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thing of the regular Dissenting Churches of that day, or of our own times. All spiritual Churches episcopize in this way. Bunyan did not know this at the time : perhaps he never sus. pected it afterwards, in his own case. But the poor women certainly talked of themselves, that they might teach him.
How well they spoke of experimental religion, will be best seen from his own account. “Methought, they spake as if joy did make them speak. They spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me, as if I had found a new world; as if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned among their neighbours. At this, I felt my own heart began to shake, and mistrust my condition to be naught : for I saw that in all my thoughts about religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my mind; (Ni. codemus-like!) neither knew I the comfort of the word and promise, nor the deceitfulness of my own wicked heart. As for secret thoughts, I took no notice of them; neither did I understand what Satan's temptations were, nor how they were to be withstood and resisted.”
The last part of this confession, although not the most interesting, had most to do afterwards with Bunyan's strange fears and fancies : and I mark it out, as another of those lights which we shall soon need, when he is 6 led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” He did not understand Satanic temptation when he first heard of it, nor when it began to harass his mind. The Enemy came in upon him “as a flood;" but he saw only the flood itself, and not the Enemy who pour. ed it around and over him.
His ignorance on this point, however, did not hinder his profiting by what he had heard about the religion of the heart. That arrested and humbled him. It followed him to his work like his shadow ; nor did he try to shake it off. “I left," he says, “ but their talk and discourse went with me : also, my heart would tarry with them; for I was greatly af. fected by their words; both because by them I was convinced that I wanted the tokens of a truly godly man, and also, be. cause by then I was convinced of the happy and blessed condition of him that was such a one. Therefore, I would often make it my business to be going again and again into the 'com. pany of these poor people; for I could not stay away. And the more I went among them, the more I did question my con. dition : and, as I still remember, presently, I found two things
within me, at which I did sometimes marvel : the one was, a very great softness and tenderness of heart, which caused me to fall under conviction of what, by Scripture, they asserted; and the other was, a great bending in my mind to a continual meditating on it, and on all other good things, which at any time I heard or read of.
“ By these things, my mind was now so turned, that it lay like a horse-leech at the vein ; still crying out, “Give, Give;' and was so fixed on eternity, and on the things of the kingdom of heaven (that is, so far as I knew ; though as yet, God knows, I knew but little), that neither pleasures, nor profits, nor persuasions, nor threats, could loose it, or make it let go its hold. And, though I speak it with shame, yet it is in very deed, a certain truth, that it would have been as diffi. cult for me to have taken my mind from heaven to earth, as I have found it often since, to get it again from earth to heaven.”
Bunyan himself, marvelled, as he well might, at this child. like and angel-like turn of spirit; “ especially," as he says, s considering what a blind, ignorant, sordid, and ungodly wretch, but just before I was.” It hardly requires spiritual discernment, in order to see beauty in this change. Mere Philosophy, either moral or mental, must admire it. It is indeed, the Lion become a lamb! How Mrs. Bunyan must have enjoyed it! Her husband was now more gentle and humble than her father seems to have been. Even those who attach no importance to the religion of the heart, must wonder at the change of the Tinker's heart; it was so sudden and great, and yet so simple withal. His spirit softened like fur. rows under spring showers; and, like them, soon sent forth “ the tender blade.” And all this was produced, not by visions or dreams, but by words which dropped as the rain, and distilled as the dew, from the lips of simple-hearted women, who used no direct persuasion. Christians see, of course, the hand of God in the effeet: and even a mere philosopher must confess, that he never sees the same effect produced by the most eloquent maxims or appeals of his ethics, although he tries their force on more cultivated minds. True ; there was latent genius in the Tinker, to work upon. What then ? Neither the Tinker himself, nor his Teachers knew of it. They had never heard of genius. It was not the less there, I grant. Where was it, however, in the women, who sat
“ Knitting in the sun ?"
They had not minds of Bunyan's order : and, yet the truths of the Bible had the same sweet influence upon them. Besides, what is philosophy worth, as a Reformer of the world, if it require genius as the soil for its seed to root or ripen in ?
One of the first.fruits of Bunyan's conversion was, a tender concern for those whom his former example, had misled or hardened. Having found, therefore, in his own case, how good is a word spoken in season, and in a kind spirit, he began to try the experiment upon others. He was, however, very unsuccessful, in the first instance: because, perhaps, he began too soon; or before his new spirit was as much known as his new character. “There was a young man in our town,” he says, “ to whom my heart before was knit, more than to any other : but he being a most wicked creature, for cursing, and swearing, and whoring, I now shook him off, and forsook bis company : but about a quarter of a year after I had left him, I met him in a certain lane, and asked him how he did. He, after his old swearing and mad way, answered he was well. But, Harry,' said 1, why do you curse and swear thus ? What will become of you if you die in this condition?' He answered me in a great chafe, • What would the Devil do for company, if it were not for such as I am ?'”
This is, perhaps-reckless and horrible as it is—as fair a specimen of the spirit of the ungodly Cavaliers and Rois. terers of that day, as could be selected. Many Roundheads were as great rogues ; but they did not thus glory in their shame, nor laugh at the wrath to come. It is not, however, for the sake of illustrating this feature of the Times, that I quote the fact. I would not have quoted it, had it not been the anecdote which revealed to me the fact, that Bunyan him. self is the speaker in the Life of Badman, under the name of Wiseman. The anecdote occurs in that work, exactly as it stands here, so far as the point of it is concerned. In other respects, the only difference is, the word “huff" instead of " chafe.” On the margin of the old Editions there is, also, this note of Bunyan's:-" The desperate words of one H. S., who once was my companion.”
This was a sore disappointment to Bunyan. He says, “I make mention of him to my shame. That young man was my play-fellow, when I was solacing myself in my sins. Young Badman was as like him as an egg is like an egg ; and so far as I could ever gather, he lived and died as Mr. Badman did.” This was not Bunyan's only trial at the time. He not only
strove in vain to reclaim others, but had to resist some who attempted to corrupt himself. “ About this time,” he says, “I met with some ranters' books that were put forth by some of our countrymen; which books were also in high esteem by several old professors." One of these professors was the 66 pleasant Talker about the matter of religion,” whom I have already branded as a masked libertine. He now threw off the mask, and gave himself up to all manner of filthiness, especially to uncleanness.” Bunyan adds of him, “ About this time he became a most devilish Ranter.”
It will be seen at once from this, that the sect were every thing but what the modern Ranters are. The ranting of the latter is mere violence of language and gesticulation, in preaching and praying. In all other respects, they are, I believe, exemplary and orthodox : whereas, the old Ranters were equally profligate and heterodox. I do not choose to detail their creed or their character. They were FAMILISTS ; and whoever wishes to know their character, will find its original in the Nicholaitan's, and its impersonation in “that woman Jezebel," mentioned in the epistles to the seven Churches of Asia. I know, however, that it is not justice to Bunyan, to give no account of the books of the Ranters, see. ing he signalized his prudence by the manner in which he treated them. But he can afford to have less than his due in this matter : whereas, it is not every one who can read Error with safety ; even when the antidote is stronger than the poison. Many of Doddridge's students verified this fact, although all the error they read was speculative, and contradicted equally by his own devotional character, and evangeli. cal preaching.
Nothing exhibits the child-like disposition of Bunyan more now, than the recoil of his spirit from Antinomianism. He read both the books and the men that advocated the system ; but he shrunk with holy jealousy from the former, and with loathing disgust from the latter. He could not answer their arguments; but he prayed against their influence. “ I was not able,” he says, “ to make any judgment about them : wherefore, as I read them, and thought upon them, seeing my. self unable to judge, I would betake myself to hearty prayer in this manner: “O Lord, I am a fool, and not able to know the truth from error. Lord, leave me not to my own blind. ness, either to approve of or condemn this doctrine. If it be of God, let me not despise it; if it be of the devil, let me not
embrace it. Lord, I lay my soul in this matter only at thy foot ; let me not be deceived, I humbly beseech thee."
We feel instinctively, that such prayer was sure to be answered by God. - The meek will he guide in judgment.” “ If any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” Bunyan verified these promises at the time; and afterwards set to his seal, that God is true. « Blessed be God,” he says, “ who put it into my heart to cry to him, to be kept and directed ; still distrusting my own wisdom. For I have seen since, even the effects of that prayer, in his presery. ing me, not only frorn Ranting errors, but from those also that have sprung up since.” He did more, however, than pray for preservation. He also shook off his old companion the Ran. ter. That man had gone on from bad to worse, until he laugh. ed at all truth and duty. “Wherefore,” says Bunyan, "abomi. nating these cursed principles, I left his company forth with, and became to him as great a stranger, as I had been before a familiar.” No wonder; the last words of the wretch to Bunyan, accompanied with loud laughter at his own wicked. ness, were, “ that he had gone through all religions, and could never hit upon the right till now; and that all professors would turn in a little time to the ways of the Ranters.” On this, they parted, to meet no more, forever.
Bunyan's danger was not over, however, when he shook off this Viper from his hand. He was still a travelling Tinker, and could not often choose his company, nor change the sub. ject of conversation, when he was from home. He was thus thrown amongst Ranters occasionally, by his Craft. He also found, here and there in the county, men whom he had formerly known as “ strict in religion, drawn away” to Antino. mianism. But still, the pans and kettles of both required mending as usual, and he could not afford to refuse a job. He had thus to listen to the “ sounding brass” of Antinomians, whilst soldering their culinary brass. 66 They would tell me,” he says, “ of their ways, and condemn me as legal and dark : pretending that those only had attained to perfection, that could do what they would and not sin.”
This “ bestial herd," as Dr. Southey justly calls them, were not produced however, as he unjustly insinuates, by “Baxter, and other erring, though good men,” who marvelled 6 at mischief which never would have been effected, if they had not mainly assisted in it." True ; Baxter said when he saw it, “ We intended not to dig down the banks, or pull up