13 January 2012

I Must Venture You All With God

John Bunyan spent twelve years in prison, at any point of which he could have been released had he agreed to stop preaching the gospel.

Listen to him recount the pain of staying in prison while his family, including a precious blind daughter, languished in poverty. And listen to him recount what gave him the strength to persevere through such horrific circumstances.
I found myself a man encompassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as pulling the flesh from the bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I would have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family were like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer to my heart than all besides. Oh, the thoughts of the hardship my poor blind one might undergo would break my heart to pieces. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee.

But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it. . . .

But that which helped me in this temptation was diverse considerations, of which three in special here I will name: the first was the consideration of these two scriptures: "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me;" and again, "The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction.' Jer. 49: 11; 15: 11.

I had also this consideration, that if I should venture all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concerns; but if I forsook him in his ways, for fear of any trouble that should come to me or mine, then I should not only falsify my profession, but should count also that my concerns were not so sure if left at God's feet while I stood to and for his name, as they would be if they were under my own care, though with the denial of the way of God. This was a smarting consideration, and as spurs into my flesh. That scripture also greatly helped it to fasten the more on me, where Christ prays against Judas, that God would disappoint him in his selfish thoughts which moved him to sell his Master. Pray read it soberly: Psalm 109: 6, etc.

I had also another consideration, and that was, the dread of the torments of hell, which I was sure they must partake of that for fear of the cross do shrink from their profession of Christ, his words and laws, before the sons of men. I thought also of the glory that he had prepared for those that in faith and love and patience stood to his ways before them.

These things, I say, have helped me when the thoughts of the misery that both myself and mine might, for the sake of my profession, be exposed to, have lain pinching on my mind.
The rest of this addendum to his spiritual autobiography (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners) is here.

The whole thing is well worth reading.

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