T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
[III. SEVERAL REASONS FOR CLEARING THIS DOCTRINE.]
nd the reasons for this point are these,
First. Because all or every one that runneth doth not obtain the prize; there be many that do run, yea, and run far too, who yet miss of the crown that standeth at the end of the race. You know that all that run in a race do not obtain the victory; they all run, but one wins. And so it is here; it is not every one that runneth, nor every one that seeketh, nor every one that striveth for the mastery, that hath it (Luke 13). Though a man do strive for the mastery, saith Paul, yet he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully; that is, unless he so run, and so strive, as to have God's approbation (2 Tim 2:5). What, do you think that every heavy-heeled professor will have heaven? What, every lazy one; every wanton and foolish professor, that will be stopped by anything, kept back by anything, that scarce runneth so fast heaven-ward as a snail creepeth on the ground? Nay, there are some professors do not go on so fast in the way of God as a snail doth go on the wall; and yet these think, that heaven and happiness is for them. But stay, there are many more that run than there be that obtain; therefore he that will have heaven must RUN for it.
Second, Because you know that though a man do run, yet if he do not overcome, or win, as well as run, what will he be the better for his running? He will get nothing. You know the man that runneth, he doth do it that he may win the prize; but if he doth not obtain, he doth lose his labour, spend his pains and time, and that to no purpose; I say, he getteth nothing. And ah! how many such runners will there be found at the day of judgment! Even multitudes, multitudes that have run, yea, run so far as to come to heaven gates, and not able to get any further, but there stand knocking, when it is too late, crying, Lord, Lord, when they have nothing but rebukes for their pains. Depart from me, you come not here, you come too late, you run too lazily; the door is shut. When once the master of the house is risen up, saith Christ, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, I will say, I know ye not, Depart, &c. (Luke 13:25). O sad will the estate of those be that run and miss; therefore, if you will have heaven, you must run for it; and so run that ye may obtain.
Third, Because the way is long (I speak metaphorically), and there is many a dirty step, many a high hill, much work to do, a wicked heart, world, and devil, to overcome; I say, there are many steps to be taken by those that intend to be saved, by running or walking, in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. Out of Egypt thou must go through the Red Sea; thou must run a long and tedious journey, through the vast howling wilderness, before thou come to the land of promise.
Fourth, They that will go to heaven they must run for it; because, as the way is long, so the time in which they are to get to the end of it is very uncertain; the time present is the only time; thou hast no more time allotted thee than that thou now enjoyest. Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth (Prov 27:1). Do not say, I have time enough to get to heaven seven years hence; for I tell thee, the bell may toll for thee before seven days more be ended; and when death comes, away thou must go, whether thou art provided or not; and therefore look to it; make no delays; it is not good dallying with things of so great concernment as the salvation or damnation of thy soul. You know he that hath a great way to go in a little time, and less by half than he thinks of, he had need RUN for it.
Fifth, They that will have heaven they must run for it; because the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, follow them. There is never a poor soul that is going to heaven, but the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, make after that soul. Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). And I will assure you, the devil is nimble, he can run apace, he is light of foot, he hath overtaken many, he hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. Also the law, that can shoot a great way, have a care thou keep out of the reach of those great guns, the ten commandments. Hell also hath a wide mouth; it can stretch itself further than you are aware of. And as the angel said to Lot, Take heed, look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain, that is, any where between this and heaven, lest thou be consumed (Gen 19:17). So say I to thee, Take heed, tarry not, lest either the devil, hell, death, or the fearful curses of the law of God, do overtake thee, and throw thee down in the midst of thy sins, so as never to rise and recover again. If this were well considered, then thou, as well as I, wouldst say, They that will have heaven must run for it.
Sixth, They that will go to heaven must run for it; because perchance the gates of heaven may be shut shortly. Sometimes sinners have not heaven-gates open to them so long as they suppose; and if they be once shut against a man, they are so heavy, that all the men in the world, nor all the angels in heaven, are not able to open them. I shut, and no man openeth, saith Christ. And how if thou shouldst come but one quarter of an hour too late? I tell thee, it will cost thee an eternity to bewail thy misery in. Francis Spira can tell thee what it is to stay till the gate of mercy be quite shut; or to run so lazily, that they be shut before thou get within them. What, to be shut out! what, out of heaven! Sinner, rather than lose it, run for it; yea, and so run that thou mayst obtain.
Seventh, Lastly, Because if thou lose, thou losest all, thou losest soul, God, Christ, heaven, ease, peace, &c. Besides, thou layest thyself open to all the shame, contempt, and reproach, that either God, Christ, saints, the world, sin, the devil, and all, can lay upon thee. As Christ saith of the foolish builder, so will I say of thee, if thou be such a one who runs and missest; I say, even all that go by will begin to mock at thee, saying, This man began to run well, but was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30). But more of this anon.
Quest. But how should a poor soul do to run? For this very thing is that which afflicteth me sore, as you say, to think that I may run, and yet fall short. Methinks to fall short at last, O, it fears me greatly. Pray tell me, therefore, how I should run.
Answ. That thou mightest indeed be satisfied in this particular, consider these following things.