The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/pilgrims-progress-study-guide-six-the-valley-of-the-shadow-of-death/
Christian at Vanity Fair
The Meeting With Evangelist
- After they greet one-another, what do the three discuss?
- Evangelist’s conversation is filled with many allusions and references to Scripture:
- What does he mean, run to obtain the incorruptible crown? 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. How do we, as a matter of practice, maintain a conscious awareness that we are running a race and seeking a reward at the end?
- What is the reference to “hold fast to what you have?” Revelation 3:7-13.
- What is “resisted unto blood”? Hebrews 12:4.
- The heart is deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9
- Face like flint. Luke 9:51
Stedfastly believing on things which are invisible. In writing about, Bunyan knew of what he spoke. Here is a second from his auto-biography, Grace Abounding:
I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns, and at every offer of Satan ‘to afflict me,’ &c., as I have found him since I came in hither; for look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragements, yea, when I have started, even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one scripture and another strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, Were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, for the greater comfort’s sake (Ecc. 7:14; 2Co. 1: 5).
Before I came to prison, I saw what was a-coming, and had especially two considerations warm upon my heart; the first was how to be able to endure, should my imprisonment be long and tedious; the second was how to be able to encounter death, should that be here my portion; for the first of these, that scripture (Col. 1:11) was great information to me, namely, to pray to God to be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long- suffering with joyfulness.” I could seldom go to prayer before I was imprisoned, but not for so little as a year together, this sentence, or sweet petition, would, as it were, thrust itself into my mind, and persuade me, that if ever I would go through long-suffering, I must have all patience, especially if I would endure it joyfully.
As to the second consideration, that saying (2Co. 1: 9), was of great use to me, But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. By this scripture I was made to see, that if ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death upon everything that can properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments, and all, as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. “He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:37).
The second was, to live upon God that is invisible; as Paul said in another place, the way not to faint, is to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Co. 4:18).
And thus I reasoned with myself; if I provide only for a prison, then the whip comes at unawares; and so does also the pillory; again, if I provide only for these, then I am not fit for banishment; further, if I conclude that banishment is the worst, then if death come I am surprised. So that I see the best way to go through sufferings is to trust in God through Christ, as touching the world to come; and as touching this world, to count “the grave my house, to make my bed in darkness, and to say to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister.” That is, to familiarize these things to me.
But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man, and compassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath oft been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from my bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too too fond of those great mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.
- Evangelist next uses langauage which reminds one of the persecution faced by the Apostle Paul. By using language which once specifically refered to Paul, Bunyan is noting that Christians should not be surprised when faced with the same troubles. At this point, go to persecution.org and read about some current Christian persecution. Take time to pray for these people and write to them where possible.
- What is predicted for the pilgrims at the fair?
- Compare the three instances wherein Christian meets Evangelist? How does this compare with how we would currently understand the work of an “evangelist”. Consider the “work of an evangelist”. Matthew 28:19, 2 Timothy 4:1-5. Kelman, writing of the pilgrims suffering in Vanity Fair, writes, “The paragraph beginning ‘Here, therefore, they called again to mind what they had heard from their faithful friend Evangelist,’ does not occur in the first edition. With time, the importance of Evangelist and his interventions increased in the view of John Bunyan.”
- Why does the road to the Celestial City run through Vanity Fair? Cheever, “VANITY FAIR is the City of Destruction in its gala dress, in its most seductive, sensual allurements. It is this world in miniature, with its various temptations.”
- A fair: a marketplace, like a “farmers’ market”. What is this place? 1 John 2:15-17, 5:19.
- What is meant by “vanity”? Ecclesiastes 1:2-11, 2:1-11; Mark 8:36.
- What is sold at Vanity Fair? Revelation 18.
- What does Vanity Fair look like in “real life”? What row is there for Los Angeles?
- How can one avoid Vanity Fair?
- What does Bunyan mean by Beelzebub invited the Lord to purhase vanities at the fair?
The Pilgrim’s at the Fair
- What three things distinguish the pilgrims at the fair?
- In “real life”:
- How would their “clothing” have looked different?
- How would their speech sound different?
- How would their rejection of the merchandize have looked?
- How do the pilgrims respond to the offer of the fair? James 4:4.
- What do they mean they would “buy truth”? Proverbs 23:23. Kelman writes:
There is a touch from real life, for we are told that Holy Hunt of Hitchin, a friend of Bunyan’s, passing the market- place where mountebanks were performing, one cried after him, ‘Look there, Mr. Hunt!’ Turning his head another way, he replied, ‘Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.
- How are the pilgrims received at the fair?
- Acts 16:16-24.
- Acts 17:1-9.
- Acts 19:21-34.
- John 15:18-25.
- John 16:32-33.
- When they are brought to the “great one” of the fair, what questions are asked of the pilgrims?
- What was the particular offense did the pilgrims commit?
- How did the first examiners understand the pilgrims’ actions? Acts 26:24. Why can the people of the fair not understand the pilgrims? 2 Corinthians 4:4.
- What was initially done to the pilgrims? How did they respond? 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.
- What was the effect of the pilgrims being exhibited at the fair?
- What of the times and places where pilgrims are not badly treated at the fair?
There is, however, an era of nominal Christianity. Vanity Fair itself may be full of profound pilgrims, and the pilgrimage itself may be held in high esteem, and yet the practice of the pilgrimage, as Christian and Faithful followed it, may almost have gone out of existence. With the increase of nominal Christians there is always an increase of conformity to the world; and the world appears better than it did to Christians, not so much because it has changed, as because they have changed; the wild beasts and the tame ones dwell together, not so much because the leopards eat straw like the ox, as because the ox eats flesh like the leopard. “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people;” the people have not come over to Ephraim, but Ephraim has gone over to them; the people have not learned the ways of Ephraim, but Ephraim hath learned the manners of the people. This is too much the case in the Vanity Fair of the world at the present time; there is not such a marked and manifest distinction between the church and the world as there should be; their habits, maxims, opinions, pursuits, amusements, whole manner of life, are too much the same; so that the pilgrims in our day have lost the character of a peculiar people, not so much because they have become vastly more numerous than formerly, as because they have become conformed to the world; not like strangers, but natives in Vanity Fair. The great temptations of the church in our day is that of entire, almost unmingled worldliness; formalism and worldliness are too sadly the types of our piety; we are in imminent danger of forgetting that our life is a pilgrimage, and that this is not our rest. — Cheever.
- What was the indictment brought against the pilgrims? Kelman writes:
The indictment here bears a curious resemblance to two others. John Bunyan’s own indictment in 1661 was that
‘he hath devilishly and perniciously abstained from coming to church to hear divine service, and is a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the laws of our sovereign lord the King,’ etc.
The indictment in the Holy War is:
‘Thou art here indicted by the name of Haughty, an intruder upon the town of Mansoul, for that thou didst most traitorously and devilishly teach the town of Mansoul to carry it loftily and stoutly against the summons that was given them by the captain of the King,’ etc.
There is one noteworthy omission from the present indictment — that of the word ‘devilishly.’ The reason for it is obvious. In Vanity Fair the prince and the devil are one.
- How does Faithful respond to the charge against him?
- Who is brought to testify against the pilgrims?
- What complaint does Envy have against Faithful? Was the statement of Faithful (concerning Christianity and local custom) true?
- Why does Superstition not have close acquaintance of Faithful — and yet has the ability to testify against Faithful?
- What charge does Pickthank bring?
- How does Faithful answer the charges made against him?
- When the judge addresses the jury, to what precedents does he refer?
- What verdict was rendered against Faithful?
- Alexander Whyte writes of Judge Hategood in Pilgrim’s Progress, whom Bunyan modeled on Judge Jefferies. Whyte gives us an instance of this monster:
“The real and undoubted ability and scholarship of Jeffreys only made his wickedness the more awful, and his whole career the greater curse both to those whose tool he was, and to those whose blood he drank daily. Jeffreys drank brandy and sang lewd songs all night, and he drank blood and cursed and swore on the bench all day. Just imagine the state of our English courts when a judge could thus assail a poor wretch of a woman after passing a cruel sentence upon her. ‘Hangman,’ shouted the ermined brute, ‘Hangman, pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge her soundly, man. Scourge her till the blood runs. It is the Christmas season; a cold season for madam to strip in. See, therefore, man, that you warm her shoulders thoroughly”
Whyte, Alexander. “Bunyan Characters (1st Series).” iBooks. After recounting more of this villain, Whyte notes he grew up in England, not Hell – which should give us all pause:
“Judge Jeffreys is in yourself, only circumstances have not yet let him fully show himself in you. Still, if you look close enough and deep enough into your own hearts, you will see the same wicked light glancing sometimes there that used so to terrify Judge Jeffreys’ prisoners when they saw it in his wicked eyes. If you lay your ear close enough to your own heart, you will sometimes hear something of that same hiss with which that human serpent sentenced to torture and to death the men and the women who would not submit to his command. The same savage laughter also will sometimes all but escape your lips as you think of how your enemy has been made to suffer in body and in estate. O yes, the very same hell-broth that ran for blood in Judge Jeffreys’ heart is in all our hearts also; and those who have the least of its poison left in their hearts will be the foremost to confess its presence, and to hate and condemn and bewail themselves on account of its terrible dregs.”
The Death of Faithful
- What death does Faithful suffer? What goal was there for his death?
- How does God respond to Faithful’s death? Romans 8:31-39; 2 Kings 2:9-12.
- How did Christian escape?
- What happens upon Christian’s escape? How is Christian able to survive (pyschologically, emotionally) such an event? Why is he not crushed, but rather “sings”?
- Who is the first character Christian and Hopeful meet after Vanity Fair?