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A Few Sighs from Hell: Part 5 - Use and Application

By John Bunyan


      [47]But again, seeing they are so certain, so sure, so irrevocable and firm, and seeing the saving faith of the things contained therein, is to reform the soul, and bring it over into the things of God, really conforming to the things contained therein, both to the point of justification, and also an impartial walking, and giving up thy soul and body to a conformity to all the commands, counsels, instructions, and exhortations contained therein; this then will learn us how to judge of those who give up themselves to walk in the imaginations of their own hearts, who slight and lay aside the Scriptures, counting them but empty and uncertain things, and will live every day in open contradiction to what is contained, commanded, and forbidden therein. As

      FIRST. This will show us that all your drunkards, whoremasters, liars, thieves, swearers, backbiters, slanderers, scoffers at goodness, &c. I say, we may see by this that they that live in such things, have not the faith of these things contained in their hearts, seeing they delight to practise those things that are forbidden by and in them. And so, they continuing living and dying in this state, we may conclude without fear that these portions of holy Scripture belong unto them, and shall for certain be fulfilled upon them: 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16). 'The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor 6:9,10). 'But the abominable, the unbelieving, the whoremongers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev 21:8). 'Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). Depart, depart from me, for I will not save you. Depart, for my blood shall not at all wash you. Depart, for you shall not set one foot into the kingdom of heaven.

      'Depart, ye cursed,' ye are cursed of God, cursed of his law, cursed of me, cursed by the saints, and cursed by the angels; cursed all over, nothing but cursed, and therefore depart from me; and whither? into everlasting fire-fire that will scald, scorch, burn, and flame to purpose. 'Fire that shall never be quenched' (Mark 9). Fire that will last to all eternity. And must we be all alone? No, you shall have company, store of company with you. Namely, all the raging, roaring devils, together with an innumerable company of fellow-damned sinners, men, women, and children. And if the Scriptures be true, as they will one day wonderfully appear to be, then this must and shall be thy portion, if thou live and die in this state; and of all them who continue in sinning against the truth contained in the Scriptures. As,

      First. Dost thou delight to sin against plain commands? THOU ART GONE.

      Second. Dost thou slight and scorn the counsels contained in the Scriptures, and continue in so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE.

      Third. Dost thou continually neglect to come to Christ, and usest arguments in thine own heart to satisfy thy soul with so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE. (Luke 14:17,18, compared with v 24, and Heb 2:3). 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' How shall we escape, that is, there is no way to escape.

      (1.) Because God hath said we shall not (Heb 12:25). 'See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,' that was Moses, 'much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.'

      (2.) Because he hath not only said they shall not, but also hath bound it with an oath, saying, 'So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest' (Heb 3:11). To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest? Answer, 'to them that believed not.' So we see, that they could not enter in because of unbelief (vv 18,19).

      SECOND. This will teach us what to think and conclude of such, who, though they do not so openly discover their folly by open and gross sins against the law, yet will give more heed to their own spirits, and the movings thereof, though they be neither commanded nor commended for the same in Scripture; nay, though the Scripture command and commend the contrary, than they will to the holy and revealed will of God (Isa 8:20). I say, such men are in as bad a state as the other to the full, being disobedient to God's will revealed in his Word, as well as they, though in a different manner; the one openly transgressing against the plain and well-known truths revealed in it; the other, though more close and hidden, yet secretly rejecting and slighting them, giving more heed to their own spirits, and the motions thereof, although not warranted by the Scriptures.

      A few words more, and so I shall conclude. And,

      First. Take heed that you content not yourself with a bare notion of the Scriptures in your heads, by which you may go far, even so far as to be able to dispute for the truth, to preach the gospel, and labour to vindicate it in opposition to gainsayers, and yet be found at the left hand of Christ at the judgment-day, forasmuch as thou didst content thyself with a notion or traditional knowledge of them.[48]

      Second. Have a care that thou own the whole Scripture, and not own one part and neglect another, or slight it; as thus: To own the law, and slight the gospel; or to think that thou must be saved by thy good doings and works; for that is all one, as if thou didst thrust Christ away from thee; or else so to own the gospel, as if by it thou wert exempted from all obedience to the ten commandments, and conformity to the law in life and conversation; for in so doing thou wilt for certain make sure of eternal vengeance.

      Third. Have a care that thou put not wrong names on the things contained in the Scriptures, as to call the law, Christ, and Christ, the law, for some having done so, in my knowledge, have so darkened to themselves the glorious truths of the gospel, that in a very little time they have been resolved to thwart and oppose them, and so have made room in their own souls for the devil to inhabit, and obtained a place in hell for their own souls to be tormented for ever and ever.

      Against this danger therefore in reading and receiving the testimony of Scripture, learn to distinguish between the law and the gospel, and to keep them clear asunder, as to the salvation of thy soul.

      1. And that thou mayest so do, in the first place beg of God that he would show thee the nature of the gospel, and set it home effectually with life and power upon thy soul by faith. Which is this, that God would show thee, that as thou being man hast sinned against God, so Christ, being God- man, hath bought thee again, and with his most precious blood set thee free from the bondage thou hast fallen into by thy sins. And that not upon condition that thou wilt do thus and thus, this and the other good work; but rather, that thou, being first justified freely by mere grace through the blood of Jesus, shouldst also receive thy strength from him who hath bought thee, to walk before him in all well- pleasing. Being enabled thereto by virtue of his Spirit, which hath revealed to thy soul that thou art delivered already from wrath to come, by the obedience, not of thee, but of another man, viz., Jesus Christ.

      2. Then if the law thou readest of, tell thee in thy conscience thou must do this and the other good work of the law, if ever thou wilt be saved; answer plainly, that for thy part thou art resolved now not to work for life, but to believe in the virtue of that blood shed upon the cross, upon Mount Calvary, for the remission of sins. And yet because Christ hath justified thee freely by his grace, thou wilt serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of thy life, yet not in a legal spirit, or in a covenant of works; but mine obedience, say thou, I will endeavour to have it free, and cheerful, out of love to my Lord Jesus.

      3. Have a care thou receive not this doctrine in the notion only, lest thou bring a just damnation upon thy soul, by professing thyself to be freed by Christ's blood from the guilt of sin, while thou remainest still a servant to the filth of sin. For I must tell you, that unless you have the true and saving work of the faith and grace of the gospel in your hearts, you will either go on in a legal holiness, according to the tenor of the law; or else through a notion of the gospel, the devil bewitching and beguiling thy understanding, will, and affections, thou wilt, Ranter-like, turn the grace of God into wantonness, and bring upon thy soul double, if not treble damnation, in that thou couldest not be contented to be damned for thy sins against the law, but also to make ruin sure to thy soul, thou wouldst dishonour the gospel, and turn the grace of God, held forth and discovered to men by that, into licentiousness.[49]

      But that thou mightest be sure to escape these dangerous rocks on the right hand and on the left, see that thy faith be such as is spoken of in Scripture. And that thou be not satisfied without that, which is a faith wrought by the mighty operation of God, revealing Christ to and in thee, as having wholly freed thee from thy sins by his most precious blood. Which faith, if thou attain unto, will so work in thy heart, that first thou wilt see the nature of the law, and [secondly] also the nature of the gospel, and delight in the glory of it; and also thou wilt find an engaging of thy heart and soul to Jesus Christ, even to the giving up of thy whole man unto him, to be ruled and governed by him to his glory, and thy comfort, by the faith of the same Lord Jesus.

      FOOTNOTES:

      [47] A very considerable portion of the use and application as found in the first edition, was, in the second and subsequent ones, removed to the comment on verse 28; from the words, 'Now then, from what hath been said,' to the end of the comment on that verse. I should have preferred Bunyan's first arrangement, but dared not alter what he had considered an improvement.-Ed.

      [48] Of all men most miserable must be those clergymen and religious teachers, who, in the great day, will say, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name,' to whom the Lord will profess, 'I never knew you, depart, ye cursed.'- Matt 7:21-23.-Ed.

      [49] The Ranters were a sect of the wildest enthusiasts. It very soon became extinct. An exaggerated account of their sentiments is to be found in Ross's view of all Religions.- Ed.

Back to John Bunyan index.

See Also:
   Introduction
   Preface
   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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