One Thing Is Needful;
Serious Meditations Upon the Four Lasting Things:
Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.
By J O H N.B U N Y A N
L O N D O N,
Printed for Nath. Ponder, at the
Peacock in the Poultry, 1688.
Published in conjunction with Ebal and Gerizzim. These poems
were published about the year 1664, while the author
was imprisoned, and printed on single sheets,
to be sold by his wife or children, to aid them financially.
s 'tis appointed men should die,
So judgment is the next
That meets them most assuredly;
For so saith holy text.
Wherefore of judgment I shall now
Inform you what I may,
That you may see what 'tis, and how
'Twill be with men that day.
This world it hath a time to stand,
Which time when ended, then
Will issue judgment out of hand
Upon all sorts of men.
The Judge we find, in God's record,
The Son of man, for he
By God's appointment is made Lord
And Judge of all that be.
Wherefore this Son of man shall come
At last to count with all,
And unto them shall give just doom,
Whether they stand or fall.
Behold ye now the majesty
And state that shall attend
This Lord, this Judge, and Justice high
When he doth now descend.
He comes with head as white as snow,
With eyes like flames of fire;
In justice clad from top to toe,
Most glorious in attire.
His face is filled with gravity;
His tongue is like a sword;
His presence awes both stout and high,
The world shakes at his word.
He comes in flaming fire, and
With angels clear and bright,
Each with a trumpet in his hand,
Clothed in shining white.
The trump of God sounds in the air,
The dead do hear his voice;
The living too run here and there,
Who made not him their choice.
Thus to his place he doth repair,
Appointed for his throne,
Where he will sit to judge, and where
He'll count with every one.
Angels attending on his hand
By thousands on a row;
Yea, thousand thousands by him stand,
And at his beck do go.
Thus being set, the books do ope
In which all crimes are writ.
All virtues, too, of faith and hope,
Of love; and every whit
Of all that man hath done or said,
Or did intend to do;
Whether they sinn'd, or were afraid
Evil to come into.
Before this bar each sinner now
In person must appear;
Under his judgment there to bow
With trembling and with fear:
Within whose breast a witness then
Will certainly arise,
That to each charge will say Amen,
While they seek and devise
To shun the sentence which the Lord
Against them then will read,
Out of the books of God's record,
With majesty and dread.
But every heart shall opened be
Before this judge most high;
Yea, every thought to judgment he
Will bring assuredly.
And every word and action, too,
He there will manifest;
Yea, all that ever thou didst do,
Or keep within thy breast,
Shall then be seen and laid before
The world, that then will stand
To see thy judge open ev'ry sore,
And all thy evils scann'd.
Weighing each sin and wickedness
With so much equity,
Proportioning of thy distress
And woful misery.
With so much justice, doing right,
That thou thyself shalt say,
My sins have brought me to this plight,
I threw myself away.
Into that gulph my sins have brought
Me justly to possess,
For which I blame not Christ, I wrought
It out by wickedness.
But O! how willingly would these
That thus in judgment be,
If that they might have help or ease,
Unto the mountains flee.
They would rejoice if that they might
But underneath them creep,
To hide them from revenging right,
For fear of which they weep.
But all in vain, the mountains then
Will all be fled and gone;
No shelter will be found for men
That now are left alone.
For succour they did not regard
When Christ by grace did call
To them, therefore they are not heard,
No mountains on them fall.
Before this Judge no one shall shroud
Himself, under pretence
Of knowledge, which hath made him proud,
Nor seeming penitence.
No high profession here can stand,
Hath been therewith commixed, and
Brought forth simplicity.
No mask nor vizor here can hide
The heart that rotten is;
All cloaks now must be laid aside,
No sinner must have bliss.
Though most approve of thee, and count
Thee upright in thy heart;
Yea, though preferred and made surmount
Most men to act thy part,
In treading where the godly trod,
As to an outward show;
Yet this hold still, the grace of God
Takes hold on but a few,
So as to make them truly such
As then shall stand before
This Judge with gladness; this is much
Yet true for evermore.
The tree of life this paradise
Doth always beautify,
'Cause of our health it is the rise
Here stands the golden throne of grace
From out of which do run
Those crystal streams that make this place
Far brighter than the sun.
Here stands mount Zion with her king.
That holy and delightful thing,
So beautified with love.
That, as a mother succours those
Which of her body be,
So she far more, all such as close
In with her Lord; and she
Her grace, her everlasting doors
Will open wide unto
Them all, with welcome, welcome, poor,
Rich, bond, free, high and low,
Unto the kingdom which our Lord
Appointed hath for all
That hath his name and word ador'd;
Because he did them call
Unto that work, which also they
Sincerely did fulfil,
Not shunning always to obey
His gracious holy will.
Besides, this much doth beautify
This goodly paradise,
That from all quarters, constantly,
Whole thousands as the price
Of precious blood, do here arrive;
As safe escaping all,
Sin, hell, and satan did contrive
To bring them into thrall.
Each telling his deliverance
I' th' open face of heaven;
Still calling to remembrance
How fiercely they were driven
By deadly foe, who did pursue
As swift as eagles fly;
Which if thou have not, down thou must
With those that then shall die
The second death, and be accurs'd
Of God. For certainly,
The truth of grace shall only here
Without a blush be bold
To stand, whilst others quake and fear,
And dare not once behold.
That heart that here was right for God
Shall there be comforted;
But those that evil ways have trod,
Shall then hang down the head.
As sore confounded with the guilt
That now upon them lies,
Because they did delight in filth
And beastly vanities.
Or else because they did deceive
Disguises, their own souls, and leave
Or shun that best of all
Approved word of righteousness,
They were invited to
Embrace, therefore they no access
Now to him have, but woe.
For every one must now receive
According to their ways;
They that unto the Lord did cleave,
The everlasting joys.
Those that did die in wickedness,
To execution sent,
There still to grapple with distress,
Which nothing can prevent.
Of which two states I next shall write,
Wherefore I pray give ear,
And to them bend with all our might
Your heart with filial fear.