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to them. Indeed, it was even before his release from prison that he was chosen by that church, and ordained their pastor, in the year 1671, and that notwithstanding the revival and re-enactment of the barbarous conventicle act in 1670. This act was the means of a severe persecution of the members of Bunyan's church, from which he himself escaped, only because he was already a prisoner, as he had been for near twelve years. In this there was at least a verification of Bunyan's own poetry in the Pilgrim's Progress :
He that is down needs fear no fall.
How he escaped afterwards, or how, without the slightest relinquishments of his principles, he should have been let out of prison, is almost inexplicable; only it was the good providence of God. He was thrown into prison as a preacher, and as a preacher he came out, in the full spirit of his first declaration, that if he were out of prison to-day, he would preach the gospel to-morrow, by the help of God.
He continued for the rest of his life, writing, preaching, visiting, in Bedford and the region round about, often visiting London, and preaching there; preaching with such divine unction and power, that Owen, who heard him, made answer to Charles II., when the king ridiculed him for hearing an illiterate tinker prate, “Please your majesty, could I possess that tinker's abilities for preaching, I would most gladly relinquish all my learning.” With all the graet learning of Owen, it would have been a good exchange, and the speech was in the highest degree creditable to that great
and good man, and an admirable reproof to the king; for Bunyan's preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power; and his own account of his own exercises in preaching, with the wrestling and yearning of his soul for the conversion of men, shows something of the deep secret of that power. He preached in prison as well as out of it; and one of his biographers, who visited him while there, just after the prison was crowded with more than three score dissenters newly taken, relates, “ that in the midst of all that hurry, which so many new comers occasioned, he had heard Mr. Bunyan both preach and pray with that mighty spirit of faith, and plethory of divine assistance, that had made him stand and wonder.” That is a graphic expression, that plethory of divine assistance.
Bunyan is said to have clearly foreseen the designs of King James in favor of popery, and "advised the brethren to avail themselves of the sunshine by diligent endeavors to spread the gospel, and to prepare for an approaching storm by fasting and prayer.” For himself, he was always ready, but always laboring after a greater readiness. It was in the successful prosecution of a labor of love and charity that he died; having travelled to Reading to make peace between an alienated son and father. The gentle spirit of Bunyan prevailed to do away the alienation ; but for himself, returning to London on horseback through the rain, he fell sick with a mortal fever, and died at the age of 60, on the 31st day of August, 1688. On his dying bed, he acted the part of Hopeful, in crossing
the River of Death, for the Saviour was with him, and the songs of the Celestial City were ravishing his heart. The most ancient biography of Bunyan declares, that “He comforted those that wept about him, exhorting them to trust in God, and pray to him for mercy and forgiveness of their sins, telling them what a glorious exchange it would be, to leave their troubles and cares of a wretched mortality, to live with Christ forever, with peace and joy inexpressible ; expounding to them the comfortable scriptures by which they were to hope and assuredly come unto a blessed resurrection in the last day. He desired some to pray with him, and he joined with them in prayer: and his last words, after he had struggled with a languishing disease, were these, Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will, through the mediation of his blessed Son, receive me, though a sinner, where I hope we ere long shall meet to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world without end."
So holy and blessed was the life, so happy was the death, but indescribably, inconceivably glorious the immortality of John Bunyan. Farther the pen traces him not, but the eye of faith follows him, and beholds him in glory.
“I saw in my dream, that this man went in at the gate ; and lo! as he entered he was transfigured, and he had raiment put on him, that shone like gold. There were also that met him with harps and crowns, and gave unto him ; the harps to praise withal and the crowns in token of honor. Then I
heard in my dream that all the bells in the city rang again for joy; and that it was said unto him,
• ENTER THOU INTO THE JOY OF OUR LORD.' I also heard the man himself sing with a loud voice, saying, BLESSING, AND HONOR, AND GLORY, AND POWER BE UNTO HIM THAT SITTETH UPON THE THRONE AND UNTO THE LAMB FOR EVER AND EVER."
In remarking on the manner in which the truths of the Holy Scriptures come to view in the Pilgrim's Progress, and constitute its texture, it is important to remember that Bunyan was taught those truths not as a system, at second-hand, but by the Spirit of God, through his own experience, in the Word of God. His great work is as a piece of rich tapestry, in which, with the Word of God before him as his original and guide, and with all his heaven-colored materials tinged also in the deep fountain of feeling in his own converted heart, he wove into one beautiful picture the various spiritual scenery and thrilling events of his own life and journeyings as a Christian pilgrim. So, if it is all fresh and graphic from his own experience, vivid with real life and not with speculation, it is also equally fresh and graphic from the Word of God, and answering thereto as a counterpart, all that experience having been built throughout upon that Word.
that Word. We come to it with wrong criticism, therefore, if we look at it as a theological theory or system, though at the same time it is beyond measure interesting and delightful to recognize, while we read it as a book of life, the same great living elements of truth,
with which we are familiar in the Bible. The anatomy of speculation in the Pilgrim's Progress, the bones, the vertebræ, and the articulations, are, if I may so speak, the same with the anatomy of Divine Truth in the Scriptures; and hence, the beauty and perfect symmetry of the body of life formed upon them.
The purity of the stream of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing through these pages, is nowhere, in the Pilgrim's Progress, tinged or darkened with speculative error.
Much the same remark may be made in regard to that beautiful, most ingenious, and instructive work, the Holy War, in the Town of Mansoul. The theoretical system, and the practical spirit, can nowhere be separated, and both proceeded from the Word and the Spirit of God in the understanding and the heart of the writer.
Dr. Scott has said, and it is a remark sometimes quoted, that the Calvinistic system in theology has never been traced so unexceptionably as in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. This remark, though unquestionably intended in the way of praise to Bunyan, may, nevertheless, in some respects, be regarded as doing him injustice ; for he followed no man's theological system in the world; he knew almost as little, perhaps quite as little, about John Calvin, as he did about Thomas Aquinas himself. He drew his theology from the Scriptures, under the teaching of God's Spirit, and thence only, and from no man's system in the world. And in his Pilgrim's Progress he delineates the theology of the Scriptures, and of the Scriptures only, and not