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the brethren, who after due consideration of your motion, have jointly concluded to give you their answer.
* This for yourself (honoured Sister), you are of high esteem with the Church of God in this place, both because his grace hath been bestowed richly upon you, and because of your fruitful fellowship with us; for you have been a daughter of Abraham while here, not being afraid with any amazément. Your holy and quiet behaviour also, while with patience and meekness, and in the gentleness of Christ, you suffered your. self to be robbed for his sake, hath the more united our affec. tions to you in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Yea, it hath be. gotten you reverence also in the hearts of them who were be. holders of your meekness and innocency while you suffered ; and a stinging conviction, as we are persuaded, in the con. sciences of those who made spoil for themselves : all which will redound to the praise of God our Father, and to your comfort and everlasting consolation by Christ in the day he shall come to take vengeance for his people, and to be glorified in them that believe.
« Wherefore we cannot (our honoured Sister), but care for your welfare and increase of all good in the faith and kingdom of Christ, whose servant you are, and whose name is written in your forehead ; and do therefore pray God and our Father that he would direct your way and open a door into his tem, ple for you, that you may eat his fat and be refreshed, and that you may drink the pure blood of the grape. And be you as. sured that with all readiness we will help and forward you what we can therein, for we are not ashamed to own you be. fore all the churches of Christ.
“But, our dearly beloved, you know that for our safety and your profit, that it is behoofful that we commit you to such, to be fed and governed in the word and doctrines, as we are suffi. ciently persuaded shall be able to deliver you with joy, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints : other. wise we (that we say not you) shall receive blushing and shame before him and you. Yea and you also, our honoured Sister, may justly charge us with want of love, and a due respect for your eternal condition : if for want of care and cir. cumspection herein, we should commit you to any from whom you should receive damage ; or by whom you should not be Succoured, and fed with the sincere milk of the incorruptible word of God, which is able to save your soul.
“Wherefore, we may not, neither dare give our consent that you feed and fold with such whose principles and practices, in matters of faith and worship, we as yet are strangers to: and have not received commendations concerning, either from works of theirs or epistles from others. Yourself indeed hath declared that you are satisfied therein : but elect sister, seeing the act of delivering you up, is an act of ours and not yours, it is convenient, yea, very expedient, that we as to so weighty a matter be well persuaded before.
« Wherefore we beseech you, that for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, you give us leave to inform ourselves yet better before we grant your request; and that you also forbear to sit down at the table with any without the consent of our brethren. You were, while with us, obedient, and we trust you will not be unruly now. And for the more quick expedition of this matter, we will propound before you our farther thoughts.
“1. Either we shall consent to your sitting down with brother Cockain, brother Griffith, brother Palmer, or other who of long continuance in the city, have showed forth their faith, their worship, or good conversation with the word.
“2. Or if you can get a commendatory epistle from brother Owen, brother Cockain, brother Palmer, or brother Griffith, concerning the faith and principles of the person and people you mention, with desire to be guided and governed by ; you shall see our readiness in the fear of God, to commit you to the direction and care of that congregation. ,
“ Choose you whether of these you will consent unto, and let us know of your resolution. And we beseech you for love's sake, you show with meekness your fear and reverence of Christ's institution ; your love to the congregation, and re. gard to your future good.
“ Finally, we commit you to God and the word of his grace; who is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified. To God the only wise be glory and power everlasting. Amen. .
“Your affectionate brethren, to serve you in the faith and fellowship of the gospel,
3 “JOHN BUNYAN,” &c. &c. .. a Sent from Bedford, the
19th of the 4th Month, 1672.”
Ivimey says, “From another Letter, we find that Mrs. Til. ney refused to :omply with the directions. The Church, how. ever, continued to enforce their advice. There is no account
how the matter ended.” It is quite certain, however, that the matter did not begin, as Dr. Southey says, “ because Blakey was not a Baptist.” He adds, that they “ excluded a brother (Robert Nelson) because in a great assembly of the Church of England, he was profanely bishopt, after the anti-Christian order of that generation, to the great profanation of God's order, and the heart-breaking of Christian brethren.” This case, like the former, is quoted as an exception to the tolerant spirit of Bunyan: and, at first sight, it seems an exception. Indeed, it could not appear otherwise to Dr. Southey, as he found it in Ivimey's History of the Baptists. There it stands as a bare fact, and without any definition of the word bishopt. That word means neither-made a Bishop, nor ordained by a Bishop. Robert Nelson had no such honour, and he deserved none at all. He was merely confirmed “in the great assem. bly of the Church of England ;' but confirmed in what,MI cannot tell : for, seven years afterwards, the Church at Bed. ford warned the Churches at Steventon, Keysoe, and Newport Pagnel, not to countenance him. This would not have been necessary if he had become a churchman. It can only be ex. plained by supposing that, in some way, he hung on between Church and Dissent. No great fault, I grant, if his purpose had been good. But this is doubtful. It is certain, however, that Bunyan's Church admonished him for seven years, before they excluded him for being bishopt : and even then, it was as much for contemning all admonition, as for “trampling upon their order and fellowship.” Their Letter to the Churches is now before me; and it declares that he was borne with “ for the space of eight or nine years.” Had Dr. Southey been aware of these facts of the case, he would not have adduced Nelson's exclusion as an exception to the tolerance of Bunyan's Church. I state the facts, that there may remain no draw-back upon the honourable testimony of Dr. Southey, where he says of Bunyan, that he was “beyond the general spirit of his age in tolerance, and far beyond that of his fellow Sectaries.”—Life, p. 77.
TO OUR BELOVED SISTER KATHERINE HUSTWHAT. “Our dearly beloved Sister,
- The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, and the God of all comfort, bless thee with abundance of grace and peace through the knowledge of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory evermore, Amen.
“ It is a comfort to us thy brothers and sisters (with whom grace hath made thee a member of the Lord Jesus) when we remember thy first faith and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ; being persuaded that those beginnings shall not end but in that kingdom and glory which God hath prepared for those that love him. In which persuasion we are the more confirmed, since we hear (to our increase of joy) how our God supporteth thee in all thy temptations and spiritual desertions thou meet. est with in the world. The poor and afflicted people God will save ; to be distressed and tempted while here is a manifesta. tion of our predestination to the ease and peace of another world. Predestinated to be conformable, or (as in the old translation) predestinated that we should be like-fashioned even to the shape of his Son. A great part of which lieth, in our being distressed, tempted, afflicted as he. And therefore it was when he was departing hence to the Father, that he as it were looked back, as over his shoulder, to such, saying, “You are they that have continued with me in my temptations, unto you I appoint a Kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.'
6 Sister, thy keeping low and being emptied from vessel to vessel, is that thou mightest be kept sweet and more clean in thy soul than thou wouldst, or couldst otherwise be. The first ways of David were his best ; and yet those ways were most accompanied with affliction. They that are naked and lodge without clothing, that have no covering in the cold, and that are wet with the showers of the mountains; these embrace the rock for want of a shelter. As outward distresses make us prize outward blessings ; so temptations and afflic. tions of soul make us prize Jesus Christ. He suffereth us to hunger, and to wander in a bewildered condition, that we may taste and relish the words of God, and not live by bread alone. Temptations always provoke to spiritual appetite; and are therefore very necessary for us, yea, as needful as work and labour to the body, without which it would be overrun with diseases, and unfit for any employment. Therefore, our be. loved Sister, stir up the grace of God that is in thee, and lay hold by faith on eternal life, to the which thou art also called ; and count when thou art tempted much, yet the end of that temptation will come; the end, and then effect. And remem. ber that even our dearest Lord could not break off the tempta.
tion in the middle ; but when Satan had ended all the temptation, then he departed from him for a season.'
“ The gospel which thou hast received is no cunningly devised fable, but the very truth and verity of God, and will undoubtedly bring to those that believe, grace and glory, honour and immortality ; eternal life, and a world to come. This is the true grace of God wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Wherefore be not shaken in mind, or troubled with unbelief or atheism ; look to the promise, look to Jesus, look to his blood, and what worth it hath with the justice of God for sinners. The Lord direct thy heart into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ, who at his coming will gather the saints together unto him, even those who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice.
“ Lastly, Sister, farewell, watch and be sober ; have patience to the coming of the Lord; and in the meanwhile look to thy lamp. The Lord pour of his golden oil into it, and also into the vessel of thy soul; keep thy work before thee, and be re. newed in the spirit of thy mind. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh, shall find so doing. We commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance, among them that are sanctified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, one God, be glory and dominion now and for ever.
“ Written by the appointment of this congregation, and subscribed by their consent, by your dear brethren, who pray for you, and entreat your prayers for this despised handful of the Lord's heritage.
“ JOHN BUNYAN,” &c. &c.
EXTRACT. " I marvel not that yourself and others do think my long imprisonment strange ;-or rather strangely of me for the sake of that :--for verily I should have done so myself, had not the Holy Ghost long since forbidden me. 1 Pet. iv. 12. John iii. 13. Nay, verily, notwithstanding that, had the Adversary fastened the supposition of guilt upon me, my long trials might by this time have put it beyond dispute. For I have not been so sordid as to stand to a doctrine, right or wrong, when so weighty an argument as above an eleven years' imprisonment is continually dogging me to pause, and pause again, to weigh the grounds of the principles for which I have thus suffered :