Pilgrim’s Progress #2 – Reading the classics together
The Second Stage
This part of Pilgrim’s Progress seems a little controversial. As Tim Challies points out, Spurgeon thinks Bunyan got it wrong here, and as the comments there show, there’s many who understand the Wicket Gate to be the cross of Christ.
Frankly, I found this chapter a hard slog, and don’t really understand it. There is just so much symbolism in there, with the dust of original sin amongst other things.
I’m tending to towards the understanding that the wicket gate is the cross, as the narrow path leads from it.
At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.
Christian: Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.
Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.
So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then said Christian, What means that? The other told him, A little distance from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain: from thence both he and they that are with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.
Christian: Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.
Goodwill: An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.
The references to knocking, entering, and that it is unable to be shut – the gate that starts the path to Mt Zion all has overtones of the cross as the way into the Kingdom of God.