Feeble-mind & a Monster

When we last left Christiana and her companions, they added another pilgrim to their party, an older man named Honest, and then came upon the house of Gaius, where they were able to stay for over a month. We pick up the story once more with the pilgrims still resting in Gaius’ house. Here we will read of how Gaius employed Great-heart’s service in ridding the land of a fearsome giant named Slay-good, how they met another pilgrim named Feeble-mind, and how, after leaving Gaius, they came to the town of Vanity and of what they found there.

Our reading begins with the pilgrims all staying up through the night speaking with Gaius, “for Gaius and they were such suitable company, that they could not tell how to part” (315). Have you ever experienced an evening like that? I have had many such conversations especially while doing mission work. In such moments, there is a shared connection that certainly does make sleep to be inconsequential, especially whenever a parting is fast approaching. I look fondly back upon those evenings well-spent with brothers and sisters that I very likely shall not see again in this life. May we each have the privilege of meeting such brothers as Gaius upon our journey, and perhaps even more importantly, may we have the great privilege of being like Gaius to other brothers and sisters along their journeys.

When Mr. Honest began to grow tired, Great-heart gave him a riddle to solve, which then led to the discussion of two questions. The first question is as follows:

There were two men that went on Pilgrimage, the one began when he was young, the other when he was old: The young man had strong corruptions to grapple with, the old man’s were decayed with the decays of nature: The young man trod his steps as even as did the old one, and was every way as light as he: Who now, of which of them had their Graces shining clearest, since both seemed to be alike?

318

Honest then answered correctly by saying the young man had the greatest opposition and thus showed the best effort in striving against his sin. Older men ought to consider such things so that they may not think more highly of themselves than they ought. It ought also to be a comfort to younger men that war against fleshly desires will not always be so severe.

Later Gaius made a proposal to go with Great-heart in search of a giant named Slay-good “that doth much annoy the King’s High-way in these parts” (319). Thus, Great-heart armed himself with his sword, shield, and helmet, and the other pilgrims went with him with spears and staves. About this venturing forth to find and kill the giant, one writer comments:

It may be asked, how far it is right to expose ourselves to danger and difficulties, since it is rashness, not courage, to expose ourselves to unnecessary danger, or to give unnecessary offence. I would answer, It can never be improper to expose error, or oppose a prevailing vice, by which God’s children are in danger of being beguiled.[1]

So, it was that Great-heart and company found Slay-good and took off his head. And this adventure was well-spent for the pilgrims rescued another pilgrim named Feeble-mind from being eaten by the giant.

Back in Gaius’ home, the pilgrims entered into a discourse with Feeble-mind and learn that he came from the town of Uncertain. He was captured by the giant but trusted that he would be delivered. In his thanksgiving for his rescue, Feeble-mind said, “for which I thank my King as Author, and you as the means” (322). This very much ought to be the manner of Christian thanksgiving! Our God always deserves supreme praise as the Author of all things by His steady working of providence, and our thanks to others ought to be genuine and acknowledging them as the means by which God worked.

As we come to learn, Feeble-mind is the nephew of Mr. Fearing, which certainly explains the similarity between the two. We also learn that God’s providence was even greater toward Feeble-mind than he first realized. A man named Not-right met with Feeble-mind and journeyed with him for some time but ran away whenever Feeble-mind was captured by giant Slay-good. But as Feeble-mind sat in Gaius’ house, a messenger brought word that Not-right had been struck dead by lightning.

Here is a contrast between a feeble believer and a specious hypocrite; the latter eludes persecutions by time-serving, yet perishes in his sins; the former suffers and trembles, yet hopes to be delivered and comforted. The frequency with which this is introduced, and the variety of characters by which it is illustrated, show us how important the author deemed such warnings.[2]

Soon the pilgrims made ready to leave Gaius’ house and resume their journey. Notably Feeble-mind did not want to travel with Christiana’s company, for he deemed himself too weak to walk alongside such pilgrims. It is here in Feeble-mind’s protest that we learn the nature of his feebleness. Feeble-mind represents the weak believer that Paul describes in Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, and 1 Thessalonians 5:14. These are genuine believers whose conscience is weak and is easily offended by many of the freedoms that other believers are able to enjoy. Spurgeon describes them well:

The first thing for us to note is, that there are some poor feeble-minded saints who really are not the best company, but who must not be slighted. They are not very cheerful; they may not be even amiable; they have feeble minds; you will not learn much from them; they are, as Bunyan says, “very ignorant Christian men;” But we ought not, as a church, to hesitate to have these added to us, we should be glad that they come amongst us.[3]

We also should take Great-heart’s response to heart, that it would also be our attitude toward such Christians:

But brother, said Mr Great-heart, I have it in Commission to comfort the feeble-minded, and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us; we will wait for you, we will lend you our help; we will deny ourselves of some things both Opinionative and Practical, for your sake: We will not enter into doubtful disputations before you; we will be made all things to you, rather than you shall be left behind.

325

How well can we learn from Great-heart! We should say as Paul said, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (1 Corinthians 9:19). Likewise, taking care not to trouble weaker believers is a part of counting “others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Finally, as they made ready to leave, another pilgrim named Mr. Ready-to-halt joined their company and offered to let Feeble-mind use one of his crutches. Feeble-mind declines since he is not yet lame but remarks that he may use one if he comes upon a dog. Many have guessed as to what Bunyan meant to represent by Ready-to-halt’s crutches. Spurgeon thought they were using written prayers rather than praying in one’s own words. Another writer considered them to be the opinions and writings of other Christians. I think both may be true, for I think they represent anything outside of Scripture and community that a Christian uses to support himself. Yet Spurgeon’s comments are fitting to heed:

Many saints have crutches of one sort or another, they cannot trust their feet, and they have found them to be some help to them, and they are generally willing to lend their crutches to others. It is quite right that it should be so. Now, come in, friend Ready-to-halt, with your crutches; come in, Mr Feeble-mind with all your weakness and fears, you two will then take counsel together about the things of God. We will wait for you, and will not mind that we do, so long as we can get to the same end together by-and-bye.[4]

After setting forth and discussing the journey of Christian, the pilgrims came to the town of Vanity and found it much changed since Christian’s passage through. After the brutal martyrdom of Faithful, the townsfolk had not so killed another pilgrim, and in many parts of the great city were even becoming friendly to Christians. So it often is that martyrs’ blood changes the tide of culture gradually away from unthinking hostility toward believers.

Thus, the company found in Vanity another house in which to lodge, whose owner’s name was Mnason. Here Bunyan used the name once again of a hospitable man within the Scriptures. Acts 21:16 reads, “And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.”

While in Mnason’s house, more believers came to have fellowship with the pilgrims: Mr. Contrite, Mr. Holy-man, Mr. Love-saint, Mr. Dare-not-lie, and Mr. Penitent. After discoursing with them for a time, they remained in Mnason’s house and became acquainted with more townsfolk. Yet one evening, a Monster came into the town “and slew many of the people of the town. It would also carry away their children, and teach them to suck its whelps” (334).

In another book, Bunyan wrote:

This monster is Antichrist. The devil is the head; the synagogue of Satan is the body; the wicked spirit of iniquity is the soul. The devil made us of the church [the clergy] to midwife this monster into the world. He had plans in his dragon’s mouth, and so came in by flatteries. He metamorphosed himself into a beast, a man, or woman; and the inhabitants of the world loved the woman dearly, became her sons, and took up helmet and shield to defend her. She arrayed herself in flesh-taking ornaments–gold, and precious stones, like a harlot. She made the kings drunken, and they gave her the blood of saints and martyrs until she was drunken, and did revel and roar. But when her cup is drunk out, God will call her to such a reckoning, that all her clothes, pearls, and jewels shall not be able to pay the shot. The beast is compared to the wild boar that comes out of the wood to devour the church of God. Ps. lxxx. 13. The temporal sword will kill its body, but spirit can only be slain by spirit; the Lord the Spirit will slay its soul.[5]

Bunyan no doubt saw this Antichrist as Catholicism, as did the rest of the Puritans and the Reformers before them. And so it was. Yet the spirit of antichrist is always returning in some form or fashion, and it always rears its head with the authority of the State behind it. Today, I would argue that wokeism is Antichrist, and like the other manifestations before, it craves bringing children into itself.

After making the Monster retreat, we learn that “the Monster, you must know, had his certain Seasons to come out in, and to make his attempts upon the children of the people of the town: Also these seasons did these valiant Worthies watch him in, and did continually assault him” (334). So ought we particularly who are ministers or parents also do. Let us vigilantly watch for the Monster that would love nothing more than to indoctrinate our children to itself. Let us watch and cling ever to the sword of the Spirit for victory.


[1] The Works of John Bunyan Vol III, 221.

[2] The Works of John Bunyan Vol III, 222.

[3] Charles Spurgeon, Pictures from the Pilgrim’s Progress, 137.

[4] Spurgeon, Pictures, 140.

[5] The Works of John Bunyan Vol II, 47.


The edition cited is the Banner of Truth hardcover, which can be found here.

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