Christiana’s Song

The King Shall Rejoice

Then Christiana began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them, and washed their feet; and set them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before.

So I saw in my dream that they walked on in their way, and had the weather very comfortable to them.

Then Christiana began to sing, saying:

“Blest be the day that I began
A pilgrim for to be;
And blessed also be that man
That thereto moved me.

‘Tis true, ‘twas long ere I began
To seek to live forever:
But now I run fast as I can;
‘Tis better late, than never.

Our tears to joy, our fears to faith,
Are turned, as we see:
Thus our beginning (as one saith)
Shows what our end will be.”

Notes and Commentary

As Christiana sets out again with her children and Mercy on their journey to the Celestial City, Christiana’s heart is full of joy. At the Gate, they have been well fed, refreshed, and shown the right path to take. Now they walk in favorable weather.

Christiana expresses her joy with singing. Music is a fitting way to declare our delight in God and make known His manifest kindnesses.

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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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The Power of the Dog

Barking Dog

So at last he came down to them again; and Mercy fell to the ground on her face before him, and worshipped, and said, “Let my Lord accept of the sacrifice of praise which I now offer unto him with the calves of my lips.”

So he said unto her, “Peace be to thee: stand up.”

But she continued upon her face and said, “You are Righteous, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You of Your judgments: why do You keep so cruel a dog in Your yard, at the sight of which such women and children as we are ready to fly from Your gate for fear?”

He answered, and said, “That dog has another owner; he also is kept close in another man’s ground, only my pilgrims hear his barking. He belongs to the castle which you see there at a distance, but can come up to the walls of this place. He has frightened many an honest pilgrim from worse to better by the great voice of his roaring. Indeed, he that owns him does not keep him of any good will to Me or mine; but with intent to keep the pilgrims from coming to Me, and that they may be afraid to knock at this gate for entrance. Sometimes also he has broken out, and has worried some that I love; but I take all at present patiently. I also give my pilgrims timely help; so that they are not delivered up to his power, to do to them what his doggish nature would prompt him to. But what! My purchased one, I trow, had you known never so much beforehand, you wouldst not have been afraid of a dog. The beggars that go from door to door will, rather than they will lose a supposed alms, run the hazard of the bawling, barking, and biting too, of a dog; and shall a dog, a dog in another man’s yard, a dog whose barking I turn to the profit of pilgrims, keep any from coming to Me? I deliver them from the lions, their darling from the power of the dog.”

Then said Mercy, “I confess my ignorance; I spoke what I did not understand: I acknowledge that You do all things well.”

Then Christiana began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them, and washed their feet; and set them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before.

Notes and Commentary

The pilgrims are relieved and grateful that they have gained entrance to the Gate. But Mercy is perplexed. She remembers her distress and the peril that caused her to faint just outside the Gate and she cannot make sense of what she experienced. The Wicket Gate is a place of hope and refuge for needy pilgrims. How then can it also be a place of such danger and trepidation? She is intent on seeking an answer from the Gate Keeper. 

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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
.

Return to A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Part 2

Pardon at the Gate

Mercy fainting by the Gate

And now was Christiana and her boys, and Mercy, received of the Lord at the head of the way, and spoke kindly unto by him.

Then said they yet further unto him, “We are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his pardon; and further information what we must do.”

“I grant pardon,” said he, “by word and deed: by word, in the promise of forgiveness; by deed, in the way I obtained it. Take the first from my lips with a kiss, and the other as it shall be revealed.”

Now I saw in my dream that he spoke many good words unto them, whereby they were greatly gladdened. he also had them up to the top of the gate, and showed them by what deed they were saved; and told them withal, that that sight they would have again as they went along in the way, to their comfort.

So he left them awhile in a summer parlor below, where they entered into talk by themselves. And thus Christiana began, “O Lord, how glad am I that we are got in hither!”

Mercy: So you well may; but I, of all, have cause to leap for joy.

Christiana: I thought one time, as I stood at the gate (because I had knocked, and none did answer), that all our labor had been lost; specially when that ugly cur made such a heavy barking against us.

Mercy: But my worst fear was after I saw that you were taken into his favor, and that I was left behind. Now, thought I, “tis fulfilled which is written, Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

I had much ado to forbear crying out, Undone, undone! And afraid I was to knock any more; but when I looked up to what was written over the gate, I took courage. I also thought that I must either knock again, or die. So I knocked; but I cannot tell how, for my spirit now struggled between life and death.

Christiana: Can you not tell how you knocked? I am sure your knocks were so earnest, that the very sound of them made me start. I thought I never heard such knocking in all my life. I thought you would have come in by violent hands, or have taken the Kingdom by storm.

Mercy: Alas! to be in my case, who that so was could but have done so? You saw that the door was shut upon me; and that there was a most cruel dog thereabout. Who, I say, that was so fainthearted as I, that would not have knocked with all their might? But pray, what said my Lord to my rudeness? Was he not angry with me?

Christiana: When he heard your lumbering noise, he gave a wonderful innocent smile. I believe what you did pleased him well enough; for he showed no sign to the contrary. But I marvel in my heart why he keeps such a dog. Had I known that afore, I fear I should not have had heart enough to have ventured myself in this manner. But now we are in, we are in; and I am glad with all my heart.

Mercy: I will ask, if you please, next time he comes down, why he keeps such a filthy cur in his yard. I hope he will not take it amiss.

“Aye, do,” said the children; “and persuade him to hang him, for we are afraid he will bite us when we go hence.”

Notes and Commentary

Mercy now joins Christiana and the children within the Gate. Each of them willingly set out on the journey as pilgrims. Now they are all lovingly welcomed. They enter by faith, not with boasting or presumption, but rather with humility and repentance. They confess to the Gate Keeper, “We are sorry for our sins, and beg of our Lord his pardon; and further information what we must do.” 

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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
.

Return to A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Part 2

Mercy at the Gate

Mercy at the Gate

Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had gotten admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.

Christiana: And she said, “My Lord, I have a companion of mine that stands yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her mind; for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for, whereas I was sent to by my husband’s King to come.”

Now Mercy began to be very impatient, for each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself: and she knocked then so loud, that she made Christiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate, “Who is there?” And said Christiana, “It is my friend.”

So he opened the gate, and looked out; but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate would be opened to her.

Then he took her by the hand, and said, “Damsel, I bid you arise.”

“Oh, sir,” said she, “I am faint; there is scarce life left in me.” But he answered that “one once said, ‘When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto You, into Your holy temple.’

Fear not, but stand upon your feet, and tell Me why you have come.”

Mercy: I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her; wherefore I fear I presume.

Keeper of the Gate: “Did she desire you to come with her to this place?”

Mercy: Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that I, your poor handmaid, may be partaker thereof.

Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, “I pray for all them that believe on Me, by what means soever they come unto Me.” Then said he to those that stood by, “Fetch something, and give it to Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her fainting.” So they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, and awhile after she was revived.

Notes and Commentary

While sounds of music celebrate the arrival of Christiana and her children, Mercy is still outside the Gate. She has been fearful from the beginning that she would not be received. Now it seems her fears are coming true. 

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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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Return to A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Part 2

Knocking at the Gate

Christiana at the Gate

And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore I thought I saw Christiana, and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the gate. To which when they were come, they betook themselves to a short debate about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said to him that did open to them. So it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance; and that she should speak to him that did open for the rest. So Christiana began to knock; and as her poor husband did, she knocked and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog came barking upon them. A dog, and a great one too; and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for awhile to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them. Now, therefore, they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds, and knew not what to do. Knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not, for fear that the keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them. At last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at the first. Then said the keeper of the gate, “Who is there?” So the dog left off to bark, and he opened unto them.

Then Christiana made low obeisance, and said, “Let not our Lord be offended with his handmaidens, for that we have knocked at his princely gate.”

Then said the keeper, “From whence do you come, and what is that you would have?”

Christiana answered, “We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously admitted by this gate into the way that leads to the Celestial City. And I answer my Lord in the next place, that I am Christiana, once the wife of Christian that now is gotten above.”

With that the keeper of the gate did marvel saying, “What, is she become now a pilgrim, that but awhile ago abhorred that life?” Then she bowed her head, and said, “Yes; and so are these my sweet babes also.”

Then he took her by the hand, and let her in and said also, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” And with that he shut up the gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above over the gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting and sound of trumpet for joy.

So he obeyed and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes.

Notes and Commentary

Soon after crossing the Slough of Despond, the pilgrims arrive at the Wicket Gate. Evangelist first told Christian to seek the Gate in Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Earlier in Part 2 Christiana received the same instructions. Secret told her: “Go to the wicket gate yonder, over the plain, for that stands in the head of the way up which you must go.” But unlike Christian, who was beguiled and led astray for a time by Worldly Wiseman, Christiana goes directly to the Gate. 

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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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Return to A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Part 2

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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Tears in a Bottle

Tear Drops

So they went on together; and Mercy began to weep. Then said Christiana, “Wherefore weeps my sister so?”

Mercy: “Alas!” said she, “who can but lament that shall but rightly consider what a state and condition my poor relations are in that yet remain in our sinful town? and that which makes my grief the more heavy is, because they have no instructor, nor any to tell them what is to come.”

Christiana: “Bowels becomes pilgrims. And you do for your friends as my good Christian did for me when he left me; he mourned for that I would not heed nor regard him; but his Lord and ours did gather up his tears, and put them into his bottle; and now both I, and your, and these my sweet babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, these tears of yours will not be lost: for the truth has said, that ‘they that sow in tears shall reap in joy, in singing. And he that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.’”

Then said Mercy:

Let the Most Blessed be my guide,
If it be his blessed will,
Unto his gate, into his fold,
Up to his holy hill.

And let him never suffer me
To swerve or turn aside
From his free grace and holy ways,
Whate’er shall me betide.

And let him gather them of mine
That I have left behind.
Lord, make them pray they may be Thine,
With all their heart and mind.

Notes and Commentary

No sooner does the journey to the Celestial City begin, that Mercy begins to weep. Though she has determined to leave the City of Destruction, she is leaving behind many friends and family members. She laments that their souls remain in danger. Christiana’s words of comfort imply that Mercy has pled with them and tried to warn them. Mercy could not convince them to join her and now she fears they will have no one else to warn them of the judgment to come.

As her name implies, Mercy is caring and compassionate. Christiana says of Mercy: “Bowels becomes pilgrims.” Bowels were considered the seat of deep emotion.

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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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Uncertainties as the Journey Begins

Christiana encourages Mercy

By this time Christiana was got on her way; and Mercy went along with her. So as they went, her children being there also, Christiana began to discourse. And, “Mercy,” said Christiana, “I take this as an unexpected favor that you should set foot out of doors with me, to accompany me a little in my Way.”

Mercy: Then said young Mercy (for she was but young), “If I thought it would be to purpose to go with you, I would never go near the town any more.”

Christiana: “Well, Mercy,” said Christiana, “cast in your lot with me. I well know what will be the end of our pilgrimage: my husband is where he would not but be for all the gold in the Spanish mines. Nor shall you be rejected, though you go but upon my invitation. The King who has sent for me and my children is one that delights in mercy. Besides, if you are willing, I will hire you, and you shall go along with me as my servant. Yet we will have all things in common between you and me; only go along with me.”

Mercy: “But how shall I be ascertained that I also shall be entertained? Had I this hope but from one that can tell, I would make no stick at all; but would go, being helped by him that can help, though the way was never so tedious.”

Christiana: “Well, loving Mercy, I will tell you what you should do. Go with me to the Wicket Gate, and there I will further inquire for you; and if there you should not meet with encouragement, I will be content that you should return to your place. I also will pay you for your kindness which you showed to me and my children, in your accompanying of us in our way as you are doing.”

Mercy: “Then will I go thither, and will take what shall follow; and the Lord grant that my lot may there fall even as the King of heaven shall have his heart upon me!”

Christiana then was glad in her heart, not only that she had a companion, but also for that she had prevailed with this poor maid to fall in love with her own salvation. 

Notes and Commentary

One of the lessons Bunyan emphasizes often in The Pilgrim’s Progress (both Part One and Part Two), is our need to walk the journey together. We need Christian fellowship. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need their wisdom, strength, love, and encouragement. And they need ours! In Part One Faithful and then Hopeful became Christian’s companions. Here in Part Two Christiana from the outset walks with Mercy.

As Christiana begins her journey to the Celestial City, she is delighted that Mercy has decided to accompany her. Mercy is most willing to go, but is hesitant, not knowing how she will be received when they reach their destination. Mercy does not want to return to Destruction. If she could be certain that her journey would “be to purpose” (be successful), she would “never go near the town any more.” Though she is troubled by uncertainty, she still agrees to go on the journey.

What convinces her to go? What overcomes her doubts and persuades her to leave the life she has always known?

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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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Scorned by the World

Mrs. Timorous and Neighbors

So Mrs. Timorous returned to her house, and Christiana betook herself to her journey. But when Timorous was got home to her house, she sent for some of her neighbors: to wit, Mrs. Bat’s-Eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-mind, and Mrs. Know-Nothing. So when they were come to her house, she fell to telling the story of Christiana and of her intended journey. And thus she began her tale:

Timorous: Neighbors, having had little to do this morning, I went to give Christiana a visit; and when I came at the door I knocked, as you know ‘tis our custom. And she answered, “If you come in God’s name, come in.” So in I went, thinking all was well; but when I came in, I found her preparing herself to depart the town, she and also her children. So I asked her what was her meaning by that; and she told me, in short, that she was now of a mind to go on pilgrimage, as did her husband. She told me also a dream that she had, and how the King of the country where her husband was had sent her an inviting letter to come thither.

Mrs. Know-Nothing: Then said Mrs. Know-Nothing, “And what, do you think she will go?”

Timorous: “Aye, go she will, whatever come on’t; and methinks I know it by this, for that which was my great argument to persuade her to stay at home (to wit, the troubles she was like to meet with in the way), is one great argument with her to put her forward on her journey. For she told me in so many words, the bitter goes before the sweet. Yea, and for as much as it so doth, it makes the sweet the sweeter.”

Mrs. Bat’s-eyes: “Oh, this blind and foolish woman,” said she; “will she not take warning by her husband’s afflictions? For my part, I see, if he were here again, he would rest him content in a whole skin, and never run so many hazards for nothing.”

Mrs. Inconsiderate also replied, saying, “Away with such fantastical fools from the town—a good riddance, for my part, I say, of her. Should she stay where she dwells, and retain this her mind, who could live quietly by her? For she will either be dumpish or unneighborly, or talk of such matters as no wise body can abide. Wherefore, for my part, I shall never be sorry for her departure. Let her go, and let better come in her room: ’twas never a good world since these whimsical fools dwelt in it.”

Then Mrs. Light-mind added as follows: “Come, put this kind of talk away. I was yesterday at Madam Wanton’s, where we were as merry as the maids. For who do you think should be there, but I, and Mrs. Love-the-Flesh, and three or four more, with Mr. Lechery, Mrs. Filth, and some others. So there we had music and dancing, and what else was meet to fill up the pleasure. And I dare say, my lady herself is an admirably well bred gentlewoman, and Mr. Lechery is as pretty a fellow.”

Notes and Commentary

Thus far in the story we have seen the first stirrings of grace in Christiana as well as in Mercy. Now, as Christiana and Mercy make preparations to leave the City of Destruction, Bunyan draws our attention to one who is determined to stay.

Mrs. Timorous, as her name implies, is one who is driven by her own fears and apprehensions. Thoughts of taking a journey, such as Christiana and Mercy are planning, cause her trepidation. Think of the friends and family they will leave behind! Think of the unknowns and uncertainties! Think of the dangers they will face (dangers confirmed by the stories she has heard about Christian)! A journey to search for a Celestial City—Mrs. Timorous will have nothing to do with it. The thoughts of leaving her present comforts and familiar surroundings are too much to bear. 

Christiana once thought this way. And so Mrs. Timorous was aghast when she stopped by to visit and discovered Christiana preparing to embark on such a journey. How could Christiana so suddenly change her mind? Has she lost all reason? How could she now be willing to risk all (even the well-being of her children) to set out on the Way? It makes no sense! Mrs. Timorous tried her best to discourage Christiana from going, yet Christiana could not be dissuaded. And now, even Mercy is persuaded to join her.

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

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the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc
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Mercy’s Reply

Mercy, Christiana and Mrs. Timorous

Then Timorous also reviled her, and said to her fellow, “Come, neighbor Mercy, let’s leave her in her own hands, since she scorns our counsel and company.”

But Mercy was at a stand, and could not so readily comply with her neighbor; and that for a twofold reason. First, her bowels yearned over Christiana; so she said within herself, “If my neighbor will needs be gone, I will go a little way with her, and help her.” Secondly, her bowels yearned over her own soul (for what Christiana had said had taken some hold upon her mind). Wherefore she said within herself again, “I will yet have more talk with this Christiana: and if I find truth and life in what she shall say, myself with my heart shall also go with her.” Wherefore Mercy began thus to reply to her neighbor Timorous.

Mercy: “Neighbor, I did indeed come with you to see Christiana this morning; and since she is, as you see, a taking of her last farewell of her country, I think to walk this sunshiny morning a little way with her to help her on the way.”

But she told her not of her second reason; but kept that to herself.

Timorous: Well, I see you have a mind to go a-fooling too; but take heed in time, and be wise: while we are out of danger we are out; but when we are in we are in.

Notes and Commentary

Christiana is undeterred in her determination to set out on a journey to the Celestial City. She has explained to her friends her reasons for leaving. She read them her letter of invitation and assurance. And she shared her hope that the King will be merciful and welcome her at journey’s end. When Christian asks, “What now will you say to this?” Mrs. Timorous is aghast. She believes Christiana’s hopes to be madness. She feels offended that Christiana will not listen to reason and heed her advice to stay. She also assumes that Mercy thinks as she does. She reviles Christiana and encourages Mercy to join her in leaving: “Come, neighbor Mercy, let’s leave her in her own hands, since she scorns our counsel and company.”

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

Notes and Commentary for Part II ©2014, 2021 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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