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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lines of Literature: Talkative and Pilgrim's Progress


On the journey, Faithful encounters Talkative and strikes up a conversation with him, assuming him to be on the journey with him. Thinking he is an excellent pilgrim, Faithful turns to Christian and asks about the new companion:
Faithful: Do you know him then?
Christian. Know him? Yes, better than he knows himself.
Faithful. Pray what is he?
Christian. His name is Talkative; he dwelleth in our town. I wonder that you should be a stranger to him, only I consider that our town is large...notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a sorry fellow....This man is for any company, and for any talk; as he talketh 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.
Faithful: Say you so? Then am I in this man greatly deceived.
Christian: Deceived! you may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, "They say, and do not" (Matt. 23:3). But the "kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20). He talketh 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 what I say of him is the truth. His House is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. 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 (Rom. 2:24,25);...Thus say the common people that know him, "a saint abroad, and a devil at home."...
...Faithful: This brings to my mind that of Moses, by which he describeth the beast that is clean (Lev. 11:3-7, Deut 14:6-8). He is such as one that parteth the hoof, and cheweth the cud; not that parteth the hoof only, or that cheweth the cud only. The hare cheweth the cud, but yet is unclean, because he parteth not the hoof. And this truly resembleth Talkative: he cheweth the cud, he seeketh knowledge; he cheweth upon the Word, but he divideth not the hoof. He parteth not with the way of sinners; but as the hare, he retaineth the foot of the dog or bear, and therefore he is unclean.
Faithful rejoins Talkative for futher conversation and discovers that indeed, Christian is correct. Talkative has the knowledge of salvation and the words to describe it, but the knowledge has not changed him. As Faithful tells him, "for knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the Gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul." Faithful proceeds to tell Talkative exactly what a "work of grace in the soul" is: conviction of sin, confession of faith in Christ, and
"a life answerable to that confession; to wit, a life of holiness: heart-holiness, family-holiness (if he hath a family), and by conversation-holiness in the world; which in the general teacheth him inwardly to abhor his sin, and himself for that, in secret; to suppress it in his family, and to promote holiness in the world: not by talk only, as a hypocrite or talkative person may do, but by a practical subjection in faith and love to the power of the Word."
I re-read this particular section of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress after Jerry Bridges mentioned Talkative in his book The Pursuit of Holiness. Every time I read The Pilgrim's Progress, I am amazed. Bunyan's story does such a good job of capturing doctrinal and practical truths of Christianity.

In days gone by The Pilgrim's Progress was often the only book a family owned besides their Bible. Children learned to read with it and most Americans knew the story quite well. Our own times seem to be filled with Talk, don't they? I found in this section about Talkative a bit of a warning. Blogs like this are filled with talk of faith. May my life demonstrate that I am changed by the work of grace in my soul and not merely a Talkative, but empty, person!

I spent some of my "coffee with the Lord" this morning looking up all the Scripture passages that Bunyan references in this section about Talkative (there are about two dozen). 
Image from Wikipedia, a map from a 1778 edition of the book; bold emphasis in quotations added.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Great post. And so timely for me as the Lord pushes and changes our family. The kids and I are reading Little Pilgrim's Progress... it is wonderful.

Have a good one!
Laura

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