John Bunyan is the master at teaching Scriptural truth through dialogue in Pilgrim’s Progress.
One such example is seen below in the conversation between Hopeful and Christian about backsliders in the faith. The context of this quote mentions how a man named Mr. Temporary backslid, which prompted Christian to ask Hopeful what he sees as the reason for backsliding.
Hopeful shares a few reasons and shortly after Christian shares his thoughts on backsliding. Notice the progression of then this then that.
You could call this Bunyan’s 9 Stages of Backsliding:
Christian: Well, I think it is like this:
First they withdraw their thoughts as much as possible from the remembrance of God, death, and judgment to come.
Then by degrees they give up their self-discipline, such as private prayer, curbing their lusts, watching their conduct, regretting sin, and the like.
Then they shun the company of lively, warmhearted Christians.
After that they grow negligent of public duty, such as hearing and reading the Word of God, attending meetings, and the like.
Then they begin to find fault with Christians, picking holes in the coats of the godly (because of some weakness which they fancy they have seen in them), and casting aspersions on the good name of disciples behind their back.
Then they begin to associate with worldly, loose, and evil-minded people. They also give way to carnal, lustful, and immoral practice in secret; and seek to find such practice in those who are counted true, that they may say they are their example.
After this they play with sin openly.
Then being hardened, they show themselves as they are: downright wicked.
Now, being bogged down again in the gulf of misery, they perish forever in their own deceiving unless a miracle of grace prevents it.
Like most of Bunyan’s narrative and dialogue, it is rich in Scripture, compelling in thought, and convicting to the soul.
If any of the backsliding description describes you, reading this could be the very miracle of grace you need to slide forward into salvation in Christ.
(Quotations taken from Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English)