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ing on of hands, anointing with oil, psalms, or any other externals, I charge every one of you respectively, as ye will give an account of it to our Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge both quick and dead at his coming, that none of you be found guilty of this great evil, which some have committed, and that through a zeal for God, yet not according to knowledge. They have erred from the law of the love of Christ, and have made a rent in the true Church, which is but one.” Mr. Ivimey, in his History of the English Baptists, says of Gifford, “His labours were apparently confined to a narrow circle; but their effects have been very widely extended, and will not pass away when time shall be no more. We allude to his having baptized and introduced to the Church the wicked Tinker of Elstow. He was doubtless the honoured Evangelist who pointed Bunyan to the Wicket-Gate, by instructing him in the knowledge of the Gospel ; by turning him from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Little did he think such a chosen vessel was sent to his house, when he opened his door to admit the poor, the depraved, and the despairing Bunyan.”
But the wickedness of the Tinker has been greatly overcharged ; and it is taking the language of self-accusation too literally, to pronounce of John Bunyan that he was at any time depraved. The worst of what he was in his worst days is to be expressed in a single word, for which we have no synonyme, the full meaning of which no circumlocution can convey, and which, though it may hardly be deemed presentable in serious composition, I shall use, as Bunyan himself (no mealy-mouthed writer) would have used it, had it in his days borne the same acceptation in which it is now universally understood ;—in that word, then, he had been a blackguard :
The very head and front of his offending
Hath this extent, no more. Such he might have been expected to be by his birth, breeding, and vocation ; scarcely indeed by possibility could he have been otherwise; but he was never a vicious man.
It has been seen, that at the first reproof he shook off, at once and for ever, the practice of profane swearing, the worst, if not the only, sin to which he was ever addicted. He must have been still a very young man when that outward reformation took place, which,
little as he afterwards valued it, and insufficient as it may have been, gave
evidence at least of right intentions under the direction of a strong will ; and throughout his subsequent struggles of mind, the force of a diseased imagination is not more manifest than the earnestness of his religious feelings and aspirations. His connexion with the Baptists was eventually most beneficial to him: had it not been for the encouragement which he received from them, he might have lived and died a tinker ; for even when he cast off, like a slough, the coarse habits of his early life, his latent powers could never, without some such encouragement and impulse, have broken through the thick ignorance with which they were incrusted.
The coarseness of that incrustation could hardly be conceived, if proofs of it were not preserved in his own hand-writing. There is no book except the Bible which he is known to have perused so intently as the Acts and Monuments of John Fox the martyrologist, one of the best of men; a work more hastily than judiciously compiled in its earlier parts, but invaluable for that greater and far more important portion which has obtained for it its popular name of the Book of Martyrs.' Bunyan's own copy of this work is in existence, * and valued of course as such a relic of such a man ought to be. In each volume he has written his name beneath the title-page in a large and stout print-hand, as on a following page.
And under some of the wood-cuts he has inserted a few rhymes, which are undoubtedly his own composition ; and which, though much in the manner of the verses that were printed under the illustrations of his own 'Pilgrim's Progress,'
* It was purchased in the year 1780 by Mr. Wontner of the Minories; from him it descended to his daughter, Mrs. Parnell of Botolph-lane ; and by her obliging permission, the verses have been transcribed and fac-similes taken from it. For this and for other kind assistance, the present edition is indebted to Mr. Richard Thomson, author of 'An Historical Essay on Magna Charta, with a general View and Explanation of the whole of the English Charters of Liberties ; —a book as beautifully and appropriately adorned as it is elaborately and learnedly compiled.
The edition of the • Acts and Monuments' is that of 1641, 3 vols. folio, the last of those in the black letter, and probably the latest when it came into Bunyan's hands. One of his signatures bears the date of 1662; but the verses must undoubtedly have been written some years earlier, before the publication of his first tract. [Since purchased by Subscription for the “ Bedfordshire General Library," where it may now be seen.]
when that work was first adorned with cuts . . (verses worthy of such embellishments), are very much worse than even the worst of those. Indeed it would not be possible to find specimens of more miserable doggerel. But as it has been proper to lay before the reader the vivid representation of Bunyan in his feverish state of enthusiasm, that the sobriety of mind into which he settled may be the better appreciated and the more admired ; so for a like reason is it fitting that it should be seen from how gross and deplorable a state of ignorance that intellect which produced the Pilgrim's Progress' worked its way. These then are the verses.
Under the print of an Owl appearing to a council held by Pope John at Rome. (Acts and Monuments,' vol. i. 781.)
Doth the owle to them apper
cast the owle unto the ground.
heare is John hus that you may see
Whear he is full field in deed to the brim.
It was the will of X. (Christ) that thou should die
O how wilt thou shien with X in the last day. Under the martyrdom of Lawrence Sanders. (Ib. vol. iii. 139.)
Mr Sanders is the next blessed man in deed
For to my dear Lord I must gooe. The autograph of his name mentioned in the preceding page is here presented, together with four other lines as they appear in his own rude hand-writing under the martyrdom of Thomas Haukes,—who having promised to his friends that he would lift his hands above his head toward heaven, before he gave up the ghost, in token to them that a man under the pain of such burning might keep his mind quiet and patient, lifted his scorched
arms, in fulfilment of that pledge, after his speech was gone, and raised them in gesture of thanksgiving triumph towards the living God.
shom jou last of all
hear is one stout and strong in deed
that are obedant to the hevenly call. There is yet one more of these Tinker's tetrasticks, penned in the margin, beside the account of Gardiner's death :
the blood the blood that he did shed
he beginnes of his misere. Vol. iii. p. 527. These curious inscriptions must have been Bunyan's first attempts in verse: he had no doubt found difficulty enough in tinkering them to make him proud of his work when it was done; for otherwise he would not have written them in a book which was the most valuable of all his goods and chattels. In latter days he seems to have taken this book for his art of poetry, and acquired from it at length the tune and the phraseology of such verses as are there inserted; with a few rare exceptions, they are of Robert Wisdom's school, and something below the pitch of Sternhold and Hopkins. But if he learnt there to make bad verses, he entered fully into the spirit of its better parts, and received that spirit into as resolute a heart as ever beat in a martyr's bosom. From the examples which he found there, and from the Scriptures which he perused with such intense devotion, he derived a rapture
--that raising him from ignorance
-And knowledge of himself. And when the year after Gifford's death a resolution was passed by the meeting, that “some of the brethren (one at a time) to whom the Lord may have given a gift, be called forth, and encouraged to speak a word in the church for mutual edification,” Bunyan was one of the persons so called upon. 66 Some,” he says, “ of the most able among the Saints with us,
the most able for judgment and holiness of life, as they conceived, did perceive that God had counted me worthy to understand something of his will in his holy and blessed Word; and had given me utterance in some measure to express what I saw to others for edification. Therefore they desired me, and that with much earnestness, that I would be willing, at some times, to take in hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation unto them. The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my spirit, yet being still by them desired and entreated, I consented to their request; and did twice, at two several assemblies (but in private), though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift amongst them; at which they