Are Ye of Little Faith? by John Bunyan
Then said Christian to his fellow, Now I call to remembrance that which was told me of a thing that happened to a good man hereabout. The name of the man was Little-Faith; but a good man, and he dwelt in the town of Sincere. The thing was this. At the entering in at this passage, there comes down from Broadway-gate, a lane, called Dead-Manâ€™s lane; so called because of the murders that are commonly done there; and this Little-Faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there and sleep. Now there happened at that time to come down the lane from Broadway-gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying Little-Faith where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey. So they came up all to him, and with threatening language bid him stand. At this, Little-Faith looked as white as a sheet, and had neither power to fight nor fly. Then said Faint-Heart, Deliver thy purse; but he making no haste to do it, (for he was loth to lose his money,) Mistrust ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket, pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out, Thieves, thieves! With that, Guilt, with a great club that was in his hand, struck Little-Faith on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the ground, where he lay bleeding as one that would bleed to death. All this while the thieves stood by. But at last, they hearing that some were upon the road, and fearing lest it should be one Great-Grace, that dwells in the town of Good-Confidence, they betook themselves to their heels, and left this good man to shift for himself. Now, after a while, Little-Faith came to himself, and getting up, made shift to scramble on his way. This was the story.
HOPEFUL: But did they take from him all that ever he had?
CHRISTIAN: No; the place where his jewels were they never ransacked; so those he kept still. But, as I was told, the good man was much afflicted for his loss; for the thieves got most of his spending-money. That which they got not, as I said, were jewels; also, he had a little odd money left, but scarce enough to bring him to his journeyâ€™s end. Nay, (if I was not misinformed,) he was forced to beg as he went, to keep himself alive, for his jewels he might not sell; but beg and do what he could, he went, as we say, with many a hungry belly the most part of the rest of the way. 1 Peter 4:18.
HOPEFUL: But is it not a wonder they got not from him his certificate, by which he was to receive his admittance at the Celestial Gate?
CHRISTIAN: It is a wonder; but they got not that, though they missed it not through any good cunning of his; for he, being dismayed by their coming upon him, had neither power nor skill to hide any thing; so it was more by good providence than by his endeavor that they missed of that good thing. 2 Timothy 1:12-14; 2 Peter 2:9.
HOPEFUL: But it must needs be a comfort to him they got not this jewel from him.
CHRISTIAN: It might have been great comfort to him, had he used it as he should; but they that told me the story said that he made but little use of it all the rest of the way, and that because of the dismay that he had in their taking away his money. Indeed, he forgot it a great part of the rest of his journey; and besides, when at any time it came into his mind, and he began to be comforted therewith, then would fresh thoughts of his loss come again upon him, and these thoughts would swallow up all.
HOPEFUL: Alas, poor man, this could not but be a great grief to him.
CHRISTIAN: Grief? Aye, a grief indeed! Would it not have been so to any of us, had we been used as he, to be robbed and wounded too, and that in a strange place, as he was? It is a wonder he did not die with grief, poor heart. I was told that he scattered almost all the rest of the way with nothing but doleful and bitter complaints; telling, also, to all that overtook him, or that he overtook in the way as he went, where he was robbed, and how; who they were that did it, and what he had lost; how he was wounded, and that he hardly escaped with life.
HOPEFUL: But it is a wonder that his necessity did not put him upon selling or pawning some of his jewels, that he might have wherewith to relieve himself in his journey.
CHRISTIAN: Thou talkest like one upon whose head is the shell to this very day. For what should he pawn them? or to whom should he sell them? In all that country where he was robbed, his jewels were not accounted of; nor did he want that relief which could from thence be administered to him. Besides, had his jewels been missing at the gate of the Celestial City, he had (and that he knew well enough) been excluded from an inheritance there, and that would have been worse to him than the appearance and villany of ten thousand thieves.
HOPEFUL: Why art thou so tart, my brother? EsauÂ sold his birthright, and that for a mess of pottage, Hebrews 12:16; and that birthright was his greatest jewel: and if he, why might not Little-Faith do so too?
CHRISTIAN: Esau did sell his birthright indeed, and so do many besides, and by so doing exclude themselves from the chief blessing, as also that caitiff did; but you must put a difference betwixt Esau and Little-Faith, and also betwixt their estates. Esauâ€™s birthright was typical; but Little-Faithâ€™s jewels were not so. Esauâ€™s belly was his god; but Little-Faithâ€™s belly was not so. Esauâ€™s want lay in his fleshy appetite; Little-Faithâ€™s did not so. Besides, Esau could see no further than to the fulfilling of his lusts: For I am at the point to die, said he: and what good will this birthright do me? Genesis 25:32. But Little-Faith, though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by his little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and prize his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright. You read not any where that Esau had faith, no, not so much as a little; therefore no marvel, where the flesh only bears sway, (as it will in that man where no faith is to resist,) if he sells his birthright and his soul and all, and that to the devil of hell; for it is with such as it is with the ass, who in her occasion cannot be turned away, Jeremiah 2:24: when their minds are set upon their lusts, they will have them, whatever they cost. But Little-Faith was of another temper; his mind was on things divine; his livelihood was upon things that were spiritual, and from above: therefore, to what end should he that is of such a temper sell his jewels (had there been any that would have bought them) to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a penny to fill his belly with hay? or can you persuade the turtle-dove to live upon carrion, like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for carnal lusts, pawn, or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves outright to boot; yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a little of it, cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy mistake.
HOPEFUL: I acknowledge it; but yet your severe reflection had almost made me angry.
CHRISTIAN: Why, I did but compare thee to some of the birds that are of the brisker sort, who will run to and fro in untrodden paths with the shell upon their heads: but pass by that, and consider the matter under debate, and all shall be well betwixt thee and me.
Bunyan, J. 1995. The pilgrim’s progress : From this world to that which is to come. Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA