Monday, February 24, 2014

Answering the Condemnation of the Conscience

An excerpt from The Doctrine of the Law and Grace by John Bunyan (transcribed from a copy of the original book found here, but no longer available):
"Objection:  But (saith the soul) how if after I have received a pardon I should commit treason again?  What should I do then?

Answer:  Set the case thou hast committed abundance of treason, he hath by him abundance of pardons.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will ABUNDANTLY pardon.

Sometimes I myself have been in such a straight, that I have been (almost) driven to my wits ends with a sight and sense of the greatness of my sins: but calling to mind that God was God in his mercy, pity, and love, as well as in his holiness, justice, etc.  And again considering the ability of the satisfaction that was given to holiness and justice, to the end there might be way made for sinners to lay hold of this mercy; I say, I considering this when tempted to doubt and despair, I have answered in this manner.

"Lord here is one of the greatest sinners that ever the ground bare.  A sinner against the Law, and a sinner against the Gospel.  I have sinned against light, and I have sinned against mercy; and now Lord the guilt of them breaks my heart, the devil also he would have me despair, telling of me that thou art so far from hearing my prayers in this my distress, that I cannot anger thee worse, then to call upon thee; for faith he, thou art resolved for ever to damn and not to grant me the least of thy favor: yet Lord I would fain have forgiveness.  And thy word though much may be inferred from it against me; yet it saith, If I come unto thee thou wilt in no wise cast me out.  Lord, shall I honor thee most by believing thou canst pardon my sins, or by believing thou canst not?  Shall I honor thee most by believing thou wilt pardon my sins, or by believing thou wilt not?  Shall I honor the blood of thy Son also by despairing, that the virtue thereof is not sufficient, or by believing that it is sufficient to purge me from all my blood-red and crimson sins?  Surely, thou that couldest find so much mercy as to pardon Manasseh, Mary Magdalen, the three thousand murderers persecuting Paul, murderous and adulterous David, and blaspheming Peter, thou that offeredst mercy to Simon Magus a witch, and didst receive the astrologers  and conjurers in the nineteenth of Acts, thou hast mercy enough for one poor sinner.  Lord, see the case my sins were bigger then all these, and I less deserved mercy then any of these: yet thou hast said in thy word, that he that cometh to thee, thou wilt in no wise cast out.

And God hath given comfort to my soul, even to such a sinner as I am: and I tell you, there is no way so to honor God, and to beat out the devil as to stick to the truth of God's Word, and the merits of Christ's blood by believing."
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," (Rom. 8:1).