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and courage ; He healeth me, refresheth, advanceth, and comforteth me. :-The sultry heat of the prison, to me is coldness : the cold winter to me is a fresh spring-time in the Lord. He that feareth not to be burnt in the fire, how will he fear the heat of the weather ? Or what careth he for the pinching frost, who burneth with the love of the Lord ? This place is sharp and tedious to them that be guilty; but to the innocent,-here droppeth delectable dew, here floweth pleasant nectar, here runneth sweet milk, here is plenty of all good things.-Let the miserable worldling say, if there be any plot, pasture, or meadow, so delightful to the mind of man as here. Here is Mount Sion; here I am already in Heaven itself. Here standeth first Christ Jesus in the front: about him stand the old Patriarchs, Prophets, and Evangelists, Apostles, and all the servants of God; of whom some do embrace and cherish me; some exhort, some open the sacraments unto me, some comfort me, other some are singing about me. How then shall I be thought to be alone, among so many and such as these, the beholding of whom to me is both solace and example!"
“ This man,” says Bunyan," was, when he wrote this letter, in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, in the Church in the Wilderness,-in the Place and Way of contending for the Truth of God: and he drank of both cups,-of that which was exceeding bitter, and of that which was exceeding sweet; and the reason why he complained not of the bitter, was because the sweet had overcome it. As his afflictions abounded for Christ, so did his consolations by him ;-so did I say ? they abounded much more. But was not this man, think you, a Giant ? A pillar in this House ? Had he not also now hold of the shield of Faith? Yea, was he not now in the combat? And did he not behave himself valiantly? Was not his mind elevated a thousand degrees beyond sense, carnal reasons, fleshly love, self-concerns, and the desire of embracing worldly things? This man had got that by the end that pleased him: neither could all the flatteries, promises, threats, or reproaches, make him once listen to, or inquire after, what the world, or the glory of it, could afford. His mind was captivated with delights invisible, he coveted to shew his love to his Lord by laying down his life for His sake. He long
ed to be there, where there shall be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing, nor tears, nor troubles."
Banyan had thoroughly conformed his own frame of mind to that which he thus admired; but there were times when his spirit failed; and there is not a more characteristic passage in his works, than that in which he describes his apprehensions, and inward conflict, and final determination. "I will tell you a pretty business," he says: “I was in a very sad and low condition for many weeks ; at which times also, being but a young prisoner and not acquainted with the laws, I had this lying much upon my spirits, that my imprisonment might end at the gallows, for aught that I could tell. Now therefore Satan laid hard at me, to beat me out of heart, by suggesting this unto me ; But how if, when you come indeed to die, you should be in this condition ; that is, as not to savour the things of God, nor to have any evidence upon your soul for a better state hereafter ?' (for indeed at that time all the things of God were hid from my soul.) Wherefore, when I at first began to think of this, it was a great trouble to me; for I thought with myself, that in the condition I now was, I was not fit to die; neither indeed did I think I could, if I should be called to it. Besides, I thought with myself, if I should make a scrambling shift to clamber up the ladder, yet I should either with quaking, or other symptoms of fainting, give occasion to the enemy to reproach the way of God, and his people for their timorousness. This therefore lay with great trouble upon me; for methought I was ashamed to die with a pale face and tottering knees, in such a case as this. Wherefore I prayed to God that He would comfort me, and give me strength to do and suffer what He should call me to; yet no comfort appeared, but all continued hid. I was also at this time so really possessed with the thought of death, that oft I was as if I was on the ladder with a rope about my neck. Only this was some encouragement to me: I thought I might now have an opportunity to speak my last words unto a multitude, which I thought would come to see me die; and, thought I, if it must be so, if God will but convert one soul by my last words, I shall not count
my life thrown away, nor lost. “But yet all the things of God were kept out of my sight ;
and still the Tempter followed me with, “But whither must you
when you die? what will become of you? where will you be found in another world ? what evidence have you for Heaven and glory, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified ?" Thus was I tossed for many weeks, and knew not what to do. At last this consideration fell with weight upon me, that it was for the word and way of God that I was in this condition, wherefore I was engaged not to flinch a hair's breadth from it. I thought also that God might choose whether He would give me comfort now, or at the hour of death; but I might not therefore choose, whether I would hold my profession or not. I was bound, but He was free. Yea, it was my duty to stand to His Word, whether He would ever look upon me or save me at the last; 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!" John Bunyan did not ask himself how far the case of those Martyrs whose example he was prepared to follow, resembled the situation in which he was placed. Such a question, had he been cool enough to entertain it, might have shewn him that they had no other alternative than idolatry or the stake: but that he was neither called upon to renounce any thing that he did believe, nor to profess any thing that he did not; that the congregation to which he belonged held at that time their meetings unmolested; that he might have worshipped when he pleased, where he pleased, and how he pleased ; that he was only required not to go about the country holding conventicles; and that the cause for that interdiction was-not that persons were admonished in such conventicles to labour for salvation, but that they were exhorted there to regard with abhorrence that Protestant Church which is essentially part of the constitution of this kingdom; from the doctrines of which Church, except in the point of infant baptism, he did not differ a hair's breadth. This I am bound to observe, because Bunyan has been, and no doubt will continue to be, most wrongfully represented, as
having been the victim of intolerant laws, and prelatical oppression.
But greater strength of will and strength of heart could not have been mainfested, if a plain duty, wherewith there may be no compromise, had called for that sacrifice which he was ready to have made. It would be wronging him here, were the touching expression of his feelings under these circumstances to be withheld. “I found myself,” he says, “a man encompassed with infirmities. The parting with my wife and poor children, hath often been to me, in this place, as the pulling the flesh from the bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants, that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them; especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all besides. Oh, the thoughts of the hardships I thought my poor blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces !-Poor child! thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten; must beg; suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the heads of his wife and children: yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it! And now I thought on those two milch-kine that were to carry the Ark of God into another country, and to leave their * calves behind them.”,
These fears past away when he found that no further proceedings were intended against him. But his worldly occupation was gone, for there was an end of tinkering as well as of his ministerial itinerancy ; “ He was as effectually called away from his pots and kettles,” says Mr. Ivimey, " as the Apostles were from mending their nets ;" he learnt therefore to make tagged thread-laces, and by this means supported his family. They lost the comfort of his presence; but in other respects their condition was not worsened by his imprisonment, which indeed was
* 1 Sam, vi. 10.
likely to render them objects of kindness, as well as of compassion, to their neighbours. In an age when the state of our prisons was disgraceful to a Christian people, and the treatment of prisoners not unfrequently most inhuman, Bunyan was fortunate in the place of his confinement and in the disposition of his jailer, who is said to have committed the management of the prison to his care, knowing how entirely he might be trusted. He had the society there of some who were suffering for the same cause; he had his Bible and his Book of Martyrs; and he had leisure to brood over his own thoughts. The fever of his enthusiasm had spent itself; the asperity of his opinions was softened as his mind enlarged; and the Pilgrim's Progress was one of the fruits of his imprisonment. But before that work is spoken of more particularly, it will be convenient to pursue the story of his life to its close.
He remained a prisoner twelve years. But it appears, that during the last four of those years he regularly attended the Baptist Meeting, his name being always in the records ; and in the eleventh year the congregation chose him for their Pastor; “ he at the same time accepted the invitation, and gave himself up to serve Christ and his Church in that charge, and received of the Elders the right hand of fellowship.” The more recent historian of the Baptists says, “ How he could exercise his pastoral office in preaching among them, while he continued a prisoner in the jail, we are at a loss to conceive :"—unquestionably only by being a prisoner at large, and having the liberty of the town while he lodged in the prison. There is a print in which he is represented as pursued by a rabble to his own door; but there is no allusion to any such outrage in any part of his works: in his own neighbourhood, where he had always lived, it is most unlikely to have happened; and if Bunyan had any enemies latterly, they were among the bigots of his own persuasion. His character had by this time obtained respect, his books had attracted notice, and Dr. Barlow, then Bishop of Lincoln, and other Churchmen, are said to have pitied “his hard and unreasonable sufferings so far as to stand very much his friends in procuring his enlargement." * How this was effected is not known.
* This is the statement given in the continuation of his Life, appended