excerpt from A FEW SIGHS FROM HELL
by John Bunyan
Now then, because I would not be too tedious, I shall at this time lay down no more discoveries of such an one as doth savingly believe the Scriptures, and the things contained in them, but shall speak a few words of examination concerning the things already mentioned. As,
First USE. Thou sayest thou dost in deed and in truth effectually believe the Scriptures: I ask, therefore, wast thou ever killed stark dead by the law of works contained in the Scriptures-killed by the law or letter, and made to see thy sins against it, and left in a helpless condition by that law? For, as I said, the proper work of the law is to slay the soul, and to leave it dead in a helpless state. For it doth neither give the soul any comfort itself when it comes, nor doth it show the soul where comfort is to be had; and therefore it is called 'the ministration of condemnation,' as in 2Co_3:9, 'the ministration of death,' 2Co_3:7. For though men may have a notion of the blessed Word of God, as the children had, yet before they be converted it may truly be said of them, Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God (Mar_12:24).
Second USE. You say you do believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God. I say again, Examine, wast thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit of Christ, through the other part of the Scripture; that is to say, by the power of God in his Son Jesus Christ, through the covenant of promise? I tell thee from the Lord, if thou hast, thou hast felt such a quickening power in the words of Christ (John 6) that thou hast been lifted out of that dead condition that thou before wast in. And that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and the power of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been enabled, by the power of God in Christ, revealed to thee by the Spirit through and by the Scripture, to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the law, and all things that are at enmity with thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the blood, death, righteousness, resurrection, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the Scriptures. And,
Third USE. On this account, O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how much virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation! They are so large as to say, Christ will in no wise cast me out! My crimson sins shall be white as snow! I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me to lay hold of Jesus Christ through and by, that I would not have out of the Bible for as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars; because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul. I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience, my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetly to my poor soul through the promises that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul. So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill me, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh down all, and comfort the soul against all. This is the effect of believing the Scriptures savingly; for they that do so have by and through the Scriptures good comfort, and also ground of hope, believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures hold forth (Rom_15:4).
Fourth USE. Examine, Dost thou stand in awe of sinning against God, because he hath in the Scriptures commanded thee to abstain from it? Dost thou give diligence to make thy calling and election sure, because God commanded it in Scripture? Dost thou examine thyself whether thou be in the faith or no, having a command in Scripture so to do? Or dost thou, notwithstanding what thou readest in the Scripture, follow the world, delight in sin, neglect coming to Jesus Christ, speak evil of the saints, slight and make a mock at the ordinance of God, delight in wicked company, and the like? Then know that it is because thou dost not in deed and in truth believe the Scriptures effectually. For, as I said before, if a man do believe them, and that savingly, then he stands in awe, he looks to his steps, he turns his feet from evil, and endeavours to follow that which is good, which God hath commanded in the Scriptures of truth; yet not from a legal or natural principle; that is, to seek for life by doing that good thing, but knowing that salvation is already obtained for him by the blood of that man Christ Jesus on the cross because he believes the Scriptures, therefore, mark I pray, therefore, I say, he labours to walk with his God in all well-pleasing and godliness, because the sweet power of the loves of Christ, which he feels in his soul by the Spirit, according to the Scriptures, constrain him so to do (2Co_5:14).
Fifth USE. Examine again, Dost thou labour after those qualifications that the Scriptures do describe a child of God by? That is, faith, yea the right faith, the most holy faith, the faith of the operation of God. And also, dost thou examine whether there is a real growth of grace in thy soul, as love, zeal, self-denial, and a seeking by all means to attain, if possible, to the resurrection of the dead? That is, not to satisfy thyself until thou be dissolved and rid of this body of death, and be transformed into that glory that the saints shall be in after the resurrection-day. And in the meantime dost labour and take all opportunities to walk as near as may be to the pitch, though thou know thou canst not attain it perfectly. Yet, I say, thou dost aim at it, seek after it, press towards it, and to hold on in thy race; thou shunnest that which may any way hinder thee, and also closest in with what may any way further the same; knowing that that must be, or desiring that it should be, thine eternal frame, and therefore out of love and liking to it thou dost desire and long after it, as being the thing that doth most please thy soul.
Or how is it with thy soul? Art thou such an one as regards not these things, but rather busy thy thoughts about the things here below, following those things that have no scent of divine glory upon them? If so, look to thyself, thou art an unbeliever, and so under the wrath of God, and wilt for certain fall into the same place of torment that thy fellows have fallen into before thee, to the grief of thy own soul, and thy everlasting destruction.
Consider and regard these things, and lay them to thy heart before it be too late to recover thyself, by repenting of the one, and desiring to close in with the other. O! I say, regard, regard, for hell is hot. God's hand is up, the law is resolved to discharge against thy soul! The judgment-day is at hand, the graves are ready to fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding, the sentence will ere long be passed, and then you and I cannot call time again.