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am in it. And if I must be so dealt withal as you say, I hope God will help me to bear what they shall lay upon me.
I know no evil that I have done in this matter to be so used. I speak as in the presence of God.
Cobb. You know, saith he, that the Scripture saith, The powers that be are ordained of God.
Bun. I said yes, and that I was to submit to the king as supreme, also to the governors, as to them that are sent by him.
Cobb. Well, then, said he, the king commands you, that you
should not have any private meetings, because it is against his law; and he is ordained of God, therefore you should not have any.
How was Bunyan to get over this? “I told him," said he, “ that Paul did own the powers that were in his day to be of God; and yet he was often in prison under them for all that. And also, though Jesus Christ told Pilate that he had no power against him but of God, yet he died under the same Pilate; and yet, said I, I hope you will not say that either Paul or Christ did deny magistracy, and so sinned against God in slighting the ordinance. Sir, said I, the law hath provided two ways of obeying; the one to do that which in my conscience I do believe that I am bound to do actively, and where I cannot obey actively, then I am willing to lie down, and to suffer what they shall do unto me. At this he sat still, and said no more ; which when he had done, I did thank him for his civil and meek discoursing with me ; and so we parted. Oh, that we might meet in heaven !"
This was indeed a civil and meek discoursing in,
comparison with the impious treatment Bunyan received from the justices in a preceding examination. And so they parted. But after this, Bunyan's wife, while he lay in prison, undertook to present a petition in his behalf to the judges. Three times she made the attempt, twice to Lord Chief Justice Hale, and nothing could daunt her, but she would receive a hearing. The scene is worthy the pencil of some great painter, where, without a creature to befriend or sustain her, this young and trembling woman, unaccustomed and abashed at such presences, entered the court-room, and stood before the judges, in the midst of the crowd of justices and gentry of the country assembled. She addressed herself, with a trembling heart, directly to Lord Chief Justice Hale, who wore in his countenance so clearly, the lines of that gentleness and goodness for which he was illustrious, that the courage of the wife was somewhat supported, even amidst the frowns and wrathful words of the other justices.
My Lord, said she to Judge Hale, I make bold to come once again to your lordship, to know what may be done to my husband.
Bunyan loved to put these examinations in the form of a dialogue ; it made every thing more vivid to his mind; and in this case he wrote down the account from the lips of his courageous wife, just as the scene was evolved in the court room.
Judge Hale answered, Woman, I told thee before I could do thee no good, because they have taken that for a conviction, which thy husband spoke at the
sessions ; and unless there be something done to undo that, I can do thee no good.
Woman. My Lord, said she, he is kept unlawfully in prison; they clapped him up before there were any proclamation against the meetings; the indictment also is false; besides, they never asked him whether he was guilty or no; neither did he confess the indictment.
All this was true ; but one of the justices, whom she knew not, said, My Lord, he was lawfully convicted.
Woman. It is false, said she; for when they said to him, Do you confess the indictment ? he said only this, that he had been at several meetings, both where there was preaching of the word and prayer, and that they had God's presence among them.
Judge Twisdon. Whereat Judge Twisdon answered very angrily, saying, What, you think we can do what we list; your husband is a breaker of the peace,
, and is convicted by the law. Whereupon Judge Hale called for the statute book.
Woman. But, said she, my Lord, he was not lawfully convicted.
Chester. Then Justice Chester said, My Lord, he was lawfully convicted.
Woman. It is false, said she; it was but a word of discourse that they took for conviction, as you heard before.
Chester. But it is recorded, woman, it is recorded, says Justice Chester. As if it must of necessity be true, because it is recorded. With which words he .
mouth, having no other argument to convince her, but it is recorded, it is recorded.
Woman. My Lord, said she, I was awhile since in London, to see if I could get my husband's liberty, and there I spoke with my Lord Barkwood, one of the House of Lords, to whom I delivered a petition, who took it of me, and presented it to some of the rest of the House of Lords for my husband's releasement; who, when they had seen it, they said that they could not release him, but had committed his releasement to the judges, at the next assizes. This he told me; and now I come to you to see if any thing can be done in this business, and you give neither releasement nor relief. To which they give her no answer, but made as if they heard her not. Only Justice Chester was often up with this, He is convicted, and it is recorded.
Woman. If it be, it is false, said she.
Chester. My Lord, said Justice Chester, he is a pestilent fellow; there is not such a fellow in the country again.
Twisdon. What, will your husband leave preaching? If he will do so, then send for him.
Bunyan's wife remembered the sublime and noble answer of her husband, If I were out of the prison to-day, I would preach the Gospel again tomorrow, by the help of God. My lord, said she, he dares not leave preaching as long as he can speak.
Twisdon. See here; what should we talk any more about such a fellow ; must he do what he lists? He is a breaker of the peace.
Woman. She told him again that he desired to live peacably, and to follow his calling, that his
family might be maintained ; and moreover, my Lord, I have four small children that cannot help themselves, of which one is blind, and have nothing to live upon but the charity of good people. This, with some other affecting distresses which she told, troubled Judge Hale. Alas, poor woman! said he.
Twisdon. But Judge Twisdon told her that she made poverty her cloak ; and said, moreover, that he understood I was maintained better by running up and down in preaching, than by following my calling.
Hale. What is his calling, said Judge Hale.
Answer. Then some of the company that stood by said, A tinker, my lord.
Woman. Yes, said she, and because he is a tinker, and a poor man, therefore he is despised, and cannot have justice.
Hale. Then Judge Hale answered very mildly, saying, I tell thee, woman, seeing it is so, that they have taken what thy husband spake for a conviction, thou must either apply thyself to the king, or sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error.
Chester. But when Justice Chester heard him give her this counsel, and especially as she supposed, because he spoke of a writ of error, he chafed, and seemed to be very much offended, saying, My lord, he will preach and do what he lists.
Woman. He preacheth nothing but the word of God, said she.
Twisdon. He preach the word of God! said Twisdon, (and withal she thought he would have struck her, he runneth up and down, and doth harm.