T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
Published two years after Pilgrim's Progress.
[WITHOUT GODLY REPENTANCE, THE WICKED MAN'S HOPE AND LIFE DIE TOGETHER.]
ence wicked men's hope is said to die, not before, but with them; they give up the ghost together. And thus did Mr. Badman. His sins and his hope went with him to the gate, but there his hope left him, because he died there; but his sins went in with him, to be a worm to gnaw him in conscience for ever and ever.
The opinion, therefore of the common people concerning this kind of dying is frivolous and vain; for Mr. Badman died like a lamb, or, as they call it, like a chrisom-child, quietly and without fear. I speak not this with reference to the struggling of nature with death, but as to the struggling of the conscience with the judgment of God. I know that nature will struggle with death. I have seen a dog and sheep die hardly. And thus may a wicked man do, because there is an antipathy betwixt nature and death. But even while, even then, when death and nature are struggling for mastery, the soul, the conscience, may be as besotted, as benumbed, as senseless and ignorant of its miserable state, as the block or bed on which the sick lies. And thus they may die like a chrisom-child in show, but indeed like one who by the judgment of God is bound over to eternal damnation; and that also by the same judgment is kept from seeing what they are, and whither they are going, till they plunge down among the flames.
And as it is a very great judgment of God on wicked men that so die, for it cuts them off from all possibility of repentance, and so of salvation, so it is as great a judgment upon those that are their companions that survive them, for by the manner of their death, they dying so quietly, so like unto chrisom-children, as they call it, they are hardened, and take courage to go on in their course.
For comparing their life with their death, their sinful, cursed lives, with their childlike, lamblike death, they think that all is well, that no damnation is happened to them; though they lived like devils incarnate, yet they died like harmless ones. there was no whirlwind, no tempest, no band or plague in their death. They died as quietly as the most godly of them all, and had as great faith and hope of salvation, and would talk as boldly of salvation as if they had assurance of it. But as was their hope in life, so was their death; their hope was without trial, because it was none of God's working, and their death was without molestation, because so was the judgment of God concerning them.
But I say, at this their survivors take heart to tread their steps, and to continue to live in the breach of the law of God; yea, they carry it stately in their villainies; for so it follows in the Psalm; 'There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm,' &c. 'therefore pride compasseth them,' the survivors, 'about as a chain, violence covereth them as a garment' (Psa 73:6). Therefore they take courage to do evil, therefore they pride themselves in their iniquity. Therefore, wherefore? Why, because their fellows died, after they had lived long in a most profane and wicked life, as quietly and as like to lambs as if they had been innocent.
Yea, they are bold, by seeing this, to conclude that God either does not, or will not, take notice of their sins. They 'speak wickedly, and speak loftily' (Psa 73:8). They speak wickedly of sin, for that they make it better than by the Word it is pronounced to be. They speak wickedly concerning oppression that they commend, and count it a prudent act. They also speak loftily. 'They set their mouth against the heavens,' &c. 'And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?' (Psa 73:11). And all this, so far as I can see, ariseth in their hearts from the beholding of the quiet and lamblike death of their companions. 'Behold these are the ungodly who prosper in the world,' that is, by wicked ways; 'they increase in riches' (Psa 73:12).
This therefore is a great judgment of God, both upon that man that dieth in his sins, and also upon his companion that beholdeth him so to die. He sinneth, he dieth in his sins, and yet dieth quietly. What shall his companion say to this? What judgment shall he make how God will deal with him, by beholding the lamblike death of his companion? Be sure he cannot, as from such a sight, say, Woe be to me, for judgment is before him. He cannot gather that sin is a dreadful and a bitter thing, by the childlike death of Mr. Badman. But must rather, if he judgeth according to what he sees, or according to his corrupted reason, conclude with the wicked ones of old, that 'every one that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?' (Mal 2:17).
Yea, this is enough to puzzle the wisest man. David himself was put to a stand by beholding the quiet death of ungodly men. 'Verily,' says he, 'I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency' (Psa 73:13). They, to appearance, fare better by far than I: 'Their eyes stand out with fatness,' they have more than heart could wish. But all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. This, I say, made David wonder, yea, and Job and Jeremiah too. But he goeth into the sanctuary, and then he understands their end, nor could he understand it before. 'I went into the sanctuary of God.' What place was that? Why there where he might inquire of God, and by him he resolved of this matter; 'Then,' says he, 'understood I their end.' Then I saw that thou hast 'set them in slippery places,' and that 'thou castedst them down to destruction.' Castedst them down, that is, suddenly, or, as the next words say, 'As in a moment they are utterly consumed with terrors'; which terrors did not seize them on their sick- bed, for they had 'no bands' in their death. The terrors, therefore, seized them there, where also they are holden in them for ever. This he found out, I say, but not without great painfulness, grief, and pricking in his reins; so deep, so hard, and so difficult did he find it rightly to come to a determination in this matter.
And, indeed, this is a deep judgment of God towards ungodly sinners; it is enough to stagger a whole world, only the godly that are in the world have a sanctuary to go to, where the oracle and Word of God is, by which his judgments, and a reason of many of them are made known to, and understood by them.
ATTEN. Indeed this is a staggering dispensation. It is full of the wisdom and anger of God. And I believe, as you have said, that it is full of judgment to the world. Who would have imagined, that had not known Mr. Badman, and yet had seen him die, but that he had been a man of an holy life and conversation, since he died so stilly, so quietly, so like a lamb or a chrisom-child? Would they not, I say, have concluded that he was a righteous man? or that if they had known him and his life, yet to see him die so quietly, would they not have concluded that he had made his peace with God? Nay farther, if some had known that he had died in his sins, and yet that he had died so like a lamb, would they not have concluded that either God doth not know our sins, or that he likes them; or that he wants power, or will, or heart, or skill, to punish them; since Mr. Badman himself went from a sinful life so quietly, so peaceable, and so like a lamb as he did?
WISE. Without controversy, this is a heavy judgment of
God upon wicked men; one goes to hell in peace, another goes to hell in trouble; one goes to hell, being sent thither by his own hands; another goes to hell, being sent thither by the hand of his companion; one goes thither with his eyes shut, and another goes thither with his eyes open; one goes thither roaring, and another goes thither boasting of heaven and happiness all the way he goes (Job 21:23). One goes thither like Mr. Badman himself, and others go thither as did his brethren. But above all, Mr. Badman's death, as to the manner of dying, is the fullest of snares and traps to wicked men; therefore, they that die as he are the greatest stumble to the world. They go, and go, they go on peaceably from youth to old age, and thence to the grave, and so to hell, without noise. 'They go as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks'; that is, both senselessly and securely. O! but being come at the gates of hell. O! but when they see those gates set open for them. O! but when they see that that is their home, and that they must go in thither, then their peace and quietness flies away for ever. Then they roar like lions, yell like dragons, howl like dogs, and tremble at their judgment, as do the devils themselves. O! when they see they must shoot the gulf and throat of hell! when they shall see that hell hath shut her ghastly jaws upon them, when they shall open their eyes and find themselves within the belly and bowels of hell! Then they will mourn, and weep, and hack, and gnash their teeth for pain. But his must not be, or if it must, yet very rarely, till they are gone out of the sight and hearing of those mortals whom they do leave behind them alive in the world.
ATTEN. Well, my good neighbour Wiseman, I perceive that the sun grows low, and that you have come to a conclusion with Mr. Badman's life and death; and, therefore, I will take my leave of you. Only first, let me tell you, I am glad that I have met with you to-day, and that our hap was to fall in with Mr. Badman's state. I also thank you for your freedom with me, in granting of me your reply to all my questions. I would only beg your prayers that God will give me much grace, that I may neither live nor die as did Mr. Badman.
WISE. My good neighbour Attentive, I wish your welfare in soul and body; and if aught that I have said of Mr. Badman's life and death may be of benefit unto you, I shall be heartily glad; only I desire you to thank God for it, and to pray heartily for me, that I with you may be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
ATTEN. Amen. Farewell.
WISE. I wish you heartily farewell.