Acacia John Bunyan

Life and Death
Mr. Badman,
Presented to the World in a
Familiar Dialogue Between
Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive.

By J O H N.B U N Y A N.


Published two years after Pilgrim's Progress.



ATTEN. Well, and what did he think and do then?

WISE. He thought he must go to hell; that I know, for he could not forbear but say so. To my best remembrance, he lay crying out all one night for fear; and at times he would so tremble that he would make the very bed shake under him. But O! how the thoughts of death, of hell-fire, and of eternal judgment, did then wrack his conscience. Fear might be seen in his face, and in his tossings to and fro; it might also be heard in his words, and be understood by his heavy groans. He would often cry, I am undone, I am undone; my vile life has undone me!

ATTEN. Then his former atheistical thoughts and principles were too weak now to support him from the fears of eternal damnation.

WISE. Ay! they were too weak indeed. They may serve to stifle conscience, when a man is in the midst of his prosperity; and to harden the heart against all good counsel, when a man is left of God, and given up to his reprobate mind. But, alas, atheistical thoughts, notions, and opinions must shrink and melt away, when God sends, yea, comes with sickness to visit the soul of such a sinner for his sin. There was a man dwelt about twelve miles off from us, that had so trained up himself in his atheistical notions, that at last he attempted to write a book against Jesus Christ, and against the Divine authority of the scriptures. But I think it was not printed. Well, after many days, God struck him with sickness, whereof he died. So, being sick, and musing upon his former doings, the book that he had written came into his mind, and with it such a sense of his evil in writing of it, that it tore his conscience as a lion would tear a kid. He lay, therefore, upon his deathbed in sad case, and much affliction of conscience; some of my friends also went to see him; and as they were in his chamber one day, he hastily called for pen, ink, and paper; which when it was given him, he took it and writ to this purpose:I, such a one, in such a town, must go to hell-fire, for writing a book against Jesus Christ, and against the Holy Scriptures. And would also have leaped out of the window of his house, to have killed himself, but was by them prevented of that; so he died in his bed, such a death as it was. It will be well if others take warning by him.

ATTEN. This is a remarkable story.

WISE. It is as true as remarkable. I had it from them that I dare believe, who also themselves were eye and ear witnesses; and also that catched him in their arms, and saved him, when he would have leaped out of his chamber window, to have destroyed himself!

ATTEN. Well, you have told me what were Mr. Badman's thoughts now, being sick, of his condition; pray tell me also what he then did when he was sick?

WISE. Did! he did many things which, I am sure, he never thought to have done; and which, to be sure, was not looked for of his wife and children. In this fit of sickness, his thoughts were quite altered about his wife; I say his thoughts, so far as could be judged by his words and carriages to her. For now she was his good wife, his godly wife, his honest wife, his duck and dear, and all. Now he told her that she had the best of it; she having a good life to stand by her, while his debaucheries and ungodly life did always stare him in the face. Now he told her the counsel that she often gave him was good; though he was so bad as not to take it.

Now he would hear her talk to him, and he would lie sighing by her while she so did. Now he would bid her pray for him, that he might be delivered from hell. He would also now consent that some of her good ministers might come to him to comfort him; and he would seem to show them kindness when they came, for he would treat them kindly with words, and hearken diligently to what they said; only he did not care that they should talk much of his ill-spent life, because his conscience was clogged with that already. He cared not now to see his old companions, the thoughts of them were a torment to him; and now he would speak kindly to that child of his that took after its mother's steps, though he could not at all abide it before.

He also desired the prayers of good people, that God of his mercy would spare him a little longer; promising that if God would but let him recover this once, what anew, what a penitent man he would be toward God, and what a loving husband he would be to his wife; what liberty he would give her, yea, how he would go with her himself, to hear her ministers, and how they should go hand in hand in the way to heaven together.

ATTEN. Here was a fine show of things; I'll warrant you, his wife was glad for this.

WISE. His wife! ay, and a many good people besides. It was noised all over the town what a great change there was wrought upon Mr. Badman; how sorry he was for his sins, how he began to love his wife, how he desired good men should pray to God to spare him; and what promises he now made to God, in his sickness, that if ever he should raise him from his sick bed to health again, what a new penitent man he would be towards God, and what a loving husband to his good wife. Well, ministers prayed, and good people rejoiced, thinking verily that they now had gotten a man from the devil; nay, some of the weaker sort did not stick to say that God had begun a work of grace in his heart; and his wife, poor woman, you cannot think how apt she was to believe it so; she rejoiced, and she hoped as she would have it. But, alas! alas! in little time things all proved otherwise.

After he had kept his bed a while, his distemper began to abate, and he to feel himself better; so he in a little time was so finely mended, that he could walk about the house, and also obtained a very fine stomach to his food; and now did his wife and her good friends stand gaping to see Mr. Badman fulfil his promise of becoming new towards God, and loving to his wife; but the contrary only showed itself. For, so soon as ever he had hopes of mending, and found that his strength began to renew, his trouble began to go off his heart, and he grew as great a stranger to his frights and fears, as if he never had them.

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[70] See the account of an Atheist in his pride in Pilgrim's Progress and notes.