Then the Judge called to the jury (who all this while stood by, to hear and observe): Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man about whom so great an uproar has been made in this town. You have also heard what these worthy gentlemen have witnessed against him. Also you have heard his reply and confession. It lies now in your breasts to hang him or save his life; but yet I think meet to instruct you into our law.
There was an Act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our prince, that lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river. There was also an Act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, another of his servants, that whosoever would not fall down and worship his golden image, should be thrown into a fiery furnace. There was also an Act made in the days of Darius, that whoso, for some time, called upon any god but him, should be cast into the lions’ den. Now the substance of these laws this rebel has broken, not only in thought, (which is not to be borne), but also in word and deed; which must therefore needs be intolerable.
For that of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition, to prevent mischief, no crime being yet apparent; but here is a crime apparent. For the second and third, you see he disputes against our religion; and for the treason he has confessed, he deserves to die the death.
Then went the jury out, whose names were, Mr. Blind-man, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the Judge. And first, among themselves, Mr. Blind-man, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth. Ay, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him. Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart rises against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore, let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death. And so they did; therefore he was presently condemned to be had from the place where he was, to the place from whence he came, and there to be put to the most cruel death that could be invented.
Once Faithful is finished with his defense, the judge calls upon the jury to deliver a verdict. It does not take long for them to find the accused guilty. Bunyan again brilliantly draws upon his own experience in being brought to trial to convey his story. Cheever notes:
Nothing can be more masterly than the satire contained in this trial. The judge, the witnesses, and the jury, are portraits sketched to the life, and finished, every one of them, in quick, concise, and graphic touches. The ready testimony of Envy is especially characteristic. Rather than anything should be wanting that might be necessary to despatch the prisoner, he would enlarge his testimony against him to any requisite degree. The language of the judge, and his whole deportment on the bench, are a copy to the life of some of the infamous judges under king Charles, especially the wretch Jefferies. You may find in the trial of the noble patriot Algernon Sidney the abusive language of the judge against Faithful almost word for word. The judge’s charge to the jury, with the acts and laws on which the condemnation of the prisoner was founded, are full of ingenuity and meaning. (from Lectures on The Pilgrim’s Progress by G.B. Cheever)
The judge gives the jury their final instructions, ironically by pointing out three occasions in Scripture where the innocent were unjustly targeted and condemned because they were perceived as a threat: the male, Hebrew infants (including Moses who was hidden by his parents) sentenced to death by Pharaoh (Exodus 1:22), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were cast into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:6), and Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6). On each occasion faithfulness to God involved great peril.
Bunyan lists 12 members of the jury including the foreman. As with the judge and the witnesses at the trial, the jury is descriptive of the corruption and deceitfulness of sin that shrouds the world in darkness. The members of the jury represent the very sins that would enslave and condemn us. They portray the evil condition of the heart apart from the life-saving work of grace:
Mr. Blindman (the foreman)
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22–23)
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good (Psalm 53:1).
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth (Colossians 3:8).
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another (Titus 3:3).
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy (Romans 13:13).
Mr. Heady (rash, reckless)
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:2–4).
Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (Romans 8:7).
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9).
Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man (Psalm 71:4).
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (John 3:19–20).
Mr. Implacable (without mercy)
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:28–32).
This is the jury (and the carnal mindset) that would speak against Faithful and send him to his death. But there is still cause to be hopeful. For these are the very sins from which God saves us. We were once blind, “dead in trespasses and sins” walking “according to the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:1–2). We “were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived … (Titus 3:3). Paul reminds us “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Though Faithful stands condemned, ready to face a cruel death, his testimony stands as a sure witness to the truth of the gospel. And, as we shall see, God is at work, even in this miscarriage of justice, to bring about His good purposes.
A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress
See TOC for more posts from this commentary
The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary ©2017 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.