« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
for the whole. You do not meet prejudice instead of truth, nor bigotries, nor reproaches, nor any thing in the sweet fields through which he leads you, that can drive away, or repel any, the humblest, most forgotten Christian, or the wisest, most exalted one, from these lovely enclosures. He is as a familiar friend, an angel from heaven, and not a partisan, walking with you through green pastures, and leading you beside still waters; and conversing with you all the way so lovingly, so instructively, so frankly, that nothing can be more delightful. You have in him more of the ubiquity, unity and harmony of divine truth, more of the pervading breath and stamp of inspiration, than in almost
any other uninspired writer. If I should compare Bunyan with other men, I should say that he was a compound of the character of Peter, Luther and Cowper. He had Peter's temptations, and deep, rich experience; and Luther's Saxon sturdiness, and honesty, and fearlessness of as many devils as there were tiles on the roofs of the houses, and not a little of Cowper's own exquisite humor, tenderness and sensibility. And he had as little of the thirst of human applause as either Luther or Cowper.
As Bunyan's religious experience was not sectarian, but Christian, that it might be universal, so it was thorough and deep, that the colors might stand. In him there was a remarkable translucence of the general in the particular, and of the particular through the general. His book is to the religious sensibilities as the day-light to the flowers ; from its rays they may imbibe what lasting colors are most
suited to their peculiarities. So it is like the sun of God's Word, in which the prism of each individual mind, under the influence of the Divine Spirit, separates the heavenly colors, and puts them in a new aspect, so that every Christian, in the rays of Divine Truth, becomes a new reflection of the Divine Attributes. Bunyan's book has the likeness of this universality, and Christians of every sect may take what they please out of it, except their own sectarianism ; they cannot find that. In this respect it bears remarkably the divine stamp.
Bunyan's mind was long under the law, in his own religious experience, under a sense of its condemnation. This alone would never have prepared him to write the Pilgrim's Progress, though it must have prepared him to preach with pungency and power. It fitted him to sympathize with men's distresses on account of sin, wherever he found them. A man's religious anxieties are sometimes so absorbing, that they defeat their own end, they oppose themselves to his deliverance. Just as in a crowded theatre on fire, the doors of which open inward, the very rush of the multitude to get out shuts them so fast, that there is no unclosing them. Such at one time, seemed to be Bunyan's situation ; so it often is with the heart that has within it the fire of a guilty conscience; and in this case it is only the Saviour, who knocks for admittance, that can open the door, put out the flames, and change the soul from a theatre of fiery accusing thoughts into a living temple of his grace. The Pilgrim's Progress would never have been given to the world, except Bunyan had been
relieved of his difficulties, but these difficulties were as necessary, to furnish him with the experimental wisdom requisite for the author of that book, as the relief itself.
There is one book in our language, with which the Pilgrim's Progress may be compared, as a Reality with a Theory, a Personification with an Abstraction, and that is Edwards on the Religious Affections. This book is the work of a holy, but rigid metaphysician, analyzing and anatomizing the soul, laying the heart bare, and I had almost said, drying it for a model. As
As you study it, you know it is truth, and you know that your own heart ought to be like it; but you cannot recognize in it your own flesh and blood. Edwards' delineations are like the skeleton leaves of the forest, through which, if
hold them to the sun, you can see every minute fibre in the light : Bunyan's work is like the same leaves as fresh foliage, green and glossy in the sunshine, joyfully whispering to the breathing air, with now and then the dense raindrops glittering on them from a June shower. In Edwards' work you see the Divine life in its abstract severity and perfection; in Bunyan's work you see it assuming a visible form, like your own, with your own temptations and trials, touched with the feeling, and colored with the shade of your own infirmities. Yet both these books are well nigh perfect in their way, both equally adapted to their purpose. We love the work of Bunyan as a bosom friend, a sociable confiding companion on our pilgrimage. We revere the work of Edwards, as a deep, grave teacher, but its stern accuracy
make us tremble. Bunyan encourages, consoles, animates, delights, sympathises with us; Edwards cross-examines, probes, scrutinizes, alarms us. Bunyan looks on us as a sweet angel, as one of his own shining ones, come to take off our burden, and put on our robe ; Edwards, with the rigidity of a geometrician, as a sort of military surveyor of the king's roads, meets us with his map, and shows us how we have wandered from the way,
and makes us feel as if we never were in it. Bunyan carries our sensibilities, Edwards our convictions. In short, Bunyan is the Man, the Pilgrim; Edwards the Metaphysician.
Bunyan was as great a master of Allegory as Edwards was of Logic and Metaphysics ; but not artificially so, not designedly so, not as a matter of study. He scarcely knew the meaning of the word allegory, much less any rules or principles for its conduct; and the great beauty of his own is that it speaks to the heart; it is the language of nature, and needs no commentator to understand it. It is not like the allegorical friezes of Spenser or of Dante, or like those on a Grecian Temple, which may pass into darkness in a single generation, as to all meaning but that of the exquisite beauty of the sculpture, except there be a minute traditionary commentary. Bunyan's Allegory is a universal language.
D'Israeli has well designated Bunyan as the Spenser of the people ; every one familiar with the Fairy Queen must acknowledge the truth of the description. Johnson thought Bunyan must have read Spenser, and there are some passages
in each writer surprisingly similar, especially in each writer's description of Despair. If it were not apparently incongruous, we would call him, on another score, the spiritual Shakspeare of the world, for the accuracy and charm with which he has delineated the changes and progress of the spiritual life, are not less exquisite, than those of Shakspeare in the Seven Ages, and innumerable scenes of this world's existence. He is scarcely less to be praised than Shakspeare for the purity of his language, and the natural simplicity of his style. It comes, as I have said, even nearer to the common diction of good conversation.
The allegorical image of a Pilgrimage is beautifully adapted to express the dangers and hardships of the Christian Life : a Pilgrimage, with a glorious city at its end, into which the weary but faithful Pilgrim shall be received, to repose forever from his toils. Every thing connected with the idea is pleasant to the imagination. It has been the origin of many beautiful hymns.
" Jerusalem! my happy home,” is a sweet one. The glories of the Celestial City, and the employments of its inhabitants, are the sources of many images in the Bible, and constitute much of the poetry in the Apocalypse. And these images always had a powerful effect upon the inmost soul of Bunyan. Spenser remembered them not a little. The following beautiful stanzas from the Fairy Queen are a picture in miniature of the close of the Pilgrim's Progress :
From thence far off he unto him did show,