The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

When force fails, try fraud

leave a comment »

In The Holy War, John Bunyan imagines a council of war among the hosts of Diabolus. Having entered Mansoul (now repentant and crying out to Emmanuel for help) but failed to conquer the castle of the heart, they are assessing the best way of accomplishing their ends. The suggestion has been made that Mansoul will be most effectively overcome if it is allowed to wreck itself. If the Diabolonians can only tempt and encourage the town to sin, they shall have attained their objective. The question then becomes, how can this temptation and encouragement be accomplished?

It is Lucifer who gives the answer. In essence, force has only driven Mansoul to Emmanuel for assistance. He suggests, in its place, fraud:

Then Lucifer stood up, and said, ‘The counsel of Beelzebub is pertinent. Now, the way to bring this to pass, in mine opinion, is this: let us withdraw our force from the town of Mansoul; let us do this, and let us terrify them no more, either with summons, or threats, or with the noise of our drum, or any other awakening means. Only let us lie in the field at a distance, and be as if we regarded them not; for frights, I see, do but awaken them, and make them more stand to their arms. I have also another stratagem in my head: you know Mansoul is a market-town, and a town that delights in commerce; what, therefore, if some of our Diabolonians shall feign themselves far-country men, and shall go out and bring to the market of Mansoul some of our wares to sell; and what matter at what rates they sell their wares, though it be but for half the worth? Now, let those that thus shall trade in their market be those that are witty and true to us, and I will lay my crown to pawn it will do. There are two that are come to my thoughts already, that I think will be arch at this work, and they are Mr. Penny-wise-Pound-foolish, and Mr. Get-i’the-hundred-and-Lose-i’the-shire; nor is this man with the long name at all inferior to the other. What, also, if you join with them Mr. Sweet-World and Mr. Present-Good? they are men that are civil and cunning, but our true friends and helpers. Let these, with as many more, engage in this business for us, and let Mansoul be taken up in much business, and let them grow full and rich, and this is the way to get ground of them. Remember ye not that thus we prevailed upon Laodicea, and how many at present do we hold in this snare? Now, when they begin to grow full, they will forget their misery; and if we shall not affright them, they may happen to fall asleep, and so be got to neglect their town watch, their castle watch, as well as their watch at the gates.

‘Yea, may we not, by this means, so cumber Mansoul with abundance, that they shall be forced to make of their castle a warehouse, instead of a garrison fortified against us, and a receptacle for men of war. Thus, if we get our goods and commodities thither, I reckon that the castle is more than half ours. Besides, could we so order it that it shall be filled with such kind of wares, then if we made a sudden assault upon them, it would be hard for the captains to take shelter there. Do you not know that of the parable, “The deceitfulness of riches choke the word”? and again, “When the heart is over-charged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life,” all mischief comes upon them at unawares?

‘Furthermore, my lords,’quoth he, ‘you very well know that it is not easy for a people to be filled with our things, and not to have some of our Diabolonians as retainers to their houses and services. Where is a Mansoulian that is full of this world, that has not for his servants and waiting men, Mr. Profuse, or Mr. Prodigality, or some other of our Diabolonian gang, as Mr. Voluptuous, Mr. Pragmatical, Mr. Ostentation, or the like? Now these can take the castle of Mansoul, or blow it up, or make it unfit for a garrison for Emmanuel, and any of these will do. Yea, these, for aught I know, may do it for us sooner than an army of twenty thousand men. Wherefore, to end as I began, my advice is, that we quietly withdraw ourselves, not offering any further force, or forcible attempts, upon the castle, at least at this time; and let us set on foot our new project, and let us see if that will not make them destroy themselves.’

This advice was highly applauded by them all, and was accounted the very masterpiece of hell, namely, to choke Mansoul with a fulness of this world, and to surfeit her heart with the good things thereof.

And hasn’t it worked well in the 21st century? How many of God’s people living in the ease and comforts of the modern West have for their servants and waiting men such members of the “Diabolonian gang” as Mr. Profuse, Mr. Prodigality, Mr. Voluptuous, Mr. Pragmatical, Mr. Ostentation, or the like? We should take care that we do not destroy ourselves.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 27 October 2011 at 07:00

By all means, consider chipping in . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: