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we should punish with blows or penalties of any kind, the fellow creatures who differ from us, or because they differ from us, in their religious worship? Let us hope that the time is hastening, when that zeal divorced from love, which has produced such incalculable misery on earth, shall be banished from all human hearts, and its place for ever supplied by the charity of the gospel. Out of God's holy word, I know of no brighter example of that charity on record, than John Bunyan.
In the Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Bunyan published what he names, A Brief Account of the Author's Call to the Work of the Ministry. It is one of the most interesting and instructive portions of that remarkable work, showing the deep exercises of his soul for others in as vivid a light as the account of his conversion sheds
his personal spiritual experience. We venture to say that there was never in the world, since the time of the apostle Paul, a more remarkable instance of a wrestling spirit in behalf of others. And this it was, that by the blessing of God, made his preaching efficacious; it was the deep, powerful, soulstirring intensity of interest, with which he entered into it himself, preparing himself for it by fervent prayer, and following his own sermons with a restless importunity of supplication for the divine blesssing. “In my preaching,” he tells us himself, “I have really been in pain, and have, as it were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied, unless some fruits did appear in my work. If it were fruitless, it mattered not who commended me; but if I were fruitful, I cared not
who did condemn. I have thought of that word, Lo! children are an heritage of the Lord ; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hands of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
“It pleased me nothing to see a people drink in my opinions, if they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ and the worth of their own salvation; sound conviction of sin, especially of unbelief, and an heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathings after a truly sanctified soul, that it was that delighted me; those were the souls I counted blessed."
“ If any of those who were awakened by my ministry, did after that fall back, (as sometimes too many did,) I can truly say their loss hath been more to me, than if my own children, begotten of my own body, had been going to the grave. I think verily I may speak it without any offence to the Lord, nothing has gone so near me as that; unless it was the fear of the loss of the salvation of my own soul. I have counted as if I had goodly buildings and lordships in those places where my children were born. My heart hath been so wrapped up in the glory of this excellent work, that I counted myself more blessed and honored of God by this, than if he had made me emperor of the Christian world, or the lord of all the glory of the earth without it! Oh these words! He that converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, doth save a soul from death. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life ; and he
that winneth souls is wise. They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. For what is our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing? Are not ye even in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy. These, I say, with many others of a like nature, have been great refreshments to me."
Not only before and after preaching was Bunyan accustomed to cry mightily to God for an effectual blessing, but also while he was in the exercise, for every word that he spake sprang out of an earnest desire by all means to save some.
“When I have been preaching, I thank God my heart hath often all the time of this and the other exercise, with great earnestness cried to God that he would make the word effectual to the salvation of the soul; still being grieved lest the enemy should take the word away from the conscience, and so it should become unfruitful ; wherefore I should labor so to speak the word, as that thereby, if it were possible, the sin and
person guilty might be particularized by it." “ Also, when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart to think the word should now fall as rain on stony places ; still wishing from my heart, Oh that they who have heard me speak this day did but see as I do, what sin, death, hell and the curse of God is; and also, what the grace and love and mercy of God is, through Christ, to men in such a case as they are, who are yet estranged from him. And indeed, I did often say in my heart before the Lord, that if to be hanged up presently before their eyes would be a means to awaken them,
and confirm them in the truth, I should gladly be contented."
Justification by faith was Bunyan's great delight in preaching, as it was Luther's; and he had gone through a depth and power of experience in learning personally the nature of this doctrine, remarkably similar to the fiery discipline of Luther's own soul in coming to it. Hence it is not wonderful that there should be a striking similarity between Bunyan's style, thoughts and expressions in preaching, and those of the great Reformer. For example, the following passages from his “Heavenly Footman” are such as might have been written down from Luther's own lips:
They that will go to heaven must run for it; because, as the way is long, so the time in which they are to get to the end of it is very uncertain ; the time present is the only time; thou hast no more time allotted thee than that thou now enjoyest : · Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Do not say, I have time enough to get to heaven seven years hence; for I tell thee, the bell may toll for thee before seven days more be ended ; and when death comes, away thou must go, whether thou art provided or not; and therefore look to it; make no delays; it is not good dallying with things of so great concernment as the salvation or damnation of thy soul. You know he that hath a great way to go in a little time, and less by half than he thinks of, he had need to run for it.
“They that will have heaven must run for it; because the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, follow them. There is never a poor soul that is going to heaven, but the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, make after that soul. The devil your adversary, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.' And I will assure you, the devil is nimble, he can run apace, he is light of foot, he hath overtaken many, he hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. Also the law, that can shoot a great way, have a care thou keep out of the reach of those
great guns, the ten commandments. Hell also hath a wide mouth; it can stretch itself farther than you are aware of. And as the angel said to Lot, " Take heed, look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain, (that is, any where between this and heaven,) lest thou be consumed ;'so say I to thee, Take heed, tarry not, lest either the devil, hell, death, or the fearful curses of the law of God, do overtake thee, and throw thee down in the midst of thy sins, so as never to rise and recover again. If this were well considered, then thou, as well as I, wouldst say, They that will have heaven must run for it.
They that will go to heaven must run for it; because, perchance, the gates of heaven may shut shortly. Sometimes sinners have not heaven's gates open to them so long as they suppose ; and if they be once shut against a man, they are so heavy, that all the men in the world, nor all the angels in heaven, are not able to open them. I shut, and no man can open,' saith Christ. And how if thou shouldst come but one quarter of an hour too late ? I tell thee, it will cost thee an eternity to bewail thy misery in. Francis Spira can tell thee what it is to stay till the gate of
mercy be quite shut ; or to run so lazily, that they be shut before thou get within them. What, to be shut out! what, out of heaven ! Sinner, rather than lose it, run for it; yea, and so run that thou mayest obtain.'
Such preaching as this, such fire and life, coming from such a spirit as was in Bunyan's heart, could not but be effectual; the Spirit of God attended it; crowds of people would flock together to hearit, and many who came to scoff went away with the fire of the preacher in their consciences. Bunyan enjoyed himself more in preaching on the subject of faith than on any other, though he proclaimed the “ terrors of the Lord” with unequalled power and pungency.
“ For I have been in my preaching,” says he, “ especially when I have been engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ without works, as if an angel of God had stood at my back to encourage