Another snippet from John Bunyan’s quotable little treatise:
“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 against, or be an hindrance to, the salvation of the [sinner coming to Jesus] …
Suppose that one man had the sins of, or as many sins as, an hundred men, and suppose 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.’
Is not this love that passeth knowledge? is not this love the wonder of angels? And is not this love worthy of all acceptation at the hands and hearts of all coming sinners?”
These considerations are obviously mainly intended to act as an encouragement to people who are already worried about their sin in a way that makes them at least wonder if there is mercy available from Christ for them – and even more specifically in the context of the book itself, people who might be worried that their sin would be a reason why there would be no hope for them in the gospel. Clearly Bunyan’s words are not meant, for example, to let people think that gospel mercy licences them to carry on absorbed in things that are opposed to the gospel and in the neglect of their souls.
Bunyan’s message here is to show how the Saviour is a Saviour for sinners, however sinful they might be, which is not a trivial consideration to people who find sin in everything they do. Sinners are not excluded from the gospel offer: the gospel is offered in fact to sinners as such; and as the final sentence in the quote shows, the undeservingness of the people it’s offered to is one of the greatest incentives to accept it.
John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ: A Plain and Profitable Discourse on John 6: 37. First published 1681, my edition 1820, p192