Christian Meets Two Children: Passion and Patience (The Pilgrim’s Progress)

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I saw moreover in my dream, that the Interpreter took him by the hand, and had him into a little room, where sat two little children, each one in his chair. The name of the eldest was Passion, and the name of the other Patience. Passion seemed to be much discontented, but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked, “What is the reason of the discontent of Passion?” The Interpreter answered, “The governor of them would have him stay for his best things till the beginning of the next year, but he will have all now; but Patience is willing to wait.”

Then I saw that one came to Passion, and brought him a bag of treasure, and poured it down at his feet: the which he took up, and rejoiced therein, and withal laughed Patience to scorn. But I beheld but a while, and he had lavished all away, and had nothing left him but rags.

Christian: Then said Christian to the Interpreter, Expound this matter more fully to me.

Interpreter: So he said, These two lads are figures; Passion of the men of this world, and Patience of the men of that which is to come; for, as here thou seest, passion will have all now, this year, that is to say, in this world; so are the men of this world: They must have all their good things now; they cannot stay till the next year, that is, until the next world, for their portion of good. That proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is of more authority with them than are all the divine testimonies of the good of the world to come. But as thou sawest that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags, so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.

Christian: Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts. 1. Because he stays for the best things. 2. And also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.

Interpreter: Nay, you may add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone. Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have his time to come: but last gives place to nothing, for there is not another to succeed. He, therefore, that hath his portion first, must needs have a time to spend it; but he that hath his portion last, must have it lastingly: therefore it is said of Dives, “In thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Luke 16:25.

Christian: Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.

Interpreter: You say truth: for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:18. But though this be so, yet since things present and our fleshly appetite are such near neighbors one to another; and again, because things to come and carnal sense are such strangers one to another; therefore it is, that the first of these so suddenly fall into amity, and that distance is so continued between the second.

Taken from “The Second Stage” of The Pilgrim’s Progress, the classic work by John Bunyan.

In the midst of our present tribulation it is good to read (and re-read) this wonderful work that helps us see our true journey as pilgrims and strangers through this present world. Let the difficult but steady progress of Christian be an encouragement to you in these times. Having fled the City of Destruction, we press on for the City of Zion that lies ahead. Let Patience be our model as we await its glory.