Congregation of the Dead

Next, Christian and Hopeful come to the Delectable Mountains where they are instructed by four shepherds named Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere. The Narrator says:

“Then I saw that they [the four shepherds–CD] had them to the top of another mountain, and the name of that is Caution, and bid them look afar off; which, when they did, they perceived, as they thought, several men walking up and down among the tombs that were there; and they perceived that the men were blind, because they stumbled sometimes upon the tombs, and because they could not get out from among them. Then said Christian, What means this?

The Shepherds then answered, Did you not see a little below these mountains a stile, that led into a meadow, on the left hand of this way? They answered, Yes. Then said the Shepherds, From that stile there goes a path that leads directly to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair, and these, pointing to them among the tombs, came once on pilgrimage, as you do now, even till they came to that same stile; and because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that meadow, and there were taken by Giant Despair, and cast into Doubting Castle; where, after they had been a while kept in the dungeon, he at last did put out their eyes, and led them among those tombs, where he has left them to wander to this very day, that the saying of the wise man might be fulfilled, ‘He that wandereth out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the dead.’ [Pro. 21:16] Then Christian and Hopeful looked upon one another, with tears gushing out, but yet said nothing to the Shepherds.”

Because the narrow way that leads to life was too constricted and difficult for Bunyan’s Christian and Hopeful, they chose for a time to tread upon the comfortably wide and expansive meadow that leads to destruction.

“Go in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones entering in through it. For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

There has been no true repentance granted to Christian and Hopeful. They have not yet been granted repentance unto life. They have not yet repented of establishing their own self-righteousness in Doubting Castle (cf. Romans 10:1-4). They continue to wander out of the way of understanding, and thus they shall remain communicant members of the congregation of the dead. Next Page

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