Interpreter first shows Christian the image of a seemingly grave, pious, and dedicated man who is said to possess the face of a true preacher. Interpreter tells him to study and remember this face to help him distinguish between genuine
Next, Interpreter leads Christian into a dusty room. Soon, a man who sweeps and a young woman who sprinkles water completely clean it. Interpreter comments that the room signifies the human heart, tarnished with sin. He also indicates that the sweeper removes corruption and the woman with the water stands for the Gospel who together, clean the heart of sin.
Then Interpreter guides Christian to a room with a fire near the wall which a man vainly tries to extinguish with water. Another man, Christ, adds fuel to keep the flames burning. Interpreter explains that the first man is The Devil who can never extinguish God's patience in saving souls.
from The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan:
Then said the Interpreter, "Come in; I will show that which will be profitable to thee." So he commanded his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him: so he had him into a private room, (Christian sees a grave picture) and bid his man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it. (The fashion of the picture) It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back. It stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over his head.
Then said Christian, "What meaneth this?"
(The meaning of the picture)
INTER. The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand; he can beget children 1 Cor. 4:15, travail in birth with children Gal. 4:19, and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips, it is to show thee that his work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men: and whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head, that is to show thee that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master's service, he is sure in the world that comes next to have glory for his reward. (Why he showed him the picture first) Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going, hath authorised to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way; wherefore, take good heed to what I have shewed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death.
Then he took him by the hand, and led him into a very large parlour that was full of dust, because never swept; the which after he had reviewed a little while, the Interpreter called for a man to sweep. Now, when he began to sweep, the dust began so abundantly to fly about, that Christian had almost therewith been choked. Then said the Interpreter to a damsel that stood by, Bring hither the water, and sprinkle the room; the which, when she had done, it was swept and cleansed with pleasure.
CHR. Then said Christian, What means this?
INTER. The Interpreter answered, This parlour is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the gospel; the dust is his original sin and inward corruptions, that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the Law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. Now, whereas thou sawest, that so soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did so fly about that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to shew thee, that the law, instead of cleansing the heart (by its working) from sin, doth revive, put strength into, and increase it in the soul, even as it doth discover and forbid it, for it doth not give power to subdue. Rom. 7:6; 1 Cor. 15:56; Rom. 5:20
Again, as thou sawest the damsel sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure; this is to show thee, that when the gospel comes in the sweet and precious influences thereof to the heart, then, I say, even as thou sawest the damsel lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean through the faith of it, and consequently fit for the King of glory to inhabit. John 15:3; Eph. 5:26; Acts 15:9; Rom. 16:25,26; John 15:13
I saw, moreover, in my dream, that the Interpreter took him by the hand, and had him into a little room, where sat two little children, each one in his chair. (He showed him passion and patience.) The name of the eldest was Passion, and the name of the other Patience. Passion seemed to be much discontented; but Patience was very quiet. Then Christian asked, What is the reason of the discontent of Passion? (Passion will have all now. Patience is for waiting.) The Interpreter answered, The Governor of them would have him stay for his best things till the beginning of the next year; but he will have all now: but Patience is willing to wait.
(Passion has his desire)
Then I saw that one came to Passion, and brought him a bag of treasure, and poured it down at his feet, the which he took up and rejoiced therein, and withal laughed Patience to scorn. (And quickly lavishes all away.) But I beheld but a while, and he had lavished all away, and had nothing left him but rags.
CHR. Then said Christian to the Interpreter, Expound this matter more fully to me.
(The matter expounded)
INTER. So he said, These two lads are figures: Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience, of the men of that which is to come; for as here thou seest, Passion will have all now this year, that is to say, in this world; so are the men of this world, they must have all their good things now, they cannot stay till next year, that is until the next world, for their portion of good. (The worldly man for a bird in the hand.) That proverb, `A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush', is of more authority with them than are all the Divine testimonies of the good of the world to come. But as thou sawest that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags; so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.
(Patience has the best wisdom)
CHR. Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts. First, because he stays for the best things. Second, and also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.
(Things that are first must give place; but things that are last are lasting)
INTER. Nay, you may add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone. Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience, because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion, because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have his time to come; but last gives place to nothing; for there is not another to succeed. He, therefore, that hath his portion first, must needs have a time to spend it; but he that hath his portion last, must have it lastingly; (Dives had his good things first) therefore it is said of Dives, "Thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Luke 16:25
CHR. Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.
(The first things are but temporal)
INTER. You say the truth: "For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:18 But though this be so, yet since things present and our fleshly appetite are such near neighbours one to another; and again, because things to come, and carnal sense, are such strangers one to another; therefore it is, that the first of these so suddenly fall into amity, and that distance is so continued between the second.
Then I saw in my dream that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.
Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil; but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.
Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still. 2 Cor. 12:9 And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, that is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul.