Cartea ‘Calatoria Pelerinului’ gratis online (Limba Engleza)

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Photo credit DesiringGod.org

John Bunyan (n. 28 noiembrie 1628 – d. 31 august 1688) a fost un scriitor și predicator baptist-reformat englez.

Alte carti scrise de John Bunyan –

  • John Bunyan Photo wikipedia

    1678 – 1679: Călătoria pelerinului („The Pilgrim’s Progress”);

  • 1656: Câteva adevăruri evanghelice revelate („Some Gospel Truths Opened”);
  • 1658: Câteva suspine din iad („A Few Sighs from Hell”);
  • 1665: Sfârșitul lumii, Învierea și Judecata de Apoii („The End of the World, The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment”);
  • 1665: Cetatea Sfântă sau Noul Ierusalim („The Holy City or the New Jerusalem”);
  • 1675: Salvați prin mântuire („Saved by Grace”);
  • 1678: Veniți și întâmpinați-L pe Isus Christos („Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ”);
  • 1679: Frica de Dumnezeu („The Fear of God”);
  • 1680: Viața și moartea domnului Badman („The Life and Death of Mr Badman”);
  • 1688: Lucrarea lui Christos ca avocat („The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate”).

Cu ocazia aniversarii nasterii lui John Bunyan, Desiring God (organizatia lui John Piper) ofera o noua editie a cartii Calatoria Pelerinului in mod gratuit.

Descarca cartea aici in format pdf – Download the PDF

Sursa – http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-pilgrim-s-progress-new-edition

Reclame

Spend the weekend with John Bunyan – Run to Obtain

If you havent gotten familiar with John Bunyan, you have the opportunity to do so here. Please check out the links below this post and they will take you to several pages of online books to read and videos to watch.

John Bunyan 1628-1688

Run to Obtain

John Bunyan

John Bunyan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 1660s, Charles II, King of England, asked John Owen (1616–83) why he went to hear the preaching of an uneducated tinker. The King was amazed that Owen, a prominent preacher, would stoop to associate with a tinker. After all, there was quite a contrast between the two.

At that time, most ministers in England graduated from Cambridge or Oxford. Owen had entered Queen’s College, Oxford at age 12, took his B.A. in 1632 and M.A. in 1635. On the other hand, the tinker possessed no formal education beyond the second grade. Owen had written voluminously; the tinker did most of his writing while in jail.

The tinker lived in a small cottage in the obscure village of Bedford, but Owen served as chaplain to Cromwell, walked in kings’ palaces, was respected by many of the nobility, and had preached to Parliament and in England’s great cathedrals. The tinker preached to a church that met in an old barn and at its peak may have numbered 300.

Looking the King in the eye, Owen answered, “May it please your Majesty, could I possess the tinker’s ability for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning.”1

The tinker was John Bunyan (1628–88), the Puritan pastor and author of Pilgrim’s Progress.

Bunyan was an old man when Owen first heard him. “The soul-experiences through which he [Bunyan] had passed,” notes one biographer, “had done more to equip him for what God had so definitely called him than any academic training could do.”2

“I preached what I startlingly did feel,”3 Bunyan later noted.

The source of Bunyan’s influence over Owen and others was his passion in the pulpit that flowed from his personal experience of the Bible’s power and his frequent persecution. He was Bible-saturated. As Charles Spurgeon later noted, “Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him.”4

Owen would not have been surprised to learn that Bunyan’s most influential work, Pilgrim’s Progress, would be translated into more languages over the next 400 years than any book except the Bible.

How did the writing of an uneducated tinker become the most widely read piece of 17th-century English literature? Who was John Bunyan, and what can we learn from his life?

Early Life

Little is known about John Bunyan’s youth. He was born in 1628 in Elstow, a little village 50 miles northeast of London. The exact date of his birth is unknown. At age 16 he enlisted in Oliver Cromwell’s army and fought with the Puritans against King Charles I. He was discharged in his early twenties and married. His first wife (her name unknown) bore him four children. The oldest child, a daughter, was born blind.

He was converted in his mid-twenties after a lengthy agony-of-soul similar to Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress. At age 25 he began to preach, and by 30 he was a part-time village preacher. He worked the forge and anvil by day and preached the gospel at night.

Persecution

We often take religious toleration for granted. But tolerance of multiple denominations in one state was a novel idea in the 1650s. Intolerance had been the norm for 1,000 years. Most English Christians were Anglican paedobaptists. But under Cromwell’s new policy of tolerance, the Baptists were beginning to flourish and many Englishmen were nervous.5

Bunyan belonged to a small Baptist church of about 60 people. They were called independents because the Anglican Church — the only church sanctioned by the English government — did not control them.

Cromwell died, and in 1660, King Charles II came to power. He was determined to eradicate Cromwell’s radical religious tolerance and stamp out all denominations except the State-sanctioned church. Parliament cooperated, passing a series of laws designed to persecute the independents out of existence. Bunyan suffered dearly.

In this setting Bunyan received Christ’s call to preach. He knew it would be costly. To complicate matters, his wife died, leaving him with four children. Bunyan knew he would be jailed soon, so he asked a woman in his church named Elizabeth to marry him so his children would be cared for while he was in prison. Zealous for God and His people, she agreed to marry John and serve the church in this way. In later years Elizabeth and John fell deeply in love.

When Bunyan refused to obey Parliament’s new mandates forbidding him to preach as an independent, the English government imprisoned him. He languished in jail without a proper trial for 12 of the best years of his life: age 32 to 44.

During these years the government persecutors ravaged what was left of Bunyan’s flock, fining immense sums on people who were already poor by 17th-century standards. Often government officials would arrive at their homes with a cart and take everything they owned — furniture, clothing, and cooking utensils — leaving these poor saints utterly destitute.6

The experience of a poor widow named Mary Tilney characterized the treatment of Bunyan’s flock: “They carried away all the Goods in her House they thought worth their labour, as Tables, Cupboards, Chairs, Irons, Feather-beds, Blankets, the very Hangings of the Room, and Sheets off her bed, insomuch that the Widow was forced that night to borrow Sheets of her Neighbors to lie on. … Yet the poor Mrs. Tilney was more troubled at the crying and sighing of her poor Neighbours about her …, than for the loss of her Goods, which she took very cheerfully.”7

Such was the spirit and attitude of these poor, oppressed saints.

Jail Life

Meanwhile Bunyan languished in jail. Seventeenth-century English jails were not pleasant. Unlike today, he had no color TV and no weight room. Food was meager. He slept on a flea-infested straw mattress in a small room crowded with other prisoners. He had no heat in winter. He lived with lice, fleas, poor sanitation, and little privacy. Many fellow prisoners died of disease.

Despite these hardships, the fate of his wife, Elizabeth, and his four children was his greatest concern. There was no welfare to provide for them, so he cast his family upon the mercy of his small congregation, already impoverished by persecution. His children grew up poor and fatherless.

“The parting with my Wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the Flesh from my Bones,” he later wrote. “And that … because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants that my poor Family was like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind Child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my Blind one might go under, would break my poor heart to pieces. … Yet recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. O, I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his Wife and Children. Yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it.”8

He was finally released from prison, and for the next 3 years he returned to preaching. Deepened by suffering, Bunyan’s preaching had a new measure of power and authority.

He was jailed a final time for 6 months. During this incarceration, he received the dream that inspired Pilgrim’s Progress. He finished the manuscript in prison.

From his middle forties to his death at age 60, he was the pastor of a small, growing Bedford congregation. He was also in growing demand to supply pulpits in neighboring villages. His reputation preceded him, and increasingly the great congregations of London called him to preach. It was at this time that John Owen heard Bunyan and began attending his lectures whenever he was in London.

Lessons From Bunyan

First, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). God lifted Bunyan high because he went so low. Looking back on his imprisonment he quietly noted: “I was made to see that if ever I would suffer rightly I must first pass a sentence of death upon everything which can properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my Wife, my Children, my Health, my Enjoyments, and all as dead to me and myself as dead to them. And second to live upon God that is invisible. I see the best way to go through suffering is to trust in God through Christ as touching the world to come; and as touching this world to count the grave my House, and to make my Bed in darkness.”9

Second, Bunyan persevered in his calling. He was unaware of the vast harvest that would come through his writing after his death. During his prison years, he faithfully devoted hour after hour to Bible study, never knowing how or when God would use him, or if he would be released. He determined to be faithful trusting the harvest to God.

Bunyan didn’t measure success by large numbers or by fine facilities. He measured it by faithfulness. To what has God called us? Are we devoting our lives to it? Are we discouraged by meager results? Take courage. Bunyan measured success by faithfulness, trusting God for results as He saw fit to produce them.

From an earthly perspective, Bunyan saw few results during his life. He is enjoying his reward now in eternity. If we persevere in our calling, we will have the same reward. Emulate John Bunyan. He was a faithful man.

History is His story.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/48052700 w=500&h=375]

Ligonier interviews Ravi Zacharias

Indispensable Apologetics: An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

English: Ravi Zacharias signing books at the F...

Among different topics, Ravi talks about evangelizing Muslims and how to equip young people to remain committed to Christ in a secular world. He also recommends books by

Authors such as C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Tim Keller, yes, and my dear friend R.C. Sproul. But there are many more. One of the greatest books ever written is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. For devotional studies, Oswald Chambers, and one of my favorites, G. Campbell Morgan, are great choices. We also have a bibliography on our website (www.rzim.org)

 Also on the Ligonier Interview page sidebar you will find links to these excellent articles by Ravi Zacharias:
  • A Reason to Love
  • If the Foundations Be Destroyed
  • Modern Consciousness and Its Cultural Control
  • Postmodernism and Philosophy
  • The Existence of God

Click here for the entire interview-

Indispensable Apologetics: An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

A few sighs from hell by John Bunyan (online book)

 

or
T H E G R O A N S
O F
The Damned Soul
or
An exposition of those
W O R D S
in the Sixteenth of Luke,
Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar
wherein is discovered
the lamentable state of the D A M N E D;
their cries, their desires in their distresses,
W I T H
the determination of G O D upon them.


A G O O D
warning word to sinners,
both old A N D young,
to take into considerationbetimes,
and to seek,
B Y F A I T H I NJ E S U S C H R I S T,
to avoid, lest they come into the same Place of Torment.
Also,
a brief discourse touching the profitableness
of the Scriptures for our instruction in the way of righteousness,
according to the tendency of the said parable.


By That Poor and Contemptible Servant of J E S U S C H R I S T,
J O H N
. B U N Y A N.

View this document on Scribd

The most powerful sermon ***

Preachers have their own set of temptations!  That fact can be illustrated by an event in the life of John Bunyan.  Bunyan had preached an unusually anointed sermon.  Immediately after the service, a layman jumped from his pew and raced to shake Bunyan’s hand exclaiming, “Bunyan, that was the most powerful sermon I have ever heard!”  Bunyan replied with brutal honesty, “Man, you need not tell me that. The devil whispered it to me before I was well out of the pulpit.”

Preachers face the temptation to “enjoy the sound of their own voice,” to secretly revel in the compliments they hear, and as in the case of Bunyan, to give ear to our adversary’s commendations on our preaching.

But Christ Has Been Raised, You Are Not Still In Your Sins on Desiring God

John Piper, to listen to the audio click But Christ Has Been Raised, You Are Not Still In Your Sins on Desiring God.

1 Corinthians 15:17-20

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Review

Two weeks ago we asked the question, „What is forgiveness? What does it look like when it happens?” To answer we used a definition from Thomas Watson: forgiving those who have wronged us includes

  1. resisting revenge,
  2. not returning evil for evil,
  3. wishing them well,
  4. grieving at their calamities,
  5. praying for their welfare,
  6. seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,
  7. and coming to their aid in distress.

Then last week we asked, „How can we do this? Where do we get the freedom and the power to act in a way that crosses our nature?” Forgiving is to a fallen human heart what flying is to a heavy human body. How can we do this flying? We took our clue from John Bunyan’s poem:

Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

The gospel bids us fly—it commands us to forgive those who have wronged us. But it also gives us wings. Last week we saw two gospel wings with three feathers each in Ephesians 4:32–5:2.

Wing #1: What God did for us before we were born

  1. God loved us with a special saving love before we were born.
  2. Christ died for us with a special covenant purpose of taking us for his bride.
  3. This sacrifice for us was a sweet aroma to God and he was satisfied with it.

Wing #2: What God did for us during our lifetime

  1. God put us into a relationship with Christ so that his death and righteousness count for us.
  2. God adopted us into his eternal family.
  3. God forgave all our sins.

If we really believe these six things, if we rest in them and get our hope and our joy from them, we will be able to do the gospel-flying called forgiveness. If these things are true, we can forgive. If these things are true, we can endure anything. If these things are true, we can go on giving and giving and giving 70 times 7, because the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ and the inheritance we have as God’s children are inexhaustible.

The Resurrection: A Reward for Jesus’ Sacrifice

Now the question I ask today, on this Easter Sunday morning, is this: „If all this gospel-flying—this power to live in love and forgive those who wrong us—if this is accomplished by the love of God and the death of Jesus, then what does the resurrection of Jesus from the dead add to it?”

To answer this let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:17, „If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If Christ Was Not Raised, You’re Still in Your Sins

To be „in your sins” is the opposite of being „in Christ.” When we are „in Christ,” we get what Christ can do for us, namely, eternal life. When we are „in [our] sins,” we get what sins can do for us, namely, eternal condemnation and death (Romans 6:20–23).

Paul says, „If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still in your sins.” We are still bearing our guilt, still under condemnation, still alienated from God, still unforgiven.

Why Is This So?

But why is this if the death of Jesus satisfied the Father (as we saw last week)? If it’s true that „every debt that you ever had has been paid up in full by the blood of the Lamb” (not the resurrection of the Lamb, cf. Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7), then why are we still in our sins if the Lamb does not rise from the dead?

The answer—or at least an essential part of the answer—is that the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. And if the reward is not given, it’s because the sacrifice is deficient. And if the sacrifice is deficient, we are still in our sins.

Easter and Being Forgiving People

So you can see that the point of Easter is tremendously relevant to whether we can be a forgiving people or not. If Christ has not been raised, then all the gospel feathers in the wings that support gospel-flying (forgiving) are defective. If God will not let his own Son fly from the tomb and take his seat at the Father’s right hand in glory, it’s because his sacrifice for our sins was defective. It won’t work. We are still in our sins. John Bunyan was wrong. The gospel does not bring us better news: it bids us fly, but it does not give us wings.

So the resurrection of Jesus is tremendously important for our capacity to forgive one another. It is the reward that God gives to his Son precisely because his sacrifice is so totally sufficient for our forgiveness and for our power to forgive.

Hebrews 13:20–21a

Let me try to show some of the evidence that the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. The book of Hebrews makes this plain in three different places. Start at the end of the book. In Hebrews 13:20–21a it says, „Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will.”

This sounds like Jesus died for himself. Look at it again: „[God] brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep [that is, he raised Christ from the dead] through [by means of] the blood of the eternal covenant.” Christ was raised from the dead through his own blood!

But we know from this same book—especially from this book (Hebrews 4:15; 5:9; 7:26, 28; 9:14)—that Christ was without sin and did not need anyone to die for him, not even himself! So when it says in 13:20 that God raised him from the dead „through the blood of the eternal covenant,” I take it to mean that his sacrifice so perfectly secured his covenant promises for his people that God rewarded him with resurrection to carry those promises into eternal force.

So the resurrection of Jesus validates the infinite value of the blood of Jesus. If he is raised, the sacrifice was sufficient, and you are not still in your sins. There is gospel-flying.

Hebrews 2:9b

Another text that shows this is Hebrews 2:9b, „He has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” There it is again: „Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” The glory and honor that Jesus received in the resurrection and ascension was „because of his suffering and death.” His resurrection was the reward of his suffering.

Therefore if he has not been raised, then it is because God does not regard his sacrifice as worth rewarding. It is defective. And we are still in our sins.

Hebrews 10:12–14

We get an even deeper insight into this rewarding of the Son in Hebrews 10:12–14, „He [Christ], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God [there’s the connection between the sacrifice and the resurrection, but he’s going to say how they are connected], waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For [crucial word! „because”] by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

Now we can see the connection between the offering Jesus made and his resurrection: Verse 12, „Having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God [he was raised!] . . . (v. 14) FOR [because] by that one offering he perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

In other words the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was so complete that he perfected us for all time by that one sacrifice. This is awesome—all sins forgiven, past, present, future on the basis of one sacrifice. All God’s people who by faith in Jesus are being progressively sanctified now have in fact been definitively, perfected before God for all time—and that by ONE sacrifice, the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus of his own blood.

Therefore—for this reason—he sat down at the right hand of God. The resurrection was the Father’s reward for such an utterly complete and marvelous work on the cross.

If Christ had not been raised from the dead, we would still be in our sins because that would mean his sacrifice was deficient. But he has been raised and the point of all these texts is that this resurrection is the reward for his sacrifice and a validation of its utter perfection and sufficiency to make us perfect before God.

Isaiah 53:10–12

We could go to Philippians 2:6–11 and see the same thing where Paul says that since Christ emptied himself and was obedient unto death, THEREFORE God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every name.

But I think it might strengthen our faith even more if we go to an Old Testament prophecy and see the truth of Christ’s resurrection and, even there 700 years before the event, its connection to the sacrifice of Christ. Even Isaiah (53:10–12) saw that the resurrection of the Servant of the Lord would be the reward of his suffering, and the proof that his suffering was sufficient to justify his people. Notice the crucial connections as I read

The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if [note this „if”] He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days [that’s the resurrection!—”if” he gives himself as an offering], and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of [notice again the connection] the anguish of His soul, He will see it [its fruit] and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore [i.e., because he justified many by bearing their iniquities] I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong [this is the reward of resurrection], because [here it is one last time, „because”] He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

So already 700 years before the death and resurrection of Christ Isaiah saw them and the connection he saw was that the resurrection of Christ was the reward of his sacrifice and the validation of his suffering to cover sin.

  • If he would render himself as a guilt offering, THEN he will see his offspring, he will prolong his days.
  • As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will be satisfied (with its fruit in resurrection).
  • Because he bears the sins of many, THEREFORE God will allot him a portion with the great.
  • He will divide the booty with the strong BECAUSE he poured out his life to death.

Summary

So we come back from Hebrews and Philippians and Isaiah to our original question from 1 Corinthians 15:17: If it’s the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, that covers all our sins and justifies us before God, then why are we still in our sins if the Christ does not rise from the dead?

The answer we have seen is this: the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. It is the proof of how perfect and all-sufficient his sacrifice was. Therefore if God does not give the reward, it is because the sacrifice is defective and our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. The gospel gives no wings and we are left unforgiven and unforgiving.

But the message of Easter is the shout of 1 Corinthians 15:20, „But Christ has been raised.” And Paul gives the evidence for it in 1 Corinthians 15:5–8—the people Christ appeared to: individuals, small groups, a large group, many of whom were still alive as Paul wrote so that the Corinthians could investigate his claim, „But Christ has been raised.”

Therefore our faith is not futile and we are not still in our sins and we are not unforgiven and we need not be—indeed, cannot be—unforgiving. The gospel does give wings:

Far better news the Gospel brings,
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

Doubt not his sacrifice can save,
God sealed it with an empty grave.
And by his blood and life we live
And now have freedom to forgive.

The resurrection of Jesus is an exclamation point of God’s joy and celebration of all that Christ did for us in his dying. Christ is alive today for this reason: to deliver to us personally and powerfully everything he died to obtain. Including the joy of being forgiven and the doubled joy of being forgivers.

To acknowledge this and embrace it and celebrate it, would you sing with me these words (to the tune of „Be Still My Soul”):

I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven;
I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father:
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive another;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

John Piper @Desiring God Website DesiringGod.org

C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 3

Read Chapter 1 Men Without Chests here

Read Chapter 2 The Way here

Read the Appendix here

Chapter 3

The Abolition of Man

It came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house, he would sell me for a slave.

—John Bunyan

`Man’s conquest of Nature’ is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science. `Man has Nature whacked,’ said someone to a friend of mine not long ago. In their context the words had a certain tragic beauty, for the speaker was dying of tuberculosis. `No matter’ he said, `I know I’m one of the casualties. Of course there are casualties on the winning as well as on the losing side. But that doesn’t alter the fact that it is winning.’ I have chosen this story as my point of departure in order to make it clear that I do not wish to disparage all that is really beneficial in the process described as `Man’s conquest’, much less all the real devotion and self-sacrifice that has gone to make it possible. But having done so I must proceed to analyse this conception a little more closely. In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?

Let us consider three typical examples: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. In a civilized community, in peace-time, anyone who can pay for them may use these things. But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature. If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man. Any or all of the three things I have mentioned can be withheld from some men by other men—by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of production, or those who make the goods. What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by. Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.

It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them, But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called `Man’s power over Nature’ must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture could be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.

The latter point is not always sufficiently emphasized, because those who write on social matters have not yet learned to imitate the physicists by always including Time among the dimensions. In order to understand fully what Man’s power over Nature, and therefore the power of some men over other men, really means, we must picture the race extended in time from the date of its emergence to that of its extinction. Each generation exercises power over its successors: and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors. This modifies the picture which is sometimes painted of a progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power. In reality, of course, if any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are the patients of that power. They are weaker, not stronger: for though we may have put wonderful machines in their hands we have pre-ordained how they are to use them. And if, as is almost certain, the age which had thus attained maximum power over posterity were also the age most emancipated from tradition, it would be engaged in reducing the power of its predecessors almost as drastically as that of its successors. And we must also remember that, quite apart from this, the later a generation comes—the nearer it lives to that date at which the species becomes extinct—the less power it will have in the forward direction, because its subjects will be so few. There is therefore no question of a power vested in the race as a whole steadily growing as long as the race survives. The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.

The real picture is that of one dominant age—let us suppose the hundredth century A.D.—which resists all previous ages most successfully and dominates all subsequent ages most irresistibly, and thus is the real master of the human species. But then within this master generation (itself an infinitesimal minority of the species) the power will be exercised by a minority smaller still. Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well aas stronger. In every victory, besides being the general who triumphs, he is also the prisoner who follows the triumphal car.

I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man’s conquest of Nature really means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be won. We shall have `taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?

Plato

For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. In all ages, no doubt, nurture and instruction have, in some sense, attempted to exercise this power. But the situation to which we must look forward will be novel in two respects. In the first place, the power will be enormously increased. Hitherto the plans of educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when we read them—how Plato would have every infant „a bastard nursed in a bureau”, and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that, no women,1 and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for poetry2—we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses. But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.

The second difference is even more important. In the older systems both the kind of man the teachers wished to produce and their motives for producing him were prescribed by the Tao—a norm to which the teachers themselves were subject and from which they claimed no liberty to depart. They did not cut men to some pattern they had chosen. They handed on what they had received: they initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike. It was but old birds teaching young birds to fly. This will be changed. Values are now mere natural phenomena. Judgements of value are to be produced in the pupil as part of the conditioning. Whatever Tao there is will be the product, not the motive, of education. The conditioners have been emancipated from all that. It is one more part of Nature which they have conquered. The ultimate springs of human action are no longer, for them, something given. They have surrendered—like electricity: it is the function of the Conditioners to control, not to obey them. They know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they will produce. They themselves are outside, above. For we are assuming the last stage of Man’s struggle with Nature. The final victory has been won. Human nature has been conquered—and, of course, has conquered, in whatever sense those words may now bear.

The Conditioners, then, are to choose what kind of artificial Tao they will, for their own good reasons, produce in the Human race. They are the motivators, the creators of motives. But how are they going to be motivated themselves?

For a time, perhaps, by survivals, within their own minds, of the old `natural’ Tao. Thus at first they may look upon themselves as servants and guardians of humanity and conceive that they have a `duty’ to do it `good’. But it is only by confusion that they can remain in this state. They recognize the concept of duty as the result of certain processes which they can now control. Their victory has consisted precisely in emerging from the state in which they were acted upon by those processes to the state in which they use them as tools. One of the things they now have to decide is whether they will, or will not, so condition the rest of us that we can go on having the old idea of duty and the old reactions to it. How can duty help them to decide that? Duty itself is up for trial: it cannot also be the judge. And `good’ fares no better. They know quite well how to produce a dozen different conceptions of good in us. The question is which, if any, they should produce. No conception of good can help them to decide. It is absurd to fix on one of the things they are comparing and make it the standard of comparison.

To some it will appear that I am inventing a factitious difficulty for my Conditioners. Other, more simple-minded, critics may ask, `Why should you suppose they will be such bad men?’ But I am not supposing them to be bad men. They are, rather, not men (in the old sense) at all. They are, if you like, men who have sacrificed their own share in traditional humanity in order to devote themselves to the task of deciding what `Humanity’ shall henceforth mean. `Good’ and `bad’, applied to them, are words without content: for it is from them that the content of these words is henceforward to be derived. Nor is their difficulty factitious, „We might suppose that it was possible to say `After all, most of us want more or less the same things—food and drink and sexual intercourse, amusement, art, science, and the longest possible life for individuals and for the species. Let them simply say, This is what we happen to like, and go on to condition men in the way most likely to produce it. Where’s the trouble?’ But this will not answer. In the first place, it is false that we all really like the same things. But even if we did, what motive is to impel the Conditioners to scorn delights and live laborious days in order that we, and posterity, may have what we like? Their duty? But that is only the Tao, which they may decide to impose on us, but which cannot be valid for them. If they accept it, then they are no longer the makers of conscience but still its subjects, and their final conquest over Nature has not really happened. The preservation of the species? But why should the species be preserved? One of the questions before them is whether this feeling for posterity (they know well how it is produced) shall be continued or not. However far they go back, or down, they can find no ground to stand on. Every motive they try to act on becomes at once petitio. It is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.

Yet the Conditioners will act. When I said just now that all motives fail them, I should have said all motives except one. All motives that claim any validity other than that of their felt emotional weight at a given moment have failed them. Everything except the sic volo, sic jubeo has been explained away. But what never claimed objectivity cannot be destroyed by subjectivism. The impulse to scratch when I itch or to pull to pieces when I am inquisitive is immune from the solvent which is fatal to my justice, or honour, or care for posterity. When all that says It is good’ has been debunked, what says 1 want’ remains. It cannot be exploded or `seen through’ because it never had any pretentions. The Conditioners, therefore, must come to be motivated simply by their own pleasure. I am not here speaking of the corrupting influence of power nor expressing the fear that under it our Conditioners will degenerate. The very words corrupt and degenerateimply a doctrine of value and are therefore meaningless in this context. My point is that those who stand outside all judgements of value cannot have any ground for preferring one of their own impulses to another except the emotional strength of that impulse.

We may legitimately hope that among the impulses which arise in minds thus emptied of all `rational’ or `spiritual’ motives, some will be benevolent. I am very doubtful myself whether the benevolent impulses, stripped of that preference and encouragement which the Tao teaches us to give them and left to their merely natural strength and frequency as psychological events, will have much influence. I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently. I am inclined to think that the Conditioners will hate the conditioned. Though regarding as an illusion the artificial conscience which they produce in us their subjects, they will yet perceive that it creates in us an illusion of meaning for our lives which compares favourably with the futility of their own: and they will envy us as eunuchs envy men. But I do not insist on this, for it is a mere conjecture. What is not conjecture is that our hope even of a `conditioned’ happiness rests on what is ordinarily called `chance’—the chance that benevolent impulses may on the whole predominate in our Conditioners. For without the judgement `Benevolence is good’—that is, without re-entering the Tao—they can have no ground for promoting or stabilizing these impulses rather than any others. By the logic of their position they must just take their impulses as they come, from chance. And Chance here means Nature. It is from heredity, digestion, the weather, and the association of ideas, that the motives of the Conditioners will spring. Their extreme rationalism, by `seeing through’ all `rational’ motives, leaves them creatures of wholly irrational behaviour. If you will not obey the Tao, or else commit suicide, obedience to impulse (and therefore, in the long run, to mere `nature’) is the only course left open.

At the moment, then, of Man’s victory over Nature, we find the whole human race subjected to some individual men, and those individuals subjected to that in themselves which is purely `natural’—to their irrational impulses. Nature, untrammelled by values, rules the Conditioners and, through them, all humanity. Man’s conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature’s conquest of Man. Every victory we seemed to win has led us, step by step, to this conclusion. All Nature’s apparent reverses have been but tactical withdrawals. We thought we were beating her back when she was luring us on. What looked to us like hands held up in surrender was really the opening of arms to enfold us for ever. If the fully planned and conditioned world (with its Tao a mere product of the planning) comes into existence, Nature will be troubled no more by the restive species that rose in revolt against her so many millions of years ago, will be vexed no longer by its chatter of truth and mercy and beauty and happiness. Ferum victorem cepit: and if the eugenics are efficient enough there will be no second revolt, but all snug beneath the Conditioners, and the Conditioners beneath her, till the moon falls or the sun grows cold.

My point may be clearer to some if it is put in a different form. Nature is a word of varying meanings, which can best be understood if we consider itsvarious opposites. The Natural is the opposite of the Artificial, the Civil, the Human, the Spiritual, and the Supernatural. The Artificial does not now concern us. If we take the rest of the list of opposites, however, I think we can get a rough idea of what men have meant by Nature and what it is they oppose to her. Nature seems to be the spatial and temporal, as distinct from what is less fully so or not so at all. She seems to be the world of quantity, as against the world of quality; of objects as against consciousness; of the bound, as against the wholly or partially autonomous; of that which knows no values as against that which both has and perceives value; of efficient causes (or, in some modern systems, of no causality at all) as against final causes. Now I take it that when we understand a thing analytically and then dominate and use it for our own convenience, we reduce it to the level of `Nature’ in the sense that we suspend our judgements of value about it, ignore its final cause (if any), and treat it in terms of quantity. This repression of elements in what would otherwise be our total reaction to it is sometimes very noticeable and even painful: something has to be overcome before we can cut up a dead man or a live animal in a dissecting room. These objects resist the movement of the mind whereby we thrust them into the world of mere Nature. But in other instances too, a similar price is exacted for our analytical knowledge and manipulative power, even if we have ceased to count it. We do not look at trees either as Dryads or as beautiful objects while we cut them into beams: the first man who did so may have felt the price keenly, and the bleeding trees in Virgil and Spenser may be far-off echoes of that primeval sense of impiety. The stars lost their divinity as astronomy developed, and the Dying God has no place in chemical agriculture. To many, no doubt, this process is simply the gradual discovery that the real world is different from what we expected, and the old opposition to Galileo or to `body-snatchers’ is simply obscurantism. But that is not the whole story. It is not the greatest of modern scientists who feel most sure that the object, stripped of its qualitative properties and reduced to mere quantity, is wholly real. Little scientists, and little unscientific followers of science, may think so. The great minds know very well that the object, so treated, is an artificial abstraction, that something of its reality has been lost.

click for naturalism on wikipedia

From this point of view the conquest of Nature appears in a new light. We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may `conquer’ them. We are always conquering Nature, because`Nature’ is the name for what we have, to some extent, conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere Nature. Every conquest over Nature increases her domain. The stars do not become Nature till we can weigh and measure them: the soul does not become Nature till we can psychoanalyse her. The wresting of powers from Nature is also the surrendering of things toNature. As long as this process stops short of the final stage we may well hold that the gain outweighs the loss. But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same. This is one of the many instances where to carry a principle to what seems its logical conclusion produces absurdity. It is like the famous Irishman who found that a certain kind of stove reduced his fuel bill by half and thence concluded that two stoves of the same kind would enable him to warm his house with no fuel at all. It is the magician’s bargain: give up our soul, get power in return. But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls. It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere `natural object’ and his own judgements of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that this point of view (like one’s first day in a dissecting room) is painful and shocking till we grow used to it. The pain and the shock are at most a warning and a symptom. The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners.

We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible. Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own `natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

I am not here thinking solely, perhaps not even chiefly, of those who are our public enemies at the moment. The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany/Traditional values are to be `debunked’ and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. The belief that we can invent `ideologies’ at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere υλη, specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. Once we killed bad men: now we liquidate unsocial elements. Virtue has become integration and diligence dynamism, and boys likely to be worthy of a commission are `potential officer material’. Most wonderful of all, the virtues of thrift and temperance, and even of ordinary intelligence, are sales-resistance.

The true significance of what is going on has been concealed by the use of the abstraction Man. Not that the word Man is necessarily a pure abstraction. In the Tao itself, as long as we remain within it, we find the concrete reality in which to participate is to be truly human: the real common will and common reason of humanity, alive, and growing like a tree, and branching out, as the situation varies, into ever new beauties and dignities of application. While we speak from within the Tao we can speak of Man having power over himself in a sense truly analogous to an individual’s self-control. But the moment we step outside and regard the Tao as a mere subjective product, this possibility has disappeared. What is now common to all men is a mere abstract universal, an H.C.F., and Man’s conquest of himself means simply the rule of the Conditioners over the conditioned human material, the world of post-humanity which, some knowingly and some unknowingly, nearly all men in all nations are at present labouring to produce.

Nothing I can say will prevent some people from describing this lecture as an attack on science. I deny the charge, of course: and real Natural Philosophers (there are some now alive) will perceive that in defending value I defend inter alia the value of knowledge, which must die like every other when its roots in the Tao are cut. But I can go further than that. I even suggest that from Science herself the cure might come.

I have described as a `magician’s bargain’ that process whereby man surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to Nature in return for power. And I meant what I said. The fact that the scientist has succeeded where the magician failed has put such a wide contrast between them in popular thought that the real story of the birth of Science is misunderstood. You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak.

There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.

If we compare the chief trumpeter of the new era (Bacon) with Marlowe’s Faustus, the similarity is striking. You will read in some critics that Faustus has a thirst for knowledge. In reality, he hardly mentions it. It is not truth he wants from the devils, but gold and guns and girls. `All things that move between the quiet poles shall be at his command’ and `a sound magician is a mighty god’.3 In the same spirit Bacon condemns those who value knowledge as an end in itself: this, for him, is to use as a mistress for pleasure what ought to be a spouse for fruit.4 The true object is to extend Man’s power to the performance of all things possible. He rejects magic because it does not work;5 but his goal is that of the magician. In Paracelsus the characters of magician and scientist are combined. No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power; in every mixed movement the efficacy comes from the good elements not from the bad. But the presence of the bad elements is not irrelevant to the direction the efficacy takes. It might be going too far to say that the modern scientific movement was tainted from its birth: but I think it would be true to say that it, was born in an unhealthy neighbourhood and at an inauspicious hour. Its triumphs may have-been too rapid and purchased at too high a price: reconsideration, and something like repentance, may be required.

Is it, then, possible to imagine a new Natural Philosophy, continually conscious that the `natural object’ produced by analysis and abstraction is not reality but only a view, and always correcting the abstraction? I hardly know what I am asking for. I hear rumours that Goethe’s approach to nature deserves fuller consideration—that even Dr Steiner may have seen something that orthodox researchers have missed. The regenerate science which I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do to man himself. When it explained it would not explain away. When it spoke of the parts it would remember the whole. While studying the It it would not lose what Martin Buber calls the Thou-situation. The analogy between the Tao of Man and the instincts of an animal species would mean for it new light cast on the unknown thing, Instinct, by the only known reality of conscience and not a reduction of conscience to the category of Instinct. Its followers would not be free with the words only and merely. In a word, it would conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at a lower cost than that of life.

Perhaps I am asking impossibilities. Perhaps, in the nature of things, analytical understanding must always be a basilisk which kills what it sees and only sees by killing. But if the scientists themselves cannot arrest this process before it reaches the common Reason and kills that too, then someone else must arrest it. What I most fear is the reply that I am `only one more’ obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of science, can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination—the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds. Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before. I implore you to remember the Irishman and his two stoves. There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis—incommensurable with the others—and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce the Tao to a mere natural product is a step of that kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on `explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on `seeing through5 things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to `see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To `see through’ all things is the same as not to see.


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

  1. Men Without Chests
  2. The Way
  3. The Abolition of Man
  4. Appendix-Illustrations of the Tao

Notes

1. The Boke Named the Governour, I. iv: `Al men except physitions only shulde be excluded and kepte out of the norisery.’ I. vi: `After that a childe is come to seuen yeres of age… the most sure counsaile is to withdrawe him from all company of women.’

2. Some Thoughts concerning Education,§7:1 will also advise his Feet to be wash’d every Day in cold Water, and to have his Shoes so thin that they might leak and let in Water, whenever he comes near it.’ §174: `If he have a poetick vein, ‘tis to me the strangest thing in the World that the Father should desire or suffer it to be cherished or improved. Methinks the Parents should labour to have it stifled and suppressed as much as may be.’ Yet Locke is one of our most sensible writers on education.

3. Dr Faustus, 77-90.

4. Advancement of Learning, Bk I (p. 60 in Ellis and Spedding, 1905; p. 35 in Everyman Edition).

5. Filum Labyrinthi, i.


Transcriber’s Notes

Buber, Martin (1878-1965) philosopher who said the I-Thou approach to relationships is the only way people can be fully authentic; only a part of our humanity is expressed in the I-It relationship.

Clotho – of the three Fates of Greek mythology, she was the one who wove the fabric of life

factitious – contrived, artificial

Faustus – the magician of Renaisance legend who bargained his soul to the devil in exchange for power

Ferum victorem cepit – from Horace Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et/ Artes intulit agresti Latio.: „Greece, once overcome, overcame her wild conqueror,/ And brought the arts into rustic Latium.” The vanquished were actually the victors; Lewis is saying that nature, being conquered, is the true winner.

Francis Bacon – proponent (1561-1626) of the „scientific revolution” who advocated science as a tool to gain power over nature; he is known more for his polemical writings on science than his advancement of human knowledge

Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Romantic poet who reverenced nature as divine

H.C.F. – highest common factor

Inter alia – Amongst other things

Paracelsus – (1493-1541), more properly Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, who was known for his medical innovations during the Renaisance. Traditionally it has been said that Paracelsus was taught by several bishops and the occultist abbot of Sponheim, Johannes Trithemius.

Petitio – short for petitio principii or begging the question: a logical fallacy in which the thing to be proved is implicitly assumed.

Sic volo, sic jubeo – short for sic volo, sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas: „Thus I will, thus I command, my pleasure stands for law.”

Sui generis – adj. [literally, of its own kind] constituting a class alone: unique, peculiar.

υλη – hule or matter, as used by Aristotle

Wireless – radio


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

  1. Men Without Chests
  2. The Way
  3. The Abolition of Man
  4. Appendix-Illustrations of the Tao

Posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, March 2002, because the book is only in print sporadically

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/
augustine@columbia.edu

Last update: March 6, 2002

Build Your Library – Books on the Puritans

For the beginner wanting to build a Classic library, or for someone who has not yet encountered any Puritanical writings here come some recommendation as to where to start from The Banner of Truth Trust, UK:

When thinking ‘Puritan,’ we will limit ourselves to the period 1600–1688 (alas, no Ryle!). In addition to the evangelical party of the Church of England (‘the Puritans’ proper), we ought also to consider the works of Independents, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. My goal here is to whet your appetite from each of three areas: the praying Puritan, the contented Puritan, and the frowning Puritan. Then I’ll suggest a Puritan companion. Perhaps you’ll want to read more from the Puritans to learn better how to live the pilgrim life in this hostile world, for the alien life wasn’t just the lot of the patriarchs of Genesis or the saints of the New Testament church — it will ever be the life of Christ’s people until he comes. No one has produced better reflections upon the pilgrim life than the Puritans.

1. A wonderful introduction to the Puritan at prayer is the collection edited by AArthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision. Meditate on a prayer each day upon first waking, and allow a great saint to lead you into God’s presence. Get the little leather edition, if you can.

2. The Puritans were pre-eminently preachers of the heart. And they could warm a right stony heart at that. Try this little gem: Thomas Watson, All Things for Good. He preached these messages on Romans 8:28 in 1663, the year after two thousand pulpits were vacated by order of the Crown.

3. The Puritans carried the rod to the pulpit as well. Prepare to be quite stunned upon reading Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven (sometimes entitled Alarm to the Unconverted). Am I really a Christian after all?

4. Lastly, what sort of companion do you want? Frequently chosen over the years have been John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (you can’t go wrong if you get the story of your life from the pen of the tinker, for we are all pilgrims on our way to the heavenly city), William Guthrie’s The Christian’s Great Interest, Samuel Rutherford’s Letters, William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour, Henry Scudder’s The Christian’s Daily Walk, Thomas Brooks’s Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, and John Owen’s The Glory of Christ.

Most of these books have been reprinted by Banner of Truth and are extremely reasonably priced.

 

Who was Richard Sibbes

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)

Image via Wikipedia

Excerpt from Meet the Puritans
by Dr. Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson

(via)Monergism
Richard Sibbes was born in 1577 at Tostock, Suffolk, in the Puritan county of old England. He was baptized in the parish church in Thurston, and went to school there. As a child, he loved books. His father, Paul Sibbes, a hardworking wheelwright and, according to Zachary Catlin, a contemporary biographer of Sibbes, was “a good, sound-hearted Christian,” but became irritated with his son’s interest in books. He tried to cure his son of book-buying by offering him wheelwright tools, but the boy was not dissuaded. With the support of others, Sibbes was admitted to St. John’s College in Cambridge at the age of eighteen. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1599, a fellowship in 1601, and a Master of Arts degree in 1602. In 1603, he was converted under the preaching of Paul Baynes, whom Sibbes called his “father in the gospel.” Baynes, remembered most for his commentary on Ephesians, succeeded William Perkins at the Church of St. Andrews in Cambridge.

Sibbes was ordained to the ministry in the Church of England in Norwich in 1608. He was chosen as one of the college preachers in 1609 and earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1610. From 1611 to 1616, he served as lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. His preaching awakened Cambridge from the spiritual indifference into which it had fallen after the death of Perkins. A gallery had to be built to accommodate visitors in the church. John Cotton and Hugh Peters were converted under Sibbes’s preaching. During his years at Holy Trinity, Sibbes helped turn Thomas Goodwin away from Arminianism and moved John Preston from “witty preaching” to plain, spiritual preaching.

Sibbes came to London in 1617 as a lecturer for Gray’s Inn, the largest of the four great Inns of Court, which still remains one of the most important centers in England for the study and practice of law. In 1626, he also became master of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Under his leadership, the college regained some of its former prestige. It graduated several men who would one day serve prominently at the Westminster Assembly: John Arrowsmith, William Spurstowe, and William Strong. Soon after his appointment, Sibbes received the Doctor of Divinity degree at Cambridge. He became known as “the heavenly Doctor,” due to his godly preaching and heavenly manner of life. Izaac Walton wrote of Sibbes:

Of this blest man, let this just praise be given,
Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven.

In 1633, King Charles I offered Sibbes the charge of Holy Trinity, Cambridge. Sibbes continued to serve as preacher at Gray’s Inn, master of St. Catharine’s Hall, and vicar of Holy Trinity until his death in 1635.

Sibbes never married, but he established an astonishing network of friendships that included godly ministers, noted lawyers, and parliamentary leaders of the early Stuart era. “Godly friends are walking sermons,” he said. He wrote at least thirteen introductions to the writings of his Puritan colleagues.

Sibbes was a gentle man who avoided the controversies of his day as much as possible. “Fractions breed fractions,” he insisted. His battles with Archbishop Laud, Roman Catholics, and Arminians were exceptions. He also remained close friends with many pastors and leaders who wanted more radical reform than he did for the Church of England.

Sibbes was an inspiration to many. He influenced Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Independency, the three dominant parties of the church in England at that time. He was a pastor of pastors, and lived a life of moderation. “Where most holiness is, there is most moderation, where it may be without prejudice of piety to God and the good of others,” he wrote.

The historian Daniel Neal described Sibbes as a celebrated preacher, an educated divine, and a charitable and humble man who repeatedly underestimated his gifts. Yet Puritans everywhere recognized Sibbes as a Christ-centered, experiential preacher. Both learned and unlearned in upper and lower classes profited greatly from Sibbes’s alluring preaching.

Sibbes wrote, “To preach is to woo…. The main scope of all [preaching] is, to allure us to the entertainment of Christ’s mild, safe, wise, victorious government.” He brought truth home, as Robert Burns would say, “to men’s business and bosoms.” Catlin wrote of Sibbes, “No man that ever I was acquainted with got so far into my heart or lay so close therein.” In our day, Maurice Roberts says of Sibbes, “His theology is thoroughly orthodox, of course, but it is like the fuel of some great combustion engine, always passing into flame and so being converted into energy thereby to serve God and, even more, to enjoy and relish God with the soul.”

David Masson, biographer of John Milton, wrote, “No writings in practical theology seem to have been so much read in the mid-seventeenth century among the pious English middle classes as those of Sibbes.” The twentieth-century historian William Haller said Sibbes’s sermons were “the most brilliant and popular of all the utterances of the Puritan church militant.”

Sibbes’s last sermons, preached a week before his death, were on John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you.” When asked in his final days how his soul was faring, Sibbes replied, “I should do God much wrong if I should not say, very well.” Sibbes began his will and testament, dictated on July 4, 1635, the day before his death, with “I commend and bequeath my soul into the hands of my gracious Savior, who hath redeemed it with his most precious blood, and appears now in heaven to receive it.” William Gouge preached Sibbes’s funeral sermon.

Monergism offers several of Sibbes written works here as well as links to his 7 volume set in .pdf form-

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones PAGE (1)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Peace with God and False Peace (Essential Reading – Justification by Faith)

via Banner of Truth Trust UK 01/11

Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones died, March 1 1981.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom. 5:1, 2)

photo-www.mudpreacher.com

We now proceed to look at the ‘peace with God’, that results from justification by faith, from the two sides – the God-ward, and the man-ward. Far too often it is taken even here in a purely subjective sense. While it is true that there are great subjective consequences of this peace, as I hope to show, it is essential that we should look at it first in a more objective manner. Peace of necessity involves two people; it is a relationship between two persons, and in this case it is peace between man and God. We must bear in mind that something has to happen on God’s side as well as on our side before peace can obtain. We must remind ourselves again of the position under the Law. The Apostle has shown us at length that from the side of God the position was that God’s wrath was upon us. He laid that down as a primary postulate as far back as the eighteenth verse of the first chapter where he says, ‘For the wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’. He is ‘not ashamed’ of the gospel because it deals with that and delivers us from it.

Here he is saying the same thing in a different way by asserting that we have ‘peace’ with God. Apart from justification, apart from that which has been done for us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no peace between God and man. There is no peace either on God’s side or on man’s side, ‘for the wrath of God is against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’. We should never forget that, but mankind is always very ready to forget it. That is why so many by-pass the Lord Jesus Christ and all his work. That is why so many pray to God without ever mentioning the Lord Jesus Christ. They see no need of him. They say, ‘God is love’ and believe that they can go to God directly just as they are. That is a complete denial of the Christian faith. It is the result of the failure to see that there is no peace between them and God even from God’s side, and that the wrath of God is upon them because of their ungodliness and unrighteousness. Before there can be peace between God and man, and man and God, something has to happen with respect to the wrath of God, which is a revealed fact.

The Apostle has already told us what has happened, in chapter 3, verses 24-26: ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.’

As we have seen, the great problem confronting the mind of God was this – How can God at one and the same time forgive a sinner and yet remain just and righteous and eternally the same? The answer is that God has sent his Son into the world, and has ‘set him forth’ as a ‘propitiation’ for our sins. That means that he laid our sins upon him, and poured out his wrath against sin upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only because he has done that, that God can look upon us with favour, and pardon us and forgive us and reconcile us unto himself. This had to happen before the wrath of God could be appeased and he could look upon us and deal with us in a new way. The Apostle asserts here that, in the light of what has happened in Christ, who was ‘delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification’, as far as God is concerned the wrath is no longer there, and he is at peace with all ‘that believe in Jesus’.

But it was necessary also that something should happen from our side, for by nature we are all at enmity with God. As the result of the blindness caused by sin, and our being drugged by the devil, we imagine that all is well, and often believe that we are pleasing God. But this is because we are ignorant of God. We have conjured up a god out of our own imaginations, we have projected our own thoughts, and we have thought that that is God. The moment we realize the truth about God we are troubled and disturbed and our natural enmity to him reveals itself. That is what happens to many people who have always thought that they were Christians, and have always been religious and godly. They suddenly awaken to the fact that the God whom they thought they were worshipping is not God at all, not the God revealed in the Bible, not the God who has revealed from heaven his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. The moment they see that, they hate God, they are no longer at peace with him. They had a false peace arising out of their own imaginations, but they were not at peace with God.

The Apostle teaches in many places that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God’ (Rom. 8:7) and that by nature we are all ‘the children of wrath’ (Eph. 2:3) and ‘alienated from the life of God’ (Eph. 4:18). That is man by nature. He is afraid of God, he has a craven fear of God, a ‘fear that hath torment’. He is afraid of the very idea of God. He feels that God is some great tyrant waiting to crush him. He dare not think about death and the grave because of the judgment that will follow it. As Paul teaches the Corinthians, ‘The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law’ (1 Cor. 15:56]. The moment a man realizes the truth about God this feeling rises within him, and he is fearful and alarmed. There is no peace between such a man and God; rather is he troubled and afraid, disturbed and unhappy. He tries to find peace but cannot. He is afraid of God, afraid of death, and afraid of the judgment. It is surely obvious that before there can be peace between such a man and God, man has to be dealt with. And what the Apostle teaches here is that as the result of the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that alone, all causes of enmity have been dealt with, and man can be at peace with God as God is at peace with him. On both sides there is this reconciliation, and there is ‘peace with God’. God at peace with us, we at peace with God. The communion between God and man, broken by sin and the Fall, is re-established.

That is the meaning of this statement that because we have been justified by faith we have peace with God. This is such a vital statement that we must examine ourselves in the light of it. The test of our profession of Christianity is whether this is true of us. Has our natural state of fearfulness with respect to God, our enmity with respect to God, been removed? The Apostle lays it down here that it is an inevitable consequence of justification. Notice that he does not say that the Christian is a man who is ‘hoping’ that this may be the case. ‘Being justified – having been justified – by faith, we have peace.’ We are not looking for it, we are not hoping to get it; we have it, we have got it, we are rejoicing in it. That is the statement, and that is why it becomes a test of our profession of the Christian faith. A Christian of necessity is one who is clear about this, otherwise he has not got peace. There is no more thorough test of our profession of Christianity than just this: are we enjoying this peace with God? There are many, alas, in the church, as there have always been, who dispute this altogether. They say that a Christian is a man who is hoping that he is going to be forgiven, and that at the end he will go to heaven. But that is not the Apostle’s teaching. We have peace, it is already a possession. He will say later on in chapter 8, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus’. That is the same thing. It is clearly important therefore for us to make sure that we are in this state of ‘peace with God’.

1. What does this mean experimentally or in experience? The first answer is that a man who has peace with God is a man whose mind is at rest about his relationship with God. He is clearly able to understand with his mind the doctrine of justification by faith only. This means that a change has taken place in his thinking concerning his relationship to God. When awakened to the truth about God and himself his thoughts would be something like this: Ah, there is God in his utter absolute holiness and here am I, a sinner and ‘in sin’. There is God’s holy Law and its pronouncements. I have sinned against it and cannot erase my past. How can I possibly stand in the presence of God? With Job he asks, ‘How can a man be just with God?’ He realizes that he cannot, and he is troubled and disturbed, and unhappy.

John Bunyan tells us in Grace Abounding2 that he was in that condition and in an agony of soul for eighteen months. The time element does not matter, but any man who is awakened and convicted of sin must be in trouble about this. How can he die and face God? He is aware that he cannot in and of himself, and therefore he is unhappy and troubled. There is no peace; he does not know what to do with himself; he is restless. Having ‘peace with God’ is obviously the opposite of that. It implies first and foremost that the man’s mind is at rest, and he has that rest because he now sees that this way of God, as provided in Christ, is really a way that satisfies every desideratum. Now he can see how this satisfies the justice and the righteousness and the holiness of God. He can see how in this way God can justify the ungodly, as Paul has already put it in chapter 4. He thinks it out and he says, ‘Yes, I can rest upon that; because God „justifies the ungodly” he can justify even me’.

You notice that I put this intellectual apprehension and understanding first. There is no peace between man and God until a man grasps this doctrine of justification. It is the only way of peace. And it is something that comes to the mind, it is doctrine, it is teaching. In other words we are not just told, ‘All is well, do not worry. All will be all right in the end; the love of God will cover you.’ That is not the gospel. It is all stated here, in detail, in this explicit manner; and it comes as truth to the mind. The first thing that happens is that the mind is enlightened, and the man says, ‘I see it. It is staggering in its immensity, but I can see how God himself has done it. He has sent his own Son and he has punished my sin in him. His justice is satisfied, and therefore I can see how he can forgive me, though I am ungodly and though I am a sinner.’ The mind is satisfied.

You will never have true peace until your mind is satisfied. If you merely get some emotional or psychological experience it may keep you quiet and give you rest for a while, but sooner or later a problem will arise, a situation will confront you, a question will come to your mind, perhaps through reading a book or in a conversation, and you will not be able to answer, and so you will lose your peace. There is no true peace with God until the mind has seen and grasped and taken hold of this blessed doctrine, and so finds itself at rest.

2. Having said that, I go on in the second place to say that the man who believes this truth and grasps its import is a man who knows that God loves him in spite of the fact that he is a sinner, and in spite of his sin. He was troubled before by the wrath of God. His question was, How can God love me and bless me? But as he looks at Christ dying on the cross, buried, and rising again, he says, ‘I know he loves me. I cannot understand it but I know he does. He has done that for me.’ It is not mere sentiment or feeling; he has solid facts of history to prove that God loves him. God does not merely tell us that he loves us, he has given the most amazing proof of it. The Apostle goes on to say that, and to prove it, in this very chapter, from verse 6 to verse 11. Nothing is more wonderful than to know that God loves you; and no man can truly know that God loves him except in Jesus Christ and him crucified.

3. My third answer to the question of how we may know that we are justified is also a most practical test. The man who has been justified by faith, and who has peace with God, can answer the accusations of his own conscience. It is essential that he should be able to do so, because thoughts will arise within, which will suggest to him, ‘This is impossible, how can you be at peace with God? Look at yourself, look at your heart, look at the plague of your own heart. How can it possibly be the case that God has forgiven you, and that God loves you?’ These accusations arise within our minds and consciences. If you cannot answer them you are obviously not clear about being justified by faith, and if you cannot answer them as they try to shake your confidence, you will again be miserable and unhappy; and there will be no peace with God. But the truly justified man can answer them, and thus he retains his peace.

4. Not only that; in the fourth place I go on to assert that he can not only answer the accusations of his own conscience, he can answer with equal firmness the accusations of the devil. Nowhere has that been put so movingly as in a verse of that great hymn of John Newton’s which begins with the words – ‘Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat, Where Jesus answers prayer’. It is the following verse:

Be Thou my shield and hiding-place,

That, sheltered near Thy side,

I may my fierce accuser face,

And tell him Thou hast died.

Poor John Newton! Before his conversion he had been engaged in the slave trade and traffic. He had been a vile and a foul sinner. There was scarcely a sin that he had not committed. You can well understand therefore how the devil would rake up his past and hurl it at him. The devil would resurrect it all and cause it to pass as a horrible panorama before his eyes and then challenge him, ‘Do you still claim to be a Christian, forgiven and at peace with God?’ But John Newton had his answer, an answer that can silence the devil. He says in effect in that verse, ‘What can I tell him? I cannot tell him that I am a good man, I cannot tell him about my past or even my present. There is only one way of silencing him; „I can my fierce accuser face, and tell him Thou hast died”, for me and my sin.’

But it is only the man who believes in the doctrine of justification by faith who can do that. The man who believes vaguely in the love of God cannot do so, for the devil will not listen to him. The man who says ‘I feel happy’ will soon be made unhappy by the devil, for he is more powerful than we are. There is only one thing that the devil can never answer and that is the argument of ‘the blood of Christ’. ‘They overcame him’, says the Book of Revelation, ‘by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony’ (Rev. 12:11). Their testimony was a testimony concerning the blood of the Lamb. It is the only way. Can you do that? Can you do so with confidence, and in spite of what you may feel momentarily? If you can, and do, the devil will have to be silent; he will leave you alone. He will come back again, but you will always be able to silence him, and thus continue in a state of peace.

5. Another test can be put in this way: when a man has a true grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith he no longer has a fear of death, no longer a fear of the judgment.

This follows of necessity. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews deals with that in the second chapter of his Epistle. He says that Christ has delivered all those who ‘were all their lifetime subject to bondage’. What was the bondage? ‘The fear of death’, which was controlled by the devil. Christ has defeated the devil, and has therefore delivered them from this bondage of the fear of death. These are very practical matters. Have you visualized yourself lying on your deathbed? What are your feelings when you do so? Are you still afraid of death? Are you still afraid of the judgment of God? If you are, you cannot say ‘I have been justified by faith and am at peace with God’. If your faith cannot stand up to these tests it is not truly Christian faith. The man who has been justified by faith has peace with God, and can say with Toplady:

The terrors of law and of God

With me can have nothing to do;

My Saviour’s obedience and blood

Hide all my transgressions from view.

6. The last test I suggest is one which I find increasingly to be a most valuable test in my pastoral dealings with people about spiritual problems. It is this: can you do all that I have been describing even when you fall into sin? It is understandable that a man should be fairly untroubled in mind and conscience when he has been living a fairly good life; but what happens when he falls into some grievous sin? A sudden temptation overtakes him and before he knows what has happened he has fallen. Here is the question. When this happens to you, can you still employ the argument I have been describing? I find that many are caught by the devil at that point. Because they have fallen into sin they query and question their salvation, they doubt their justification, they wonder whether they have ever been Christians at all. They lose their peace and they are in a torment and an agony. They have gone back, and have started doubting their whole standing in the presence of God because of that one sin.

Any man in that position is just betraying the fact that, for the time being at any rate, he is not clear about the doctrine of justification by faith only. Because if he believes that one sin can put a man out of the right relationship to God, then he has never seen dearly that hitherto he has been in that right relationship, not because of anything in himself, but because of the Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect work. When a man says, ‘Because I have sinned I have lost it’, what he is really saying on the other side is, ‘I had it because I was good’. He is wrong in both respects. In other words, if we see that our justification is altogether and entirely in the ‘Lord Jesus Christ and him crucified’, we must see that, even though we fall into sin, that is still true.

‘But’, you may say, ‘what a dangerous doctrine!’ Every doctrine is dangerous, and can be, and has been, abused. But this is the doctrine of justification by faith only. We have already been told in chapter 4: ‘But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ So we must never feel that we have lost everything because we have fallen into sin. If a man goes back over the whole question of his salvation, and his standing before God, and his relationship to God, every time he falls into sin, we must come to the conclusion that he has never clearly understood justification by faith. The Apostle surely makes it very plain to us here. ‘Therefore being justified by faith’, says the Authorized Version. But a better translation, the right translation is, ‘Therefore having been justified by faith’. ‘Having been.’ It is in the aorist tense, and the aorist tense means that the thing has been done once and for ever. You do not have to go on being justified; it is one act. It is this declarative act of God that we have emphasized so frequently, in which he makes a declaration that because he has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us, because he has already punished our sins in Christ, he pronounces us to ‘be just’ once and for ever. You cannot be just one day and not just the next, then again just the day after. That is impossible. This is a declarative, a forensic, a legal matter. It happens once and for ever; and therefore to query it because of sin is to display again some ignorance or uncertainty of the doctrine.

There, then, are six tests which, I suggest, we can easily and practically apply to ourselves.

Let me now make some comments. That is the statement, that is the position, but, again to be practical and helpful, certain comments are called for. Though what I have been saying is the truth with regard to justification by faith, and though it is true of everybody who is justified by faith, I still say that faith at times may have to fight. But I hasten to add that faith not only may have to fight, faith does fight, faith can fight; and faith always fights victoriously in this matter of justification. There is always the element of rest and of peace, and as we have seen, of certainty in connection with faith. Abraham we are told was ‘fully persuaded that’ – there is an element of knowledge and of certainty always in justifying faith. There must be, otherwise we cannot have peace with God. But at the same time faith may have to fight at times when the devil, as it were, brings up all his batteries. The greatest saints have testified that even to the end of their lives the devil would come and raise this question of justification with them and try to shake them. But faith can always deal with him, faith can always silence him. It may be a desperate fight at times, but faith can fight and faith does fight.

Let me use another illustration. Faith in this matter is remarkably like the needle of a compass, always there pointing to the magnetic north. But if you introduce a very powerful magnet at some other point of the compass it will draw the needle over to it and cause it to swing backwards and forwards and be most unstable. But it is certain that the true compass needle will get back to its true centre, it will find its place of rest in the north. It may know agitation, it may know a lot of violence, but it will go back to its centre, it always finds the place of rest, and the same thing is always true of faith. So the mere fact that we may be tempted to doubt, the mere fact that we may have to struggle and bring out all arguments, and go over the whole question again, does not mean that we have not got faith. In a sense it is a proof of faith, as long as we always arrive back at the position of rest. That is my first comment.

I am emphasizing that there is always an element of assurance of faith, but I do not mean by that, that there is always ‘full’ assurance of faith. There is a great phrase about the full assurance of faith in Hebrews 10, verses 19-22: ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus, let us go in’, he says, ‘with full assurance of faith.’ Now the assurance that I am talking about as a constant element in faith does not mean of necessity that ‘full’ assurance. There is a difference between assurance and full assurance. What I stipulate and postulate is that there is always some assurance. You can be a Christian, you can be justified by faith, and have an assurance of justification without knowing what Paul has in mind when he says, ‘The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God’. You can be a Christian without this full assurance of faith; but you cannot be a Christian without being justified by faith, and that always means an element of assurance, the ability always to come to a place of rest.

At times your faith may only just be able to get you to that place, but it does get there. That is assurance of faith though it is not the full assurance of faith. How many have been discouraged by that! The devil has got them into trouble because he has been able to prove to them they have not got the full assurance, and then he says, ‘Well if you have not got that, you have not got anything’. Some of the Protestant Fathers were tempted to say that, but surely they were wrong; and the Puritans were certainly right at that point, as were the great leaders of the Evangelical Awakening of two hundred years ago. You can be a Christian without the full assurance of faith, but you cannot be a Christian at all without having justification by faith and the element of assurance that is involved in that doctrine.

Unfortunately I have to make a third comment. I wish that it were unnecessary. ‘Being therefore justified by faith we have peace with God’ – and I have described the peace. But alas, there is such a thing as a false peace; there are people who think they are at peace with God and who are not. What then are the characteristics of false peace? We have to consider this because it is in the New Testament. John says about certain people who had been in the early church, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us’ (1 John 2:19). Take also the people described in the sixth chapter of Hebrews; they had had certain experiences but finally they are lost, they were never regenerate at all. We have to test ourselves and prove ourselves and examine ourselves, say the Scriptures, whether we are in the faith or not (2 Cor. 13:5).

What are the characteristics of false peace? It generally results from thinking that faith simply means believing, and giving an intellectual assent to certain propositions and truths. That was the essence of the heresy known as Sandemanianism. It is based, as the Sandemanians based it, on Romans l0:10, ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus’. They taught, and teach, that any man who says, ‘I believe Jesus is Lord, I believe he is the Son of God’, is thereby saved and that all is well with his soul. But all may not be well. You can subscribe to the truth, and give an intellectual assent to it, and yet not really be saved by it. There are men who have ‘a form of godliness but deny the power thereof’. Faith is not only a matter of intellect; it is deeper, as I have been trying to show in stressing the element of assurance.

Secondly, the person with a false peace is generally found to be resting on his or her faith rather than on Christ and his work. They really look at their own believing rather than at Christ and what he has done. They say, ‘I now believe, therefore I must be all right’. They persuade themselves; a kind of Couéism3 They are not looking to Christ; they are looking to their own faith, and they turn faith into a kind of work on which they rest.

Another characteristic of false peace is somewhat surprising and unexpected. The man who has a false peace is never troubled by doubts. But that is where the devil makes a mistake. The counterfeit is always too wonderful, the counterfeit always goes much further than the true experience. When the devil gives a man a false peace counterfeiting the true peace, he creates a condition in which the man is never troubled at all. He is in a psychological state. He does not truly face the truth, so there is nothing to make him unhappy. Let me put this in the form of a very practical question. Can you sit in an evangelistic service without being made to feel uncomfortable at all? If you can you had better examine yourself seriously. I am assuming, of course, that the gospel is being preached truly, that it is the true evangel which starts with the wrath of God and man’s helplessness. It matters not how long you may have been saved, if you are truly justified you will be made to feel unhappy, you may even be made to feel miserable temporarily, and you will thank God again for justification by faith and have to apply it to yourself. But the intellectual believers are never troubled at all, they are always perfectly at ease, without a doubt or any trouble. They say, ‘Ever since I made my decision I have never had a moment’s trouble’. Such talk is always indicative of a very dangerous condition, is always very suspicious because it is too good to be true.

To put it in another way, I say that this kind of person is always much too ‘healthy’. The people who have this false, counterfeit peace are much too glib, much too light-hearted. Compare them with the New Testament picture of the Christian. The New Testament Christian is ‘grave’, ‘sober’, and he approaches God with ‘reverence and godly fear’. But the people with the false peace know nothing of that; they are perfectly healthy, all is well, and they are supremely happy. Nothing like that is to be found in the Scriptures. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul speaking in that manner, with such glib cliches falling from his lips? His speech is, ‘Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men’, and ‘I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling’, and ‘Work out your salvation in fear and trembling’.

Another characteristic of false peace is that it is only interested in forgiveness and not in righteousness. The man who has the false peace is only interested in forgiveness. He does not want to go to hell, and he wants to be forgiven. He has not stopped to think about being positively righteous; he is not concerned about being holy and walking in holiness before God, so he is negligent about his life, and does not pursue holiness. He does not heed that exhortation in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb. 12:14). He is an Antinomian, only interested in forgiveness, and negligent with regard to living the Christian life.

Another invariable characteristic of the man with the false peace is that when this man falls again into sin he takes it much too lightly. He is not like the person I have just been describing whose faith is shaken by Satan when he falls into sin. This man says almost as soon as he has fallen, ‘It is all right, the blood of Christ covers me’. And up he gets and on he goes as if nothing had happened. You cannot do that if you have any true conception of what sin means, and what the holiness of God really is. This man with a false peace heals himself much too quickly, much too easily, much too lightly. It is because he takes sin as a whole too lightly.

What are the characteristics of true peace?

They are the exact opposite of what I have just been describing. First, the man with true peace is never glib, never light-hearted. The man who is a true Christian is a man who has had a glimpse of hell, and who knows that there is only one reason for the fact that he is not bound for it. That is always present with him, so he is never glib, never superficial, never light-hearted.

Secondly, he is a man who is always filled with a sense of wonder and amazement. He can re-echo the words of Charles Wesley:

And can it be, that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour’s blood,

Died He for me, who caused His pain;

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! how ran it be

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

This seems to me to be inevitable. The man who has true peace is a man who never ceases to be amazed that he has it, amazed at the fact that he has ever been justified at all, that God has ever looked upon him and called him by his grace.

Which leads to the next characteristic, namely, that he is humble. You remember that one of the characteristics of Abraham’s faith was, ‘he staggered not in unbelief at the promise of God, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God’. Go through the New Testament and you will always find that the most outstanding characteristic of the Christian is that he is humble – ‘poor in spirit’, ‘meek’, ‘lowly’. Realizing the truth about himself and about God, and realizing that he owes all to Christ, he is a humble man, he is a lowly man. That is another way of saying that his sense of gratitude to God and to our Lord is always prominent. There is no better index of where we stand than the amount of praise and of thanksgiving that characterizes our lives and our prayers. Some people are always offering petitions or making statements; but this man, having realized something of what God in Christ has done for him, is thanking God; is always praising God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is inevitable and incontrovertible. The man who realizes his position truly must be filled with a sense of ‘wonder, love, and praise’.

Then, finally, he is a man who is always careful about his life. Not that he may be justified as the result of the carefulness; he is careful because he has been justified. Again this is quite inevitable. He does not fall back on works and try to justify himself; his position is that because of what Christ has done for him he wants to show his gratitude to him. Realizing the terrible character of sin he wants to leave it, and in addition he is anxious to be holy and to go to heaven. ‘He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (1 John 3:3).

The Scriptures are full of this. Let me remind you of some great statements of this truth. 1 Timothy 1:19, ‘Holding faith and a good conscience’. You not only hold faith, you hold the good conscience as well, ‘which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck’. What a terrible statement! ‘Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.’ Hymenaeus and Alexander claimed to have faith, and to hold faith; but they did not ‘hold the good conscience’ and so ‘made shipwreck’.

Then 1 Timothy 3:9, ‘Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience’. Faith is something which you carry in a most precious, delicate vessel because it is such a wonderful thing. Carry it, says the Apostle, ‘in a pure conscience’ – ‘holding the faith in a pure conscience’.

And then a final quotation from Titus 3, verses 8 and 9. ‘This is a faithful saying.’ What has he been talking about? ‘Justified by his grace’, etc. ‘This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou constantly affirm, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.’ The man who is not careful to maintain good works is a man who is proclaiming that he has got a false sense of peace. The man who has the true peace is a man who is always careful to maintain good works. He carries his faith in a pure conscience, he holds not only the mystery of the faith but he also holds at the same time this conscience, this good conscience.

There, it seems to me, are the characteristics of true peace. Have you got it? How can one maintain it? There is only one way to maintain it; it is to be living a good deal of your life in the First Epistle of John, chapter 1 and the first two verses of chapter 2. That is how you maintain the peace. You have been given it:

‘Having been justified by faith we have peace.’

You have been given it once and for ever. The devil will come and tempt you, sin will make you shaky. Go back, go back to that section of John’s First Epistle and you will find that you will be able to maintain, to preserve, and to keep your peace.

Notes:

1. A sermon taken from Assurance: An Exposition of Romans 5, pp. 14-29, a volume in Dr Lloyd-Jones’ series of sermons on the book of Romans, published by the Trust. Notes added.

2. ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’ can be found in Volume 1 of the 3-volume set of The Works of John Bunyan, published by the Trust

3. Couéism is a method of self-help stressing autosuggestion, introduced into America by the French psychotherapist Emile Coué, c. 1920, and featuring the slogan ‘Every day in every way I am getting better and better.’

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan‬‏ (the original film)

The original Pilgrim’s Progress movie. Minute 1-5 Introduction includes footage of town of Bedford in the England of the 17th century, where Bunyan lived, spent one fifth of his life imprisoned and wrote this second best selling book of all times (behind the Bible which is the all time best selling book ever). Movie begins at the 6th minute and lasts about 62 minutes. VIDEO by ChristianCinema2000

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Pilgrim’s Progress – Christiana- (original version)

This movie completes the John Bunyan story that began with Pilgrim’s Progress. Pilgrim’s wife, Christiana, her three children and her neighbor make their way to the Celestial city and a great adventure, a living parable unfolds.Christiana has a glowing faith while her neighbor Mercy is plagued with doubts. All along the journey Christiana guards and guides her children and Great Heart, played by Liam Neeson, has to rescue them more than once. Running Time 78 minutes. A Ken Anderson Films Presentation. VIDEO by ChristianCinema2000

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The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan‬‏ (Illustrated storytelling video)

This is a good version for very young children because the scenes in the video are illustrations that illustrate the plot of the story and it helps them to hear better with their ears rather than following with their eyes (as happens in the film version). It is also an excellent way to listen to it on an MP3 player, as it tells a story vs. listening to a film where much more of the action and some dialogue is portrayed visually. Either way, this story is a story worth listening and watching for adults as well as children time and time again as it portrays the struggles and the ultimate triumph in the life of a Christian.

Two valuable books- Doua carti extraordinare -The Gospel of Mark and John Bunyan…

La situl Resurse Crestine veti gasi (absolut nou) cartea  clasica scrisa de John Bunyan- CALATORIA CRESTINULUI,  care este difuzata in format audio in Limba Romana. Seria de 27 de capitole a cartii se poate asculta online sau se poate descarca gratuit pe mp3 player.  Click aici pentru cartea audio. E o carte extraordinara! (Pilgrim’s Progress).

S-a produs un film/DVD dupa aceasta carte, click ca sa vedeti secvente din filmul Pilgrim’s Progress.

I just came across a second exciting resource for our families. If you speak and understand even a little bit of English,  Justin Taylor (VP of editoral at Crossway publisher) announces that Mark’s Gospel spoken/performed by MaxMcLean is available and free online. It runs all together for about an hour and a half. This is a great way to listen to the entire Gospel of Mark, chapter by chapter. This sounds like a great one for the kids, younger or older. Each chapter is on one video so I am providing the link to the page which has all of the chapters loaded.

for the other chapters click here. I like to listen to sermons when working on a project, or doing something that prevents me from reading. Audio is a great tool for learning  and  a different, yet still uplifting way to listen to the Word of God. ( There is a nostalgia in the United States for the family gathering around the radio in the early part of the century.)  These audio/video files can also be used for family or personal devotions.

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