I loved this book. It was encouraging, challenging, and comforting - encouraging because it reminded me that I'm not alone on this pilgrimage; challenging because it reminded me that the Christian walk is not an easy one; and comforting because it reminded me of the surety of the destination. I feel like my faith has been boosted and reinforced from reading through the story.
The story also had its unsettling moments. One of the characters painfully reminded me of the way that I used to be.
"Ignorance: I take my pleasure in walking alone, even more a great deal than in company, unless I like it better...
Christian: How stands it between God and your soul now?
Ignorance: I hope well; for I am always full of good motions..." page 156
"Ignorance: I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his law. Or thus: Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father..." page 159
Oh, but God has not delighted to leave me in ignorance. He has opened my heart to the truth. It's only by His mercy that I could believe.
I want to close this post with two of the passages in Pilgrim's Progress that especially filled me with peace:
"[Christian] ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a Sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
"Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death. Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder, for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the Cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. (Zech. xii. 10.) Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold, three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with 'Peace be to thee.' So the first [the Father] said to him, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee' (Mark ii. 5); the second [the Son] stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment; the third [the Holy Spirit] also set a mark on his forehead, and gave him a roll with a seal upon it (Zech. iii. 4; Eph. i 13), which he bade him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate; so they went their way." page 53
"Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances, at times, as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes; when I think what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; also when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it." page 65