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His character seems to have been uniformly good, from the time when he was brought acquainted with the blessed gospel of Christ : and though his countenance was rather stern and his manner rough; yet he was very mild, modest, and affable, in his behaviour. He was backward to speak much, except on particular occasions, and remarkably averse to boasting; ready to submit to the judgment of others, and disposed to forgive injuries, to follow peace with all men, and to employ himself as a peace-maker : yet he was steady to his prineiples, and bold in reproving sin without respect to persons. Many slanders were spread concerning him during the course of his ministry, some of which he refuted: they have, however, all died away; and no one now pretends to say any thing to his disadvantage, except as a firm attachment to his creed and practice, as a Calvinist, a Dissenter, and an Antipodo-baptist, has been called bigotry ; and as the account given of his own experience has been misunderstood or misrepresented.
He was undoubtedly ëndued with extraordinary natural talents ; his understanding, discernment, memory, investigation, and imagination, were remarkably sound and vigorous : so that he made very great proficiency in the knowledge of scriptural divinity, though brought up in ignorance : but he never made such progress in human learning. Even such persons, as did not favour his religious principles, have done ample justice to his mental powers. The celebrated Dr. Johnson ranks the
ILGRIM'S PR Ess among a very few books indeed, of which the reader, when he comes to the conclusion, wishes they had been longer; and allows it to rank high among the works of original genius.* But it is above all things wonderful, that Bunyan's imagination, fertile and vigorous in a very great degree, and wholly untutored by the rules of learning, should in this instance have been so disciplined by sound judgment, and deep acquaintance with the Scripture, as to produce, in the form of an allegory, one of the fairest and most unexceptionable treatises on the system of Calvinism, that can be found in the English language! In several of his other publications, his imagination frequently carried him beyond just bounds : but here he avoids all extremes, and seems not to deviate either to the right hand or to the left. Perhaps, as he was himself liable to depression of spirit, and had passed through deep distresses, the views he gives of the Pilgrim's temptations may be too gloomy; but he has shown in the course of the work, that this arose principally from inadequate views of evangelical truth, and the want of Christian communion, with the benefits to be derived from the counsels of a faithful minister.
* Piozzi's Anecdotes of Johnson.--Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. ii. p. 97, 2d edition
AS I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den; and I laid me down in that place to sleep : and as I slept I dreamed a dream. a I dreamed, and behold, “ I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back."* I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein ; and as he read he wept and trembled ; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, « What shall I do ?”'t (6) * Isaiah lxiv. 6. Luke xiv. 33. Psalm xxxviii. 4. Hab. ii. 2. † Acts ii. 37.
(a) Mr. Bunyan was co ed out twelve years in Bedford jail, for exercising his ministry contrary to the statutes then in force. This was * the den, in which he slept and dreamed :' here he penned this instructive allegory, and many other useful works, which evince that he was neither soured nor disheartened by persecution. The Christian, who understands what usage he ought to expect in this evil world, comparing our present measure of religious liberty with the rigours of that age, will see abundant cause for gratitude; but they who are disposed to complain, can never be at a loss for topics, while so much is amiss among all ranks and orders of men, and in the conduct of every individual.
(6) The allegory opens with a description of its principal characters. The author in his dream saw him clothed in rago;' which implies that all men are sinners, in their spositions and conduct; that their supposed virtues are radically defective, and worthless in the sight of God; and that the Pilgrim has discovered his own righteousness to be insufficient for justification, even as sordid rags would be unsuitable raiment for those
The Pišräm goes home in distress. ::Io this: Plight therefore he went home, and restrained himself as Forig as he could; that his wife and children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased : wherefore at length he brake his mind to his wife and children ; and thus he began to talk to them : O my dear wife,' said he, “and you the children of my bowels, I your dear friend am in myself undone, by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me : moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burned with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin , except (the which yet I see not) some way of
escape may be found, whereby we may be delivered.' ' At this his relations were sore amazed ; not for that they believed that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought some frenzy distemper had got into his head ; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed : but the night who stand before kings. His face turned from his own house,' represents the sinner convinced that it is absolutely necessary to subordinate all other concerns to the care of his immortal soul, and to renounce every thing which interferes with that grand object: and this makes him lose his former relish for the pleasures of sin, and even for the most lawful temporal satisfactions, while he trembles at the thouglıt of impendiug destruction.* • The book in his hand in which he read' implies, that sinners discover their real state and character, by reading and believing the Scriptures; that their first attention is often directed to the denunciations of the wrath to come; and that in this case they cannot but continue to search the Word of God, though their grief and alarm is increased by every perusal. The burden on his back’represents that distressing sense of guilt, and fear of wrath, which deeply convinced sinners cannot shake off ; "the remembrance of their sins is grievous to them, the burden of them is intolerable;' their consciences are oppressed with guilt, even on account of those actions in which their neighbours perceive no harm; their hearts tremble at the prospect of dangers of which others have no apprehension ; and they see an absolute necessity of escaping from a situation in which others live most securely : for true faith - secs things that are invisible.” In one way or other, therefore, they soon manifest the earnestness of their minds, in inquiring “what they must do to be saved ?" The circumstances of these humiliating convictions exceedingly vary, but the life of faith and grace always begins with them; and they who are wholly strangers to this experience are Christians only in name and form:
“ He knows no hope who never knew a fear." Cowper.
* Heb. xi. 8, 24-27.
His Family's behaviour to him.
was as troublesome to him as the day ; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears.
So when the morning was come, they would know how he did ; and he told them worse
l and worse. He also set to talking to them again, but they began to be hardened : they also thought to drive away his dis. temper by harsh and surly carriage to him : sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him. Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber, to pray for and pity them: and also to condole his own misery. He would also walk solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and sometimes praying ; and thus for some days he spent his time, (c)
Now I saw, upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly
(c) The contempt or indignation, which worldly people express towards those who are distressed in conscience, commonly induces them to conceal their inquietude as long as they can, even from their relatives; but this soon becomes impracticable. Natural affection also, connected with a view of the extreme danger to which a man sees the objects of his most tender attachments exposed, but of which they have no apprehensions, will extort earnest representations, warnings, and entreaties. The city of Destruction, (as it is afterward called) signifies this present evil workel as doomed to the flames; or the condition of careless sinners immersed , in secular pursuits and pleasures, neglecting eternal things, and exposed to the unquenchable fire of hell," at the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” They who are ignorant of the Scriptures, and unaccustomed to compare their own conduct with the divine law, will be amazed at such discourse; and, instead of duly regarding the warnings given them, will commonly ascribe them to enthusiasm or insanity: and, as prophets, apostles, and the Son of God himself, were looked upon as visionaries or beside themselves by their cotemporaries; we may be sure that no prudence, excellence, or benevolence, can exempt the consistent believer from the same trial. Near relations will generally be the first to form this opinion of his case ; and will devise various expedients to quiet his mind : diversions, company, feastings, absence from serious friends or books, will be prescribed; and by these ineans a false peace often succeeds a transient alarm. But when any one has received a genuine humiliating discovery of the evil and desert of sin, such expedients will not allevi. ate but increase the anguish ; and will be followed by still greater earnestness about his own salvation, and that of others. This commonly strengthens prejudice, and induces obduracy: and contemptuous pity gives place to resentment, ill usage, derision, or neglect. The diconsolate believer is then driven into retirement, and endeavours to relieve his burdened mind by reading the Scriptures, and meditating on his doleful case, with compassionate prayers for his despisers : and thus he sows in tears that seed, from which the harvest of his future joy will surely be produced.