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flinch an hair's breadth from it. Bunyan thought, furthermore, that it was for God to choose whether he would give him comfort then, or in the hour of death, or whether he would or would not give him comfort in either, comfort at all ; but it was not for Bunyan to choose whether to serve God or not, whether to hold fast his profession or not, for to this he was bound. He was bound, but God was free; “ Yea,” says he, “it was my, duty to stand to his word, whether he would ever look upon me, or save me at the last, or not; wherefore, thought I, the point being thus, I am for going on, and venturing my eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no. If God doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even blindfold into eternity; sink or swim, come heaven, come hell. Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture for thy name !"
Well done, noble Bunyan! Faithful even unto death, and faithful even in darkness! Here was no imaginary temptation to sell thy Saviour, but a real inducement, by relinquishing thy confession of the truth, to escape from prison and from death ; a temptation accompanied by dreadful darkness in thy soul. And yet, amidst it all, he ventured every thing upon Christ, yea, determined to die for him, even though rejected by him! Was not this a noble triumph over the Tempter ? One would think that from this hour he would have left Bunyan in utter despair, yea, that he would have spread his dragonwings, and Bunyan have seen him no more forever! And this indeed I believe that he did ; for so soon as Bunyan had come to this noble and steadfast re
solution, the word of the Tempter flashed across his soul, Doth Job serve God for nought! Hast thou not made an hedge about him. He serves God for benefits. Ah, thought Bunyan, then, even in the opinion of Satan, a man who will serve God when there is nothing to keep or to gain by it, is a renewed man, an upright man. Now, Satan, thou givest me a weapon against thyself. “Is this the sign of a renewed soul, to desire to serve God, when all is taken from him ? Is he a godly man that will serve God for nothing, rather than give out? Blessed be God, then, I hope I have an upright heart; for I am resolved, God giving me strength, never to deny my profession, though I had nothing at all for my pains.”
Here was a second fight with Apollyon, and a conquest of him forever. Bunyan's perplexities, after this, were but as drops from the trees after a thunder-shower. He greatly rejoiced in this trial. It made his heart to be full of comfort, because he hoped it proved his heart sincere. And indeed it did ; a man that resolves to serve Christ, come heaven, come hell, shows, whatever be his darkness, that God is with him ; and Bunyan's noble resolution, amidst such deep gloom over his soul, was a remarkable instance of obedience to that word of God by the prophet, “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Bunyan could now say, in a passage in the forty-fourth Psalm, brought powerfully to remembrance,“ Though
thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death, yet our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way.” This indeed, is the truest sign of conversion, to venture all on Christ, and resolve to serve him come what
may. When a soul comes to this determination, it always finds light. And so it was with Bunyan; and he says himself, “I would not have been without this trial for much. I am comforted every time I think of it; and I hope I shall bless God forever for the teaching I have had by it.” In this trial, Bunyan may in truth be said to have been added to the number of the witnesses in the Revelations, who overcame the Tempter by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. For Bunyan was as if he had been brought to the scaffold, and there taken the leap into eternity in the dark. This passage in Bunyan's prison experience reminds us powerfully of Christian's woful confinement in the dungeon of Giant Despair's castle from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, and of his sudden and joyful deliverance; nor can there be any doubt that some of the lights and shades in that beautiful passage grew out of those melancholy weeks, when Bunyan's soul as well as his body, was in prison. Afterwards, his soul was unfettered, and then what cared he for the confinement of his body? He could say, in an infinitely higher sense than some of his enemies in the celebrated song of his times,
“ Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage ;
In Bunyan's prison meditations, he describes most forcibly, in his own rude but vigorous rhymes, the freedom and triumph of his soul.
“ For though men keep my outward man
Within their locks and bars,
Mount higher than the stars.
Doth hide us from God's face;
Doth visit us with grace.
From death to life we fly;
Of high and noble mind;
What you in nature find.
All worldly fears, and then
And persecuting men.
They kill when they do die;
And get the victory.” Snch poetry would have been noble, from any inan of genius, but it came from Bunyan's heart; it was his own experience. “I never had in my life,” he says, « so great an inlet into the word as now. Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before, are made in this place and state to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now; here I have seen and felt him indeed." Three or four sweet and thrilling scriptures were a great refreshment to him, especially that sweet fourteenth of John, “Let not your heart be troubled,” &c., and that of John xvi. 33,
“In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world ;” and also that inspiring, animating word, “We are come unto Mount Sion,” &c. Sometimes, when Bunyan was “in the savor” of these scriptures, he was able to laugh at destruction, and to fear neither the horse nor his rider. “I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another world. O the Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and God the Judge of all, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and Jesus the Mediator, have been sweet unto me in this place ! I have seen that here, which I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to express. I have seen a truth in this scripture, “Whom having not seen ye love ; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.”
“I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all times, and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, as I have found him since I came in hither; for look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragements ; yea, when I have started even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested, but would, with one scripture or another, strengthen me against all, insomuch that I have often said, were it lawful, I could pray for geater trouble for the greater comfort's sake.” Bunyan could now say with Paul, that as his sufferings for Christ abounded, so his consolation in Christ abounded likewise.