for we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
How many people do you know that truly live by faith? Do you live by faith? What were your thoughts this morning? What was your heart’s nourishment? Were entertainment and food greater joy than your heavenly meditations? Have you spent half an hour, or 15 minutes in exercising your faith? Have you allowed this needful task to be forgotten? Have you wasted a day, week, or month, and starved your soul of its refreshments? Recover yourself before you go to your heavenly home. Will you die before you have lived? O earn to live life, it is never too late! If you are a prince, or ruler, learn to live. No matter how honourable, prosperous, or pleasurable you may be, this is not true happiness. True pleasure is found only in a life of faith. This life of faith is available to all. The poor may not have opportunity for wealth or honour, but they can live a truly happy life through faith. They can live a life just as great as princes. Whoever desires to life up the condition off your pilgrimage into happier days, faith is the art of living well and long. Life is not numbered by hours, but cheerfulness. Money is not valued just by the number of bills, but by the value on the bill. One week as a healthy man is better than a year as a sick man. Is not one hour of sunshine better than a day of gloom? To live well, is to live twice. A good man doubles and amplifies his days. One day lived by the rules of faith is better than an immorality of vanity. A man may live in contentment to himself and others for a short time, as others live a long life. Some are old in years that have been tediously drawn out, while others have hours that are cheerfully spent. Living by our faith enables us to enjoy our portion as a continual portion, a kingly portion, all the days of our life.
Are our civil and religious freedoms under threat? According to some social commentators we are living in very uncertain times in which the freedoms we have long enjoyed are coming under increasing pressure. The liberty we take so much for granted may not be as secure as we think.
When this book was first published there was little or no sign of such danger on the horizon. In 1960 the church may have taken her religious freedom for granted and perhaps had forgotten the price paid by those who had “fought for freedom of truth and conscience, freedom for life and worship, freedom both as citizens and Christians.” Today in the West the prospect facing the church may well be one of suffering for the sake of the gospel and of sharing the common experience of our fellow Christians in many other parts of the world.
This prospect makes the story of the four men told in this book all the more fascinating and relevant. In the seventeenth-century two Scottish Covenanters, Alexander Henderson and Samuel Rutherford, and two English Puritans, John Bunyan and Richard Baxter, were at the forefront in the struggle for liberty of conscience and freedom of worship. The story of their suffering and triumph, vividly told by a skilled biographer, enables the reader to visualize clearly both the problems which faced the church during that turbulent period of her history and the principles upon which our spiritual forefathers courageously took their stand. Of course, it would not be hard to point out their limitations and imperfections, their mistakes and failures; but they were fired by an inner nobility of motive and ideal which lifts them above petty criticism and gives them a lasting title to be known as men who were like Bunyan’s pilgrim, Valiant-for-Truth.