Look Well to the Steps

Stepping Stones through the Slough

Now my old friend proceeded, and said, “But when Christiana came up to the Slough of Despond, she began to be at a stand: ‘For,’ said she, ‘this is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with mud.’ She perceived also, that notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly.” So I asked if that was true? “Yes,” said the old gentleman, “too true. For that many there be that pretend to be the King’s laborers, and that say they are for mending the King’s highway, that bring din and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here Christiana therefore, with her boys, did make a stand. But said Mercy, ‘Come, let us venture, only let us be wary.’ Then they looked well to the steps, and made a shift to get staggeringly over.
“Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once nor twice. Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, ‘Blessed is she that believes; for there shall be a performance of those things that have been told her from the Lord.’

“Then they went on again. And said Mercy to Christiana, ‘Had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the wicket gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me.’

“‘Well,’ said the other, ‘you know your sore, and I know mine, and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come at our journey’s end. For can it be imagined, that the people that design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and that are so envied that happiness as we are, but that we shall meet with what fears and scares, with what troubles and afflictions, they can possibly assault us with that hate us?’”

Notes and Commentary

Not far into their journey, Christiana and Mercy come to the Slough of Despond. It was here in Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress that Christian and Pliable “being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog.”

The Slough is a miry swamp “in the midst of the plain” that lies near the City of Destruction. Its ground can be unstable and treacherous. It represents the horrifying awareness of how evil and vile sin truly is. Those who come under conviction of sin, who are seeking to flee the Destruction of sin, can easily tumble in and become mired in the depth of their own guilt and shame.

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The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress and images used are public domain.

Notes and Commentary for Part II ©2014, 2022 Ken Puls

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

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