With a word of direction to all backsliders.
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
Written in 1663, while imprisoned in Bedford Prison.
This was John Bunyan's third book during his first incarceration.
ervants also, they have a work to do for God, in their place and station among men.
The apostles assert masters under a threefold consideration. First, The believing master. Second, The unbelieving master. Third, The froward master.
For all which, servants are furnished with counsel and advice in the word, for the demeaning of themselves, under each of them.
But before I speak in particular to any of these, I will in general show you the duty of servants.
1. Thou art to look upon thyself as thou art; that is, as a servant, not a child, nor a wife; thou art inferior to these; wherefore count thyself under them, and be content with that station. 'For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear.' One is 'a servant when he reigneth' (Prov 30:21, 22). It is out of thy place, either to talk or do, as one that reigneth.
2. Consider, that thou being a servant, what is under thy hand is not thy own but thy master's. Now, because it is not thy own thou oughtest not to dispose of it; but because it is thy master's, thou oughtest to be faithful. Thus it was with Joseph (Gen 39:8, 9). But if thou do otherwise, know that thou shalt receive of God for the wrong that thou dost; and there is with God 'no respect of persons' (Col 3:25). Wherefore,
3. Touching thy work and employment, thou art to do it as unto the Lord, and not for man; and, indeed, then servants do their business as becomes them, when they do all in obedience to the Lord, as knowing that the place in which they now are, it is the place where Christ hath put them, and in which he expecteth they should be faithful. 'Servants,' saith Paul, 'be obedient to them that are your master's, - with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart' (Eph 6:5, 6).
Observe a little the word of God to servants. 1. Servants must be obedient; yet, 2. Not with that obedience that will serve man only. Servants must have their eye on the Lord, in the work they do for their masters. 3. That their work in this service is the will and ordinance of God. From which I conclude, that thy work in thy place and station, as thou art a servant, is as really God's ordinance, and as acceptable to him, in its kind, as is preaching, or any other work, for God; and that thou art as sure to receive a reward for thy labour, as he that hangs or is burnt for the gospel.
Wherefore, saith the apostle to servants, 'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ' (Col 3:23, 24).
And now touching the three sorts of masters mentioned before.
First, For the believing master; saith Paul, 'They that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, and partakers, with the servants, 'of the' heavenly 'benefit' (1 Tim 6:2). Servants, if they have not a care of their hearts, will be so much in the consideration of the relation that is betwixt their masters and they, as brethren, that they will forget the relation that is between them as masters and servants. Now, though they ought to remember the one, yet let them take heed of forgetting the other. Know thy place, as a servant, while thou considerest that thy master and thee are brethren, and do thy work for him faithfully, humbly, and with meekness, because he is a master faithful and beloved, and partaker of the heavenly benefit. 'If any man teach otherwise,' saith the apostle Paul, 'and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words; whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself' (1 Tim 6:3- 5).
Second, For the unbelieving masters, for of them Paul speaks in the first verse of the 6th of Timothy, 'Let as many servants,' saith he, 'as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.' Servants living with unbelieving masters, are greatly engaged to be both watchful, faithful, and trusty. Engaged, I say, 1. From the consideration of the condition of their master; for he being unbelieving, will have an evil eye upon thee, and upon thy doings, and so much the more because thou professest. As in the case of Saul and David (1 Sam 18:8, 9 &c). 2. Thou art engaged because of the profession thou makest of the word of God; for by thy profession thou dost lay both God and his word before thy master, and he hath no other wit but to blaspheme them, if thou behave thyself unworthily. Wherefore Paul bids Titus 'exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things, not answering again;' not giving parroting answers, or such as are cross or provoking, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things' (Titus 2:9, 10). That servant, who in an unbeliever's family doth his work before God, as God's ordinance, he shall adorn the doctrine of God, if not save his master by so doing; but if he doth otherwise, he shall both stumble the unbeliever, dishonour God, offend the faithful, and bring guilt upon his own soul.
Third, For the froward master, though I distinguish him from the unbeliever, yet it is not because he may not be such, but because every unbeliever doth not properly go under that name. Now with this froward and peevish fellow, thou art to serve as faithfully for the time thou standest bound, as with the most pleasant and rational master in the world: 'Servants,' saith Peter, 'be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward' (1 Peter 2:18). And if thy peevish master will still be froward, either out of spite to thy religion, or because he is without reason concerning thy labour thou to the utmost of thy power labouring faithfully God then reckoneth thee a sufferer for well-doing, as truly as if thou wert called upon the stage of this world before men, for the matters of thy faith. Wherefore Peter adds this encouragement to servants, to the exhortation he gave them before: 'This is thank worthy,' saith he, 'if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God' (1 Peter 2:19, 20). Wherefore be comforted concerning thy condition, with considering that God looks upon thee, as on Jacob in the family of Laban; and will right all thy wrongs, and recompense thee for thy faithful, wise, and godly behaviour, before, and in the service of thy froward master. Wherefore, be patient, I say, and abound in faithfulness in thy place and calling, till God make a way for thy escape from this place; and when thou mayest be made free, use it rather (1 Cor 7:21).