THIS valuable tract was first published without a date, but according to Doe’s List, about the year 1674, and has never been reprinted in a separate volume; it appeared in only one edition of the collected works of John Bunyan—that with the notes by Ryland and Mason; and in his select works, published in America in 1832. No man could have been better qualified to write upon the subject of reprobation than Bunyan.—His extraordinary knowledge of, and fervent attachment to, the holy oracles, peculiarly fitted him with unwavering verity to display this doctrine of divine truth. He was incapable of any misrepresentation with a view of concealing what fallen reason might deem a deformity, or to render the doctrines of the cross palatable to mankind. His object is to display the truth, and then humbly to submit to the wisdom of God, and zealously to vindicate it. There is no subject which more fully displays our fallen nature, than that of reprobation. All mankind agree in opinion, that there ever has been an elect, or good class of society; arid a reprobate, or worthless and bad class; varying in turpitude or in goodness to a great extent and in almost imperceptible degrees. All must unite in ascribing to God that divine foreknowledge that renders ten thousand years but as one day, or hour, or moment in his sight. All ascribe to his omnipotence the power to ordain or decree what shall come to pass—and where is the spirit that can demonstrate a shade of difference between such foreknowledge and preordination. All agree that in the lower class of animals some of the same species pass their lives in luxury and comfort, while others are cruelly tormented, this world comprising their whole term of existence; and will those who refuse to submit to the sovereignty of God in the doctrine of election dare to arraign his conduct in leaving some out of his electing love? The reprobate or worthless lose nothing by the happiness of others. It is inscrutably hid from mankind who are the elect, until the Holy Spirit influences them with the love of God in Christ Jesus, and this sometimes in the last moments of life. There is every encouragement. nay incentive, to the sinner who feels the burden of guilt to fly for refuge to the hope set before him in the gospel. ‘It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS;’ even the chief of sinners. The glad tidings are addressed to ALL sin-sick souls; and Bunyan’s statement of this truth is clear, scriptural, and reasonable. Very different is the account of reprobation given by R. Resburie in his Stop to the Gangrene of Arminianism, 1651. ‘For the reprobate God decrees the permitting of sin in order to hardening, and their hardening in it, in order to their condemnation.’ p. 69. ‘As election is the book of life, so reprobation of death; the names of the reprobate are there registered for destruction.’ p. 73. It is much to be regretted that sentiments like these have been too commonly uttered. It is as an antidote to such ideas that this little work was written but, unfortunately, it has never been widely circulated and read. May the divine blessing follow this attempt to spread these important, although to many, unpalatable, doctrines.
John Bunyan, born in humble circumstances near Bedford, England, in 1628, received little formal schooling. Yet, today, almost three centuries after he wrote Pilgrim's Progress, it continues to be a best seller in many languages. During Bunyan's youth he experienced great battles in his soul. His early marriage to a pious Christian woman aided in his victory over Satan. He began boldly to preach the Gospel, for which he was imprisoned. During the years he spent in prison, he wrote Grace Abounding, Defense of Justification by Faith, The Holy War, Pilgrim's Progress, and several other lesser works. After his release, he was appointed pastor of Bedford Church, where he served until his death in 1688.