I saw in my dream that as they went on Faithful happened to look to one side of the way and saw a man whose name was Talkative. He walked for a distance beside them, because in this place there was enough room for them all to walk side by side. He was a tall man and more handsome at a distance than when close at hand. To this man Faithful addressed himself in this manner as they drew near.
“Friend, which way are you going? Are you going to the heavenly country?”
Talkative said, “Yes I am headed to that very same place.”
“That’s good,” Faithful said. “I do hope you will join us.”
“Faithful motioned for him to join them. “Come on with us then and let’s spend our time talking about things that are profitable.” “Certainly, certainly.” Talkative stepped in line with them . “To talk about things that are good is most enjoyable with you or anyone else. I am glad I have met someone inclined to such discussions. To tell you the truth, there are few who care to spend their traveling time in this way. Instead, they rather discuss things that are quite unprofitable. In fact, this is something that has often troubled me.”
“Indeed!” Faithful agreed. “That is something to be disturbed about, for the things worthy of conversation are the things of the God of heaven.”
“I certainly admire your attitude,” Talkative said. “For you speak with conviction; and I might add, what else is so pleasant and so profitable as to talk about the things of God? For instance, if a man delights in such wonderful things as that, what could be more pleasurable to talk about than the history or mystery of such things? Or if a man loves to talk about miracles, wonders, or signs, where else will he find such things so delightfully recorded and so sweetly penned as in the Holy Scripture?”
“That is true,” Faithful admitted, “but the real purpose of such discussion is that we should be benefited by such things in our talk. That should be our intended focus.”
“That’s exactly what I said,” Talkative went on. “Because talking of such things is most profitable, since by so doing a man may gain knowledge about many things. For instance, generally speaking he may gain knowledge about the futility of earthly things and the benefit of things above. More specifically, he may learn the necessity of the new birth, the insufficiency of our works, the need of Christ’s righteousness, etc. “Besides, by such talk of religion a man may learn what it means to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like . Plus by such profitable discussion, a man may learn about the great promises and consolations of the gospel and with such knowledge find personal comfort. Along with this, a man may learn to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth and also to instruct the ignorant.”
Faithful said, “This is true and I am glad to hear these things from you—”
“Unfortunately,” Talkative broke in, “the lack of this perspective is the reason so few understand the need of faith and the necessity of a work of grace in their soul, in order to obtain eternal life. As a result they ignorantly live according to the works of the law, by which no man can enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“…I’m willing to talk about heavenly things or earthly things, moral things or evangelical things, sacred things or secular things, past things or future things, foreign things or domestic things, essential things or incidental things, provided that the discussion is for our profit.”
A slight smile played across Christian’s lips. “This man, with whom you are so taken, will captivate a multitude with his words provided they are not familiar with him.”
“You mean to say you know him, then?” “Know him?” Christian asked. “Yes and better than he knows himself.” “Seriously? Then tell me who he is.” “His name is Talkative. He lives in the town we come from. I know Destruction is large, but I’m surprised you don’t know who he is.”
Faithful scratched his head. “Whose son is he? And exactly where does he live?” “He is the son of one Say -well,”
Christian said. “He lived in Prating-Row, and all who know him call him by the name of Talkative of Prating-Row. In spite of his eloquent manner of speaking, he remains a wretched fellow.” “Well, he seems to be a rather attractive man.” “Yes,” Christian agreed. “That’s how he appears to people who are not well acquainted with him. He looks best from a distance, but close up is really quite ugly. You’re saying that he is an attractive man brings to my mind what I have observed in the work of a painter, whose pictures look best at a distance; but up close they are not so good looking.”
“This man will accept any company as long as he is allowed to talk. Though he will now talk with you, in the same way he will enjoy a conversation in a tavern. And the more he drinks the more things he has to talk about. Religion has no place in his heart, or house, or conversation. All that he stands for depends on his mouth. His religion is to make a noise with it.”
You may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, ‘They say to do but do not do .’ ( Therefore, whatever they bid you to observe, observe it and do it, but do not act according to their works, for they say and do not do it. – Matt. 23: 3) But the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (For the kingdom of God is not in words, but in virtue. – 1 Cor. 4: 20)
“He talks about prayer, of repentance , of faith, and of the new birth; but he only knows how to talk about them. I have visited his family and have observed him both at home and abroad, and I know what I say is the truth. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is devoid of flavor. There is no prayer offered in his house, nor any sign of repentance for sin. Yes, even an animal serves God far better than Talkative. “To all who know him, he is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion. (Do not catch me away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbours, but evil is in their hearts. – Psalm 28: 3) 7 Because of his reputation, the neighborhood in which he lives hardly has a good word to say about him. The common people who really know him say, ‘A saint abroad and a devil at home.’ “His poor family would agree with me. He is an impolite and mean-spirited person, and such a bitter complainer and unreasonable man with his servants. They are at a loss as to how speak to him or fulfill their duties. Men who have any dealings with him say, ‘It is better to deal with a barbarian trader than with him,’ for fairer dealings they shall have at their hands. This Talkative, if possible, will go behind their backs to defraud, entice, and outsmart them…..In my opinion, his wicked lifestyle causes many to stumble and fall and will be the ruin of many more, unless God intervenes.”
“If I didn’t know him any more than you, I might have thought of him the same way you did at first. If I had received such information from the hands of those who are enemies to religion, I would have thought it to be slanderous. Unfortunately , the names and reputations of good men often suffer and are defamed by such messages as his. This isn’t just my opinion. I can prove him guilty of all these things and many more that are just as bad. Besides, good men are ashamed of him. They can neither call him brother nor friend and for those who know him, the mere mention of his name makes them blush.”
“They certainly are two separate things and as different as the soul and the body. Think of it like this. The body without the soul is nothing but a dead carcass, so just saying these things without doing them is, in the same way, dead. The soul of true religion is the practical part. ‘Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world’ (James 1: 27). Talkative isn’t aware of this. He thinks that hearing and saying alone makes a person a good Christian. As a result he deceives his own soul.
“Hearing is like the sowing of the seed. Talking alone isn’t sufficient to prove that fruit is actually in the heart and life. And let’s be perfectly clear. On Judgment Day men shall be judged according to their fruit. (But he that was planted in good ground is he that hears the word and understands it and who also bears the fruit and brings forth: one a hundredfold and another sixty and another thirty. – Matt. 13 :23) At that time the question won’t be, ‘Did you believe?’ but instead will be, ‘Were you doers or talkers only?’ It is by this that they will be judged.
“This brings to my mind what Moses described about the beast that is clean. (Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of those that chew the cud or of those that divide the cloven hoof: the camel and the hare and the coney, for they chew the cud, but do not divide the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you; and the swine, because it divides the hoof, yet does not chew the cud, it is unclean unto you . Ye shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their dead carcase. These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat, but whatever does not have fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. Of all clean birds ye shall eat . – Deut. 14: 7-10) Talkative is such a one who chews the cud – he seeks knowledge. He chews upon the Word, but he divides not the hoof. He does not separate himself from a sinful lifestyle, but like the hare he retains the foot of the dog or bear and therefore remains unclean.”
“Just take my advice,” Christian said. “Do as I tell you, and you shall find he will quickly become sick of your company, too. That is unless God touches his heart and converts it.”
“What would you have me to do?” Christian gestured in Talkative’s direction just a little ways before them. “Go to him and enter into some serious discussion about the power of true religion. Once he is agreeable to this topic, ask him directly whether this thing is set up in his heart, house, or daily behavior.”
(Always a tip off…Talkatives will then speak around the topic, never directly answering as they have nothing to answer with…empty they are of any personal application deeper than a puddle of spittle)
“Well,” Faithful said. “If you’re willing, we can have some profitable discussion now. And since you left it up to me to come up with the topic, let it be this. How does the saving grace of God display itself when it lives in the heart of man?”
Talkative said, “I notice that our talk must be about the power of things. Well, this is a very good question, and I shall be more than willing to answer you. So accept my brief answer as follows. First, when the grace of God dwells in the heart, it causes a great outcry against sin. Secondly–” “No, hold on.” Faithful stopped him. “Let’s consider each item one at a time. To make it clear I think you should have said that it shows itself by persuading the soul to abhor its sin.”
A slight frown wrinkled Talkative’s brow. “ Why, what difference is there between crying out against and abhorring sin?”
“Oh, a great deal!” Faithful said. “A man may cry out against sin in principle; but he cannot abhor it except by virtue of a godly aversion against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, but who still live with it without any problem in their heart, house, and everyday life. “Joseph’s mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been godly and virtuous, but in reality she would have willingly committed adultery with him. (And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me and fled and left. – Gen . 39: 15) Some cry out against sin, even as the mother cries out against her child when she scolds it as rude and naughty but then quickly changes to hugging and kissing the same child.”
“Hmmm,” Talkative’s eyes narrowed. “I see you’re trying to be clever and catch me.”
“Not at all,” Faithful said. “I am only trying to set things right. So what is the second thing you were going to mention as proof of a work of grace in the heart?”
“Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.” Faithful said, “This evidence should have been first, but first or last, it is also false. For knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the gospel, without any work of grace in the soul. You see, even if a man has all knowledge, he may still be nothing, and so, consequently, not be a child of God. (And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge , and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. – 1 Cor. 13: 2) “When Christ said, ‘Do you know all these things?’ and the disciples answered, ‘Yes,’ he added, ‘Blessed are you if you do them .’ He doesn’t lay the blessing in the knowing of them, but in the doing of them. You see there is a knowledge that is not accompanied with doing. Such a person is ‘he who knows his Master’s will and doesn’t do it.’ “A man may have knowledge like an angel and yet not be Christian. So your sign of knowledge as evidence is not valid. Indeed, to know is a thing that pleases talkers and boasters, but to do is what pleases God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge. However, there are two sorts of knowledge, knowledge based on the bare speculation of things, and knowledge which is accompanied with the grace of faith and love, which compels a man to do the will of God from the heart. The first serves the talker; but without the other, the true Christian is not content. ‘Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law. Yes, I will observe it with my whole heart’” (Psalm 119: 34).
“You are trying to trip me up again. This discussion is not for edification.” “Well then,” Faithful said. “Offer another example of clear evidence of this work of grace in the heart.” Talkative shook his head. “No; not this time. I will not give you another example because I can see we won’t agree.”
(It is at this point that the Talkatives will try to disengage, offended, they usually attempt to make the true Christian be the bad guy in some way…well, watch….)
“Now if you have any objections to this brief description of the work of grace and its evidence in true religion, then let me hear them right now. But if you don’t , then let me propose another question.” Talkative said, “Now is not the time for me to object, but instead it is the time for me to hear what you have to say, so go ahead and pose your second question.” “All right, this is it,” Faithful said.
“Have you experienced this and does your life and conversation match up with what you say? Or do you place your faith in words or the things you talk about but not in the truth and without a care for how you act? If you are so inclined, please answer me on this, but only say what you know the God above will say is true along with what your conscience can justify. For it isn’t the one who commends himself that is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. Besides, to say you are one thing, when by your conversation and lifestyle all your neighbors tell you that you lie – this is a great wickedness.”
Talkative blushed, but he recovered and said , “You now focus on experience, conscience, and God. I didn’t really expect this kind of discussion, and I am not inclined to give an answer to such questions because I am not accountable to you, unless you’ve taken it upon yourself to be my examiner. However, even if you decided to do that, I would refuse to make you my judge. I do wonder why you decided to ask me such questions.”
“Well,” Faithful said, “because I noticed your eagerness to talk and talk but then understood you had no basis for your words. It was nothing but speculation on your part. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard that you have a reputation as a man whose religion is based solely on talk, and that the way you live makes what you profess nothing but a lie. “They say you are a spot or stain among Christians and that religion suffers because of your ungodly conversation and lifestyle. Some have already stumbled because of your wicked ways, and more are in danger of having their faith shipwrecked because of the way you practice your religion. For your religion involves meeting at a tavern and promotes qualities such as covetousness, uncleanness, swearing, lying, making friends with worldly people, and more. The proverb that describes a harlot is also true about you. ‘That she is a shame to all women.’ In the same way, you are a shame to all genuine Christians.”
Talkative’s lips turned down at the corners into a slight frown. “Since you seem quick to listen to what others have to say about me and to judge so rashly, I can’t do anything but come to the conclusion that you are an irritable or depressed person who is not fit to carry on such a conversation . So with that I say farewell.”
I ask again….How Talkative are you? Do you still live on Pratting Row?