Pilgrim’s Progress: The Flatterer & Atheist

Well, we finally worked our way through the Delectable Mountains, and the story of Little-Faith. Moving on to the next section, I have selected to post a much shorter passage, one that my class will be able to work through in a single Sunday.
The proximity of these two short passages resting side by side is evidence of the fact that pitfalls in the Christian journey can be disguised behind plesantries (flattery), or have no disguises at all (atheist). As followers of Christ we must be prepared for the kisses of the enemy (Proverbs 27:6) as well as his blows.

The Flatterer
So they went on, and IGNORANCE followed. They went then till they came to a place where they saw a way put itself into their way, and seemed withal to lie as straight as the way which they should go; and here they knew not which of the two to take, for both seemed straight before them; therefore here they stood still to consider. And as they were thinking about the way, behold a man, black of flesh, but covered with a very light robe, came to them and asked them, "Why they stood there?" They answered, "They were going to the Celestial City, but knew not which of these ways to take." "Follow me!" said the man; "it is thither that I am going." So they followed him in the way that but now came into the road, which by degrees turned and turned them so from the city that they desired to go to, that in a little time their faces were turned away from it; yet they followed him. But by and by, before they were aware, he led them both within the compass of a net, in which they were both so entangled that they knew not what to do; and with that the white robe fell off the black man’s back: then they saw where they were. Wherefore there they lay crying some time; for they could not get themselves out.
Chr. Then said CHRISTIAN to his fellow, "Now do I see myself in an error. Did not the shepherds bid us beware of the flatterers? As is the saying of the wise man, so we have found it this day: ‘A man that flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet’".
They also gave us a note of directions about the way, for our more sure finding thereof; but therein we have also forgotten to read, and have not kept ourselves from the paths of the destroyer. Here David was wiser than we; for, saith he, "Concerning the works of men, by the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer."
Thus they lay bewailing themselves in the net. At last they espied a shining one coming towards them, with a whip of small cord in his hand.
When he was come to the place where they were, he asked them whence they came? and what they did there? They told him, "That they were poor pilgrims going to Zion; but were led out of their way by a black man clothed in white, who bid us," said they, "follow him; for he was going thither too." Then said he with the whip, "It is FLATTERER, a false apostle, that hath transformed himself into an angel of light".
So he rent the net, and let the men out Then said he to them, "Follow me, that I may set you in your way again." So he led them back to the way which they had left to follow the Flatterer. Then he asked them, saying, "Where did you lie the last night?" They said, "with the shepherds upon the Delectable Mountains." He asked them then, "If they had not of those shepherds a note of direction for the way?" They answered, "Yes." "But did you," said he, "when you were at a stand, pluck out and read your note?" They answered, "No." He asked them why? They said they forgot. He asked, moreover, "If the shepherds did not bid them beware of the Flatterer?" They answered, "Yes; but we did not imagine," said they, "that this fine spoken man had been he".
Then I saw in my dream that he commanded them to lie down; which when they did, he chastised them sore to teach them the good way wherein they should walk. And as he chastised them, he said "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent".
This done, he bade them go on their way, and take good heed to the other directions of the shepherds. So they thanked him for all his kindness; and went softly along the right way, singing:
"Come hither, you that walk along the way;
See how the pilgrims fare that go astray!
They catched are in an entangling net,
‘Cause they good counsel lightly did forget.
‘Tis true they rescued were; but yet you see
They’re scourged to boot. Let this your caution be!"

Now after awhile, they perceived afar off one coming softly and alone, all along the highway, to meet them. Then said CHRISTIAN to his fellow, "Yonder is a man with his back toward Zion; and he is coming to meet us."
Hope. I see him; let us take heed to ourselves now, lest he should prove a flatterer also.
So he drew nearer and nearer; and at last came up unto them. His name was ATHEIST; and he asked them whither they were going?
Chr. We are going to the Mount Zion.
Then ATHEIST fell into a very great laughter.
Chr. What is the meaning of your laughter?
Atheist. I laugh to see what ignorant persons you are, to take upon you so tedious a journey, and yet are like to have nothing but your travel for your pains.
Chr. Why, man; do you think we shall not be received?
Ath. Received! There is no such place as you dream of in all this world.
Chr. But there is in the world to come.
Ath. When I was at home in mine own country, I heard as you now affirm, and from that hearing went out to see; and have been seeking this city these twenty years, but find no more of it than I did the first day I set out.
We have both heard and believe that there is such a place to be found.
Ath. Had not I, when at home, believed, I had not come thus far to seek; but finding none (and yet I should, had there been such a place to be found, for I have gone to seek it farther than you), I am going back again, and will seek to refresh myself with the things that I then cast away for hopes of that which I now see is not.
Chr. Then said CHRISTIAN to HOPEFUL, his fellow, "Is it true which this man hath said ?"
Hope. "Take heed, he is one of the flatterers; remember what it hath cost us once already for our hearkening to such kind of fellows. What! no Mount Zion! did we not see from the Delectable Mountains the gate of the city? Also, are we not now to walk by faith? Let us go on," said HOPEFUL; "lest the man with the whip overtake us again. You should have taught me that lesson, which I will round you in the ears withal: ‘Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge.’ I say, my brother, cease to hear him, and let us believe to the saving of the soul".
My brother, I did not put the question to thee, for that I doubted of the truth of our belief myself; but to prove thee, and to fetch from thee a fruit of the honesty of thy heart. As for this man, I know that he is blinded by the god of this world: let thee and I go on, knowing that we have belief of the truth, and "no lie is of the truth".
Now do I rejoice in hope of the glory of God!
So they turned away from the man; and he, laughing at them, went his way.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.