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fly stir again, down comes the spider, and claps a foot upon her. If the fly struggle still, he poisons her more and more. What shall the fly do now? Why, she dies, if somebody do not quickly release her. This is the case with the tempted. Their feet and wings are entangled. Now, Satan shows him. self. If the soul struggleth, Satan laboureth to hold it down. If it maketh a noise, then he bites it with a blasphemous mouth, more poisonous than the gall of a serpent. If it struggle again, he then poisons it more and more ; insomuch, that it must needs die, if the Lord Jesus help not. But though the fly is altogether incapable of looking for relief, this tempted Christian is not. What must he do therefore? If he look to his heart, there is blasphemy. If he look to his duties, there is sin. Shall this man lie down in despair ? No. Shall he trust in his duties? No. Shall he stay away from Christ until his heart is better ? No. What then ? Let him look to Christ crucified! Then shall he see his sins answered for, and death dying. This sight destroys the power of the first temp. tation, and both purifies the mind, and inclines the heart to all good things.”_Works, vol. iv. p. 2340. Thus, if Bunyan built the Interpreter's House by spiritualizing the temple, he interpreted the sights in that house by making the most and the best of what he saw in his own cell,
Bunyan was so pleased with this parallel between Satan and a spider, that away went pincers and laces, until he rhymed the fact. He makes the spider say,
“ Thus in my ways, God, wisdom doth conceal,
Works, vol. ii. p. 964. Bunyan studied and talked with this spider so much at the window, that it became a favourite with him at last. He abuses it in 6 good set terms,” through half a long poem ; but it taught him so much sound wisdom, that he withdrew his sąrcasms, and sang,
« Well, my good spider, I my errors see;
I was a fool in railing thus at thee,
Thy nature, venom, and thy fearful hue,
It was not without reason he thus ended with high compliments to his web-weaving neighbour : for he studied her habits and instincts, until he found her to be the best philosopher he had ever met with. He has not, in fact, written any thing more ingenious or profound, in one sense, than his poem of 6 The Sinner and the Spider.”
It is delightful to find, that neither the dust nor the bars of his prison window could prevent Bunyan from enjoying sun. rise. He had often sat under its first rosy light, reading Lu. ther and the Bible, whilst a wandering tinker ; and when a prisoner, he could welcome the sun thus :
“Look yonder! O, methinks, mine eyes do see
Works, vol. ii. p. 963.
All weathers were not alike to the prisoner. He felt the weight of a close or damp atmosphere. It made him so ner. vous in his cell, that he was often ready, he says, “ to start and tremble at his own shadow" on the walls and the floor. He could, however, turn all weathers to account. On one “low. ering morning,” he laid aside his pincers, and wrote thus:
6. Well, with the day, I see the clouds appear,
And when it makes sin red with Jesu's blood,
Works, vol. ii. p. 959.
Except Bunyan attempted to write poetry before he was a prisoner, of which I have found no proof-he seems to have seen from bis window, in the bed of the river, a bright stone, which interested him, and at length instructed him. The fol. lowing lines prove at least, that he could “ find sermons in stones, and books in running brooks, and good in every thing."
“ This flint, time out of mind, hath there abode,
Works, vol. ii. p. 958.
I have mentioned Bunyan's Sand. Glass. He could not be so playful with it as with his rose, or with his spider. It had measured too many sad and slow hours to suggest any but solemn thoughts. Its sands were never golden, nor too swift, but when his great works were in hand ; and then, he had no time to count them. But when he did count them, it was done like himself.
“ This glass, when made, was, by the workman's skill,
The sum of sixty minutes to fulfil.
Works, vol. ii. p. 976.
Bunyan must have been not a little pleased, at times, with his own poetry, although it cost much labour. And, no wonder; for it is sometimes very happy. No one has ever sung “ The Fly and the Candle" better than he did. True, he could ill afford to have his small candles set a running by flies. They wasted too soon of themselves, and were always too few for his purpose. He scolds the Fly, however, in the gentlest terms he well could.
" What ails this fly, thus desperately to enter
A combat with the candle? Will she venture
Šlap!' says she,.at it ! Then she makes retreat.
Works, vol. ii. p. 976.
But it is time to draw this long chapter to a close, although it certainly has not been made long for the sake of length ; but that we may see how Bunyan diversified his literary pursuits ; and thus realize his very position and spirit whilst he was thinking for the world, and writing for all time. In fact, no. thing but such quotation as I have indulged in, could explain the plodding habits of such a mind as Bunyan's. He could not have worked out his theological system, through the me. dium of a Concordance, without the reliefs he found in rhyming and spiritualizing. These were both air and exercise to his mind, after being long bent at hard study. It was by giving play to his fancy, and by indulging the whims of his taste, when tired of pondering, that he kept his understanding so clear, and his judgment so cool. In a word, it was by having “ so many irons in the fire at once,” and by humouring the inclination of the moment in the selection of one, that he wrought them all so well.
I have included his Book of Martyrs amongst his few com. forts in prison, although he himself does not name it along with his Bible and Concordance. There are, however, references to it in some of his Works written in prison, which indicate its presence there. There is also a quotation from it in his “ House of the Forest of Lebanon,” too long and accurate to be made from memory. One of his own signatures also in it, bears date in 1662. It must, therefore, have been in prison with him.
I cannot close this chapter, without bringing up again the interesting fact, that Bunyan retained and cherished all his love of NATURE, even when most shut out from the sight of the heavens and the earth. To his sanctified imagination, Nature had been a Bethel Ladder, whilst he was a prisoner at large : and when he was in
and could see only a step or two of that Ladder through his bars, his spirit sprung out upon it at once. I must illustrate this fact. He exclaims, at sun-rise,
“Look, look ! brave Sol doth peep up from beneath ;
Shows us his golden face ;-doth on us breathe :
Works, vol. ii. p. 968.
He was so fond of sun-light, as well as scarce of candles to write by, that he remonstrated with the sun one night
“What, hast thou run thy race ? Art going down?
Works, vol. ii. p. 971.
His prison window seems to have commanded the view of an Orchard. This delighted him, although it must have reminded him of his thievish pranks whilst he was a sin-breeder in Elstow and Bedford.
"A comely sight, indeed, it is to see
A world of blossoms on an apple-tree.