Home Pilgrim and Hopeful keep their distance from By-ends. Part 18.

T. Austin Sparks - Messages.

Pilgrim and Hopeful keep their distance from By-ends. Part 18. | Print |



                                                                         Part 18.




   I saw in my dream, that Christian and Hopeful forsook him, and kept

   their distance before him; but one of them, looking back, saw three men

   following Mr. By-ends; and, behold, as they came up with him, he made

   them a very low congee; and they also gave him a compliment. The men's

   names were, Mr. Hold-the-world, Mr. Money-love, and Mr. Save-all, men

   that Mr. By-ends had formerly been acquainted with; for in their

   minority they were schoolfellows, and taught by one Mr. Gripeman, a

   schoolmaster in Lovegain, which is a market-town in the county of

   Coveting, in the North. This Schoolmaster taught them the art of

   getting, either by violence, cozenage, flattering, lying, or by putting

   on a guise of religion; and these four gentlemen had attained much of

   the art of their master, so that they could each of them have kept such

   a school themselves.


   Well, when they had, as I said, thus saluted each other, Mr. Money-love

   said to Mr. By-ends, Who are they upon the road before us? For

   Christian and Hopeful were yet within view.


   By-Ends: They are a couple of far country-men, that, after their mode,

   are going on pilgrimage.


   Mr. Money-Love: Alas! why did they not stay, that we might have had

   their good company? for they, and we, and you, sir, I hope, are all

   going on pilgrimage.


   By-Ends: We are so, indeed; but the men before us are so rigid, and

   love so much their own notions, and do also so lightly esteem the

   opinions of others, that let a man be ever so godly, yet if he jumps

   not with them in all things, they thrust him quite out of their



   Mr. Save-All: That is bad; but we read of some that are righteous

   overmuch, and such men's rigidness prevails with them to judge and

   condemn all but themselves. But I pray, what, and how many, were the

   things wherein you differed?


   By-Ends: Why, they, after their headstrong manner, conclude that it is

   their duty to rush on their journey all weathers, and I am for waiting

   for wind and tide. They are for hazarding all for God at a clap; and I

   am for taking all advantages to secure my life and estate. They are for

   holding their notions, though all other men be against them; but I am

   for religion in what, and so far as the times and my safety will bear

   it. They are for religion when in rags and contempt; but I am for him

   when he walks in his silver slippers, in the sunshine, and with



   Mr. Hold-the-World: Aye, and hold you there still, good Mr. By-ends;

   for, for my part, I can count him but a fool, that having the liberty

   to keep what he has, shall be so unwise as to lose it. Let us be wise

   as serpents. It is best to make hay while the sun shines. You see how

   the bee lieth still in winter, and bestirs her only when she can have

   profit with pleasure. God sends sometimes rain, and sometimes sunshine:

   if they be such fools to go through the first, yet let us be content to

   take fair weather along with us. For my part, I like that religion best

   that will stand with the security of God's good blessings unto us; for

   who can imagine, that is ruled by his reason, since God has bestowed

   upon us the good things of this life, but that he would have us keep

   them for his sake? Abraham and Solomon grew rich in religion; and Job

   says, that a good man shall lay up gold as dust; but he must not be

   such as the men before us, if they be as you have described them.


   Mr. Save-All: I think that we are all agreed in this matter; and

   therefore there needs no more words about it.


   Mr. Money-Love: No, there needs no more words about this matter,

   indeed; for he that believes neither Scripture nor reason, (and you see

   we have both on our side,) neither knows his own liberty nor seeks his

   own safety.


   By-Ends: My brethren, we are, as you see, going all on pilgrimage; and

   for our better diversion from things that are bad, give me leave to

   propound unto you this question.


   Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman, etc., should have an

   advantage lie before him to get the good blessings of this life, yet so

   as that he can by no means come by them, except, in appearance at

   least, he becomes extraordinary zealous in some points of religion that

   he meddled not with before; may he not use this means to attain his

   end, and yet be a right honest man?


   Mr. Money-Love: I see the bottom of your question; and with these

   gentlemen's good leave, I will endeavor to shape you an answer. And

   first, to speak to your question as it concerneth a minister himself:

   suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small

   benefice, and has in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he

   has also now an opportunity of getting it, yet so as by being more

   studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously, and, because the

   temper of the people requires it, by altering of some of his

   principles; for my part, I see no reason why a man may not do this,

   provided he has a call, aye, and more a great deal besides, and yet be

   an honest man. For why?


   1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful, (this cannot be

   contradicted,) since it is set before him by Providence; so then he may

   get it if he can, making no question for conscience' sake.


   2. Besides, his desire after that benefice makes him more studious, a

   more zealous preacher, etc., and so makes him a better man, yea, makes

   him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.


   3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by

   deserting, to serve them, some of his principles, this argueth, 1. That

   he is of a self-denying temper. 2. Of a sweet and winning deportment.

   And, 3. So more fit for the ministerial function.


   4. I conclude, then, that a minister that changes a small for a great,

   should not, for so doing, be judged as covetous; but rather, since he

   is improved in his parts and industry thereby, be counted as one that

   pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.


   And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the

   tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ

   in the world, but by becoming religious he may mend his market, perhaps

   get a rich wife, or more and far better customers to his shop; for my

   part, I see no reason but this may be lawfully done. For why?


   1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes



   2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.


   3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that

   which is good of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then

   here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these

   by becoming religious, which is good: therefore, to become religious to

   get all these is a good and profitable design.


   This answer, thus made by Mr. Money-love to Mr. By-ends' question, was

   highly applauded by them all; wherefore they concluded, upon the whole,

   that it was most wholesome and advantageous. And because, as they

   thought, no man was able to contradict it; and because Christian and

   Hopeful were yet within call, they jointly agreed to assault them with

   the question as soon as they overtook them; and the rather, because

   they had opposed Mr. By-ends before. So they called after them, and

   they stopped and stood still till they came up to them; but they

   concluded, as they went, that not Mr. By-ends, but old Mr.

   Hold-the-world should propound the question to them, because, as they

   supposed, their answer to him would be without the remainder of that

   heat that was kindled betwixt Mr. By-ends and them at their parting a

   little before.


   So they came up to each other, and after a short salutation, Mr.

   Hold-the-world propounded the question to Christian and his fellow, and

   then bid them to answer if they could.


   Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand

   such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as

   it is,  John 6:26; how much more abominable is it to make of him and

   religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find

   any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and wizards, that are of

   this opinion.


   1. Heathens: for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and

   cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no way for them to come at them

   but by being circumcised, they said to their companions, If every male

   of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle,

   and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours? Their daughters

   and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their

   religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them. Read the

   whole story,  Gen. 34:20-24.


   2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion: long prayers

   were their pretence, but to get widows' houses was their intent; and

   greater damnation was from God their judgment.  Luke 20:46,47.


   3. Judas the devil was also of this religion: he was religious for the

   bag, that he might be possessed of what was put therein; but he was

   lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.


   4. Simon the wizard was of this religion too; for he would have had the

   Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith: and his sentence

   from Peter's mouth was according.  Acts 8:19-22.


   5. Neither will it go out of my mind, but that that man who takes up

   religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so

   surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did

   he also sell religion and his Master for the same. To answer the

   question, therefore, affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to

   accept of, as authentic, such answer, is heathenish, hypocritical, and

   devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.


   Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to

   answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian's

   answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his

   company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful

   might outgo them. Then said Christian to his fellow, If these men

   cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the

   sentence of God? And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of

   clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a

   devouring fire?


   Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came

   at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content;

   but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at

   the farther side of that plain was a little hill, called Lucre, and in

   that hill a silver-mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that

   way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going

   too near the brim of the pit, the ground, being deceitful under them,

   broke, and they were slain: some also had been maimed there, and could

   not, to their dying day, be their own men again.


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