An Application of Pilgrim’s Progress – Let That be a Warning to You!

March 10, 2020 | by James M. Harrison

“Let that be a warning to you”! 

As a boy growing up in my father’s house, I would often hear that phrase.  What Dad meant, of course, was that I should be careful to learn from the experience of others.  Most often, this counsel would be, triggered by something negative.  My father would see someone experiencing the consequences of acting in a dangerous or foolish manner, and I would hear, “Let that be a warning to you”. 

What he meant, of course, is that I ought to learn from the mistakes of others.  That is the easy way.  He much preferred that I learn from the mistakes of others than to make the same mistakes myself.

As Christian and Hopeful continued upon their pilgrimage to the Celestial City, they found themselves in mountainous terrain.  Upon their escape from Doubting Castle they came first to the Delectable Mountains. There they encountered the Hill of Error, and now find themselves on top of yet another mountain called “Caution”.  And apt name, indeed.

There on the top of that mountain they saw men, but these men were not pilgrims, though they had once been.  These men had not destination, but rather seemed to wander and stumble aimlessly as they moved about…what was it?  Yes.  Tombs.  Christian and Hopeful continued to watch and discerned that these men were, in fact, blind, and unable to find there way out from that place of death.

They inquired of the shepherds who had become their guides, and the answer they received caused them to dissolve into grief and tears, so sad were the words which were spoken.  These men, were once pilgrims, like themselves.  They, too, however, finding the right way to be difficult, had turned from the path, seeking to find an easier way to the Celestial City.  These men, like Christian and Hopeful, had also been captured by Giant Despair and kept in his dungeon.  But there is where the similarities between them come to an end.

These men did not escape the Giant.  These men did not continue on the way.  Rather, the Giant had blinded them, putting out their eyes, after which he had left them to wander among the tombs, which the pilgrims now found them doing still. 

Bunyan tells us that this is a picture of the words of the Wise Man, whom we know as Solomon.  He is referring to Proverbs 21:16:

“A man who wanders from the way of understanding, will rest in the assembly of the dead.”

Upon hearing this, we are told that the pilgrims stood with “tears gushing out”.

Let that be a warning to you!  There is only one way. There is only one path. It is not an easy way, but it is the right way. To go to the left or to the right, searching for an easy way, leaves us as blind ones, groping in the darkness, and no better off than those who have never been made alive by the power of the Spirit.  The way is hard, but there is light there.  The way is hard, but the path is sure.  The way is hard, but that way is the way of life.

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