Of Mr. Badman, Presented to the World in a Familiar Dialogue Between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive

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The Life and Death

of Mr. Badman,

Presented to the World in a Familiar Dialogue Between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive.
By John Bunyan


The life of Badman is a very interesting description, a true and lively portraiture, of the demoralized classes of the trading community in the reign of King Charles II; a subject which naturally led the author to use expressions familiar among such persons, but which are now either obsolete or considered as vulgar. In fact it is the only work proceeding from the prolific pen and fertile imagination of Bunyan, in which he uses terms that, in this delicate and refined age, may give offence. So, in the venerable translation of the holy oracles, there are some objectionable expressions, which, although formerly used in the politest company, now point to the age in which it was written. The same ideas or facts would now be expressed by terms which could not give offence; and every reader must feel great pleasure in the improvement of our language, as seen in the contrast between the two periods, and especially in the recollection that the facts might be stated with equal precision, and reflections made with equal force, in terms at which the most delicate mind could not be offended.
Those who read the writings of Bunyan must feel continually reminded of his ardent attachment to his Saviour, and his intense love to the souls of sinners. He was as delicate in his expressions as any writer of his age, who addressed the openly vicious and profane—calling things by their most forcible and popular appellations. A wilful untruth is, with him, ‘a lie.’ To show the wickedness and extreme folly of swearing, he gives the words and imprecations then commonly in use; but which, happily for us, we never hear, except among the most degraded classes of society. Swearing was formerly considered to be a habit of gentility; but now it betrays the blackguard, even when disguised in genteel attire. Those dangerous diseases which are so surely engendered by filth and uncleanness, he calls not by Latin but by their plain English names. In every case, the Editor has not ventured to make the slightest alteration; but has reprinted the whole in the author’s plain and powerful language.
The life of Badman forms a third part to the Pilgrim’s Progress, not a delightful pilgrimage to heaven, but, on the contrary, a wretched downward journey to the infernal realms. The author’s object is to warn poor thoughtless sinners, not with smooth words, to which they would take no heed; but to thunder upon their consciences the peril of their souls, and the increasing wretchedness into which they were madly hurrying. He who is in imminent, but unseen danger, will bless the warning voice if it reach his ears, however rough and startling the sound may be.
The life of Badman was written in an age when profligacy, vice, and debauchery, marched like a desolating army through our land, headed by the king, and officered by his polluted courtiers; led on with all the pomp and splendour which royalty could display. The king and his ministers well knew that the most formidable enemies to tyranny, oppression, and misgovernment, were the piety and stern morality of the Puritans, Nonconformists, and the small classes of virtuous citizens of other denominations; and therefore every effort was made by allurements and intimidation to debauch and demoralize their minds. Well does Bunyan say that ‘wickedness like a flood is like to drown our English world. It has almost swallowed up all our youth, our middle age, old age, and all are almost carried away of this flood. It reels to and fro like a drunkard, it is like to fall and rise no more.’ ‘It is the very haunts and walks of the infernal spirits.’ ‘England shakes and makes me totter for its transgressions.’
The gradations of a wicked man in that evil age, from his cradle to his grave, are graphically set before the reader; it is all drawn from reality, and not from efforts of imagination. Every example is a picture of some real occurrence, either within the view of the author, or from the narratives of credible witnesses. ‘All the things that here I discourse of, have been acted upon the stage of this world, even many times before mine eyes.’ Badman is represented as having had the very great advantage of pious parents, and a godly master, but run riot in wickedness from his childhood. Lying and pilfering mark his early days; followed in after life by swearing, cheating, drunkenness, hypocrisy, infidelity and atheism. His conscience became hardened to that awful extent, that he had no bands in his death. The career of wickedness has often been so pictured, as to encourage and cherish vice and profanity—to excite the unregenerate mind ‘to ride post by other men’s sins.’[1] Not so the life of Badman. The ugly, wretched, miserable consequences that assuredly follow a vicious career, are here displayed in biting words—alarming the conscience, and awfully warning the sinner of his destiny, unless happily he finds that repentance that needeth not to be repented of. No debauchee ever read the life of Badman to gratify or increase his thirst for sin. The tricks which in those days so generally accompanied trading, are unsparingly exposed; becoming bankrupt to make money, a species of robbery, which ought to be punished as felony; double weights, too heavy for buying, and light to sell by, overcharging those who take credit, and the taking advantage of the necessities of others, with the abuse of evil gains in debauchery, and its ensuing miseries, are all faithfully displayed.
In the course of the narrative, a variety of awful examples of divine vengeance are introduced; some from that singular compilation, Clarke’s looking-glass for Saints and Sinners; others from ‘Beard’s theatre of God’s Judgments’ and many that happened under the author’s own immediate knowledge. The faithfulness of his extracts from books has been fully verified. The awful death of Dorothy Mately, of Ashover, in Derbyshire, mentioned, I had an opportunity of testing, by the aid of my kind friend, Thomas Bateman, Esq., of Yolgrave. He sent me the following extract from the Ashover Register for 1660:— ‘Dorothy Mately, supposed wife to John Flint of this parish, forswore herself; whereupon the ground opened, and she sunk over head, March 23, and being found dead, she was buried, March 25.’ Thus fully confirming the facts, as stated by Bunyan. Solemn providences, intended, in the inscrutable wisdom of God, for wise purposes, must not be always called ‘divine judgments.’ A ship is lost, and the good with the bad, sink together; a missionary is murdered; a pious Malay is martyred; still no one can suppose that these are instances of divine vengeance. But when the atrocious bishop Bonner, in his old age, miserably perishes in prison, it reminds us of our Lord’s saying, ‘with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’
Bunyan’s pictures, of which the life of Badman is a continued series, are admirably painted from life. The extraordinary depths of hypocrisy, used in gaining the affections of a pious wealthy young woman, and entrapping her into a marriage, are admirably drawn, as is its companion or counterpart, when Badman, in his widower-hood, suffers an infamous strumpet to inveigle him into a miserable marriage, as he so richly deserved. The death-bed scene of the pious broken-hearted Mrs. Badman, is a masterpiece. In fact the whole is a series of pictures drawn by a most admirable artist, and calculated to warn and attract the sinner from his downward course.
In comparison with the times of Bunyan, England has now become wonderfully reformed from those grosser pollutions which disgraced her name. Persons of riper age, whose reminiscences go back to the times of the slave trade, slavery, and war, will call to mind scenes of vice, brutality, open debauchery and profligacy, which, in these peaceful and prosperous times, would be instantly repressed and properly punished. Should peace be preserved, domestic, social, and national purity and happiness must increase with still greater and more delightful rapidity. Civilization and Christianity will triumph over despotism, vice, and false religions, and the time be hastened on, in which the divine art of rendering each other happy will engross the attention of all mankind. Much yet remains to be done for the conversion of the still numerous family connections of Mr. Badman; but the leaven of Christianity must, in spite of all opposition, eventually spread over the whole mass.
Homely proverbs abound in this narrative, all of which are worthy of being treasured up in our memories. Is nothing so secret but it will be revealed? we are told that ‘Hedges have eyes and pitchers have ears.’ They who encourage evil propensities are ‘nurses to the devil’s brats.’ It is said of him who hurries on in a career of folly and sin, ‘The devil rides him off his legs.’ ‘As the devil corrects vice,’ refers to those who pretend to correct bad habits by means intended to promote them. ‘The devil is a cunning schoolmaster.’ Satan taking the wicked into his foul embraces is ‘like to like, as the devil said to the collier.’
In two things the times have certainly improved. Bunyan describes all ‘pawnbrokers’ to have been ‘vile wretches,’ and, in extortion, the women to be worse than the men. Happily for our days, good and even pious pawnbrokers may be found, who are honourable exceptions to Mr. Bunyan’s sweeping rule; nor do our women in any respect appear to be greater extortioners than our men. The instructions, exhortations, and scriptural precepts and examples to enforce honest dealing, interspersed as reflections throughout this narrative, are invaluable, and will, I trust, prove beneficial to every reader.
I have taken the liberty of dividing this long-continued dialogue into chapters, for the greater facility of reference, and as periods in the history, where the reader may conveniently rest in his progress through this deeply interesting narrative.


As I was considering with myself what I had written concerning the Progress of the Pilgrim from this world to glory, and how it had been acceptable to many in this nation, it came again into my mind to write, as then, of him that was going to heaven, so now, of the life and death of the ungodly, and of their travel from this world to hell. The which in this I have done, and have put it, as thou seest, under the name and title of Mr. Badman, a name very proper for such a subject. I have also put it into the form of a dialogue, that I might with more ease to myself, and pleasure to the reader, perform the work. And although, as I said, I have put it forth in this method, yet have I as little as may be gone out of the road of mine own observation of things. Yea, I think I may truly say that to the best of my remembrance, all the things that here I discourse of, I mean as to matter of fact, have been acted upon the stage of this world, even many times before mine eyes.
Here therefore, courteous reader, I present thee with the life and death of Mr. Badman indeed; yea, I do trace him in his life, from his childhood to his death; that thou mayest, as in a glass, behold with thine own eyes the steps that take hold of hell; and also discern, while thou art reading of Mr. Badman’s death, whether thou thyself art treading in his path thereto. And let me entreat thee to forbear quirking[2] and mocking, for that I say Mr. Badman is dead; but rather gravely inquire concerning thyself by the Word, whether thou art one of his lineage or no; for Mr. Badman has left many of his relations behind him; yea, the very world is overspread with his kindred. True, some of his relations, as he, are gone to their place and long home, but thousands of thousands are left behind; as brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, besides innumerable of his friends and associates. I may say, and yet speak nothing but too much truth in so saying, that there is scarce a fellowship, a community, or fraternity of men in the world, but some of Mr. Badman’s relations are there; yea, rarely can we find a family or household in a town, where he has not left behind him either a brother, nephew, or friend.
The butt[3] therefore, that at this time I shoot at, is wide; and it will be as impossible for this book to go into several families, and not to arrest some, as for the king’s messenger to rush into a house full of traitors, and find none but honest men there.[4] I cannot but think that this shot will light upon many, since our fields are so full of this game; but how many it will kill to Mr. Badman’s course, and make alive to the Pilgrim’s Progress, that is not in me to determine; this secret is with the Lord our God only, and he alone knows to whom he will bless it to so good and so blessed an end. However, I have put fire to the pan,[5] and doubt not but the report will quickly be heard.
I told you before that Mr. Badman had left many of his friends and relations behind him, but if I survive them, as that is a great question to me, I may also write of their lives; however, whether my life be longer or shorter, this is my prayer at present, that God will stir up witnesses against them, that may either convert or confound them; for wherever they live, and roll in their wickedness, they are the pest and plague of that country. England shakes and totters already, by reason of the burden that Mr. Badman and his friends have wickedly laid upon it. Yea, our earth reels and staggereth to and fro like a drunkard, the transgression thereof is heavy upon it.
Courteous reader, I will treat thee now, even at the door and threshold of this house, but only with this intelligence, that Mr. Badman lies dead within. Be pleased therefore, if thy leisure will serve thee, to enter in, and behold the state in which he is laid, betwixt his death-bed and the grave. He is not buried as yet, nor doth he stink, as is designed he shall, before he lies down in oblivion. Now as others have had their funerals solemnized, according to their greatness and grandeur in the world, so likewise Mr. Badman, forasmuch as he deserveth not to go down to his grave with silence, has his funeral state according to his deserts.
Four things are usual at great men’s funerals, which we will take leave, and I hope without offence, to allude to, in the funeral of Mr. Badman.
First. They are sometimes, when dead, presented to their friends, by their completely wrought images, as lively as by cunning men’s hands they can be; that the remembrance of them may be renewed to their survivors, the remembrance of them and their deeds; and this I have endeavoured to answer in my discourse of Mr. Badman, and therefore I have drawn him forth in his features and actions from his childhood to his grey hairs. Here therefore, thou hast him lively set forth as in cuts; both as to the minority, flower, and seniority of his age, together with those actions of his life, that he was most capable of doing, in and under those present circumstances of time, place, strength; and the opportunities that did attend him in these.
Second. There is also usual at great men’s funerals, those badges and escutcheons of their honour, that they have received from their ancestors, or have been thought worthy of for the deeds and exploits they have done in their life; and here Mr. Badman has his, but such as vary from all men of worth, but so much the more agreeing with the merit of his doings. They all have descended in state, he only as an abominable branch. His deserts are the deserts of sin, and therefore the escutcheons of honour that he has, are only that he died without honour, ‘and at his end became a fool.’ ‘Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial.’ ‘The seed of evil doers shall never be renowned’ (Isa 14:20).
The funeral pomp therefore of Mr. Badman, is to wear upon his hearse the badges of a dishonourable and wicked life; since ‘his bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down,’ as Job says, ‘with him in the dust.’ Nor is it fit that any should be his attendants, now at his death, but such as with him conspired against their own souls in their life; persons whose transgressions have made them infamous to all that have or shall know what they have done.
Some notice therefore I have also here in this little discourse given the reader, of them who were his confederates in his life, and attendants at his death; with a hint, either of some high villainy committed by them, as also of those judgments that have overtaken and fallen upon them from the just and revenging hand of God. All which are things either fully known by me, as being eye and ear-witness thereto, or that I have received from such hands, whose relation, as to this, I am bound to believe. And that the reader may know them from other things and passages herein contained, I have pointed at them in the margin.
Third. The funerals of persons of quality have been solemnized with some suitable sermon at the time and place of their burial; but that I am not come to as yet, having got no further than to Mr. Badman’s death; but forasmuch as he must be buried, after he hath stunk out his time before his beholders, I doubt not but some such that we read are appointed to be at the burial of Gog, will do this work in my stead; such as shall leave him neither skin nor bone above ground, but shall set a sign by it till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog (Eze 39).
Fourth. At funerals there does use to be mourning and lamentation, but here also Mr. Badman differs from others; his familiars cannot lament his departure, for they have not sense of his damnable state; they rather ring him, and sing him to hell in the sleep of death, in which he goes thither. Good men count him no loss to the world, his place can well be without him, his loss is only his own, and it is too late for him to recover that damage or loss by a sea of bloody tears, could he shed them. Yea, God has said he will laugh at his destruction; who then shall lament for him, saying, Ah! my brother. He was but a stinking weed in his life; nor was he better at all in his death; such may well be thrown over the wall without sorrow, when once God has plucked them up by the roots in his wrath.
Reader, if thou art of the race, lineage, stock, or fraternity of Mr. Badman, I tell thee, before thou readest this book, thou wilt neither brook the author nor it, because he hath writ of Mr. Badman as he has. For he that condemneth the wicked that die so, passeth also the sentence upon the wicked that live. I therefore expect neither credit of, nor countenance from thee, for this narration of thy kinsman’s life. For thy old love to thy friend, his ways, doings, &c., will stir up in thee enmity rather in thy very heart against me. I shall therefore incline to think of thee, that thou wilt rend, burn, or throw it away in contempt; yea, and wish also, that for writing so notorious a truth, some mischief may befal me. I look also to be loaded by thee with disdain, scorn, and contempt; yea, that thou shouldest railingly and vilifyingly say I lie, and am a bespatterer of honest men’s lives and deaths. For. Mr. Badman, when himself was alive, could not abide to be counted a knave, though his actions told all that went by, that indeed he was such an one. How then should his brethren that survive him, and that tread in his very steps, approve of the sentence that by this book is pronounced against him? Will they not rather imitate Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s friends, even rail at me for condemning him, as they did at Moses for doing execution?
I know it is ill puddling in the cockatrice’s den, and that they run hazards that hunt the wild boar. The man also that writeth Mr. Badman’s life had need be fenced with a coat of mail, and with the staff of a spear, for that his surviving friends will know what he doth; but I have adventured to do it, and to play, at this time, at the hole of these asps; if they bite, they bite; if they sting, they sting. Christ sends his lambs in the midst of wolves, not to do like them, but to suffer by them for bearing plain testimony against their bad deeds. But had one not need to walk with a guard, and to have a sentinel stand at one’s door for this? Verily, the flesh would be glad of such help; yea, a spiritual man, could he tell how to get it (Acts 23). But I am stript naked of these, and yet am commanded to be faithful in my service for Christ. Well then, I have spoken what I have spoken, and now ‘come on me what will’ (Job 13:13). True, the text say, Rebuke a scorner and he will hate thee; and that he that reproveth a wicked man getteth himself a blot and shame. But what then? Open rebuke is better than secret love, and he that receives it shall find it so afterwards.
So then, whether Mr. Badman’s friends shall rage or laugh at what I have writ, I know that the better end of the staff[6] is mine. My endeavour is to stop a hellish course of life, and to ‘save a soul from death’ (James 5:20). And if for so doing I meet with envy from them, from whom in reason I should have thanks, I must remember the man in the dream,[7] that cut his way through his armed enemies, and so got into the beauteous palace; I must, I say, remember him, and do myself likewise.
Yet four things I will propound to the consideration of Mr. Badman’s friends before I turn my back upon them.
1. Suppose that there be a hell in very deed; not that I do question it any more than I do whether there be a sun to shine, but I suppose it for argument sake with Mr. Badman’s friends. I say, suppose there be a hell, and that too such an one as the Scripture speaks of, one at the remotest distance from God and life eternal, one where the worm of a guilty conscience never dies, and where the fire of the wrath of God is not quenched. Suppose, I say, that there is such a hell, prepared of God—as there is indeed—for the body and soul of the ungodly world after this life to be tormented in; I say, do but with thyself suppose it, and then tell me is it not prepared for thee, thou being a wicked man? Let thy conscience speak, I say, is it not prepared for thee, thou being an ungodly man? And dost thou think, wast thou there now, that thou art able to wrestle with the judgment of God? why then do the fallen angels tremble there? Thy hands cannot be strong, nor can thy heart endure, in that day when God shall deal with thee (Eze 22:14).
2. Suppose that some one that is now a soul in hell for sin, was permitted to come hither again to dwell, and that they had a grant also, that, upon amendment of life, next time they die, to change that place for heaven and glory. What sayst thou, O wicked man? Would such an one, thinkest thou, run again into the same course of life as before, and venture the damnation that for sin he had already been in? Would he choose again to lead that cursed life that afresh would kindle the flames of hell upon him, and that would bind him up under the heavy wrath of God? O! he would not, he would not; Luke 16 insinuates it; yea, reason itself awake would abhor it, and tremble at such a thought.
3. Suppose again, that thou that livest and rollest in thy sin, and that as yet hast known nothing but the pleasure thereof, shouldest be by an angel conveyed to some place, where, with convenience, from thence thou mightest have a view of heaven and hell, of the joys of the one and the torments of the other; I say, suppose that from thence thou mightest have such a view thereof as would convince thy reason that both heaven and hell are such realities as by the Word they are declared to be; wouldest thou, thinkest thou, when brought to thy home again, choose to thyself thy former life, to wit, to return to thy folly again? No; if belief of what thou sawest remained with thee thou wouldest eat fire and brimstone first.
4. I will propound again. Suppose that there was amongst us such a law, and such a magistrate to inflict the penalty, that for every open wickedness committed by thee, so much of thy flesh should with burning pincers be plucked from thy bones, wouldest thou then go on in thy open way of lying, swearing, drinking, and whoring, as thou with delight doest now? Surely, surely, no. The fear of the punishment would make thee forbear; yea, would make thee tremble, even then when thy lusts were powerful, to think what a punishment thou wast sure to sustain so soon as the pleasure was over. But O! the folly, the madness, the desperate madness that is in the hearts of Mr. Badman’s friends, who, in despite of the threatenings of a holy and sin-revenging God, and of the outcries and warnings of all good men, yea, that will, in despite of the groans and torments of those that are now in hell for sin, go on in a sinful course of life, yea, though every sin is also a step of descent down to that infernal cave (Luke 16:24,28). O how true is that saying of Solomon, ‘The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead’ (Eccl 9:3). To the dead! that is, to the dead in hell, to the damned dead, the place to which those that have died bad men are gone, and that those that live bad men are like to go to, when a little more sin, like stolen waters, hath been imbibed by their sinful souls.

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