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  • Writer's pictureDr. Roger D Duke

“The Physician’s Renown”

“The Physician’s Renown”

(From the pen of John Bunyan the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s writings are in the Public Domain.)

The Physician Who Cures Gets Himself a Name and Begets Encouragement in the Minds of Diseased Folk [1] [2]

For the physician, by curing the most desperate at the first, doth not only get himself a name, but begets encouragement in the minds of other diseased folk to come to him for help. Hence you read of our Lord, that after, through his tender mercy, he had cured many of great diseases, his fame was spread abroad: ‘They brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond Jordan’ (Matt 4:24,25). See here, he first, by working, gets himself a fame, a name, and renown; and now men take encouragement, and bring, from all quarters, their diseased to him, being helped, by what they had heard, to believe that their diseased should be healed.

Now, as he did with those outward cures, so he does in the proffers of his grace and mercy; he proffers that, in the first place, to the biggest sinners, that others may take heart to come to him to be saved. . .. But why did he do all this? ‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:4- 7). See, here is a design; God lets out his mercy to [great sinners by] . . . design, even to show to the ages to come the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness to them through Christ Jesus. . . .

Wherefore . . . sinners, in saving them . . . he had a design to provoke others to come to him for mercy, so the same design is here set on foot again, in his calling and converting the[se] . . . sinners, ‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace,’ says he, ‘in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.’ There is yet one hint behind. It is said that God saved these ‘for his great love’; that is, as I think, for the setting forth, for the commendation of his love, for the advance of his love, in the hearts and minds of them that should come after. As who should say, God has had mercy upon, and been gracious to you, that he might show to others, for their encouragement, that they have ground to come to him to be saved. When God saves one great sinner, it is to encourage another great sinner to come to him for mercy.

He saved the thief, to encourage thieves to come to him for mercy; he saved Magdalene, to encourage other Magdalenes to come to him for mercy; he saved Saul, to encourage Sauls to come to him for mercy; and this Paul himself doth say, ‘For this cause,’ saith he, ‘I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long—suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting’ (1 Tim 1:16). How plain are the words! Christ, in saving of me[3], has given to the world a pattern of his grace, that they might see, and believe, and come, and be saved; that they that are to be born hereafter might believe on Jesus Christ to life everlasting.

But what was Paul? Why, he tells you himself; I am, says he, the chief of sinners. I was, says he, a blasphemer, a persecutor, an injurious person; but I obtained mercy (1 Tim 1:13,14). Ay, that is well for you, Paul; but what advantage have we thereby? Oh, very much, saith he; for, ‘for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting’ (verse 16). . . . Thou delightest in mercy, and mercy pleases thee (Micah 7:18).

. . . Christ Jesus [will not] miss of his design in proffering of mercy, in the first place, to the biggest sinners. You know what work the Lord, by laying hold of the woman of Samaria, made among the people there. They knew that she was a town sinner, an adulteress; yea, one that, after the most audacious manner, lived in uncleanness with a man that was not her husband. But when she, from a turn upon her heart, went into the city, and said to her neighbors, ‘Come,’ Oh, how they came! how they flocked out of the city to Jesus Christ! ‘Then they went out of the city, and came to him.’ ‘And many of the Samaritans of that city (people, perhaps, as bad as herself) believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did’ (John 4:39). That word, ‘He told me all that ever I did,’ was a great argument with them; for by that they gathered, that though he knew her to be vile, yet he did not despise her, nor refuse to show how willing he was to communicate his grace unto her; and this fetched over, first her, then them. . . .

I heard once a story from a soldier, who . . . had laid siege against a fort, that so long as the besieged were persuaded their foes would show them no favor, they fought like madmen; but when they saw one of their fellows taken, and received to favor, they all came tumbling down from their fortress, and delivered themselves into their enemies’ hands. I am persuaded, did men believe that there is that grace and willingness in the heart of Christ to save sinners, as the Word imports there is, they would come tumbling into his arms: but Satan has blinded their minds that they cannot see this thing. Howbeit, the Lord Jesus has, as I said, that others might take heart and come to him, given out a commandment, that mercy should, in the first place, be offered to the biggest sinners. ‘Begin,’ saith he, ‘at Jerusalem’; and thus I end the third reason.

[1] John Bunyan, The Jerusalem Sinner Saved (Carlisle, PA.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), 17-20. This is a reprint of what was “First Published in London, 1691.” [2] Bunyan seems to say expressly throughout the text of The Jerusalem Sinner Saved that the place for salvation and mercy is the place where true worship should be—at Jerusalem. But in his understanding, this true worship has been tainted, abused, and even turned to idolatry. Here he is implying that the mercy and grace of God must begin where the true worshippers have turned away from the plan God had originally instituted for Israel. Hence, the title of the work: The Jerusalem Sinner Saved.

[3] The “me” reference is the Apostle Paul here.

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