence; so then, he may get it, if he can, making no question for conscience sake.

2.  Besides, his desire after that benefice makes him more studious, a more zealous preacher, &c., and so makes him a better man; yea, makes him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.

3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by dissenting, to serve them, some of his principles, this argueth ‑ (1) That he is of a self-denying temper; (2) Of a sweet and winning deportment; and so (3) more fit for the ministerial function.

4.  I conclude, then, that a minister  that changes a small for a great, should not, for so doing, be judged as covetous; but rather, since he has improved in his parts and industry thereby, be counted as one that pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.

And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ in the world, but by becoming religious, he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or more and far better customers to his shop: for my part, I see no reason but that this may be lawfully done. For why ‑

1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.

2.  Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.

3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good, of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and food grain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good; therefore, to become religious, to get all these, is a good and profitable design.

This answer, thus made by this Mr Money‑love to Mr. By‑ends' question, was highly applauded by them all; wherefore they concluded, upon the whole, that it was most wholesome and advantageous. And because, as they thought, no man was able to contradict it and because Christian and Hopeful were yet within call, they jointly agreed to assault them with the question as soon as they overtook them; and the rather because they had opposed Mr By‑ends before.  So they called after them, and they stopped, and stood still till they came up to them; but they concluded, as they went, that not Mr By‑ends, but old Mr Hold‑the‑world, should propound the question to them, because, as they supposed, their answer to him would be without the remainder of that heat that was kindled betwixt Mr By‑ends and them, at their parting a little before.

So the came up to each other, and after a sort salutation, Mr Hold‑the-world propounded the question to Christian and his fellow, and bid them to answer it if they could.

Chr. Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions.  For it if be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves (as it is in the sixth of John), how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse, to get and enjoy the world!  Nor do we find any other than heathens, hyprocrites, devils, and witches, that are of this opinon.

1. Heathens; for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no ways for them to come at them, but by becoming circumcised; they say to their companions, If every male of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of their, be ours?

Their daughter and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them.  Read the whole story, Gen. Xxxiv. 20-23.

2.  The hyprocritical Pharisees were also of this religion; long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows' houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment. (Luke xx 46, 4 7. )

3. Judas the devil was also of this religion; he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.

4. Simon the witch was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith; and his sentence from Peter’s mouth was according.  (Acts viii. 19-22).

5.  Neither will it out of my mind, but that that man that takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas resigned the world in becoming relgious, so surely did he also sell religion and his Master for the same.  To answer the question, therefore, affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is both heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.  Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian.  Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer; so there was a great silence among them.  Mr By-ends and his company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hoeful mgiht outgo them.  Then said Christian to his fellow, if these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God?  And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a devouring fire?

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