Daily Reading for August 29 • John Bunyan, Writer, 1688
And now I am speaking my experience I will in this place thrust in a word or two concerning my preaching the Word, and of God’s dealing with me in that particular also. After I had been about five or six years awakened, and helped myself to see both the want and worth of Jesus Christ our Lord, and also enabled to venture my soul upon him, some of the most able among the saints with us, I say, the most able for judgment and holiness of life, as they conceived did perceive that God had counted me worthy to understand something of his will in his holy and blessed Word, and had given me utterance in some measure to express what I saw to others, for edification; therefore they desired me, and that with much earnestness, that I would be willing at sometimes to take in hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation unto them.
The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my spirit, yet being still by them desired and entreated, I consented to their request, and did twice at two several assemblies, but in private, though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift amongst them, at which they not only seemed to be, but did frequently protest, as in the sight of the great God, they were both affected and comforted, and gave thanks to the Father of mercies for the grace bestowed on me.
Wherefore, to be brief, at last, being still desired by the church, after some solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was more particularly called forth, and appointed to a more ordinary and public preaching of the Word, not only to and amongst them that believed, but also to offer the Gospel to those who had not yet received the faith thereof; about which time I did evidently find in my mind a secret pricking forward thereto, though I bless God, not for desire of vain-glory, for at that time I was most sorely afflicted with the fiery darts of the devil concerning my eternal state.
But yet I could not be content unless I was found in the exercise of my gift, unto which also I was greatly animated, not only by the continual desires of the godly, but also by that saying of Paul to the Corinthians: “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanus, that it is the first- fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth” (1 Cor. xvi. 15, 16). By this text I was made to see that the Holy Ghost never intended that men who have gifts and abilities should bury them in the earth; but rather did command and stir up such to the exercise of their gift, and also did commend those that were apt and ready so to do. “They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” This scripture in these days did continually run in my mind to encourage me, and strengthen me in this my work for God.
From Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan (London, 1863).