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the Bible, were within his reach; but he was led to study that Book of books with a zeal and carefulness, and even intensity of desire to know its blessed contents, which gave him that admirable facility in its use and application that so strikingly characterizes his writings. Doubtless, if he had lived in our day, he would have laid aside his tools, and gladly availed himself of the advantages of theological instruction, which education societies and individual munificence have so much facilitated. But, in the absence of all these, what a rebuke does his example administer to those who affect to be teachers, though they are unwilling to learn! A quickening impulse, a cheering ray of encouragement, may be derived from the example of Bunyan, by every young brother who, in poverty and depressing ignorance, is panting for the privilege of preaching Christ to the perishing. Think of him, surrounded with a family dependent on his daily toil, so illiterate when first awakened, as to read with great difficulty, and finding no generous patrons, no pecuniary aid from those around him, but left to grapple with all these difficulties single handed; and then look at the result of his patient, persevering endeavors after a knowledge of the things of God. If this view does not constrain the timid and distrustful to cast their fears to the winds, and, with courage, pursue their path, it shows they have a degree of mental imbecility, unworthy of alliance with the ministry of the gospel. We by no means suppose that every ignorant man, who loves Christ and desires to serve his cause effectually, should attempt to preach. Nor do we think that every young preacher, whether rich or poor, learned or ignorant, may reasonably hope to equal the pastor of Bedford. Genius like his is by no means an ordinary endowment. But we have no doubt that hundreds might approximate, very much nearer than they do, to his ministerial excellence, if they would, as faithfully as he did, employ the mind which God has given them, in the persevering and vigorous study of his holy word.
The case of Bunyan, though very strikingly illustrative of the point here insisted on, is by no means singular. The history of our denomination, in this, as well as in the parent country, abounds with shining examples of what men may become by self-culture. The mischief has often, in such cases, been, that these examples have been wrongfully construed into an argument against learning, instead of impelling those who should profit by them to imitate these successful, though unaided, efforts, to secure knowledge. This topic demands an ampler consideration than can here be given to it.
THE PERSECUTIONS OF BUNYAN. Bunyan next claims our notice as the subject of persecution. The times when he began to preach, were unsettled; and, during the latter years of the Protectorate of Cromwell, though direct interference with the rights of conscience was not allowed by the head of the government, yet some of its subordinate instruments found means to vex, and threaten, and intimidate. The Baptists came in for a very large share of their opposition. As they had stood aloof,—so may they ever stand !from religious combinations for secular purposes, it was their hard fortune to be oppressed by each of those parties successively which temporarily gained the ascendency. They had been persecuted by the established church, persecuted by the Independents,—and they now were suffering from the Presbyterians. In this, Bunyan was likely to have his full share: and it accordingly appears, that as early as 1657, an indictment was preferred against him, and the church, at their last monthly meeting in that year, resolved to set apart a day for seeking counsel of God what they should do in the matter. His indictment was for preaching at Eaton. The action against him seems for some reason to have been abandoned.
But soon after the restoration of Charles II, namely, in Nov., 1660, as he was about to preach in a small hamlet called Samsell, in Bedfordshire, when he was actually engaged in prayer, before the intended sermon, he was arrested and carried before a magistrate. His examination on this occasion, which has been preserved, shows the perfect blamelessness of his life, and that his adversaries had no evil thing to say of him. They succeeded, however, in committing him to prison, because he would not consent to desist from “instructing the people, counselling them to forsake their sins, and close in with Christ, lest they miserably perish." His imprisonment in Bedford jail lasted more than twelve years; though
for a part of this time, by the favor which the Lord gave him in the eyes of his keeper, he was shown great indulgence, being permitted to visit the meetings of the church, and sometimes even to go to London. His various examinations, and trials,-if such a miserable farce as was then enacted by little and bigoted magistrates and judges can be called trials,—would fill more pages than can be allowed to our whole article; and yet they are very instructive, throwing not a little light upon the spirit of those times, and the degraded and corrupt character of those who professed themselves the king's ministers of justice. They were fit instruments for such a monarch. One delightful exception to this censure is seen in the person of Sir Matthew Hale, whose kindness to Bunyan's wife, when her husband was in prison, and she was seeking redress for the wrongs heaped on him under the guise of law, is as commendable as it was rare. The nobleness of her bearing and the pathos of her appeal, on this occasion, shows that she was no unworthy successor of Bunyan's first wife, and that she had imbibed a large portion of his spirit.
Bunyan was no stoic; and though he endured, with more than Roman firmness, the threats of banishment and hanging, which the minions of an execrable tyranny poured upon him so profusely, yet there were times when human nature quivered and yearned; when the whole soul of the sufferer seemed melted, and poured itself out, not only before God in prayer, but also, in the written record which he has left of those moments of anguish. Take these few lines as a specimen :
“But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man encom-' passed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place, as the pulling the flesh from the bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also, because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all beside. 'O! the thoughts of the hardship I thought my poor blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces. Poor child! thought I, wbat sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world? Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet recalling myself, thought VOL. IV.-NO. XV.
I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. 0! I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it; and now I thought on ihose tuo milch kine that were to carry the ark of God into another country, and to leave their calves behind them."
The man who suffered thus for the cause of truth and righteousness, deserves to be had in lasting remembrance : and it is some small consolation, to find here and there one of those allied to that once persecuting church, at whose hands Bunyan suffered so much injustice and foul oppression, who have now sensibility to feel, and justice to admit, and eloquence to describe, that wrong in its true colors. The following specimen will not be thought too long:
“ Look into that damp and dreary cell, through the narrow chink which admits a few scanty rays of light, to render visible to the wretched his abode of wo. Behold, by the glimmering of that feeble lamp, a prisoner, pale and emaciated, seated on the humid earth, and pursuing his daily task, to earn the morsel which prolongs his existence and confinement together. Near him, reclined in pensive sadness, lies a blind daughter, compelled to eat the bread of affliction from the hard earning of an imprisoned father! Paternal affection binds her to bis heart, and filial gratitude has long made her the daily companion of his captivity. No other solace remains to him save the mournful one arising from the occasional visits of five other distressed children, and an affectionate wife, whom pincbiug want aud grief have worn down to the gate of deaih. More than ten summers' suns have rolled over the stone-rooted mansion of his misery, whose reviving rays have never once penetrated bis sad abode. Seasons return, but not to leim returns the cheering light of day, the smiling bloom of sprivg, or sound of human joy! Unfortunate captive? What is his guilt, wbat his crimes? Is he a traitor or a parricide? A lewd adulterer or a vile incendiary? No, he is a Christian sufferer! Under all his calamities peace reigns in his breast, heavenly hope glistens in his eyes, and patience sits throned on his pallid cheek. He is none other than honest John Bunyan, languishing through the twelfth year of bis iniprisonment in Bedford jail, for teaching plain country people the knowledge of the Scriptures and the practice of virtue! It requires the energy of Fox, the eloquence of Burke, and ibe pathos of Sheridan, to paint the effect of such a scene on the feelings of humanity. My feeble pen drops from the task, and leaves sensibility to endure those sensations of compassion and sorrow, which it fails to describe.”—Parry's Pamphlets on Tests.
How unlike is this to the flimsy and uncandid attempts of Southey and others to palliate, and almost justify, the
despotic deeds of that persecuting church, whose union with the state has so often proved the bane, the curse of boih! Will not every true friend of civil and religious liherty rejoice in those movements of the present day, which foretoken the speedy dissolution of that unhallowed union ?
If it be asked, why did Bunyan adhere so tenaciously to those abstract rights which his enemies had the power of preventing him from exercising; and, why it would not have been wiser and more prudent to yield to power when he was contending for right; rather than, by adherence to the latter, to incur the smarting inflictions of the former, the answer, which he himself gave, is most conclusive and satisfactory. In one of his examinations, he quotes this weighty saying from Wickliffe, that dawning light of the reformation : "He which leaveth off preaching and hearing of the word of God, for fear of excommunication of men, he is already excommunicated of God, and shall in the day of judgment be counted a traitor to Christ.” Besides this, he felt the dignity and sacredness of his position, as one of the first subjects of persecution in that period of fiery trials; and he was anxious that his example should be adapted to the exigency. His own reflection at the very time of his first arrest, when some of the timid friends were half inclined to urge him to escape, will best explain his motives :
“I had shewed myself hearty and courageous in my preaching, and had, blessed be grace, made it my business to encourage others; therefore, thought I, if I should now run and make an escape, it will be of a very ill savor in the country. For what will my weak and newly converted brethren think of it, but that I was not so strong in deed as I was in word? Also, I feared that if I should run now there was a warrant out for me, I might, by so doing, make them afraid to stand, when great words only should be spoken to them. Besides, I thought, that seeing God, of his mercy should choose me to go upon the forlorn hope in this country; that is, to be the first that should be opposed, for the gospel ; if I should Ay, it might be a discouragement to the whole body that might follow after. And further I thought, the world thereby would take occasion at my cowardliness to have blasphemed the gospel, and to have had some ground to suspect worse of me and my profession than I deserved.”
Indeed, no Bible Christians can wonder,—though many follow his steps but poorly,--that one so familiar as he