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soul was at peace, he believed them, in cool and sober reflection, to have been more than natural. Some few days after the sermon, he was much “ followed,” he says, by these words of the Gospel, * “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you.” He knew that it was a voice from within, . . and yet it was so articulately distinct, so loud, and called, as he says, so strongly after him, that once in particular when the words Simon! Simon ! rung in his ears, he verily thought some man had called to him from a distance behind; and though it was not his name, supposed nevertheless that it was addressed to him, and looked round suddenly to see by whom. As this had been the loudest, so it was the last time that the call sounded in his ears; and he imputes it to his ignorance and foolishness at that time, that he knew not the reason of it; for soon, he says, he was feelingly convinced that it was sent from Heaven as an alarm for him to provide against the coming storm-a storm which "handled him twenty times worse than all he had met with before."
Fears concerning his own state had been the trouble with which he had hitherto contended : temptations of a different, and even more distressful, kind assailed him now,—blasphemies and suggestions of unbelief, which, when he recorded the history of his own soul, he might not and dared not utter, either by word or pen; and no other shadow of consolation could he find against them, than in the consciousness that there was something in him that gave no consent to the sin. He thought himself surely possessed by the Devil: he was " bound in the wings of the temptation, and the wind would carry him away." When he heard others talk of the sin against the Holy Ghost, discoursing what it might be, "then would the Tempter, he says, provoke me to desire to sin that sin, that I was as if I could not, must not, neither should be quiet until I had committed it :sin would serve but that. If it were to be committed by speaking of such a word, then I have been as if my mouth would have spoken that word, whether I would or no. And in so strong a measure was this temptation upon me, that often I have been ready to clap my hand under my chin, to hold my mouth from
* Luke xxii. 31.
opening; and to that end also I have had thoughts at other times, to leap with my head downward into some muckhill-hole or other, to keep my mouth from speaking.” Gladly now would he have been in the condition of the beasts that perish; for he counted the estate of every thing that God had made far better than his own, such as it had now become. While this lasted, which was about a year, he was most distracted when attending the service of his meeting, or reading the scriptures, or when in prayer. He imagined that at such times he felt the Enemy behind him pulling his clothes; that he was "continually at him, to have done ; . . break off—make haste-you have prayed enough!” The more he strove to compose his mind and fix it upon God, the more did the Tempter labour to distract and confound it, “ by presenting," says he, “ to my heart and fancy the form of a bush, a bull, a besom, or the like, as if I should pray to these. To these he would also (at some times especially) so hold my mind, that I was as if I could think of nothing else, or pray to nothing else but to these, or such as they.” Wickeder thoughts were sometimes cast in--such as “if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
But while Bunyan suffered thus grievously under the belief that these thoughts and fancies were the immediate suggestions of the evil Spirit, that belief made him at times more passionate in prayer ; and then his heart “put forth itself with inexpressible groanings,” and his whole soul was in every word. And although he had not been taught in childhood to lay up the comfortable promises of the Gospel in his heart and in his soul, that they might be as a sign upon his hand and as a frontlet between his eyes, yet he had not read the Bible so diligently without some profit. When he mused upon these words in the Prophet Jeremiah, † " Thou hast played the harlot with many overs; yet return again to me, saith the Lord,” he felt that they were some support to him, as applying to his case; and so also was that saying of the same Prophet, that I though we have done and spoken as evil things as we could, yet shall we cry unto God, “ My Father, thou art the guide of my youth,” and return unto him. More consolation he derived from the Apostle who * Matt. iv. 9. + Chap. iii. 1.
Ib. v. 4.
*« He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." And again, † “ If God be for us, who can be against us?” And again, I “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This also was a help to him ; $ “Because I love, ye shall love also!” These, he says, were “but hints, touches, and short visits; very sweet when present, only they lasted not." Yet after a while he felt himself not only delivered from the guilt which these things laid upon his conscience, “ but also from the very filth thereof;" the temptation was removed, and he thought himself “put into his right mind again.”
At this time he “sat (in puritanical language) under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford,” and to his doctrine he ascribed in some degree this mental convalescence. But that doctrine was of a most perilous kind; for the Preacher exhorted his hearers not to be contented with taking any truth upon trust, nor to rest till they had received it with evidence from Heaven; --that is, till their belief should be confirmed by a particular revelation: without this, he warned them, they would find themselves wanting in strength when temptation came.
This was a doctrine which accorded well with Bunyan's ardent temperament: unless he had it with evidence from Heaven, let men say what they would, all was nothing to him; so apt was he“ to drink in the doctrine, and to pray,” he says, “ to God that in nothing which pertained to God's glory and his own eternal happiness, he would suffer him to be without the confirmation thereof from Heaven.” That confirmation he believed was granted him; “Oh,” he exclaims, “now, how was my soul led from truth to truth by God !-there was not any thing that I then cried unto God to make known and reveal unto me, but He was pleased to do it for me.” He had now an evidence, as he thought, of his salvation from Heaven, with golden seals appendant, hang* 2 Cor. v. 21.
+ Rom. viii. 31. Ib. 38, 39.
$ John xiv. 19.
ing in his sight. He who before had lain trembling at the mouth of Hell, had now, as it were, the gate of Heaven in full view : “Oh,” thought he, “ that I were now fourscore years old, that I might die quickly,—that my soul might be gone to rest!” And his desire and longings were that the Last Day were come, after which he should eternally enjoy in beatific vision the presence of that Almighty and All-merciful Saviour who had offered up Himself, an all-sufficient sacrifice for sinners.
While Bunyan was in this state, a translation of Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians fell into his hands; an old book, so tattered and thumb-worn, “ that it was ready to fall piece from piece if he did but turn it over.” Here in the work of that passionate and mighty mind, he saw his own soul reflected as in a glass. “I had but a little way perused it,” he says, “ when I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had been written out of my heart.” And in later life he thought it his duty to declare, that he preferred this book of Martin Luther before all the books he had ever seen, (the Bible alone excepted,) as fittest for a wounded conscience.
Mr. Coleridge has delineated with his wonted and peculiar ability the strong resemblance between Luther and Rousseau ; men who to ordinary observers would appear, in the constitution of their minds, most unlike each other. In different stages of his mental and spiritual growth, Bunyan had resembled both: like Rousseau, he had been tempted to set the question of his salvation upon a cast; like Luther, he had undergone the agonies of unbelief and deadly fear, and, according to his own persuasion, wrestled with the Enemy. I know not whether any parallel is to be found for him in the next and strangest part of his history; for now when he was fully convinced that his faith had been confirmed by special evidence from Heaven, . . when his desire was to die and be with Christ, . . an almost unimaginable temptation, which he might well call more grievous and dreadful than any with which he had before been afflicted, came upon it was, " to sell and part with Christ,—to exchange him for the things of this life, . . for any thing:" for the space of a year he he was haunted by this strange and hateful suggestion, and so
continually that he was “not rid of it one day in a month, nor sometimes one hour in many succeeding days,” unless in his sleep. It intermixed itself with whatever he thought or did. "I could neither eat my food,” he says, “stoop for a pin, chop a stick, or cast mine eye to look on this or that, but still the temptation would come, .Sell Christ for this, or sell Christ for that; sell Him, sell Him, sell Him!' Sometimes it would run in my thoughts not so little as a hundred times together, 'Sell Him, sell Him, sell Him, sell Him!' Against which, I may say, for whole hours together, I have been forced to stand as continually leaning and forcing my spirit against it, lest haply, before I were aware, some wicked thought might arise in my heart, that might consent thereto : and sometimes the Tempter would make me believe I had consented to it; but then should I be tortured upon a rack for whole days together. This temptation did put me to such scares,—that by the very force of my mind, in labouring to gainsay and resist this wickedness, my very body would be put into action,—by way of pushing or thrusting with my hands or elbows, still answering as fast as the Destroyer said.Sell Him,' 'I will not! I will not! I will not ! no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands of worlds! and thus till I scarce knew where I was, or how to be composed again."
This torment was accompanied with a prurient scrupulosity, which Bunyan when he became his own biographer looked back upon as part of the same temptation, proceeding immediately from the Evil One : “He would not let me eat at quiet, but forsooth, when I was set at the table, I must go thence to pray; I must leave my food now, and just now, . . so counterfeit holy would this Devil be! When I was thus tempted, I should say in myself, Now I am at meat, let me make an end.' No,' said he, 'you must do it now, or you will displease God and despise Christ.' Thus was he distracted, imagining these things to be impulses from God, and that to withstand them was to disobey the Almighty ; "and then,” says he, "should I be as guilty because I did not obey a temptation of the Devil, as if I had broken the law of God indeed.”
In this strange state of mind he had continued about a year, when one morning as he lay in bed, the wicked suggestion still