Application of Bunyan – The Indictment

December 17, 2019 | by James M. Harrison

As a general rule, men are not comfortable with the unfamiliar.  We become uneasy when faced with that which is different.  This is true not only of individuals, but of governments, as well.  It is much easier to govern, to rule, to control, when there is a uniformity among the people.  Differences in custom, belief, and ways of thinking will inevitably cause conflict and dissension, and if there is anything a government is concerned with, no matter its political form, it is concerned with maintaining the peace and maintaining control.

When Christian and Faithful found themselves in Vanity-Fair, they also found themselves to be disturbers of the peace.  They were different, after all, so it didn’t take too long for the governing authorities to take notice.  Yes, they dressed differently, and they spoke the language of Canaan rather than the language of the world.  But that which was the cause of their future trouble arose from that which they valued.

As the crowds there in Vanity-Fair surrounded and mocked them, one member of the mob asked them,  “What will ye buy?”  But the pilgrims were not interested in anything being sold at the fair.  They replied, “We buy the truth”. 

This is what set them apart from all the others who had come to Vanity-Fair.  Christian and Faithful sought the truth and would settle for nothing less.  They would not be satisfied with shiny baubles or the latest fashions or amusing entertainments.  Christian and Faithful were seekers after the truth. Truth is what they valued, and truth alone is what they would purchase.

It was only when this commitment to truth became the issue that authorities began to be concerned.  Christian and Faithful were brought in for examination.  In the course of their interrogation, they repeated what they had said earlier, that they were only interested in purchasing the truth.  As a result, their interrogators concluded that they were mad, for surely, only a madman would pass up all that was being offered at the fair for something as intangible and useless as “truth”.  And so, they were beaten, covered in filth, and committed to a cage, to be made a public spectacle before all who came to the fair. 

Due to the testimony of Christian and Faithful, in both proclamation and behavior, some of those at the fair began to be won over. They thought that Christian and Faithful were being treated too harshly, and they rebuked those who were so terribly abusing these pilgrims.  This caused the authorities to treat Christian and Faithful worse than before, and once again, they brought before their examiners.  In all of this, they exhibited such patience and meekness that others were won over their cause.

When their accusers saw realized that some at the fair were beginning to take the side of Christian and Faithful, their rage toward the pilgrims burned hotter still, and some began to cry out for their deaths!  Being returned to their cage, the pilgrims comforted one another with the memory of Evangelist’s prophecy, and committed themselves anew to the will of the good and gracious Ruler of all things.

Finally, they were brought to trial.  The indictment read thus:

“That they were enemies to, and disturbers of their trade: That they had made commotions and divisions in the town, and had won a party to their own most dangerous opinions, in contempt of the law of their prince.”

Faithful gave a good and noble defense, answering that he had made no disturbance, being a man of peace, and that those who came to the defense of the pilgrims had been won over by “beholding our truth and innocence.”  As for that part of the indictment concerning their “contempt for the law of their prince”, this honest man was as good as his name.  He boldly proclaimed, “And as to the King you talk of, since he is Beelzubub, the enemy of our Lord, I defy him and all his angels!”

Has this not always been the indictment of the world against the people of God?  From the very early history of the church, believers have been accused of “throwing our city into confusion” (Acts 16:20), and of “upsetting the world” (Acts 17:6). 

Likewise, the response of Faithful has ever been the response of men and women of God.  We make no disturbance, being people of peace.  And those who are won to our Lord are won not through swords or deceit, but through the truth, and the righteous lives, of God’s people. 

As for the last part of the indictment, to the charge of holding the law of their prince in contempt, like Faithful, we must plead guilty. For the prince of this world is the enemy of our Lord, the enemy of Christ’s church, and the enemy of men’s souls, and we bear no allegiance to him.  Like Faithful, we defy him and all his angels, even when his authority is cloaked in the authority of earthly rulers.  We defy that prince, even if, as in the case of Faithful, we do so at the cost of our very lives.

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