Come and Welcome
Written By J O H N.B U N Y A N,
Author of "THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS."
"And they shall come which were ready to perish." –Isaiah 27:13.
L O N D O N,
Published seven years before John Bunyan's death.
[TWO SORTS OF SINNERS COMING TO CHRIST.]
nd him that COMETH." There are two sorts of sinners that are coming to Jesus Christ. First, Him that hath never, while of late,  at all began to come. Second, Him that came formerly, and after that went back; but hath since bethought himself, and is now coming again. Both these sorts of sinners are intended by the HIM in the text, as is evident; because both are now the coming sinners. "And him that cometh."
First. [The newly-awakened comer.] —For the first of these: the sinner that hath never, while of late, began to come, his way is more easy; I do not say, more plain and open to come to Christ than is the other —those last not having the clog of a guilty conscience, for the sin of backsliding, hanging at their heels. But all the encouragement of the gospel, with what invitations are therein contained to coming sinners, are as free and as open to the one as to the other; so that they may with the same freedom and liberty, as from the Word, both alike claim interest in the promise. "All things are ready;" all things for the coming backsliders, as well as for the others: "Come to the wedding." "And let him that is athirst come" (Matt 22:1-4; Rev 22:17).
Second. [The returning backslider.] —But having spoke to the first of these already, I shall here pass it by; and shall speak a word or two to him that is coming, after backsliding, to Jesus Christ for life. Thy way, O thou sinner of a double dye, thy way is open to come to Jesus Christ. I mean thee, whose heart, after long backsliding, doth think of turning to him again. Thy way, I say, is open to him, as is the way of the other sorts of comers; as appears by what follows: —
1. Because the text makes no exception against thee. It doth not say, And any him but a backslider, any him but him. The text doth not thus object, but indefinitely openeth wide its golden arms to every coming soul, without the least exception; therefore thou mayest come. And take heed that thou shut not that door against thy soul by unbelief, which God has opened by his grace.
2. Nay, the text is so far from excepting against thy coming, that it strongly suggesteth that thou art one of the souls intended, O thou coming backslider; else what need that clause have been so inserted, "I will in no wise cast out?" As who should say, Though those that come now are such as have formerly backslidden, I will in "no wise" cast away the fornicator, the covetous, the railer, the drunkard, or other common sinners, nor yet the backslider neither.
3. That the backslider is intended is evident,
(1.) For that he is sent to by name, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7). But Peter was a godly man. True, but he was also a backslider, yea, a desperate backslider: he had denied his Master once, twice, thrice, cursing and swearing that he knew him not. If this was not backsliding, if this was not an high and eminent backsliding, yea, a higher backsliding than thou art capable of, I have thought amiss.
Again, when David had backslidden, and had committed adultery and murder in his backsliding, he must be sent to by name: "And," saith the text, "the Lord sent Nathan unto David." And he sent him to tell him, after he had brought him to unfeigned acknowledgment, "The Lord hath also put away, or forgiven thy sin" (2 Sam 12:1,13).
This man also was far gone: he took a man's wife, and killed her husband, and endeavoured to cover all with wicked dissimulation. He did this, I say, after God had exalted him, and showed him great favour; wherefore his transgression was greatened also by the prophet with mighty aggravations; yet he was accepted, and that with gladness, at the first step he took in his returning to Christ. For the first step of the backslider's return is to say, sensibly and unfeignedly, "I have sinned;" but he had no sooner said thus, but a pardon was produced, yea, thrust into his bosom: "And Nathan said unto David, The Lord hath also put away thy sin."
(2.) As the person of the backslider is mentioned by name, so also is his sin, that, if possible, thy objections against thy returning to Christ may be taken out of thy way; I say, thy sin also is mentioned by name, and mixed, as mentioned, with words of grace and favour: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4). What sayest thou now, backslider?
(3.) Nay, further, thou art not only mentioned by name, and thy sin by the nature of it, but thou thyself, who art a returning backslider, put, (a) Amongst God's Israel, "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever" (Jer 3:12). (b) Thou art put among his children; among his children to whom he is married. "Turn, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you" (verse 14). (c) Yea, after all this, as if his heart was so full of grace for them, that he was pressed until he had uttered it before them, he adds, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings" (verse 22).
(4.) Nay, further, the Lord hath considered, that the shame of thy sin hath stopped thy mouth, and made thee almost a prayerless man; and therefore he saith unto thee, "Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." See his grace, that himself should put words of encouragement into the heart of a backslider; as he saith in another place, "I taught Ephraim to go, taking him by the arms." This is teaching him to go indeed, to hold him up by the arms; by the chin, as we say (Hosea 14:2; 11:3).
From what has been said, I conclude, even as I said before, that the him in the text, and him that cometh, includeth both these sorts of sinners, and therefore both should freely come.
Quest. 1. But where doth Jesus Christ, in all the word of the New Testament, expressly speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace? For what you have urged as yet, from the New Testament, is nothing but consequences drawn from this text. Indeed it is a full text for carnal ignorant sinners that come, but to me, who am a backslider, it yieldeth but little relief.
Answ. How! but little encouragement from the text, when it is said, "I will in now wise cast out"! What more could have been said? What is here omitted that might have been inserted, to make the promise more full and free? Nay, take all the promises in the Bible, all the freest promises, with all the variety of expressions of what nature or extent soever, and they can but amount to the expressions of this very promise, "I will in no wise cast out;" I will for nothing, by no means, upon no account, however they have sinned, however they have backslidden, however they have provoked, cast out the coming sinner. But,
Quest. 2. Thou sayest, Where doth Jesus Christ, in all the words of the New Testament, speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace, that is under the name of a backslider?
Answ. Where there is such plenty of examples in receiving backsliders, there is the less need for express words to that intent; one promise, as the text is, with those examples that are annexed, are instead of many promises. And besides, I reckon that the act of receiving is of as much, if not of more encouragement, than is a bare promise to receive; for receiving is as the promise, and the fulfilling of it too; so that in the Old Testament thou hast the promise, and in the New, the fulfilling of it; and that in divers examples.
1. In Peter. Peter denied his master, once, twice, thrice, and that with open oath; yet Christ receives him again without any the least hesitation or stick. Yea, he slips, stumbles, falls again, in downright dissimulation, and that to the hurt and fall of many others; but neither of this doth Christ make a bar to his salvation, but receives him again at his return, as if he knew nothing of the fault (Gal 2).
2. The rest of the disciples, even all of them, did backslide and leave the Lord Jesus in his greatest straits. "Then all the disciples forsook him and fled," (Matt 26:56), they returned, as he had foretold, every one to his own, and left him alone; but this also he passes over as a very light matter. Not that it was so indeed in itself, but the abundance of grace that was in him did lightly roll it away; for after his resurrection, when first he appeared unto them, he gives them not the least check for their perfidious dealings with him, but salutes them with words of grace, saying, "All hail! be not afraid, peace be to you; all power in heaven and earth is given unto me." True, he rebuked them for their unbelief, for the which also thou deservest the same. For it is unbelief that alone puts Christ and his benefits from us (John 16:52; Matt 28:9-11; Luke 24:39; Mark 16:14).
3. The man that after a large profession lay with his father's wife, committed a high transgression, even such a one that at that day was not heard of, no, not among the Gentiles. Wherefore this was a desperate backsliding; yet, at his return, he was received, and accepted again to mercy (1 Cor 5:1,2; 2 Cor 2:6-8).
4. The thief that stole was bid to steal no more; not at all doubting but that Christ was ready to forgive him this act of backsliding (Eph 4:28).
Now all these are examples, particular instances of Christ's readiness to receive the backsliders to mercy; and, observe it, examples and proofs that he hath done so are, to our unbelieving hearts, stronger encouragements than bare promises that so he will do.
But again, the Lord Jesus hath added to these, for the encouragement of returning backsliders, to come to him. (1.) A call to come, and he will receive them (Rev 2:1-5; 14-16; 20-22; 3:1-3; 15-22). Wherefore New Testament backsliders have encouragement to come. (2.) A declaration of readiness to receive them that come, as here in the text, and in many other places, is plain. Therefore, "Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps," of the golden grace of the gospel, "set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest." When thou didst backslide; "turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities" (Jer 31:21).
"And him that cometh." He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that cometh. Christ will take leave to judge, who, among the many that make a noise, they be that indeed are coming to him. It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is concerned in this text. When the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that touched, yea, thronged him. Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from them all; "And he looked round about" upon them all, "to see her that had done this thing" (Mark 5:25-32). He was not concerned with the thronging, or touchings of the rest; for theirs were but accidental, or at best, void of that which made her touch acceptable. Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that in truth are coming to him; Every man's ways are right in his own eyes, "but the Lord weigheth the spirits" (Prov 16:2). It standeth therefore every one in hand to be certain of their coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall thy salvation be. If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be; but of coming, see before, as also afterwards, in the use and application.
"And him that cometh TO ME." These words to me are also well to be heeded; for by them, as he secureth those that come to him, so also he shows himself unconcerned with those that in their coming rest short, to turn aside to others; for you must know, that every one that comes, comes not to Jesus Christ; some that come, come to Moses, and to his law, and there take up for life; with these Christ is not concerned; with these his promise hath not to do. "Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace" (Gal 5:4). Again, some that came, came no further than to gospel ordinances, and there stay; they came not through them to Christ; with these neither is he concerned; nor will their "Lord, Lord," avail them anything in the great and dismal day. A man may come to, and also go from the place and ordinances of worship, and yet not be remembered by Christ. "So I saw the wicked buried," said Solomon, "who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done; this is also vanity" (Eccl 8:10).
"TO ME." These words, therefore, are by Jesus Christ very warily put in, and serve for caution and encouragement; for caution, lest we take up in our coming anywhere short of Christ; and for encouragement to those that shall in their coming, come past all; till they come to Jesus Christ. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Reader, if thou lovest thy soul, take this caution kindly at the hands of Jesus Christ. Thou seest thy sickness, thy wound, thy necessity of salvation. Well, go not to king Jareb, for he cannot heal thee, nor cure thee of thy wound (Hosea 5:13). Take the caution, I say, lest Christ, instead of being a Saviour unto thee, becomes a lion, a young lion, to tear thee, and go away (Hosea 5:14).
There is a coming, but not to the Most High; there is a coming, but not with the whole heart, but as it were feignedly; therefore take the caution kindly (Jer 3:10; Hosea 7:16).
"And him that cometh TO ME;" Christ as a Saviour will stand alone, because his own arm alone hath brought salvation unto him. He will not be joined with Moses, nor suffer John Baptist to be tabernacled by him. I say they must vanish, for Christ will stand alone (Luke 9:28-36). Yea, God the Father will have it so; therefore they must be parted from him, and a voice from heaven must come to bid the disciples hear only the beloved Son. Christ will not suffer any law, ordinance, statute, or judgment, to be partners with him in the salvation of the sinner. Nay, he saith not, and him that cometh to my WORD; but, and him that cometh to ME. The words of Christ, even his most blessed and free promises, such as this in the text, are not the Saviour of the world; for that is Christ himself, Christ himself only. The promises, therefore, are but to encourage the coming sinner to come to Jesus Christ, and not to rest in them, short of salvation by him. "And him that cometh TO ME." The man, therefore, that comes aright, casts all things behind his back, and looketh at, nor hath his expectations from ought, but the Son of God alone; as David said, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock, and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved" (Psa 62:5,6). His eye is to Christ, his heart is to Christ, and his expectation is from him, from him only.
Therefore the man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; yea, he sees, as I have said, more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to damn him. He therefore setteth Christ before his eyes; there is nothing in heaven or earth, he knows, that can save his soul and secure him from the wrath of God, but Christ; that is, nothing but his personal righteousness and blood.
[Import of the words IN NO WISE.]
"And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." IN NO WISE: by these words there is [First,] Something expressed; and [Second,] Something implied.
First, That which is expressed is Christ Jesus, his unchangeable resolution to save the coming sinner; I will in no wise reject him, or deny him the benefit of my death and righteousness. This word, therefore, is like that which he speaks of the everlasting damnation of the sinner in hell-fire; "He shall by no means depart thence;" that is, never, never come out again, no, not to all eternity (Matt 5:26; 25:46). So that as he that is condemned into hell-fire hath no ground of hope for his deliverance thence; so him that cometh to Christ, hath no ground to fear he shall ever be cast in thither.
"Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord" (Jer 31:37). "Thus saith the Lord, If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob" (Jer 33:25,26). But heaven cannot be measured, nor the foundations of the earth searched out beneath; his covenant is also with day and night, and he hath appointed the ordinances of heaven; therefore he will not cast away the seed of Jacob, who are the coming ones, but will certainly save them from the dreadful wrath to come (Jer 50:4,5). By this, therefore, it is manifest, that it was not the greatness of sin, nor the long continuance in it, no, nor yet the backsliding, nor the pollution of thy nature, that can put a bar in against, or be an hindrance of, the salvation of the coming sinner. For, if indeed this could be, then would this solemn and absolute determination of the Lord Jesus, of itself, fall to the ground, and be made of none effect. But his "counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure;" that is, his pleasure in this; for his promise, as to this irreversible conclusion, ariseth of his pleasure; he will stand to it, and will fulfil it, because it is his pleasure (Isa 46:10,11).
Suppose that one man had the sins, or as many sins as an hundred, and another should have an hundred times as many as he; yet, if they come, this word, "I will in no wise cast out," secures them both alike.
Suppose a man hath a desire to be saved, and for that purpose is coming in truth to Jesus Christ; but he, by his debauched life, has damned many in hell; why, the door of hope is by these words set as open for him, as it is for him that hath not the thousandth part of his transgressions. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Suppose a man is coming to Christ to be saved, and hath nothing but sin, and an ill-spent life, to bring with him; why, let him come, and welcome to Jesus Christ, "And he will in no wise cast him out" (Luke 7:42). Is not this love that passeth knowledge? Is not this love the wonderment of angels? And is not this love worthy of all acceptation at the hands and hearts of all coming sinners?
[Hindrances in coming to Christ.]
Second, That which is implied in the words is, 1. The coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ to cast them off. 2. The coming souls are afraid that those will prevail with Christ to cast them off. For these words are spoken to satisfy us, and to stay up our spirits against these two dangers: "I will in no wise cast out."
1. For the first, Coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ to cast them off. And there are three things that thus bend themselves against the coming sinner.
(1.) There is the devil, that accuser of the brethren, that accuses them before God, day and night (Rev 12:10). This prince of darkness is unwearied in this work; he doth it, as you see, day and night; that is, without ceasing. He continually puts in his caveats against thee, if so be he may prevail. How did he ply it against that good man Job, if possibly he might have obtained his destruction in hell-fire? He objected against him, that he served not God for nought, and tempted God to put forth his hand against him, urging, that if he did it, he would curse him to his face; and all this, as God witnesseth, "he did without a cause" (Job 1:9-11; 2:4,5). How did he ply it with Christ against Joshua the high-priest? "And he showed me Joshua," said the prophet, "the high-priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him" (Zech 3:1).
To resist him; that is, to prevail with the Lord Jesus Christ to resist him; objecting the uncleanness and unlawful marriage of his sons with the Gentiles; for that was the crime that Satan laid against them (Ezra 10:18). Yea, and for aught I know, Joshua was also guilty of the fact; but if not of that, of crimes no whit inferior; for he was clothed with filthy garments, as he stood before the angel. Neither had he one word to say in vindication of himself, against all that this wicked one had to say against him. But notwithstanding that, he came off well; but he might for it thank a good Lord Jesus, because he did not resist him, but contrariwise, took up his cause, pleaded against the devil, excusing his infirmity, and put justifying robes upon him before his adversary's face.
"And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech 3:2-4).
Again, how did Satan ply it against Peter, when he desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat? that is, if possible, sever all grace from his heart, and leave him nothing but flesh and filth, to the end that he might make the Lord Jesus loathe and abhor him. "Simon, Simon," said Christ, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." But did he prevail against him? No: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." As who should say, Simon, Satan hath desired me that I would give thee up to him, and not only thee, but all the rest of thy brethren —for that the word you imports —but I will not leave thee in his hand: I have prayed for thee, thy faith shall not fail; I will secure thee to the heavenly inheritance (Luke 22:30-32).
(2.) As Satan, so every sin of the coming sinner, comes in with a voice against him, if perhaps they may prevail with Christ to cast off the soul. When Israel was coming out of Egypt to Canaan, how many times had their sins thrown them out of the mercy of God, had not Moses, as a type of Christ, stood in the breach to turn away his wrath from them! (Psa 106:23). Our iniquities testify against us, and would certainly prevail against us, to our utter rejection and damnation, had we not an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1,2).
The sins of the old world cried them down to hell; the sins of Sodom fetched upon them fire from heaven, which devoured them; the sins of the Egyptians cried them down to hell, because they came not to Jesus Christ for life. Coming sinner, thy sins are no whit less than any; nay, perhaps, they are as big as all theirs. Why is it then, that thou livest when they are dead, and that thou hast a promise of pardon when they had not? "Why, thou art coming to Jesus Christ;" and therefore sin shall not be thy ruin.
(3.) As Satan and sin, so the law of Moses, as it is a perfect holy law, hath a voice against you before the face of God. "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses," his law (John 5:45). Yea, it accuseth all men of transgression that have sinned against it; for as long as sin is sin, there will be a law to accuse for sin. But this accusation shall not prevail against the coming sinner; because it is Christ that died, and that ever lives, to make intercession for them that "come to God by him" (Rom 8; Heb 7:25).
These things, I say, do accuse us before Christ Jesus; yea, and also to our own faces, if perhaps they might prevail against us. But these words, "I will in no wise cast out," secureth the coming sinner from them all.
The coming sinner is not saved, because there is none that comes in against him; but because the Lord Jesus will not hear their accusations, will not cast out the coming sinner. When Shimei came down to meet king David, and to ask for pardon for his rebellion, up starts Abishai, and puts in his caveat, saying, Shall not Shimei die for this? This is the case of him that comes to Christ. He hath this Abishai, and that Abishai, that presently steps in against him, saying, Shall not this rebel's sins destroy him in hell? Read further. But David answered, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel, for do not I know, that I am king this day over Israel?" (2 Sam 19:16-22). That is Christ's answer by the text, to all that accuse the coming Shimeis. What have I to do with you, that accuse the coming sinners to me? I count you adversaries, that are against my showing mercy to them. Do not I know that I am exalted this day to be king of righteousness, and king of peace? "I will in no wise cast them out."
2. But again, these words do closely imply, that the coming souls are afraid that these accusers will prevail against them, as is evident, because the text is spoken for their relief and succour. For that need not be, if they that are coming were not subject to fear and despond upon this account. Alas, there is guilt, and the curse lies upon the conscience of the coming sinner!
Besides, he is conscious to himself what a villain, what a wretch he hath been against God and Christ. Also he now knows, by woeful experience, how he hath been at Satan's beck, and at the motion of every lust. He hath now also new thoughts of the holiness and justice of God. Also he feels, that he cannot forbear sinning against him. For the motions of sins, which are by the law, doth still work in his members, to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom 7:5). But none of this needs be [a discouragement] since we have so good, so tender-hearted, and so faithful a Jesus to come to, who will rather overthrow heaven and earth, than suffer a tittle of this text to fail. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
[Import of the words TO CAST OUT.]
Now, we have yet to inquire into two things that lie in the words, to which there hath yet been nothing said. As, FIRST, What it is to cast out. SECOND, How it appears that Christ hath power to save or cast out?
[FIRST, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF EXPLICATION.]
[SECOND, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF OBSERVATION.]