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and then again so straitened in his utterance before the people, as if his head had been in a bag all the time of his exercise. The truth is, the heart of the preacher is more apt to be in the bag than his head is; and when his heart is there, then generally, as to effect, his head is there also. This experience of the bag, we are sorry to say, is rather more common than that of the seraphic enlargement of soul, which the love of Christ ought always to give us.
Thus Bunyan went on preaching, travelling through those special enclosures in the word of God, of which he speaks, about the space of five years or more, when, says he, “I was caught in my then present practice, and cast into prison where I have lain above as long again to confirm the truth by way of suffering, as I was before in testifying of it according to the Scriptures, in a way of preaching.” Nor is it to be supposed that during all this time Bunyan was free from the temptations of Satan in his ministry; nay, he had them abundantly, but somewhat changed from inward to external; for “when Satan perceived that his thus tempting and assaulting me would not answer his design; to wit, to overthrow the ministry, and make it ineffectual as to the ends thereof; then he tried another way, which was to stir up the minds of the ignorant and malicious to load me with slanders and reproaches: now therefore I may say, that what the devil could devise, and his instruments invent, was whirled up and down the country against me, thinking, as I said, that by that means they should make my ministry to be abandoned. It began therefore to be rumored up and
down among the people that I was a witch, a jesuit, a highwayman, a whoremonger, and the like. To all which I shall only say, God knows that I am innocent. I have a good conscience, and whereas they speak evil of me as an evil doer, they shall be ashamed that falsely accuse my good conversation in Christ. So then, what shall I say to those who have thus bespattered me? Shall I threaten them? Shall I chide them? Shall I flatter them? Shall I entreat them to hold their tongues ? No, not I. Were it not that these things make those ripe for damnation, who are the authors and abettors, I would say unto them, Report it, because it will increase my glory. Therefore, I bind these lies and slanders to me as an ornament; it belongs to my christian profession to be thus vilified, slandered, reproached and reviled ; and since all this is nothing else, as my God and conscience do bear me witness, I rejoice in reproaches for Christ's sake."
“Now as Satan endeavored by reproaches and slanders to make me vile among my countrymen, that if possible my preaching might be made of no more effect, so there was added hereto, a long and tedious imprisonment, that thereby I might be frightened from the service of Christ, and the world terrified, and made afraid to hear me preach. Of which I shall in the next place give you a brief account.”
Now in this matter of Bunyan's imprisonment, it is evident that so far as Satan had a share in it, he did, as we say, overshoot the mark; he was a
clear illustration of that saying of Shakspeare's concerning
“Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
Doubtless this Enemy of souls, and this adversary of Bunyan, because of the great good he was doing in his preaching, supposed he had accomplished a great work when, through the tyranny of the Church Establishment, he had succeeded in silencing the preacher; and when he got him into prison, he thought within himself, There is an end of that man's usefulness; no more souls shall rise to glory through him. But what a signal mistake! Perhaps the greatest mistake but one or two, that Satan ever committed! If this man, John Bunyan, had been permitted still to go at large and preach, the world, doubtless, would never have been blessed with the Pilgrim's Progress. But God permitted the wrath of Bunyan's adversaries to shut him up in prison just at that point, where the inward temptations of the devil, and the discipline of God's Spirit, and Bunyan's varied acquaintance with men, and knowledge of his own heart, and experience in the business of preaching, and experimental knowledge of the gospel, and of the power, blessedness, and fitness of God's word, had just fitted him for the composition of precisely such a work. I say just at the point when God had fitted his chosen instrument for this work, he permitted the malice of his infernal Enemy, and the wrath of his earthly adversaries, to put him in a quiet cell, where he would have heavenly retirement
to meditate upon it, and uninterrupted leisure to accomplish it. Was there ever a more perfect and delightful illustration of that promise, surely, thou wilt cause the wrath of man to praise thee, and the remainder of wrath thou wilt restrain !
And now as to these Satanic temptations :-having followed Bunyan to prison, we must perforce leave him there till such time as we can, God willing, dwell more particularly on the manner in which he was brought there, and the way in which the light and loveliness of the creations of his Pilgrim arose like the sun in his soul out of that imprisoned darkness. But a few words as to these Satanic temptations. It is a deeply interesting and important subject; one on which we would much rather devote a whole lecture. We do not suppose that any man who, in spite of the testimony of the scriptures, is a disbeliever in the existence of the devil and his angels, will be brought to believe on the testimony of Bunyan; and yet, in the providence of God there might be such a thing ; at any rate the strong and simple experience and testimony of Bunyan might lead such a man to review with more candor and less doubt the scripture argument and evidence. And we say that the murky experience of Bunyan cannot philosophically be accounted for on any other principles, than those laid down in the Scriptures, nor in any other way so rationally, so probably, so truly, as Bunyan himself under the light of the Scriptures, has taken to illustrate it. Refer it to Satanic agency, and all is plain, consistent, and full of the deepest, most solemn interest. Reject
that agency, and all is unaccountable, absurd, prodigious; unless, indeed, you make Bunyan a downright madman, a lunatic; which conclusion, in regard to a man whose whole life, from the time when that madness commenced, was one bright career of goodness, and who in the midst of it wrote the most sensible, excellent and delightful book in the language, would be the most absurd of all conclusions. Indeed, there was more “method in his madness" than there is in most other men's sanity. But his own deliberate conclusions concerning the workings of his mind, and the influences brought to bear upon him, formed fifteen years or more after his own personal passage through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, formed in the midst of light from heaven, formed with the most careful adherence to the words and principles of the Scriptures, formed with the help of much observance of the conflicts of others, and formed by a mind not at all inclined to fanaticism, but remarkably liberal, tolerant, free from extremes, and cautious in asserting a supernatural interposition, as in some remarkable cases we have seen he was; I say the conclusions of such a mind, after such a period of thoughtful, prayerful examination, are invaluable, and to be relied upon.
They even form an important addition to our external testimony for the truth of the Scriptures, and the manner of their interpretation. How often do we have to resort to existing realities to explain texts of Scripture otherwise inexplicable, and which to the infidel vulgar, to men of the kin of Voltaire and Tom Paine, serve for ignorant and senseless