Sad End of Mr. Badman


Many have been blessed with a thoughtful reading of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" or "The Holy War" or "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners". Perhaps fewer have considered "The Life and Death of Mr. Badman". (1680)

Written in the form of a dialogue between two men, it traces the declension in a life, starting with the violent and debauched misdemeanours of youth, progressing through dishonesty in the workplace and in efforts to court a beautiful young heiress, adding the sins of cheating, manipulating and oppressing in business, and ending in the facade of a religious life which was totally a sham.

The two men have heard of the death, one being present for the event. He describes a passing which lacked any last-minute repentance or warnings of terror beyond the grave, quite uneventful yet terrifying. Hear now the conclusion of their conversation:

"Who would have imagined, that
had not known Mr. Badman,
and yet had seen him die, but that he had
been a man of an holy life and conversation, since he died so
stilly, so quietly, so like a Lamb or Christian child? Would they
not, I say, have concluded, that he was a righteous man? or that if
they had known him and his life, yet to see him die so quietly,
would they not have concluded that he had made his peace with God?
Nay further, if some had known that he had died in his sins, and
yet that he died so like a Lamb, would they not have concluded,
that either God doth not know our sins, or that he likes them; or
that he wants power, or will, or heart, or skill to punish them;
since Mr. Badman himself went from a sinful life so quietly, so
peaceably, and so like a Lamb as he did?

Wise. Without controversie, this is an heavy judgment of God upon
wicked men; (Job 21. 23) one goes to Hell in peace, another goes to
Hell in trouble; one goes to Hell being sent thither by his own
hands; another goes to Hell, being sent thither by the hand of his
companion; one goes thither with his eyes shut, and another goes
thither with his eyes open; one goes thither roaring, and another
goes thither boasting of Heaven and Happiness all the way he goes:
One goes thither like Mr. Badman himself, and others go thither as
did his Brethren. But above all, Mr. Badman's death, as to the
manner of dying, is the fullest of Snares and Traps to wicked men;
therefore they that die as he, are the greatest stumble to the
world: They goe, and goe, they go on peaceably from Youth to old
Age, and thence to the Grave, and so to Hell, without noyse: They
goe as an Ox to the slaughter, and as a fool to the correction of
the Stocks; that is, both senselessly and securely. O! but being
come at the gates of Hell! O! but when they see those gates set
open for them: O! but when they see that that is their home, and
that they must go in thither, then their peace and quietness flies
away for ever: Then they roar like Lions, yell like Dragons, howl
like Dogs, and tremble at their Judgment, as do the Devils
themselves. Oh! when they see they must shoot the Gulf and Throat
of Hell! when they shall see that Hell hath shut her ghastly Jaws
upon them! when they shall open their eyes, and find themselves
within the belly and bowels of Hell! then they will mourn, and
weep, and hack, and gnash their teeth for pain. But this must not
be (or if it must, yet very rarely) till they are gone out of the
sight and hearing of those mortals whom they do leave behind them
alive in the world.

Atten. Well, my good Neighbour Wiseman, I perceive that the Sun
grows low, and that you have come to a conclusion with Mr. Badman's
Life and Death; and therefore I will take my leave of you. Only
first, let me tell you, I am glad that I have met with you to day,
and that our hap was to fall in with Mr. Badman's state. I also
thank you for your freedom with me, in granting of me your reply to
all my questions: I would only beg your Prayers; that God will
give me much grace, that I may neither live nor die as did Mr.
Badman."

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