An excerpt from John Bunyan's Allegory:
Pilgrim's Progress

Background: In this chapter, Mercy is the name of a single woman who is traveling the narrow road of true Christianity. Along the way, she has stopped with her companions at a lodge where she stays for an unspecified amount of time. One of her hostesses in the house is named Prudence.


Now when the pilgrims had been at the lodge about a week, Mercy had a visitor, Mr. Brisk, a young man of some means and culture. He seemed to be sincerely religious, yet very much attached to the things of the world. He came to see Mercy several times, and suggested that they become engaged. Now, Mercy was a charming girl, and very attractive, though of the busy type. she was always making things for herself or others, and Mr. Brisk thought she would make a good housewife. Now Mercy confided in the maids and inquired of them concerning him, for they knew him better than she. They told her that he was a nice-appearing young man, with ambition and ability, who was formally religious, but they said they feared he was a stranger to spiritual life and power.

MERCY: Then I will not encourage him, for I do not intend to let anyone hinder my spiritual life, or my Christian service.

PRUDENCE: Well, you need not have any sudden break with him, fraught with tension and emotion. Your continuing to do for the poor will soon cool his ardor.

So the next time Mr. Brisk came, he found her very busy, making things for the poor.

"Always at it, I see," he remarked.
"Yes," said she, "either for myself or for others."
"And how much do you earn a day?" he asked.
"I do these things that I may be rich in good works, laying up in store for myself a good foundation against the time to come that I may lay hold on eternal life."
"What do you do with all these things you are making?"
"Clothe the naked," she said.

Then his countenance fell, and he was silent. He called no more, and when his friends asked him why, he said that Mercy was a very pretty girl, but handicapped by poor conditions.

When he did not come again, Prudence said to Mercy, "Did I not tell you that he would give you up when he found that you were true to your religion? Now, you need not be surprised if he starts an evil report on you, notwithstanding his seeming love for you and his interest in formal religion. You never would have been happy with him. You are of such different temperaments.

MERCY: I might have had a husband before now (thought I have never mentioned this to anyone before), if my boyfriends had not objected to my standards. None of them ever found fault with my person; it was my ideals they did not like. Therefore, we could not agree.

PRUDENCE: In this day and time, eternal things make very little impression. With too many, Christianity is but little more than a custom, or a name.

MERCY: Well, if no one will have me because of my religious convictions, I will die an old maid. My devotion to Christ and His service will take the place of a husband, and I will be happier than living with a man who is not a Christian and it always opposing my way of life. I had a sister named Bountiful, who married one of these conceited, self-willed egotists, and she and he never got along. He violently opposed her becoming a Christian, and finally drove her away from home. Afterwards her health broke, and she died.

PRUDENCE: And yet he was a professing Christian, I suppose?

MERCY: Yes, a professor, not a possessor of true Christianity. Of such the world is full, and I don't care how well educated or how wealthy they may be, I want none of them at all.