As Help draws Christian out of the Slough of Despond they discuss the mire. Help explains that while there is always the presence of steps that can be climbed to get out, the slough elicits discouraging thoughts of anxiousness, doubt, and fear in Christian which hinder him from finding them. Help tells him that he should only fear and have faith in the Lord to be promised God's forgiveness and acceptance.

When Pliable returns to the City of Destruction some of his neighbors mock him for accompanying Christian and giving up on the journey so easily, while others call him Wise Man. After Pliable's celebrity subsides, the neighbors "deride poor Christian behind his back".

from The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan:

HELP: But why did not you look for the steps?

CHRISTIAN: Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in.

(Help lifts him up)
Then said Help, "Give me thy hand": so he gave him his hand, and he drew him out, and set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way. Ps. 40:2

Then I stepped to him that plucked him out, and said, Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder gate, is it that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security? And he said unto me, (What makes the Slough of Despond) "This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground."

It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad. Isa. 35:3,4 His labourers also have, by the direction of His Majesty's surveyors, been for above these sixteen hundred years employed about this patch of ground, if perhaps it might have been mended: yea, and to my knowledge, said he, here have been swallowed up at least twenty thousand cart-loads, yea, millions of wholesome instructions, that have at all seasons been brought from all places of the King's dominions, and they that can tell, say they are the best materials to make good ground of the place; if so be, it might have been mended, but it is the Slough of Despond still, and so will be when they have done what they can.

(The promises of forgiveness and acceptance to life by faith in Christ.)
True, there are, by the direction of the Law-giver, certain good and substantial steps, placed even through the very midst of this slough; but at such time as this place doth much spew out its filth, as it doth against change of weather, these steps are hardly seen; or, if they be, men, through the dizziness of their heads, step beside, and then they are bemired to purpose, notwithstanding the steps be there; but the ground is good when they are once got in at the gate. 1 Sam. 12:23

(Pliable got home, and is visited of his neighbours.)
Now, I saw in my dream, that by this time Pliable was got home to his house again, so that his neighbours came to visit him; (His entertainment by them at his return) and some of them called him wise man for coming back, and some called him fool for hazarding himself with Christian: others again did mock at his cowardliness; saying, "Surely, since you began to venture, I would not have been so base to have given out for a few difficulties." So Pliable sat sneaking among them. But at last he got more confidence, and then they all turned their tales, and began to deride poor Christian behind his back. And thus much concerning Pliable.

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