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A Few Sighs from Hell: Introduction

By John Bunyan


Sighs From Hell,
The Damned Soul
An exposition of those
in the Sixteenth of Luke,
Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar
wherein is discovered
the lamentable state of the D A M N E D;
their cries, their desires in their distresses,
the determination of G O D upon them.

warning word to sinners,
both old A N D young,
to take into considerationbetimes,
and to seek,
B Y- F A I T H- I N -J E S U S- C H R I S T,
to avoid, lest they come into the same Place of Torment.
a brief discourse touching the profitableness
of the Scriptures for our instruction in the way of righteousness,
according to the tendency of the said parable.

By That Poor and Contemptible Servant of J E S U S- C H R I S T,
.B U N Y A N.

L O N D O N,
Printed by Ralph Wood, for M. Wright,
at the King's Head in the Old Bailey, 1658.[1]

John Bunyan wrote this two years before being placed in
Bedford Prison. This is the third book he wrote.

Edited by George Offor.

'The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.'-Psalm 9:17

'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'-Revelation 20:15


      How awful is that cry of anguish which has reached us from beyond the tomb, even from the infernal realms, and on which Bunyan, with his singular and rare ability, fixes our attention. It is the voice of one who had received his good things in this fleeting life; who had fared sumptuously every day, without providing for eternity, and now cries for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue. Plunged into unutterable, inconceivable, and eternal torments, he pleads that the poor afflicted beggar, who had lain at his gate, might be sent from the dead to warn his relatives, that they might escape, and not aggravate his misery, by upbraiding him as a cause of their destruction, by having neglected to set them a pious example. He knows that there is no hope for his own wretched soul, and expresses no wish that his family should pay for masses to ease his pangs. No, such tomfooleries are limited to this insane world. His poor request is one drop of water, and a warning messenger to his relatives. The answer is most decisive-there is a great, an eternal gulf fixed-none can pass between heaven and hell; and as to your father's house, 'They have Moses and the prophets'; and now it may be added, They have Jesus and his apostles; if they hear not them, 'neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.' No; if Isaiah, with his mighty eloquence, again appeared among mortals, again would his cry be heard, 'Who hath believed our report?' 'What! seek the living among the dead? To the law, and to the testimony, saith God.'

      Reader, these are solemn realities. He who came from the unseen world-from the bosom of the Father-reveals them unto us. O! that we may not mistake that voice for thunder, which called upon a trembling world to 'HEAR HIM.'

      The rich man personates all the thoughtless and uncoverted who die in their sins, his wealth can neither bribe death nor hell; he is stricken, and descends to misery with the bitter, but unavailing regret of having neglected the great salvation. He had taken no personal, prayerful pains to search the sacred Scriptures for himself; he had disobeyed the gospel, lived in revelry, and carelessness of his soul; he had ploughed iniquity and sown wickedness, and reaps the same. 'By the blast of God he perishes, and is consumed by the breath of his nostrils.' 'They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.'

      The opinion universally prevails, although the voice of infinite wisdom has declared it false, that miracles, or a messenger from the invisible world could awake the dead in sin. The world's eyes are shut, and its ears are stopped from seeing and hearing that most illustrious celestial messenger of mercy- 'God manifest in the flesh'-who still speaks to us in his words. He revealed, and he alone could have revealed, these solemn, these heart-stirring facts-He performed the most astonishing miracles-His doctrines were truth-He required holiness of life to fit the soul for heaven; therefore He was despised, tortured, murdered. In the face of all this, the poor wretch cries, 'send Lazarus.' What refined cruelty! He had borne the cross and received the crown. Uncrown him, and send him back to lie at my brother's gate, and if he dares to tell him the truth, that my soul was in hell, even while the splendid funeral was carrying my body to the tomb, he will hurry him to death. Poor fool! are not thy kindred as hardened as thou wast? Send Lazarus from the dead! That, as Bunyan justly says, would be to make a new Bible, to improve the finished salvation. No, if they will not hear Moses and the prophets, our Lord and his apostles, they must all likewise perish. This is a very meagre outline of this solemn treatise; it is full of striking illustrations, eminently calculated to arouse the thoughtless, and to convey solid instruction to the thoughtful.

      This was the third volume that Bunyan published, and, with modest timidity, he shelters himself under a strong recommendatory preface by his pastor, who, in the Grace Abounding, he calls 'holy Mr. Gifford.' So popular was it, as to pass through nine editions in the author's lifetime.[2] The preface, by John Gifford, was printed only with the first edition. As it gives a very interesting account of Bunyan, and his early labours in the ministry, which has never been noticed by any of his biographers, and is extremely rare, it is here reprinted from a fine copy in the British Museum, and must prove interesting to every admirer of John Bunyan. I close with two short extracts- may they leave an abiding impression upon our minds. 'God will have a time to meet with them that now do not seek after him.' 'O! regard, regard, for the judgment day is at hand, the graves are ready to fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding, the sentence will ere long be passed, and then,' it will be seen whether we belong to the class of Dives, who preferred the world, or to that of Lazarus, who preferred Christ; and then, O then! time cannot be recalled.

      GEO. OFFOR.


      [1] There were nine editions of this book published during the Author's life; all those subsequent to the first have the following title:- 'Sighs from Hell, or the Groans of a Damned Soul; discovering from the 16th of Luke the lamentable state of the damned: and may fitly serve as a warning word to sinners, both old and young, by faith in Jesus Christ, to avoid the same place of torment. With a discovery of the usefulness of the Scriptures as our safe- conduct for avoiding the torments of hell. By John Bunyan. London: Printed for F. Smith, at the Elephant and Castle, without Temple-bar. At 1s bound.'

      [2] In the 'errata' to the first edition, Bunyan says- 'At the first I thought to put out with this a discourage of the two covenants, which since I thought to put forth in a piece by itself.' This shows that his great work on the covenants was the fourth volume which he wrote. In the second edition, the author altered the arrangement of the text, by placing in his comment on verse 28 a considerable part of what in the first edition formed the 'use and application.'

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See Also:
   To the Reader
   Part 1 - A Few Sighs from Hell
   Part 2 - Use and Application
   Part 3 - A Few Considerations of Encouragement
   Part 4 - Five Uses by Way of Self-Examination
   Part 5 - Use and Application


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