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Light for Them that Sit in Darkness
by John Bunyan
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Second. Art thou righteous? In whose judgment art thou righteous? Is it in the judgment of God, or of man? If not of God, it is no matter though all the men on earth should justify thee; thou for that art no whit the more righteous.

Third. Art thou righteous in the judgment of God? Who told thee so? or dost thou but dream thereof? Indeed, to be righteous in God's sight is that, and only that, which can secure a man from wrath to come; for 'if God justifies, who is he that condemns?' (Rom 8:33,34). And this only is the man whose desires shall be granted.

Fourth. But still, I say, the question is, How comest thou to know that thou art righteous in the judgment of God? Dost thou know by what it is that God makes a man righteous? Dost thou know where that is by or with which God makes a man righteous? and also how God doth make a man righteous with it? These are questions, in the answer of which thou must have some heavenly skill, or else all that thou sayest about thy being righteous will seem without a bottom.

Fifth. Now, if thou answerest, That that which makes me righteous is the obedience of Christ to his Father's will, that this righteousness is before the throne of God, and that it is made mine by an act of God's free grace; I shall ask thee yet again,

Sixth. How camest thou to see thy need of this righteousness? And by what is this righteousness by thee applied to thyself? For this righteousness is bestowed upon those that see their need thereof. This righteousness is the refuge whereto the guilty fly for succour, that they may be sheltered from the wrath to come. Hast thou then fled, or dost thou indeed fly to it? (Heb 6:16-19).

Seventh. None flies to this righteousness for life, but those who feel the sentence of condemnation by God's law upon their conscience; and that in that extremity have sought for righteousness first elsewhere, but cannot find it in all the world.

Eighth. For man, when he findeth himself at first a sinner, doth not straightway betake himself for righteousness to God by Christ; but, in the first place, seeks it in the law on earth, by labouring to yield obedience thereto, to the end he may, when he stands before God at death and judgment, have something to commend him to him, and for the sake of which he may at least help forward his acceptance with him.

Ninth. But being wearied out of this, and if God loves him he will weary him out of it, then he looks unto heaven and cries to God for righteousness; the which God shows him in his own good time he hath reckoned to him, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Tenth. Now by this very discovery the heart is also principled with the spirit of the gospel; for the Spirit comes with the gospel down from heaven to such an one, and fills his soul with good; by which he is capacitated to bring forth fruit, true fruit, which are the fruits of righteousness imputed, and of righteousness infused, to the glory and praise of God.

Eleventh. Nor can anything but faith make a man see himself thus made righteous; for this righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, from the object of faith to the grace of faith, by the Spirit of faith. A faithless man, then, can see this no more than a blind man can see colours; nor relish this, no more than a dead man tasteth victuals. As, therefore, blind men talk of colours, and as dead men relish food, so do carnal men talk of Jesus Christ; to wit, without sense or savour; without sense of the want, or savour of the worth and goodness of him to the soul.

Twelfth. Wherefore, I say, it is of absolute necessity that with thy heart thou deal in this point, and beware of self-deceiving; for if thou fail here, thy desires will fail thee for ever: 'for the desire of the righteous,' and that only, 'must be granted.'

THE THIRD USE IS CAUTIONARY. Let me here, therefore, caution thee to beware of some things, by which else, perhaps, thou mayest deceive thyself.

First. Take heed of taking such things for grants of desires, that accidentally fall out; accidentally, I mean, as to thy desires; for it is possible that that very thing that thou desirest may come to pass in the current of providence, not as an answer of thy desires. Now, if thou takest such things for a grant of thy desires, and consequently concludest thyself a righteous man, how mayest thou be deceived? The ark of God was delivered into the hand of the Philistines, which they desired; but not for the sake of their desires, but for the sins of the children of Israel. The land of Canaan was given unto Israel, not for the sake of their desires, but for the sins of those whom God cast out before them; and to fulfil the promise that God, before they were born, had made unto their fathers (Deut 9:5,6). Israel was carried away captive out of their own land, not to fulfil the desires of their enemies, but to punish them for their transgressions. These, with many of smaller importance, and more personal, might be mentioned, to show that many things happen to us, some to our pleasing, and some to the pleasing of our enemies; which, if either we or they should count the returns of our prayer, or the fruits of our desires, and so draw conclusions of our estate to be for the future happy, because in such things we seemed to be answered of God, we might greatly swerve in our judgments, and become the greatest at self-deceiving.

Second. Or shouldest thou take it for granted that what thou enjoyest thou hast it as the fruit of thy desires; yet if the things thou boast of are things pertaining to this life, such may be granted thee as thou art considered of God as his creature, though thyself art far enough off from being a righteous man. 'Thou openest thy hand,' says the Psalmist, 'and satisfiest the desire of every living thing' (Psa 145:16). Again, 'He feeds the young ravens that cry to him; and the young lions seek their meat from God' (Psa 147:9, 104:21). Cain, Ishmael, Ahab too, had in some things their desires granted them of God (Gen 4:14,15, 21:17,18; 1 Kings 21:29). For if God will hear the desire of the beast of the field, the fishes of the sea, and of the fowls of heaven; no marvel if the wicked also may boast him of his heart's desire (Psa 10:3). Into whose hand, as he saith in another place, 'God bringeth abundantly.' Take heed, therefore, neither these things, nor the grant of them, are any signs that thou art a righteous man, or that the promise made to the righteous in granting their desires are accomplished upon thee. I think a man may say, that the men that know not God have a fuller grant, I mean generally, of their desires of temporal things, than has the child of God himself; for his portion lying in better things, his desires are answered another way.

Third. Take heed, God grants to some men their desires in anger, and to their destruction. He gave to some 'their own desire,' 'but sent leanness into their soul' (Psa 78:29, 106:15; Jer 42:22). All that God gives to the sons of men, he gives not in mercy; he gives to some an inferior, and to some a superior portion; and yet so also he answereth them in the joy of their heart. Some men's hearts are narrow upwards, and wide downwards; narrow as to God, but wide for the world; they gape for the one, but shut themselves up against the other; so as they desire they have of what they desire; 'whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure,' for that they do desire; but 'as for me,' said David, these things will not satisfy, 'I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness' (Psa 17:14,15).

I told you before, that the heart of a wicked man was widest downward, but it is not so with the righteous: therefore the portion of Jacob is not like them; God has given to him himself. The temple that Ezekiel saw in the vision was still widest upward; it spread itself toward heaven (Eze 41:7). So is the church, and so is the righteous, and so are his desires. Thy great concern, therefore, is to consider, since thou art confident that God also heareth thy desires; I say, to consider, whether he answereth thee in his anger; for if he doth so, thy desires come with a woe; therefore, I say, look to thyself. A full purse and a lean soul, is a sign of a great curse. 'He gave them their desire, but he sent leanness into their soul.' Take heed of that; many men crave by their desires, as the dropsical man craves drink; his drinking makes his belly swell big, but consumes other parts of his body. O! it is a sad grant, when the desire is granted, only to make the belly big, the estate big, the name big; when even by this bigness the soul pines, is made to dwindle, to grow lean, and to look like an anatomy.

I am persuaded that it is thus with many, who, while they were lean in estates, had fat souls; but the fattening of their estates has made their souls as to good, as lean as a rake. They cannot now breathe after God; they cannot now look to their hearts; they cannot now set watch and ward over their ways; they cannot now spare time to examine who goes out, or who comes in. They have so much their desires in things below, that they have no leisure to concern themselves with, or to look after things above; their hearts are now as fat as grease; their eyes do now too much start out, to be turned and made to look inward (Psa 119:70, 83:7). They are now become, as to their best part, like the garden of the slothful, all grown over with nettles and briars, that cover the face thereof; or, like Saul, removed from a little estate, and low condition, to much, even worse and worse. Men do not know what they do in desiring things of this life, things over and above what are necessary; they desire them, and they have them with a woe. 'Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly,' his belly is taken for his conscience (Prov 20:27). 'He shall not save of that which he desired,' to help him in an evil day (Job 20:20, 1 Tim 6:17-19).

I shall not here give my caution to the righteous, but shall reserve that for the next use. But, O! that men were as wise in judging of the answering of the desires, as they are in judging of the extravagancies of their appetites. You shall have a man even from experience reclaim himself from such an excess of eating, drinking, smoking, sleeping, talking, or pleasurable actions, as by his experience he finds is hurtful to him, and yet all this may but hurt the body, at least the body directly; but how blind, how unskilled are they in the evils that attend desires! For, like the man in the dropsy, made mention of before, they desire this world, as he doth drink, till they desire themselves quite down to hell. Look to it, therefore, and take heed; God's granting the things pertaining to this life unto thee, doth neither prove that thou art righteous, nor that he acts in mercy towards thee, by giving of thee thy desires.

THE FOURTH USE IS FOR ENCOURAGEMENT. Is it so? shall the desire of the righteous be granted? Then this should encourage them that in the first place have sought the kingdom of God and his Son's righteousness, to go on in their desires. God has given thee his Son's righteousness to justify thee; he has also, because thou art a son, sent forth the Spirit of his Son into thy heart to sanctify thee, and to help thee to cry unto him, Father, Father. Wilt thou not cry? wilt thou not desire? thy God has bidden thee 'open thy mouth wide'; he has bid thee open it wide, and promised, saying, 'And I will fill it'; and wilt thou not desire? (Psa 81:10). O! thou hast a licence, a leave, a grant to desire; wherefore be not afraid to desire great mercies of the God of heaven; this was Daniel's way, and he set others to do it too (Dan 2:18).

Object. But I am an unworthy creature.

Answ. That is true; but God gives to no man for his worthiness, nor rejects any for their sinfulness, that come to him sensible of the want and worth of mercy for them. Besides, I told thee before, that the desires of a righteous man, and the desires of his God, do jump or agree. God has a desire to thee; thou hast a desire to him (Job 14:15). God desires truth in the inward parts, and so dost thou with all thy heart (Psa 5:1-6; Hosea 6:5). God desires mercy, and to show it to the needy; that is it thou also wantest, and that which thy soul craves at his hand. Seek, man, ask, knock, and do not be discouraged; the Lord grant all thy desires. Thou sayest thou art unworthy to ask the biggest things, things spiritual and heavenly; well, will carnal things serve thee, and answer the desires of thy heart? Canst thou be content to be put off with a belly well filled, and a back well clothed? O! better I never had been born!

See, thou wilt not ask the best, and yet canst not make shift without them. Shift, no, no shift without them; I am undone without them, undone for ever and ever, sayest thou; well then desire; so I do, sayest thou. Ah! but desire with more strong desires, desire with more large desires, desire spiritual gifts, covet them earnestly, thou hast a licence too to do so (1 Cor 14:1). God bids thee do so; and I, says the apostle, 'desire that ye faint not' (Eph 3:13), that is, in the prosecution of your desires, what discouragements soever you may meet with in the way; for he hath said, 'The desire of the righteous shall be granted.'

Object. But I find it not so, says one: for though I have desired and desired, a thousand times upon my knees, for something that I want, yet I have not my desire; and indeed the consideration of this hath made me question whether I am one of those to whom the promise of granting desires is made.

Answ. To this objection many things must be replied. First. By way of question. Second. Then by way of answer.

First. By way of question; what are the things thou desirest, are they lawful or unlawful? for a Christian may desire unlawful things; as the mother of Zebedee's children did when she came to Christ, nay, her sons themselves had their hearts therein, saying, 'Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire' (Mark 10:35; Matt 20:20). They came with a wide mouth, but their desire was unlawful, as is evident, for that Christ would not grant it. James also himself caught those unto whom he wrote, in such a fault as this, where he says, 'Ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain' (James 4:2).

There are four things that are unlawful to be desired. To desire the life of thine enemy is unlawful (1 Kings 3:11; Deut 5:21). To desire anything that is thy neighbour's is unlawful. To desire to share in the prosperity of the wicked is unlawful (Psa 73:3). To desire spiritual things for evil ends is unlawful (Prov 24:1,19; James 4:2-4).

Are they lawful things which thou desirest? Yet the question is, Are they absolutely or conditionally promised? If absolutely promised, hold on in desiring; if conditionally promised, then thou must consider whether they are such as are essential to the well-being of thy soul in thy Christian course in this life. Or whether they are things that are of a more inferior sort.

If they are such as are essential to the well-being of thy soul in thy Christian course in this world, then hold on in thy desires; and look also for the conditions that that word calls for, that proffereth them to thee; and if it be not possible to find them in thyself, look for them in Christ, and cry to God for them, for the Lord's sake. But if they be of an inferior sort, and thou canst be a good Christian without them, desire them, and yet be content to go without them; for who knows but it may be better that thou shouldest be denied, than that thou shouldest have now a grant of some things thou desirest? and herein thou hast thy Lord for thy pattern; who, though he desired that his life might be prolonged, yet wound up that prayer with a 'nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done' (Matt 26:39-42; Mark 14:36).

Second. By way of answer; but we will suppose that the thing thou desirest is good; and that thy heart may be right in asking; as suppose thou desirest more grace; or as David has it, more 'truth in the inward and hidden part' (Psa 51:6). Yet there are several things for thy instruction, may be replied to thy objection, as,

1. Thou, though thou desirest more of this, mayest not yet be sensible of the worth of what thou askest, as perhaps God will have thee be, before he granteth thy desire; sometimes Christians ask for good things without having in themselves an estimate proportionable to the worth of what they desire; and God may hold it therefore back, to learn them to know better the worth and greatness of that thing they ask for. The good disciples asked they knew not what (Mark 10:38). I know they asked what was unlawful, but they were ignorant of the value of that thing; and the same may be thy fault when thou askest for things most lawful and necessary.

2. Hast thou well improved what thou hast received already? Fathers will hold back more money, when the sons have spent that profusely which they had received before. 'He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.' 'And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?' (Luke 16:10,12). See here an objection made against a further supply, or rather against such a supply as some would have, because they have misspent, or been unfaithful in what they have already had. If thou, therefore, hast been faulty here, go, humble thyself to thy friend, and beg pardon for thy faults that are past, when thou art desiring of him more grace.

3. When God gives to his the grant of their desires, he doth it so as may be best for our advantage; now there are times wherein the giving of grace may be best to our advantage; as, (1.) Just before a temptation comes, then, if it rains grace on thee from heaven, it may be most for thy advantage. This is like God's sending of plenty in Egypt just before the years of famine came. (2.) For God to restrain that which thou desirest, even till the spirit of prayer is in a manner spent, may be further to inform thee, that though prayer and desires are a duty, and such also to which the promise is made; yet God sees those imperfections in both thy prayers and desires, as would utterly bind his hands, did he not act towards thee merely from motives drawn from his own bowels and compassion, rather than from any deserving that he sees in thy prayers. Christians, even righteous men, are apt to lean too much to their own doings; and God, to wean them from them, ofttimes defers to do what they by doing expect, even until in doing their spirits are spent, and they as to doing can do no longer. When they that cried for water had cried till their spirits failed, and their tongue clave to the roof of their mouth for thirst; then the Lord did hear, and then the God of Israel did give them their desire. Also when Jonas his soul fainted under the consideration of all the evils that he had brought upon himself; then his prayer came unto God into his holy temple (Jonah 2:7; Isa 41:17,18). The righteous would be too light in asking, and would too much overprize their works, if their God should not sometimes deal in this manner with them. (3.) It is also to the advantage of the righteous, that they be kept and led in that way which will best improve grace already received, and that is, when they spin it out and use it to the utmost; when they do with it as the prophet did with that meal's meat that he ate under the juniper-tree, 'he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, even to the mount of God' (1 Kings 19:8). Or when they do as the widow did, spend upon their handful of flour in the barrel, and upon that little oil in the cruse, till God shall send more plenty (1 Kings 17:9-16). The righteous are apt to be like well fed children, too wanton, if God should not appoint them some fasting days. Or they would be apt to cast away fragments, if God should give them every day a new dish. So then God will grant the desires of the righteous in that way which will be most for their advantage. And that is, when they have made the best of the old store (1 Kings 19:4-8). If God should give us two or three harvests in a year, we should incline to feed our horse and hogs with wheat; but being as it is, we learn better to husband the matter.

By this means, we are also made to see, that there is virtue sufficient in our old store of grace to keep us with God in the way of our duty, longer than we could imagine it would. I myself have cried out I can stand no longer, hold out no longer, without a further supply of grace; and yet I have by my old grace been kept even after this, days, and weeks, and months, in a way of waiting on God. A little true grace will go a great way, yea, and do more wonders than we are aware of. If we have but grace enough to keep us groaning after God, it is not all the world that can destroy us.[19]

4. Perhaps thou mayest be mistaken. The grace thou prayest for, may in great measure be come unto thee. Thou hast been desiring of God, thou sayest, more grace; but hast it not.

But how, if whilst thou lookest for it to come to thee at one door, it should come to thee in at another? And that we may a little inquire into the truth of this, let us a little consider what are the effects of grace in its coming to the soul, and then see if it has not been coming unto thee almost ever since thou hast set upon this fresh desire after it. (1.) Grace, in the general effect of it, is to mend the soul, and to make it better disposed. Hence when it comes, it brings convincing light along with it, by which a man sees more of his baseness than at other times. More, I say, of his inward baseness. It is through the shinings of the Spirit of grace that those cobwebs and stinks that yet remain in thee are discovered: 'In thy light shall we see light.' And again, whatsoever makes manifest is light. If then thou seest thyself more vile than formerly, grace by its coming to thee has done this for thee. (2.) Grace, when it comes, breaks and crumbles the heart, in the sense and sight of its vileness. A man stands amazed and confounded in himself; breaks and falls down on his face before God; is ashamed to lift up so much as his face to God, at the sight and apprehension of how wicked he is. (3.) Grace, when it comes, shows to a man more of the holiness and patience of God; his holiness to make us wonder at his patience, and his patience to make us wonder at his mercy, that yet, even yet, such a vile one as I am, should be admitted to breathe in the land of the living, yea more, suffered to come to the throne of grace. (4.) Grace is of a heart-humbling nature: it will make a man count himself the most unworthy of anything, of all saints. It will make a man put all others afore him, and be glad too, if he may be one beloved, though least beloved, because most unworthy. It will make him with gladness accept of the lowest room, as counting all saints more worthy of exaltation than himself. (5.) Grace will make a man prize other men's graces and gracious actions above his own. As he thinks every man's candle burns brighter than his, every man improves grace better than he, every good man does more sincerely his duty than he. And if these be not some of the effects of the renewings of grace, I will confess I have taken my mark amiss. (6.) Renewings of grace beget renewed self-bemoanings, self-condemnation, self-abhorrences.

And say thou prayest for communion with, and the presence of God. God can have communion with thee, and grant thee his presence, and all this shall, instead of comforting of thee at present, more confound thee, and make thee see thy wickedness (Isa 6:1-5). Some people think they never have the presence and the renewings of God's grace upon them but when they are comforted, and when they are cheered up; when, alas! God may be richly with them, while they cry out, By these visions my sorrows are multiplied; or, because I have seen God, I shall die (Dan 10:8-17; Judg 13:22).

And tell me now, all these things considered, has not grace, even the grace of God, which thou hast so much desired, been coming to thee, and working in thee in all these hidden methods? And so doing, has it not also accommodated thee with all the aforenamed conveniences? The which when thou considerest, I know thou wouldest not be without for all the good of the world. Thus, therefore, thy desire is accomplishing; and when it is accomplished, will be sweet to thy soul (Prov 13:19).

5. But we will follow thee a little in the way of thy heart. Thou sayest thou desirest, and desirest grace, yea, hast been a thousand times upon thy knees before God for more grace, and yet thou canst not attain. I answer,

(1.) It may be the grace which thou prayest for, is worthy thy being upon thy knees yet a thousand times more. We find, that usually they that go to king's courts for preferment, are there at great expenses; yea, and wait a great while, even until they have spent their whole estates, and worn out their patience too. Yet they at last prevail, and the thing desired comes. Yea, and when it is come, it sets them up anew, and makes them better men—though they did spend all that they had to obtain it—than ever they were before. Wait, therefore, wait, I say, on the Lord (Psa 27:14). Wait therefore with David, wait patiently; bid thy soul cheer up, and wait (Psa 37:7, 62:5). 'Blessed are all they that wait for him' (Isa 30:18).

(2.) Thou must consider, that great grace is reserved for great service; thou desirest abundance of grace, thou dost well, and thou shalt have what shall qualify and fit thee for the service that God has for thee to do for him, and for his name in the world. The apostles themselves were to stay for great grace until the time of their work was come (Acts 1:4-8, 4:33). I will not allot thy service, but assure thyself, when thy desire cometh, thou wilt have occasion for it; new work, new trials, new sufferings, or something that will call for the power and virtue of all the grace thou shalt have to keep thy spirit even, and thy feet from slipping, while thou art exercised in new engagements. Assure thyself, thy God will not give thee straw, but he will expect brick: 'For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more' (Luke 12:48). Wherefore, as thou art busy in desiring more grace, be also desirous that wisdom to manage it with faithfulness may also be granted unto thee. Thou wilt say, Grace, if I had it, will do all this for me. It will, and will not. It will, if thou watch and be sober; it will not, if thou be foolish and remiss. Men of great grace may grow consumptive in grace, and idleness may turn him that wears a plush jacket into rags.[20] David was once a man of great grace, but his sin made the grace which he had to shrink up, and dwindle away, as to make him cry out, O! 'take not thy holy spirit' utterly 'from me' (Psa 51:11, 119:8). Or, perhaps God withholds what thou wouldest have, that it may be the more prized by thee when it comes: 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life' (Prov 13:12).

6. Lastly, but dost thou think that thy more grace will exempt thee from temptations? Alas! the more grace, as was hinted, the greater trials. Thou must be, for all that, like the ship of which thou readest, sometimes high, sometimes low; sometimes steady, sometimes staggering; sometimes in, and sometimes even at the end of thy very wits. For 'so he brings us to our desired haven' (Psa 107:23-30). Yet grace is the gold and preciousness of the righteous man: yea, and herein appears the uprightness of his soul, in that though all these things attend the grace of God in him, yet he chooseth grace here above all, for that it makes him the more like God and his Christ, and for that it seasons his heart best to his own content; and also for that it capacitates him to glorify God in the world.

[THE CONCLUSION.]

Is it so? Is this the sum of all, namely, That 'the fear of the wicked it shall come upon him,' and that 'the desire of the righteous shall be granted?' Then this shows us what is determined concerning both. Concerning the wicked, that all his hopes shall not bring him to heaven; and concerning the righteous, that all his fears shall not bring him to hell. But what a sad thing is it for one to be a wicked man! Nothing can help him, his wickedness is too strong for him: 'His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins' (Prov 5:22). He may twist and twine, and seek to work himself from under the sentence passed upon him; but all will do him no pleasure: 'the wicked is driven away in his wickedness. But the righteous hath hope in his death' (Prov 14:32). Loth he is to be righteous now; and as loth he will be to be found in his sins at the dreadful day of doom. But so it must be: 'Upon the wicked God shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and a horrible' burning 'tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup' (Psa 11:6).

'Woe unto the wicked' therefore: 'it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him' (Isa 3:10). The just God will recompense both the righteous and the wicked, even according to their works. And yet for all this the wicked will not hear! When I read God's Word, and see how the wicked follow their sins, yea, dance in the ways of their own destruction, it is astonishing to me. Their actions declare them, though not Atheists in principle, yet such in practice.[21] What do all their acts declare, but this, that they either know not God, or fear not what he can do unto them? But, O! how will they change their note, when they see what will become of them! How wan will they look! Yea, the hair of their heads will stand on end for fear; for their fear is their portion; nor can their fears, nor their prayers, nor their entreaties, nor their wishes, nor their repentings, help them in this day. And thus have I showed you what are the 'desires of the righteous,' and that the 'fear of the wicked shall come upon him, but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.'

FOOTNOTES:

[1] How blessed are those whose light shines so clearly as to be known and read of all men. A brand plucked from the burning bears the marks of fire, but is not consuming.—Ed.

[2] 'A very Abraham,' or an Abraham cove. Cant terms formerly applied to poor silly half-naked men, or to sturdy beggars. Thus the fraternity of Vacabondes, 1575, describes them:—'An Abraham man is he that walketh bare-armed or bare-legged, and fayneth hymselfe mad, and caryeth a packe of wool, or a stycke with baken on it, or suche lyke toy, and nameth poore Tom.' Shakespeare alludes to them under the name of Bedlam Beggars.—Ed.

[3] To possess with or of; to cause to possess or to be possessed with—

'At the port (Lord) he give her to thy hand, And by the way possesse thee what she is.' Troylus and Cressida, act 4, s. 4.

'thou hast given me to possess Life in myself for ever.' Milton's Paradise Lost, book iii, 243.

[4] Establishes our opinions, or fixes them in us. 'Our young men being principled by these new philosophers.'—Cudworth.

'A Parliament so principled will sink All ancient schools of empire in disgrace.' Dr. Young.—Ed.

[5] Where is the man, except he be a willful perverter of Divine truth, who can charge the doctrines of grace with licentiousness? All hope of election or predestination arises from conformity to the image of Christ. Vain is hope except it is founded upon redemption from the curse, to walk in newness and holiness of life; equally vain is a hope founded on the wicked assumption of man to the power of forgiveness of sin.—Ed.

[6] This is admirably illustrated by the Interpreter in the Pilgrim's Progress. He shows Christian a fire burning against the wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it to quench it, yet did the fire burn higher and hotter. Christian wonders until he is taken behind the wall, and sees Christ secretly pouring the oil of grace into the fire. Before Bunyan had been behind the wall, he was scared by the father of lies, who suggested to him—'You are very hot for mercy, but I will cool you, though I be seven years in chilling your heart.' Grace Abounding, No. 118.—Ed.

[7] As we escape a thousand bodily dangers unseen and unknown to us in time, so, doubtless, acts of grace pass through the soul without our being sensible of them, although they may be the means of saving us from severe tribulations. How wondrous will be the review of our lives when we shall see face to face, and know all things.—Ed.

[8] However disgusting the appearance of a toad may be, this is not the first time that Bunyan considered sin as rendering its slave more loathsome even than a toad. 'Now I blessed,' said he, 'the condition of the dog and the toad, and counted the state of everything that God had made far better than this state of mine.' Grace Abounding, No. 104.—Ed.

[9] 'This inward conflict between opposing principles constitutes the very distinction between the regenerate and the unregenerate, and forms part of the recorded experience of the most advanced, and elevated, and spiritually-minded believers. Freedom from this conflict is not to be expected here by any child of God.'—Dr. Wardlaw.

[10] This is one of the very few instances, if not the only one, in which Bunyan's attachment to believers' baptism appears, except when writing expressly upon the subject. Of all men, he was the most eminent for non-sectarian feelings, arising from his soul being so baptized into Christ as to leave no room for controversy upon ceremonial observances. I feel bound to confirm the truth of his observation, for if ever I enjoyed a heaven upon earth, it was on the Lord's day morning, when, publicly professing my faith in the Redeemer, I was solemnly baptized. Nor have I ever witnessed this ceremony since without the strongest emotions of love, and joy, and hope.—Ed.

[11] Church fellowship, rightly managed, abounds with blessings, when the bishops or elders and the people are united in gospel bonds to promote each other's peace and holy enjoyments—their great happiness being to extend the benign influence of the Redeemer's kingdom. Let Watchful be the porter; Discretion admit the members; Prudence take the oversight; Piety conduct the worship; and Charity endear the members to each other, and it is a house 'beautiful.' 'Christians are like the several flowers in a garden; they have upon each of them the dew of heaven, which, being shaken, they let fall at each other's roots, and are jointly nourished and nourishers of each other.' Bunyan's Pilgrim and Christian Behaviour.—Ed.

[12] Blessed be God the sword is for the present sheathed. Marvellous was the indomitable courage of the martyrs under papacy, and, in a later day, of the Scottish Covenanters. They saw their friends and ministers tortured and murdered—the pain of the boots must have been inconceivable—the bones of their legs were crushed between pieces of iron, and, even when death had released the victim, savage barbarity was practised upon his mutilated remains; the head and hands were cut off and exhibited upon a pike, the hands fixed as in the attitude of prayer, to mock the holiest duty. Can we wonder that lambs became lions, overthrew the horrid enemy, and drove out State Episcopacy for ever?—Ed.

[13] The noise made by animals of the stag or hart species is called, by Goldsmith, bellowing. It strikes the ear as something beneath the dignity of a hart to bray like an ass. Bunyan found the word in the margin of Psalm 42:1, 'The hart panteth.' Heb. 'Brayeth, after the water brooks.'—Ed.

[14] Saffron was formerly cultivated near Bunyan's residence, but, although sold at a very high price, it scarcely paid for its expense. In the flowering season, it was needful to gather the flowers every morning as they came to perfection.—Ed.

[15] The Israelites entered the wilderness fourteen hundred and ninety-one years before Christ. The prophecy of Jeremiah was delivered six hundred and twenty-nine years before Christ. This remembrance was eight hundred and sixty-two years after that memorable event. With God there can be no forgetfulness; a thousand years in his sight are but as yesterday.—Ed.

[16] How striking the contrast, but yet how true! A whip, whose cords were made of the flames of hell, could no more arouse a sinner dead in trespass and sins than a crown of glory could allure him. With all the dread realities of the world to come pressed upon the conscience by a faithful minister, still, alas! how many maintain their downward course. The duty is ours to prophesy upon the dry bones. God and his gracious Spirit alone can raise them up to holy, happy enjoyments.—Ed.

[17] This language is as expressive and original as it is like Bunyan. Death takes the sinner by the throat, and 'hands him down stairs to the grave.' The indulgence in any sinful propensity has this downward, deathly tendency. Every lust, whether for riches or honours, for gambling, wine, or women, leads the deluded wretched votary step by step to the chambers of death. There is no hope in the dread prospect; trouble and anguish possess the spirit. Hast thou escaped, O my soul, from the net of the infernal fowler? Never forget that it is as a brand snatched from the burning. O to grace how great a debtor.—Ed.

[18] It is not usual to call the rich young man a hypocrite. To outward appearance he was in earnest. Negatively, he had kept the commandments. Now he is required to perform positive duties, and to live by faith. Here the mask falls off, and he concludes that eternal life is not worth the sacrifice.—Ed.

[19] We have here an additional section to the Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. The result of long experience convinced him that if he possessed a spark of grace which impelled him to groan after God, all the powers of earth and hell could not destroy him.—Ed.

[20] As it is in temporal things, so it is in spiritual. If new discoveries of Divine love lead to want of watchfulness, trial and sorrow must ensue. About sixty years ago a next door neighbour, a hatter, gained a prize in the lottery of ten thousand pounds—he became intoxicated with his wealth, moved to the fashionable end of London, went into a large way of business, dissipated his fortune, and died in a workhouse! Christian, if you have unexpected enjoyments, be watchful; it is to fit you for trials.—Ed.

[21] This is one of the most decisive proofs of the awfully degraded state of human nature. Men believe, or pretend to believe, that this life is but a span in companions with eternity—that there is a heaven to reward the righteous and a hell to receive the unconverted sinner; and yet make no personal inquiry at the holy oracles of God whether they have been born again to newness of life, or whether they remain in their sins. The great mass of mankind prefer paying their pence to a priest to mislead them to destruction, than to trouble themselves with God's holy Word. O for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that men may be released from such bondage and slavery, and enter upon the happy glorious liberty of the sons of God.—Ed.

THE END

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