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was with the example and spirit of the early Christians, into whose very nature seemed to be in wrought the noble determination of Peter and his associates, to obey God rather than man at any hazard; and of Paul, who was ready, not only to be bound, but, also, to die for the name of the Lord Jesus,—that such an one should nobly choose to be a suffering witness for the truth, rather than compromise its dignity or evade its claims.
The effect of these persecutions upon Bunyan was eminently salutary; and besides the incidental benefit of this discipline upon his own spirit, the insight which he gained of human nature, in all its varying manifestations, admirably qualified him to develop it, as he has done, in his incomparable allegories. His Pilgrim's Progress was composed, as well as conceived, in Bedford jail; and it has been no less truly than quaintly said, that the devil made a great mistake for the interests of his kingdom, when he contrived to shut up the pilgrim in a den, and thus gave him ample opportunity to write his dreams. He cut him off from the opportunity of visiting a few poor villages and preaching in some retired corners of the land; and thus, indirectly made him the favorite and useful instructer of millions of his fellow-men in every language in which Christ is named.
Thus illustriously did God make the wrath of man to praise him, showing how easy it is for him, whose kingdom is over all, to derive tribute from his enemies.
Bunyan was finally released from prison in 1672 or '73, but not, we are constrained to believe, by any friendly interposition of Bishop Barlow in his behalf, as has generally been supposed. We think Mr. Ivimey conclusively settles this question against the claims of any episcopal leniency.
Bunyan's Writings. The memorials which remain to us of Bunyan's talents, both as a preacher and an author, are sufficiently extensive, to enable us to form a correct judgment of his talents and acquisitions. No one has ever claimed for him the honor of having become a learned man : but that distinction which is not less enviable is surely his,—the undoubted power over minds of all orders and of every age. Mr. Philip, in the last chapter of his book, has gathered
up from every quarter specimens of the superabundant praises which have been lavished on the “genius of Bunyan.” If he has not been equally successful in his attempt to analyze his mind and his writings, the failure should not be attributed to the want of an earnest effort, but, in part, to the intrinsic difficulty of the subject, and perhaps, equally, to the ill-adaptedness of his own powers to the successful accomplishment of such a purpose. He thus warmly but not extravagantly testifies :
“ The world and the church have done justice, long ago, to the genius of Bunyan. He has obtained already, all the heart-homage which can be paid to an author, and stands in no need either of a vindicator or an eulogist. The monument of his fame has not been built with hands; but, like the typic stone of Daniel, it has become a great mountain,' by natural and unaided growth. For, with the exception of Cowper, no one has formally aided the triumph of Bunyan. He has bad commentators, indeed ; so have the Cartoons of Raphael ; but both had gained the applause of the world before their beauties were pointed out by a critical wand:- like the sun, they revealed themselves by their own light, and reached their meridian tabernacle by horses' of their own fire.'-It would be worse than foolish to say, that critics do not think Bunyan worth analyzing: perhaps they do not; but the world think him worth reading and quoting; and he has gained, without assistance, both the kind and the degree of homage, which it is the object of criticism to exact for the poets. If it be true fame to find his work in every cottage window,' Bunyan has it:-his Pilgrim's Progress is an heir-loom in every family who read any thing.
“ The grand, distinguishing characteristic between Bunyan and every other writer is, that almost all his admirers were made so wbilst but children, -no other genius, as yet, has had this fascination,
-no other work beside the Pilgrim this fame. The works which have immortalized others are, without exception, such as childhood can neither relish nor comprehend. Their chief merit is, that they amply gratify the maturity of intellect required to grasp them; that they come up to, and exceed, the expectations of cultivated and expanded minds; that they fill the arms of ambition to the utmost. But, whilst 'they have depths for the elephant to swim in,' they have ‘no shallows in wbich the lamb can wade;' whereas, the Pilgrim is 80 constructed as not only to interest minds of every age and order, but the very things, which are milk for babes,' are actually strong meat,' to the same persons when they become men. What is admired as history in childhood, is admired as a mystery in youth; what is admired as ingenuity in manhood, is loved as experience in old age. The successive phases of our minds are to the materials of the Pilgrim what the reflectors of the kaleidoscope are to the motley cabinet of atoms,-every revolution varies the figure, but none exhausts our curiosity; the Jast view is as fascinating as the first. The eye of childhood, and of old age, is equally dazzled and delighted by the same objects. The annals of literature furnish no parallel to this fact. The books which please us in childhood are in general childish things,' which we put away' when we becoine men; or, if we ever recur to them in aster life, it is to wonder at the trifles which interested us in early life. Even Watts's Divine Songs, although they do not sink in our estimation as we advance in years, do pot rise in it, upon our own account. In regard to our own improvement, they are thrown aside, in common with real trifles, or brought into notice only for the sake of children. We expect to learn nothing from them by continued study. How different froin all this is the growing interest we feel in Bunyan's Pilgrim! In childhood, we sit, as it were on Christian's knee, listening to the tale of his
By flood and field.' In youth we join hiin upon his perilous journey, to obtain directions for our own intended pilgrimage in the narrow way. Before manhood is matured, we know experimentally that the Slough of Despond and Doubting Castle are no fictions. And, even in old age, Christians are more than ever convinced of the heights, and depths, and breadths, and lengths of Bunyan's spiritual wisdom. The faltering tongue of decrepitude utiers, as sage maxims, the very things it bad lisped as ainusing narrative; and we gravely utter, as counsel to the young, what we prattled, as curious, to our parents.”
A characteristic anecdote has been preserved of Dr. Johnson, who appears to have been an ardent and discriminating admirer of Bunyan's writings. He called Bishop Percy's little daughter to him one day, and taking her upon his knee, asked her how she liked the Pilgrim's Progress. She said she had not read it. “No!” said the Doctor, “then I would not give one farthing for you." He set her down and took no further notice of her. This may, indeed, have been most unjust toward the little pet, whose misfortune of being cradled in a Bishop's palace fully accounts for her never having heard of the persecuted tinker or his book; but it is not unjust toward the claims of that volume which philosophers and children unite in eulogizing.
Some of the enduring elements of excellence which Bunyan's writings evince, seem to us the following: their harmony with divine truth, not as exhibited in naked, abstract dogmatism, but in fresh and breathing impersonation; their uncommon combination of the power of generalization and of individuality, embracing, of course, some of the most perfect exercises of the imagination; and the uncommon excellence of their pure Saxon vocabulary. Had he been less strictly conformed to evangelical senti. ments, and the full scope of the doctrines of grace, he would have lacked the first of these elements; had his opportunity and ability to study men been less, he would have lacked the second; had he enjoyed early access to the ample stores of the learned languages, he would almost of necessity have been without so large a degree of the last. Besides all these, his soul was on fire with love to the Saviour and compassion for souls, and he kept the torch burning brilliantly, by a sufficiently rapid motion. Such impassioned eloquence as he often pours forth would never come from a mere closet writer. As with Baxter and Payson, his words were the kindlings of emotion actually begotten by the sight of congregations pressing upon him to hear the word, and listening with almost breathless interest and awe to the warnings and promises, the terror and the love which he was commissioned to proclaim to them. Many of his best and most useful writings, aside from his allegories, consist of the substance of sermons which he had preached, written out by him after they had been delivered. Let this be borne in mind, and then the description here given of his exercises in preaching will greatly assist us in reaching the true sources of his success in writing:
“When I have been preaching, I thank God, my heart hath often all the time of this and the other exercise, with great earnestness, cried to God that he would make the word effectual to the salvation of the soul; still being grieved Jest the enemy should take the word away from the conscience, and so it should become unfruitful: Wherefore I did labor to speak the word, as that thereby, if it were possible, the sin and person guilty might be particularized by it.
“ And when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart to think the word should now fall as rain on stony places; still wishing from my heart, O! that they who have heard me speak this day, did but see, as I do, what sin, death, hell, and the curse of God is; and, also, what the grace, and love, and mercy of God is through Christ to men, in such a case as they are, who are yet estranged from him. And, indeed, I did often say in my heart before the Lord, “That if to be hanged up presently before their eyes would be a means to awaken them, and confirm them in the truth, I gladly should be contented.
“For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ without works, as if an angel of God had stood at my back to encourage me; 0! it hath been with such power and heavenly evidence upon my own soul, while I have been laboring to uufold it, to demonstrate it, and to fasten it
upon the consciences of others; that I could not be contented with saying, 'I believe, and am sure;' methought I was more than sure (if it be lawful so to express myself), that those things which I then asserted were true.
“It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions, if they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ and the worth of their own salvation, sound conviction for sin, especially upbelief, and an heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathings after a truly sanctified soul: that it was that delighted me: those were the souls I counted blessed.”
We have adverted above to the correctness of his religious views. The doctrines which he taught have the direct tendency to humble the sinner, to exalt the Saviour, and to promote holiness. Mr. Ivimey justly remarks, his religious opinions were equally distant from Antinomianism and Arminianism; the two thieves, as the late Mr. Booth used to say, between which the pure gospel was crucified. All his writings prove that he believed the absolute necessity of the omnipotent energies of the Holy Spirit, to renew the heart of every fallen son of Adam; yet, he says nothing that would lead a sinner to conclude that his depravity was not his crime but rather his misfortune, as some have seemed to intimate. He faithfully charges sinners with their guilt, and warns them of their danger: and persuades, entreats, and exhorts them with much meekness, and great earnestness, to seek unto God for the pardon of all their sins, in the name of Jesus Christ; declaring, according to the promise, that all that seek shall find. He seems to have thought that the invitations of the gospel were indefinite and general: and that the promises were definite and particular; that the former were addressed to all sinners, without distinction; and that the latter related only to believers. In these views, his Baptist brethren will very generally coincide.
The church of which he was first admitted a member, and to which he subsequently ministered, was founded by good Mr. Gifford, toward whom he had so many reasons for feeling profound veneration and love; and the principle on which it was constituted will seem to many of our readers a strange departure from gospel order. The fundamental agreement in that church was, that a profession of faith and holy life, were the only conditions of membership. The ordinance of baptism was, therefore,