Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good Yesterday/Good Today/Good Forever

I like old books. I like them nearly as much as I like old bikes. I think its something about a connection to the past. When you hold an old book in your hands one can't help but wonder about those who came before you and held that same book in their hands. I haven't purchased an old book for quite some time now, but in the past I have acquired some gems.

And not only have some the books been gems, but sometimes they come with a bonus. Some years ago I bought a four volume set of the collected works of John Bunyan; well, three out of a four volume set, that is. And that's OK. The fact that one volume was missing is probably what put it in my price range. Let me tell you, if you are only familiar with John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, you are certainly missing a lot. He was a prolific writer, and though Pilgrim's Progress may be the crown jewel of his work, it is but one of many wonderful writings.

For those of you who are not familiar with John Bunyan, he was best known for his allegorical book Pilgrim's Progress, which until very recently was the second highest selling book of all time, with only the Holy Bible outdistancing it. The fact that it lost the number two position to one of the witchcraft glorifying Harry Potter books says much about the decay of our society. It only serves to reinforce my thought that the end must be near.

But back to my subject. Try as I might I have never been able to find a printing date for this set of books, though they show every evidence of being from the 1800's. The bonus? In this set of books I found a business card, clearly, having been used as a bookmark at some time in the distant past.
Like I said; a bit of a bonus, and pretty cool to boot. I wonder how many of these cards have survived since Mr. Brooks had them printed so long ago? A little history, soon to be forgotten. Only collectors of such minutia, and possibly descendants of Mr. Brooks would find it of much value. Certainly no one, even in their wildest dreams, would expect to find carriages still for sale at 412 Main in Poughkeepsie.

Recently I was paging through another book that I had purchased several years back. It too is a collection of Bunyan's writings, under the title "The Allegorical Works of John Bunyan." This one even has a printing date: 1837. That matches nicely with the owner's inscription inside the front cover (in a hand that would put most professional calligraphers of our day to shame) who apparently obtained the book on October 15th 1842. Though this book is quite fragile from age and use (as fits my budget) it too contained a bonus, this one in the form of a religious tract. Unlike the business card, this has a lasting message. One side is shown below:

The other side of the tract (shown below) contain this message which I have transcribed to make it easy to read:


"FOR EVER AND EVER!" Words that may be spoken by a child, but the full import of which can be understood by neither men or angels. Could we stand upon a sea-shore, and count its sand, and the number of drops of the ocean, we should fail to number the years of eternity. Millions of ages crowding on millions of ages; and again, millions of ages crowding millions of ages, would be as a brief day compared with"for ever and ever."

READER YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO ETERNITY. Are you prepared for it? Where - how -will you spend it? Will you be saved, and happy for ever and ever in heaven; or lost, and miserable for ever and ever in hell?

You, perhaps, hope to go to heaven; but from whence does your confidence arise? There is only one way of securing a blessed eternity. "Christ died for us."* Pardon, peace, and eternal life, come through him alone. "He that believeth on him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life."+ This must be your only ground of hope; your only plea in life, in death, and at the judgment bar.

If you look to Jesus Christ in faith, repenting of your sins and yielding to him the service of your life, you shall spend a happy eternity: - if you live and die without him, you must be lost - FOR EVER AND EVER.

*Romans V. 28 +John iii. 16

The Religious Tract Society, 56, Paternoster Row, and Piccadilly.

As I said, good yesterday, good today, good forever.

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