John Bunyan's Dying Sayings
Sin is the great block and bar to our happiness, the procurer of all miseries to man, both here and hereafter. Take away sin, and nothing can hurt us—for death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, is the wages of it.
Sin, and man for sin, is the object of the wrath of God. How dreadful, therefore, must his case be who continues in sin! For who can bear or grapple with the wrath of God?
No sin against God can be little, because it is against the great God of Heaven and earth; but if the sinner can find out a little god, it may be easy to find out little sins.
Sin turns all God's grace into wantonness—it is . . .
the dare of his justice,
the rape of his mercy,
the jeer of his patience,
the slight of his power, and
the contempt of his love.
Take heed of giving yourself liberty of committing one sin, for that will lead you to another; until, by an ill custom, it becomes natural.
To begin a sin, is to lay a foundation for a continuance; this continuance is the mother of custom, and impudence at last the outcome.
The death of Christ gives us the best discovery of ourselves—in what condition we were, in that nothing could help us but that; and the most clear discovery of the dreadful nature of our sins. For if sin be so dreadful a thing as to wring the heart of the Son of God, how shall a poor wretched sinner be able to bear it?
Nothing can render affliction so insupportable as the load of sin; would you, therefore, be fitted for afflictions, be sure to get the burden of your sins laid aside; and then what afflictions soever you may meet with will be very easy to you.
If you can hear and bear the rod of affliction which God shall lay upon you, remember this lesson—you are beaten that you may be better.
The Lord uses his flail of tribulation to separate the chaff from the wheat.
The school of the cross is the school of light—it discovers the world's vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God's mind. Out of dark affliction, comes a spiritual light.
In times of affliction, we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God.
Did we heartily renounce the pleasures of this world, we would be very little troubled for our afflictions; that which renders an afflicted state so insupportable to many, is because they are too much addicted to the pleasures of this life, and so cannot endure that which makes a separation between them.
OF REPENTANCE AND COMING TO CHRIST.
The end of affliction is the discovery of sin, and of that to bring us to the Savior. Let us therefore, with the prodigal, return unto him, and we shall find ease and rest.
A repenting penitent, though formerly as bad as the worst of men—may, by grace, become as good as the best.
To be truly sensible of sin, is to sorrow for displeasing of God; to be afflicted that he is displeased by us, more than that he is displeased with us.
Your intentions to repentance, and the neglect of that soul-saving duty, will rise up in judgment against you.
Repentance carries with it a divine rhetoric, and persuades Christ to forgive multitudes of sins committed against him.
Say not with yourself, "Tomorrow I will repent!" for it is your duty to do it daily.
The gospel of grace and salvation is above all doctrines the most dangerous, if it be received in word only by graceless men—if it be not attended with a sensible need of a Savior, and bring them to him. For such men as have only the notion of it, are of all men most miserable—for by reason of their knowing more than heathens, this only shall be their final portion, that they shall have greater stripes.
Before you enter into prayer, ask your soul these questions:
To what end, O my soul, are you retired into this place?
Are you not come to discourse the Lord in prayer?
Is he present—will he hear you?
Is he merciful—will he help you?
Is your business slight—is it not concerning the welfare of your soul?
What words will you use to move him to compassion?
To make your preparation complete, consider:
that you are but dust and ashes—and he the great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who clothes himself with light as with a garment;
that you are a vile sinner—and he a holy God;
that you are but a poor crawling worm—and he the omnipotent Creator.
In all your prayers, forget not to thank the Lord for his mercies.
When you pray, rather let your heart be without words—than your words without heart.
Prayer will make a man cease from sin—or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.
The spirit of prayer is more precious than treasures of gold and silver.
Pray often, for prayer is . . .
a shield to the soul,
a sacrifice to God,
and a scourge for Satan.
OF THE LORD'S DAY, SERMONS, AND WEEK DAYS.
Have a special care to sanctify the Lord's day; for as you keep it, so it will be with you all the week long.
Make the Lord's day the market-day for your soul.
Let the whole day be spent in prayer, repetitions, or meditations.
Lay aside the affairs of the other parts of the week.
Let your sermon you have heard be converted into prayer.
Shall God allow you six days—and will you not afford him one?
In the church be careful to serve God—for you are in his eyes, and not in man's.
You may hear sermons often, and do well in practicing what you hear; but you must not expect to be told in a pulpit all that you ought to do, but be studious in searching the scriptures, and reading good books. What you hear may be forgotten, but what you read may better be retained.
Forsake not the public worship of God—lest God forsake you, not only in public, but in private.
In the week days, when you rise in the MORNING, consider:
1. You must die.
2. You may die that minute.
3. What will become of your soul?
At NIGHT consider:
1. What sins you have committed.
2. How often you have prayed.
3. What has your mind been bent upon.
4. What has been your dealing.
5. What your conversation.
6. If you call to mind the errors of the day, sleep not without a confession to God, and a hope of pardon.
Thus every morning and evening, make up your accounts with Almighty God, and your reckoning will be the less at last.
OF THE LOVE OF THE WORLD.
Nothing more hinders a soul from coming to Christ, than a vain love of the world; and until a soul is freed from it, it can never have a true love for God.
What are the honors and riches of this world—when compared to the glories of a crown of life?
Love not the world; for it is a moth in a Christian's life.
To despise the world is the way to enjoy Heaven; and blessed are they who delight to converse with God by prayer.
What folly can be greater than to labor for the meat that perishes—and neglect the food of eternal life?
God or the world must be neglected at parting time, for then is the time of trial.
To seek yourself in this life, is to be lost; and to be humble is to be exalted.
The epicure that delights in the dainties of this world, little thinks that those very creatures will one day witness against him!
It is not every suffering that makes a martyr, but suffering for the word of God after a right manner. That is, not only for righteousness, but for righteousness' sake; not only for truth, but out of love to truth; not only for God's word, but according to it; to wit, in that holy, humble, meek manner, as the Word of God requires.
It is a rare thing to suffer aright, and to have my spirit in suffering bent only against God's enemy, sin:
sin in doctrine,
sin in worship,
sin in life, and
sin in conversation.
The devil nor men of the world can kill your righteousness or, love to it, but by your own hand; or separate that and you asunder, without your own act. Nor will he who does indeed suffer for the sake of it, or out of love he bears thereto, be tempted to exchange it for the good will of all the world.
I have often thought that the best of Christians are found in the worst of times. And I have thought again that one reason why we are no better, is because God purges us no more. Noah and Lot—who so holy as they in the time of their afflictions? And yet who so idle as they in the time of their prosperity?
OF DEATH AND JUDGMENT.
As the devil labors by all means to keep out other things that are good, so to keep out of the heart as much as in him lies, the thoughts of passing from this life into another world; for he knows if he can but keep them from the serious thoughts of death, he shall the more easily keep them in their sins.
Nothing will make us more earnest in working out the work of our salvation, than a frequent meditation of mortality. Nothing has greater influence for the taking off our hearts from vanities, and for the begetting in us desires after holiness.
O sinner, what a condition will you fall into when you depart this world! If you depart unconverted, you had better have been smothered the first hour you were born; you had better have been plucked one limb from another; you had better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, if you die unconverted, and this you will find true if you repent not.
A man would be counted a fool to slight a judge, before whom he is to have a trial of his whole estate. The trial we have before God is of otherwise importance, it concerns our eternal happiness or misery; and yet dare we affront him?
The only way for us to escape that terrible judgment, is to be often passing a sentence of condemnation upon ourselves here.
When the sound of the trumpet shall be heard which shall summon the dead to appear before the tribunal of God—the righteous shall hasten out of their graves with joy to meet their Redeemer in the clouds. The others shall call to the mountains and hills to fall upon them, to cover them from the sight of their Judge! Let us therefore in time be posing ourselves which of the two we shall be.
OF THE JOYS OF HEAVEN.
There is no good in this life but what is mingled with some evil:
riches disquiet, and
pleasures ruin health.
But in Heaven we shall find blessings in their purity, without any ingredient to embitter, with everything to sweeten them.
O! who is able to conceive the inexpressible, inconceivable joys that are there? None but they who have tasted of them. Lord, help us to put such a value upon them here, that in order to prepare ourselves for them, we may be willing to forego the loss of all those deluding pleasures here.
How will the heavens echo for joy, when the bride, the Lamb's wife, shall come to dwell with her husband forever!
Christ is . . .
the desire of nations,
the joy of angels,
the delight of the Father!
What solace then must that soul be filled with that has the possession of him to all eternity!
O! what acclamations of joy will there be when all the children of God shall meet together, without fear of being disturbed by the anti-christian and Cainish brood!
Is there not a time coming when the godly may ask the wicked:
What profit they have in their pleasure?
What comfort in their greatness?
And what fruit in all their labor?
If you would be better satisfied what the beatific vision means, my request is that you would live holily, and go and see.
OF THE TORMENTS OF HELL.
Heaven and salvation are not surely more promised to the godly—than Hell and damnation is threatened to, and executed on the wicked.
O! who knows the power of God's wrath? None but damned ones!
Sinners' company are the devil and his angels, tormented in everlasting fire with a curse.
Hell would be a kind of paradise, if it were no worse than the worst of this world.
As different as grief is from joy, as torment from rest, as terror from peace—so different is the state of sinners from that of saints in the world to come.
When once a man is damned, he may bid adieu to all pleasures.