« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
these things by these Scriptures ; . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld he was taken up ; and a cloud received him out of their sight.'- But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see heaven opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.'—And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.'
But this man because he continueth for ever hath an unchangeable priesthood.'— Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.'— I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and have the keys of hell and of death.'-'For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with the Lord, in the air : and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort ye one another with these words.'
“Once I was troubled to know whetherthe Lord Jesus was man as well as God, and God as well as man: And truly ; in those days let men say what they would, unless I had it with evidence from heaven, all was nothing to me; I counted myself not set down in any truth of God. Well, I was much troubled about this point, and could not tell how to be resolved; at last, that came into my mind, · And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb, as it had been slain.' In the midst of the throne, thought I, there is the GODHEAD'; in the midst of the elders, there is his MANHOOD. But, oh! methought, how this did glister! It was a goodly touch, and gave me sweet satisfaction. That other scripture also did help me much in this ; To us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders : and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.""
Having given these illustrations of what he meant by “ Evi. dence from heaven,” and by “God revealing the things of Christ” to him, Bunyan concludes thus,—" It would be too long here to stay to tell you in particular, how God did set me down (settle me) in the things of Christ ; and how, that He might do so, he did lead me into his words ; yea, and how also he did open them unto me, and make them shine before me, and cause to dwell with me-talk with me-comfort me over and over, as to His own being, and the being of His Son, and Spirit, and Word, and Gospel. And this, in gene. ral, was His course with me; first, to suffer me to be afflicted with temptations concerning (the truth or grace of) them, and then reveal them unto me.”
The doctrine which led Bunyan to seek and find all this, was, says Dr. Southey, “ of a most perilous kind.” So far, however, it has done Bunyan no harm. Even his “revelations," as he calls them, never go beyond Revelation itself. He himself knew this, and said so. God, he says, “ led him into His own Word ; led him from truth to truth ; led him orderly into the Gospel of the Lord, not into one part of it” only. It is, therefore, self-evident, that all Bunyan meant by what Dr. Southey calls “ a particular revelation" was a clear apprehension of the grace and glory of the Gospel itself, with a deep feeling of its importance. Now, whatever name may be given to this kind of knowledge, it is that knowledge of the Gospel which a thinking man would surely prefer, if he want. ed either peace or hope from the belief of it. It is vivid, certainly, but it is not visionary.
It may, however, be safely, and it ought to be readily, grant. ed, that Bunyan is not a safe standard to try experimental knowledge by. The vivacity of his mind increased the vividness of his spiritual discernment. Not one mind in a thou: and could have darted, as his did, as with eagle-wings and eagle-eyes, from the Cradle to the Cross of the Saviour, real. izing every scene, as if an actual witness of the sufferings and glory of Christ. This no more belongs to divine teaching necessarily, than does the power of inventing the Pilgrim's Progress, or of depicting the Holy War. I admire Bunyan, but I do not envy him at all, when he says of his realizations of the Saviour's cradle, cross and grave, “I was as if I had seen Him born—as if I had seen him nailed to the crossas if I had seen Him leap out of the grave's mouth.” My mind does not reflect “the manifestation of the Truth,” in this way. Bunyan's reflected it, as seas or snow-clad moun. tains do sun-light; in floods and forms of glory: mine, only as a dew-drop or a pebble. But still, the Truth is both light and warmth to me. I love it and obey it. I should, therefore, be very unwise and ungrateful, were I to bring my own experience to the test of Bunyan's entrancing discoveries. That test might be very useful to Poets; but it could only unchris. tianize plain men like myself, or divert us from thought, pray. er, and action, to sentimentality or excitement.
It would go hard with the hopes of many besides myself, were the following record, the rule in divine teaching. “I had now," says Bunyan, 6 as I thought, an evidence from Heaven of my salvation—with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight. Now I would often long and desire that the Last Day were come, that I might be forever inflam. ed with the sight, and joy, and communion with Him—whose Head was crowned with thorns; whose Face was spit upon; whose Body was broken ; whose Soul was made an offering for my sins! For whereas before I lay continually trembling at the mouth of Hell,—now, methought, I was got so far there. from, that I could scarce discern it, when I loooked back. 0, thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that I might die quickly, and my soul be gone forever!” Bunyan had read, marked, and inwardly digested LUTHER on the Gala. tians, before he saw thus clearly his way and welcome, by the Cross, to the Crown. The old Saxon's seals helped him to read the inscriptions upon his own. But still, this transi. tion “from darkness into marvellous light,” is as worthy of being traced to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, as Luther's own joy and peace in believing. 6 God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, did shine into Bunyan's heart, giving him the light by the knowledge of the Divine Glory in the face of Jesus :" but it is equally true, that God does not always shed such a flood of light upon the mind at once. It is not necessary in every case. It could not be well sustain. ed, perhaps, in many cases. Besides, until Gifford and Luther led Bunyan to a prayerful and orderly study of the Scriptures, he was a very ignorant man. He had scraps of truth at his finger ends, but no digest of its evidences or analogy in his memory. He saw the fringes of its glory, but not the foundations of its grace. The perception of its connexions and harmony was, therefore, to him, almost what a prophetic vision would be to a well-informed man.
'It should be forever remembered also, where Bunyan studied Luther and the Bible at this time. It was alternately in the barns where he slept on straw, and under the lonely trees where he rested himself. He “ watched for the morning," upon a bed which had no attractions, when he awoke from his first sleep.
Even the Sluggard would hardly have turned himself to slum. ber again amongst the sacking and litter of a Tinker's couch. For although Bunyan was now an honest man, and known as such in his rounds, the barn was his onlr dormitory, and the corncloth his only counterpade, and his own wallet stuffed with his clothes, or a corn-sbeaf, his only pillow. He rarely knew the luxury of a blanket, or even of a chaff bolster. It was from such couches be arose with the sun, to search the Scriptures, and to ponder Luther's paradures, whilst all nature was cool, and calm, and bright, around him. In like manner, when he rested during the beat of the day, under the trees or the hedges, all his cares at this time only sent him to the Bible, whilst all his tastes enjoyed the scenery and the solitude,
Much of the vividness of his conceptions arose from these circumstances. And then he had just suffered so much at home, whilst brooding in silence over dark and daring thoughts, that both Nature and Revelation were almost new to him, when he resumed his communion with them in his old rounds. Thus, there is no occasion to stumble or stare at what Bunyan calls his revelations. They were nothing but new discoveries of old truth, and “ the savour of the knowledge of Christ.” Unction and evidence met together upon his spirit;-and even the French expect unction to accompany belief.
It is only what we expect, when mathematical Philosophers, now that few of them are Newtons, sneer and snarl at the awen of moral truth: but it is mortifying and unbearable, when Poets (whose
"Fine eye, in frenzy rolling," searches for the sublime and beautiful as for “hid treasure," in Nature) tell us gravely, that it is “ perilous” to expect any thing from Revelation, brighter or better than the vague and vapid conceptions of eternal things, which occur to those who seldom think, and never pray. Christians should not, how. ever, avenge this outrage on truth and decency, by sneering at poetry. Still, Poets must not provoke us, nor try our patience too far. For if we make reprisals,—alas, for them! CHAPTER XII.
BU NYAN AND LUTHER.
THE influence of Luther on Bunyan has never been fully pointed out : indeed, hardly stated fairly. Even Dr. Southey, who estimated it well, mistakes its commencement. It was not, as he says, when Bunyan saw the evidence of his Salva. tion from Heaven, “with golden seals appendant,” nor when he had “ the gate of Heaven in full view," and was longing to “ enjoy the beatific vision,” that Luther's Commentary on the Galatians « fell into his hands.” That book led to this state of mind, instead of coming in to confirm it. Hence Bunyan says, “ But before I had got thus far out of my Temptations, I did greatly long to see some antient godly man's experience, who had writ some hundred years before I was born. Well, after many such longings in my mind, the God in whose hands are all our days and ways, did cast into my hand one day, a book of Martin Luther's. It was his comment on the Galatians. It was also so old, that it was ready to fall piece from piece if I did but turn it over. Now I was much pleased that such an old book had fallen into my hands. I found my condition as largely and profoundly handled, in his experience, as if his book had been written out of my heart. I do prefer this book of Martin Luther (excepting the Bible, before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience.”
Thus it was before the wounds of his own conscience were healed, and whilst he had not got far out of his temptations; that Bunyan met with Luther. It was a happy meeting. “In the work of that passionate and mighty mind,” says Dr. Southey, “ he saw his own soul reflected as in a glass. Like Luther he had undergone the agonies of unbelief and deadly fear, and according to his own persuasion wrestled with the Enemy.” Bunyan saw more than all this in the Saxon glass. What chiefly arrested and interested him was, the “ grave debate, showing that the Law, as well as the devil, death, and hell, hath a very great hand in the rise of blasphemy, despair,