Tag Archives: conversation

The Departure of Talkative

Talkative: Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, thus he replied: You come now to experience, to conscience, and God; and to appeal to him for justification of what is spoken. This kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions, because I count not myself bound thereto, unless you take upon you to be a catechizer, and, though you should so do, yet I may refuse to make you my judge. But, I pray, will you tell me why you ask me such questions?

Faithful: Because I saw you forward to talk, and because I knew not that you had aught else but notion. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you, that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your conversation gives this your mouth-profession the lie.
They say, you are a spot among Christians; and that religion fares the worse for your ungodly conversation; that some have already stumbled at your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby; your religion, and an ale-house, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and swearing, and lying, and vain-company keeping, etc., will stand together. The proverb is true of you which is said of a whore, to wit, that she is a shame to all women; so are you a shame to all professors.

Talkative: Since you are ready to take up reports and to judge so rashly as you do, I cannot but conclude you are some peevish or melancholy man, not fit to be discoursed with; and so adieu.

Christian: Then came up Christian, and said to his brother, I told you how it would happen: your words and his lusts could not agree; he had rather leave your company than reform his life. But he is gone, as I said; let him go, the loss is no man’s but his own; he has saved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing (as I suppose he will do) as he is, he would have been but a blot in our company: besides, the apostle says, “From such withdraw thyself.”

Faithful: But I am glad we had this little discourse with him; it may happen that he will think of it again: however, I have dealt plainly with him, and so am clear of his blood, if he perishes.

Christian: You did well to talk so plainly to him as you did; there is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days, and that makes religion to stink so in the nostrils of many, as it doth; for they are these talkative fools whose religion is only in word, and are debauched and vain in their conversation, that (being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly) do puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere. I wish that all men would deal with such as you have done: then should they either be made more conformable to religion, or the company of saints would be too hot for them. Then did Faithful say,

How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely doth he speak! How he presumes
To drive down all before him! But so soon
As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon
That’s past the full, into the wane he goes.
And so will all, but he that HEART-WORK knows.

 

Talkative DepartsIn the previous post Faithful explained to Talkative the work of saving grace in the heart. He described how it is made evident both to the person who has saving grace and to others around the one in whom that grace is at work. But Faithful was not content to provide mere explanation. After presenting truth he sought to apply the truth. He pressed Talkative and implored him to evaluate his own life. He asked him plainly “do you experience this…” and “does your life and conversation testify the same?”

In response, Talkative first blushes; his embarrassment betrays the truth. Though Talkative speaks well of grace, he has not lived in ways that testify to a true work of grace in his heart. But any conviction he feels is quickly quenched. Talkative becomes defensive. He retreats behind barriers that are sure to cut him off from the help he needs. He feels caught off guard and put on the spot. He wasn’t expecting this kind of discourse. He’s not ready to answer such pointed questions. He is unwilling to have his life so closely examined and scrutinized.

He asks why Faithful would ask him such questions. Faithful is unwilling to let Talkative continue on in his hypocrisy, saying beautiful words but living in mire. Faithful tells him plainly that his life betrays his words. He uses the language of Jude and compares Talkative’s life to a “spot” (Jude 12–13), warning that his shameful and ungodly conduct is a danger and stumbling block to himself and others.

Talkative accuses Faithful of being unkind and rash. He feels judged and mistreated. Many in our day would likely side with Talkative and agree. Isn’t it cruel and insensitive to drive Talkative away with so blunt an evaluation of his life? Wouldn’t words of sympathy and understanding sound more loving? Yet Talkative is deceived and entrenched in sin. The most unloving thing Faithful could do would be to coddle Talkative in his sin and deception and treat him as a fellow pilgrim as if nothing were amiss. But didn’t Jesus command: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)? Surely Faithful is being to hard on Talkative! After all, aren’t we all sinners? These words from the Sermon on the Mount are often quoted but seldom understood in context. Jesus is not here giving a pass to those who are still infatuated with their sin. He is warning us of hypocrisy. Our own sin should loom largest in our eyes. We must turn away and flee from our own sin and then we will see clearly to help others turn from the sins that beset them.

Talkative’s pride and lack of humility betray an unchanged heart. He is not open to counsel but resistant. He is uncomfortable, yet unconvicted. He is unwilling to remain in a relationship where he is held accountable and his sin is exposed, and so he separates from Faithful to go his own way.

After Talkative departs, Christian counsels Faithful to let him go. Talkative’s loss is his own. He claims to know the gospel, yet lives in ways that are offensive and contrary to the gospel. He speaks well of truth, yet is offended and unreceptive when Faithful brings it to bear upon his life. He has opportunity to receive help, yet walks away.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).

God’s Word commands us to separate from those who would claim Christ yet cling to sin.

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself” (1 Timothy 6:3–5).

Though Talkative would not listen, Faithful is glad he made the effort. He was faithful to warn Talkative and he is “clear of his blood, if he perishes.”

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 33:7–9).

Christian also commends Faithful for doing the right thing by speaking plainly to Talkative. Christian laments: “there is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days.” If we were more honest with one another, our witness before others would carry more weight. Perhaps we would see more desirable results. Those in whom saving grace is at work would be encouraged to repentance and faith. They would welcome and receive the Word of God as profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Those who still embraced their sin would be exposed, unable to continue their masquerade. The company of saints would be a place “too hot” for them to hide and too real for them to go on pretending.

In Christ we have no reason to fear having our sins uncovered. The cross has made known to the world our sinfulness and rebellion. There is forgiveness and cleansing for all who confess their sins and flee to Christ. There is no need to hide our sin or to pretend to be something we are not; in fact, it is hypocrisy and utter foolishness to do so.

Talkative makes a regrettably unwise decision. Rather than humbling himself, accepting the true and faithful counsel of one who has befriended him in Christ, repenting of sin, and finding forgiveness in the gospel, he chooses to separate himself and continue pretending all is well.

The departure of Talkative is one of the saddest portions of The Pilgrim’s Progress. It describes one who claims to follow Christ, yet turns away from truth, ensnared by his own pride and deception. Sadder still, it describes a response that is all too common. It is a response that has hindered many from finding the peace, joy and forgiveness found in true repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.

Talkative’s departure should be a warning to us. May God help us live and speak in ways that agree and commend the gospel. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak, and unwilling to separate ourselves from those who are willing to press us with truth and do our souls the most eternal good.

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 ©2016 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Faithful Confronts Talkative

Faithful: What would you have me to do?

Christian: Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion; and ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether this thing be set up in his heart, house, or conversation.

Faithful: Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, Come, what cheer? How is it now?

Talkative: Thank you, well. I thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.

Faithful: Well, if you will, we will fall to it now; and since you left it with me to state the question, let it be this: How does the saving grace of God discover itself when it is in the heart of man?

Talkative: I perceive, then, that our talk must be about the power of things. Well, it is a very good question, and I shall be willing to answer you. And take my answer in brief, thus: First, Where the grace of God is in the heart, it causes there a great outcry against sin. Secondly—

Faithful: Nay, hold, let us consider of one at once. I think you should rather say, It shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin.

Talkative: Why, what difference is there between crying out against, and abhorring of sin?

Faithful: Oh, a great deal. A man may cry out against sin of policy, but he cannot abhor it, but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who yet can abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation. Joseph’s mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been very holy; but she would willingly, notwithstanding that, have committed uncleanness with him. Some cry out against sin even as the mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calls it a bad and naughty girl, and then falls to hugging and kissing it.

Talkative: You lie at the catch, I perceive.

Faithful: No, not I; I am only for setting things right. But what is the second thing whereby you would prove a discovery of a work of grace in the heart?

Talkative: Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.

Faithful: This sign should have been first; but first or last, it is also false; for knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul. Yea, if a man has all knowledge, he may yet be nothing, and so consequently be no child of God. When Christ said, “Do you know all these things?” and the disciples had answered, Yes; he adds, “Blessed are you if you do them.” He does not lay the blessing in the knowing of them, but in the doing of them. For there is a knowledge that is not attended with doing: He that knows his masters will, and does not do it. A man may know like an angel, and yet be no Christian, therefore your sign of it is not true. Indeed, to know is a thing that pleases talkers and boasters, but to do is that which pleases God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge; for without that, the heart is naught. There is, therefore, knowledge and knowledge. Knowledge that rests in the bare speculation of things; and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love; which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart: the first of these will serve the talker; but without the other the true Christian is not content. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.”

Talkative: You lie at the catch again; this is not for edification.

Faithful: Well, if you please, propound another sign how this work of grace discovers itself where it is.

Talkative: Not I, for I see we shall not agree.

Faithful: Well, if you will not, will you give me leave to do it?

Talkative: You may use your liberty.

Faithful Confronts TalkativeAfter hearing the truth about Talkative and listening to Christian explain the fallacy of Talkative’s thinking, Faithful can no longer esteem Talkative as a “brave companion.” Talkative’s words have a shallow ring and Faithful has grown weary of his company. But Faithful makes one last effort, taking Christian’s advice to “go to him and enter into some serious discourse.”

Talkative is at first eager. He was ready to jump into a conversation when Faithful first greeted him. As they begin, Faithful chooses the question—the one suggested by Christian: What are the evidences of saving grace in the heart? Talkative hints that it is not the question he would have chosen, but he gives a reply. With each of his answers Faithful offers correction:

1. Talkative suggests first that grace is evident in the heart when there is a great outcry against sin. Faithful corrects him. It is not enough just to speak out against sin and decry it. We must hate it and flee from it. Talkative fails to see the difference between denouncing sin and disowning sin, so Faithful illustrates his point: First he gives an example from Scripture: Potiphar’s wife cried out with indignation against Joseph (Genesis 39:15). Her pleas sounded righteous, but her words were feigned. She still harbored sin in her heart. Second, Faithful uses a simile: Those who coddle sin in their lives while condemning it with their words treat sin as a mother treats a small child: they embrace it, adore it and nurture it, until it causes trouble or embarrassment; then they speak up and scold it.

2. Talkative’s second evidence is “great knowledge of gospel mysteries.” Faithful tells him that this evidence should have been mentioned first, but it is also false. It is possible to know much about the gospel and the things of God, “yet be nothing, and so consequently be no child of God.”

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1–2).

Faithful points to Jesus words to His disciples: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). It is not enough to know truth if our knowledge “rests in the bare speculation of things.” We need knowledge that compels us to obedience, “knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love; which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart.” Faithful concludes with the resolve of the psalmist to be a doer of the Word:

“Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.”
(Psalm 119:34)

So what can we learn from Faithful’s attempt to engage Talkative in a serious conversation? Faithful’s confrontation with Talkative highlights two important needs in the Christian journey:

1. We need to be willing to offer correction and reproof, even when it might not be received well.

Faithful made the effort to confront Talkative, even though he suspected that Talkative might not listen. He was willing to have a hard conversation when a more pleasant conversation would have been easier. Why did he do it? Why stir up contention? After all, Talkative knows a great deal. He is professing to be a pilgrim; he is on the pathway of pilgrims; he loves to talk with pilgrims about the things of God. Faithful confronts him because his soul is in danger. Talkative is professing a love for truth while holding on to sin. He knows truth intellectually, but his life does not show evidence of a changed heart. It would have been easy for Faithful to simply walk away and leave Talkative to his own ideas, or just keep to polite conversation and resist pressing him with truth. But eternity is at stake; it would not be kind or loving to allow Talkative to continue in error and deception. Faithful is willing to engage him. God may yet “touch his heart, and turn it.”

2. We need to be willing to receive correction and reproof without becoming suspicious or defensive.

Sadly, as Christian and Faithful expected, Talkative does not receive correction well. When Faithful points out his errors, he become defensive and suspicious. Twice he accuses Faithful of trying to trap him with words, saying, “You lie at the catch.” Though Faithful tells him, “I am only for setting things right” (showing him the truth and encouraging him to walk in it), Talkative’s retreat to contention makes it hard for Faithful to help him.

If we are to benefit from walking together in Christ we must be willing to engage others for the sake of their souls. We need to watch out for one another and encourage one another in the pursuit of holiness. And we must be humble and open to others who will speak truth to us in love. We need to be accountable to one another and invite correction and reproof without taking offense at those who are kind enough to give it.

Talkative resists Faithful’s attempts to correct him. He claims the conversation “is not for edification.” When asked to give another evidence for the work of grace, he refuses, saying: “Not I, for I see we shall not agree.” Faithful then offers to provide an answer to the question. In the next post we will hear Faithful’s instruction as he explains the nature of saving grace.

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 ©2016 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Fallacy of Talkative

Faithful: Well, I see that saying and doing are two things, and hereafter I shall better observe this distinction.

Christian: They are two things, indeed, and are as diverse as are the soul and the body; for as the body without the soul is but a dead carcass, so saying, if it be alone, is but a dead carcass also. The soul of religion is the practical part: “Pure religion and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This Talkative is not aware of; he thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceives his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart and life; and let us assure ourselves, that at the day of doom men shall be judged according to their fruits. It will not be said then, Did you believe? but, Were you doers, or talkers only? and accordingly shall they be judged. The end of the world is compared to our harvest; and you know men at harvest regard nothing but fruit. Not that anything can be accepted that is not of faith, but I speak this to show you how insignificant the profession of Talkative will be at that day.

Faithful: This brings to my mind that of Moses, by which he describes the beast that is clean. He is such a one that parts the hoof and chews the cud; not that parts the hoof only, or that chews the cud only. The hare chews the cud, but yet is unclean, because he parts not the hoof. And this truly resembles Talkative; he chews the cud, he seeks knowledge, he chews upon the word; but he divides not the hoof, he parts not with the way of sinners; but, as the hare, he retains the foot of a dog or bear, and therefore he is unclean.

Christian: You have spoken, for aught I know, the true gospel sense of those texts. And I will add another thing: Paul calls some men, yea, and those great talkers, too, sounding brass and tinkling cymbals; that is, as he expounds them in another place, things without life, giving sound. Things without life, that is, without the true faith and grace of the gospel; and consequently, things that shall never be placed in the kingdom of heaven among those that are the children of life; though their sound, by their talk, be as if it were the tongue or voice of an angel.

Faithful: Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am as sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?

Christian: Take my advice, and do as I bid you, and you shall find that he will soon be sick of your company too, except God shall touch his heart, and turn it.

Faithful: What would you have me to do?

Christian: Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion; and ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether this thing be set up in his heart, house, or conversation.

Christian Faithful and TalkativeIn the previous post Christian exposed the truth about Talkative. Talkative speaks like a pilgrim, but his life does not bear the marks of a pilgrim. Now Christian explains the fallacy of Talkative’s thinking. Talkative believes that simply hearing and speaking the truth makes him to be “a good Christian.” He craves conversation but not commitment. He delights in doctrine but not devotion. Talkative has a dangerous disconnect in his thinking. He does not grasp the vital relationship between faith and works.

Talkative has presumed that since we are saved by grace alone, our works are of no regard. In one sense he is correct “for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Salvation is certainly by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Our works cannot save us.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

But in another sense Talkative is gravely wrong. Works must certainly follow our faith. We are not only justified (declared righteous) in salvation, but sanctified (made righteous). We are saved—set apart— for good works. Paul follows Ephesians 2:8–9 with verse 10:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Good works are the necessary fruit of true faith that bear witness to the glorious salvation that has been wrought in us by God. False faith produces assent but not action. True faith is a faith that works.
Christian makes three references to Scripture to emphasize this important connection between faith and works:

1. Speaking truth and living truth “are as diverse as are the soul and the body.” We read in James:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26).

Christian explains to Faithful: “for as the body without the soul is but a dead carcass, so saying, if it be alone, is but a dead carcass also.” A faith without works is a dead faith. We read in James:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (James 2:14–24).

2. “The soul of religion is the practical part.” Our love to God is made manifest in our actions and obedience, not our ideas and theories.

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:26–27).

“Pure and undefiled religion” is defined in terms of doing, not in terms of knowing, hearing or saying. It’s not what we know or hear or say that matters most, but what we do with what we know, hear and say. Again we read in James:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22–25).

3. At the last day “men shall be judged according to their fruits.” We see this in the parables that Jesus told in Matthew 13 and 25. In Matthew 13 Jesus explains the parable of the sower as it relates to fruitfulness:

Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:18–23).

Christian notes: “Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed” and “talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart and life.” Fruit is the evidence of a new heart and a changed life. It is made evident in our obedience to God’s Word. It is fruit that will be gathered in at the harvest.

… at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn (Matthew 13:30).

Faithful then draws out an analogy from the Law of Moses. In Leviticus 11:3–8 and Deuteronomy 14:6–8 God describes that food that Israel was permitted to eat and the food that they were to avoid. Two traits were required for animals to be considered clean:

“And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals” (Deuteronomy 14:6).

“Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat” (Leviticus 11:3).

Talkative resembles the unclean because he lacks a significant trait. He “chews the cud” (he reads and ponders the Word of God) but does not “part the hoof” (he does not turn from sin and walk in a way that is pleasing to God and in obedience to His Word). Christian concludes by drawing yet another illustration, comparing Talkative to a “sounding brass or clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1) and to a lifeless instrument that makes an uncertain sound (1 Corinthians 14:7).

Faithful is now ready to be rid of Talkative’s company. He has seen through the false veneer of Talkative’s profession. Christian encourages Faithful to speak again with Talkative and confront him concerning the power of the gospel to change hearts and lives. This, Christian tells him, will either drive him away or, if God touches his heart, will turn him away from his deception and to the truth.

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 ©2016 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Truth About Talkative

Faithful: Now did Faithful begin to wonder; and stepping to Christian, (for he walked all this while by himself), he said to him, (but softly), What a brave companion have we got! Surely this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.

Christian: At this Christian modestly smiled, and said: This man, with whom you are so taken, will beguile, with that tongue of his, twenty of them that know him not.

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 dwells in our town. I wonder that you should be a stranger to him, only I consider that our town is large.

Faithful: Whose son is he? And whereabout does he dwell?

Christian: He is the son of one Say-well; he dwelt in Prating Row; and is known of all that are acquainted with him, by the name of Talkative in Prating Row; and notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a sorry fellow.

Faithful: Well, he seems to be a very pretty man.

Christian: That is, to them who have not thorough acquaintance with him; for he is best abroad; near home, he is ugly enough. Your saying that he is a pretty man, brings to my mind what I have observed in the work of the painter, whose pictures show best at a distance, but, very near, more unpleasing.

Faithful: But I am ready to think you do but jest, because you smiled.

Christian: God forbid that I should jest (although I smiled) in this matter, or that I should accuse any falsely! I will give you a further discovery of him. This man is for any company, and for any talk; as he talks now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale-bench; and the more drink he has in his crown, the more of these things he has in his mouth; religion has no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he has lies 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.” But the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. He talks 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; it can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, through him. Thus say the common people that know him, A saint abroad, and a devil at home. His poor family finds it so; he is such a churl, such a railer at and so unreasonable with his servants, that they neither know how to do for or speak to him. Men that have any dealings with him say it is better to deal with a Turk than with him; for fairer dealing they shall have at their hands. This Talkative (if it be possible) will go beyond them, defraud, beguile, and overreach them. Besides, he brings up his sons to follow his steps; and if he finds in any of them a foolish timorousness, (for so he calls the first appearance of a tender conscience,) he calls them fools and blockheads, and by no means will employ them in much, or speak to their commendations before others. For my part, I am of opinion, that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall; and will be, if God prevent not, the ruin of many more.

Faithful: Well, my brother, I am bound to believe you; not only because you say you know him, but also because, like a Christian, you make your reports of men. For I cannot think that you speak these things of ill-will, but because it is even so as you say.

Christian: Had I known him no more than you, I might perhaps have thought of him, as, at the first, you did; yea, had he received this report at their hands only that are enemies to religion, I should have thought it had been a slander—a lot that often falls from bad men’s mouths upon good men’s names and professions; but all these things, yea, and a great many more as bad, of my own knowledge, I can prove him guilty of. Besides, good men are ashamed of him; they can neither call him brother, nor friend; the very naming of him among them makes them blush, if they know him.

TalkativeIn the previous post Faithful began a conversation with a traveler whose name was Talkative. Talkative quickly impressed Faithful with his fluent words and contagious enthusiasm. Now the conversation shifts; Faithful steps aside to speak privately with Christian. Though Faithful has a high regard for Talkative, Christian is not so convinced.

Christian knows the truth about Talkative. He knows of his reputation among family and friends in the City of Destruction. Christian raises three serious concerns that should give Faithful pause in his assessment of Talkative:

1. Though Talkative speaks well, his life doesn’t measure up to his talk. Bunyan highlights this discrepancy between Talkative’s words and walk in his description: “He is the son of one Say-Well” and lives on Prating Row. His speech sounds refined and informed, yet it amounts to little more than babbling and gibberish.

He talks of God at church and in the company of believers. He can dissect doctrine and even base his conclusions on Scripture. Yet he fails to live by what he professes. Though he speaks of prayer, faith and repentance; yet these are absent from his life. Christian observes that: “religion has no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he has lies in his tongue, and his religion is, to make a noise therewith.”

Talkative’s life resembles that of the Scribes and Pharisees who “say, and do not do” (Matthew 23:3). Even animals, when they act according to their God-given natures, serve God better than he (Jeremiah 8:7; Job 12:7–10). True salvation is more than knowing and saying right things; it is a change of heart that leads to a changed life. “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

2. Though Talkative appears to be a passionate pilgrim, his life looks better from a distance than close up. He presents himself well, but on closer examination, his actions don’t measure up to his words. Christian notes that “he is best abroad; near home, he is ugly enough.” To those casually acquainted with him, he appears to excel. He is knowledgeable, well-spoken and polite. But to those who know him more intimately, he falls short. His actions toward them are sinful, unjust and unreasonable. He is “a saint abroad, and a devil at home.” His religion is but a façade he has built to cover his life.

3. Though Talkative is fervent in how he speaks of his faith, his witness before others is both deceptive and dangerous. His life discredits the words he speaks. His hypocrisy leads to devastating consequences. His conduct causes “many to stumble and fall, disgusting some and causing them to turn away from the faith, while diluting others into thinking a believer can live comfortably with sin in his life. Christian asserts, “he is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion, to all that know him.” Because of his disregard for God’ Law “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles” (Romans 2:24). Because of his presumption of the Gospel, he speaks “peace, peace, where there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Christian’s assessment of Talkative may seem quite severe. But his judgments and warnings are warranted. Some of Jesus’ sharpest words were aimed at those who lived in hypocrisy and led others astray by their hypocrisy. On two occasions in the book of Matthew Jesus referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34, 23:33). In Matthew 18 he warns:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes” (Matthew 18:6–7).

Sadly, there are many in the church today who fit the description of Talkative. They speak the language of a Pilgrim, are convinced that they are on the path to the Celestial City, yet their lives do not bear the marks of a Pilgrim. They like to mingle with God’s people, engage in theological conversation, and may even be well-versed in explaining and arguing the nuances of difficult doctrines. Yet their conduct bears little resemblance to the truth they so eloquently champion with their lips.

Talkative is satisfied that he can make the journey with mere knowledge and talk. In the next post will we look further in the Fallacy of Talkative’s thinking.

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 ©2016 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Conversation with Talkative

Moreover, I saw in my dream, that as they went on, Faithful, as he chanced to look on one side, saw a man whose name is Talkative, walking at a distance beside them; for in this place there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and something more comely at a distance than at hand. To this man Faithful addressed himself in this manner:

Faithful: Friend, whither away? Are you going to the heavenly country?

Talkative: I am going to the same place.

Faithful: That is well; then I hope we may have your good company.

Talkative: With a very good will will I be your companion.

Faithful: Come on, then, and let us go together, and let us spend our time in discoursing of things that are profitable.

Talkative: To talk of things that are good, to me is very acceptable, with you or with any other; and I am glad that I have met with those that incline to so good a work; for, to speak the truth, there are but few that care thus to spend their time, (as they are in their travels), but choose much rather to be speaking of things to no profit; and this has been a trouble for me.

Faithful: That is indeed a thing to be lamented; for what things so worthy of the use of the tongue and mouth of men on earth as are the things of the God of heaven?

Talkative: I like you wonderful well, for your sayings are full of conviction; and I will add, what thing is so pleasant, and what so profitable, as to talk of the things of God? What things so pleasant (that is, if a man hath any delight in things that are wonderful)? For instance, if a man doth delight to talk of the history or the mystery of things; or if a man doth love to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs, where shall he find things recorded so delightful, and so sweetly penned, as in the Holy Scripture?

Faithful: That is true; but to be profited by such things in our talk should be that which we design.

Talkative: That is it that I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the vanity of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Thus, in general, but more particularly by this, a man may learn the necessity of the new birth, the insufficiency of our works, the need of Christ’s righteousness, &c. Besides, by this a man may learn, by talk, what it is to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like; by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and consolations of the gospel, to his own comfort. Further, by this a man may learn to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth, and also to instruct the ignorant.

Faithful: All this is true, and glad am I to hear these things from you.

Talkative: Alas! the want of this is the cause why so few understand the need of faith, and the necessity of a work of grace in their soul, in order to eternal life; but ignorantly live in the works of the law, by which a man can by no means obtain the kingdom of heaven.

Faithful: But, by your leave, heavenly knowledge of these is the gift of God; no man attains to them by human industry, or only by the talk of them.

Talkative: All this I know very well; for a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven; all is of grace, not of works. I could give you a hundred scriptures for the confirmation of this.

Faithful: Well, then, said Faithful, what is that one thing that we shall at this time found our discourse upon?

Talkative: What you will. I will talk of things heavenly, or things earthly; things moral, or things evangelical; things sacred, or things profane; things past, or things to come; things foreign, or things at home; things more essential, or things circumstantial; provided that all be done to our profit.

Faithful: Now did Faithful begin to wonder; and stepping to Christian, (for he walked all this while by himself), he said to him, (but softly), What a brave companion have we got! Surely this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.

TalkativeAs the two pilgrims continue their journey, Faithful sees another traveler “walking at a distance beside them.” The traveler is a tall man named Talkative. As Faithful takes the opportunity to befriend him, the two begin a conversation. Talkative is bold, enthusiastic and well-spoken. Faithful begins to wonder and is soon convinced that his new companion “will make a very excellent pilgrim.”

Talkative does have many commendable qualities.

  • He is cordial and gratified by the company of other pilgrims.
  • He is fervent in how he speaks of his faith.
  • He is walking the path of a pilgrim toward the heavenly country.
  • He enjoys most talking about the things of God.
  • He expresses delight in God’s Word and knows his Bible well.
  • He sees value in learning truth and knowing doctrine.
  • He is concerned that there is little understanding of the gospel of grace.
  • He affirms salvation by grace alone, apart from works.
  • He is willing to address any subject, provided that the conversation is profitable.

But, do such qualities identify him as a true pilgrim and follower of Christ? Faithful seems to think so; he describes him as “brave” and “excellent.” On closer examination, however, there is reason to doubt. Bunyan offers some hints in the story of Talkative’s true character. Although he is tall, appearing to stand above other pilgrims, he looks better from a distance than close up. He is walking where the path is wide and easy. And though he speaks with passion and eloquence, there is something missing in his conversation.
In the next post we will hear Christian’s reply to Faithful’s evaluation and learn the truth about Talkative.

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 ©2016 Ken Puls
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.