Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Churches,' saith Paul, · heard concerning me, that he who persecuted them in time past, now preached the faith he once de. stroyed, they glorified God in me.' Gal. i. 20.

“ There are two things that great sinners are acquainted with, which, when they come to divulge them, are a great relief to the faith of the saints :

“ The contests they usually have with the devil at their part. ing with him, and their knowledge of his secrets. Satan is loath to part with a great sinner. • What,' quoth he, my old servant forsake me now! Thou horrible wretch-dost not know that thou hast sinned thyself beyond the reach of mercy ? Dost thou think that Christ will foul his fingers with thee? It is enough to make angels blush, to see so vile a one knocking at heaven's gate ; and wilt thou be so abominably bold as to do it?'. Thus Satan dealt with me,' says the great sinner,

when at first he came to Christ.' * And what did you reply ?' saith the tempted. Why, I granted the whole charge to be true,' saith the other. • And what did you do ?- Despair, or not ? •No.' Thus as I told you, such a one is a continual spectacle in the Church, for every one to wonder and behold God's grace by. The angels came down to behold this sight, and rejoice to see a bit of dust and ashes overcome principalities and powers of darkness.

“6. Because such sinners when converted are apt to love Christ most. This agrees with both scripture and reason. To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much.' Luke vii. 47. And Reason says, it would be the unreasonablest thing in the world to render hatred for love. •I laboured more for Christ than them all,' says Paul, But Paul, what moved thee thus to do? • The love of Christ,' saith he. Hell doth know I was a sinner of the greatest size ; Heaven doth know it; the world doth know it! But I obtained mercy. I am under the force of Love, strong as death. Can the waters quench it, or the floods drown it ? Hence this is my continu. al cry, • What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?' Ay, Paul, this is something. Thou speakest like a man affected and carried away by the love and grace of God. Christ might have converted twenty little sinners, and yet not found in them all so much love for grace bestowed. I wonder how far a man might go among converted sinners of a smaller size, before he could find one that so much as looks any thing like this! Excepting only some few, you may walk to the world's end, and find none. Jesus Christ, therefore, knows what he

grace shine.

have to say,

does, when he lays hold on the hearts of sinners of the biggest size. He, alas, gets but little thanks for saving little sinners. He gets not water for his feet, from them. There are many dry-eyed Christians in the world, and abundance of dryeyed duties : duties never wetted by the tears of repentance, nor sweetened with the ointment of the alabaster-box.

7. Christ would save the worst first, because Grace when it is received by them shines in them. Like dry wood, or great candles, they burn best, and shine with the brightest light. I lay this down, to show that Christ has a delight to see

It was of idolatrous Ephraim, and backsliding Judah, that it was said, The Lord their God shall save them as the flock of his people ; for they shall be as the stones of a Crown lift up as an ensign in the land.' Zech. ix. 16.

“ 8. Because by that means, the Impenitent will be left without excuse at the day of judgment. God's sword hath two edges : it can cut back-stroke and fore-stroke. If it do thee no good, it will do thee hurt. It is the savour of life unto life, or the savour of death unto death. The condemned will not

• Thou wast only for saving little sinners, there. fore I died in despair.' There will be millions of souls to rise up at the Judgment-seat, to confute that plea. Alas, alas, what will those sinners do that through UNBELIEF, eclipsed the glorious largeness of the mercy of God, and gave way to de. spair of salvation because of the bigness of their sins ? What will cut like this ?— All in Heaven or saved by faith, and I am damned by unbelief! Wretch that I am, why did I not give glory to the redeeming blood of Jesus? Why did I not humbly cast my soul at His feet for mercy? Why did I judge of His ability to save me, by the voice of my shallow reason ?' This will tear the Impenitent, that they missed mercy and glory, and obtained everlasting condemnation through their unbelief. They were damned for forsaking what they had a sort of property in-for forsaking their own mercies !'

66 Thus much for the Reasons. I conclude with a word of Application. All this shows us how to make a right judgment of the heart of Christ; and also of the heart of Him who sent him. There is nothing more common, to men that are awake in their souls, than wrong thoughts of God, which pinch and pen up his mercy to scanty and beggarly conclusions and rigid legal conditions ; supposing it a rude intrenching upon his Majesty to come ourselves, or to invite others, until we have scraped, and rubbed, and washed ourselves somewhat orderly

ners.

and handsome in His sight. Such never knew what • Begin at Jerusalem,' meant. Such in their heart, compare the Fa. ther and the Son to niggardly rich men, whose money comes from them like drops of blood. Judge, then, the sufficiency of the merits of Christ. It is not a little that will save great sin.

It is
upon

the
square,

of the worthiness of the blood of Christ, that Grace acts in pardoning.

“ Wherefore, Sinner, be ruled by me in this matter : feign not thyself another man, if thou hast been a vile sinner. Go in thy own colours to Jesus Christ. Put thyself amongst the most vile, and let Him alone to put thee among the children. Thou art as it were called by name to come in for mercy. Thou man of JERUSALEM hearken to thy call! Men in courts of Judicature do so, and shoulder through the crowd, saying, • Pray give way, I am called into the court.' Why then standest thou still ? • Begin at Jerusalem,' is thy call and au. thority to come. Wherefore, up Man, and shoulder it! Say, • Stand aside Devil, Christ calls me! Stand away Unbelief, Christ calls me! Stand away all my discouraging apprehen. sions, for my Saviour calls me to him to receive mercy! Men will do thus in courts below. Why not thus approach the Court above? Christ, as he sits on the Throne of Grace, pointeth over the heads of thousands, directly to such a man, and says, Come. Wherefore, since He says, Come,- let the ANGELS make a lane, and all men make room, that the Jerusa. lem sinner may come to Christ for mercy!"

Thus Bunyan preached Grace. To Law also, he did equal justice, as we shall see in his Moral Philosophy.

[blocks in formation]

So much of Bunyan's ministerial life was spent in prison and he is so much a Barnabas in the Works which are well known to the public, that he is seldom thought of as a Boanerges. He was, however, “a son of thunder," at his outset in the ministry ; and, to the last, often shook and enshrined this world with the thunders and lightnings of the next world. This part of his work he fulfilled with what he calls, “ great sense ;' meaning a deep sense of the solemnity of eternal things. One who knew him well, and who wrote an elegy on his death, says of him,

“When for conviction on the Law he fell,

You'd think you heard the Damned's groans in hell ;
And then, almost at every word he spake,
Men's lips would quiver, and their hearts would ache !"

Works, p. 1476.

He himself also sang the power of his awful appeals, when he reviewed it in prison.

“ And now those very hearts that then,

Were foes unto the Lord,
Embrace his Christ and Truth, like men,
Conquered by His sword.
I hear them sigh, and groan, and cry
For grace, to God above;
They loathe their sin, and to it die:
'T is Holiness they love."

Prison Thoughts.

No wonder he said indignantly, of his persecutors, when they stopped his preaching,

“ This was the work I was about

When hands on me were laid ;
'T was this from which they plucked me out,
And vilely to me said,

You Heretic, Deceiver, come,
To prison you must go!
You preach abroad, and keep not home;
You are the Church's foe."

Prison Thoughts.

many souls

Warning men to flee from the wrath to come, was not com. mon in the Restoration church then. It warned them more againt the Conventicle, than against Hell. This was one reason why Bunyan wielded “the terrors of the Lord” so frequently in his preaching. He made the Priests as well as the people tremble, along the whole line of his Itineracies : for it was no uncommon thing with him to ask publicly, from town to town, and from village to village,—“How many poor souls hath BONNER to answer for, think you? How have blind Priests been the means of destroying, by preaching thus for filthy lucre's sake, what was no better for the soul than rats-bane for the body ? Many of them, it is to be feared, will have whole Towns to answer for-yea, whole Cities to answer for! Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou hast taken in hand to preach—thou knowest not what. Will it not grieve thee to see thy whole Parish come bellowing after thee to Hell, crying out,— This we may thank thee for! Thou wast afraid to tell us of our sins, lest we should not put meat enough into thy mouth. O, cursed wretch, that ever thou shouldst be. guile us thus,—deceive us thus,-fatter us thus ! We would have gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and tell us that (such preaching) was deceivable doctrine. Blind guide that thou wert, thou wast not contented to fall into the ditch thyself, but hast led us thither with thee !' Look to thyself, I say, lest (like Dives) thou cry when it is too late, Send Lazarus to my congregation, whom I beguiled through my folly. Send him to the town where I preached last, lest I be the cause of their damnation. O send him-and let him tell them, and testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'”—Works, p. 2060.

This was one of the thunder-claps which Bunyan made to peal round all the district between Cambridge and Oxford. Who then can wonder, that time-serving Priests both dreaded and hated him ? Such an attack would madden such Priests still, whether out of the Church or in it. And there are such Priests both in it, and out of it! Can it be literally true, that WILBERFORCE advised a friend of his to keep to the Church, although the Gospel was not preached by the Clergymen; as

« PoprzedniaDalej »