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candid and tolerant spirit towards those who preferred to use it. “Let them use it, if they choose,' said he, “we would not keep them from it; only, for our part, we can pray to God without it; and all we ask is the liberty of so praying and preaching.” Could any thing be more fair, equitable or generous than this? The same we say now to those who assert, that we cannot worship God aright without episcopacy, confirmation and a liturgy, and who arrogantly say that without these things we are not. of the true church, and are neither ministers nor flocks of Jesus Christ; we say to those who are guilty of such unchristian conduct, Use you your liturgy, and love it as much as you please, and we will agree with you, that for those who choose a liturgy, it is, with some great faults, an admirable composition ; but, dare not to impose it upon us ; be not guilty of the great intolerance and wickedness of unchurching and anathematizing others, because they do not use a liturgy nor hold to episcopacy; stand not by yourselves and say, I am holier than thou by the apostolical succession, and episcopacy, and the liturgy! Above all, if you do these things, expect to be met with severity and indignation, and accuse no man of bitterness, who defends, or because he defends the church and the ministry of Christ from your unrighteous assumptions.
Bunyan's chief reason for not using the Common Prayer Book was, that it is not commanded in the scriptures. .“ Show me,
“ Show me," said he, “the place in the epistles, where the Common Prayer Book is written, or one text of scripture that commands
me to read it, and I will use it. But yet, notwithstanding, said he, they that have a mind to use it, they have their liberty ; that is, I would not keep it from them, or them from it; but for our parts, we can pray to God without it. Blessed be his name.
With that one of them said, Who is your God, Beelzebub ? Moreover they often said that I was possessed with the spirit of delusion and of the devil. All which sayings I passed over, the Lord forgive them! And further, I said, Blessed be the Lord for it, we are encouraged to meet together, and to pray, and exhort one another: for we have had the comfortable presence of God among us, forever blessed be his holy name.
Justice Keelin called this pedler's French, saying that I must leave off my canting. The Lord open his eyes. .
Bun. I said that we ought to exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day.
Keel. Justice Keelin said that I ought not to preach ; and asked me where I had my authority ?
Bun. I said that I would prove that it was lawful for me, and such as I am, to preach the word of God.
Keel. He said unto me, By what scripture ?
Bun. I said, By that in the first epistle of Peter, the fourth chapter, the eleventh verse; and Acts the eighteenth, with other scriptures, which he would not suffer me to mention. But hold, said he, not so many; which is the first?
Bun. I said this : “As every man hath received the gift, so let him minister the same one to ano
ther, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." Keel. He said, Let me a little
that scripture to you. As every man hath received the gift; that is, said he, as every man hath received a trade, so let him follow it. If any man hath received a gift of tinkering, as thou hast done, let him follow his tinkering ; and so other men their trades, and the divine his calling, &c.
Bun. Nay, sir, said I, but it is most clear that the apostle speaks here of preaching the word ; if
you do but compare both the verses together, the next verse explains this gift, what it is ; saying, “ If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;" so that it is plain that the Holy Ghost doth not, in this place, so much exhort to civil callings, as to the exercising of those gifts that we have received from God. I would have gone on, but he would not give me leave.
Keel. He said, we might do it in our families, but not otherwise.
Bun. I said, if it was lawful to do good to some, it was lawful to do good to more. a good duty to exhort our families, it is good to exhort others; but if they hold it a sin to meet together to seek the face of God, and exhort one another to follow Christ, I should sin still, for so we should do.
Keel. Then you confess the indictment, do you not?
Bun. This I confess, we have had many meetings together, both to pray to God, and to exhort
If it was
one another, and that we had the sweet comforting presence of the Lord among us, for our encouragement, blessed be his name therefor. I confess myself guilty no otherwise.
Keel. Then, said he, hear your judgment. You must be had back again to prison, and there lie for three months following; and at three months' end, if you do not submit to go to church to hear divine service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished the realm ; and if, after such a day as shall be appointed you to be gone, you shall be found in this realm, or be found to come over again without special license from the king, you must stretch by the neck for it, I tell you plainly. And so he bid my jailer have me away.
Bun. I told him, as to this matter I was at a point with him ; for if I was out of prison to-day, I would preach the gospel again to morrow, by the help of God.
Thus ended the examination and commitment of John Bunyan. This answer of his is equal in nobleness to any thing recorded of Luther. IF I WAS OUT OF THE PRISON TO-DAY, I WOULD PREACH THE GOSPEL AGAIN TO-MORROW, BY THE HELP OF God. There was neither obstinacy nor vain-glory in it, but a calm, steadfast determination to obey God rather than man. Bunyan had good examples for his steadfastness and courage. The scene reminds us more than almost anything else, of certain events in the Acts of the Apostles. What shall we do to these inen, said the Jewish rulers. That it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they
speak henceforth to no man in this name.
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. And again they spake; and again they were thrust into prison; and again they spake; and again the council and high priest charged them, Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? So they beat the apostles, and commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And what next? Why, just this : And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach, and to preach Jesus Christ.
In all these trying and vexing examinations, Bunyan appears to the greatest advantage, both as a man and a Christian. If he sometimes answered a fool according to his folly, it was never with railing or bitterness ; and with all his prejudices against the Common Prayer Book, he has not one word to say against those who choose it, or conscientiously use it, or against their religion. And now, to those who may think it strange that so strong a prejudice should have prevailed against that book, so that men would rather go to prison than use it, we would simply say, What think you would be your feelings in regard to the Presbyterian Book of Discipline, if you were compelled by law to use it, and abide by it, or else have no religion at all ? If the strong grasp of civil and ecclesiastical