Mr. Worldly Wiseman – Pilgrim’s Progress Pt.4

I am continuing my haibun journey through the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  Sorry to have not posted for a few days – I had a bad toothache that was distracting me from writing.


As Christian resumed his journey, before too long he met another man: Mr. Worldly Wiseman from the town of Carnal Policy.

On hearing where Christian was bound, and especially on hearing that Christian was bound for the wicket gate on the advice of Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wiseman told Christian that Evangelist gave dangerous counsel, and that the Slough of Despond was but the first of a series of miseries and dangers that Christian would face. Instead, counselled Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Christian should turn aside to the town of Morality and seek out a gentleman named Legality or that man’s son, Civility. Either of these two men would be able to rid Christian of his burden without the hassle of the journey to the wicket gate.

Christian decided to heed Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s advice. After getting directions to go towards “yonder high hill”, and proceeding to the first house he came upon, Christian set off.

an easier path
the pilgrim changes his course
hope of salvation

When Christian got nearer to the hill, he began to rue his decision to accept Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel, for the hill has much larger than it had first appeared, and one side hung over to the point that Christian was afraid the hill would collapse on his head. Also, flashes of fire were seen coming from the hill. Perhaps his greatest concern, though, was the burden on his back began to feel significantly heavier.

As he pondered whether or not to continue on to Legality’s house, who should appear, but Evangelist!

Evangelist questioned Christian about why he had turned aside from his journey to the wicket gate. Christian shared with him the conversation that he had had with Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and how he had been convinced to take this new way.

Evangelist responded by reading to Christian some words from the Book: “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.” (If there was no escape for those who refused to listen to God’s earthly messengers, what hope is there for those who refuse to listen to God himself?)

Christian fell to the ground, expressing that there was no longer hope for him, but Evangelist caught him back up and told him that he could yet be forgiven.

Evangelist then explained to Christian that Mr. Worldly Wiseman was thus called because he knew only the wisdom of the world. He also explained that Legality and Civility could not cure him, for the law could only increase his burden and Civility was at best, a cheat and hypocrite. In short, Evangelist explained that this new path could only lead to death. When Evangelist called out to the heavens for confirmation, a voice and fire came out of the mountain and Christian heard the words, “As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Christian began to weep, expecting nothing but death. He asked Evangelist if it was too late for him to turn back and continue on his way to the gate. Evangelist assured him that the man at the gate would still receive him, but cautioned him not to turn aside again, lest he perish along the way

the depths of despair
expecting swift damnation
a hope rekindled


published for Carpe Diem


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