Category Archives: John Bunyan

“To flee or to stay?” by John Bunyan

“May we not fly in a time of persecution? Your pressing upon us, that persecution is ordered and managed by God, makes us afraid to fly.

First, having regard to what was said afore about a call to suffer; thou mayest do in this even as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly: if it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Anything but a denial of the truth. He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so.

Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled (Exo 2:15), Moses stood (Heb 11:27). David fled (1 Sam 19:12), David stood (24:8). Jeremiah fled (Jer 37:11, 12), Jeremiah stood (38:17). Christ withdrew himself (Luke 9:10), Christ stood (John 18:1–8). Paul fled (2 Cor 11:33), Paul stood (Acts 20:22, 23).

There are therefore few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly. I should be loath to impose upon any man in these things; only, if thou fliest, take two or three cautions with thee:-

(1.) Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word (Matt 10:23).

(2.) When thou art fled, do as much good as thou canst in all quarters where thou comest, for therefore the door was opened to thee, and thou bid to make thy escape (Acts 8:1–5).

(3.) Do not think thyself secure when thou art fled; it was providence that opened the door, and the Word that did bid thee escape: but whither, and wherefore, that thou knowest not yet. Uriah the prophet fled into Egypt, because there dwelt men that were to take him, that he might be brought again to Jerusalem to die there (Jer 26:21).

(4.) Shouldest thou fly from where thou art, and be taken in another place; the most that can be made of it-thy taking the opportunity to fly, as was propounded at first-can be but this, thou wast willing to commit thyself to God in the way of his providence, as other good men have done, and thy being now apprehended has made thy call clear to suffer here or there, the which before thou wert in the dark about.

(5.) If, therefore, when thou hast fled, thou art taken, be not offended at God or man: not at God, for thou art his servant, thy life and thy all are his; not at man, for he is but God’s rod, and is ordained, in this, to do thee good.

Hast thou escaped? Laugh. Art thou taken? Laugh. I mean, be pleased which way soever things shall go, for that the scales are still in God’s hand.

(6.) But fly not, in flying, from religion; fly not, in flying, for the sake of a trade; fly not, in flying, that thou mayest have ease for the flesh: this is wicked, and will yield neither peace nor profit to thy soul; neither now, nor at death, nor at the day of judgment.”

–John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsel, or, Advice to Sufferers, in The Works of John Bunyan (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 2: 726.

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“What is it that makes you desirous to go to Mount Zion?” by John Bunyan

“Then Prudence began to ask Christian some questions. ‘Do you ever think of the country you came from?’

‘Yes,’ Christian replied, ‘but with much shame and detestation. Honestly, if I had pleasant thoughts about the country from which I have come, I might have taken the opportunity to return; but I desire a better country, one that is heavenly.’

Prudence asked further, ‘Do you not still carry some of the baggage from the place you escaped?’

‘Yes, but against my will. I still have within me some of the carnal thoughts that all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted with. Now all those things cause me to grieve. If I could master my own heart, I would choose never to think of those things again, but when I try only to think about those things that are best, those things that are the worst creep back into my mind and behavior.’

‘Don’t you find that sometimes you can defeat those evil things that at other times seem to defeat you?’ Prudence suggested.

Christian answered, ‘Yes, it happens occasionally. They are golden hours that I treasure.’

‘Can you remember the means by which you’re able occasionally to defeat the evil desires and thoughts that assail you?’

Christian said, ‘Yes. When I think about what I experienced at the cross, that will do it. When I look at the embroidered coat, that will do it. When I read the scroll that I carry in my coat, that will do it. And when my thoughts turn to the place to which I am going, that will do it.’

Prudence inquired, ‘And what is it that makes you desirous to go to Mount Zion?’

Christian replied, ‘Why, it is there that I hope to see alive my Savior who hung dead on the cross. It is there that I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day are an annoyance to me. They say that in that place there is no death, and I will dwell there with the company that I like best. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him because He eased me of my burden. I am weary of my inward sickness. I desire to be where I will die no more, with a company that will continually cry, Holy, holy, holy!'”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come, Ed. C.J. Lovik (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 76-77.

 

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“Hearing this made me love Him even more” by John Bunyan

“Now I saw in my dream that they sat talking together until supper was ready. So when all was prepared and ready, they sat down to eat.

Now the table was furnished with savory foods and with wine that was well refined, and all their conversation at the table was about the Lord of the hill. They spoke with reverence about what He had done and why He did what He did and the reason He built that house.

And by the things they said, I perceived that He had been a great warrior. He had fought with and slain ‘him that had the power of death,’ but not without great danger to Himself.

Hearing this made me love Him even more.

They said, and I believe (as said Christian), that He did it with the loss of much blood. But what made it most glorious and gracious was that He did it all out of pure love to His country.

And besides, some of the household said they had spoken with Him since He died on the cross; and they have attested that they heard it from His own lips that there is nowhere to be found, no matter how far one might travel, anyone who had a greater love for poor pilgrims than He.

They, moreover, gave an instance of what they heard Him say, which was that He had stripped Himself of His glory that He might do this for the poor.

They also heard Him say and affirm ‘that He would not dwell in the mountain of Zion alone.’ They said also that He had made many pilgrims into princes, even though by nature they were born beggars, and their original dwelling had been the dunghill.”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come, Ed. C.J. Lovik (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 80.

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“These blessed servants of God” by J.C. Ryle

“Some believers are rivers of living water long after they die. They do good by their books and writings in every part of the world, long after the hands which held the pen are mouldering in the dust.

Such men were Bunyan, and Baxter, and Owen, and George Herbert, and Robert M’Cheyne. These blessed servants of God do more good probably by their books at this moment, than they did by their tongues when they were alive. ‘Being dead they yet speak.’ (Heb. 11:4.)”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 387.

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“I will pray” by John Bunyan

“Now, while these Scriptures lay before me, and laid sin ‘anew’ at my door, that saying in the 18th of Luke, with others, did encourage me to prayer.

Then the tempter again laid at me very sore, suggesting, That neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood of Christ, did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my sin; ‘therefore it was in vain to pray.’

Yet, thought I, I will pray.

But, said the tempter, your sin is unpardonable.

Well, said I, I will pray.

It is to no boot, said he.

Yet, said I, I will pray.

So I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer, I uttered words to this effect:

Lord, Satan tells me that neither Thy mercy, nor Christ’s blood, is sufficient to save my soul.

Lord, shall I honour Thee most, by believing Thou wilt and canst? or ‘him,’ by believing thou neither wilt nor canst?

Lord, I would fain honour Thee, by believing Thou wilt and canst.”

–John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Works of John Bunyan, Vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 31-32. [HT: MED]

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“Unspeakably glorious” by John Bunyan

“‘And when Jesus had called the people unto Him,’ the great multitude that went with Him (Luke 14:25), ‘with His disciples also, He said unto them, ‘Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Mark 8:34).’

Let him first sit down and count up the cost, and the charge he is like to be at, if he follows Me. For following Me is not like following some other masters.

The wind sits always on My face, and the foaming rage of the sea of this world, and the proud and lofty waves thereof, do continually beat upon the sides of the bark of the ship that Myself, My cause, and My followers are in.

He therefore that will not run hazards, and that is afraid to venture a drowning, let him not set foot into this vessel. So whosever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, he cannot be My disciple.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it (Luke 14:27–29).

True, to reason, this kind of language tends to cast water upon weak and beginning desires, but to faith, it makes the things set before us, and the greatness, and the glory of them, more apparently excellent and desirable.

Reason will say, Then who will profess Christ that hath such coarse entertainment at the beginning? but faith will say, Then surely the things that are at the end of a Christian’s race in this world must needs be unspeakably glorious.”

–John Bunyan, The Greatness of the Soul in The Works of John Bunyan (London: Blackie and Son, Paternoster Row, 1862), 1:105-106.

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“These words will support thee” by John Bunyan

“Is the love of God and of Christ so great? Let us then labour to improve it to the utmost for our advantage, against all the hindrances of faith. To what purpose else is it revealed, made mention of, and commended to us?

We are environed with many enemies, and faith in the love of God and of Christ, is our only succour and shelter. Wherefore our duty and wisdom and privilege is, to improve this love for our own advantage.

Improve it against daily infirmities, improve it against the wiles of the devil. Improve it against the threats, rage, death, and destruction, that the men of this world continually with their terror set before you.

But how must that be done? Why, set this love and the safety that is in it, before thine eyes; and behold it while these things make their assaults upon thee. These words, the faith of this, ‘God loves me,’ will support thee in the midst of what dangers may assault thee.

And this is that which is meant, when we are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord (Phil 3:1), to make our boast in the Lord (Psa 44:8); to triumph in Christ (2 Cor 2:14); and to set the Lord always before our face (Psa 16:8). For he that can do this thing steadfastly, cannot be overcome.

For in God there is more than can be in the world, either to help or hinder; wherefore if God be my helper, if God loves me, if Christ be my redeemer, and has bestowed His love that passeth knowledge upon me, who can be against me? (Heb 13:6, Rom 8:31)

And if they be against me, what disadvantage reap I thereby; since even all this also, worketh for my good? This is improving the love of God and of Christ for my advantage.”

–John Bunyan, All Love’s Excelling: The Saint’s Knowledge of Christ’s Love(Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1998), 119-120.

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