Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wise example from PILGRIMS PROGRESS

If you haven't read this classic the you have missed out on a rare gem, jam-packed with deep theology. A story not to entertain you, but more like a concentrated manual of practical theology.
I'd recommend 'The new Pilgrims Progress' or "The pilgrims progress in modern English". As far as depth goes, nothing comes close to this (not Lewis, not Tolkien, nothing i know of). Yet this is a book that you could read several times and get more each time, especially as you grow in the knowledge of the scriptures.
A beautiful mixture of insight springing from sound doctrine and much experience. The piece you will now read is a great example of wisdom from a seasoned preacher. Keep such things in mind, this situation is not unusual in America. I wish MORE ministers would be MORE concerned in their daily interactions with church attenders to SEEK TO FIND OUT if they ARE truly saved; not SATISFIED with Christian talk. I see CHURCH MEMBERSHIP and BAPTISM CLASSES as the GREATEST opportunity to FIND out and to really EXAMINE whether someone is of the faith, ESPECIALLY if they have been raised in church.
Here is the piece (Bunyan narrates first, then enters the discussion between CHRISTIAN (bunyan the main character on his way to glory with his companion FAITHFUL)

Moreover, I saw in my dream that, as they went on, Faithful, as he chanced to look on one side, saw a man whose name is Talkative walking at a distance beside them; for in this place there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and something better looking at a distance than near at hand. To this man Faithful said:
FAITHFUL. Friend, are you going to the heavenly country?
TALKATIVE. I am going to that very place.
FAITHFUL. That is well; then I hope we may have your good company.
TALKATIVE. With a very good will, will I be your companion.
FAITHFUL. Come on, then, and let us spend our time in talking of things that are profitable.
TALKATIVE. To talk of things that are good is very acceptable to me and I am glad that I have met with those that are so inclined. Indeed, there are but few who care thus to spend their time, but rather speak of things that are of no profit.
FAITHFUL. That is indeed a pity, for what things are so profitable to talk about as the things of the God of heaven?
TALKATIVE. I like you wonderfully well, for your saying is full of the truth; and I will add, What is so pleasant, and what so profitable, as to talk of the things of god? What things so pleasant? that is, if a man has any delight in things that are wonderful. For instance, if a man delights to talk of the history or the mystery of things, or if a man loves to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs, where shall he find things written so delightfully, as in the Holy Scripture?
FAITHFUL. That’s true; but to be profited by such things in our talk should be our aim.
TALKATIVE. That is what I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for, by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the folly of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Besides, by this a man may learn what it is to turn from sin, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like; by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and comforts of the gospel, to his own enjoyment. Further by this a man may learn to answer false opinions, to prove the truth, and also to teach the ignorant.
FAITHFUL. All this is true; and glad am I to hear these things from you.
TALKATIVE. Alas! the want of this is why so few know their need of faith and grace in their hearts in order to have eternal life.
FAITHFUL. But to know these things is God’s gift. No one can know them by talking about them.
TALKATIVE. All that I know very well, for a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven; I could give you a hundred Scripture passages to prove this.
FAITHFUL. “Well then,” said Faithful, “What is the one thing that we shall talk about at this time?“

TALKATIVE. What you will. I will talk of things heavenly or things earthly; things in life or things in the gospel; things sacred or things worldly; things past or things to come; things foreign or things at home; things necessary or things accidental, provided that all be done to our profit.
Now Faithful began to wonder; and, stepping to Christian (for he walked all this while by himself) he said to him softly, “What a brave companion have we got! Surely this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.”
CHRISTIAN. At this Christian modestly smiled, and said, “This man with whom you are so taken will deceive with his tongue, twenty who know him not.”
FAITHFUL. Do you know him, then?
CHRISTIAN. Know him? Yes, better than he knows himself.
FAITHFUL. Pray what is he?
CHRISTIAN. His name is Talkative; he lives in our town. I wonder that you do not know him.
FAITHFUL. Whose son is he? and where does he dwell?
CHRISTIAN. He is the son of Say-well. He lives in Prating Row, and is known to all that are acquainted with him by the name of Talkative of Prating Row; and in spite of this fine tongue, he is a sorry fellow.
FAITHFUL. Well, he seems a very good man. I have been deceived by him.
CHRISTIAN. Deceived! you may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, “They say, and do not”; but the kingdom of god is not in word, but in power.
His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. There is there neither prayer nor sign of turning from sin. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him. It can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, because of him. For my part, I am of opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall, and will be, if god prevent not, the ruin of many more.
FAITHFUL. Well, I see that saying and doing are two different things, and hereafter I shall watch for the difference between them.
CHRISTIAN. They are two things, indeed, and are as unlike as are the soul and the body. This, Talkative is not aware of but thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceives his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart of life. And let us assure ourselves that, at the judgment, men shall be judged according to their fruits.

FAITHFUL. Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?
CHRISTIAN. Why, go to him, and enter into some serious conversation about the power of religion and ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether he sets it up in his heart and home.
FAITHFUL. Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, “Come, what cheer? How is it now?”
TALKATIVE. Thank you, well: I thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.
So Faithful put many questions to Talkative to draw him out and was soon convinced that he was a man who only talked – and had no deep faith in his heart that led him to act. At last Faithful said to him:
FAITHFUL. Have you felt your own sins, and have you turned from them? And do your life and conduct show it the same? Or is your religion in word and in tongue, and not in deed and truth?
TALKATIVE. Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, replied: this kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions, because I do not feel bound to do so. Will you tell me why you ask such a question?
FAITHFUL. Because I saw you were quite free to talk, and I feared that you had only notions about things. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your life gives your mouth-profession the lie.
TALKATIVE. Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly, I must conclude you are some peevish or cross man, not fit to be talked with; and so adieu.
CHRISTIAN. Then came up Christian, and said to Faithful, “I told you how it would happen; your words and his heart could not agree. He had rather leave your company than reform his life.”

“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely doth he speak! How he presumes
To drive down all before him! But so soon
As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon
That’s past the full, into the wane he goes;
And so will all but he who heart-work knows.”

Thus they went on, talking of what they had seen by the way, and so made that way easy, which would otherwise, no doubt, have been tedious to them; for now they went through a wilderness


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