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through which I attempted to pass.
Now the passage being very strait and narrow, I made many offers to get in, but all in vain, even until I was well nigh quite beat out by striving to get in. At last with great striving, methought I at first did get in my head; and after that, by a sideling striving, my shoulders, and my whole body: then was I exceeding glad, went and sat down in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat of their sun. Now the Mountain and Wall, &c. was thus made out to me. The Mountain signified the Church of the Living God; the Sun that shone thereon, the comfortable shining of his merciful Face on them that were within: the Wall, I thought, was the Word, that did make separation between the Christians and the World ; and the Gap which was in the Wall, I thought, was Jesus Christ, who is the Way to God the Father. But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could not but with great difficulty enter in thereat, it shewed me that none could enter into life but those that were in downright earnest; and unless also they left that wicked World behind them; for here was only room for Body and Soul, but not for Body and Soul and Sin."
But though he now prayed wherever he was, at home or abroad, in the house or in the field, two doubts still assaulted him, whether he was elected, and whether the day of grace was not gone by. By the force and power of the first he felt, even when he
was in a flame to find the way to Heaven," as if the strength of his body were taken from him; and he found a stumblingblock in this text,* “ It is neither in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in God that sheweth mercy.” It seemed to him, that though he should desire and long and labour till his heart broke, no good could come of it, unless he were a chosen vessel of mercy.
“ Therefore,” he says, “ this would stick with me, 'How can you tell that you are elected ? and what if you should not ?'-O Lord, thought I, what if I should not indeed! It may be you are not, said the Tempter. It may be so indeed, thought I. Why then, said Satan, you had as good leave off, and strive no further.” And then the text that disturbed him came again into his mind; and he knowing not what to say nor
* Rom. ix. 16. 2 Ecclesiasticus ii. 10.
how to answer, was "driven to his wit's end, little deeming," he says,
" that Satan had thus assaulted him, but that it was his own prudence which had started the question.” In an evil hour were the doctrines of the gospel sophisticated with questions which should have been left in the schools for those who are unwise enough to employ themselves in excogitations of useless subtlety. Many are the poor creatures whom such questions have driven to despair, and madness, and suicide ; and no one ever more narrowly escaped from such a catastrophe than Bunyan.
After many weeks, when he was even “ giving up the ghost of all his hopes," another text suddenly occurred to him: “Look at the generations of old, and see, did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?” He went with a lightened heart to his Bible, fully expecting to find it there; but he found it not, .. and the "good people” whom he asked where it was, told him they knew of no such place. But in the Bible he was well assured it was ; and the text which had “ seized upon his heart with such comfort and strength,” abode upon him for more than a year; when looking into the Apocrypha, there* he met with it, and was at first, he says, somewhat daunted at finding it there, .. not in the canonical books. “ Yet,” he says,
6 forasmuch as this sentence was the sum and substance of many of the promises, it was my duty to take the comfort of it; and I blest God for that word, for it was of good to me.” But then the other doubt which had lain dormant, awoke again in strength .. "How if the day of grace be past? What if the good people of Bedford who were already converted, were all that were to be saved in those parts ?” he then was too late, for they had got the blessing before he came. 6 Oh that I had turned sooner !” was then his cry;
" Oh that I had turned seven years ago! To think that I should trifle away my time, till my Soul and Heaven were lost!”
From these fears the recurrence of another passage in scripture delivered him for a while, and he has remarked that it came into his mind just in the same place where he “received his other encouragement.” The text was that in which the servant
* Ecclesiasticus ii. 10.
who had been sent into the streets and lanes to bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, to the supper from which the bidden guests absented themselves, returns and says to the master of the house, *" Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.” “These,” says Bunyan, “ were sweet words to me: for truly I thought that by them I saw there was place enough in Heaven for me; and moreover, that when the Lord Jesus did speak these words, He then did think of me; and that He, knowing the time would come when I should be afflicted with fear that there was no place left for me in his bosom, did speak this word, and leave it upon record, that I might find help thereby against this vile temptation. This I then verily believed.”
But then came another fear; None but those who are called, can inherit the kingdom of Heaven; .. and this he apprehended was not his case. With longings and breathings in his soul which, he says, are not to be expressed, he cried on Christ to call him, being “all on a flame” to be in a converted state; .. “Gold! could it have been gotten for gold, what could I have given for it! Had I had a whole world, it had all gone ten thousand times over for this." Much as he had formerly respected and venerated the ministers of the Church, with higher admiration he now regarded those who, he thought, had attained to the condition for which he was longing. They were “ lovely in his eyes; they shone, they walked, like a people that carried the broad seal of Heaven about them.” When he read of those whom our Saviour called when he was upon earth to be his disciples, the wishes which his heart conceived were . . “ Would I had been Peter: would I had been John: .. or would I had been by and heard Him when He called them! How would I have cried, O Lord, call me also!” In this state of mind, but comforting himself with hoping that if he were not already converted, the time might come when he should be so, he imparted his feelings to those poor women whose conversation bad first brought him into these perplexities and struggles. They reported his case to Mr. Gifford, and Gifford took occasion to talk with him, and invited him to his house, where he might hear
* Luke xiv. 22.
him confer with others “about the dealings of God with their souls."
This course was little likely to compose a mind so agitated. What he heard in such conferences rather induced fresh disquiet and misery of another kind. The inward wretchedness of his wicked heart, he says, began now to be discovered to him, and to work as it had never done before: he was now conscious of sinful thoughts and desires which he had not till then regarded ; and in persuading him that his heart was innately and wholly wicked, his spiritual Physician had well nigh made him believe that it was hopelessly and incurably so. In vain did those to whom he applied for consolation tell him of the promises ; they might as well have told him to reach the sun, as to rely upon the promises, he says : original and inward pollution was the plague and affliction which made him loathsome in his own eyes, . . and, as in his dreadful state of mind he believed, in the eyes of his Creator also. Sin and Corruption, he thought, would as naturally bubble out of his heart as water from a fountain. None but the Devil he was persuaded could equal him for inward wickedness! “Sure,” thought he, “I am forsaken of God; sure I am given up to the Devil and to a reprobate mind.--I was sorry that God had made me man.- I counted myself alone, and above the most of men, unblessed." These were not the torments of a guilty conscience ; for he observes that “the guilt of the sins of his ignorance was never much charged upon him ; and as to the act of sinning, during the years that he continued in this pitiable state, no man could more scrupulously avoid what seemed to him sinful in thought, word, or deed. “Oh,” he says, “how gingerly did I then go, in all I did or said! I found myself as in a miry bog, that shook if I did but stir, and was as there left, both of God and Christ, and the Spirit, and all good things.” False notions of that corruption of our nature, which is almost as perilous to exaggerate as to dissemble, had laid upon him a burden heavy as that with which his own Christian begins his pilgrimage.
The first comfort which he received, and which, had there not been a mist before his understanding, he might have found in every page of the gospel, came to him in a sermon, upon a
strange text, strangely handled : * “Behold, thou art fair, my Love; behold, thou art fair." The Preacher made the words “my Love” his chief and subject matter; and one sentence fastened upon Bunyan's mind. “If,” said the Preacher, “it be so, that the saved Soul is Christ's Love, when under temptation and destruction ; . . then, poor tempted Soul, when thou art assaulted and afflicted with temptations, and the hidings of God's face, yet think on these two words, 'My Love,' still."—What shall I get by thinking on these two words ? .. said Bunyan to himself, as he returned home ruminating upon this discourse. And then twenty times togéther—“Thou art my Love, thou art my Love," recurred in mental repetition, kindling his spirit; and still, he says,
" as they ran in my mind they waxed stronger and warmer, and began to make me look up. But being as yet between hope and fear, I still replied in my heart, ‘But is it true ? but is it true?' At which that sentence fell upon me, + He wist not that it was true which was come unto him of the Angel.' Then I began to give place to the Word,-and now I could believe that
my sins should be forgiven me : yea, I was now taken with the love and mercy of God, that, I remember, I could not tell how to contain till I got home: I thought I could have spoken of his love, and have told of his mercy to me, even to the very crows that sat upon the ploughed lands before me, had they been capable to have understood me.- Wherefore I said in my soul with much gladness, Well, I would I had a pen and ink here, I would write this down before I go any farther, for surely I will not forget this forty years hence. But, alas ! within less than forty days I began to question all again."
Shaken continually thus by the hot and cold fits of a spiritual ague, his imagination was wrought to a state of excitement, in which its own shapings became vivid as realities, and affected him more forcibly than impressions from the external world. He heard sounds as in a dream; and as in a dream held conversations which were inwardly audible, though no sounds were uttered, and had all the connexion and coherency of an actual dialogue. Real they were to him in the impression which they made, and in their lasting effect; and even afterwards, when his * Solomon's Song iv. 1.
† Acts xii. 9.