THERE is a legal spirit in man that secretly persuades the soul that if ever it will be saved by Christ, it must first be fitted for Christ by its getting a good heart, and also good intentions to do this and that good thing for Christ. The soul therefore hopes that when it comes in this way to Christ it will not be rejected or turned away; when in truth this is the very way for the soul to turn itself from Jesus Christ, instead of turning to Him; for such a soul looks upon Christ rather to be a mere nothing than a true and real Saviour.
Friend, if thou canst make thyself to be accepted, what need hast thou of Christ? If thou canst get qualifications to carry to Christ that thou mightest be accepted, thou dost not look to be accepted in the Beloved. Shall I tell thee how it is with thee? Thou art like a man who says, “I will make myself clean, and then I will go to Christ that he may wash me”; or like a man possessed, that will first cast the devils out of himself and then come to Christ for deliverance.
Thou must therefore, it thou wilt so lay hold of Christ as not to be rejected by him, come to him as the basest in the world, and more fit to be damned, if thou hadst thy just desert, than to have the least smile, hope, or comfort from Him. Come with the fire of hell in thy conscience, come with thy heart hard, dead, and full of wickedness and madness against thy own salvation; come as renouncing all thy tears, prayers, watchings, fastings; come as a blood-red sinner. Do not stay from Christ till thou hast a greater sense of thy own misery, nor of the reality of God’s mercy. Do not stay until thy heart is softer and thy spirit in a better frame, but go against thy mind, and against the mind of the devil and sin. Throw thyself down at the foot of Christ, with a halter about thy neck, and say, “Lord Jesus, hear a sinner, a hard-hearted sinner, a sinner that deserveth to be damned, to be cast into hell; and resolve never to return, or to give over crying unto him, till thou do find that he hath washed thy conscience from dead works with his blood virtually, and clothed thee with his own righteousness, and made thee complete in himself; this is the way to come to Christ.
From John Bunyan’s treatise, The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded, and edited.