John Bunyan on Slothfulness

This is an exert from John Bunyan’s Heavenly Footman: How to Get to Heaven:

Slothfulness hath these two evils: first, to neglect the time in which it should be getting of heaven; and by that means doth, in the second place, bring in untimely repentance. I will warrant that he who shall lose his soul in this world through slothfulness will have no cause to be glad thereat when he comes to hell.

Slothfulness is usually accompanied with carelessness, and carelessness is for the most part begotten by senselessness… Slothfulness shutteth out Christ; slothfulness shameth the soul (Canticles 5:2-4; Prov. 13:4).

If you would know a sluggard in the things of heaven, compare him with one that is slothful in the things of this world. As,

1.He that is slothful is loathe to set about the work he should follow: so is he that is slothful for heaven.

2. He that is slothful is one that is willing to make delays: so is he that is slothful for heaven.

3. He that is a sluggard, any small matter that cometh in between, he will make it sufficient excuse to keep him off from plying his work: so it it also with him that is slothful for heaven.

4. He that is slothful doth his work by the halves: and so it is with him that is slothful for heaven. He may almost, but he shall never altogether, obtain perfection of deliverance for hell; he may almost, but he shall never, without mend, be altogether a saint.

5. They that are slothful do usually lose the season in which things are to be done: and thus it is also with them that are slothful for heaven, they miss the season of grace. And therefore,

6. They that are slothful have seldom or never good fruit: so also it will be with the soul-sluggard.

7. They that are slothful they are chid for the same: so also will Christ deal with those that are not active for him. ‘Thou wicked or slothful servant, out of thine own mouth will I judge thee; thou saidst I was thus, and thus, wherefore then gavest not thou my money to the bank’ (Luke 19:22). ‘Take the unprofitable servant, and cast him into utter darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt. 25:26-30).

What shall I say? Time runs; and will you be slothful? Much of your lives are past; and will you be slothful? Your souls are worth a thousand worlds; and will you be slothful? The day of death and judgement is at the door; and will you be slothful? The curse of God hangs over your heads: and will you be slothful?

Besides, the devils are earnest, laborious, and seek by all means every day, by every sin, to keep you out of heaven, and hinder you of salvation; and will you be slothful? Also your neighbors are diligent for things that will perish; and will you be slothful for things that will endure for ever?

Would you be willing to be damned for slothfulness? Would you be willing that the angels of God should neglect to fetch your souls away to heaven when you lie a-dying, and the devils stand by ready to scramble for them? Was Christ slothful in the work of your redemption? Are his ministers slothful in tendering this unto you?

Sluggard, art thou asleep still. Art thou resolved to sleep the sleep of death? Will neither tidings from heaven or hell awake thee? Wilt thou say still, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,’ and ‘a little folding of the hands to sleep?’ (Prov. 6:10)… Poor soul, lost soul, dying soul, what a hard heart have I that I cannot mourn for thee! If thou shouldn’t lose but a limb, a child, or a friend, it would not be so much, but poor man it is thy soul: if it was to lie in hell but for a day, nay, ten thousand years, it would (in comparison) be nothing . But Oh it is for ever! Oh this cutting ever! What a soul-amazed word will that be, which saith, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!’…

I wish our souls may meet with comfort at the journey’s end

[pp. 19-25]

Also see John Piper’s poem Pilgrim’s Conlict With Sloth


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