by John Bunyan
This admirable treatise upon the most important of all subjects, that of the soul's salvation, was first published in a pocket volume, in the year 1675. This has become very rare, but it is inserted in every edition of the author's collected works. Our copy is reprinted from the first edition published after the author's decease, in a small folio volume of his works, 1691. Although it is somewhat encumbered with subdivisions, it is plain, practical, and written in Bunyan's strong and energetic style; calculated to excite the deepest attention, and to fix the mind upon those solemn realities which alone can unite earth and heaven.
How extensive is the meaning of that little sentence. 'Saved by Grace!' It includes in it redemption from the curse of sin, which oppresses the poor sinner with the fears of everlasting burnings; while it elevates the body, soul, and spirit, to an exceeding weight of glory—to the possession of infinite treasures, inconceivable, and that never fade away.
Bunyan, in opening and deeply investigating this subject, shows his master hand in every page. It was a subject which, from his first conviction of sin, while playing a game of cat on a Sunday, had excited his feelings to an intense degree, absorbing all the powers of his soul. It was eminently to him the one thing needful—the sum and substance of human happiness. He felt that it included the preservation and re-structure of the body—raised from filth and vileness—from sickness, pain, and disease—from death and the grave—to be perfected in immortality like the Savior's glorious body. That included in this salvation, is the death of death, and the swallowing up of the grave, to be seen no more forever. The soul will be perfect, and, reunited with the body, be filled 'with bliss and glory, as much as ever it can hold;' all jars and discord between soul and body will be finished, and the perfect man be clothed with righteousness; in a word, be like Christ and with him. All this is the work of grace, performed by the ever-blessed Trinity.
In displaying the feelings and experience of the enquiring, alarmed, quickened sinner, we are instructed by a continual illustration of theGrace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. He manifests profound knowledge of the devices of Satan—the workings of unbelief—the difficulties thrown by the wicked one in the way of the sinner, to prevent his approach to Christ. He fastens conviction upon conviction—gives blow upon blow to human pride; proving that there can be found nothing in our fallen nature to recommend the sinner to God—all is of grace—from the foundation to the trop-stone of a sinner's salvation. And above all, he clearly shows that salvation by grace is the most sin-killing doctrine in the world, as well as the most consoling tidings that can be brought to a sin-sick soul. 'O, when a God of grace is upon a throne of grace, and a poor sinner stands by and begs for grace, and that in the name of a gracious Christ, in and by the help of the Spirit of grace, can it be otherwise but that such a sinner must obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need? O, then, COME BOLDLY!' p. 33.
But I must not detain the reader from entering upon this solemn subject; only for a moment, when I quote another passage conceived in all the ardour of Bunyan's feelings:—'O Son of God! Grace was in all thy tears—grace came out where the whip smote thee, where the thorns pricked thee, where the nails and spear pierced thee! O blessed Son of God! Here is grace indeed! Unsearchable riches of grace! Grace to make angels wonder, grace to make sinners happy, grace to astonish devils! And what will become of them that trample under foot this Son of God?'
Reader, may this searching, comforting, reviving subject be blessed to our well-grounded consolation.
In this little book thou art presented with a discourse of the GRACE of God, and of salvation by that grace. In which discourse, thou shalt find how each Person in the Godhead doth his part in the salvation of the sinner. I. The Father putteth forth his grace, thus. II. The Son putteth forth his grace, thus. III. And the Spirit putteth forth his grace, thus. Which things thou shalt find here particularly handled. Thou shalt also find, in this small treatise, the way of God with the sinner, as to his CONVERSATION and the way of the sinner with God in the same; where[in] the grace of God, and the wickedness of the sinner, do greatly show themselves. If thou findest me short in things, impute that [to] my love to brevity. If thou findest me besides the truth in aught, impute that to mine infirmity. But if thou findest anything here that serveth to thy furtherance and joy of faith, impute that to the mercy of God bestowed on thee and me. Thine to serve thee with that little I have, J.B.
Table of Contents
I. What it is to be saved.
II. What it is to be saved by grace.
III. Who they are that are saved by grace.
IV. How it appears that they are saved by grace.
V. What should be the reason that God should choose to save sinners by grace rather than by any other means.