Trivium Pursuit

Part 18 Pilgrim’s Progress — Mr. By-Ends

Part 18 — Mr. By-Ends by John Bunyan audio

Mr. By-Ends by John Bunyan read-along text

So I saw that quickly after they left the Fair, they overtook one who was ahead of them, whose name was By-ends. They said to him, “What country are you from, Sir — and how far do you intend to go this way?”

He told them, that he came from the town of Fair-speech, and he was going to the Celestial City — but, he did not tell them his name.

“From Fair-speech!” Christian exclaimed. “Are there any godly people living there?”

“Yes,” said By-ends, “I certainly hope so!”

“Please, Sir — what may I call you?” Christian said.

BY-ENDS: “I am a stranger to you — and you to me. If you are going this way — I shall be glad to have your company; but if not, I must be content to travel alone.”

“This town of Fair-speech,” Christian said, “I have heard of. As I remember, they say that it is a wealthy place.”

BY-ENDS: “Yes, I will assure you that it is — and I have many very rich kindred there!”

CHRISTIAN: “Who are your kindred there — if I may be so bold to ask.”

BY-ENDS: “Almost the whole town! In particular, my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, my Lord Fair-speech — from whose ancestors that town first took its name — also Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Facing-both-ways, and Mr. Any-thing. The parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, is my mother’s own brother! To tell you the truth, I have become a gentleman of good quality. My great grandfather was but a waterman — looking one way and rowing another; and I got most of my estate by the same occupation.”

CHRISTIAN: “Are you a married man?”

BY-ENDS: “Yes, my wife is a very virtuous woman — and the daughter of a virtuous woman. She was my Lady Feigning’s daughter — therefore she came from a very honorable family. She has arrived to such a height of good breeding, that she knows how to behave towards all kinds of people — whether prince or peasant.

“It is true that we somewhat differ in religion from those of the stricter sort, but only in two small points:

First, we never strive against wind and tide;

Secondly, we are always most zealous when religion goes in silver slippers. We love to walk with religion in the street — if the sun shines, and the people applaud it.”

Then Christian stepped a little aside to his fellow Hopeful, saying, “I am thinking that this is Mr. By-ends from the town of Fair-speech — and if so, we have as bad a knave in our company, as dwells in all these parts.”

Then Hopeful replied, “Ask him again — I think he should not be ashamed of his own name.”

So Christian came up to By-ends again, and said, “Sir, you talk as if one could serve both God and Mammon at the same time. I think I know who you are — is not your name Mr. By-ends, of the town of Fair-speech?”

BY-ENDS: “This is not my name — but indeed it is a nickname that is given to me by some who do not like me. I must be content to bear it as a reproach, as other good men have borne reproach before me.”

CHRISTIAN: “But did you ever give an occasion for men to call you by this name?”

BY-ENDS: “Never, never! The worst that I ever did, was that I always had the wisdom to go along with the current ways of the times, whatever they were. I was always lucky enough to prosper thereby. But if the malicious cast such reproachful names upon me — then let me count them a blessing.”

CHRISTIAN: “I thought, indeed, that you were the By-ends that I have heard of — and I think that this name belongs more properly to you, than you are willing to admit.”

BY-ENDS: “Well, if you thus think so — I cannot help that. I am sure that you shall find me to be a good companion, if you agree to take me along with you.”

CHRISTIAN: “If you will come with us, then you must go against the wind and tide — which, I perceive, is against your desires. You must also own religion when in his rags — as well as when in his silver slippers. You must stand with him, too, when he is bound in iron chains — as well as when he walks the streets with applause.”

BY-ENDS: “You will not be my judge — nor impose your views upon me! Allow me to do as I think best — and let me go with you.”

CHRISTIAN: “You shall not go a step further with us — unless you intend to do as we proposed!”

Then By-ends retorted, “I shall never desert my old principles — since they are both harmless and profitable! If I may not go with you, then I must do as I did before you caught up with me — travel by myself, until I meet with someone who will be glad for my company.”

Now I saw in my dream, that Christian and Hopeful forsook Mr. By-ends, and kept their distance ahead of him. Looking back, they saw three men following him. As they came up to him, he made a very low bow as he greeted them — and they gave him a compliment.

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The men’s names were Mr. Hold-the-world, Mr. Money-love, and Mr. Save-all. They all were men that Mr. By-ends had formerly been acquainted with — for in their youth they were school-fellows, and were taught by one Mr. Gripeman, a school-master in Love-gain, which is a market town in the county of Coveting, in the north. This schoolmaster taught them the art of prospering, either by violence, deceit, flattery, lying — or by putting on a pretense of religion. These four gentlemen had attained much of the art of their master, so that each of them could have run such a school themselves.

Well, when they had thus greeted each other, Mr. Money-love said to Mr. By-ends, “Who are those two people on the road before us?” — for Christian and Hopeful were yet within view.

BY-ENDS: “They are a couple of distant countrymen, who, in their strange manner, are going on pilgrimage.”

MR. MONEY-LOVE: “Alas! Why did they not wait, that we might have had their good company? For we are all going on a pilgrimage.”

BY-ENDS: “Indeed we are — but the men ahead of us are so rigid, and love their own notions so much, and so lightly esteem the opinions of others — that let a man be ever so godly, yet if he does not agree with them in all things — they will thrust him out of their company.”

MR. SAVE-ALL: “That is bad. We read of some who are overly righteous — and such men’s rigidness prevails with them to judge and condemn all others but themselves. Please tell me what, and how many, were the things wherein you differed from them?”

BY-ENDS: “Why, after their headstrong manner, they conclude that it is their duty to push ahead on their journey in all weathers — but I am for waiting for more favorable winds and tides. They are for risking all for God at any moment — but I am in favor of taking all advantages to secure my life and estate. They are for clinging to their beliefs, even though all other men are against them — but I am for religion only so far as the times, and my safety, will bear it. They are for religion even when it is contemptible and in rags — but I am for religion only when it walks in golden slippers, in the sunshine, and with applause.”

MR. HOLD-THE-WORLD: “Exactly, good Mr. By-ends! For my part, I count him to be a fool, who, having the liberty to keep what he has — shall be so unwise as to lose it. Let us be wise as serpents! It is best to make hay when the sun shines. You see how the bee lies still all winter, and bestirs itself only when it can have profit with pleasure. God sometimes sends rain — and sometimes sunshine. If they are such fools to go through the storm — yet let us be content to only travel in fair weather.

“For my part, the religion that I like the best, allows us to have God’s earthly blessings. For it is only reasonable, that since God has bestowed upon us the good things of this life — that He would have us keep them for His sake. Abraham and Solomon grew rich in religion. And Job says, that a good man shall lay up gold as dust. But we must never be as the men ahead of us — if they are as you have described them.”

MR. SAVE-ALL: “I think that we are all agreed on this matter — and therefore we need no more discussion about it.”

MR. MONEY-LOVE: “Indeed, we need no more discussion about this matter! For the one who believes neither Scripture nor reason — and you see that we have both on our side — neither knows his own liberty, nor seeks his own safety.”

BY-ENDS: “My brethren, as you know, we are all going on pilgrimage. Therefore to divert our attention from base things — allow me to propound this question unto you: Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman — should have an opportunity before him to obtain the good things of this life. Yet he cannot obtain them unless, in appearance at least, he becomes extraordinarily zealous in some points of religion which he had no interest in beforehand. May he not use such religion to attain his end — and still be a righteous and honest man?”

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MR. MONEY-LOVE: “I see the bottom of your question. With these gentlemen’s permission, I will endeavor to give you an answer. Firstly, to speak to your question as it concerns a minister himself. Suppose there is a minister, a worthy man, who had only a very small salary — but desires a greater and more lucrative income. He now has an opportunity of getting it — but only by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously; and, because the disposition of the people requires it — by altering some of his principles. For my part, I see no problem with a minister doing this — yes, and a great deal more besides — and still remain an honest man. I say this, for the following reasons:

“First, it cannot be denied that his desire for a larger income is lawful — since it is put before him by Providence. So then, he may strive to obtain it, without his conscience raising any questions.

“Secondly, his desire for a more lucrative income makes him more studious, a more zealous preacher, and so forth — thus making him a better man. Yes, it also makes him improve his natural abilities, which is according to the mind of God.

“Thirdly, as for his complying with the disposition of his people, by altering some of his principles so that he may better serve them — this indicates:

(1). That he is of a self-denying temperament.

(2). That he is of a sweet and winning demeanor.

(3). That he is more fit for the ministerial office.

“Finally, I conclude then, that a minister who changes a small salary for a greater one — should not, for so doing, be judged as a covetous person. Rather, since he has improved his abilities and industry — he should be counted as a worthy minister who has expanded his opportunities to do good.

“And now to the second part of your question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such a one has but a poor shop — but by becoming religious, he may increase his market, get more and far better customers to his shop, and perhaps even get a rich wife. For my part, I see no problem why this may not be lawfully done. I say this, for the following reasons:

“First, to become religious is a virtue, regardless of whatever reason he becomes so.

“Secondly, nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more customers to his shop.

“Lastly, the man who gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good, from those who are good, by becoming good himself! So then, here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain — and all these just by becoming religious, which is good! Therefore, to become religious to get all these, is a good and profitable endeavor.”

This answer, made by Mr. Money-love to Mr. By-end’s question, was highly applauded by them all. They therefore concluded that it was most wholesome, advantageous and unable to be contradicted. Because Christian and Hopeful had opposed Mr. By-ends previously — they jointly agreed to challenge them with the same question as soon as they caught up with them — for they were still within sight. But they decided that old Mr. Hold-the-world — and not Mr. By-ends, should propose the question to them. For they supposed that Christian and Hopeful’s discussion with Mr. Hold-the-world would be less heated.

So they called after Christian and Hopeful — and they stopped and stood still until the four men caught up to them. After a short greeting, Mr. Hold-the-world put forth the question to Christian and Hopeful, and asked them to answer it if they could.

CHRISTIAN: “Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it is unlawful to follow Christ for mere loaves — then how much more abominable it is to attempt to make Him and religion into an instrument to gain and enjoy the world. Nor do we find any other than heathen, hypocrites, devils, and sorcerers, who are of this opinion.

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“First, the Heathen are of this religion. For when Hamor and Shechem desired to obtain the daughter and the cattle of Jacob — they were told that there was no way for them to procure them but by becoming circumcised. So they reasoned, ‘Will not their livestock and their property all become ours? Therefore let us consent to their request.’

“Jacob’s daughter and his cattle were that which they sought to obtain — and their religion was the stalking-horse they made use of in attempting to procure them. You may read the whole story in Genesis 34:20-23.

“Secondly, the hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion. Long prayers were their pretense — but to get widows’ houses was their intention; and greater damnation was their judgment from God.

“Thirdly, Judas the devil was also of this religion. He was religious for the money-bag, that he might get gain; but he was lost, cast away, and became the very son of perdition.

“Fourthly, Simon the sorcerer was of this religion also — for he desired the power of the Holy Spirit so that he might make gain. His condemnation from Peter’s mouth was suitable: ‘May your money perish with you — because you thought you could purchase the gift of God with money!’

“Fifthly, I am also mindful that the man who takes up religion for the world — will also throw away religion for the world. For as surely as Judas contrived to obtain the world by becoming religious — so just as surely he also sold his Master and religion for money.

“Therefore to answer the question affirmatively, as you have done; and to accept such an answer as satisfactory — is both heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works!”

Then they stood staring at each other, not knowing how to answer Christian — so there was a long silence among them. Therefore Mr. By-ends and his friends began to lag behind, so that Christian and Hopeful might travel on ahead of them.

Hopeful approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer. Then Christian said to his fellow-traveler, “If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men — then what will they do when they stand before the sentence of God? And if they are speechless when dealt with by vessels of clay — then how will they respond when they are rebuked by the flames of the devouring fire?”

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