Light for Them that Sit in Darkness
by John Bunyan
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Fourth. Or else, take into consideration how God has said, they shall be in their spirits that he intends to save. And for this read these scriptures: (1.) That in Jeremiah 31, 'They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them' &c. (v 9). (2.) Read Jeremiah 50:4,5: 'In those days, and in that time, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.' (3.) Read Ezekiel 6:9: 'And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which have departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a-whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.' (4.) Read Ezekiel 7:16: 'But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.' (5.) Read Ezekiel 20:43: 'And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.' (6.) Read Ezekiel 37:31: 'Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.' (7.) Read Zechariah 12:10: 'And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.'

Now all these are the fruits of the Spirit of God, and of the heart, when it is broken: wherefore, soul, take notice of them, and because these are texts by which God promiseth that those whom he saveth shall have this heart, this spirit, and these holy effects in them; therefore consider again, and examine thyself, whether this is the state and condition of thy soul. And that thou mayest do it fully, consider again, and do thou,

1. Remember that here is such a sense of sin, and of the irksomeness thereof, as maketh the man not only to abhor that, but himself, because of that; this is worth the noting by thee.

2. Remember again that here is not only a self-abhorrence, but a sorrowful kind mourning unto God, at the consideration that the soul by sin has affronted, contemned, disregarded, and set at nought, both God and his holy Word.

3. Remember also that here are prayers and tears for mercy, with desires to be now out of love with sin for ever, and to be in heart and soul firmly joined and knit unto God.

4. Remember also that this people here spoken of have all the way from Satan to God, from sin to grace, from death to life, scattered with tears and prayers, with weeping and supplication; they shall go weeping, and seeking the Lord their God.

5. Remember that these people, as strangers and pilgrims do, are not ashamed to ask the way of those they meet with to Zion, or the heavenly country; whereby they confess their ignorance, as became them, and their desire to know the way to life: yea, thereby they declare that there is nothing in this world, under the sun, or this side heaven, that can satisfy the longings, the desire, and cravings of a broken and a contrite spirit. Reader, be advised, and consider of these things seriously, and compare thy soul with them, and with what else thou shalt find here written for thy conviction and instruction.

FOURTH USE. If a broken heart and a contrite spirit be of such esteem with God, then this should encourage them that have it to come to God with it. I know the great encouragement for men to come to God is, for that there 'is a mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim 2:5). This, I say, is the great encouragement, and in its place there is none but that; but there are other encouragements subordinate to that, and a broken and a contrite spirit is one of them: this is evident from several places of Scripture.

Wherefore, thou that canst carry a broken heart and a sorrowful spirit with thee, when thou goest to God, tell him thy heart is wounded within thee, that thou hast sorrow in thy heart, and art sorry for thy sins; but take heed of lying.[15] Confess also thy sins unto him, and tell him they are continually before thee. David made an argument of these things, when he went to God by prayer. 'O Lord,' saith he, 'rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.' But why so? O! says he, 'Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger: neither is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light for mine eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore': and so he goes on (Psa 38:1-4, &c.).

These are the words, sighs, complaints, prayers, and arguments of a broken heart to God for mercy; and so are they—'Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me' (Psa 51:1-3).

God alloweth poor creatures that can, without lying, thus to plead and argue with him. 'I am poor and sorrowful,' said the good man to him, 'let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high' (Psa 69:29). Wherefore thou that hast a broken heart take courage, God bids thee take courage; say therefore to thy soul, 'Why are thou cast down, O my soul?' as usually the broken-hearted are. 'And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God.' 'I had fainted,' if I had not been of good courage; therefore 'be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart' (Psa 42:11, 43:5, 27:12-14).

But alas! the broken-hearted are far off from this; they faint; they reckon themselves among the dead; they think God will remember them no more: the thoughts of the greatness of God, and his holiness, and their own sins and vilenesses, will certainly consume them. They feel guilt and anguish of soul; they go mourning all the day long; their mouth is full of gravel and gall, and they are made to drink draughts of wormwood and gall; so that he must be an artist indeed at believing, who can come to God under his guilt and horror, and plead in faith that the sacrifices of God are a broken heart, such as he had; and that 'a broken and a contrite spirit God will not despise.'

FIFTH USE. If a broken heart, if a broken and contrite spirit, is of such esteem with God, then why should some be, as they are, so afraid of a broken heart, and so shy of a contrite spirit?

I have observed that some men are as afraid of a broken heart, or that they for their sins should have their hearts broken, as the dog is of the whip. O! they cannot away with such books, with such sermons, with such preachers, or with such talk, as tends to make a man sensible of, and to break his heart, and to make him contrite for his sins. Hence they heap to themselves such teachers, get such books, love such company, and delight in such discourse, as rather tends to harden than soften; to make desperate in, than sorrowful for their sin. They say to such sermons, books, and preachers, as Amaziah said unto Amos, 'O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there, but prophesy not again any more at Bethel; for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court' (Amos 7:12,13).

But do these people know what they do? Yes, think they, for such preachers, such books, such discourses tend to make one melancholy or mad; they make us that we cannot take pleasure in ourselves, in our concerns, in our lives. But, O fool in grain![16] let me speak unto thee. Is it a time to take pleasure, and to recreate thyself in anything, before thou hast mourned and been sorry for thy sins? That mirth that is before repentance for sin will certainly end in heaviness. Wherefore the wise man, putting both together, saith that mourning must be first. There is 'a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance' (Eccl 3:4). What, an unconverted man, and laugh! Shouldst thou see one singing merry songs that is riding up Holborn to Tyburn,[17] to be hanged for felony, wouldst thou not count him besides himself, if not worse? and yet thus it is with him that is for mirth while he standeth condemned by the Book of God for his trespasses. Man! man! thou hast cause to mourn; yea, thou must mourn if ever thou art saved. Wherefore my advice is, that instead of shunning, thou covet both such books, such preachers, and such discourses, as have a tendency to make a man sensible of, and to break his heart for sin; and the reason is, because thou wilt never be as thou shouldst, concerned about, nor seek the salvation of thine own soul, before thou hast a broken heart, a broken and a contrite spirit. Wherefore be not afraid of a broken heart; be not shy of a contrite spirit. It is one of the greatest mercies that God bestows upon a man or a woman. The heart rightly broken at the sense of, and made truly contrite for transgression, is a certain forerunner of salvation. This is evident from those six demonstrations which were laid down to prove the point in hand, at first.

And for thy awakening in this matter, let me tell thee, and thou wilt find it so, thou must have thy heart broken whether thou wilt or no. God is resolved to break ALL hearts for sin some time or other. Can it be imagined, sin being what it is, and God what he is—to wit, a revenger of disobedience—but that one time or other man must smart for sin? smart, I say, either to repentance or to condemnation. He that mourns not now, while the door of mercy is open, must mourn for sin when the door of mercy is shut.

Shall men despise God, break his law, contemn his threats, abuse his grace, yea, shut their eyes when he says, See; and stop their ears when he says, Hear; and shall they so escape? No, no, because he called, and they refused; he stretched out his hand, and they regarded it not; therefore shall calamity come upon them, as upon one in travail; and they shall cry in their destruction, and then God will laugh at their destruction, and mock when their fear cometh. Then, saith he, 'they shall cry' (Prov 1:24-26). I have often observed that this threatening is repeated at least seven times in the New Testament, saying, 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth'; 'there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth' (Matt 8:12, 13:42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28). There. Where? In hell, and at the bar of Christ's tribunal, when he comes to judge the world, and shall have shut to the door to keep them out of glory, that have here despised the offer of his grace, and overlooked the day of his patience. 'There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.' They shall weep and wail for this.

There are but two scriptures that I shall use more, and then I shall draw towards a conclusion. One is that in Proverbs, where Solomon is counselling of young men to beware of strange, that is, of wanton, light, and ensnaring women. Take heed of such, said he, lest 'thou mourn at the last,' that is, in hell, when thou art dead, 'when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof, and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ears to them that instructed me!' (Prov 5:11-13).

The other scripture is that in Isaiah, where he says, 'Because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed; behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit' (Isa 65:13,14).

How many beholds are here! and every behold is not only a call to careless ones to consider, but as a declaration from heaven that thus at last it shall be with all impenitent sinners; that is, when others sing for joy in the kingdom of heaven, they, they shall sorrow in hell, and howl for vexation of spirit there.

Wherefore, let me advise that you be not afraid of, but that you rather covet a broken heart, and prize a contrite spirit; I say, covet it now, now the white flag is hung out, now the golden sceptre of grace is held forth to you. Better mourn now God inclines to mercy and pardon, than mourn when the door is quite shut up. And take notice, that this is not the first time that I have given you this advice.

USE SIXTH. Lastly, If a broken heart be a thing of so great esteem with God as has been said, and if duties cannot be rightly performed by a heart that has not been broken, then this shows the vanity of those peoples' minds, and also the invalidity of their pretended Divine services, who worship God with a heart that was never broken, and without a contrite spirit. There has, indeed, at all times been great flocks of such professors in the world in every age, but to little purpose, unless to deceive themselves, to mock God, and lay stumbling-blocks in the way of others; for a man whose heart was never truly broken, and whose spirit was never contrite, cannot profess Christ in earnest, cannot love his own soul in earnest; I mean, he cannot do these things in truth, and seek his own good the right way, for he wants a bottom for it, to wit, a broken heart for sin, and a contrite spirit.

That which makes a man a hearty, an unfeigned, a sincere seeker after the good of his own soul, is sense of sin, and a godly fear of being overtaken with the danger which it brings a man into. This makes him contrite or repentant, and puts him upon seeking of Christ the Saviour, with heart-aching and heart-breaking considerations. But this cannot be, where this sense, this godly fear, and this holy contrition is wanting. Profess men may, and make a noise, as the empty barrel maketh the biggest sound; but prove them, and they are full of air, full of emptiness, and that is all.

Nor are such professors tender of God's name, nor of the credit of that gospel which they profess; nor can they, for they want that which should oblige them thereunto, which is a sense of pardon and forgiveness, by the which their broken hearts have been replenished, succoured, and made to hope in God. Paul said, the love of Christ constrained him. But what was Paul but a broken-hearted and a contrite sinner? (Acts 9:3-6; 2 Cor 5:14). When God shows a man the sin he has committed, the hell he has deserved, the heaven he has lost; and yet that Christ, and grace, and pardon may be had; this will make him serious, this will make him melt, this will break his heart, this will show him that there is more than air, than a noise, than an empty sound in religion; and this is the man, whose heart, whose life, whose conversation and all, will be engaged in the matters of the eternal salvation of his precious and immortal soul.


Object. First. But some may object, that in this saying I seem too rigid and censorious; and will, if I moderate not these lines with something milder afterward, discourage many an honest soul.

Answ. I answer, Not a jot, not an honest soul in all the world will be offended at my words; for not one can be an honest soul, I mean with reference to its concerns in another world, that has not had a broken heart, that never had a contrite spirit. This I will say, because I would be understood aright, that all attain not to the same degree of trouble, nor lie so long there under, as some of their brethren do. But to go to heaven without a broken heart, or to be forgiven sin without a contrite spirit, is no article of my belief. We speak not now of what is secret; revealed things belong to us and our children; nor must we venture to go further in our faith. Doth not Christ say, 'The whole have no need of a physician'; that is, they see no need, but Christ will make them see their need before he ministers his sovereign grace unto them; and good reason, otherwise he will have but little thanks for his kindness.

Object. Second. But there are those that are godly educated from their childhood, and so drink in the principles of Christianity they know not how.

Answ. I count it one thing to receive the faith of Christ from men only, and another to receive it from God by the means. If thou art taught by an angel, yet if not taught of God, thou wilt never come to Christ; I do not say thou wilt never profess him. But if God speaks, and thou shalt hear and understand him, that voice will make such work within thee as was never made before. The voice of God is a voice by itself, and is so distinguished by them that are taught thereby (John 6:44,45; Psa 29; Habb 3:12-16; Eph 4:20,21; 1 Peter 2:2,3).

Object. Third. But some men are not so debauched and profane as some, and so need not to be so hammered and fired as others; so broken and wounded as others.

Answ. God knows best what we need. Paul was as righteous before conversion as any that can pretend to civility now, I suppose; and yet that notwithstanding he was made to shake, and was astonished at himself at his conversion. And truly I think the more righteous any is in his own eyes before conversion, the more need he has of heart-breaking work, in order to his salvation; because a man is not by nature so easily convinced that his righteousness is to God abominable, as he is that his debauchery and profaneness is.

A man's goodness is that which blinds him most, is dearest to him, and hardly parted with; and therefore when such an one is converted, that thinks he has goodness of his own enough to commend him in whole or in part to God, but, but few such are converted, there is required a great deal of breaking work upon his heart, to make him come to Paul's conclusion, 'What! are we better than they? No, in no wise' (Rom 3:9). I say, before he can be brought to see his glorious robes are filthy rags, and his gainful things but loss and dung (Isa 64; Phil 3).

This is also gathered from these words, 'Publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of God before the Pharisees' (Matt 21:31). Why before them? But because they lie fairer for the Word, are easier convinced of their need of Christ, and so are brought home to him without, as I may say, all that ado that the Holy Ghost doth make to bring home one of these to him.

True; nothing is hard or difficult to God. But I speak after the manner of men. And let who will take to task a man debauched in this life, and one that is not so, and he shall see, if he laboureth to convince them both that they are in a state of condemnation by nature, that the Pharisee will make his appeals to God, with a great many God, I thank these; while the Publican hangs his head, shakes at heart, and smites upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner' (Luke 18:11-13).

Wherefore a self-righteous man is but a painted Satan, or a devil in fine clothes; but thinks he so of himself? No! no! he saith to others, Stand back, come not near me, I am holier than thou. It is almost impossible, that a self-righteous man should be saved. But he that can drive a camel through the eye of a needle, can cause that even such a one shall see his lost condition, and that he needeth the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ. He can make him see, I say, that his own goodness did stand more in his way to the kingdom of heaven than he was aware of; and can make him feel too, that his leaning to that is as great iniquity as any immorality that men commit. The sum then is, that men that are converted to God by Christ, through the Word and Spirit—for all this must go to effectual conversion—must have their hearts broken, and spirits made contrite; I say, it MUST be so, for the reasons showed before. Yea, and all decayed, apostatized, and backslidden Christians must, in order to their recovery again to God, have their hearts broken, their souls wounded, their spirits made contrite, and sorry for their sins.

Come, come, conversion to God is not so easy and so smooth a thing as some would have men believe it is. Why is man's heart compared to fallow ground, God's Word to a plough, and his ministers to ploughmen? if the heart indeed has no need of breaking, in order to the receiving of the seed of God unto eternal life (Jer 4:3; Luke 9:62; 1 Cor 9:10). Who knows not that the fallow ground must be ploughed, and ploughed too before the husbandman will venture his seed; yea, and after that oft soundly harrowed, or else he will have but a slender harvest?

Why is the conversion of the soul compared to the grafting of a tree, if that be done without cutting? The Word is the graft, the soul is the tree, and the Word, as the scion, must be let in by a wound; for to stick on the outside, or to be tied on with a string, will do no good here. Heart must be set to heart, and back to back, or your pretended ingrafting will come to nothing (Rom 11:17,24; Jer 1:21).

I say, heart must be set to heart, and back to back, or the sap will not be conveyed from the root to the branch; and I say, this must be done by a wound. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, as a man openeth the stock to graft in the scions, and so the word was let into her soul, and so the word and her heart cemented, and became one (Acts 16:14).

Why is Christ bid to gird his sword upon his thigh? and why must he make his arrows sharp, and all, that the heart may with this sword and these arrows be shot, wounded, and made to bleed? Yea, why is he commanded to let it be so, if the people would bow and fall kindly under him, and heartily implore his grace without it? (Psa 45; 55:3,4). Alas! men are too lofty, too proud, too wild, too devilishly resolved in the ways of their own destruction; in their occasions, they are like the wild asses upon the wild mountains; nothing can break them of their purposes, or hinder them from ruining of their own precious and immortal souls, but the breaking of their hearts.

Why is a broken heart put in the room of all sacrifices which we can offer to God, and a contrite spirit put in the room of all offerings, as they are, and you may see it so, if you compare the text with that verse which goes before it; I say, why is it counted better than all, were they all put together, if any one part or if all external parts of worship, were they put together, could be able to render the man a sound and a rightly made new creature without it? 'A broken heart, a contrite spirit, God will not despise'; but both thou, and all thy service, he will certainly slight and reject, if, when thou comest to him, a broken heart be wanting; wherefore here is the point, Come broken, come contrite, come sensible of, and sorry for thy sins, or thy coming will be counted no coming to God aright; and if so, consequently thou wilt get no benefit thereby.


[1] This is beautifully and most impressively described in the Pilgrim's Progress, when the bitter feelings of poor Christian under convictions of sin, alarm his family and put it quite 'out of order.'—Ed.

[2] This quotation is from the Genevan or Puritan version of the Bible.—Ed.

[3]. 'Fish-whole' is a very striking and expressive term, highly illustrative of the feelings and position of David when he was accosted by the prophet. The word 'whole' is from the Saxon, which language abounded in Bunyan's native county of Bedford—first introduced by an ancient colony of Saxons, who had settled there. It means hale, hearty, free from disease, as a fish is happy in its native element—'They that are WHOLE, need not a physician, but they that are sick,' Luke 5:31. David had no smitings of conscience for his cruelty and enormous guilt; he was like a 'fish whole,' in the full enjoyment of every providential blessing; while, spiritually, he was dead in sin. God loved and pitied him, and sent a cunning angler. Nathan the prophet there in the bait, which David eagerly seized; the hook entered his conscience, and he became as a fish wounded, and nigh unto death.—Ed.

[4] The words of Tindal are, 'The sacrifice of God is a troubled sprete, a broken and a contrite hert, O God, shalt thou not despise.' The same Hebrew word occurs in the original, both as to the spirit and the heart. Bunyan is quite right in preferring our authorised version of this verse. Coverdale, Tindal, Taverner, and Cranmer, all agree. The Genevan uses 'a contrite spirit,' and the Bishops 'a mortified spirit.'—Ed.

[5] No one could speak more feelingly upon this subject than our author. He had been in deep waters—in soul-harrowing fear, while his heart—hard by nature—was under the hammer of the Word.—'My soul was like a broken vessel. O, the unthought of imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors, that are affected by a thorough application of guilt, yielded to desperation!' Like the man that had his dwelling among the tombs.—Grace Abounding, No. 186.

[6] The Christian, if he thinks of possessing good motions, joins with such thoughts his inability to carry them into effect. 'When I would do good, evil is present with me.' How different is this to the self-righteous Ignorance, so vividly pictured in the Pilgrim's Progress:—

'Ignor.—I am always full of good motions that come into my mind, to comfort me as I walk.

Chris.—What good motions? pray tell us.

Ignor.—Why, I think of God and heaven.

Chris.—So do the devils and damned souls!'

The whole of that deeply interesting dialogue illustrates the difficulty of self-knowledge, which can only be acquired by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

[7] 'All to brake'; an obsolete mode of expression for 'altogether broke.'—Ed.

[8] 'Orts'; an obsolete word in England, derived from the Anglo-Saxon. Any worthless leaving or refuse. It is thus used by Shakespeare in his Troylus and Cresida, act 5, s. 2:—

'The fractions of her faith, orts of her love: The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics Of her ore-eaten faith.'—Ed.

[9] This is in exact agreement with the author's experience, which he had published twenty-two years before, under the title of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,—'I was more loathsome in my own eyes than was a toad, and I thought I was so in God's eyes too. Sin and corruption, I said, would as naturally bubble out of my heart as water would out of a fountain. I thought that none but the devil himself could equal me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind.' A sure sign that God, as his heavenly Father, was enlightening his memory by the Holy Spirit.—Ed.

[10] This account of the author's interview with a pious, humble woman, is an agreeable episode, which relieves the mind without diverting it from the serious object of the treatise. It was probably an event which took place in one of those pastoral visits which Bunyan was in the habit of making, and which, if wisely made, so endears a minister to the people of his charge. Christ and a crust is the common saying to express the sentiment that Christ is all in all. The pitcher has reference to the custom of pilgrims in carrying at their girdle a vessel to hold water, the staff having a crook by which it was dipped up from a well or river.—Ed.

[11] However hard, and even harsh, these terms may appear, they are fully justified; and with all the author's great ability and renown, he has the grace of humility to acknowledge that, by nature and practice, he had been the biggest of fools.—Ed.

[12] Man must be burnt out of the stronghold in which he trusted. 'Saved, yet so as by fire.' 'Baptized with the Holy Ghost, even fire.' 'His word is as a fire.' Reader, the work of regeneration and purification is a trying work; may each inquire, Has this fire burnt up my wood, hay, stubble?—Ed.

[13] To 'daff' or 'doff'; to do off or throw aside—used by Shakespeare, but now obsolete,—

Where is his son, The nimble-footed madcap, Prince of Wales, And his comrades, that daft the world aside And let it pass?—Ed.

[14] 'Sin will at first, just like a beggar, crave One penny or one halfpenny to have; And if you grant its first suit, 'twill aspire From pence to pounds, and so will still mount higher To the whole soul!'—Bunyan's Caution Against Sin.—Ed.

[15] This is faithful dealing. How many millions of lies are told to the All-seeing God, with unblushing effrontery, every Lord's day—when the unconcerned and careless, or the saint of God, happy, most happy in the enjoyment of Divine love, are led to say, 'Have mercy upon us miserable sinners.'—Ed.

[16] 'In grain' is a term used in dyeing, when the raw material is dyed before being spun or wove; the colour thus takes every grain, and becomes indelible. So with sin and folly; it enters every grain of human nature.—Ed.

[17] These frightful exhibitions, by drawing a criminal from Newgate to Tyburn to be executed, were of common occurrence until the reign of George III, when such numbers were put to death that it was found handier for the wholesale butchery to take place at Newgate, by a new drop, where twenty or thirty could be hung at once!! When will such brutalizing exhibitions cease?—Ed.






How great and glorious is the Christian's ultimate destiny—a kingdom and a crown! Surely it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive what ear never heard, nor mortal eye ever saw? the mansions of the blest—the realms of glory—'a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' For whom can so precious an inheritance be intended? How are those treated in this world who are entitled to so glorious, so exalted, so eternal, and unchangeable an inheritance in the world to come? How do the heirs to immortality conduct themselves in such a prospect? An inheritance sure and certain—an absolute reversion which no contingency can possibly affect. All these are inquiries of the deepest interest—the most solemn importance. Above all, when we inquire as to our personal title to the heavenly mansions—Am I one of the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ?—most intensely should this question agitate the soul, when we reflect that, unless we are entitled to this inestimable reversion, we must be plunged into the most awful, the most irretrievable and external torments! There is no middle way—no escape from hell, but by going to heaven. Is heaven reserved only for the noble and the learned, like Paul? God forbid! but, on the contrary, we hear the voice of the divinity proclaiming, 'Not many wise men after the flesh—not many mighty—not many noble.' 'Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne, the earth my footstool.' He looketh upon the high and low—the learned and the noble—the mighty princes and the unlettered labourer; and then makes this wondrous declaration—'To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.' The world will treat such humble ones as it treated the Lord of life and glory, with scorn, contempt, insult, robbery—death. They bear all with patience—return good for evil—are the followers of him who went about doing good—are known as living epistles, because they have been with Christ; they daily enjoy his guidance and protection, and in their desires after conformity to his image, they breathe the atmosphere of heaven. This is what the heir of glory strives after; but, alas! he has to encounter an evil heart, an ensnaring world, and the reproaches and revilings of his fellow-men, aided by satanic influence. Can we wonder, then, that he who is thus besieged, and believes that his work is finished, should, with Paul, be ready to depart and receive his rich inheritance? The lapse of time affects not the strong consolations of hope; as it was with Paul, so Bunyan felt. His longings after the heavenly manna abounded when the cold hand of death pressed upon his brow; his desire was 'to be dissolved, and to be with Christ'; when his course of temple and relative duty was run, he waited for the messenger from the celestial city to conduct him home. Christian, are you actively engaged in fulfilling the duties of your course? or, in the humble hope that your course is accomplished, are you patiently waiting the heavenly messenger? If the Christian's state is one of trial now, it was much more so in former times. We can have very little idea of the feelings of a dissenter from the religion of the State, like Paul, under the cruel Nero, or like Bunyan, under the debauched Charles the Second—both of them liable, without a moment's warning, to be carried away to prison, or to be murdered, privately or publicly, for refusing submission to civil governors in matters of faith or worship. Although they possessed every loyal and patriotic feeling, they dared not obey those human laws which usurped the prerogatives of God, by interfering with divine worship. Their lives were in their hands; in the midst of imminent danger they boldly avowed the truth, and set us a noble example. Their intercourse with heaven was doubly sweet from the uncertainty of liberty and life. For them to live was Christ, and therefore they well knew the gain of dying. In proportion as temporal blessings were eminently doubtful, so spiritual and eternal benefits were precious.

This treatise was one of those ten excellent manuscripts found already prepared for the press, after the unexpected decease of its pious author. It bears the marks of having been composed, and perhaps preached, towards the end of his pilgrimage. Had his valuable life been spared a few months longer, this work would, very probably, have been enlarged, and the sub-divisions somewhat improved. The principal heads are now inserted as separate lines, to assist the reader in referring to its several parts; and notes are added to explain old words and customs, and, in some cases, to point out a few of the beautiful and striking passages with which it abounds. Many of these ought to be indelibly impressed upon our minds. 'The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times' (Psa 12:6). The question naturally arises—What is this 'furnace of earth' in which the Lord's words are purified? Seven being the number of perfection, conveys the idea that it will be in the furnace until it appears perfectly refined. Bunyan considers that these earthen furnaces are the bodies of the saints. In the trials, troubles, and persecutions to which they are subjected, the Word bears them up triumphantly, so that the purity and excellency of the holy oracles conspicuously appears, like the trial of faith mentioned by Peter (1 Peter 1:7). Dr. Gill considers that these crucibles mean Christ and his ministers; while Bunyan, with his enlarged mind, identifies them with the whole of Christ's followers. Some of these crucibles prove not to be genuine, and perish in the using, not being able to abide the fire. Such was the case with one of Mr. Bunyan's friends. John Childs, who, for fear of persecution, conformed, became horror-stricken for the denial of his Master, and notorious for having destroyed himself.

In this treatise it is most affectionately impressed upon us to heap up treasures that will go with us into the unseen world, as of greater importance than those things which perish with the using. 'A Christian, and spend thy time, thy strength, and parts,' for that which maketh to itself wings and fleeth away! 'Remember thou art a man of another world, a subject of a more noble kingdom—that of God, and of heaven. Make not heavenly things stoop to the world; but hoist up thy mind to the things that are above, and practically hold forth before all the world the blessed word of life.' If death is the king of terrors to fallen humanity, still there are truths abounding with consolation, that when the Christian departs, the angels are ready, as in the case of Lazarus, to convey the happy spirit to Abraham's bosom; the struggle is short, and then comes the reward. In this world we must have tribulation; but in heaven white robes, the palm of victory, and the conqueror's crown, await the saints. Paul heard a voice which raised his soul above the fears of death, and gave him a desire to depart; its melodious sound invited him home—it was the voice of eternal truth, saying, 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.'



'For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.'—2 Timothy 4:6-8

These words were, by the apostle Paul, written to Timothy, whom he had begot to the faith, by the preaching of the gospel of Christ; in which are many things of great concernment both for instruction and consolation; something of which I shall open unto you for your profit and edification. But before I come to the words themselves, as they are a relation of Paul's case, I shall take notice of something from them as they depend upon the words going before, being a vehement exhortation to Timothy to be constant and faithful in his work; which, in brief, may be summed up in these particulars: 1st, A solemn binding charge before God and Jesus Christ our Lord, that he be constant in preaching the Word, whether in or out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all long-suffering and doctrine; and that because of that ungodly spirit that would possess professors after he was dead; for the time will come, saith he, that they will not endure sound doctrine, neither sound reproof, nor sound trial of their state and condition by the Word, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,—the plague that once God threatened to rebellious Israel (Deut 28:27)—and be turned unto fables. Much like this is that in the Acts of the Apostles, 'For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears' (Acts 20:29-31)

This evil then is to be prevented:—by a diligent watchfulness in ministers;—By a diligent preaching the word of the Lord;—and, By sound and close rebukes, reproofs, and exhortations to those in whosoever the least there appears any swerving or turning aside from the gospel. The ministers of the gospel have each of them all that authority that belongs to their calling and office, and need not to stay for power from men to put the laws of Christ in his church into due and full execution (Titus 2:15). This 'remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord,—that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men' (Micah 5:7). Therefore he adds, 'Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions,' if thou shouldst be opposed in thy work, 'do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry' (2 Tim 4:5).[1] How our time-serving and self-saving ministers will salve their conscience from the stroke that God's Word will one day give them, and how they will stand before the judgment-seat to render an account of this their doings, let them see to it; surely God will require it of their hand!

But, O Timothy, do thou be diligent, do thou watch in all things, do thou endure affliction, do thou the work of an evangelist, make thou full proof of thy ministry, 'for I am not ready to be offered,' &c. The words, then, of my text are a reason of this exhortation to Timothy, that he should continue watchful, and abide faithful in his calling. 'For I am now ready to be offered'; that is, to be put to death for the gospel.

Hence then learn two things,

First, That the murders and outrage that our brethren suffer at the hands of wicked men should not discourage those that live, from a full and faithful performance of their duty to God and man, whatever may be the consequence thereof. Or thus, when we see our brethren before us fall to the earth by death, through the violence of the enemies of God, for their holy and Christian profession, we should covet to make good their ground against them, though our turn should be the next. We should valiantly do in this matter, as is the custom of soldiers in war; take great care that the ground be maintained, and the front kept full and complete. 'Thou, therefore,' saith Paul, 'endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ' (2 Tim 2:3). And in another place, We should not be moved by these afflictions, but endure by resisting even unto blood (1 Thess 3:3). Wherefore Paul saith again, 'Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God' (2 Tim 1:8). Thus let the spirit of Moses rest upon Joshua (Num 27:20), and the spirit of Elijah rest upon Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). Stand up, therefore, like valiant worthies, as the ministers of my God, and fly not every man to his own, while the cause, and ways, and brethren of our Lord are buffeted and condemned by the world. And remember, that those that keep the charge of the Lord when most go a-whoring from under their God, they, when he turns the captivity of his people, shall be counted worthy to come nigh unto him, 'to offer the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God.' But for the rest, though they may yet stand before the people, because they stood before them in a way of idolatry, yet it shall not be to their honour, nor to their comfort; but to their shame, as the same scripture saith (Eze 44:10-16).

1. Let this therefore smite with conviction those that, in this day of Jacob's trouble, have been false with God, his cause, and people: I say, those first and especially as the chief ringleaders of this cowardliness, who have done it against light, profession, and resolutions. Behold, thou hast sinned against the Lord, and be sure thy sins will find thee out; and though thou mayest now have as a judgment of God upon thee, thy right eye darkened that thou mayest not see, yet awakening time will overtake thee, and that too between the straits, when he will show thee, to the great confusion of thy face, and the amazement of them that behold thee, how great an affront he counts it to be left by thee, in a day when his truth is cast down to the ground (Rom 11:10). I have often thought of that prophet that went down from Judah to Bethel, to prophesy against the idolatry that was there set up by the King; who, because he kept not the commandment of God, but did eat and drink in that place, at the persuasion of a lying prophet, was met at last by a lion, who slew him there in the way, where his carcase was made a spectacle of God to passengers (1 Kings 13). If thou be spiritual, judge what I say; and think not to be one of that number that shall have the harps of God, when God appears for Zion, and that shall sing that song of Moses, and also the song of the Lamb; for that is only for those who have fought the godly fight, and gotten the victory over the beast, his image, mark, number, and name.

2. Let this also be an awe to thee, who hast hankerings to do as the other: Beware, and remember Judas, and the end God brought upon him; he will not always bear such things; these times have showed us already that he beholds them with great dislike; why should thou hang up in chains as a terror to all that know thee? And never object that some have done it, and yet are at peace in their souls; for peace in a sinful course is one of the greatest of curses. And 'the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead' (Prov 21:6).

[Second.] The Second thing to be learned from these words, as they have a relation to them going before, is encouragement to those that are yet in the storm; and that from three great arguments.

1. Paul's peace and comfort now at the time of his death, which he signifieth to Timothy by these three expressions, 'I have fought a good fight—I have finished my course—I have kept the faith.'

2. By the blessed reward he should have for his labour from Christ in another world, together with all those that love the appearing of the Lord, at 'that great and notable day.'

3. That now his last act should not be inferior to any act he did for God, while he was alive and preached in the world; for his body should now be an offering, a sacrifice well-pleasing to God. To all which I shall speak something in my discourse upon these words; and, therefore, to come to them:


In these words we have to inquire into two things. FIRST. What it is to be 'offered.' SECOND. What it is to be 'ready to be offered up.' 'I am now ready to be offered.'


FIRST. For the first of these. Paul, by saying he was 'to be offered,' alludeth to some of the sacrifices that of old were under the law; and thereby signifieth to Timothy that his death and martyrdom for the gospel should be both sweet in the nostrils of God, and of great profit to his church in this world; for so were the sacrifices of old. Paul, therefore, lifts his eyes up higher than simply to look upon death, as it is the common fate of men; and he had good reason to do it, for his death was violent; it was also for Christ, and for his church and truth; and it is usual with Paul thus to set out the suffering of the saints, which they undergo for the name and testimony of Jesus. Yea, he will have our prayers a sacrifice; our praises, thanksgiving, and mortification, sacrifices; almsdeed, and the offering up of the Gentiles, sacrifices, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost; and here his death also must be for a sacrifice, and an acceptable offering to God (Heb 13:15,16; Rom 12:1,2, 15:16).

Peter also saith, We are priests 'to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 2:5). Of which sacrifices, it seems by Paul, the death of a Christian for Jesus' sake must needs be counted one. Besides, Paul further insinuates this by some other sentences in his epistles; as by that in the epistle to the Colossians, where he saith, 'I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church' (Col 1:24). Not by way of merit, for so Christ alone, and that by once being offered himself, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:10-14). But his meaning is, that as Christ was offered in sacrifice for his church as a Saviour, so Paul would offer himself as a sacrifice for Christ's church, as a saint, as a minister, and one that was counted faithful. 'Yea,' saith he, 'and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all' (Phil 2:17). This, then, teacheth us several things worthy our consideration.

First. That the blood of the saints, that they lose for his name, is a sweet savour to God. And so saith the Holy Ghost, 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints' (Psa 116:15). And again, 'He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight' (Psa 72:14).

Second. Those that suffer for Christ are of great benefit to his church, as the sacrifices of old were confirming and strengthening to Israel; wherefore Paul saith, his bonds encouraged his brethren, and made them much more bold in the way of God to speak his word without fear (Phil 1:14).

Third. The sufferings, or offering of the saints in sacrifice, it is of great use and advantage to the gospel; of use, I say, many ways. (1.) The blood of the saints defends it; (2.) confirmeth it; and (3.) redeemeth that thereof that hath been lost in antichristian darkness.

1. They do thereby defend and preserve it from those that would take it from us, or from those that would impose another upon us. 'I am set,' saith Paul, 'for the defence of the gospel,' and my sufferings have fallen out for the furtherance of it (Phil 1:17). That is, it hath not only continued to hold its ground, but hath also got more by my contentions, sufferings, and hazards for it.

2. It confirms it; and this is part of the meaning of Paul in those large relations of his sufferings for Christ, saying, 'Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool, I am more—in prisons more frequent,' &c.; as he saith again, and these things 'I do for the gospel's sake.' And again, That the truth of the 'gospel might be continued with you.' So again, 'I suffer,' saith he, in the gospel 'as an evil-doer even unto bonds, but the word of God is not bound; yea,' saith he, 'therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake' (2 Tim 2:9,10). That is, that the gospel may be preserved entire, that the souls that are yet unborn may have the benefit of it, with eternal glory.

3. The sufferings of the saints are of a redeeming virtue; for, by their patient enduring and losing their blood for the word, they recover the truths of God that have been buried in Antichristian rubbish, from that soil and slur that thereby hath for a long time cleaved unto them; wherefore it is said, They overcame him, the beast, 'by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death' (Rev 12:11). They overcame him; that is, they recovered the truth from under his aspersions, and delivered it from all its enemies. David saith, 'The words of the Lord are—as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times' (Psa 12:6). What is this furnace of earth but the body of the saints of God, in which the Word is tried, as by fire in persecution, yea, 'purified seven times'; that is, brought forth at last by the death of the Christians in its purity before the world. How hath the headship and lordship of Christ, with many other doctrines of God, been taken away from the Pope by the sufferings of our brethren before us? While their flesh did fry in the flames, the Word of God was cleansed, and by such means purified in these their earthen furnaces, and so delivered to us. The lamps of Gideon were then discovered when his soldiers' pitchers were broken; if our pitchers were broke for the Lord and his gospel's sake, those lamps will then be discovered that before lay hid and unseen (Judg 7:15-22). Much use might be made of this good doctrine.

Learn thus much:—

1. [Learn] The judgment that is made of our sufferings by carnal men is nothing at all to be heeded; they see not the glory that is wrapped up in our cause, nor the innocence and goodness of our conscience in our enduring of these afflictions; they judge according to the flesh, according to outward appearance. For so, indeed, we seem to lie under contempt, and to be in a disgraceful condition; but all things here are converted to another use and end. That which is contemptible when persons are guilty, is honourable when persons are clear; and that which brings shame when persons are buffeted for their faults, is thankworthy in those that endure grief, suffering wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19-22). Though to suffer for sin be the token of God's displeasure, yet to those that suffer for righteousness, it is a token of greatest favour; wherefore matter not how the world doth esteem of thee and thy present distress, that thou bearest with patience for God and his Word; but believe that those things that are both shame and dishonour to others, are glory and honour to thee (2 Thess 1:4-10). O for a man to be able to say, 'For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain' (Acts 28:20). It makes his face to shine like the face of an angel, and his lips to drop like the honey-comb (Cant 4:11).

2. We learn also from hence, the reason why some in days before us have made light of the rage of the world; but they have laughed at destruction when it cometh (Job 5:21,22). And have gone forth to meet the armed men; and with Job's war-horse, 'mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted, neither turneth he back from the sword; the quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield, he said among the trumpets, Ha, ha' (Job 39:22,25). It hath been their [God's fearers] glory to suffer for Christ; as it is said of the saints of old, 'they departed from the presence of the counsel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name' (Acts 5:41). As Paul also saith, 'most gladly I will,' mark, 'most gladly, rather glory in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me' (2 Cor 12:9,10). Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake, &c. Let those that suffer for theft and murder hang down their heads like a bulrush, and carry it like those that are going to hanging; but let those whose trials are for the Word of God know, by these very things they are dignified.

3. Learn also in this to be confident, that thy sufferings have their sound and a voice before God and men. First, Before God, to provoke him to vengeance, 'when he maketh inquisition for blood' (Psa 9:12; Gen 4:9-11). The blood of Abel cried until it brought down wrath upon Cain; and so did the blood of Christ and his apostles, till it had laid Jerusalem upon heaps. Secondly, Thy blood will also have a voice before men, and that possibly for their good. The faithful Christian, in his patient suffering, knows not what work he may do for God; who knows but thy blood may be so remembered by thy children, neighbours, and enemies, as to convince them thou wert for the truth? Yea, who knows but their thoughts of thy resolution for Christ, in thy resisting unto blood, may have so good an effect upon some, as to persuade them to close with his ways? The three children in the fiery furnace made Nebuchadnezzar cry out there was no God like theirs! Indeed, this is hard labour, but be content, the dearer thou payest for it to win the souls of others, the greater will be thy crown, when the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall appear; and in the meanwhile, thy death shall be as a sacrifice pleasing to God and his saints.


SECOND. The second thing that I would inquire into is this: What it is to be 'ready to be offered up'? Or how we should understand this word 'ready': 'I am now ready to be offered up.' Which I think may be understood three manner of ways.

First. With respect to that readiness that was continually in the heart of those that hated him, to destroy him with his doctrines; Second. Or it may be understood with respect to the readiness of this blessed apostle's mind, his being ready and willing always to embrace the cross for the word's sake; or, Third. We may very well understand it that he had done his work for God in this world, and therefore was ready to be gone.

[Readiness of enemies to destroy the apostle and his doctrine.]

First. For the first of these: The enemies of God and his truth, they never want will and malice to oppose the Word of God; they are also always so far forth in readiness to murder and slaughter the saints, as the prophet cries to Jerusalem, 'Behold the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood' (Eze 22:6), that is, they had will and malice always at hand to oppose the upright in heart. And therefore our Lord Jesus saith, 'they are they that kill the body'; he doth not say they can do it as relating to their will, and their custom, if let loose; and we may understand thereby that it is no more to them to kill the people of God, than it is to butchers to kill sheep and oxen. For though it be indeed a truth that God's hand is always safe upon the hilt of their sword, yet by them we are killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter (Psa 44:22; Rom 8:36). That is, in their desires always, as well as by their deeds, when they are let loose, as Paul's kinsman said to the captain, 'There lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with a curse,[2] that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee' (Acts 23:12,13,21). And hence it is, that by the Word they are called dragons, lions, bears, wolves, leopards, dogs, and the like; all which are beasts of prey, and delight to live by the death of others.[3] Paul therefore seeing and knowing that this readiness was in his enemies to pour out his bowels to the earth, he cried out to Timothy, saying, 'make thou full proof of thy ministry, for' I am now ready to be slain; 'I am now ready to be offered' (2 Tim 4:5,6). These words thus understood may be useful many ways.

1. To show us we live, not because of any good nature or inclination that is in our enemies towards us; for they, as to their wills, are ready to destroy us; but they are in the hand of God, in whose hand is also our times (Psa 31:15). Wherefore, though by the will of our enemies, we are always delivered to death, yet 'behold we live' (2 Cor 6:9). Therefore in this sense it may be said, 'Where is the fury of the oppressor?' It is not in his power to dispose of, therefore here it may be said again, he is not 'ready to destroy' (Isa 51:13). The cup that God's people in all ages have drank of, even the cup of affliction and persecution, it is not in the hand of the enemy, but in the hand of God; and he, not they, poureth out of the same (Psa 75:8). So that they, with all their raging waves, have banks and bounds set to them, by which they are limited within their range, as the bear is by his chain. 'Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee, the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain' (Psa 76:10; Job 38:10,11).

2. This should encourage us not to forsake the way of our Lord Jesus, when threatened by our adversaries, because they are in his chain: indeed they are ready in their wills to destroy us; but as to power and liberty to do it, that is not at all with them; who would fear to go, even by the very nose of a lion, if his chain would not suffer him to hurt us.[4] It is too much below the spirit of a Christian to fear a man that shall die (Isa 51:12,13). And they that have so done, have forgotten the Lord their Maker, who preserveth the hairs of our head (Luke 12:7). Yea, let me tell you he that so doth, he feareth to trust the Lord with his life, estate, and concernments, and chooseth rather to trust to himself, and that too out of God's way; and though such persons may lick themselves whole now, while they are fallen and senseless, they must count for these things again, and then they shall see that fear of men, and to be ashamed of Christ, will load them with no light burden. Also, it is an uncomely thing for any man in his profession to be in and out with the times; and to do this when winked at by men, that they would not do if they frowned. Do such fear God? nay, they fear the fear of men, when they should sanctify the Lord himself, and let him be their dread, and let him be their fear (Isa 8:12,13).

3. Let the readiness that is in the enemies of God to destroy, provoke thee to make ready also, as I said a little before; go out to meet the armed men; 'David ran to meet Goliath'; rub up man,[5] put on thy harness, 'put on the whole armour of God, that thou mayest be ready,' as well as thy adversaries, as blessed Paul was here, 'I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand' (1 Sam 17:46-48). But because this will fall in fittest under the second head, I shall, therefore, discourse of it there.

[The readiness IN MIND of the blessed apostle to suffer.]

Second. The second thing considered in the words is this, that to be ready might be understood with respect to the blessed apostle's mind, that was graciously brought over into a willingness to embrace the cross for the Word's sake; and thus in other places he himself expounds it. 'I am ready,' saith he, 'not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus' (Acts 21:13). That also implies as much where he saith, 'Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God' (Acts 20:24). As the enemies, then, were ready and willing in their hearts, so he was ready and willing in his. This man was like to those mighty men of Solomon, that were ready prepared for the war, and waited on the king, fit to be sent at any time upon the most sharp and pinching service (2 Chron 17:12-19). A thing fitly becoming all the saints, but chiefly those that minister in the word and doctrine. Understand the words thus, and they also teach us many things, both for conviction and for edification.

1. Here we see that a Christian's heart should be unclenched from this world; for he that is ready to be made a sacrifice for Christ and his blessed Word, he must be one that is not entangled with the affairs of this life: how else can he please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier? Thus was it with this blessed man; he was brought to God's foot with Abraham, and crucified to this world with Christ; he had passed a sentence of death upon all earthly pleasures and profits beforehand, that they might not deaden his spirit when he came to suffer for his profession (2 Tim 2:4; 2 Cor 1:8,9; Gal 2:20, 6:14).

2. This shows us the true effects of unfeigned faith and love, for they were the rise of this most blessed frame of heart; read 2 Corinthians 4:8-13, and compare it with 2 Corinthians 12:9,10; and men may talk what they will of their faith and love to the Lord Jesus, and to his holy gospel. But if they throw up their open profession of his name for fear of those that hate him, it is evident their mouths go before their hearts, and that their words are bigger than their graces. 'If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small,' and so thy faith and love (Prov 24:10). Herein is love, 'that a man lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13).

3. This shows us the true effects of a right sight and sense of the sufferings that attend the gospel; that they shall become truly profitable to those that shall bear them aright. What made he ready for? it was for sufferings; and why made he ready for them but because he saw they wrought out for him a 'far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?' (2 Cor 4:17). This made Moses also spurn at a crown and a kingdom; to look with a disdainful eye upon all the glory of Egypt. He saw the reward that was laid up in heaven for those that suffered for Christ. Therefore, 'he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ grater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible' (Heb 11:21-27). Every one cannot thus look upon the afflictions and temptations that attend the gospel; no, not every one that professeth it, as appears by their shrinking and shirking at the noise of the trumpet, and alarum to war. They can be content, as cowards in a garrison, to lie still under some smaller pieces of service, as hearing the Word, entering in, to follow with loving in word and in tongue, and the like; but to 'go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,' and to be in jeopardy every hour for the truth of the glorious gospel, that they dare not do (Heb 13:13; 1 Cor 15:30). Nay, instead of making ready with Paul to engage the dragon and his angels, they study how to evade and shun the cross of Christ; secretly rejoicing if they can but delude their conscience, and make it still and quiet, while they do yet unworthily (Rev 12:7-9).

4. By this readiness we may discern who are unfeignedly willing to find out that they may do the whole will of God; even those that are already made willing to suffer for his sake; they are still inquiring, 'Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?' not mattering nor regarding the cross and distress that attends it. 'The Holy Ghost witnesseth' to me, saith Paul, that 'in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me; but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy,' &c. (Acts 20:23,24). Counting that to see and be doing of heavenly things, will countervail all the trouble and sorrow that attends them; this therefore sharply rebuketh those that can be glad to be ignorant of the knowledge of some truths, especially of them that are persecuted; still answering those that charge them with walking irregularly, that they do but according to their light. Whereas the hearts that be full of love to the name and glory of Christ, will in quiet return and come; yea, and be glad, if they find the words of God, and will eat them with savour and sweet delight, how bitter soever they are to the belly: because of that testimony they bind us up to maintain before peoples, and nations, and kings (Rev 10:10,11). 'I am now ready to be offered.'

[Paul ready to depart, having done his work for God in this world.]

Third. The third thing to be considered in the words is this, That the apostle, by saying, 'I am now ready,' doth signify that now he had done that work that God had appointed him to do in the world. 'I am now ready,' because I have done my work; this is further manifest by the following words of the text; 'I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand'; namely, my time to depart this world. The words also that follow are much to the purpose, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course,' &c., much like that of our Lord Jesus. 'I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do' (John 17:4). Now then, put all these things together, namely, that I am to be offered a sacrifice, and for this my enemies are ready, my heart is also ready; and because I have done my work, I am therefore every way ready. This is a frame and condition that deserveth not only to stand in the Word of God for Paul's everlasting praise, but to be a provoking argument to all that read or hear thereof, to follow the same steps. I shall therefore, to help it forward, according to grace received, draw one conclusion from the words, and speak a few words to it. The conclusion is this: That it is the duty and wisdom of those that fear God so to manage their time and work that he hath allotted unto them, that they may not have part of their work to do when they should be departing the world.


This truth I might further urge from the very words of the text, they being written on purpose by Paul to stir up Timothy and all the godly to press hard after this very thing. But to pass that, and to mind you of some other scriptures that press it hard as a duty, and then to proceed to some few examples of the wise and most eminent saints. Which when I have done I shall, 1. Show you reason for it. 2. Give you encouragement to it. 3. Press it with several motives. 4. Make some use and application of the whole, and so conclude.

That this is the duty and wisdom of those that fear God, you may see by Christ's exhortation to watchfulness, and to prepare for his second coming; 'Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh' (Matt 24:44). These words, as they are spoken to stir up the godly to be ready to meet their Lord at his coming, so because the godly must meet him as well in his judgments and providences here, as at his personal appearing at the last day; therefore they should be diligent to be fitting themselves to meet him in all such dispensations. 'And because,' saith God, 'I will do this unto thee; prepare to meet thy God, O Israel' (Amos 4:12). Now death is one of the most certain of those dispensations; yea, and such, that it leaveth to those no help at all, or means to perform for ever, that which, shouldst thou want it, that is lacking to thy work. Wherefore Solomon also doth press us to this very work, and that from this consideration, 'whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest' (Eccl 9:10). Baulk nothing of thy duty, neither defer to do it; for thou art in thy way to thy grave, and there thou canst not finish ought that by neglect thou leavest undone; therefore be diligent while life lasts.[6]

Another scripture is that in Peter's epistle to those that were scattered abroad. 'Seeing,' saith he, 'that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace,' &c. (2 Peter 3:14). He is there discoursing of the coming of Christ to judgment, as Christ also was in the other; and from the certainty and dread of that day he doth press them on to a continual diligence, and is to be understood as that of Paul to Timothy, a diligent watching in all things, that as he saith again, they may stand complete in all the will of God, not lacking this or that of that work which was given them to do of God and this world (2 Tim 4:5). Much might be said for the further proof of this duty; but to give you some examples of the godly men of old, whereby it will appear, that as it is our duty to do it so it is also our wisdom. And hence,

It is said of Enoch, that he 'walked with God' (Gen 5:22), and of Noah, that he was faithful in his generation, and also 'walked with God' (Gen 6:9). That is, they kept touch[7] with him, still keeping up to the work and duty that every day required; not doing their duty by fits and by starts, but in a fervent spirit they served the Lord. So again it is said of Abraham, that his work was to walk before God in a way of faith and self-denial, which he with diligence performed. And therefore the Holy Ghost saith, he 'died in a good old age' (Gen 25:8); thereby insinuating that he made both ends meet[8] together, the end of his work with the end of his days, and so came to his grave, 'in a full age, as a shock of corn cometh in in his season' (Job 5:26). Jacob also, when he blessed his sons, as he lay upon his death-bed before them, doth sweetly comfort himself with this, after all his toil and travel, saying, 'I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,'[9] as if he had said, Lord, I have faithfully walked before thee in the days of my pilgrimage, through the help and power of thy grace; and now having nothing to do but to die, I lie waiting for thy coming to gather me up to thyself and my father: so, when he 'had made an end of commanding his sons,' now his bottom was wound,[10] 'he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people' (Gen 49:18-33). Caleb and Joshua are said to be men of excellent spirit, because they were faithful in this their work (Num 14:24). David was eminent this way, and had done his work before his death-day came: 'After he had served his own generation by the will of God,' then he 'fell on sleep' (Acts 13:36). Which in the Old Testament is signified by three passages, 1. By his losing his heat before his death, thereby showing his work for God was done, he now only waited to die. 2. By that passage, 'these are the last words of David,' even the wind up of all the doctrines of that sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam 23:1,2). 3. That in the Psalms is very significant, 'The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended' (Psa 72:20). In the whole, they all do doubtless speak forth this in the main, that David made great conscience of walking with God, by labouring to drive his work before him, that his work and life might meet together: for that indeed is a good man's wisdom. Job had great conscience also as to this very thing, as witness both God's testimony and his own conscience for him (Job 1:8, 31). Elijah had brought his work to that issue that he had but to anoint Hazael to be king of Assyria, Jehu to be king of Israel, and Elisha prophet in his room, and then to be caught up into heaven (1 Kings 19:15,16). What shall I say? I might come to Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, Josias; with old Simeon also, whose days were lengthened chiefly, not because he was behind with God and his conscience as to his work for God in the world, but to see with his eyes now at last the Lord's Christ: a sweet forefitting for death! Zacharias, with Elizabeth his wife, that good old couple also, how tender and doubtful were they in this matter, to walk 'in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord,' in a blessed blameless way! (Luke 1:6, 2:25). Their son also is not to be left out, who rather than he would be put out of his way, and hindered from fulfilling his course, would venture the loss of the love of a king, and the loss of his head for a word (Mark 6:17,18). All these, with many more, are as so many mighty arguments for the praise of that I asserted before, to wit, that it is the duty and wisdom of those that fear God, so to manage their time and work, that he hath here allotted unto them, that they may not have part of their work to do when they should be departing this world. I might urge also many reasons to enforce this truth upon you, as,

[Reasons to enforce this duty.]

First. Otherwise, the great and chief design of God in sending us into the world, especially in converting us and possessing our souls with gifts and graces, and many other benefits, that we might here be to the glory of his grace, is as much as in us lies, frustrate and disappointed. 'This people have I formed for myself,' saith he, 'they shall show forth my praise' (Isa 43:21): and so again, 'ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain' (John 15:16). God never intended, when he covered thy nakedness with the righteousness of his dear Son, and delivered thee from the condemning power of sin and the law, that thou shouldst still live as do those who know not God. 'This I say therefore,' saith Paul, 'and testify in the Lord; that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles, in the vanity of their mind' (Eph 4:17). What, a Christian, and live as does the world? (John 17:16). A Christian, and spend thy time, thy strength, and parts, for things that perish in the using? Remember, man, if the grace of God hath taken hold of thy soul, thou art a man of another world, and indeed a subject of another and more noble kingdom, the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of the gospel, of grace, of faith and righteousness, and the kingdom of heaven hereafter (Rom 14:16-18). In these things thou shouldst exercise thyself; not making heavenly things which God hath bestowed upon thee to stoop to things that are of the world, but rather here beat down thy body, mortify thy members; hoist up thy mind to the things that are above, and practically hold forth before all the world that blessed word of life (1 Cor 9:26,27). This, I say, is God's design; this is the tendency, the natural tendency of every grace of God bestowed upon thee: and herein is our Father glorified, that we bring forth much fruit (Col 3:1-4; John 15:8).

Second. A second reason why Christians should so manage their time and the work that God hath appointed them to do for his name in this world, that they may not have part thereof to do when they should be departing this world, it is because, if they do not, dying will be a hard work with them especially if God awakeneth them about their neglect of their duty (1 Cor 11:30-32). The way of God with his people is to visit their sins in this life; and the worst time for thee to be visited for them, is when thy life is smitten down, as it were to the dust of death, even when all natural infirmities break in like a flood upon thee, sickness, fainting, pains, wearisomeness, and the like; now I say, to be charged also with the neglect of duty, when in no capacity to do it; yea, perhaps so feeble, as scarce able to abide to hear thy dearest friend in this life speak to thee; will not this make dying hard. Yea, when thou shalt seem both in thine own eyes, as also in the eyes of others, to fall short of the kingdom of heaven for this and the other transgression, will not this make dying hard? (Heb 4:1,2). David found it hard, when he cried, 'O spare me' a little, 'that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more' (Psa 39:13). David at this time was chastened for some iniquity; yea, brought for his folly to the doors of the shadow of death. But here he could not enter without great distress of mind; wherefore he cries out for respite and time to do the will of God, and the work allotted to him. So again, 'The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow: then called I upon the name of the Lord.' Ay, this will make thee cry, though thou be as good as David! Wherefore learn by his sorrow, as he himself also learned, at last, to serve his own generation by the will of God, before he fell asleep. God can tell how to pardon thy sins, and yet make them such a bitter thing, and so heavy a burden to thee, that thou wouldst not, if thou wast but once distressed with it, come there again for all this world, Ah! it is easy with him to have this pardon in his bosom, when yet he is breaking all thy bones, and pouring out thy gall upon the ground; yea, to show himself then unto thee in so dreadful a majesty, that heaven and earth shall seem to thee to tremble at his presence! Let then the thoughts of this prevail with thee, as a reason of great weight to provoke thee to study to manage thy time and work in wisdom while thou art well.[11]

Third. Another reason, why those that fear God should so manage their time and work for God in this world, that they may not have part to do when they should be departing this life, it is, because loitering in thy work doth, as much as in it lieth, defer and hold back the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. One thing, amongst many, that letteth[12] the appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven, is, that his body, with the several members thereof, are not yet complete and full; they are not all yet come to the knowledge of the Son of God, 'to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph 4:8-13); that is, to the complete making up of his body; for as Peter saith, 'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9). And so also to the complete performance of all their duty and work they have for God in this world. And I say, the faster the work of conversion, repentance, faith, self-denial, and the rest of the Christian duties, are performed by the saints in their day, the more they make way for the coming of the Lord from heaven. Wherefore Peter saith again, 'Seeing then that' we look for such things, 'what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hasting unto,' or, as it is in the margin, 'hasting the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat' (2 Peter 3:11,12). When the bride hath made herself ready, 'the marriage of the Lamb is come' (Rev 19:7). That is, the Lord will then wait upon the world no longer, when his saints are fit to receive him. As he said to Lot when he came to burn down Sodom, 'Haste thee' to Zoar, 'for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither' (Gen 19:20-22). So concerning the great day of judgment to the world, which shall be also the day of blessedness and rest to the people of God, it cannot come until the Lamb's wife hath made herself ready; until all the saints that belong to glory are ready. And before I go further, what might I yet say to fasten this reason upon the truly gracious soul? What! wilt thou yet loiter in the work of thy day? wilt thou still be unwilling to hasten righteousness? dost thou not know that thou by so doing deferrest the coming of thy dearest Lord? Besides, that is the day of his glory, the day when he shall come in the glory of his Father and of the holy angels; and wilt not thou by thy diligence help it forwards? Must also the general assembly and church of the first-born wait upon thee for their full portions of glory? Wilt thou by thus doing endeavour to keep them wrapt up still in the dust of the earth, there to dwell with the worm and corruption? The Lord awaken thee, that thou mayst see thy loitering doth do this, and doth also hinder thy own soul of the inheritance prepared for thee.[13]

4. Another reason why saints should press hard after a complete performing their work that God hath allotted unto them is, because, so far forth as they fall short, in that they impair their own glory. For as the Lord hath commanded his people to work for him in this world, so also he of grace hath promised to reward whatever they Christianly do. For whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bound or free. Yea, he counts it unrighteousness to forget their work of faith and labour of love, but a righteous thing to recompense them for it in the day of our Lord Jesus (Heb 6:10; 2 Thess 1:6,7). This, well considered, is of great force to prevail with those that are covetous of glory, such as Moses and Paul, with the rest of that spirit. As the apostle saith also to the saints at Corinth, 'Be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord' (1 Cor 15:50).

Having thus given you the reasons why God's people should be diligent in that work that God hath allotted for them to be doing for him in this world, I shall, in the next place, give you some directions, as helps to further you in this work. And they are such as tend to take away those hindrances that come upon thee, either by discouragement, or by reason of hardness and benumbedness of spirit; for great hindrances overtake God's people from both these impediments.

[Directions, as helps to further in this work.]

First. If thou wouldst be faithful to do that work that God hath allotted thee to do in this world for his name, labour to live much in the favour and sense of thy freedom and liberty by Jesus Christ; that is, keep this, if possible, ever before thee, that thou art a redeemed one, taken out of this world, and from under the curse of the law, out of the power of the devil, &c., and placed in a kingdom of grace, and forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake. This is of absolute use in this matter; yea, so absolute, that it is impossible for any Christian to do his word Christianly without some enjoyment of it. For this, in the 1st of Luke, is made the very ground of all good works, both as to their nature and our continuance in them; and is also reckoned there an essential part of that covenant that God made with our fathers; even 'that he would grant unto us that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, before him all the days of our life' (Luke 1:74,75). And indeed, take this away, and what ground can there be laid for any man to persevere in good works? None at all. For take away grace and remission of sins for Christ's sake, and you leave men nothing to help them but the terrors of the law and judgment of God, which, at best, can beget but a servile and slavish spirit in that man in whom it dwells; which spirit is so far off from being an help to us in our pursuit of good works, that it makes us we cannot endure that which is commanded, but, Israel-like, it flieth from God even as from the face of a serpent (Heb 12:20; Exo 19). As Solomon saith, 'A servant will not be corrected by words, for, though he understand, he will not answer' (Prov 29:19). Get thou then thy soul possessed with the spirit of the Son, and believe thou art set perfectly free by him from whatsoever thou by sin hast deserved at the hand of revenging justice. This doctrine unlooseth thy bands, takes off thy yoke, and lets thee go upright. This doctrine puts spiritual and heavenly inclinations into thy soul; and the faith of this truth doth show thee that God hath so surprised thee, and gone beyond thee, with his blessed and everlasting love, that thou canst not but reckon thyself his debtor for ever. 'Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh' (Rom 8:12). That argument of Paul to Philemon is here true in the highest degree, thou owest to God for his grace to thee, 'even thine own self besides' (Phile 19). This Paul further testifies, both in the 6th and 7th of the Romans. In the one he saith, we are 'free from sin'; in the other he saith, we are 'dead to the law,' that our fruit might be unto holiness: that we might 'bring forth fruit unto God' (Rom 6:22, 7:4). For, as I said, if either thy ungodly lusts, or the power and force of the law, have dominion over thy spirit, thou art not in a condition now to be performing thy work to God in this world. I have heretofore marvelled at the quarrelsome spirit that possessed the people that Malachi speaketh of, how they found fault with, in a manner, all things that were commanded them to do; but I have since observed their ungodly disposition was grounded upon this, their doubting of the love of God, 'Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?' (Mal 1:2). And, indeed, if people once say to God, by way of doubt, 'Wherein hast thou loved us?' no marvel though that people be like those in Malachi's time, a discontented, a murmuring, backward people about everything that is good. Read that whole book of Malachi.

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