carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
Notes Regarding the Characters in
Plain Called Ease - When the church enjoys outward peace and prosperity (which has been generally but for a transient season), they, who profess the gospel, are peculiarly exposed to the temptation of seeking worldly riches and distinctions which at other times were placed at such a distance as to lose most of their attractive influence; and many in such circumstances are more disconcerted and disposed to murmur, if excluded from sharing these idolized prizes, than Christians appear to have been, under the most cruel persecutions. But the Hill Lucre, with the silver mine, is a little out of the Pilgrim's path, even in times of the greatest outward rest and security: and while those “who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hateful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” others, forgetting that “the love of money is the root of all evil, having coveted after it, have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. (Scott, p. 239)
Often as the motley reflexes of my experience move in long processions of manifold groups before me, the distinguished and world-honored company of Christian Mammonists appear to the eye of my imagination as a drove of camels heavily laden, yet all at full speed, and each in the confident expectation of passing through the eye of the needle, without stop or halt, both beasts and baggage! (Cheever, p. 390) (Mt. 19:14; 16:26
The fate of By-ends and his cohorts unfolds as their double-mindedness in trying to unite the love of money with the love of Christ fails and “at first beck” from Demas they go over, never to be seen in the Way again. (Bradley, p. 71)
Demas - (rf. 2 Timothy 4:10) “We know not in what way the love of this present world influenced Demas to forsake St. Paul: and it is not agreed whether he afterward repented, or whether he was finally an apostate: yet our author is warranted by the general opinion in thus using his name, and afterward joining it with those of Gehazi, Judas, and others, who perished by that idolatry. The love of money does not always spring from a desire of covetously hoarding it: but often from a vain affectation of gentility which is emphatically implied by the epithet gentleman-like, bestowed on Demas. The connexions that professors form in a day of ease and prosperity, and the example of the world around them, and even that of numbers who would be thought to love the gospel, seduce them insensibly into a style of living that they cannot afford, in order to avoid the imputation of being sordid and singular. An increasing family insures additional expenses, and children genteelly educated naturally expect to be provided for accordingly. Thus debts are contracted and gradually accumulate: it is neither so easy nor reputable to retrench, as it was to launch out: and numerous tempters induce men thus circumstanced to turn aside to the hill Lucre; that is, to leave the direct path of probity and piety, that they may obtain supplies to their urgent and clamorous necessities. Young persons when they first set out in life, often lay the foundation for innumerable evils, by vainly emulating the expensive style of those in the same line of business, or the same rank in the community, who are enabled to support such expenses, either by extensive dealings or unjustifiable means. Many are the bankruptcies, which originate from this mistaken conduct: and besides this, it is often found, that fair profits are inadequate to uphold the appearance which was at first needlessly assumed; so that necessity is pleaded for engaging in those branches of trade, or seizing on those emoluments, which the conduct of worldly people screens from total scandal, but which are evidently contrary to the word of God, and the plain rule of exact truth and rectitude; and which render their consciences very uneasy. But who can bear the mortification of owning himself poorer than he was thought to be? Who dare risk the consequences of being suspected to be insolvent: In these ensnaring circumstances, professed Christians, if not powerfully influenced by religious principles, will be almost sure to embrace Demas’ invitation, along with By-ends, Money-love, and Save-all; and if they be ‘not drowned in destruction and perdition’ will ‘fall into temptation and a snare and pierce themselves through with many sorrows’. It therefore is incumbent on every one, well to consider, that it is as unjust to contract debts for superfluous indulgences, or to obtain credit by false appearances of affluences, as it is to defraud by any other imposition: and that this kind of dishonesty makes way for innumerable temptations to more disgraceful species of the same crime: not to speak of its absolute inconsistency with piety and charity. (Scott, p. 240-1)
Lot's Wife - It is indeed most wonderful [i.e.: full of wonder and amazement] that men, who profess to believe the Bible, can so confidently attempt to reconcile the love the world with the service of God; when the instructions, warnings and examples in the sacred volume, which sow the fatal consequences of such endeavors, are so numerous, express, and affecting! If Lot’s wife, who merely hankered after the possessions she had left behind in Sodom, and looked back with a design of returning, was made a monument of the Lord's vengeance, and a warning to all future ages; what will be the doom of those professed Christians, who habitually prefer worldly gain, or the vain pomp and indulgence that may be purchased with it, to the honour of Christ, and obedience to his most reasonable commandments? The true cause of this infatuation is here assigned: they ‘do not lift up their eyes’; and it is to be feared most of them never will, before ‘they lift them up in hell, being in torment’. (Scott, p. 246)
notes taken from:
Bunyan Characters in the Pilgrim's Progress by Alexander Whyte, London:Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1902.
Lectures on the Pilgrim’s Progress, and on the Life and Times of John Bunyan by George Cheever, New York:Carter & Brothers, 1875.
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan with Explanatory Notes by Thomas Scott, Swengel, PA:Reiner Pub., 1976.
The Pilgrim’s Progress Study Guide by Maureen Bradley, Phillipsburg:P&R Pub. Co.
|David G. Barker