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
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
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
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
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?