This important treatise unvails, in few but telling words, the nature of prayer, about which mankind has made most awful mistakes. Multitudes conceive that the heart-searching God can be influenced and propitiated by eloquent words and forms of prayer; whilst the few, who are taught by the Holy Spirit, feel and know that the ardent desire, the aspirations, the fervent wishes of the mind, can alone be accepted by the Eternal; and even then only through the merits of the Redeemer.
The first edition appeared in 1635, and it soon became a very popular book. The use and application announced at the end do not appear to have been published, unless the author meant one of his later productions to answer that purpose. The twelfth edition has no date on the title page; to it is added Bunyan's last Sermon, and his dying sayings,–"Licensed, Sept. 10th, 1688";
As a theological treatise, this of the Pharisee and Publican is invaluable. It is clear and perfectly intelligible to every candid and prayerful inquirer. When our author is proving the impossibility of a sinner's recommending himself to the divine favour by any imperfect good works of his own, he draws a vivid picture. A lord invites his friends to a sumptuous banquet, the provision is bountiful and in rich abundance, when some of the guests take a few mouldy crusts out of their pockets and lay them on their plates, lest the prince had not provided a sufficient repast for his friends; "would it not be a high affront to, a great contempt of, and a distrust in, the goodness of the Lord." We are bound to produce good works as a fruit of faith–a proof of love to him that hath redeemed us, but not to recommend us to his favour. The picture of such a feast drawn by John Bunyan must make upon every reader a deep, a lasting, an indelible impression.
Table of Contents
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To the Reader
A DISCOURSE UPON THE PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN
THE PHARISEE'S PRAYER
THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS FLOW FROM THIS PRAYER OF THE PHARISEE, THAT ARE WORTH OUR OBSERVATION
MAN'S RIGHTEOUSNESS REJECTED, AND THE IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST ALONE TO BE RELIED ON FOR JUSTIFICATION
THE PUBLICAN'S PRAYER
"AND THE PUBLICAN STANDING AFAR OFF, WOULD NOT LIFT UP SO MUCH AS HIS EYES UNTO HEAVEN."