« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
satırized. Our grandfathers knew the picture from the life: we judge of the life by contemplating the picture."
That Dr. Samuel Johnson, holding men up to contempt for the crimes of “ sour solemnity, sullen superstition, and gloomy moroseness," should thus draw a full length portrait of himself, is highly diverting, and may serve, in the absence of Hudribras, to transport with humour and merriment the most gloomy reader of the nineteenth century.
In the allegorical personages described in this work there are, it is acknowledged, several characters in which, at some periods of their life, strong features of dejection and even melancholy appear; • but, in general, these pilgrims exhibit the manner of persons” which christians “onght to be;" they are seriously cheerful, and cheerfully serious. And such were the habitual dispositions of the nonconformists, whom Butler satirized and Johnson defamed.
The influence of prejudice in perverting the judg ment, and in calling into exercise some of the meanest passions of the human mind, is also discoverable in the excellent commentaries of the celebrated Judge Blackstone, who, in a work of liberal and constitutional principles, dipped his pen in gall, whilst describing the character of Protestant Dissenters. Speaking of what he calls “the sin of schism," (by which he means the transgression of hunuan, and not of divine laws.) lie traces it to the following
“ If” says he, “ through weakness of intel
lect, through inisdirected piety, through perverseness and acerbity of temper, or, which is often the case, though a prospect of secular advantage in herding with a party, men quarrel with the ecclesiastical establishment,” &c.
Had this eminent writer contented himself with calling the opinions of Protestant Dissenters “ridiculous and absurd,” he would only have expressed bis own opinion of those things which they consider to be matters of conscience, and for which they are not amenable to any human tribunal. But when he impugns their inotives, and charges them with being influenced by pride or covetousness, he assumes a station which no creature is qualified to occupy; and it is enough for them to answer, “ Our witness is in heaven, and our record is on high.” Had not the eyes of this truly great man been blinded by prejudice, (for surely he could not be unacquainted with the history of the nonconformists,) he would not have applied such contemptuous and degrading epithets to men like Baxter and Calamy, who refused bishopricks; or to Owen, Bates, Manton, Howe, and thousands besides, who surrendered prospects of secular advantage, and preferred to be driven into obscurity, to the violating of their consciences by accepting livings in the ec clesiastical establishment, the regulations of which they could not approve. Nor will such charges be thought applicable even to the despised tinker of Bedford, unless by those who think he suffered imprisonment for upwards of twelve years from the contemptible vanity of “ herding with a party," or
the mean gratification of “ quarrelling with the ecclesiastical establishment."
In opposition to the opinion of Judge Blackstone may be placed that of the great Earl of Chatham, who, in the House of Lords in 1772, when Dr. Drummond, Archbishop of York, had charged the dissenting ministers with being men of “ close ambition, thus replied :—“ This is judging uncharitably; and whosoever brings such a charge without proof defames." Here the noble statesmen paused for a moment, and then proceeded. “ The dissenting ministers are represented as men of close ambition.
- They are so, my Lords; and their ambition is, to keep close to the college of fishermen, not of cardinals; and to the doctrine of inspired apostles, not to the decrees of interested and aspiring bishops. They contend for a scriptural creed, and spiritual worship. We have a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy. The Reformation has laid open the scriptures to all: let not the bishops shut them again. Laws in support of ecclesiastical power are pleaded for, which it would shock humanity to execute. It is said that religious sects have done great mischief where they were not kept under restraint; but history affords no proof that sects have ever been mischievous when they were not oppressed and persecuted by the ruling church.”
In preparing this edition, the editor has been assisted by his friend Mr. John Satchell, who undertook to correct the manuscript notes; to collate different editions of the work, into which almost innumerable errors have crept through the carelessness
of printers, and the cheap form in which it nas been usually published; and, in a few instances, to soften those indelicacies of expression, which the more po lished taste of the present age could not without pain endure. These alterations might have been more numerous; but it was thought, that nothing short of the most manifest necessity would justify them.
The Editor's being of the same religious denomination with Mr. Bunyan may serve as a reason, in addition to that already assigned, for his undertaking this work; since similarity of sentiment sometimes enables a person better to understand an Author, and may lead him to explain those things which other commentators do not notice. He also presumes, that the making of Mr. Bunyan in many instances his own expositor, has sometimes furnished the key to the allegory. The pleasure which he has enjoyed whilst writing these notes he cannot express : it will however, be always considered by him as an abundant compensation for his labour. He now commits the whole to the blessing of him who is Head over all things to the church, and who is able to make it a means of edifying the body of Christ, humbly praying that it may be rendered useful in aiding the “ progress” of many “ pilgrims” from the “ city of Destruction to the “heavenly Jerusalem."
Londor, HARPUR STREET,
May 2, 1825.
• The Reader is requested to observe, that Mr. Bunyan's Notes aje di tinguished front the Editor's by their being printed in italics,