“ CHRISTIAN. Well, neighbor Faithful, tell me now, what have you met with in the way as you came; for I know you have met with some things, or else it may be writ for a wonder. “ FAITHFUL. I escaped the Slough that I perceived you fell into, and got up to the gate without that danger; only I met with one whose name was Wanton, who had like to have done me a mischief. “ CHR. It was well you escaped her net; Joseph was hard put to it by her, and he escaped her as you did; but it had like to have cost him his life. But what did she do to you? “ FAITH. You cannot think, but that you know something, what a flattering tongue she had; she lay at me hard to turn aside with her, promising me all manner of content. “ CHR. Nay, she did not promise you the content of a good conscience. “ FAITH. You know what I mean; all carnal and fleshly content. “ CHR. Thank God you have escaped her: ‘The abhorred of the Lord shall fall into her ditch.’ (Proverbs 22:14.) “ FAITH. Nay, I know not whether I did wholly escape her or no. “ CHR. Why, I trow you did not consent to her desires. “ FAITH. No, not to defile myself; for I remembered an old writing that I had seen, which said, ‘Her steps take hold on hell.’ (Proverbs 5:5.) SO I shut mine eyes, because I would not be bewitched with her looks. (Job 31:1.) Then she railed on me, and I went my way.”
The first of Faithful’s temptations was very gross. It is, indeed, almost a shame to speak of it; yet the purest and most heavenly-minded, being still in the body, have to confess that this temptation has crossed their path. It matters now how near we live to God, nor how we may have cleansed our way by taking heed thereto according to God’s Word, to us all, and I have sometimes thought especially to the young and to the aged, this temptation will surely come. It is a blessing if, by God’s grace, we use Joseph’s way of conquering it, namely, by running away from it, for there is no other. Fly, for this foe is not to be parleyed with. While you tarry, you are taken prisoner. While you look, the fruit is plucked. While you think how to resist the attack of the serpent, you are caught in its folds. He that hesitates is lost. “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain,” is the only direction to every man who would come out of Sodom.
There is no way to escape from this sin save by flight. “Flee youthful lusts,” wrote Paul to Timothy.
Observe that, although Faithful did not yield to Wanton’s tempting, he says, “I know not whether I did wholly escape her or no.” The probability is, that the temptations of the flesh, even when resisted, do us an injury. If the coals do not burn us, they blacken us. The very thought of evil, and especially of such evil, is sin. We can hardly read a newspaper report of anything of this kind without having our minds in some degree defiled.
There are certain flowers which perfume the air as they bloom, and I may say of these matters that they scatter an ill savor as they are repeated in our ears. So much for Wanton’s assault on Faithful. From her net, and her ditch, may every pilgrim be preserved! “ CHR. Did you meet with no other assault as you came? “ FAITH. When I came to the foot of the hill called Difficulty, I met with a very aged man, who asked me what I was, and whither bound. I told him that I was a pilgrim, going to the Celestial City. Then said the old man, ‘Thou lookest like an honest fellow; wilt thou be content to dwell with me for the wages that I shall give thee?’ Then I asked him his name and where he dwelt. He said his name was Adam the First, and that he dwelt in the town of Deceit. (Ephesians. 4:22.) I asked him then what was his work, and what the wages that he would give. He told me, that his work was many delights; and his wages, that I should be his heir at last. I further asked him, what house he kept, and what other servants he had. So he told me, that his house was maintained with all the dainties in the world; and that his servants were those of his own begetting. Then I asked him if he had any children. He said he had but three daughters; the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life, and that I should marry them all if I would. (1 John 2:16.) Then I asked, how long time he would have me live with him? And he told me, as long as he lived himself.”
I suppose that every Christian who has gone far on the road to Heaven, knows what Faithful means when he speaks of Adam the First. Still, it may be well to contemplate it for a little, for so we shall be constrained to praise the mighty grace which delivers us from the power of this father of all mischief, — the old Adam-nature that is in us.
First, observe that this nature is described as an old man. Some of you, perhaps, have not been converted more than two or three years, but you are thirty years old, so the old nature is thirty, though the new nature is only three. Some, who are seventy years of age, may yet be only babes in grace. How can we expect the babe, that is newly born, to be a match for the old man, unless God shall come to the rescue, and give superior strength?
This old man met the pilgrim, and called him “an honest fellow.” Just so; our old nature would always have us think well of ourselves. God’s Word says that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” Among other deceits that it practices, it always seeks to flatter us. Oh, yes, we are indeed wonderfully honest fellows! I have known men, who have committed all sorts of sins, who have prided themselves upon being surprisingly honest.
They are no hypocrites! They make no pretense of being religious. They hate cant, and so on, and so on. Beware of the compliment your own heart pays you.
Then Old Adam asked Faithful to go home with him. Observe, he promised him wages. Under the Old Adam, it is all wage; under the New Adam, it is not of debt, but of grace. The old gentleman told him what the wages would be. He said that Faithful should be his heir at the last. A pretty inheritance that would be, for “the wages of sin is death;” and if we walk after the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corruption. We shall only inherit what the Old Adam leaves us, and what does that mean but that we shall be heirs of wrath, even as others? A poor look-out for a servant to engage where eternal wrath must be the wages of his service!
As for the work, Old Adam said it would be all manner of delights. Yes, there is pleasure in sin, of a sort. The carnal mind will appreciate it. The froth on the top of the cup gleams with so many rainbow colors, and the taste thereof is so sweet at first, that he who drinks forgets what the dregs are, which God says all the wicked of the earth shall wring out. Even in this life he must drink of them, and in the life to come he must experience eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord. Then the old man said that his house was maintained with all the dainties in the world; and that is true, for the old nature seeks after all things to delight itself, and yet is never contended. When Solomon became its votary, he took to himself servants and maidens, men singers and women singers, music, and wine, and all manner of delights, and yet he had to say, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” All the delights of the flesh are nothing better than a delusion.
How soon they are over and gone! The blaze of a few thorns is quickly past, and a handful of ashes is all that remains.
As for the three daughters of the old man, you know them. Of the Lust of the Flesh, we have already spoken under the head of wantonness. Then there is the Lust of the Eyes. The eye can scarcely look upon a thing of beauty without desiring it. We soon become covetous unless the Spirit of God keeps our mind under proper restraint. “Thou shalt not covet,” is a commandment which is often broken by us almost unconsciously.
Consequently, we do not repent as we should of our sin against that commandment which touches our thoughts and our desires. As to the Pride of Life, I am afraid that many Christians truckle to this third daughter of the First Adam by self-indulgence in dress, in expenses, in all sorts of showiness. Mark you, this Pride of Life, though the most respectable of the three, as people think, is as genuine a daughter of the Old Adam as is the Lust of the Flesh. I cannot imagine our Lord Jesus Christ dressing Himself so as to attract attention to His person; neither can I imagine Mary Magdalene, or Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, caring for mere show and pomp. I cannot picture them walking so in the light of their Master’s countenance. They were arrayed, rather, like those holy women in the old time, whose adorning was not that of plaited hair and gorgeous apparel, but of all the ornaments of a meek and quiet spirit. This daughter of the Old Adam is much set by in these days. She keeps the milliners’ shops going, and she sends many a man into the bankruptcy court; and, alas! she is invited into many of our Christian circles, and thought right well of.
Old Adam proposed that Faithful should marry all these if he would. There are some who have entered into this dreadful triple wedlock, and they have had a terrible threefold curse as the result.
Notice how long the service was to be. He told Faithful that he would have him live with him “as long as he lived himself.” When a man gives himself up to the Old Adam, he never gets free from the service, for, while the Old Adam has his snares for the young, he has also his temptations for the middle-aged, and I am certain that he has quite as many for the old. This serpent can suit himself to every age and disposition, nor is there a hole so small but he can wriggle into it. The service of sin is a life-long service, and the end of it is everlasting woe. “ CHR. Well, and what conclusion came the old man and you to, at last? “ FAITH. Why, at first, I found myself somewhat inclinable to go with the man, for I thought he spake very fair; but looking in his forehead, as I talked with him, I saw there written, ‘Put off the old man with his deeds.’“ What a mercy it was that Faithful was led to inspect the old man! We only need to look at him to see what he is. He is so transparently bad that, if a man will but put his “considering-cap” on, he must soon see that “the old man” is to be “put off, with his deeds.” Conscience, I think, is sufficiently alert in all of us to tell us that self-indulgence, in any of its forms, cannot be right for the followers of the holy Jesus. “Put off the old man with his deeds,” was the brand across his brow; and as soon as Faithful saw that, he declined to have anything more to do with him.