THE LIFE OF
Further Severe Temptations
Bunyan then proceeds to relate his various temptations, and the exercises of his mind: some of these arose from his mistake as to some passages of Scripture; but other texts were applied by the Spirit of God, so as to guide his mind aright; and by the painful process through which he was brought, he was peculiarly qualified to succour the tempted and to console the afflicted. Some additional extracts from this part of his narrative will be given.
"1 was tempted to sell and part with this most blessed Christ, to exchange him for the things of this life, for anything. The temptation lay upon me for the space of a year, and did follow me so continually, that I was not rid of it one day in a month; no, not sometimes one hour in many days together, unless when I was asleep. Yet it was a continual vexation to me, to think that I should have so much as one such thought within me against a Christ, a Jesus, that had done for me as he had done; and yet then I had almost none others but such blasphemous ones. But it was neither my dislike of the thought, nor yet my desire and endeavour to resist, that in the least did shake or abate the continuation or force and strength thereof; for it did always, in almost whatever I thought, intermix itself therewith in such sort, that I could neither eat my food, stoop for a pin, chop a stick, or cast mine eye to look on this or that, but still the temptation would come, 'Sell Christ for this, or sell Christ for that; sell him, sell him.'
"One morning, as I did lie in my bed, I was, as at other times, most fiercely assaulted with this temptation, 'to sell and part with Christ;' the wicked suggestion still running in my mind, 'Sell him, sell him, sell him, sell him,' as fast as a man could speak; against which also, in my mind, as at other times, I answered, 'No, no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands,' at least twenty times together: but at last, after much striving, even until 1 was almost out of breath, I felt this thought pass through my heart, - ‘Let him go if he will;' and I thought also that I felt my heart freely consent thereto. O the diligence of Satan! O the desperateness of man's heart!
"Now was the battle won, and down fell I, as a bird that is shot from the top of a tree, into great guilt and fearful despair. Thus, getting out of my bed, I went moping into the field; but God knows, with as heavy a heart as mortal man, I think, could bear; where, for the space of two hours, I was like a man bereft of life; and, as now, past all recovery, and bound over to eternal punishment.
"And, withal, that scripture did seize upon my soul, - 'Or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears,' Heb. ,17. Now was I as one bound; I felt myself shut up unto the judgment to come; nothing now, for two years together, would abide with me, but damnation, and an expectation of damnation: I say nothing now would abide with me but this, save some few moments for relief, as in the sequel you will see.
"These words were to my soul like fetters of brass to my legs, in the continual sound of which I went for several months together. But about ten or eleven o'clock on that day, as I was walking under a hedge, full of sorrow and guilt, God knows, and bemoaning myself for this hard hap, that such a thought should arise within me, suddenly this sentence rushed in upon me, - 'The blood of Christ remits all guilt.' At this I made a stand in my spirit: with that this word took hold upon me, - 'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,' 1 John 1:7. Now I began to conceive peace in my soul, and methought I saw as if the tempter did leer and steal away from me, as being ashamed of what he had done. At the same time also I had my sin, and the blood of Christ, thus represented to me, that my sin, when compared to the blood of Christ, was no more to it than this little clod or stone before me is to this vast and wide field that here I see. This gave me good encouragement for the space of two or three hours; in which time, also, methought I saw by faith the Son of God as suffering for my sins; but because it tarried not, I therefore sunk in my spirit under exceeding guilt again."
"Then again, being loth and unwilling to perish, I began to compare my sin with others, to see if I could, find that any of those that were saved had done as I had done. So I considered David's adultery and murder, and Peter's sin which he committed in denying his Master. Oh, how did my soul at this time prize the preservation that God did set about his people! Ah, how safely did I see them walk, whom God had hedged in! They were within his care, protection, and special providence. Though they were full as bad as I by nature, yet, because he loved them, he would not suffer them to fall without the range of mercy: but as for me, I was gone, I had done it; he would not preserve me nor keep me, but suffered me, because I was a reprobate, to fall as I had done. Now did those blessed places that speak of God's keeping his people shine like the sun before me, though not to comfort me, yet to show me the blessed state and heritage of those whom the Lord had blessed.
"Now I saw, that as God had his hand in all the providences and dispensations that overtook his elect, so he had his hand in all the temptations that they had to sin against him; not to animate them to wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles for them; and also to leave them for a time to such things only that might not destroy, but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in the way of the renewing his mercy. But oh! what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see mixing itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God's ways to his people! He would let David, Hezekiah, Solomon, Peter, and others fall, but he would not let them fall into the sin unpardonable, nor into hell for sin. Oh, thought I, these be the men that God hath loved; these be the men that God, though he chastiseth them, keeps them in safety by him; and then whom he makes to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. But all these added sorrow, grief, and horror to me, as whatever I now thought on, it was killing to me. If I thought how God kept his own, that was killing to me; if I thought how I was fallen myself, that was killing to me. As all things wrought together for the best, and to do good to them that were the called according to his purpose, so I thought that all things wrought for damage and for my eternal overthrow.
"Then, again, I began to compare my sin with the sin of Judas, that, if possible, I might find if mine differed from that, which in truth is unpardonable: and oh! thought I, if it should differ from it, though but the breadth of an hair, what ~ happy condition is my soul in! And, by considering, I found that Judas did this intentionally, but mine was against prayer and strivings: besides, his was committed with much deliberation, but mine in a fearful hurry, on a sudden. All this while I was tossed to and fro like the locust, and driven from trouble to sorrow; hearing always the sound of Esau's fall in mine ears, and the dreadful consequences thereof.
"I was often now ashamed that I should be like such an ugly man as Judas: I thought also how loathsome I should be unto all the saints in the day of judgment; insomuch that now I could scarce see a good man, that I believed had a good conscience, but I should feel my heart tremble at him while I was in his presence. Oh! now I saw a glory in walking with God, and what a mercy it was to have a good conscience before him."
"I was much about that time tempted to content myself by receiving some false opinions; as, that there should be no such thing as a day of judgment; that we should not rise again; and that sin was no such grievous thing: the tempter suggesting thus, - 'For if these things should indeed be true, yet to believe otherwise would yield you ease for the present. If you must perish, never torment yourself so much beforehand: drive the thoughts of damning out of your mind by possessing your mind with some such conclusions that atheists and unbelievers use to help themselyes withal.'
"But oh! when such thoughts have passed through my heart, how, as it were within a step, have death and judgment been in my view! Methought the Judge stood at the door; I was as if it was come already; so that such things could have no entertainment. But methinks I see by this, that Satan will use any means to keep the soul from Christ; he loveth not an awakened frame of spirit; security, blindness, darkness, and error, is the very kingdom and habitation of the wicked one."
"I found it a hard work now to pray to God, because despair was swallowing me up; I thought I was, as with a tempest, driven away from God; for always when I cried to God for mercy, this would come in, - 'It is too late, I am lost. God hath let me fall; not to my correction, but my condemnation. My sin is unpardonable; and I know, concerning Esau, how that after he had sold his birthright he would have inherited the blessing, but was rejected.
"That saying would sometimes come into my mind - 'He hath received gifts for the rebellious,' Psa. 68:18. The rebellious! thought I; why, surely they are such as once were under subjection to their prince; even those who, after they have once sworn subjection to his government, have taken up arms against him: and this, thought I, is my very condition. I once loved him, feared him, served him; but now I am a rebel. I have sold him; I have said, Let him go if he will; but yet he has gifts for rebels; and then why not for me?
"This sometimes I thought on, and would labour to take hold thereof, that some, though small refreshment, might have been conceived by me; but in this also I missed of my desire, I was driven with force beyond it; I was like a man going to execution, even by that place where he would fain creep in and hide himself, but may not."
"After I had considered the sins of the saints in particular, and found mine went beyond them, then I began to think with myself: set the case I should put all theirs together, and mine alone against them might I not then find encouragement? for if mine, though bigger than anyone, yet should be but equal to all, then there is hope; for that blood that hath virtue enough in it to wash away all theirs hath virtue enough in it to wash away mine, though this one be full as big, if not bigger than all theirs."
"The tempter strongly suggested to me, 'that I ought not to pray to God, for prayer was not for any in my case; neither could it do me good, because I had rejected the Mediator, by whom all prayers came with acceptance to God the Father; and without whom no prayer could come into his presence: wherefore, now to pray is but to add sin to sin; yea, now to pray, seeing God has cast you off, is the next way to anger and offend him more than you ever did before.'
"Yet my case being desperate, I thought with myself, I can but die; and if it must be so, it shall once be said, 'That such an one died at the foot of Christ in prayer.' This I did, but with great difficulty, God doth know; and that because, together with this, still that saying about Esau would be set at my heart, even like a flaming sword, to keep the way of the tree of life, lest I should take thereof and live. Oh, who knows how hard a thing I found it to come to God in prayer!
"I did also desire the prayers of the people of God for me, but I feared that God would give them no heart to do it; yea, I trembled in my soul to think that some or other of them would shortly tell me' that God hath said those words to them, that he once did say to the prophet, concerning the children of Israel, 'Pray not for this people, for I have rejected them,' Jer. 11:14. So, 'Pray not for him, for I have rejected him,' 1 Sam. 16:1. Yea, I thought that he had whispered this to some of them already, only they durst not tell me so; neither durst I ask them of it, for fear, if it should be so, it would make me quite beside myself: 'Man knows the beginning of sin,' said Spira, 'but who bounds the issues thereof?'
"About this time I took an opportunity to break my mind to an ancient Christian, and told him all my case. I told him, also, that I was afraid that I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost; and he told me he thought so too. Here, therefore, I had but cold comfort; but talking a little more with him, I found him, though a good man, a stranger to much combat with the devil. Wherefore I went to God again, as well as I could, for mercy still.
"Then did that scripture seize upon my soul, - 'He is of one mind, and who can turn him?' Oh! I saw it was as easy to persuade him to make a new world, a new covenant, or a new Bible, besides that we have already, as to pray for such a thing. This was to persuade him that what he had done already was mere folly, and persuade him to alter, yea, to disannul the whole way of salvation. And then would that saying rend my soul asunder, - 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,' Acts .
"Now the most free, and full, and gracious words of the gospel were
the greatest torment to me; yea, nothing so afflicted me as the thoughts of
Jesus Christ, the remembrance of a Saviour; because I had cast him off, brought
forth the villany of my sin, and my loss by it, to mind; nothing did twinge my
conscience like this. Everything that I thought of the Lord Jesus, of his
grace, love, goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness, death, blood,
promises, and blessed exhortations, comforts, and consolations, it went to my
soul like a sword; for still unto these my considerations of the Lord Jesus,
these thoughts would make place for themselves in my heart: 'Ay, this is the
Lord Jesus, the loving Saviour, the Son of God, whom you have parted with, whom
you have slighted, despised, and abused. This is the only Saviour, the only
Redeemer, the only one that could so love sinners as to wash them from their
sins in his own most precious blood. But you have no part nor lot in this
Jesus; you have put him from you; you have said in your heart, Let him go if he
will. Now, therefore, you are severed from him; you have severed yourself from
him. Behold, then, his goodness, but yourself to be no partaker of it.' Oh,
thought I, what have I lost! what have I parted with! what has disinherited my
poor soul! Oh! It is sad to be destroyed by the grace and mercy of God; to have
the Lamb, the Saviour, turn lion and destroyer! '1 could not bear to think of
the wrath of the Lamb, in that great day of his wrath, when no rebels to his
authority will be able to stand, Rev. 6:16,17. I also trembled, as I have said,
at the sight of the saints of God, especially at those that greatly loved him,
and that made it their business to walk continually with him in this world; for
they did, both in their words, their carriages, and all their expressions of
tenderness and fear to sin against their precious Saviour, condemn, lay guilt
upon, and also add continual affliction and shame unto my soul. The dread of
them was upon me, and I trembled at God's Samuels: 'And Samuel came to
"Thus I was always sinking, whatever I did think or do. So one day I walked to a neighbouring town, and sat down upon a settle in the street, and fell into a very deep pause about the most fearful state my sin had brought me to; and after long musing I lifted up my head, but methought I saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens did grudge to give light; and as if the very stones in the street, and tiles upon the houses, did bend themselves against me. Methought that they all combined to banish me out of the world. I was abhorred of them, and unfit to dwell among them, or be partaker of their benefits; because I had sinned against the Saviour. Oh, how happy now was every creature to what I was! for they stood fast and kept their station, but I was gone and lost.
"Then breaking out in the bitterness of my soul, I said to my soul with a grievous sigh, 'How can God comfort such a wretch?' I had no sooner said it but this returned upon me, as an echo doth answer a voice,- 'This sin is not unto death.' At which I was as if I had been raised out of the grave, and cried out again, 'Lord, how couldst thou find out such a word as this?' for I was filled with admiration at the fitness and at the unexpectedness of the sentence; the fitness of the word, the rightness of the timing of it; the power, and sweetness, and light, and glory that came with it also, were marvellous to me to find. I was now, for the time, out of doubt as to that about which I was so much in doubt before: my fears before were that my sin was not pardonable, and so that I had no right to pray, to repent, &c.; or that if I did, it would be of no advantage or profit to me. But now, thought I, if this sin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore, from this I have encouragement to come to God by Christ for mercy, to consider the promise of forgiveness as that which stands with open arms to receive me as well as others. This, therefore, was a great easement to my mind, to wit, that my sin was pardonable, that it was not the sin unto death. 'If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not that ye shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death,' 1 John , 17. None but those that know what my trouble, by their own experience, was, can tell what relief came to my soul by this consideration. It was a release to me from my former bonds, and a shelter from my former storms. I seemed now to stand upon the same ground with other sinners, and to have as good right to the word and prayer as any of them.
"The next day at evening, being under many fears, I went to seek the Lord, and, as I prayed, I cried, and my soul cried to him in these words, with strong cries, - 'O Lord, I beseech thee, show me that thou hast loved me with everlasting love,' Jer. 31:3. I had no sooner said it, but with sweetness this returned upon me, as an echo, or sounding again, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love.' Now I went to bed in quiet; also when I waked the next morning, it was fresh upon my soul, and I believed it."
"As I was musing and in my studies, considering how to love the Lord, and to express my love to him, that saying came in upon me,-' If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, 0 Lord, who should stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared,' Psa. 130:3, 4. These were good words to me, especially the latter part thereof; to wit, that there is forgiveness with the Lord, that he might be feared; that is, as I then understood it, that he might be loved, and had in reverence: for it was thus made out to me, 'That the great God did set so high an esteem upon the love of his poor creatures, that, rather than he would go without their love, he would pardon their transgressions.'''
"That saying, - 'And he spake a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint,' Luke 18:1, with others, did encourage me to prayer. Then the tempter again laid at me very sore, suggesting, ‘that neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood of Christ, did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my sin; therefore it was in vain to pray.' Yet, thought I, ' I will pray.' 'But,' said the tempter, 'your sin is unpardonable.' ' Well,' said I, 'I will pray.' 'It is to no boot,' said he. 'Yet,' said I, 'I will pray.' So I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer I uttered words to this effect: 'Lord, Satan tells me that neither thy mercy nor Christ's blood is sufficient to save my soul: Lord, shall I honour thee most by believing thou wilt and canst; or him, by believing thou neither wilt nor canst? Lord, I would fain honour thee by believing thou wilt and canst.'
"And as I was thus before the Lord, that scripture fastened on my heart, - 'O man, great is thy faith,' Matt. 15:28: yet I was not able to believe this, that this was a prayer of faith, till almost six months after; for I could not think that I had faith, or that there should be a word for me to act faith on; therefore I should still be as sticking in the jaws of desperation, and went mourning up and down in a sad condition."
"At another time, I remember, I was again much under this question, - 'Whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my soul?' In which doubt I continued from morning till about seven or eight at night; and at last, when I was as it were quite worn out with fear, lest it should not lay hold on me, these words did sound suddenly within my heart, - 'He is able.' But methought this word 'able' was spoke loud unto me; it showed a great word, it seemed to be writ in great letters, and gave such a jostle to my fear and doubt (I mean for the time it tarried with me, which was about a day), as I never had from that time all my life, either before or after. 'Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come uuto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make ntercession for them,' Heb. 7:25.
"One day, when I was in a meeting of God's people, full of sadness and terror, for my fears again were strong upon me, and as I was now thinking my soul was never the better, but my case most sad and fearful, these words did with great power suddenly break in upon me, - 'My grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee,' three times together. And oh! methought that every word was a mighty word unto me; as 'my,' and 'grace,' and 'sufficient,' and 'for thee;' they were then, and sometimes are still, far bigger than others be.
"That scripture most sweetly visited my soul, - ‘And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,' John . Oh, the comfort that I had from this word, 'in no wise'! As who should say, 'By no means, for nothing whatever he hath, done.' But Satan would greatly labour to pull this promise from me, telling me 'that Christ did not mean me and such as I, but sinners of a lower rank, that had not done as I had done.' But I would answer him again, ‘Satan, here is in these words no such exception; but him that comes, him, any him: 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' And this I well remember still, that of all the sleights that Satan used to take this Scripture from me, yet he never did so much as put this question, - 'But do you come aright?' And I have thought the reason was, because he thought I knew full well what coming aright was, for I saw that to come aright was to come as I was, a vile and ungodly sinner, and so cast myself at the feet of mercy, condemning myself for sin. If ever Satan and I did strive for any word of God in all my life, it was for this good word of Christ; he at one end, and I at the other. Oh, what work we made! It was for this in John, I say, that we did so tug and strive, he pulled and I pulled; but, God be praised, I overcame him; I got sweetness from it." ,
"One day, as I was passing into the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest all was not right yet, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, - 'Thy righteousness is in heaven;' and methought withal I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand: there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, 'He wants my righteousness,' for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, 'the same yesterday, to day, and for ever,' Heb. 13:8.
"Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me: now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God; so when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, - 'Thy righteousness is in heaven,' but could not find such a saying; wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance, - 'He is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,' 1 Cor. 1:33: by this word I saw the other sentence true.
"For by this scripture I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as he is distinct from us as touching his bodily presence, so he is our righteousness and sanctification before God: here, therefore, I lived, for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; oh! metbought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I was not now only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or resurrection, but considering him as a whole Christ; as he in whom all these, and all other his virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that he sat on the right hand of God in heaven.
"It was glorious to me to see his exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all his benefits, and that because now I could look from myself to him, and would reckon that all those graces of. God that now were green on me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies' *(coins well known in Bunyan’s day.)* that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunk at home: oh! I saw my gold was in my trunk at home in Christ my Lord and Saviour. Now Christ was all; all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.
"Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with the Son of God; that I was joined to him, 'that I was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone,' Ephes. 5:30; and now was that word of St. Paul sweet to me. By this also was my faith in him, as my righteousness, the more confirmed in me; for if he and I were one, then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once, - in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person.
"Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked upon of God, and should also be looked upon by us, as that common or public person, in whom all the whole body of his elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by him, died by him, rose from the dead by him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell, by him: when he died, we died; and so of his resurrection. 'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise,' saith he, Isa. 26:19. And again, 'After two days he will revive us, and the third day we shall live in his sight,' Hos. 6: 2. Which is now fulfilled by the sitting down of the Son of man on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, - 'He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,' Ephes. 2:6.
"Ah! these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others of like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eye, so that I have cause to say, 'Praise ye the Lord God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness,' Psa. 150:1, 2.
"Having thus in a few words given you a taste of the sorrow and affliction that my soul went under, by the guilt and terror that these my wicked thoughts did lay me under; and having given you also a touch of my deliverance therefrom, and of the sweet and blessed comfort that I met with afterwards, which comfort dwelt about a twelvemonth with my heart, to my unspeakable admiration; I will now, God willing, before I proceed any farther, give you in a word or two what, as I conceive, was the cause of this temptation; and also after that, what advantage, at the last, it became unto my soul."