Talkative of Pratting-row

The episode before us, which focuses on the character of of one Talkative, is different from any other episode previously encountered so far in this story. We find here, not an account of the trials or conflicts of our main character, Christian. There is no battle to be fought, no obstacle to be overcome. More than anything, this new character, Talkative, is the personification of a lesson to be learned. There are actually two lessons found herein: 1) a personal warning to be true, to be genuine; not to be two-faced; and 2) an exhortation to be discerning, and consequently to be faithful to our fellow man.

Christian has just come out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where at the end of that place, he makes the acquaintance of Faithful. After only a short time, they make fast friends. They have so much in common, so many like experiences that firmly bond the two in no time at all. Now enters a third “pilgrim”, one Talkative.

Throughout this scene there are three men walking, side by side, for as the narrator explains the path at that point is wide enough to do so. Get a mental picture of these three men, with the one in the middle walking close and talking, first to one on the one side, and then to the other on the other, then back to the first, and then back again to the second. It is also interesting to note, looking back over the episode, how Faithful alone engages Talkative. Christian is close at hand, but he hangs back, as it were, to let Faithful get the “full benefit” of the encounter, and Faithful gets an earful, to be sure. I have omitted any passages from this section to save space, but you can read the whole passage at one of the “Bunyan” links on the sidebar to the right. To summarize that encounter, Faithful discovers that Talkative is more than willing to talk about any and all things concerning the Christian faith. Faithful is impressed, and after a time, walks back near to Christian for a brief discussion. At this point, Christian gives him the skinny.

Christian: This man is for any company, and for any talk; as he talks now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale bench; and the more drink he hath in his crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth; religion hath, no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he hath lieth in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith.
He talks of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth; but he knows but only to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know that what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savour. There is there neither prayer nor sign of repentance for sin; yea, the brute in his kind serves God far better than he. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him;
Men that have any dealings with him, say ’tis better to deal with a Turk than with him: for fairer dealing they shall have at their hands. This TALKATIVE, if it be possible, will go beyond them–defraud, beguile, and overreach them.
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.

At this point, Faithful returns to Talkative’s side. After considerable discourse to discern Talkative’s true nature and, speaks the truth in love, and is faithful indeed:

Faithful: I have heard of you, that you are a man whose religion lies in talk; and that your conversation gives this your mouth-profession the lie. They say you are a spot among Christians; and that religion fares the worse for your ungodly conversation; that some already have stumbled at your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby. Your religion, and an ale house, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and swearing, and lying, and vain company keeping, etc., will stand together. The proverb is true of you which is said of a whore, to wit, that “she is a shame to all women”: so you are a shame to all professors.
Talkative: Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly as you do, I cannot but conclude you are some peevish or melancholy man, not fit to be discoursed with: and so adieu!
Christian: Then came up CHRISTIAN, and said to his brother, “I told you how it would happen: your words and his lusts could not agree; he had rather leave your company than reform his life. But he is gone–as I said: let him go; the loss is no man’s but his own. He has saved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing–as I suppose he will do–as he is, he would have been but a blot in our company; besides, the Apostle says, “From such withdraw thyself.”
Faithful: But I am glad we had this little discourse with him; it may happen that he will think of it again: however, I have dealt plainly with him, and so am clear of his blood if he perish.

And so the scene ends. In addition to our duties listed above, to examine ourselves regularly to see if we be in Christ, and to be faithful to our fellow man, to be sure he has not believed a false gospel; there are other applications as well. We certainly have a duty to be careful in our own idle conversations. We all will one day give an account for every idle word spoken. In this age of instant communication we also have the warning to be on the lookout for, and as for ourselves, not to be Bloggative of Blogging-row. One of the most quoted passages in the Bible is “Judge not. . .”, the world loves it even more that John 3:16. The Christian needs to be reminded of his duty to be discerning. Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24.

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