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   Chapter 15 [HIS PIOUS WIFE DIES BROKEN-HEARTED.—HER DEATH-BED CHARGE TO HER FAMILY.]

Works of John Bunyan — Complete By John Bunyan Characters: 10695

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


ATTEN. And how did his good wife take it, when she saw that he had no amendment, but that he returned with the dog to his vomit, to his old courses again?

WISE. Why, it broke her heart, it was a worse disappointment to her than the cheat that he gave her in marriage. At least she laid it more to heart, and could not so well grapple with it. You must think that she had put up many a prayer to God for him before, even all the time that he had carried it so badly to her, and now, when he was so affrighted in his sickness, and so desired that he might live and mend; poor woman, she thought that the time was come for God to answer her prayers; nay, she did not let[71] with gladness, to whisper it out amongst her friends, that it was so: but when she saw herself disappointed by her husband turning rebel again, she could not stand up under it, but falls into a languishing distemper, and in a few weeks gave up the ghost.

ATTEN. Pray how did she die?

WISE. Die! she died bravely; full of comfort of the faith of her interest in Christ, and by him, of the world to come. She had many brave expressions in her sickness, and gave to those that came to visit her many signs of her salvation; the thoughts of the grave, but especially of her rising again, were sweet thoughts to her. She would long of death, because she knew it would be her friend. She behaved herself like to some that were making of them ready to go meet their bridegroom. Now, said she, I am going to rest from my sorrows, my sighs, my tears, my mournings, and complaints: I have heretofore longed to be among the saints, but might by no means be suffered to go, but now I am going, and no man can stop me, to the great meeting, 'to the general assembly, and church of the first born which are written in heaven' (Heb 12:22-24). There I shall have my heart's desire; there I shall worship without temptation or other impediment; there I shall see the face of my Jesus, whom I have loved, whom I have served, and who now I know will save my soul. I have prayed often for my husband, that he might be converted, but there has been no answer of God in that matter. Are my prayers lost? are they forgotten? are they thrown over the bar? No: they are hanged upon the horns of the golden altar, and I must have the benefit of them myself, that moment that I shall enter into the gates, in at which the righteous nation that keepeth truth shall enter: I say, I shall have the benefit of them. I can say as holy David; I say, I can say of my husband, as he could of his enemies: 'As for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer returned into mine own bosom' (Psa 35:13). My prayers are not lost, my tears are yet in God's bottle; I would have had a crown, and glory for my husband, and for those of my children that follow his steps; but so far as I can see yet, I must rest in the hope of having all myself.

ATTEN. Did she talk thus openly?

WISE. No: this she spake but to one or two of her most intimate acquaintance, who were permitted to come and see her, when she lay languishing upon her death-bed.

ATTEN. Well, but pray go on in your relation, this is good; I am glad to hear it, this is as a cordial to my heart while we sit thus talking under this tree.

WISE. When she drew near her end, she called for her husband, and when he was come to her she told him that now he and she must part, and, said she, God knows, and thou shalt know, that I have been a loving, faithful wife unto thee; my prayers have been many for thee; and as for all the abuses that I have received at thy hand, those I freely and heartily forgive, and still shall pray for thy conversion, even as long as I breathe in this world. But husband, I am going thither, where no bad man shall come, and if thou dost not convert, thou wilt never see me more with comfort; let not my plain words offend thee; I am thy dying wife, and of my faithfulness to thee, would leave this exhortation with thee; break off thy sins, fly to God for mercy while mercy's gate stands open; remember that the day is coming, when thou, though now lusty and well, must lie at the gates of death as I do; and what wilt thou then do, if thou shalt be found with a naked soul, to meet with the cherubims with their flaming swords? Yea, what wilt thou then do, if death and hell shall come to visit thee, and thou in thy sins, and under the curse of the law?

ATTEN. This was honest and plain; but what said Mr. Badman to her?

WISE. He did what he could to divert her talk, by throwing in other things; he also showed some kind of pity to her now, and would ask her what she would have? and with various kind of words put her out of her talk; for when she saw that she was not regarded, she fetched a deep sigh, and lay still. So he went down, and then she called for her children, and began to talk to them. And first she spake to those that were rude, and told them the danger of dying before they had grace in their hearts. She told them also that death might be nearer them than they were aware of; and bid them look when they went through the churchyard again, if there were not little graves there. And, ah children, said she, will it not be dreadful to you if we only shall meet at the day of judgment, and then part again, and never see each ot

her more? And with that she wept, the children also wept: so she held on her discourse. Children, said she, I am going from you; I am going to Jesus Christ, and with him there is neither sorrow, nor sighing, nor pain, nor tears, nor death (Rev 7:16, 21:3,4). Thither would I have you go also, but I can neither carry you nor fetch you thither; but if you shall turn from your sins to God, and shall beg mercy at his hands by Jesus Christ, you shall follow me, and shall, when you die, come to the place where I am going, that blessed place of rest; and then we shall be for ever together, beholding the face of our Redeemer, to our mutual and eternal joy. So she bid them remember the words of a dying mother when she was cold in her grave, and themselves were hot in their sins, if perhaps her words might put check to their vice, and that they might remember and turn to God.

Then they all went down but her darling, to wit, the child that she had most love for, because it followed her ways. So she addressed herself to that. Come to me, said she, my sweet child, thou art the child of my joy; I have lived to see thee a servant of God; thou shalt have eternal life. I, my sweet heart,[72] shall go before, and thou shalt follow after, if thou shalt 'hold the beginning of thy confidence stedfast unto the end' (Heb 3:14). When I am gone, do thou still remember my words. Love thy Bible, follow my ministers, deny ungodliness still, and if troublesome times shalt come, set a higher price upon Christ, his word, and ways, and the testimony of a good conscience, than upon all the world besides.[73] Carry it kindly and dutifully to thy father, but choose none of his ways. If thou mayest go to service, choose that rather than to stay at home; but then be sure to choose a service where thou mayest be helped forwards in the way to heaven; and that thou mayest have such a service, speak to my minister, he will help thee, if possible, to such a one.

I would have thee also, my dear child, to love thy brothers and sisters, but learn none of their naughty tricks. 'Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them' (Eph 5:11). Thou hast grace, they have none; do thou therefore beautify the way of salvation before their eyes, by a godly life and conformable conversation to the revealed will of God, that thy brothers and sisters may see and be the more pleased with the good ways of the Lord. If thou shalt live to marry, take heed of being served as I was; that is, of being beguiled with fair words and the flatteries of a lying tongue. But first be sure of godliness, yea, as sure as it is possible for one to be in this world. Trust not thine own eyes, nor thine own judgment, I mean as to that person's godliness that thou art invited to marry. Ask counsel of good men, and do nothing therein, if he lives, without my minister's advice. I have also myself desired him to look after thee. Thus she talked to her children, and gave them counsel; and after she had talked to this a little longer, she kissed it, and bid it go down.

Well, in short, her time drew on, and the day that she must die. So she died, with a soul full of grace, a heart full of comfort, and by her death ended a life full of trouble. Her husband made a funeral for her, perhaps because he was glad he was rid of her, but we will leave that to the manifest at judgment.

ATTEN. This woman died well. And now we are talking of the dying of Christians, I will tell you a story of one that died some time since in our town. The man was a godly old Puritan, for so the godly were called in time past. This man, after a long and godly life, fell sick, of the sickness whereof he died. And as he lay drawing on, the woman that looked to him thought she heard music, and that the sweetest that ever she heard in her life, which also continued until he gave up the ghost. Now when his soul departed from him the music seemed to withdraw, and to go further and further off from the house, and so it went until the sound was quite gone out of hearing.

WISE. What do you think that might be?

ATTEN. For ought I know the melodious notes of angels, that were sent of God to fetch him to heaven.

WISE. I cannot say but that God goes out of his ordinary road with us poor mortals sometimes. I cannot say this of this woman, but yet she had better music in her heart than sounded in this woman's ears.

ATTEN. I believe so; but pray tell me, did any of her other children hearken to her words, so as to be bettered in their souls thereby?

WISE. One of them did, and became a very hopeful young man. But for the rest I can say nothing.

ATTEN. And what did Badman do after his wife was dead?

WISE. Why, even as he did before; he scarce mourned a fortnight for her, and his mourning then was, I doubt, more in fashion than in heart.

ATTEN. Would he not sometimes talk of his wife when she was dead?

WISE. Yes, when the fit took him, and could commend her too extremely, saying she was a good, godly, virtuous woman. But this is not a thing to be wondered at. It is common with wicked men to hate God's servants while alive, and to commend them when they are dead. So served the Pharisees the prophets. Those of the prophets that were dead they commended, and those of them that were alive they condemned. (Matt 23).

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