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Or, With Who, and Who Not, I Can Hold Church Fellowship of the Communion of Saints: Showing, by Divers Arguments, That Though I Dare Not Communicate With the Open Profane, Yet I Can With Those Visible Saints That Differ About Water Baptism; Wherein is Also Discoursed Whether That Be the Entering Ordinance Into Fellowship or no.
I believed, and therefore have I spoken. ¾ <19B610> Psalm 116:10.
TO THE READER.
IMARVEL not that both yourself and others do think my long imprisonment strange, or rather strangely of me for the sake of that; for verily I should also have done it myself had not the Holy Ghost long since forbidden me.
Nay, verily, that notwithstanding, had the adversary but fastened the Supposition of guilt upon me, my long trials might by this time have put it beyond dispute; for I have not hitherto been so sordid as to stand to a doctrine right or wrong, much less when so weighty an argument as above eleven years’ imprisonment is continually dogging of me to weigh and pause, and pause again, the grounds and foundation of those principles for which I thus have suffered; but having not only at my trial asserted them, but also since, even all this tedious track of time, in cold blood, a thousand times, by the word of God, examined them and found them good, I cannot, I dare not, now revolt or deny the same, on pain of eternal damnation.
And that my principles and practice may be open to the view and judgment of all men, (though they stand and fall to none but the word of God alone,) I have in this small treatise presented to this generation A Confession of my Faith and a Reason of my Practice in the Worship of God; by which, although it be brief, candid Christians may, I hope, without a violation to faith or love, judge I may have the root of the matter found in me.
Neither have I in this relation abusively presented my reader with other doctrines or practices than what I held, professed and preached when apprehended and cast into prison. Nor did I then or now retain a doctrine besides or which is not thereon grounded. The subject I should have preached upon, even then when the constable came, was, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? From whence I intended to show the absolute need of faith in Jesus Christ, and that it was also a thing of the highest concern for men to inquire into, and to ask their own hearts whether they had it or no.
Faith and holiness are my professed principles, with an endeavor, so far as in me lieth, to be at peace with all men. What shall I say? Let mine enemies themselves be judges if anything in these following doctrines, or if aught that any man hath heard me preach, doth or hath, according to the true intent of my words, savored either of heresy or rebellion. I say again, let they themselves be judges if aught they find in my writing or preaching doth render me worthy of almost twelve years’ imprisonment, or one that deserveth to be hanged or banished forever, according to their tremendous sentence. Indeed, my principles are such as lead me to a denial to communicate in the things of the kingdom of Christ with the ungodly and open profane; neither can I, in or by the superstitious inventions of this world, consent that my soul should be governed in any of my approaches to God, because commanded to the contrary and. commended for so refusing. Wherefore, excepting this one thing, for which I ought not to be rebuked, I shall, I trust, in despite of slander and falsehood, discover myself at all times a peaceable and an obedient servant. But if nothing will do unless I make of my conscience a continual butchery and slaughter-shop, unless, putting out my own eyes, I commit me to the blind to lead me, as I doubt is desired by some, I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith and principles. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon that cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? “Hath a nation changed their gods which yet are no gods? For all people will walk everyone in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”
Touching my practice as to communion with visible saints, although not baptized with water, I say it is my present judgment so to do, and am willing to render a farther reason thereof, shall I see the leading hand of God thereto. Thine, in the bonds of the Gospel, JOHN BUNYAN.