Study Guide 4: Christian at Palace Beautiful
Watchful & Discretion: Examination
- As Christian becomes discouraged by the lions he lifts up his eyes: what does he see before him?
- Where does this palace stand?
- Why was this house built?
- What does the house represent?
- How does Watchful explain the lions?
- Who is Watchful, what does he represent?
- What does Watchful do with Christian?
- What is and was Christian’s name? What does “graceless” mean?
- Whom does Watchful call?
- What does this mean, “Who will, if she likes your talk, bring you in in to the rest of the Family, according to the rules of the House”?
- What does Discretion do with Christian? What does this represent?
- Why does the house come here? How does this house differ from all the world around?
- Compare “Come in thou blessed of the Lord” with Matthew 25:34. Why this similarity in language? What is Bunyan seeking to convey? (Note, Laban uses this phrase in Genesis 24:31, however, with a deceitful intent.)
- Can one come to this Palace without first being converted? John 3:16-18. Can he avoid coming? Acts 2:42-47.
Piety, Prudence & Charity: Christian Conversation
- Kelman makes an interesting observation when it comes to the three women who question Christian:
But the three women of the Palace have at once humbler and nobler originals in those other women of whom we are told in Grace Abounding:
‘But upon a day the good providence of God called me to Bedford, to work at my calling; and in one of the streets of that town [said to have been St. John Street], I came where were three or four poor women sitting at a door, in the sun, talking about the things of God…And, methought, they spake with such pleasantness of scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world; as if they were “people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned among their neighbours.”’
These, as the excellent caretaker of the Bunyan Meeting suggested to the writer, may have given Bunyan the idea not only of the women of the Palace, but also of the angels at the Cross.
- What are these questions in “real life”? What is Christian doing? Ephesians 6:22.
- Why does this take place immediately upon entering into the household? Malachi 3:16; Acts 4:23; 1 Corinthians 14:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; Hebrews 3:12-13; James 5:16. What is the purpose of such conversation? What benefit comes from it?
- What is the primary content of his conversation with Piety?
- What do you notice about the sovereignty of God in salvation:
PIETY. But how did it happen that you came out of your country this way?
CHR. It was as God would have it; for when I was under the fears of destruction, I did not know whither to go; but by chance there came a man, even to me, as I was trembling and weeping, whose name is Evangelist, and he directed me to the wicket-gate, which else I should never have found, and so set me into the way that hath led me directly to this house.
- What was the first thing Christian recounted of his time with the Interpreter? Why do you think Bunyan placed this incident first? What is the importance?
- What is the basic subject of discussion with Prudence?
- How does he think about where he has come? Hebrews 11:13-16. What two things keep him from returning to the place from which he came? Consider the example of Proverbs 5: Notice first, the trouble of sin, 5:1-14; second, the blessings of obedience, 5:15-20; third, God is overall: 5:21. Look at this “strategy” for sin: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/anthem-strategies-for-fighting-lust Repentance always requires turning away from one thing and toward another.
- Think of the language of Prudence in asking this question: Do you not yet bear away with you some of the things that then you were conversant withal [things that were your habit, or things you were familiar with]? Here is the important part of the question, Did you not yet bear away, did you carry anything with you when you left the City of Destruction? Compare that with the language of “having a sin nature”? A better way to think of continuing sins as habits, memories: something you are still carrying with you on pilgrimage.
Too sadly did Christian find within himself the struggle between nature and grace, to suffer him to fall into any such dream or delusion. He made no pretence to have conquered all sin, or got superior to it; but his trust was in Christ; and his supreme desire was after holiness. “But do you not find sometimes,” said Prudence, “as if those things were vanquished, which at other times are your perplexity?” “Yes,” said Christian, “but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours, in which such things happen to me.” Prudence then asked him how it was, by what means, he ever succeeded in vanquishing his enemies and getting free from the disturbers of his peace?
Christian’s answer is very beautiful.
“When I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; and when I look at my roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.”
Ah, yes! it is the cross, by which we conquer sin; it is the remembrance of Him who hung upon it. And he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, as He is pure. And having these evidences and these promises, faith gets the better of inward corruptions, and overcomes also the world. Nor, lastly, is there anything more powerful to give us the victory over sin, than a clear view of heavenly realities, warm thoughts about the heaven to which we are going, visions of Mount Zion above, and the innumerable company of angels, and Jesus the Mediator, and the assurance that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. There is no death there, nor sin, nor weariness, nor disorder; and the Christian is weary of his inward sickness, and would fain be where he shall sin no more, and with the company that shall continually cry, “Holy, holy, holy!”
- What is the basic concern of the conversation with Charity?
- What things does Charity ask Christian if he has done for his family? What was it that kept his family from coming on pilgrimage?
- What can one’s life do to one’s testimony?
Now, this of talking, and, especially, of talking about religious things to children, is one of the most difficult things in the world, — that is, to do it well. Some people have the happy knack of talking to their own and to other people’s children so as always to interest and impress them. But such happy people are few. Most people talk at their children whenever they begin to talk to them, and thus, without knowing it, they nauseate their children with their conversation altogether. To respect a little child, to stand in some awe of a little child, to choose your topics, your opportunities, your neighbourhood, your moods and his as well as all your words, and always to speak your sincerest, simplest, most straightforward and absolutely wisest is indispensable with a child. Take your mannerisms, your condescensions, your affectations, your moralisings, and all your insincerities to your debauched equals, but bring your truest and your best to your child. Unless you do so, you will be sure to lay yourself open to a look that will suddenly go through you, and that will swiftly convey to you that your child sees through you and despises you and your conversation too. ‘You should not only have talked to your children of their danger,’ said Charity, ‘but you should have shown them their danger.’ Yes, Charity; but a man must himself see his own and his children’s danger too, before he can show it to them, as well as see it clearly at the time he is trying to show it to them. And how many fathers, do you suppose, have the eyes to see such danger, and how then can they shew such danger to their children, of all people? Once get fathers to see dangers or anything else aright, and then you will not need to tell them how they are to instruct and impress their children. Nature herself will then tell them how to talk to their children, and when Nature teaches, all our children will immediately and unweariedly listen.
What Christian Had for Supper
- What does “Supper” represent?
- Whyte (Prudence):
LET a man examine himself, says the apostle to the Corinthians, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. And thus it was, that before the pilgrim was invited to sit down at the supper table in the House Beautiful, quite a number of most pointed and penetrating questions were put to him by those who had charge of that house and its supper table. And thus the time was excellently improved till the table was spread, while the short delay and the successive exercises whetted to an extraordinary sharpness the pilgrim’s hunger for the supper. Piety and Charity, who had joint charge of the house from the Master of the house, held each a characteristic conversation with Christian, but it was left to Prudence to hold the most particular discourse with him until supper was ready, and it is to that so particular discourse that I much wish to turn your attention to- night.
In addition to examination, think also of these words by Whyte: “The extraordinary sharpness of the pilgrim’s hunger for supper.” Why do you suppose we often have so little hunger for supper?
- What did they speak of during supper? What were the details of the conversation? How does Christian describe the work of Christ on the Cross? Matthew 16:19 (who builds the church?); Ephesians 4:8, Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 3:21-22.
- What does Jesus refuse to do? John 14:1-3; Romans 15:18-21.
Here Christ compares himself to a man that is lately married, solacing himself, and preparing a place for his spouse, and leaving a servant at home to wait for his return. Christ is gone into heaven to solace himself, and to prepare a place for us, and will come again to receive us into heaven. In the mean time we are to watch: ‘Blessed are those servants that are found watching when their master cometh.’
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 7, “The Christian’s Watch,” (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1864), 298.
- How does the evening end? Psalms 3 & 4. How does one come to peace? Romans 5:1-2.
- The Lord’s Supper points backwards and forwards (from the Cross to the Resurrection) and thus underscores the trajectory of the Christian life. It also puts us into a place of actual fellowship with Christ at the center.
What Christian Saw in the House
- Where would Christian find all these stories & treasures? What should be a great element of Christian encouragement? Romans 15:4. How can we speak of these things if we do not know them well?
- What is the first thing they discuss? How would this discussion have been of good and encouragement to Christian in his journey?
- What do they give Christian? Ephesians 6:10-20.
The Delectable Mountains
- What do they show Christian?
- Why would they do so? 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11; Hebrews 12:28-29.
- Who shows these things to Christian?
They have the first-fruits of it, which differ only in degree from glory: Rom. 8:23, ‘And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.’ We have the earnest in hand. That portion of the Spirit which we have received is given us for security. Wherefore this fitting and preparing, these groans, are grounds of confidence. If a vessel be formed, it is for some use. All this would else be lost. And do you think God will lose his earnest? The beginnings we have here are a taste and pledge; here we sip, and have a foretaste of the cup of blessing. Union with Christ, joys of the Spirit, peace of conscience, are the beginnings of heaven. They that live in the provinces next to Arabia have a strong scent of the odours and sweet smells of the spices that grow there; so the church is the suburbs of heaven; the members of it begin to smell the upper paradise. The comfortable influences of the Spirit are the taste, and the gracious influences are the pledge and earnest, of our future inheritance.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 11, Sermon 38 on John 17,(London: James Nisbet & Co., 1873), 61.