John Bunyan, the poet

16 08 2008

A CAUTION TO STIR UP TO WATCH AGAINST SIN

By John Bunyan

The first eight lines one did commend to me,

The rest I thought good to commend to thee:

Reader, in reading this be ruled by me,

With rhymes nor lines, but truths, affected be.

Sin will, at first, just like a beggar, crave

One penny, or one half-penny to have;

But if you give that penny, sin aspires,

From dimes to dollars, and still mounting higher

To the whole soul: but if you hear its moan,

Then say, there’s none for you, now get you gone!

For if you give it entrance at the door,

It will come in, and may go out no more.

Sin will, rather than out of action be,

Ask leave to stay just a short time you see,

One night, one hour, one moment, it will cry,

Embrace me, hold me close, or I will die:

Time to repent, says sin, I will allow,

And help, if to repent you don’t know how.

But if you give it entrance at the door,

It will come in, and may go out no more.

If begging does not work, Sin promise will

Rewards to those that do its lusts fulfill:

Some coins in hand, cold cash, sin offers you,

If only what it asks of you you’ll do.

Will outbid heaven itself, and all to gain

Your love, and its temptations make you entertain.

But do not give it entrance at your door,

It will come in, and may go out no more.

If promising and begging will not do,

Sin, by its cunning tries to flatter you.

I’m harmless, trust me, please don’t be so shy,

So every soul-destroying motion cries.

Sin hides its sting, and changes colors too,

Not vile, but beautiful it seems to you.

But if you give it entrance at the door,

It will come in, and may go out no more.

Rather than fail, sin will itself divide,

Make you do this, and leave the rest aside.

Take little ones, sin says, throw big ones by,

(As if for little sins men should not die).

Sin with itself an argument maintains,

On purpose that by it you might be slain.

Beware the cheat, then, keep it out of doors;

It will come in, and may go out no more.

Sin, if you will believe it, will accuse

What is not hurtful, and itself excuse:

Will make a vice of virtue, and will say,

Good is destructive, good men’s souls betrays;

Will make a law, where God has made man free,

And break those laws by which men bounded be.

Look to yourself, then, keep it out of doors;

It will come in, and may go out no more.

Sin is that beastly thing that will defile

Soul, body, name and fame in little while:

Will make him, who one time God’s image was,

Look like the devil, love and plead his cause;

Like plague, or poison, or like leprosy

Sin will defile, infect contagiously.

And so beware, against it shut the door;

If not, it will defile you more and more.

Sin, once it has secured your heart, will play

The tyrant, force its servant to obey:

Will make you your own happiness oppose,

And offer open violence to those

That love you best; Sin makes you to defy

The law and counsel of the Deity.

Beware then, keep this tyrant out of doors;

Or you’ll be his, and so your own no more.

Sin hardens up your heart against your God,

Makes you abuse His grace, despise His rod;

Will make you run through rough and deadly ground

The threat of judgment will not slow you down

You will not stop, Sin makes you gamble all

For one base lust, your soul, and heaven and all.

Take heed, then, hold it, crush it at the door;

It comes to rob you, and to make you poor.

Sin is a prison, with its bolts and chains,

Brings into bondage those it entertains;

Hangs shackles on them, bends them to its will,

Holds them, like Samson, grinding at the mill,

Will bind them, make them deaf, their mouth will gag,

And ride them, as the devil rides his hag.

So do not give it entrance at your door;

It will come in and may go out no more.

Though sin at first will seek to hide its rage,

Soon it will spring like a lion from its cage;

It roars, it tears, is shreds, it kills outright,

Its living death will gnaw you day and night.

Your pleasures now, into its meal will turn,

In you, its tickling lusts, like brimstone, burns.

And so beware, and keep it out of doors;

Or sin will turn and like a lion roar.

Sin is the living worm, the lasting fire,

Hell would soon lose its heat, if sin expired;

Better sinless, in hell, than to be where

Heaven is, and to be found a sinner there.

One sinless with the demons might do well,

But sin would make a very heav’n a hell.

Look to yourself, and keep it out of doors;

It will come in, and may go out no more.

No match has sin but God in all the world,

Men, angels, it has from their places hurled;

Holds them in chains, as captives in despite,

Of all that here below is known as might.

Release, help, freedom from it none can give,

But only He by whom we breathe and live.

Watch then, and keep this giant out of doors;

If he comes in, he may go out no more.

Fools mock at sin and they will not believe

It carries such great danger up its sleeve;

How can it be, they say, that such a thing,

That seems so sweet could carry such a sting

They do not know that it’s the very spell

Of sin, to make men laugh themselves to hell.

Look to yourself, and deal with sin no more;

Lest He that saves, against you shut the door.