Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Jerusalem Sinner

Yesterday I finished reading John Bunyan's, The Jerusalem Sinner Saved. It was written in the last year of his life, and breathes the unction of one who was himself on the doorstep of heaven. I am particularly fond of Bunyan, and try to read one or two of his works each year. Bunyan is the Puritan who speaks most to my heart, opening up windows into my soul, where I may behold hidden sins and hidden graces. He is the most accessible of the Puritans, and I commend him to you for the profit of your soul and the strengthening of your spiritual pilgrimage.

What is a "Jerusalem Sinner?" It is from Luke 24:47, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The sinners of Jerusalem were the worst of sinners, as they had crucified the Lord of Glory, and yet in God's mercy were first offered the gospel pardon. Bunyan, of course, applies this to himself, and to other great sinners living in every age:
"Say, when you are upon your knees, Lord, here is a Jerusalem sinner! A sinner of the biggest size! One whose burden is of the greatest bulk and heaviest weight! One cannot stand long without sinking into hell, without thy supporting hand! 'Be not far from me, O Lord; O my strength, haste thee to help me' (Psalm 22:19)."

I have begun reading Sinclair Ferguson's John Owen On the Christian Life. A book I have wanted to read for some time. If Bunyan opens my heart, Owen opens my mind. There is no finer theologian who has written in the English language than Owen, and yet Owen deeply admired Bunyan. He was reported to have said to King Charles II, "Could I possess the tinker's abilities...I would gladly relinquish all my learning."

Both Bunyan and Owen are buried near each other in Bunhill Fields, the Non-conformist (i.e., non-Anglican) cemetery in London.


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