The story of the man with the muck rake that could not lookup stunned me this morning. I’ve been that man for so long and what a shame. Look up to the Lord for your provision and stop the endless raking of sticks straw and dust to yourselves. In the end it all burns. May God bless your hearing in reading this passage. God bless – Russmc
Thus now, when they had talked away a little more time, they drew nigh to a house which stood in the way, which house was built for the relief of pilgrims; as you will find more fully related in the first part of these records of the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” So they drew on towards the house (the house of the INTERPRETER); and when they came to the door, they heard a great talk in the house. They then gave ear, and heard, as they thought, CHRISTIANA mentioned by name; for you must know that there went along, even before her, a talk of her and her children’s going on pilgrimage: and this thing was the more pleasing to them, because they had heard that she was CHRISTIAN’S wife–that woman who was some time ago so unwilling to hear of going on pilgrimage. Thus, therefore, they stood still; and heard the good people within commending her who, they little thought, stood at the door. At last CHRISTIANA knocked, as she had done at the gate before. Now when she had knocked, there came to the door a young damsel named INNOCENT, and opened the door, and looked, and behold two women were there.
DAMSEL: Then said the damsel to them, “With whom would you speak in this place?”
CHRISTIANA: CHRISTIANA answered, “We understand that this is a privileged place for those that are become pilgrims, and we now at this door are such; wherefore, we pray that we may be partakers of that for which we at this time are come: for the day, as thou seest, is very far spent, and we are loath tonight to go any farther.”
DAMSEL: Pray what may I call your name, that I may tell it to my Lord within?
CHRISTIANA: My name is CHRISTIANA I was the wife of that pilgrim that some years ago did travel this way; and these be his four children. This maiden also is my companion, and is going on pilgrimage too.
INNOCENT: Then ran INNOCENT in (for that was her name), and said to those within, “Can you think who is at the door? There is CHRISTIANA and her children, and her companion, all waiting for entertaining here.”
Then they leaped for joy, and went and told their master. So he came to the door, and looking upon her, he said, “Art thou that CHRISTIANA whom CHRISTIAN, the good man, left behind him when he betook himself to a pilgrim’s life?”
CHRISTIANA: I am that woman that was so hard hearted as to slight my husband’s troubles, and that left him to go on in his journey alone, and these are his four children; but now I also am come, for I am convinced that no way is right but this.
INTERPRETER: Then is fulfilled that which also is written of the man that said to his son, “Go, work today in my vineyard;” and he said to his father, “I will not,” but afterwards repented and went.
“He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” Matthew 21:29
CHRISTIANA: Then said CHRISTIANA, “So be it: Amen. God make it a true saying upon me; and grant that I may be found at the last of him in peace without spot and blameless.”
INTERPRETER: “But why standest thou thus at the door? Come in, thou daughter of Abraham; we were talking of thee but now, for tidings have come to us before how thou art become a pilgrim. Come, children, come in; come, maiden, come in.” So he had them all into the house.
So when they were within, they were bidden to sit down and rest; the which when they had done, those that attended upon the pilgrims in the house came into the room to see them. And one smiled, and another smiled, and they all smiled for joy that CHRISTIANA was become a pilgrim. They also looked upon the boys; they stroked them over the faces with the hand, in token of their kind reception of them; they also carried it lovingly to MERCY, and bade them all welcome into their master’s house.
After awhile–because supper was not ready–the INTERPRETER took them into his significant rooms, and showed them what CHRISTIAN, CHRISTIANA’S husband, had seen some time before. Here, therefore, they saw the man in the cage; the man and his dream; the man that cut his way through his enemies; and the picture of the biggest of them all; together with the rest of those things that were then so profitable to CHRISTIAN.
This done, and after these things had been somewhat digested by CHRISTIANA and her company, the INTERPRETER takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck rake in his hand. There stood also One over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered to give him that crown for his muck rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor.
Then said CHRISTIANA, “I persuade myself that I know somewhat the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a man of this world. Is it not, good sir?”
INTERPRETER: “Thou hast said the right,” said he: “and his muck rake doth show his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks, and the dust of the floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the celestial crown in his hand, it is to show that heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now, whereas it was also showed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things, when they are with power upon men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.”
CHRISTIANA: Then said CHRISTIANA, “Oh, deliver me from this muck rake!”
INTERPRETER: “That prayer,” said the INTERPRETER, “has been lain by till ’tis almost rusty. ‘Give me not riches’
“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:” Proverbs 30:8
is scarce the prayer of one of ten thousand. Straws, and sticks, and dust, with most are the great things now looked after.”
With that MERCY and CHRISTIANA wept and said, “It is, alas ! too true.”
When the INTERPRETER had showed them this, he has them into the very best room in the house (a very brave room it was); so he bade them look round about, and see if they could find anything profitable there. Then they looked round and round; for there was nothing there to be seen but a very great spider on the wall, and that they overlooked.
MERCY: Then said MERCY, “Sir, I see nothing.” But CHRISTIANA held her peace.
INTERPRETER: But said the INTERPRETER, “Look again.” She therefore looked again, and said, “Here is not anything but an ugly spider, who hangs by her hands upon the wall.” Then said he, “Is there but one spider in all this spacious room?” Then the water stood in CHRISTIANA’S eyes, for she was a woman quick of apprehension, and she said, “Yes, Lord, there is here more than one; yea, and spiders whose venom is far more destructive than that which is in her.” The INTERPRETER then looked pleasantly upon her, and said, “Thou hast said the truth.” This made MERCY blush, and the boys to cover their faces; for they all began now to understand the riddle.
Then said the INTERPRETER again, “The spider takes hold with her hands,” as you see, “and is in kings’ palaces.
“The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” Proverbs 30:28
And wherefore is this recorded, but to show you, that how full of the venom of sin soever you be, yet you may, by the hand of faith, lay hold of, and dwell in the best room that belongs to the King’s house above?
CHRISTIANA: “I thought,” said CHRISTIANA, “Of something of this; but I could not imagine it all. I thought that we were like spiders, and that we looked like ugly creatures, in what fine room soever we were; but that by this spider, this venomous and ill favoured creature, we were to learn how to act faith, that came not into my mind. And yet she has taken hold with her hands, as I see, and dwells in the best room in the house. God has made nothing in vain.”
Then they seemed all to be glad; but the water stood in their eyes. Yet they looked one upon another, and also bowed before the INTERPRETER.
He had them then into another room where was a hen and chickens, and bid them to observe awhile. So one of the chickens went to the trough to drink; and every time she drank, she lifted up her head and her eyes towards heaven. “See,” said he, “what this little chick doth; and learn of her to acknowledge whence your mercies come, by receiving them with looking up. Yet again,” said he, “observe and look.” So they gave heed, and perceived that the hen did walk in a fourfold method towards her chickens.
1. She had a common call; and that she hath all day long.
2. She had a special call; and that she had but sometimes.
3. She had a brooding note.
And, 4. She had an outcry.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37
INTERPRETER: “Now,” said he, “compare this hen to your King, and these chickens to his obedient ones. For answerable to her, himself has his methods, which he walks in towards his people. By his common call, he gives nothing; by his special call, he always has something to give; he has also a brooding voice for them that are under his wing; and he has an outcry, to give the alarm when he sees the enemy come. I choose, my darlings, to lead you into the room where such things are, because you are women, and they are easy for you.”
CHRISTIANA: “And, sir,” said CHRISTIANA, “pray let us see some more.”
So he had them into the slaughter house, where a butcher was killing a sheep. And behold the sheep was quiet, and took her death patiently. Then said the INTERPRETER, “You must learn of this sheep to suffer and to put up wrongs without murmurings and complaints. Behold how quietly she takes her death; and without objecting, she suffers her skin to be pulled over her ears. Your King doth call you his sheep.”
After this, he led them into his garden, where was great variety of flowers. And he said, “Do you see all these?” So CHRISTIANA said, “Yes.” Then said he again, “Behold the flowers are divers in stature, in quality, in colour, and smell, and virtue, and some are better than others. Also, where the gardener has set them, there they stand; and quarrel not one with another.”
Again, he had them into his field, which he had sowed with wheat and corn; but when they beheld, the tops of all were cut off, only the straw remained. He said again, “This ground was dunged, and ploughed, and sowed; but what shall we do with the crop?” Then said CHRISTIANA, “Burn some, and make muck of the rest.” Then said the INTERPRETER again, “Fruit you see, is that thing you look for; and for want of that you condemn it to the fire, and to be trodden under foot of men. Beware that in this you condemn not yourselves.”
Then, as they were coming in from abroad, they espied a little robin with a great spider in his mouth. So the INTERPRETER said, “Look here.” So they looked; and MERCY wondered. But CHRISTIANA said, “What a disparagement is it to such a pretty little bird as the robin redbreast is; he being also a bird above many, that loves to maintain a kind of sociableness with man! I had thought they had lived upon crumbs of bread, or upon other such harmless matter. I like him worse than I did.”
The INTERPRETER then replied, “This robin is an emblem very apt to set forth some professors by; for to sight they are as this robin, pretty of note, colour, and carriage; they seem also to have a very great love for professors that are sincere; and above all other, to desire to sociate with and to be in their company, as if they could live upon the good man’s crumbs. They pretend also, that therefore it is that they frequent the house of the godly, and the appointments of the Lord; but when they are by themselves as the robin, they can catch and gobble up spiders, they can change their diet, drink iniquity, and swallow down sin like water.”
So when they were come again into the house and supper as yet was not ready, CHRISTIANA again desired that the INTERPRETER would either show or tell of some other things that are profitable.
Then the INTERPRETER began, and said, “The fatter the sow is, the more she desires the mire; the fatter the ox is, the more gamesomely he goes to the slaughter; and the more healthy the lusty man is, the more prone he is unto evil.
“There is a desire in women to go neat and fine; and it’s a comely thing to be adorned with that which in God’s sight is of great price.
“‘Tis easier watching a night or two, than to sit up a whole year together: so ’tis easier for one to begin to profess well, than to hold out as he should to the end.
“Every shipmaster, when in a storm, will willingly cast that overboard that is of the smallest value in the vessel. But who will throw the best out first? none but he that fears not God.
“One leak will sink a ship: and one sin will destroy a sinner.
“He that forgets his friend, is ungrateful unto him: but he that forgets his Saviour, is unmerciful to himself.
“He that lives in sin, and looks for happiness hereafter, is like him that sows cockle, and thinks to fill his barn with wheat or barley.
“If a man would live well, let him fetch his last day to him, and make it always his company keeper.
“Whispering and change of thoughts, prove that sin is in the world.
“If the world, which God sets light by, is counted a thing of that worth with men; what is heaven, which God commends!
“If the life that is attended with so many troubles is so loath to be let go by us, what is the life above!
“Everybody will cry up the goodness of men; but who is there that is, as he should be, affected with the goodness of God?
“We seldom sit down to meat, but we eat and leave; so there is in Jesus Christ more merit and righteousness than the whole world has need of.”
When the INTERPRETER had done, he takes them out into his garden again, and had them to a tree, whose inside was all rotten and gone, and yet it grew and had leaves. Then said MERCY, “What means this?” “This tree,” said he, “whose outside is fair, and whose inside is rotten, it is to which many may be compared that are in the garden of God; who, with their mouths, speak high in behalf of God, but indeed will do nothing for him; whose leaves are fair, but their heart good for nothing but to be tinder for the devil’s tinderbox.”