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  • Dr. Roger D Duke

Have You Encountered Godly Repentance, and Repented of Your Sins?



WITHOUT GODLY REPENTANCE, THE WICKED MAN’S HOPE AND LIFE DIE TOGETHER[1]


Hence wicked men’s hope is said to die, not before, but with them; they give up the ghost together. And thus did Mr. Badman. His sins and his hope went with him to the gate [of death], but there his hope left him, because he died there; but his sins went in with him, to be a worm to gnaw him in conscience for ever and ever.


The opinion, therefore of the common people concerning this kind of dying is frivolous and vain; for Mr. Badman died like a lamb, or, as they call it, like a chrisom-child, quietly and without fear. I speak not this with reference to the struggling of nature with death, but as to the struggling of the conscience with the judgment of God. I know that nature will struggle with death. I have seen a dog and sheep die hardly. And thus may a wicked man do, because there is an antipathy betwixt nature and death. But even while, even then, when death and nature are struggling for mastery, the soul, the conscience, may be as besotted, as benumbed, as senseless and ignorant of its miserable state, as the block or bed on which the sick lies. And thus they may die like a chrisom-child in show, but indeed like one who by the judgment of God is bound over to eternal damnation; and that also by the same judgment is kept from seeing what they are, and whither they are going, till they plunge down among the flames. . . .


For comparing their life with their death, their sinful, cursed lives, with their childlike, lamblike death, they think that all is well, that no damnation is happened to them; though they lived like devils incarnate, yet they died like harmless ones. [T]here was no whirlwind, no tempest, no band or plague in their death. They died as quietly as the most godly of them all, and had as great faith and hope of salvation, and would talk as boldly of salvation as if they had assurance of it. But as was their hope in life, so was their death; their hope was without trial, because it was none of God’s working, and their death was without molestation, because so was the judgment of God concerning them. . . .


Yea, they are bold, by seeing this, to conclude that God either does not, or will not, take notice of their sins. They ‘speak wickedly, and speak loftily’ (Psa 73:8). They speak wickedly of sin, for that they make it better than by the Word it is pronounced to be. They speak wickedly concerning oppression that they commend, and count it a prudent act. They also speak loftily. ‘They set their mouth against the heavens,’ & c ‘And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?’ (Psa 73:11). And all this, so far as I can see, ariseth in their hearts from the beholding of the quiet and lamblike death of their companions. ‘Behold these are the ungodly who prosper in the world,’ that is, by wicked ways; ‘they increase in riches’ (Psa 73:12).


This therefore is a great judgment of God, both upon that man that dieth in his sins, and also upon his companion that beholdeth him so to die. He sinneth, he dieth in his sins, and yet dieth quietly. What shall his companion say to this? What judgment shall he make how God will deal with him, by beholding the lamblike death of his companion? Be sure he cannot, as from such a sight, say, Woe be to me, for judgment is before him. He cannot gather that sin is a dreadful and a bitter thing, by the childlike death of Mr. Badman. But must rather, if he judgeth according to what he sees, or according to his corrupted reason, conclude with the wicked ones of old, that ‘every one that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?’ (Mal 2:17).


Yea, this is enough to puzzle the wisest man. David himself was put to a stand by beholding the quiet death of ungodly men. ‘Verily,’ says he, ‘I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency’ (Psa 73:13). They, to appearance, fare better by far than I: ‘Their eyes stand out with fatness, ‘they have more than heart could wish. But all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. This, I say, made David wonder, yea, and Job and Jeremiah too. But he goeth into the sanctuary, and then he understands their end, nor could he understand it before. ‘I went into the sanctuary of God. ‘What place was that? Why there where he might inquire of God, and by him he resolved of this matter; ‘Then,’ says he, ‘understood I their end. ‘Then I saw that thou hast ‘set them in slippery places,’ and that ‘thou castedst them down to destruction. ‘Castedst them down, that is, suddenly, or, as the next words say, As in a moment they are utterly consumed with terrors’; which terrors did not seize them on their sick-bed, for they had ‘no bands’ in their death. The terrors, therefore, seized them there, where also they are holden in them for ever. This he found out, I say, but not without great painfulness, grief, and pricking in his reins; so deep, so hard, and so difficult did he find it rightly to come to a determination in this matter.


And, indeed, this is a deep judgment of God towards ungodly sinners; it is enough to stagger a whole world, only the godly that are in the world have a sanctuary to go to, where the oracle and Word of God is, by which his judgments, and a reason of many of them are made known to, and understood by them.


[1] John Bunyan, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman: Presented to the World in a Familiar Dialogue Between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive 1680; (reprint Goodyear, Arizona: Diggory Press, 2007), 130-132 (page citations are to the reprint edition). The original version was edited by “Geo.Offor.” The reprint version states: “Published two years after Pilgrim’s Progress,” 1.

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