Gambar halaman

head might as well be the clapper of the bell, I am so bothered with the whole thing." The principal comforted him by telling him to give kind words to all, but meanwhile to let the clock be, and not try to adapt its time to one or other. “So,” said Francis, “if you trouble yourself as to what is said of you, you will have no end of worry. You must be courteous to everybody; but meanwhile go your own way, be reasonable, do not try to follow all the contradictory advice you are certain to receive ; fix your mind on God, and follow the leadings of his grace. We ought to care but little for men's judgment since our object is not to please them; God is our judge, and he sees into the most hidden corners of our hearts." (Part iii, Ch. iii. 6.)

A favourite maxim of Francis was “ Make haste slowly.” He always aimed at doing a little well. He sought to gain ground step by step.

“Real progress," he said, "is in moving on imperceptibly. God himself, to whom time is not, yet brings his works to perfection by such gradual and gentle ways as are well-nigh imperceptible.” So we are to be patient with the slow development of our own souls, and of the souls of others, and with the slow progress of any work in which we are interested and active. We must abide God's time. He is at least as interested in the work as we are ourselves.

Such then is the wisdom of Francis de Sales, a wisdom surely that is from above, pure, gentle, peaceable, full of mercy and good fruits, the wisdom of one of the saintliest and most radiant spirits that have ever visited, the earth.


JOHN BUNYAN'S PILGRIM'S PROGRESS BUNYAN's Pilgrim's Progress is one of the three outstanding classics of devotional literature-the other two being Augustine's Confessions and Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ. With Augustine Bunyan has more in common than with à Kempis; though in comparing him with Augustine we are struck at first rather by the contrast than by the resemblance between them. Augustine was trained in all the learning of his time, a scholar by profession, a philosopher and theologian of the highest order; whereas Bunyan was a man of practically no education : as he himself says, he " never went to school to Aristotle and Plato," and the great problems of speculative philosophy had no existence for him. Yet beneath all this intellectual difference there was a striking similarity of spiritual experience, and it is reflected in their writings. Augustine's Confessions might very well have been called a pilgrim's progress, and Bunyan's book might have been called his confessions for through the allegory he sought like Augustine to show how he had erred and sinned and how God in His mercy had saved him. The resemblance is even more striking between Augustine's Confessions and Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, since, like the Confessions, Grace Abounding is a personal narrative in which Bunyan tells the story of his life and of his sin and of the manner of his salvation.

Among all who have written of the things of the spirit, we can hardly find a greater contrast than exists between Bunyan and à Kempis in their way of life and in the character of their work. The recluse of Mount St. Agnes wrote for recluses like himself, for those who had renounced the world; the Puritan preacher of Bedford wrote for people engaged in the ordinary occupations and beset by the ordinary temptations and trials of life. In Bunyan's writings one does not meet with the things that constitute the special charm of the Imitation, nor does one find in the Imitation the qualities that make the Pilgrim's Progress a joy for ever. The Imitation belongs to the wisdom literature of Christendom; the Pilgrim's Progress is in form a work of romance, the first of English novels. Still, the contrast between à Kempis and Bunyan is more apparent than real, more outward than inward. After all they drew their inspiration mainly from the same source. The Bible was the constant companion of both, and its influence is discernible in all they wrote. Nor is their general outlook so different as one would at first suppose.

They both take a pessimistic view of the present world, regarding it as a place of weary pilgrimage on the way to a better country, to a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. “If," wrote à Kempis, “thou wilt persevere in grace as thou oughtest, and grow therein, esteem thyself as a banished man, and a pilgrim on earth. Thou must be contented for Christ's sake to be esteemed as a fool in this world, if thou desire to lead a religious life."i Bunyan might have taken that saying as the motto for his Pilgrim's Progress.

1 i. 17.

Grace Abounding was published in 1666.-It reveals the personality and the personal history that are behind the Pilgrim's Progress, the first part of which appeared twelve years later.

John Bunyan was born in a way-side cottage at Elstow, near Bedford, in the year 1628. “In this my relation of the merciful work of God upon my soul, it will not be amiss,” he says, “ if, in the first place, I do, in a few words, give a hint of my pedigree, and manner of bringing up; that thereby the goodness and bounty of God towards me may be the more advanced and magnified before the sons of men.

“For my descent, then, it was, as is well known by many, of a low and inconsiderable generation; my father's house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families of the land. Wherefore, I have not here, as others, to boast of noble blood or of any high-born state, according to the flesh; though, all things considered, I magnify the heavenly Majesty for that by this door he brought me into the world to partake of the grace and life that is in Christ by the Gospel. But notwithstanding the meanness and inconsiderableness of my parents, it pleased God to put into their hearts to put me to school to learn me both to read and to write; the which I also attained according to the rate of other poor men's children ; though, to my shame, I confess I did soon lose that I had learnt, even almost utterly, and that long before the Lord did work his gracious work of conversion upon my soul.”

His father was a tinker or brazier, and to that trade John was set after his schooling days were over, which was very soon. From his earliest years he was subject to fearful dreams and visions. These, he believed, were sent by God to frighten him out of the wickedness of which he was guilty; the sins of which he specially accuses himself, and in which he says he had few equals for his age, being “ cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God." The boy had, we may suppose, but adopted the prevailing manner of speech and moral tone of his environment, though we may be sure there were other and better elements in the life around him, to which he was no less responsive. Anyhow, his wrong-doing was followed by fits of remorse. So wicked did he feel himself at times to be that he feared, and indeed was very sure, that he was going to Hell, and often wished that, if such was to be his destiny, he might be a devil there, thinking the part of a tormentor preferable to that of the tormented ! But the effect of his frightful dreams and his fears of judgment to come did not last very long; he went from bad to worse, trying to forget the Divine warnings in the enjoyment of his wicked pleasures. “Wherefore," he says, "with more greediness, according to the strength of my nature, I did let loose the reins of my lust, and delighted in all transgressions against the law of God; so that, until I came to the state of marriage, I was the very ringleader of all the youth that kept me company, in all manner of vice and ungodliness." There is the best reason, however, for believing that the picture he thus paints of himself is much blacker than it ought to have been—and that he was not really guilty of the grosser sins of which he seems in this passage to accuse himself. At any rate, we know that afterwards he strongly resented the charge of unchastity which had been brought

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »