John Bunyan – Light for Them that Sit in Darkness

Of this man’s seed hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. ACTS 13:23

These words are part of a sermon which Paul preached to the people that lived at Antioch in Pisidia, where also inhabited many of the Jews. The preparation to his discourse he thus begins — ‘Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience’ (v 16); by which having prepared their minds to attend, he proceeds and gives a particular relation of God’s peculiar dealings with his people Israel, from Egypt to the time of David their king, of whom he treateth particularly —

That he was the son of Jesse, that he was a king, that God raised him up in mercy, that God gave testimony of him, that he was a man after God’s own heart, that he should fulfil all his will (v 22).

And this he did of purpose both to engage them the more to attend, and because they well knew that of the fruit of his loins God hath promised the Messiah should come.

Having thus therefore gathered up their minds to hearken, he presenteth them with his errand — to wit, that the Messiah was come, and that the promise was indeed fulfilled that a Saviour should be born to Israel — ‘Of this man’s seed,’ saith he, ‘hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

In this assertion he concludeth — 1. That the promise had kept its due course in presenting a Saviour to Israel — to wit, in David’s loins — ‘Of this man’s seed.’ 2. That the time of the promise was come, and the Saviour was revealed — ‘God hath raised unto Israel a Saviour.’ 3. That Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, was he — ‘He hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

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Joel Beeke – John Bunyan: The Faithful Tinker

Young John Bunyan (1628–1688) hardly seemed fit for preaching. He was a coarse person with little education and a mouth full of foul language. He had lost his mother and sister to death and was exposed to the evils of military service before his seventeenth birthday. As a young man, he worked with his hands as a tinker or worker in soft metals. His soul was probably much like his body after carrying his sixty-pound portable anvil: outwardly tough and calloused, though inwardly bruised and burdened. Marriage to a church-going woman brought some moral improvement and produced much self-righteousness, but it was not until Bunyan overheard a few poor women talking about the new birth and the grace of God in Christ for sinners that he realized his greatest need.

The faithful pastor of those women, John Gifford, taught Bunyan about the grace of God. Bunyan read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians and learned how Jesus Christ made satisfaction to divine justice for our sins by His death. Bunyan was transformed, and others soon called upon him to speak in meetings for evangelism and exhortation. Feeling very unworthy, he nevertheless was able to speak from his experience of the truth: “I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did feel, even that under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to astonishment.” He was not a fire-and-brimstone preacher who looked down on unbelievers, but one who lived with a “fire in mine own conscience.”

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John Bunyan – The Acceptable Sacrifice


This psalm is David’s penitential psalm. It may be fitly so called, because it is a psalm by which is manifest the unfeigned sorrow which he had for his horrible sin, in defiling of Bathsheba, and slaying Uriah her husband; a relation at large of which you have in the 11th and 12th of the Second of Samuel. Many workings of heart, as this psalm showeth, this poor man had, so soon as conviction did fall upon his spirit. One while he cries for mercy, then he confesses his heinous offences, then he bewails the depravity of his nature; sometimes he cries out to be washed and sanctified, and then again he is afraid that God will cast him away from his presence, and take his Holy Spirit utterly from him. And thus he goes on till he comes to the text, and there he stayeth his mind, finding in himself that heart and spirit which God did not dislike; ‘The sacrifices of God,’ says he, ‘are a broken spirit’; as if he should say, I thank God I have that. ‘A broken and a contrite heart,’ says he, ‘O God, thou wilt not despise’; as if he should say, I thank God I have that.


The words consist of two parts. FIRST. An assertion. SECOND. A demonstration of that assertion. The assertion is this, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.’ The demonstration is this, ‘Because a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.’

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John Bunyan – A Treatise of the Fear of God



This exhortation is not only found here in the text, but is in several other places of the Scripture pressed, and that with much vehemency, upon the children of men, as in Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Peter 1:17, &c. I shall not trouble you with a long preamble, or forespeech to the matter, nor shall I here so much as meddle with the context, but shall immediately fall upon the words themselves, and briefly treat of the fear of God. The text, you see, presenteth us with matter of greatest moment, to wit, with God, and with the fear of him.

First they present us with God, the true and living God, maker of the worlds, and upholder of all things by the word of his power: that incomprehensible majesty, in comparison of whom all nations are less than the drop of a bucket, and than the small dust of the balance. This is he that fills heaven and earth, and is everywhere present with the children of men, beholding the evil and the good; for he hath set his eyes upon all their ways.

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John Bunyan – A Discourse Touching Prayer

John Bunyan Discourse Touching Prayer


Prayer is an ordinance of God, and that to be used both in public and private; yea, such an ordinance as brings those that have the spirit of supplication into great familiarity with God; and is also so prevalent in action, that it getteth of God, both for the person that prayeth, and for them that are prayed for, great things.

It isthe opener of the heart of God, and a means by which the soul, though empty, is filled. By prayer the Christian can open his heart to God, as to a friend, and obtain fresh testimony of God’s friendship to him. I might spend many words in distinguishing between public and private prayer; as also between that in the heart, and that with the vocal voice. Something also might be spoken to distinguish between the gifts and graces of prayer; but eschewing this method, my business shall be at this time only to show you the very heart of prayer, without which, all your lifting up, both of hands, and eyes, and voices, will be to no purpose at all. “I will pray with the Spirit.”

The method that I shall go on in at this time shall be, FIRST. To show you what true prayer is. SECOND. To show you what it is to pray with the Spirit. THIRD. What it is to pray with the Spirit and understanding also. And so, FOURTHLY. To make some short use and application of what shall be spoken.


FIRST, What [true] prayer is. Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

In this description are these seven things. First, It is a sincere; Second, A sensible; Third, An affectionate, pouring out of the soul to God, through Christ; Fourth, By the strength or assistance of the Spirit; Fifth, For such things as God hath promised, or, according to his word; Sixth, For the good of the church; Seventh, With submission in faith to the will of God.

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John Bunyan – The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate



That the apostle might obtain due regard from those to whom he wrote, touching the things about which he wrote, he tells them that he received not his message to them at second or third hand, but was himself an eye and ear witness thereof — “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life, (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you” [I John 1:1-3].

Having thus told them of his ground for what he said, he proceeds to tell them also the matter contained in his errand-to wit, that he brought them news of eternal life, as freely offered in the word of the gospel to them; or rather, that that gospel which they had received would certainly usher them in at the gates of the kingdom of heaven, were their reception of it sincere and in truth — for, saith he, then “the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth you from all sin.”

Having thus far told them what was his errand, he sets upon an explication of what he had said, especially touching our being cleansed from all sin — “Not,” saith he, “from a being of sin; for should we say so, we should deceive ourselves,” and should prove that we have no truth of God in us, but by cleansing, I mean a being delivered from all sin, so as that none at all shall have the dominion over you, to bring you down to hell; for that, for the sake of the blood of Christ, all trespasses are forgiven you.

This done, he exhorts them to shun or fly sin, and not to consent to the motions, workings, enticings, or allurements thereof, saying, “I write unto you that ye sin not.” Let not forgiveness have so bad an effect upon you as to cause you to be remiss in Christian duties, or as to tempt you to give, way to evil. Shall we sin because we are forgiven? or shall we not much matter what manner of lives we live, because we are set free from the law of sin and death? God forbid. Let grace teach us another lesson, and lay other obligations upon our spirits. “My little children,” saith he, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” What things? Why, tidings of pardon and salvation, and of that nearness to God, to which you are brought by the precious blood of Christ. Now, lest also by this last exhortation he should yet be misunderstood, he adds, “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the rather, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I say, he addeth this to prevent desponding in those weak and sensible Christians that are so quick of feeling and of discerning the corruptions of their natures; for these cry out continually that there is nothing that they do but it is attended with sinful weaknesses.

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John Bunyan – Advice to Sufferers




This epistle was written to saints in affliction, specially those of the circumcision, for whom this Peter was an apostle. And it was written to them to counsel, and comfort them in their affliction. To counsel them as to the cause, for which they were in afflictions, and as to the right management of themselves, and their cause, under their affliction. To comfort them also both with respect to their present help from God, and also with reference to the reward that (they faithfully continuing to the end) should of God be bestowed upon them: all which we shall have occasion, more distinctly, to handle in this following discourse.
The text is a conclusion, drawn from the counsel and comfort which the apostle had afore given them in their suffering state. As who should say, my brethren, as you are now afflicted, so sufferings are needful for you, and therefore profitable and advantageous: wherefore be content to bear them. And that you may indeed bear them with such Christian contentedness, and patience as becomes you; commit the keeping of your souls to your God as unto a faithful Creator. “Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him [in well doing,] as unto a faithful Creator.”

In this conclusion, therefore, we have three things very fit for sufferers to concern themselves with. FIRST, A direction to a duty of absolute necessity. SECOND, A description of the persons, who are unto this, so necessary a duty, directed. THIRD, An insinuation of the good effect that will certainly follow to those that after a due manner shall take this blessed advice.

The duty so absolutely necessary is, that sufferers “commit the keeping of their souls to God.” The sufferers here intended, are those “that suffer according to the will of God.” The good insinuated, that will be the effect of our true doing of this, is, we shall find God “a faithful Creator.”


We will first begin with the duty, that sufferers are here directed to, namely, the committing of their souls to God. “Let them – commit the keeping of their souls to him, in well doing.”

And I find two things in it that first call for explaining before I proceed. 1. What we must here understand by “the soul.” 2. What by “committing” the soul to God.

1. For the first: “The soul,” here, is to be taken for that most excellent part of man, that dwelleth in the body; that immortal, spiritual substance, that is, and will be capable of life, and motion, of sense and reason; yea, that will abide a rational being, when the body is returned to the dust as it was. This is that great thing, that our Lord Jesus intends, when he bids his disciples in a day of trial, fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell (Luke 12:5). That great thing, I say, that he there cautions them to take care of. According to Peter here, “Let them commit the keeping of their soul to him in well doing.”

2. Now to “commit” this soul to God, is to carry it to him, to lift it to him, upon my bended knees, and to pray him for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, to take it into his holy care, and to let it be under his keeping. Also, that he will please to deliver it from all those snares that are laid for it, betwixt this and the next world, and that he will see that it be forthcoming, safe and sound, at the great and terrible judgment, notwithstanding so many have engaged themselves against it. Thus David committed his soul to God, when he said “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul, O Lord, from the wicked, which is thy sword” (Psa 17:13). And again, “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make hast to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it” (Psa 40:13,14).

Thus, I have shewed you what the soul is, and what it is to commit the soul to God. This then is the duty that the apostle here exhorteth the sufferers to, namely, to carry their soul to God, and leave it with him while they engage for his name in the world. Now from the apostle’s exhortation to this great duty, I will draw these following conclusions.

Conclusion First, That when persecution is raised against a people, there is a design laid for the ruin of those people’s souls. This, I say, doth naturally follow from the exhortation. Why else, need they to commit the keeping of their souls to God. For by this word, “Unto God to keep them,” is suggested; there is that would destroy them, and that therefore persecution is raised against them. I am not so uncharitable, as to think, that persecuting men design this. [8]But I verily believe that the devil doth design this, when he stirs them up to so sorry a work. In times of trial, says Peter, “your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Alas! men in their acts of this nature, have designs that are lower, and of a more inferior rank. Some of them look no higher than revenge upon the carcass; than the spoiling of their neighbour of his estate, liberty, or life; than the greatening of themselves in this world, by the ruins of those that they have power to spoil. Their “possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich” (Zech 11:5).

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John Bunyan – The Saint’s Knowledge of Christ’s Love


I. The First Part of the Text: Breadth, Length, Depth, Height

“That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” Ephesians 3:18-19

A. Introduction

The apostle having in the first chapter [of Ephesians] treated of the doctrine of election, and in the second of the reconciling of the Gentiles with the Jews to the Father by His Son, through the preaching of the gospel, comes in the third chapter to shew that that also was, as that of election, determined before the world began. Now, lest the afflictions that attend the gospel should, by its raging among these Ephesians, darken the glory of these things unto them; therefore he makes here a brief repetition and explanation, to the end they might be supported and made live above them. He also joins thereto a fervent prayer for them: that God would let them see, in the spirit and faith, how they, by God and by Christ, are secured from the evil of the worst that might come upon them.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph 3:14-19).

Knowing that, their deep understanding what good by these were reserved for them, they would never be discouraged, whatever troubles should attend their profession.

“Breadth,” “length,” “depth,” and “height” are words that in themselves are both ambiguous and to wonderment: ambiguous because [they are] unexplained, and to wonderment because they carry in them an inexpressible something — and that something [is] that which far out-goes all those things that can be found in this world. The apostle here was under a spiritual surprise, for while meditating and writing, he was caught — the strength and glory of the truths that he was endeavouring to fasten upon the people to whom he wrote, took him away into their glory, beyond what could to the full be uttered. Besides, many times things are thus expressed on purpose to command attention — a stop and pause in the mind about them — and to divert, by their greatness, the heart from the world, unto which they naturally are so inclined. Also, truths are often delivered to us like wheat in full ears, to the end we should rub them out before we eat them; and take pains about them, before we have the comfort of them.

Breadth, length, depth, and height. In my attempting to open these words, I will give you some that are of the same kind. And then show you, first, the reasons of them; and then also, secondly, something of their fullness.

Those [words] of the same kind are used sometimes a) to shew us the power, force, and subtlety of the enemies of God’s Church (Dan 4:11; Rom 8:38-39), but [sometimes] b) most properly to shew us the infinite and unsearchable greatness of God (Job 11:7-9; Rom 11:33). They are here to be taken in this second sense, that is, to suggest unto us the unsearchable and infinite greatness of God — Who is a breadth beyond all breadths, a length beyond all lengths, a depth beyond all depths, and a height beyond all heights; and that in all His attributes. He is an eternal being, an everlasting being, and in that respect He is beyond all measures, whether they be of breadth, length, depth, or height. In all His attributes, He is beyond all measure: whether you measure by words, by thoughts, or by the most enlarged and exquisite apprehension. His greatness is unsearchable; His judgments are unsearchable (Job 5:9); He is infinite in wisdom. “O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom 11:33). “If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong” (Job 9:19); yea, “the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). “There is none holy as the Lord” (1Sa 2:2); and, “his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear him” (Psa 103:17).

If rightly considered, the greatness of God, of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that which will support the spirits of those of His people that are frighted with the greatness of their adversaries — for here is a greatness against a greatness. Pharaoh was great, but God more great: more great in power, more great in wisdom, more great every way for the help of His people; wherein they dealt proudly, He was above them. These words for this people, therefore, take in the great God, Who in His immensity and infinite greatness is beyond all beings.

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John Bunyan – Christian Behavior



I shall not at this time discourse of every particular at large included in these words; but shall briefly fall upon those things that I judge most necessary for the people of God. Neither shall I need to make any great preamble to the words for their explication; they themselves being plain, and without that ambiguity that calleth for such a thing; the general scope being this, THAT THEY WHICH HAVE BELIEVED IN GOD SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS.

But yet, to prosecute what I intend, with what clearness I may, I shall in a word or two make way for what is to be the main of this book.

‘This is a faithful saying.’ This; Which? Why, that which goeth before, namely, ‘That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly.’

Why so?

Why, ‘That they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works.’ The meaning is, that the way to provoke others to good works, is constantly — in the evidence and demonstration of the spirit — to show them the certainty of their [these believers] being by grace made heirs of eternal life.

From this scripture, therefore, I do gather these things observable.

FIRST, That good works do flow from faith. Yea,

SECOND, That every one that believeth should be careful that their works be good.

THIRD, That every believer should not only be careful that their works be good, and for the present do them, but should also be careful to maintain them; that is, they should carefully study to keep in a constant course of good works.

FOURTH, and lastly, That the best way to provoke both ourselves and others to this work, it is to be often affirming to others the doctrine of justification by grace, and to believe it ourselves: ‘This is a faithful saying, and these things I will,’ saith Paul, ‘that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.’

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John Bunyan – The Best Way to Provoke Good Works

bunyan_j_2 “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” — Titus 3:7-8

The best way both to provoke others and ourselves to good works is to be often affirming to others the doctrine of justification by grace and to believe it ourselves. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works” (Tit 3:8)…I tell you that the best way to be fruitful in them is to be much in the exercise of the doctrine of justification by grace. And they both agree: for as faith animates to good works, so the doctrine of grace animates faith. Wherefore, the way to be rich in good works is to be rich in faith; and the way to be rich in faith is to be conscientiously affirming the doctrine of grace to others and believing it ourselves.

FIRST, TO BE CONSTANTLY AFFIRMING IT TO OTHERS: Thus, Paul tells Timothy that if he puts the brethren in mind of the truths of the Gospel, he himself should not only be a good minister of Christ, but should be nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine (1Ti 4:6). It is the ordinance of God that Christians should be often asserting the things of God each to others and that by their so doing they should edify one another (Heb 10:24, 25; 1Th 5:11).

The doctrine of the Gospel is like the dew and the small rain that distilleth upon the tender grass, wherewith it doth flourish and is kept green (Deu 32:2). Christians are like the several flowers in a garden that have upon each of them the dew of heaven, which being shaken with the wind, they let fall their dew at each other’s roots, whereby they are jointly nourished and become nourishers of one another. For Christians to commune savourly[63] of God’s matters one with another is as if they opened to each other’s nostrils boxes of perfume. Saith Paul to the church at Rome, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom 1:11, 12). Christians should be often affirming the doctrine of grace and justification by it one to another.

SECOND, AS THEY SHOULD BE THUS DOING, SO THEY SHOULD LIVE IN THE POWER OF IT THEMSELVES. They should by faith suck and drink in this doctrine as the good ground receiveth the rain, which being done, forthwith there is proclaimed good works. Paul to the Colossians saith thus, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” But how long ago? Why, “since the day ye heard it,” [saith he,] “and knew the grace of God in truth” (Col 1:3-6).

Apples and flowers are not made by the gardener, but are an effect of the planting and watering. Plant in the sinner good doctrine, and let it be watered with the word of grace, and as the effect of that, there [are] the fruits of holiness and the end everlasting life (Rom 6:22). Good doctrine is the doctrine of the Gospel, which showeth to men that God clotheth them with the righteousness of His Son freely and maketh Him with all His benefits over to them, by which free gift the sinner is [declared] righteous before God. And because he is so, therefore, there is infused a principle of grace into the heart, whereby it is both quickened and bringing forth fruit (Rom 3:21-26; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21; Joh 1:16).

Now then, seeing good works do flow from faith and seeing faith is nourished by an affirming of the doctrine of the Gospel, take here these few considerations from the doctrine of the Gospel for the support of thy faith, that thou mayest be indeed fruitful and rich in good works.

Consider 1: The whole Bible was given for this very end: that thou shouldest both believe this doctrine and live in the comfort and sweetness of it. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4; Joh 20:31).

Consider 2: That therefore every promise in the Bible is thine to strengthen, quicken, and encourage thy heart in believing.

Consider 3: That there is nothing that thou dost [that] can so please God as believing: “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Psa 147:11). They please Him because they embrace His righteousness, etc.

Consider 4: That all the withdrawings of God from thee are not for the weakening, but for the trial of thy faith; and also that whatever He suffers Satan or thy own heart to do is not to weaken faith (Job 23:8-10; 1Pe 1:7).

Consider 5: That believing is that which will keep in thy view the things of heaven and glory and that at which the devil will be discouraged, sin weakened, and thy heart quickened and sweetened (Heb 11:27; Jam 4:7; 1Pe 5:9; Eph 6:16; Rom 15:13).

Consider lastly: By believing, the lover of God is kept with warmth upon the heart; and this will provoke thee continually to bless God for Christ, for grace, for faith, hope, and all these things, either in God or thee that doth accompany salvation (2Co 2:14; Psa 103:1-3).

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