Pilgrim’s Progress is such a great story! Each time I open it I am left with the thought as to why I do not make a habit of reading it more often.
One of my favorite parts is when Christian visits the house of the Interpreter. Just prior to this, Christian has reached the narrow gate and is welcomed in by Good-Will (which on entering the gate is a picture of Christian’s conversion (yes the burden is still on his back but remember that the burden is not sin but Christian’s sense of it!)). He is then directed to the house of the Interpreter where upon knocking at the door “would be shown excellent things”….. “things that will be profitable to you.” This is the moment where truths that were previously darkened to Christian are revealed; a picture of the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit after regeneration.
Seven Profitable Images
Now this time through, I am reading a new edition of the book by Crossway. This edition includes very insightful “editor notes” in the back. (The book can also be found free in electronic formats online in many difference places; Amazon, CCEL, Gutenberg to name a few. The section I am referencing is in Chapter 2). I want to share with you what this commentary states about this section of the story and the explanation of the seven images given by the Interpreter, as I think they have worded it very well:
“Christian is now directed by Good-Will to the house of the Interpreter. By this Bunyan shows the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit who shines light on things that were previously darkened. Christian will soon receive understanding about the gospel that will fill his soul with wonder, warnings, amazement, and praise.
After interviewing Christian and investigating the genuineness of his conversion, the Interpreter gives Christian insight into seven profitable images of truth:
1. A picture of a solemn and serious person hanging on the wall. This is the picture of a true gospel pastor. The elements of the picture are there for us to contemplate the marks of a true and faithful pastor.
2. A parlor full of dust – a lesson about the difference between the Law and the gospel. One stirs up the noxious reality of sin, while the other cleanses us from its power and presence in our life.
3. Two children named Passion and Patience. This is instruction to point out the eternal value of patience and the calamitous end of passion.
4. A fireplace. This teaches us that the grace of God, though often hidden and out of sight, will overcome the assaults of Satan and the world.
5. Entering into the palace. This is a picture of a victorious pilgrim who is preserved and given victory and entry into God’s Kingdom by the grace of God.
6. The iron cage is a warning to all who would make light of God’s promises. This man has made an idol of remorse, despair, and bitterness, never truly crying out to the Lord for mercy because he has decided that God will not hear him or respond to him favorably. He worships his sorrow and has elevated his unbelief above the promises of God. He cannot truly repent because God withholds mercy from those who make an idol out of unbelief.
7. A trembling man. The crisp and indisputable lesson here is: be prepared for the final judgment!
All these illuminations encourage Christian to both hope and fear. As a pilgrim on the King’s Highway to the Celestial City, Christian must be ready and alert.”