The prior study guide may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/pilgrims-progress-study-guide-4/
Pilgrim’s Progress, Study Guide 5:
Christian and the Valley of Humiliation
In this section of the trip, Christian descends first in the Valley of Humiliation
Background: Christian has been refreshed and encouraged in Palace Beautiful. He has eaten of the Lord’s Supper. He has known fellowship with the Church, spoken of the wonders of Christ and God’s work with his people. Then before he leaves, Christian is brought to the armoury where he is outfitted for battle, “lest perhaps he should meet with assaults in the way.”
- Notice that Palace Beautiful is at the top of a hill. One must go up the Hill of Difficulty and go down into the Valley of Humiliation. Why is that?
- “Yes, said Prudence, so it is; for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way; therefore, said they, we are come out to accompany thee down the hill.”
- How is it hard to go down into humiliation? What is the danger?
- Why do they go with him to the bottom of the hill?
- They give Christian three things: a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and a cluster of raisins. What do these three things represent?
- He is going down into the Valley of Humiliation. How does the humility of a Christian differ from the initial humility of our first repentance? Why is our first humility not sufficient?
Nay, after conversion we need bruising, that (1) reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks; even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. And (2) that weaker Christians may not be too much discouraged when they see stronger shaken and bruised. Thus Peter was bruised when he wept bitterly, Matt. 26:75. This reed, till he met with this bruise had more wind in him than pith. ‘Though all forsake thee, I will not, &c., Matt. 26:35. The people of God cannot be without these examples The heroical deeds of those great worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do. Thus David was bruised, Ps. 32:3–5, until he came to a free confession, without guile of spirit; nay, his sorrows did rise in his own feeling unto the exquisite pain of breaking of bones, Ps. 51:8. Thus Hezekiah complains that God had ‘broken his bones’ as a lion, Isa. 38:13. Thus the chosen vessel St Paul needed the messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he should be lifted up above measure, 2 Cor. 12:7.
Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon our selves or others when God doth exercise us with bruising upon bruising there must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who ‘was bruised for us Isa. 53:5, that we may know how much we are bound unto him. Prefane spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven censure broken-hearted Christians for desperate persons, whenas God is about a gracious good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and untractable are our hearts.
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 44–45.
Christian Meets Apollyon
- Why did Christian not turn back when he saw Apollyon?
- How is Apollyon? Revelation 9:11?
- What two questions does Apollyon ask Christian (compare Discretion’s questions earlier)?
- Why are these two questions repeated?
- There is a discussion of where one is born, of one’s relationship to a prince as a result of such birth, and of the wrong of leaving such a place? Why is that difficult language for us to understand?
- How does this understanding of one’s birth and prince affect our understanding of salvation? Romans 5:16-19; 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- What are the wages & the service of the Apollyon & of the Prince?
- How does Apollyon threaten Christian, should Christian proceed with his pilgrimage (& what offer of help does Applyon raise)?
- Why does the Prince not immediately deliver his people? Rev. 2:10, 3:9-12; 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Genesis 39:5 & 21.
- Why does Apollyon ask Christian whether he will be received by Christ when Christian comes to the Celestial City? What is the precise nature of the temptation leveled by Apollyon?
Never for a moment entertain a thought of any worthiness in yourself, or suffer any thing to be blended with your faith in Christ. Rely on him as entirely as if your whole life had been a scene of the most enormous wickedness. Renounce entirely every thing of your own in point of dependence; and seek to “be found in Christ, not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God through faith in him.” And let this abide with you to your latest hour. Let neither a relapse into sin deter you from coming thus to Christ; nor the most spotless continuance in holiness render such a mode of coming to him unnecesary in your eyes. This is the way in which you may come, however aggravated may have been your guilt; and this is the way in which you must come, however eminent your attainments. It is not possible for you to be too much on your guard against either doubting the sufficiency of Christ to save you, or attempting to unite any thing with him as a joint ground of your hope. To err in either of these respects will be fatal: it will arm both justice and truth against you, and will make void all that the Lord Jesus has done and suffered for you. But rely simply and altogether upon him, and “you shall not be ashamed or confounded world without end.”
Charles Simeon on 1 John 1:8-9.
- What action by Christian immediately preceeds Apollyon’s murderous rage?
- What does the attack of Apollyon look like in real life? Why does Christian continually grow weaker?
- Here is the full Scripture quoted by Bunyan. It is one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible:
Micah 7:8–10 (ESV)
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication.
10 Then my enemy will see,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will look upon her;
now she will be trampled down
like the mire of the streets.
Now learn to be courageous. Are afflictions upon thee? Be sensible of them, be humbled in them, but never shrink from thy hold of Christ or hope of mercy. Be of Paul’s resolution; ‘We are distressed,’ saith he, ‘but yet faint not.’ See God at thy right hand, as David did, and therefore be not moved. See what is gained by affliction, ‘the inward man grows.’ See what is laid up for these light and short afflictions, 2 Cor. 4:17, ‘even a far more excellent and eternal weight of glory.’ Art thou censured and scorned by men? Make use, of it, but not to discouragement. Remember Christ was despised, counted a worm, judged wicked, and then say with the church, ‘Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, though I fall I shall rise again: When I am in darkness, the Lord he will be a light unto me,’ Micah 7:8. Art thou assaulted by Satan? Cry with Paul, and bemoan thyself; but know therewith that God’s ‘grace is, and shall be sufficient for thee,’ 2 Cor. 12:9; that he hath overcome, and therefore resolve, with Job, to receive from God what he will put upon thee, yea, to die at his feet, Job 13:15. Art thou led captive with thy corruptions? Mourn with Paul, but say withal, ‘It is not I, but sin in me; I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,’ Romans 7:17, 25. It is a most worthy service to give Christ the glory of his riches in poverty, of his power in weakness, grace in sin, life in death. Then we live by faith, then we shew forth the strength of the Spirit. To this purpose, first learn to know thyself, what thou art by nature, and all men else. The want of this knowledge breeds pride, discouragement, error in judgment, mistaking, misapplication of things. Secondly, know what Christ is, how lovely, how rich, how able, how true; how willing he is to help the distressed and miserable, never adding affliction unto affliction. Thirdly, see what he hath done for others, for thyself heretofore. Now lay graces by infirmities with the church here, and when the devil upbraids thee with thy maims, look on thy cures; when he sets before thee the tempestuous dark works of the first Adam, do thou oppose, and lay before thee the quiet fruit of righteousness and peace-making reconciliation and works of Christ, the second Adam, thy surety, who hath paid thy debts and satisfied divine justice to the full.
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 7 “The Church’s Blackness” (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1864), 100.
- How did God bring Christian to humility?
- From Cheever’s Lectures:
To some men Satan reveals himself more clearly than to others, assaults them more violently, and makes them feel more of his power and malignity. But all men know what it is to enter into temptation; and when that is done, Satan is not afar off, Apollyon is near. Therefore our blessed Lord, in the prayer he has taught us, puts the two petitions in company, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And Satan is called the tempter; and the shield offaith is given to the pilgrim for this very purpose, that he may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Now there is enough of sin in every man’s own heart to tempt him, and every man is tempted when he is led away of his own lust and enticed. And when a man thus goes after his sins, he rather tempts Satan than Satan tempts him. There is no need for Apollyon toadvance towards such a man, for such an one is coming over to Apollyon; he rather enters into the devil, than the devil into him. A man is waited for of Satan, when he enters into temptation, and there is much in that expression, enter into. Our blessed Lord never said, Pray that ye be not tempted; but, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation,” that ye enter not within it,as a cloud surrounding you and taking away your light, and leading you to deceive you; that ye enter not into temptation, into its power, into its atmosphere, into its spirit; for when that is done, the soul is weakened and easily conquered.
Men that are led away of their own lusts, that are under the power of a besetting sin, or that are utterly careless and insensible, do not need to be tempted of the devil; he can safely leave them to themselves, for he has a friend within the citadel. He need look after such men only once in a while; for, going on as they do, they are sure of ruin. But good men, and especially eminently good men, such as Bunyan and Luther, he well knows cannot be safely left, inasmuch as the grace of God in them overcomes ordinary temptation, and therefore such ones are made to feel the power of his fiery darts. Apollyon attacked Christian, when Formalist and Hypocrisy, had they passed through that valley, would have passed without any molestation at all.
Moreover, Faithful passed through it without seeing or hearing anything of Apollyon; and also all the Valley of the Shadow of Death beyond, Faithful passed in clear sunshine; so that Bunyan does not mean to represent every Christian as subject to such fierce temptations of the devil as he himself was called to endure.
Besides, it is proper to compare this passage of Christian through the Valley of Humiliation, and the dread conflict with Apollyon in it, with the sweet and pleasant passage of Mercy, Christiana, and her children, under the care of Mr. Greatheart, through the same place. Bunyan evidently intends to represent that, according to the degree of humility and contentedness with God’s allotments in the heart of the Christian, will be the degree of ease, security, or delightfulness with which this Valley of Humiliation will be passed through. In going down into this valley, Christian is represented as having had some slips, though accompanied by Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence; and these slips are stated in the second part to have been the cause of his meeting with Apollyon; “for they that get slips there, must look for combats here; and the Scripturesaith, ‘He that exalteth himself shall be abased; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’”
If those slips were the fruit of discontent and self-exaltation, then it is evident that Christian needed the sore buffets of the adversary, or something equivalent, to humble him; just as unto Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to preserve him from being exalted by the abundance of the revelations made unto him. But for whatever reason, the Pilgrims under
Mr. Greatheart found this Valley of Humiliation to be one of the most delightful places in all their pilgrimage. (58-59)
- Thomas Brooks (from Precious Remedies)
Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, To keep humble. Humility will keep the soul free from many darts of Satan’s casting, and erroneous snares of his spreading. As low trees and shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind which shake and tear the taller trees, so humble souls are free from those gusts and blasts of error which shake and tear proud, lofty souls. Satan and the world have least power to fasten errors upon humble souls. The God of light and truth delights to dwell with the humble; and the more light and truth dwells in the soul, the further off darkness and error will stand from the soul. The God of grace pours in grace into humble souls, as men pour drink into empty vessels; and the more grace is poured into the soul, the less error shall be able to overpower the soul, or to infect the soul.
I have read of one who, seeing in a vision so many snares of the devil spread upon the earth, he sat down mourning, and said within himself, Who shall pass through these? whereupon he heard a voice answering, Humility shall pass through them.
That is a sweet word in Psalm 25:9, ‘The humble, he will guide in judgment, and the meek he will teach his way.’ And certainly souls guided by God, and taught by God, are not easily drawn aside into ways of error. Oh, take heed of spiritual pride! Pride fills our fancies, and weakens our graces, and makes room in our hearts for error. There are no men on earth so soon entangled, and so easily conquered by error—as proud souls. Oh, it is dangerous to love to be wise above what is written, to be curious and unsober in your desire of knowledge, and to trust to your own capacities and abilities to undertake to pry into all secrets, and to be puffed up with a carnal mind. Souls that are thus a-soaring up above the bounds and limits of humility, usually fall into the very worst of errors, as experience does daily evidence. The proud soul is like him who gazed upon the moon—but fell into the pit. You know how to apply it. (1 Brooks 90)
Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, Of the reasons why the Lord is pleased to have his people exercised, troubled, and vexed with the operations of sinful corruption; and they are these: partly to keep them humble and low in their own eyes; and partly to put them upon the use of all divine helps, whereby sin may be subdued and mortified; and partly, that they may live upon Christ for the perfecting the work of sanctification; and partly, to wean them from things below, and to make them heart-sick of their absence from Christ, and to maintain in them affections of compassion towards others who are subject to the same infirmities with them; and that they may distinguish between a state of grace and a state of glory, and that heaven may be more sweet to them when finally arrived there.
Now does the Lord upon these weighty reasons allow his people to be exercised and molested with the operations of sinful corruptions? Oh then, let no believer speak, write, or conclude bitter things against his own soul and comforts, because sin so troubles and vexes his righteous soul. But he should lay his hand upon his mouth and be silent, because the Lord will have it so, upon such weighty grounds as the soul is not able to withstand. (1 Brooks 94)
Remedy (12). The twelfth remedy against this device of Satan is this, above all, Labor to be clothed with humility. Humility makes a man peaceable among brethren, fruitful in well-doing, cheerful in suffering, and constant in holy walking (1 Pet. 5:5). Humility fits for the highest services we owe to Christ, and yet will not neglect the lowest service to the lowest saint (John 13:5). Humility can feed upon the lowest dish, and yet it is maintained by the choicest delicacies, as God, Christ, and glory. Humility will make a man bless him who curses him, and pray for those who persecute him. An humble heart is an habitation for God, a scholar for Christ, a companion of angels, a preserver of grace, and a fitter for glory. Humility is the nurse of our graces, the preserver of our mercies, and the great promoter of holy duties. Humility cannot find three things on this side heaven: it cannot find fullness in the creature, nor sweetness in sin, nor life in an ordinance without Christ. An humble soul always finds three things on this side heaven: the soul to be empty, Christ to be full, and every mercy and duty to be sweet wherein God is enjoyed.
Humility can weep over other men’s weaknesses, and joy and rejoice over their graces. Humility will make a man quiet and contented in the lowest condition, and it will preserve a man from envying other men’s prosperous condition (1 Thess. 1:2, 3). Humility honors those who are strong in grace, and puts two hands under those who are weak in grace (Eph. 3:8). Humility makes a man richer than other men, and it makes a man judge himself the poorest among men. Humility will see much good abroad, when it can see but little at home.
Ah, Christian! though faith be the champion of grace, and love the nurse of grace, yet humility is the beautifier of grace; it casts a general glory upon all the graces in the soul. Ah! did Christians more abound in humility, they would be less bitter, willful, and sour, and they would be more gentle, meek, and sweet in their spirits and practices. Humility will make a man have high thoughts of others and low thoughts of himself; it will make a man see much glory and excellency in others, and much baseness and sinfulness in himself; it will make a man see others rich, and himself poor; others strong, and himself weak; others wise, and himself foolish.
Humility will make a man excellent at covering others’ infirmities, and at recording their gracious services, and at delighting in their graces; it makes a man rejoice in every light which outshines his own, and every wind which blows others good. Humility is better at believing, than it is at questioning other men’s happiness. I judge, says a humble soul, it is well with these Christians now—but it will be far better with them hereafter. They are now upon the borders of the New Jerusalem, and it will be but as a day before they slide into Jerusalem. A humble soul is more willing to say, Heaven is that man’s, than mine; and Christ is that Christian’s, than mine; and God is their God in covenant, than mine. Ah! were Christians more humble, there would be less contention, and more love among them than now is.
Humility, said Bernard, is that which keeps all graces together.
The humble soul is like the violet, which grows low, hangs the head downwards, and hides itself with its own leaves; and were it not that the fragrant smell of his many virtues discovered him to the world, he would choose to live and die in his self-contenting secrecy.
Recovery From Apollyon Wounds:
- The leaves of the Tree of Life? Revelation 22:1-2.
- What does Bunyan mean by the reference to a Tree which is in heaven?
- What do the bread and wine represent? Why does this mean give him courage & strength to proceed?
- What does the cluster of grapes reperesent?
- How does this help Christian proceed on his pilgrimage? 1 Peter 1:13
- When we consider these things, how would do well to change how we conduct ourselves as Christians in our public worship, private devotions, daily lives?
A Final Note on Demons:
In the Screwtape Letters, Letter 7, Screwtape writes to the younger demon Wormwood,
When humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, only believe in us, we cannot make the materialists and ethics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotional lies and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to believe in the Enemy. The “Life Force,” the worship of sex, and other aspects of psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce are perfect work — the materialist magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshiping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits” — the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey orders.
CS Lewis published his book Screwtape Letters in 1942. Since that time, Screwtape’s dream of a “Materialist Magican” has come to be. In January 12, 2012, article, Dr. Peter Jones wrote:
When I was studying the Death of God theology, I never thought that years later I would read an academic book entitled Postsecularism (Cambridge: 2009). Its British author, Dr. Mike King, describes how secular humanists are becoming spiritual, open to questions of the spirit while retaining, of course, the secular habit of critical thought. However, not all “spirits” can apply.
The “in” spirituality includes
Quantum Physics, which shows “the human being as joyously co-extensive with and co-creator of that cosmos”;
Transpersonal Psychology, since it is both scientific and spiritual (it is actually occult shamanism);
Nature worship, which gives us both morals and spirituality;
Goddess worship, practiced by cutting-edge modern feminism.
This intellectual openness allows only one spirituality—pagan spirituality, or One-ism. Two-ism is unthinkable. Postsecularists seek to be liberated from two opposing “extremist” forces: traditional religion and atheistic secularism. Post-secularism delivers us from both these dead ends. While atheism is no longer valid, neither is traditional theism. For the postmodern the way forward is pantheism.