A Guide to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

Notes and Commentary

by Ken Puls

on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

Part Two

Christiana and her children

8. Christiana Prepares for Her Journey

Now I saw in my dream, that this old gentleman, as he told me this story, did himself seem to be greatly affected therewith. He moreover, proceeded and said, "So Christiana called her sons together, and began thus to address herself unto them, “My sons, I have, as you may perceive, been of late under much exercise in my soul about the death of your father; not for that I doubt at all of his happiness for I am satisfied now that he is well. I have also been much affected with the thoughts of mine own state and yours, which I verily believe is by nature miserable. My carriages also to your father in his distress is a great load to my conscience; for I hardened both my own heart and yours against him, and refused to go with him on pilgrimage.”

“The thoughts of these things would now kill me outright, but that for a dream which I had last night, and but that for the encouragement that this stranger has given me this morning. Come, my children, let us pack up, and be gone to the gate that leads to the celestial country; that we may see your father, and be with him and his companions in peace, according to the laws of that land.”

Then did her children burst out into tears for joy that the heart of their mother was so inclined. So their visitor bade them farewell: and they began to prepare to set out for their journey.


Notes and Commentary

In Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christiana made a foolish decision to remain in the City of Destruction. She hardened her heart (as well as the hearts of her children) against her husband and refused to follow him on his pilgrimage to the Celestial City. But now in Part 2 her heart is fearful and broken. She fears judgment if she stays. She fears danger if she leaves her home to embark on a journey. Yet she has a persistent hope that she will one day share the same heavenly reward that Christian has attained. Her hope has been strengthened by a visit from Secret (the hidden work of the Spirit upon the heart). And now she holds a Letter close to her heart (assurance that she will be received at the gates to the Celestial City with joy).

Christiana’s sorrows, fears, and hopes are encouraging evidence that grace is stirring in her heart. But sorrows, fears, and hopes are all for naught if she remains in Destruction. In themselves, they provide no refuge from the coming judgment. If she and her family are to be saved, they must “pack up and be gone.” They must find “the gate that leads to the celestial country.” They must find Christ!

Christiana has given evidence of genuine faith and repentance. But now it is time to put her faith and repentance into action. True faith and repentance are most evident, not in feelings or mere words, but in deeds. Repentance is not feeling bad about sin or speaking out against sin, it is turning away from sin. It is packing up and leaving sin. It is orienting one’s life in paths that leave sin behind and forsake it. Faith is not feeling good about Jesus or merely speaking out in favor of Jesus. It is turning toward Him, trusting Him, and resting in Him. It is orienting one’s life in paths that lead to righteousness and obedience to His Word.

Scripture provides many examples of faith in action. In Genesis 6, Noah learned that God was preparing to bring judgment upon the earth. God instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve not only himself, but his family, and two of every bird, animal, and creeping thing on the earth. Noah believed God, but his faith required action. He had to “pack up and be gone.” It was not enough for Noah to simply acknowledge that God’s warnings of impending judgment were true. Faith led to obedience. “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). God fully intended to save Noah, but Noah “prepared an ark,” even when there were no rain clouds in the sky.

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7).

Now Christiana must act upon her faith, heed the warnings, and flee Destruction. When she entreats her children to come with her, they respond with “tears of joy.” They have seen their mother’s sorrow and regrets, and have overheard her dreams. They have marveled at her change of heart. Her faith has served to encourage their faith.

Joy has come to Christiana’s household, just as it did in Acts 16 to the family of the Philippian jailer. When the jailer humbled himself and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house” (16:32). The glorious promise of the gospel was proclaimed to everyone in the house: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (16:31).

The Philippian jailer believed the gospel and his faith was evident in his deeds. He took Paul and Silas into his home, “washed their wounds,” and “set food before them.” And he and all his family were baptized. Such a profound change of heart in a Roman jailer was cause for joy. Scripture concludes: “And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God” (Acts 16:34).

In Christiana’s household, “her children burst out into tears for joy that the heart of their mother was so inclined.” It is worth noting that Secret is present while Christiana speaks with her children. The Spirit is at work in their hearts as well. Bunyan refers to Secret as “their visitor,” not just Christiana’s visitor. As they eagerly “prepare to set out for their journey,” the joy is shared by all.

Continue reading 09. Visited by Neighbors 

Return to 07. Visited by Secret


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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