Acacia John Bunyan

Life and Death
Mr. Badman,
Presented to the World in a
Familiar Dialogue Between
Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive.

By J O H N.B U N Y A N.


Published two years after Pilgrim's Progress.



ATTEN. And did the old man give him money to set up with?

WISE. Yes, above two hundred pounds.

ATTEN. Therein, I think, the old man was out. Had I been his father, I would have held him a little at staves-end, till I had had far better proof of his manners to be good; for I perceive that his father did know what a naughty boy he had been, both by what he used to do at home, and because he changed a good master for a bad, &c. He should not therefore have given him money so soon. What if he had pinched a little, and gone to journey-work for a time, that he might have known what a penny was, by his earning of it? Then, in all probability, he had known better how to have spent it: yea, and by that time perhaps, have better considered with himself, how to have lived in the world. Ay, and who knows but he might have come to himself with the prodigal, and have asked God and his father forgiveness for the villainies that he had committed against them.

WISE. If his father could also have blessed this manner of dealing to him, and have made it effectual for the ends that you have propounded, then I should have thought as you. But alas, alas, you talk as if you never knew, or had at this present forgot what the bowels and compassions of a father are. Why, did you not serve your own son so? But it is evident enough that we are better at giving good counsel to others, than we are at taking good counsel ourselves. But mine honest neighbour, suppose that Mr. Badman's father had done as you say, and by so doing had driven his son to ill courses, what had he bettered either himself or his son in so doing?

ATTEN. That is true, but it doth not follow that if the father had done as I said, the son would have done as you suppose. But if he had done as you have supposed, what had he done worse than what he hath done already?

WISE. He had done bad enough, that is true. But suppose his father had given him no money, and suppose that young Badman had taken a pet thereat, and in an anger had gone beyond sea, and his father had neither seen him, nor heard of him more. Or suppose that of a mad and headstrong stomach, he had gone to the highway for money, and so had brought himself to the gallows, and his father and family to great contempt, or if by so doing he had not brought himself to that end, yet he had added to all his wickedness such and such evils besides; and what comfort could his father have had in this? Besides, when his father had done for him what he could, with desire to make him an honest man, he would then, whether his son had proved honest or no, have laid down his head with far more peace than if he had taken your counsel.

ATTEN. Nay I think I should not have been forward to have given advice in the cause; but truly you have given me such an account of his villainies, that the hearing thereof has made me angry with him.

WISE. In an angry mood we may soon outshoot ourselves, but poor wretch as he is, he is gone to his place. But, as I said, when a good father hath done what he can for a bad child, and that child shall prove never the better, he will lie down with far more peace, than if through severity, he had driven him to inconveniences.

I remember that I have heard of a good woman, that had, as this old man, a bad and ungodly son, and she prayed for him, counselled him, and carried it motherly to him for several years together; but still he remained bad. At last, upon a time, after she had been at prayer, as she was wont, for his conversion, she comes to him, and thus, or to this effect, begins again to admonish him. Son, said she, thou hast been and art a wicked child, thou hast cost me many a prayer and tear, and yet thou remainest wicked. Well, I have done my duty, I have done what I can to save thee; now I am satisfied, that if I shall see thee damned at the day of judgment, I shall be so far off from being grieved for thee, that I shall rejoice to hear the sentence of thy damnation at that day; and it converted him.

I tell you that if parents carry it lovingly towards their children, mixing their mercies with loving rebukes, and their loving rebukes with fatherly and motherly compassions, they are more likely to save their children, than by being churlish and severe towards them: but if they do not save them, if their mercy do them no good, yet it will greatly ease them at the day of death, to consider; I have done by love as much as I could, to save and deliver my child from hell.

ATTEN. Well I yield. But pray let us return again to Mr. Badman. You say, that his father gave him a piece of money that he might set up for himself.

WISE. Yes, his father did give him a piece of money, and he did set up, and almost as soon set down again; for he was not long set up, but by his ill managing of his matters at home, together with his extravagant expenses abroad, he was got so far into debt, and had so little in his shop to pay, that he was hard put to it to keep himself out of prison. But when his creditors understood that he was about to marry, and in a fair way to get a rich wife, they said among themselves, We will not be hasty with him; if he gets a rich wife he will pay us all.

ATTEN. But how could he so quickly run out, for I perceive it was in little time, by what you say?

WISE. It was in little time indeed, I think he was not above two years and a half in doing of it; but the reason is apparent, for he being a wild young man, and now having the bridle loose before him, and being wholly subjected to his lusts and vices, he gave himself up to the way of his heart, and to the sight of his eye, forgetting that for all these things God would bring him to judgment (Eccl 11:9). And he that doth thus, you may be sure, shall not be able long to stand on his legs. Besides he had now an addition of new companions; companions you must think most like himself in manners, and so such that cared not who sunk, if they themselves might swim. These would often be haunting of him, and of his shop too when he was absent. They would commonly egg
[33] him to the alehouse, but yet make him jack-pay-for-all; they would also be borrowing money of him, but take no care to pay again, except it was with more of their company, which also he liked very well; and so his poverty came like 'one that travelleth, and his want as an armed man' (Prov 6:11). But all the while they studied his temper; he loved to be flattered, praised, and commended for wit, manhood, and personage; and this was like stroking him over the face. Thus they colleagued with him, and got yet more and more into him, and so, like horse leeches, they drew away that little that his father had given him, and brought him quickly down, almost to dwell next door to the beggar.

ATTEN. Then was the saying of the wise man fulfilled, 'He that keepeth company with harlots,' and 'a companion of fools, shall be destroyed' (Prov 29:3, 13:20).

WISE. Ay, and that too, 'A companion of riotous persons shameth his father' (Prov 28:7).
[34] For he, poor man, had both grief and shame, to see how his son, now at his own hand, behave himself in the enjoyment of those good things, in and under the lawful use of which he might have lived to God's glory, his own comfort, and credit among his neighbours. 'But he that followeth after vain persons, shall have poverty enough' (Prov 28:19). The way that he took, led him directly into this condition; for who can expect other things of one that follows such courses? Besides, when he was in his shop, he could not abide to be doing; he was naturally given to idleness. He loved to live high, but his hands refused to labour; and what else can the end of such an one be but that which the wise man saith? 'The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags' (Prov 23:21).[35]

ATTEN. But now, methinks, when he was brought thus low, he should have considered the hand of God that was gone out against him, and should have smote upon the breast, and have returned.

WISE. Consideration, good consideration, was far from him, he was as stout and proud now as ever in all his life, and was as high too in the pursuit of his sin, as when he was in the midst of his fulness; only he went now like a tired jade, the devil had rid him almost off of his legs.

ATTEN. Well, but what did he do when all was almost gone?

WISE. Two things were now his play. 1. He bore all in hand by swearing, and cracking, and lying, that he was as well to pass as he was the first day he set up for himself, yea that he had rather got than lost; and he had at his beck some of his companions that would swear to confirm it as fast as he.

ATTEN. This was double wickedness, it was a sin to say it, and another to swear it.

WISE. That is true, but what evil is that that he will not do, that is left of God, as I believe Mr. Badman was?

Back to the beginning...




Sermons and Allegories

About This Web Site

Click here to return to your spot.
[32] By 'a piece of money' is here meant two hundred pounds. It probably means a portion or piece of his fortune.—Ed.

Click here to return to your spot.
[33] From the Anglo-Saxon 'Eggian,' to incite, urge.—Ed.

Click here to return to your spot.
[34] The Genevan or Puritan version of this passage is very striking: 'he that feedeth the gluttons, shameth his father.'—Ed.

Click here to return to your spot.
[35] This is one of the numerous passages of Holy Writ which are more expressive without than with the words supplied in italics: women are not exempt from the 'rags' which must ever follow drowsiness.—Ed.