Prison Meditation

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
~ Romans 5:12-15

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
~ Psalm 19:13

Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
~ Isaiah 49:24-25

As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
~ Zechariah 9:11-12

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
~ Matthew 1:20-21

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
~ John 8:36, John 8:31-32

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
~ Luke 11:21-23

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
~ Romans 6:14, Romans 10:4, Romans 6:1-2

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
~ Romans 7:1, Romans 7:4-6

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
~ Galatians 4:28-31

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
~ Rom 6:12-13, Romans 6:18

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
~ Philemon 1:1, Philippians 1:1

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
~ Galatians 6:2

Prison Meditations Directed to the Heart of Suffering Saints and Reigning Sinners, by John Bunyan in Prison in the Year 1665.

1. Friend, I salute thee in the Lord,
And wish thou may’st abound
In faith, and have a good regard
To keep on holy ground.

2. Thou dost encourage me to hold
My head above the flood,
Thy counsel better is than gold,
In need thereof I stood.

3. Good counsel’s good at any time,
The wise will it receive,
Though fools count he commits a crime
Who doth good counsel give.

4. I take it kindly at thy hand
Thou didst unto me write,
My feet upon Mount Zion stand,
In that take thou delight.

5. I am, indeed, in prison now
In body, but my mind
Is free to study Christ, and how
Unto me he is kind.

6. For though men keep my outward man
Within their locks and bars,
Yet by the faith of Christ I can
Mount higher than the stars.

7. Their fetters cannot spirits tame,
Nor tie up God from me;
My faith and hope they cannot lame,
Above them I shall be.

8. I here am very much refreshed
To think when I was out,
I preached life, and peace, and rest
To sinners round about.

9. My business then was souls to save,
By preaching grace and faith;
Of which the comfort now I have,
And have it shall till death.

10. They were no fables that I taught,
Devised by cunning men,
But God’s own Word, by which were caught
Some sinners now and then.

11. Whose souls by it were made to see
The evil of their sin;
And need of Christ to make them free
From death which they were in.

12. And now those very hearts that then
Were foes unto the Lord,
Embrace his Christ and truth, like men
Conquered by his word.

13. I hear them sigh and groan, and cry
For grace, to God above;
They loathe their sin, and to it die,
‘Tis holiness they love.

14. This was the work I was about
When hands on me they laid,
‘Twas this from which they pluck’d me out,
And vilely to me said,

15. You heretic, deceiver, come,
To prison you must go;
You preach abroad, and keep not home,
You are the church’s foe.

16. But having peace within my soul,
And truth on every side,
I could with comfort them control,
And at their charge deride.

17. Wherefore to prison they me sent,
Where to this day I lie,
And can with very much content
For my profession die.

18. The prison very sweet to me
Hath been since I came here,
And so would also hanging be,
If God would there appear.

19. Here dwells good conscience, also peace
Here be my garments white;
Here, though in bonds, I have release
From guilt, which else would bite.

20. When they do talk of banishment,
Of death, or such-like things;
Then to me God sends heart’s content,
That like a fountain springs.

21. Alas! they little think what peace
They help me to, for by
Their rage my comforts do increase;
Bless God therefore do I.

22. If they do give me gall to drink,
Then God doth sweetn’ning cast
So much thereto, that they can’t think
How bravely it doth taste.

23. For, as the devil sets before
Me heaviness and grief,
So God sets Christ and grace much more,
Whereby I take relief.

24. Though they say then that we are fools
Because we here do lie,
I answer, goals are Christ his schools,
In them we learn to die.

25. ‘Tis not the baseness of this state
Doth hide us from God’s face,
He frequently, both soon and late,
Doth visit us with grace.

26. Here come the angels, here come saints,
Here comes the Spirit of God,
To comfort us in our restraints
Under the wicked’s rod.

27. God sometimes visits prisons more
Than lordly palaces,
He often knocketh at our door,
When he their houses miss.

28. The truth and life of heavenly things
Lift up our hearts on high,
And carry us on eagles’ wings,
Beyond carnality.

29. It take away those clogs that hold
The hearts of other men,
And makes us lively, strong and bold
Thus to oppose their sin.

30. By which means God doth frustrate
That which our foes expect;
Namely, our turning th’ Apostate,
Like those of Judas’ sect.

31. Here comes to our rememberance
The troubles good men had
Of old, and for our furtherance,
Their joys when they were sad.

32. To them that here for evil lie
The place is comfortless,
But not to me, because that I
Lie here for righteousness.

33. The truth and I were both here cast
Together, and we do
Lie arm in arm, and so hold fast
Each other; this is true.

34. This goal to us is as a hill,
From whence we plainly see
Beyond this world, and take our fill
Of things that lasting be.

35. From hence we see the emptiness
Of all this world contains;
And here we feel the blessedness
That for us yet remains.

36. Here we can see how all men play
Their parts, as on a stage,
How good men suffer for God’s way,
And bad men at them rage.

37. Here we can see who holds that ground
Which they in Scripture find;
Here we see also who turns round
Like weathercocks with wind.

38. We can also from hence behold
How seeming friends appear
But hypocrites, as we are told
In Scripture every where.

39. When we did walk at liberty,
We were deceiv’d by them,
Who we from hence do clearly see
Are vile deceitful men.

40. These politicians that profest
For base and worldly ends,
Do now appear to us at best
But Machiavellian friends.

41. Though men do say, we do disgrace
Ourselves by lying here
Among the rogues, yet Christ our face
From all such filth will clear.

42. We know there’s neither flout nor frown
That we now for him bear,
But will add to our heavenly crown,
When he comes in the air.

43. When he our righteousness forth brings
Bright shining as the day,
And wipeth off those sland’rous things
That scorners on us lay.

44. We sell our earthly happiness
For heavenly house and home;
We leave this world because ’tis less,
And worse than that to come.

45. We change our drossy dust for gold,
From death to life we fly:
We let go shadows, and take hold
Of immortality.

46. We trade for that which lasting is,
And nothing for it give,
But that which is already his
By whom we breath and live.

47. That liberty we lose for him,
Sickness might take away:
Our goods might also for our sin
By fire or thieves decay.

48. Again, we see what glory ’tis
Freely to bear our cross
For him, who for us took up his,
When he our servant was.

49. I am most free that men should see
A hole cut thro’ mine ear;
If others will ascertain me,
They’ll hang a jewel there.

50. Just thus it is we suffer here
For him a little pain,
Who, when he doth again appear,
Will with him let us reign.

51. If all must either die for sin
A death that’s natural;
Or else for Christ, ’tis beset with him
Who for the last doth fall.

52. Who now dare say we throw away
Our goods or liberty,
When God’s most holy Word doth say
We gain thus much thereby?

53. Hark yet again, you carnal men,
And hear what I shall say
In your own dialect, and then
I’ll you no longer stay.

54. You talk sometimes of valour much,
And count such bravely mann’d,
That will not stick to have a touch
With any in the land.

55. If these be worth commending then,
That vainly show their might,
How dare you blame those holy men
That in God’s quarrel fight?

56. Though you dare crack a coward’s crown,
Or quarrel for a pin,
You dare not on the wicked frown,
Nor speak against their sin.

57. For all your spirits are so stout,
For matters that are vain;
Yet sin besets you round about,
You are in Satan’s chain.

58. You dare not for the truth engage,
You quake at prisonment;
You dare not make the tree your stage
For Christ, that King, potent.

59. Know then, true valour there doth dwell
Where men engage for God,
Against the devil, death, and hell,
And bear the wicked’s rod.

60. These be the men that God doth count
Of high and noble mind;
These be the men that do surmount
What you in nature find.

61. First they do conquer their own hearts,
All worldly fears, and then
Also the devil’s fiery darts,
And persecuting men.

62. They conquer when they thus do fall,
They kill when they do die:
They overcome then most of all,
And get the victory.

63. The worldling understands not this,
‘Tis clear out of his sight;
Therefore he counts this world his bliss,
And doth our glory slight.

64. The lubber knows not how to spring
The nimble footman’s stage;
Neither can owls or jackdaws sing
If they were in the cage.

65. The swine doth not the pearls regard,
But them doth slight for grains,
Though the wise merchant labours hard
For them with greatest pains.

66. Consider man what I have said,
And judge of things aright;
When all men’s cards are fully played,
Whose will abide the light?

67. Will those, who have us hither cast?
Or they who do us scorn?
Or those who do our houses waste?
Or us, who this have borne?

68. And let us count those things the best
That best will prove at last;
And count such men the only blest,
That do such things hold fast.

69. And what though they us dear do cost,
Yet let us buy them so;
We shall not count our labour lost
When we see others’ woe.

70. And let saints be no longer blam’d
By carnal policy;
But let the wicked be asham’d
Of their malignity.