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lightful. As the author of this book has delineated it, he makes many a man wish that he were set out in it. And yet this delineation is not in the coloring of imagination, but of sober reality; there is nothing overdrawn, nothing exaggerated in it; the scenery along the way is not painted too beautiful, there are no ecstacies, or rapturous frames, or revelations in it; the coloring is sober, with all its richness, the experience is human with all its variety; the very angels are more like gentle sympathising friends, than glittering supernatural intelligences.
It is this charm of common sense and reality that constitutes in a great measure the power of this book. Its characters are not removed from our own experience; the piety of Christian, though very rich and mellow, is progressive, and for every day's use, and for every saint's attainment. It is neither mystical, nor visionary, nor in extremes ; it is not perfection, nor ascetic sublimation from the world, nor contemplation, nor penance, nor the luxury of mere spiritual frames and exercises. It is deep, sincere, gentle, practical, full of the fruits of the Spirit, full of intelligence and kindness, of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness and truth. They are every day virtues which shine in Christian ; and his character is an example of what ours ought to be in our daily pilgrimage. His conflicts are such as every Christian may pass through, his consolations and enjoyments such as every Christian may experience, his knowledge of the Word of God, and indeed all his attainments, within reach of every pilgrim. He is indeed a model of excellence for all.
I think we shall observe, as we study the book through, that from first to last Bunyan has composed this character out of the most general and universally recognized traits belonging to the experience of a child of God. This, it is clear, was necessary, in order to its highest success and usefulness. And yet the individuality and originality of the character is as perfect, as striking, as graphic, as if it were the delineation from life of some person well known to Bunyan with all his peculiarities. Now we do not suppose that Bunyan intended this in so definite a form of art and philosophy; we do not suppose that he said within himself, I must make this Christian, in the absence of all peculiarities, a suitable model for all, and yet, in the translucence through his particular characteristics, of the general qualities belonging to our conception of a Christian, a character recognisable by, and the counterpart of, every
individual. This would involve a greater degree of art and criticism than Bunyan ever exercised ; and yet his genius, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, did spontaneously work according to these rules. Just so, Bunyan's own incomparable freedom from all sectarianism, even in a sectarian age, has prevented the character of Christian and of the whole Progress of the Pilgrim, from being narrowed or disfigured by any thing which could even be tortured to restrict its application, or its preferences, to any religious party. Accordingly, the more bigoted, exclusive and sectarian a man is, the less he will like this book ; to a violent Churchman it wants a bishop and the apostolical succession : to a rigid
Baptist it wants immersion as the Wicket Gate. But Bunyan was wonderfully preserved from affixing to any part of this book the seal of any such local or party distinctions. Though he was himself a Baptist, yet he was an open communion Baptist, and experienced the wrath of his more exclusive Baptist brethren, because he laid no stress whatever on their peculiarities. They had bitter controversies against him as a deserter from the faith, because he would not pronounce their Shibboleths, and was completely free from the unchurching spirit of his age.
Now here was a characteristic of the presence of the Holy Spirit in him very remarkable ; and his work accordingly has come from that school of heaven in which no man is of Apollos, or Cephas, or Paul, but all of Christ. Ah, this is delightful; and accordingly, in such a controversial world as this, this work is like oil upon the waters; it is as the very voice of the Saviour in the tempest, Peace, be still ; it is like the dove with her olive leaf, a prophet of the garden of the Lord; it is like a white-robed herald with his sacred flag, privileged to go every where, and admitted everywhere, even amidst contending armies. This book will remain, when there shall be nothing to hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain, when Judah shall no more vex Ephraim, nor Ephraim envy Judah; for it has come forth from the mint of celestial universal love ; it has no leaf in it, which the Spirit of God may not sweetly mingle with those leaves of the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations. We doubt whether
there was another individual in that age, except Leighton, whose pięty could have produced so catholic, su upsectarian, so heavenly a work.
In accordance with what I have said, you will perceive how Bunyan commences with bis Pil grim. He begins with releasing himself and the position of the Dreamer from any positive locality; he does not suffer his personal situation or feelings to throw a single determinate shade upon the picture; he does not say, (as many persons would very naturally have said,) As I lay suffering for the Gospel in the prison of Bedford, but, As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted upon a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep ; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. Ah, it was a wilderness indeed, and no small part of Bunyan's life was spent in the deserts and caves of it. It is a wilderness to us all, but to many a wilderness of sinful pleasures infinitely more dangerous than dens and caves, bonds and imprisonments. It is a wilderness to the soul, away from its God, surrounded by dangers, exposed to the wiles of its great adversary the devil, in peril of eternal ruin.
There are lions, chained and unchained, in the way, and temptations of every shape and name, and unseen dangers too, from which God alone can protect us. He only walks safely who walks as a stranger and a pilgrim.
Yet the dear path to thine abode,
Lies through this horrid land;
And if we do this, then a blessed Faith comes in, and ours is a more cheerful, delightful, heavenly vision. We walk under the gracious care, and in the safe dominions of the King of the Celestial City; we travel the king's own highway; we come to the land Beulah ;
We're marching through Immanuel's ground
To fairer worlds on high ! You will observe what honor, from his Pilgrim's first setting out, Bunyan puts upon the Word of God. He would give to no inferior instrumentality, not even to one of God's Providences, the business of awakening his Pilgrim to a sense of his danger; but he places him before us reading his book, awakened by the word. Now we know that it is often God's providence, in the way of sickness, the loss of friends, earthly disappointments, the voice and discipline of pain of various kinds, that awakens careless men in the first place, and leads them to the word of God; and kind and gracious providences are always, all through life, all through our Christian course, combining with the Word and the Spirit of God to help us on our pilgrimage, and make us wary in it; but in general it is the word of God, in some form, which God uses as the instrument in awakening men, as well as in converting them. And so Bunyan, with heavenly wisdom and truth, gives us the first picture of his Pilgrim, anxiously reading the word of God. And he makes the first efficacious motive in the mind of this Pilgrim, a salutary fear of the terrors of that word, a sense of the wrath to come, beneath the burden of sin upon his soul.