« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
of the Calvinistic system, nor of any other system, with any human name attached to it. If any man's name could with any justice be connected with Bunyan's system, it would perhaps more probably be that of Luther than Calvin, either of them being great and venerable ; for Luther's Commentaries on Galatians had gone into Bunyan's soul like fire, whereas, we are not aware that he ever read a page of Calvin in the world. No! It was one of God's providential disciplinary preparatives for him, that he might write the Pilgrim's Progress, that he was kept from the shackles of any human system. You cannot tell, from the perusal of that work, that Bunyan was of any religious persuasion, save that he was a living member of the church of Christ.
And this is one of its supremest merits. It belongs to no sect. It is Christianity, pure Christianity, and not churchism. You cannot say, from the perusal of that work, whether its author were a Presbyterian, or a Baptist, or a Congregationalist, or a Methodist, or an Episcopalian, or a Calvinist, or a Lutheran; only that he did not mean, in drawing his own portrait of a true Christian, that he should belong to any of these parties exclusively; or, if there were any one of these that
approached nearest to the Bible, in its comprehensive Christ-like, gentle, and forbearing spirit, it should be that. The portraiture was a compound of what was excellent in them all ; for what was truly excellent they all drew from the Bible, and the Pilgrim's Progress was drawn from the Bible, and from no sect, from nothing at second-hand. There
is no ite, nor ian, nor ist, that you dare put to Christian's name;
no lisping, halting Shibboleth of a party; for he came from the mint of the Holy Scriptures, where no party names disgrace the glory of Christianity ; where men are neither of Paul, nor Apollos, nor Cephas, but of Christ; and so, blessed be God, under his guidance Bunyan made Christian no Church-man, but Christ'sman. That is good, that is noble! as great a proof, almost, of the excellence of Bunyan's book, as it is of the divine origin of Christianity that to the poor the Gospel is preached.
And now, in very truth, if Dr. Scott, or any other man of like candour, finds in this book, which is drawn only from the Bible, the pure outlines of the Calvinistic system, then, so far, there is a presumption in favor of the Calvinistic system; and it is a compliment which Dr. Scott pays to that system, when he says it is to be found in a book, which is taken directly from the Bible. But in very truth, you can no more say of the Pilgrim's Progress, that it is the Calvinistic system, than you could say of Raphael's great picture of the Transfiguration, that it was copied from Washington Allston. You may say both of Bunyan and of Calvin that they were children of God, and drank at the fountain of the Holy Sriptures, and were fed and nourished by God's Word; and that so far as their systems resemble each other, it is proof of their likeness to their divine original ; but that either copied or contains the other, you cannot say. Just as you might say of both Raphael and Allston, that their genius was a gift from God; one far superior to
the other, indeed, but neither an imitator, both original, both from God.
There has been in this world too much of the imitation of great names and great authorities in theology, and too little of exclusive adherence to the Bible ; too much human numenclature, and too little divine baptism. A Christian man may say, and ought to say, I would not give much for any compliment to my theology, nor thank you for any description of it, that likens it, and much less that links it, to Calvin's, or Luther's or Archbishop Usher's, excellent though they all be; and much less to any man's system or authority nearer to my times, or contemporary with me. I follow Christ, Paul, and the Holy Scriptures, and not Emmons, or Edwards, or Jeremy Taylor, or the Prayer Book Homilies, nor any man's authority, be he Augustine or Tertullian, Cherubim or Seraphim. O for the spirit of combined independence and humility that characterized the noble company of martyrs and reformers ! We need a greater independence of all human authority, church or individual, and a more entire dependence on the Word and the Spirit of God. This makes a true theologian ; and doubtless, if we could all be shut up in prison for twelve years, like Bunyan, with nothing but the Bible, and Fox's old Book of Martyrs, we too should come out with a living theology, drawn from no man's system, but ready to set all men's hearts on fire. Indeed, indeed, this is what is needed in this day of the resurrection of rites and forms and apostolical successions, and patristical anthorities, and traditions of the
fathers, and of the rags of Judaism itself patched and gilded anew; this return to the Scriptures solely, and the Spirit of God, is what is needed.
And here let me say, in this connection, that it was a great thing in that personal experience, by which God prepared Bunyan to write the Pilgrim's Progress, that he could never say precisely at what time he became a Christian. So was he prevented from putting in his work what many men would have set up at its very entrance, a Procrustes' bed for tender consciences in the alleged necessity or importance of knowing the exact day or hour of a man's conversion. Bunyan always shrank from making his experience a test for others. His was one of the purest, humblest, noblest, least bigoted, most truly liberal minds, that ever lived. Non-essentials he would never set up as standards. His book; in its delineation of Christianity differs from almost all uninspired records, and systems, in that it has neither caricatures, nor extremes, nor marked deficiences. Some men get a likeness, indeed, of Christian doctrine, but it is by making some feature predominate ; you never think of some
of some men's system, but you think of some peculiar tenet that stamps it, that throws the atmosphere, not of the cross, but of a particular dogma around it.
Other men have monstrous excrescences, which are imitated and adored as virtues, and even held sacred as the sign of a party ; just as if a great commander, having an enormous wart upon his features, should have it painted on the shield of every one of his soldiers.
And here I am constrained to say, that this figment of the apostolical succession is just such a wart, of which, in the opinion of some, if there be not a true painting and proper veneration in a man's escutcheon, he is no minister of Jesus Christ. Now if
any such party man in theology had had the making of the Pilgrim's Progress, be you sure he would never have suffered a single Evangelist to come in to guide his Christian, not even to pull him out of the Slough of Despond, without first painting him over with this wart of the apostolical succession, or giving him a diploma stating his descent, in a true line, down through the AntiChristian church of Rome, clear across the monstrous corruptions of the dark ages, from one of the twelve apostles. Or he would have put up an exclusive church-sign over the wicket gate; and that would have been making it strait and narrow indeed, in a way never contemplated by the Saviour. Yea, he would have let a soul wait there even to perishing, exposed to all the artillery of Satan, before he would have had even a porter to open the door, who was not of the true apostolical succession. And other men would have sprinkled their pages with conversations about the form of baptism, or the sign of the cross, or baptismal regeneration, or the Book of Discipline, or perhaps the Saybrook Platform, or one and another mark of party ; letting the work be colored in its progress, or rather discolored, by a thousand varying shades, through the prism of personal or party prejudice.
There is nothing of all this in Bunyan; in him you do not meet truth in fragments, or in parts put