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ing and beating. It was food and nourishment to his spiritual life, and a clothing of majesty and glory to his intellect. There never was a being more perfectly and entirely created out of the scriptures.
And here too, in his intense study of the Bible, you have the secret of the purity of his English style. How is it possible, it might have been asked, that this illiterate man, familiar with none of the acknowledged models of his native tongue can have acquired a style which its most skilful and eloquent masters might envy, for its artless simplicity, purity and strength! It was because his soul was baptized by the Spirit of God in its native idioms; because he was familiar as no other man of his age was, with the model, the very best model of the English tongue in existence, our common English Bible! Yes! that very Bible, which some modern infidel reformers would exclude from our schools, and from its blessed place of influence over the hearts and minds of our children! The fervor of the Poet's soul, acting through the medium of such a language as he learned from our common translation of the scriptures, has produced some of the most admirable specimens in existence of the manly power and familiar beauty of the English tongue. There are passages even in the Grace Abounding, which for fervidness and power of expression might be placed side by side with any thing in the most admired authors, and not suffer in the comparison. Bunyan is not less to be praised than Shakspeare himself for the purity of his language, and the natural simplicity of his
style. It comes even nearer indeed, to the common diction of good conversation. Its idioms are genuine English, in their most original state, unmingled with any external ornament, and of a beauty unborrowed from any foreign shades of expression.
Then too, Bunyan's imagination, his judgment, his taste, every faculty of his mind was developed, disciplined and enriched at the same great fountain of the Scriptures. The poetry of the Bible was the source of his poetical power. His heart was not only made new by the Spirit of the Bible, but his whole intellectual being was penetrated and transfigured by its influence. He brought the spirit and power gathered from so long and exclusive a communion with the prophets and apostles to the composition of every page of the Pilgrim's Progress. To the habit of mind thus induced, and the workings of an imagination thus disciplined, may be traced the simplicity of all his imagery, and the great power of his personifications. The spirit of his work is Hebrew; we may trace the mingled influence both of David and Isaiah in the character of his genius; and as to the images in the sacred poets, he is lavish in the use of them, in the most natural and unconscious manner possible : his mind was imbued with them. He is indeed the only Poet, whose genius was nourished entirely by the Bible. Не felt and thought in scripture imagery.
Now here are great lessons for all our minds. We say to every young man, whose intellectual as well as moral habits are now formed, Do you wish to gain a mastery over your native language in its
earliest, purest, freshest idioms, and to command a style, in which you may speak with power to the very hearts of the people? Study your Bible, your English Bible ; study it with your feelings, your heart, and let its beautiful forms of expression entwine themselves around your sensibilities, your very habits of thinking, no more to be separated from them, than sensibility and thought itself can be separated from your existence. We stand in amazement at the blessed power of transfiguration which the Bible possesses for the human intellect. And yet'we are not amazed, for the Bible is the voice of God, and the words of the Bible are the words of God; and he who will give himself up to them, who will feed upon them, and love them, and dwell amidst them, shall have his intellect and his soul transfigured with glory and blessedness by them. Do you ask for experience ? Do you desire life? Hear our Saviour. “ The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life !" But beware you let no mediator come between your soul, and its immediate, electric contact with those lively oracles. let no church, with its self-assumed authority of interpretation, hang up its darkening veil between your soul and the open face of God in the scriptures. Come to them for yourself. Say to yourself, This is my possession, and no church, and no priest, and no power in the universe shall wrest it from me. This is my God and my Saviour speaking to me; and he shall speak to me, though the whole church were against me, or though I were the only christian in the world. “Yea,” saith our
Saviour, “ if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." We say, Put your soul beneath the fire of God's word, and not beneath the winking tapers of the fathers, or the councils or the traditions in the churches! And just so, if we could get the Roman Catholics within the sound of our voice in God's sanctuary, we would say to every Roman Catholic, How can you be willing, as a Man and a Christian, to let any priest, or pope, or church, or daring council, or saint on earth, or saint in heaven, take from your soul your immediate personal communion with your God. Come to him yourself, and live upon his words yourself, and all the anathemas of all the popes, councils, priests, and churches in the world, shall only strengthen and deepen in your soul the elements of eternal blessedness.
And to every Christian we would say, Mind the example of Bunyan and his wise Evangelist, "holy Mr. Gifford,” and when you study the scriptures, study them as for your life, take fast hold upon them, bind them upon your neck, engrave them in your affections, seek to be set down in them by the Spirit of God, seek their experimental knowledge, the living, burning experience of their power. Let the Spirit of God lead you from truth to truth. So, and in no other way, you can be powerful as a Christian. Yea, this was the experience of Paul and Luther and Bunyan, and of all men mighty in the scriptures. This is the experience that we need, in this very age into which we are thrown, in order to save the church and the world from
destruction. This is the experience that must constitute a new era of power in the church, if we would meet the crisis that has come upon us, in the resurrection of old exploded errors under new forms. We must not let Christ be displaced by the church. We must enter as Zuingle said, into God's thoughts in his own word; and we must dwell there, as in a tower of invincible strength and glory! Hear an old, noble, martyred saint, now in glory. I had rather follow the Shadow of Christ, said the blessed Reformer and martyr, Bishop Hooper, than the body of all the general councils or doctors since the death of Christ. It is mine opinion unto all the world, that the scriptures solely, and the apostle's church is to be followed, and no man's authority, be he Augustine, Tertullian, or even Cherubim or Seraphim !
And to every unconverted person we would say, See how Bunyan entered the strait and narrow way and rose to Heaven. He followed the word of God. Take you the word of God. Take that one sentence, Flee from the wrath to come; and let it point you to that other sentence, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And if the world, seeing you so set out, ridicule you, shut your ears like Christian and run forward, and stay not, till the Wicket Gate opens before you, and you enter, and become a blessed Pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the City of Immanuel.
Here now, is the secret of Bunyan's power in preaching. He became - a preacher, through his power in God's word. That word, so kindled in his soul by the Spirit of God, could not be repressed;