An Application of Bunyan: Evidence to Convict

December 18, 2019 | by

The day of the trial had arrived. Christian and Faithful were brought before the Judge, Lord Hate-Good, the indictment was read once again, and witnesses began to be called.  But what testimony could thses witnesses provide?  Christian and Faithful were innocent men.  Of course, in Vanity-Fair, which is Bunyan’s picture of the world, the fact that a defendant is an innocent man is of no necessary import. 

Surely we remember another trial, in another place, in which the defendant, far more innocent that even Christian and Faithful…wholly and perfectly innocent, in fact…was nonetheless led to the slaughter on the word of false testimony placed in the mouths of lying and deceitful men.  But here in Vanity-Fair, those who were to testify would not have to lie…very much…for in Vanity-Fair, to be faithful followers of the true King, and to speak forth His truth, was itself a crime worthy of death.

Faithful and Christian were to be tried separately.  Faithful, first.  Three witnesses were brought before the court.  Their names were Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank.  The witnesses were sworn in, and the testimony began.

Envy and Superstition testified, truly, that Christian and Faithful had preached the gospel, and had declared that the religion of Vanity-Fair was in vain, and an offense to the true God. Furthermore, they had proclaimed that the residents of Vanity-Fair who rejected the truth of the gospel, and continued in their false worship, were still in their sins and would, should they remain so, be eternally condemned.  All this was true.  And all this, as far as the court was concerned, was proof of the pilgrim’s guilt.

Pickthank was then called to the stand to testify regarding the final portion of the indictment, which stated that Christian and Faithful were in contempt of the laws of their prince, meaning the prince of Vanity-Fair…Beelzebub.

Pickthank’s testimony against Faithful was as follows:

…he hath railed on our noble Prince Beelzebub, and hath spoke contemptibly of his honorable friends whose names are the ‘Lord Old-Man’, the ‘Lord Carnal-Delight’, the ‘Lord Luxurious’, the ‘Lord Desire of Vain-Glory’, my old Lord ‘Lechery’, ‘Sir Having Greedy’, with all the rest of our nobility; and he hath said moreover, that if all men were of his mind, if possible, there is not one of these noblemen should have any longer a being in this Town.”

Would it be that every follower of the true King could be convicted of such charges!  But would we?  We followers of the King spend our lives passing through Vanity-Fair.  Certainly, those of us living in America and in the rest of the developed world, are not, at present, in much danger of being hauled up before a court for the sake of our faith, though there are signs that that situation is changing.  In other parts of the world, of course, the situation is very different.  But at present, we here in the West are blessed.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting question to entertain.  If I were to be put on trial for my faith, would there be enough evidence for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction?   Would our conduct, our speech, and our zeal for gospel provide the evidence needed for our own condemnation, as it has for so many of our brothers and sisters before us?  An interesting question, indeed…

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