T H E Doctrine O F - T H E Law and Grace Unfolded; O R, A discourse touching the law and grace; the nature of the one, and the nature of the other; showing what they are, as they are the two covenants; and likewise, who they be, and what their conditions are, that be under either of these T W O - C O V E N A N T S : Wherein, for the better understanding of the reader, there are several questions answered touching the law and grace, very easy to be read, and as easy to be understood, by those that are the sons of wisdom, the children of the second covenant.
By J O H N B U N Y A N. 1659.
The last book John Bunyan wrote before being placed in Bedford Prison for twelve years.
Edited by George Offor.
"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Heb 7:19).
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom 3:28).
"To him [therefore] that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:5).
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
It is difficult to understand those peculiar trials which called forth the mighty energies of Bunyan's mind, unless we are acquainted with the times in which he lived. The trammels of statecraft and priestcraft had been suddenly removed from religion, and men were left to form their own opinions as to rites and ceremonies. In this state of abrupt liberty, some wild enthusiasts ran into singular errors; and Bunyan's first work on "Gospel Truths" was published to correct them.
Then followed that alarm to thoughtless souls-"A Few Sighs from Hell"; and, in 1659, as a further declaration of the most important truths of revelation, this work on the two covenants was sent forth to chastise error, and comfort the saints of God. It was published many times during the author's life; and since then, to a late period, very large impressions have been circulated. Upon a subject of such vast importance-upon which hangs all our eternal interests-all our indescribable joys or sorrows in a future and never-ending state-the requirements of our Creator-and His gracious provision of pardoning mercy, upon our failing to keep His Law-these are subjects of intense interest. How important is it that all our researches into these solemn realities should be guided simply by the revealed will of God! That was the fountain at which Bunyan drunk in all his knowledge; and with simplicity, and most earnest desire to promote the glory of God in the salvation of sinners, he here gives the result of his patient, prayerful, painful investigation. The humble dependence upon Divine mercy which the author felt is very striking.
He was sensible of his want of education; "no vain, whimsical, scholar-like terms"-no philosophy from Plato or Aristotle. He felt, as to human teaching, his weakness, but proved that, "when he was weak, then was he strong." He claimed an interest in the fervent prayers of his fellow saints- "My heart is vile, the devil lieth at watch, trust myself I dare not; if God do not help me, my heart will deceive me." This was the proper spirit in which to enter upon so solemn a subject; and the aid he sought was vouchsafed to him, and appears throughout this important work. His first object is to define what is the Law, a strict obedience to which is exacted upon all mankind. It was given to Adam, and was afterwards more fully developed upon Mount Sinai.
It commands implicit, universal, perfect obedience, upon pain of eternal ruin. He shows us that man, under the influence of that law, and while a stranger to the Law of Grace, may repent and reform his conduct, become a member of a Christian church, be a virgin waiting for his Lord, "but not step even upon the lowest round of the ladder that reacheth to heaven." While man is a stranger to the new birth, "his destiny is the lion's den; yea, worse than that, to be thrown into Hell to the very devils." Bunyan in this, as well as all other of his works, is awfully severe upon those who say, "Let us sin that grace may abound," perverting the consolatory doctrine of Divine grace to their souls" destruction. "What! because Christ is a Saviour, wilt thou be a sinner! because His grace abounds, therefore thou wilt abound in sin! O wicked wretch! rake Hell all over, and surely I think thy fellow will scarce be found. If Christ will not serve their turn, but they must have their sins too, take them, Devil; if Heaven will not satisfy them, take them, Hell; devour them, burn them, Hell!" "Tell the hogs of this world what a hog-sty is prepared for them, even such an one as a God hath prepared to put the devil and his angels into."
To the distressed, sin-beaten Christian, this book abounds with consolation, and instructions how to overcome the devices of Satan, who will plant the Ten Commandments, like ten great guns, to destroy thy hopes. "Learn to outshoot the devil in his own bow, and to cut off his head with his own sword. Doth Satan tell thee thou prayest but faintly and with cold devotions? Answer him, I am glad you told me, I will trust the more to Christ's prayers, and groan, sigh, and cry more earnestly at the Throne of Grace." To such readers as have been driven to the verge of despair by a fear of having committed the unpardonable sin, here is strong consolation, and a very explicit scriptural definition of that awful crime. Want of space prevents me adding more than my earnest desire that the reading of this treatise may be productive of solid peace and comfort.-ED.