Bunyan on Law and Gospel

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From The Pilgrim’s Progress[1] :

Then he took Christian by the hand and led him into a very large reception room that was full of dust because it was never swept.  After he had examined the room for a little while, the Interpreter called for a man to sweep.  When he began to sweep, the dust began to fly around so much that Christian was almost choked by it.  Then the Interpreter said to a girl standing by, “Bring water here and sprinkle the room.” And when she had done it, the room was easily swept and cleaned.

“What does this mean?” asked Christian.  The Interpreter answered, “This reception room is the heart of a man that never was sanctified by the sweet Grace of the gospel.  The dust is his Original Sin and the inward corruptions that have made the whole man unclean.[2]  He who began to sweep in the beginning is the law; but she who brought and sprinkled the water is the gospel.”[3]

“Now,” he continued, “as you saw, the dust began to fly about as soon as the first individual began to sweep so that the room could not be cleaned, but you were almost choked by it.  This is meant to show you that instead of cleaning the sinful heart by its works, the law actually engergizes, puts strength into, and increases sin in the soul.[4]  Even though it reveals and condemns sin, it doesn’t have the power to conquer it.”[5]

“Then,” continued the Interpreter, “you saw the girl sprinkle the room with water, which caused it to be easily cleaned.  This is meant to show you that when the gospel comes in, just as the girl settled the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, in like manner the sweet and precious influences of the gospel to the heart conquer and defeat sin.  The soul is made clean through the faith of the gospel,[6] and consequently the soul is fit for the King of Glory to inhabit it.”[7]

[1] John Bunyan. The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English, ed. L. Edward Hazelbaker (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998).  *Please note this is from the The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English ( A Pure Gold Classic) (Pure Gold Classics)
a “modern english” version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and may not appeal to all readers.  A near-original copy may be purchased from Banner of Truth here: http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/item_detail.php?4479 or read online in its entirety here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bunyan/pilgrim.html

[2] Matthew 15:18-20

[3] Ephesians 5:25-27

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 5:20

[5] Romans 7:6, 8-11, 24-25; 8:1-4

[6] John 15:3; Acts 15:9; Romans 16:25-26

[7] Psalm 51:9-10; 1 John 4:11-16

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Christian saved by grace through faith.

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