John Bunyan.

The entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) online

. (page 98 of 122)
Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) → online text (page 98 of 122)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



xxv. 14.) This, then, further confirmeth what
was said but just above ; his secret shall be with
them, and his covenant shall be showed unto them.
His secret, to wit, that which hath been kept hid
from ages and generations, that which he mani-
festeth only to the saints, or holy ones; that is, his
Christ, for he it is that is hid in God, " and that
no man can know but he to whom the Father shall
reveal him." (Matt. xi. 27.) But, oh! what is
there wrapped up in this Christ, this secret of
God ? Why, all treasures of life, of heaven and
happiness. " In him are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge ;" and " in him dwells the
fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. ii.) This
also is that hidden one that is so full of grace to
save sinners, and so full of truth and faithfulness
to keep promise and covenant with them, that their
eyes must needs convey, even by every glance
they make upon his person, offices, and relation,
such affecting ravishments to the heai-t, that it
would please them that see him, even to be killed
with that sight. This secret of the Lord shall be,
nay is, with them that fear him, for he dwelleth in
their heart by faith. " And he will show them his
covenant;" that is, the covenant that is confirmed
of God in Christ, that everlasting and eternal
covenant ; and show him too that he himself is
wrapped up therein as in a bundle of life with the
Lord his God. These are the thoughts, purposes,
and promises of God to them that fear him.

Fourth. Dost thou fear the Lord ? his eye is
always over thee for good, to keep thee from all
evil. " Behold the eye of the L^rd is upon them
that fear him, on them that hope in his mercy, to
deliver their soul from death, and to keep them
alive in famine." (Ps. xxxiii. 18, 19.) His eye is
upon them, that is, to watch over them for
He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor
His eyes are upon them, and he will keep them
as a shepherd doth his sheep : that is, from
those wolves that seek to devour them, and to
swallow them up in death. His eyes are upon
them, for they are the- object of his delight, the
rarities of the world, in whom, saith he, is all my
delight. His eye is upon them, as I said before,
to teach and instruct them. " I will teach thee
and instruct thee in the way that thou shall go ; I
will guide thee with mine eye." (Ps. xxxii. 8.
2 Chron. vii. 15, 16.) The eye of the Lord, there-
fore, is upon them, not to take advantage of them,
to destroy them for their sins, but to guide, to help,
and deliver them from death, from that death that
would feed upon their souls, " To deliver their
soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine."
Take death here for death spiritual, and death
eternal ; and the famine here, not for that that is
for want of bread and water, but for that which
comes on many for want of the word of the Lord,
(Rev. xx. 14. Amos viii. 11, 12 ;) and then the
sense is this, the man that feareth the Lord shall nei-
ther die spiritually nor eternally; for God will keep
him with his eye from all those things that would

in such a manner kill him. Again, should there
be a famine of the word, should there want botli
the word and them that preach it in the place that
thou dost dwell, yet bread shall be given thee, and
thy water shall be sure ; thou shalt not die of the
famine, because thou fearest God. I say, that man
shall not, behold he shall not, because lie feareth
God, and this the next head doth yet more fully

Fifth. Dost thou fear God; fear him for this
advantage more and more. " Oh fear the Lord, ye
his saints, for there is no want to them that fear
him. The young lions do want and suffer hunger,
but they that seek the Lord, that fear him, shall
want no good thing." (Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10.) Not
anything that God sees good for them, shall those
men want that fear the Lord. If health will do
them good, if sickness will do them good, if riches
will do them good, if poverty will do them good,
if life will do them good, if death will do them
good, then they shall not want them, neither shall
any of these come nigh them if they will not do
them good. The lions, the wicked people of the
world that fear not God, are not made sharers in this
great privilege; all things fall out to them contrary,
because they fear not God. In the midst of their
sufficiency they are in want of that good that
God puts into the worst things that the man that
feareth God doth meet with in the world.

Sixth. Dost thou fear God? He hath given
charge to the armies of heaven to look after, take
charge of, to camp about, and to deliver thee. " The
angel of the Lord encampeth about them that
fear him, and delivereth them." (Ps. xxxiv. 7.)
This also is a privilege entailed to them, that in
all generations fear the Lord. The angels, the
heavenly creatures, have it in commission to take
the charge of them that fear the Lord; one of
them is able to slay of men in one night 185,000.
These are they that camped about Elisha like
horses of fire, and chariots of fire, when the enemy
came to destroy him. They also helped Hezekiah
against the band of the enemy, because he feared
God. (2 Kings vi. 17. Isa. xxxvii. 36. Jer. xxvi.
19.) "The angel of the Lord encampeth round
about them," that is, lest the enemy should set
upon them on any side; but let him come where
he will, behind or before, on this side or that, the
angel of the Lord is there to defend them. " The
angel." It may be spoken in the singular number,
perhaps, to show that every one that feareth God
hath his angel to attend on him and serve him.
When the church, in the Acts, was told that
Peter stood at the door and knocked ; at first they
counted the messenger mad, but Avhen* she did
constantly affirm it, they said, " It is his angel."
(Acts xii. 13—15.) So Christ saith of the chil-
dren that came unto him, " Their angels behold
the face of my Father which is in heaven." Their
angels; that is, those of them that feared God
had each of them his angel, who had a charge
from God to keep them in their way. We little


4? 3

think of this, yet this is the privilege of them that
/ear the Lord ; yea, if need be, they shall all come
down to help them, and to deliver them, rather
than, contrary to the mind of their God, they
should by any be abused. "Are they not all
ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them
that shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. i. last.)

But how do they deliver them ? for so says the
text, " The angel of the Lord encampeth about
them that fear him, and delivereth them." An-
swer : The way that they take to deliver them that
fear the Lord, is sometimes by smiting of their
enemies with blindness, that they may not find
them ; and so they served the enemies of Lot.
(Gen. xix. 10, 11.) Sometimes by smiting of
them with deadly fear;" and so they served those
that laid siege against Samaria. (2 Kings vii. 6.)
And sometimes by smiting of them even with
death itself; and thus they served Herod, after he
had attempted to kill the apostle James, and also
sought to vex certain others of the church. (Acts
xii.) These angels that are servants to" them that
f ear the Lord, are them that will, if God doth bid
them, revenge the quarrel of his servants upon
the stoutest monarch on earth. This therefore is
a glorious privilege of the men that fear the Lord.
Alas, they are some of them so mean, that they
are counted not worth taking notice of by the high
ones of the world, but their betters do respect
them ; the angels of God count not themselves too
good to attend on them, and camp about them to
deliver them. This then is the man that hath his
angel to wait upon him, even he that feareth God.

Seventh. Dost thou fear the Lord? Salvation
is nigh unto thee. " Surely his salvation is nigh
them that fear him, that glory may dwell in their
land." (Ps. lxxxv. 9.) This is another privilege
for them that fear the Lord. I told you before
that the angel of the Lord did encamp about them,
but now he saith, " his salvation is also nigh them ;"
the which, although it doth not altogether exclude
the conduct of angels, but include them, yet it
looketh further. " Surely his salvation, his saving
pardoning grace, is nigh them that fear him ;"
that is, to save them out of the hand of their
spiritual enemies. The devil, and sin, and death,
do always wait even to devour them that fear the
Lord, but to deliver them from these his salvation
doth attend them. So then if Satan tempts, here
is their salvation nigh ; if sin, by breaking forth,
beguiles them, here is God's salvation nigh them ;
yea, if death itself shall suddenly seize upon them,
why here is their God's salvation nigh them.

I have seen that great men's little children must
go no whither without their nurses be at hand.
If they go abroad, their nurses must go with them ;
if they go to meals, their nurses must go with them ;
if they go to bed, their nurses must go with them;
yea, and if they fall aleep, their nurses must stand
by them. Oh, my brethren, those little ones that
fear the Lord, they are the children of the Highest,
therefore they shall not walk alone, be at their


spiritual meats alone, go to their sick-b,eds, or to
their graves alone ; the salvation of their God is
nigh them, to deliver them from the evil. This is
then the glory that dwells in the land of them that
fear the Lord.

Eighth. Dost thou fear the Lord ? hearken yet
again. " The mercy of the Lord is from everlast-
ing to everlasting on them that fear him, and his
righteousness unto children's children." (Ps. ciii.
17.) This still confirms what was last asserted,
that is, that his salvation is nigh unto them ; his
salvation, that is, pardoning mercy that is nigh
them. But mind it, there he says, it is nigh them :
but here it is upon them. His mercy is upon them,
it covereth them all over, it encompasseth them
about as with a shield. Therefore they are said
in another place to be clothed with salvation, and
covered with the robe of righteousness. The
mercy of the Lord is upon them, that is, as I said,
to shelter and defend them. The mercy, the par-
doning preserving mercy, the mercy of the Lord
is upon them, who is he then that can condemn
them ? (Rom. viii.)

But there yet is more behind : " The mercy of
the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on
them." It was designed for them before the
world was, and shall be upon them when the world
itself is ended ; from everlasting to everlasting, it
it is on them that fear him. This from everlasting
to everlasting is that by which, in another place,
the eternity of God himself is declared. " From
everlasting to everlasting thou art God." (Ps. xc.
3.) The meaning then may be this : that so long
as God hath his being, so long shall the man that
feareth him find mercy at his hand. According
to that of Moses : " The eternal God is thy refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms ; and he
shall thrust out the enemy before thee, and say,
Destroy them." (Deut. xxxiii. 27.)

Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is
mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlasting
mercy upon thee. This is long-lived mercy. It
will live longer than thy sin, it will live longer
than temptation, it will live longer than thy sorrows,
it will live longer than thy persecutors. It is
mercy from everlasting to contrive thy salvation,
and mercy to everlasting to weather it out with
all thy adversaries. Now what can hell and death
do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him ?
And this hath the man that feareth the Lord.
Take that other blessed word, and oh, thou man
that fearest the Lord, hang it like a chain of gold
about thy neck : " As the heaven is high above
the earth, so great is his mercy towards them
that fear him." (Ps. ciii. 11.) If mercy as big, as
high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privi-
lege, the man that feareth God shall have a pri-

Ninth. Dost thou fear God ? " Like as a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that
fear him." (Ps. ciii. 13.)

The Lore 1 pitieth them that fear him ; that is,



condoleth and is affected, feeleth, and sympathized
with them in all their afflictions. It is a great
matter for a poor man to be in this manner in the
affections of the great and mighty, but for a poor
sinner to be thus in the heart and affections of
God (and they that fear him are so), this is aston-
ishing to consider. " In his love and in his pity
he redeemed them." In his love and in his pity !
" In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the
angel of his presence saved them ; in his love and
in his pity he redeemed them, and bare them, and
carried them all the days of old." (Isa. Ixiii. 9.)
I say, in that he is said to pity them, it is as much
as to say, he condoleth, feeleth, and sympathizeth
with them in all their afflictions and temptations.
Bo that this is the happiness of him that feareth
God ; he has a God to pity him, and to be touched
with all his miseries. It is said in Judges, " His
6oul was grieved for the miseries of Israel," (Judg.
x. 16 ;) and in the Hebrews, " He is touched with
the feeling of our infirmities, and can succour them
that are tempted." (ch. iv. 15 ; ii. 17, 18.)

But further, let us take notice of the comparison.
" As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord
pitieth them that fear him." Here is not only pity,
but the pity of a relation, a father. It is said in
another place, " Can a woman (a mother) forget
her sucking child, that she should not have com-
passion on the son of her womb ? yea, she may,
yet will not I forget thee." The pity of neighbours
and acquaintance helpeth in times of distress, but
the pity of a father and a mother is pity with an
over and above. " The Lord," says James, " is
very pitiful, and of tender mercy." Pharaoh
called Joseph his tender father, because he pro-
vided for him against the famine, but how tender
a father is God ! how full of bowels, how full of
pity! (Jas. v. 11. Gen. xli. 43.) It is said that
when Ephraim was afflicted, God's bowels were
troubled for him, and turned within him towards
him. Oh that the man that feareth the Lord did but
believe the pity and bowels that are in the heart
of God and his Father . towards him ! ( Jer. xxxi.

Tenth. Dost thou fear God ? " He will fill the
desire of them that fear him, he will hear their cry,
and will save them." (Ps. cxlv. 19.) Almost all
those places that make mention of the men that fear
God, do insinuate as if they still were under afflic-
tion, or in danger by reason of an enemy. But,
I say, here is still their privilege, their God is
their father, and pities them. " He will fulfil the
desire of them that fear him." Where now is the
man that feareth the Lord? let him hearken to
this. What sayest thou, poor soul ? will this con-
tent thee, the Lord will fulfil thy desires ? It is
intimated of Adonijah, that David his father did
let him have his head and his will in all things.
" His father," says the text, " had not displeased
him at any time in (so much as) saying, Why hast
thou done so ?" (1 Kings i. 6.) But here is more ;
here is a promise to grant thee the whole desire of

thy heart, according to the prayer of holy David,
" The Lord grant thee, according to thine own
heart, and fulfil all thy counsel." And again,
" The Lord fulfil all thy petitions." (Ps. xx.)

Oh tho\i that fearest the Lord, what is thy
desire ? " All my desire," says David, " is all
my salvation," (2 Sam. xxiii. 5;) so savest thou,
" All my salvation is all my desire." Well, the
desire of thy soul is granted thee, yea, God himself
hath engaged himself even to fulfil this thy desire.
" He will fulfil the desires of them that fear him ;
he will hear their cry, and will save them." Oh
this desire when it cometh, " what a free of life
will it be to thee ! " Thou desirest to be rid of
thy present trouble ; the Lord shall rid thee out of
trouble. Thou desirest to be delivered from
temptation ; the Lord shall deliver thee out of temp-
tation. Thou desirest to be delivered from thy
body of death ; and the Lord shall change this thy
vile body, that it may be like to his glorious body.
Thou desirest to be in the presence of God, and
among the angels in heaven ; this thy desire also
shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt be made equal to
the angels. (Exod. vi. 6. 2 Pet. ii. 9. Phil. iii.
20, 21. Luke xvi. 22 ; xx. 35, 36.) " Oh ! but
it is long first." Well, learn first to live upon thy
portion in the promise of it, and that will make
thy expectation of it sweet. God will fulfil thy
desires, God will do it, though it tarry long : wait
for it, because it will surely come; it will not

Eleventh. Dost thou fear God? "The Lord
takes pleasure in them that fear him." (Ps. cxlvii.
11, 12.) 1. They that fear God are among his chief
delights. He delights in his Son, he delights in
his works, and takes pleasure in them that fear
him. As a man takes pleasure in his wife, in his
children, in his gold, in his jewels ; so % the man
that fears the Lord is the object of his delight.
He takes pleasure in their prosperity, (Ps. xxxv.
27,) and therefore sendeth them health from the
sanctuary, and makes them drink of the river of
his pleasures. " They shall be abundantly satisfied
with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make
them drink of the river of thy pleasures." (Ps.
xxxvi. 8.)

2. That or those that we take pleasure in, that
or those we love to beautify and adorn with many
ornaments. We count no cost too much to be
bestowed on those in whom we place our de-
light, and whom we make the object of our plea-
sure : and even thus it is with God. " For the
Lord taketh pleasure in his people ; " and what
follows ? " he will beautify the meek with salva-
tion." (Ps. cxlix. 4.) f

3. Those in whom we delight, we take pleasure
in their actions ; yea, we teach them and give
them such rules and laws to walk by as may yet
make them that we love more pleasurable in our
eyes ; therefore, they that fear God, since they are
the object of his pleasure, are taught to know how
to please him in everything. (1 Thess. iv. 1.) And



hence it is said that he is ravished with their looks;
that he delighteth in their cry, and that he is
pleased with their walking. (Sol. Song, iv. 9.
Prov. xv. 8 ; xi. 20.)

4. Those in whom we delight and take plea-
sure, many things we will bear and put up that
they do, though they be not according to our
minds. A man will suffer that in, and put up that
at, the hand of the child or wife of his pleasure,
that he will not pass by nor put up in another.
They are my jewels, says God, even them that
fear me ; and I will spare them, in all their comings
short of my will, " even as a man spareth his own
son that serveth him." (Mai. iii. 16, 17.) Oh, how
happy is the man that feareth God! His good
thoughts, his good attempts to serve him, and his
good life pleases him, because he feareth God.

You know how pleasing in our eyes the actions
of our children are, when we know that they do
what they do even of a reverent fear and awe of
us ; yea, though that which they do amounts but
to little, we take it well at their hands, and are
pleased therewith. The woman that cast in her
two mites into the treasury, cast in not much, for
they both did but make one farthing, (Mark xii.
40 — 43 ;) yet how doth the Lord Jesus trumpet
her up ; he had pleasure in her, and in her action.
This, therefore, that the Lord taketh pleasure in
them that fear him, is another of their great privi-

Twelfth. Dost thou fear God ? The least dram
of that fear giveth the privilege to be blessed with
the biggest saint. " He will bless them that fear
the Lord, small and great." (Ps. cxv. 13.) This
word " small" may be taken three ways : —

1. For those that are small in esteem, for those
that are but little accounted of. (Judges vi. 15.
1 Sam. xviii. 23.) Art thou small or little in this
sense ? yet if thou fearest God, thou art sure to be
blessed. " He shall bless them, that fear him,
small and great," be thou never so small in the
world's eyes, in thine own eyes, in the saints' eyes
(as sometimes one saint is little in another saint's
e Y e ) ; y e * thou, because thou fearest God, art put
among the blessed.

2. By small, sometimes is meant those that are
but small of stature or young in years; little chil-
dren, that are easily passed by and looked over ;
as those that sang Hosanna in the temple were
when the Pharisees deridingly said of them to Christ,
" Dost thou hear what these say?" (Matt. xxi. 16.)
Well, but Christ would not despise them, of them
that feared God, but preferred them by the Scrip-
ture testimony far before those that did contemn
them. Little children, how small soever, and al-
though of never so small esteem with men, shall
also, if they fear the Lord, be blessed with the
greatest saints : " He shall bless them that fear
him, small and great."

3. By "small" may sometimes be meant those
that are small in grace or gifts ; these are said to
be the least in the church, that is, under this con-

sideration, and so are by it least esteemed. Thus
also is that of Christ to be understood, " Inasmuch
as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did
it not to me." (1 Cor. vi. 4. Matt. xxv. 45.)

Art thou in thine own thoughts, or in the
thoughts of others, of these last small ones, small
in grace, small in gifts, small in esteem upon this
account ? yet if thou fearest God, if thou fearest
God indeed, thou art certainly blessed with the
best of saints. The least star stands as fixed as
the biggest of them all in heaven : " He shall
bless them that fear him, small and great." He
shall bless them, that is, with the same blessing of
eternal life ; for the different degrees of grace
in saints doth not make the blessing, as to its
nature, differ : it is the same heaven, the same life,
the same glory, and the same eternity of felicity
that they are in the text promised to be bles.-ed
with. That is observable which I mentioned
before, where Christ at the day of judgment par-
ticularly mentioneth and owneth the least; " Inas-
much as ye did it not to one of the least." The
least then was there, in his kingdom and in his
glory, as well as the biggest of all : " He shall
bless them that fear him, small and great." The
small are named first in the text, and are so the
first in rank; it may be to show, that though
they may be slighted, and little set by in the
world, yet they are much set by in the eyes of the

Are great saints only to have the kingdom, and
the glory everlasting ? Are great works only to
be rewarded ? works that are done by virtue of
great grace, and the abundance of the gifts of the
Holy Ghost ? No : " Whosoever shall give to
drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold
water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say
unto you, he shall in no wise lose a disciple's re-
ward." Mark, here is but a little gift, a cup ot
cold water, and that given to a little saint : but
both taken special notice of by our Lord Jesus
Christ. (Matt. x. 42.) " He will give reward to
his servants the prophets, and to his saints, and
to .them that fear his name, small and great."
(Rev. xi. 18.) The small, therefore, among them
that fear God, are blessed with the great, as the
great, with the same salvation, the same glory,
and the same eternal life ; and they shall have,
even as the great ones also shall, as much as they
can carry ; as much as their hearts, souls, bodies,
and capacities can hold.

Thirteenth. Dost thou fear God ? why the Holy
Ghost hath on purpose indited for thee a whole
psalm to sing concerning thyself. So that thou
mayest even as thou art in thy calling, bed, journey,
or whenever, sing out thine own blessed and happy
condition to thine own comfort and the comfort
of thy fellows. The psalm is called the 128th
Psalm ; I will set it before thee, both as it is in the
reading and in the singing psalms :

" Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord ;
that walketh in his ways. For thou eh alt eat thb

F F 2



labour of thine hands : happy shalt thou he, and it
shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a
fruitful vine by the sides of thine house : thy chil-
dren like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that
feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out
of Zion : and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem,

Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 2) → online text (page 98 of 122)