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it would blaze out; it was as a fire in his bones, if he restrained it, and it must burn. Unconsciously to himself, others first marked its power in him, and marked him as an instrument of God, for the instruction of his people and the conversion of men. Bunyan was pressed on, but never put himself forward. The gifts and graces of God in him shone so brightly, that men would have him for their minister. He was exceedingly retiring, humble, trembling, self-distrustful, and began to speak only to a few, in few words, in little meetings. But it was soon seen and felt that the Spirit and the word of God were speaking in him. And even before he became the ordained pastor of a people, he had that seal of God's ambassadors, which is better than all the consecrating oil of the Vatican, better than the hands of all the Bishops, better than all apostolical successions traced down through idolaters and adulterers in the House of God; he had the seal of the Spirit of God upon his preaching, bringing men to Christ. He could say, if he chose, “The seal of mine apostleship are YE IN THE LORD! Though I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am unto you.” These things were, as well they might be, an argument unto Bunyan, that God had called him to, and stood by him in this work. Wherefore, says he, though of myself of all the saints the most unworthy, yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight of my own weakness, did set upon the work, and did, according to my gift, and the proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel that God has showed me in the holy word of truth; which, when
the country understood they came in to hear the word by hundreds, and that from all parts, though upon divers and sundry accounts.
Bunyan was called to his ministry, and led into it, by God's word, though most unfortunately not in the regular line of the apostolical succession. He enumerates the passages which ran in his mind and encouraged and strengthened him ; and they are very striking, and all-sufficient for his justification. The first of them is that of Acts viii. 4. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.” Bunyan knew there was no apostolical succession there. Another passage was that in 1 Peter iv. 10. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Bunyan knew that being addressed to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, there was no apostolical succession there. He also knew that in the case of the household of Stephanas, who had addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints, there was no apostolical succession. And these passages all were as so many certificates to him from Jesus Christ, that he, being called by the Holy Ghost, might preach the gospel. And so he did preach it, and many and blessed were the seals of his faithful stewardship. He knew what the office of the ministry was. He had often read Paul's catalogue of its qualifications, and they suited the frame of his own intrepid spirit.
« In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities,
in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned; by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report;
report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed ; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Cor. vi. 4-10. There is no apostolical succession here, nor prelatical nor episcopal consecration; but a succession of adversities ; a consecration to the sacred fires of self-denial and of suffering for Christ's sake. Assuredly John Bunyan was as true, and regular, and Heaven-commissioned a minister of Jesus Christ, as any bishop in lawn sleeves, under whose jurisdiction he was forbidden to preach, and was thrust into prison.
Bunyan's life and discipline, under the leadings of Divine Providence, were very much like those of some of the early Reformers of England. In his character and his preaching he resembled not a little the honesty and vigor, the straight-forwardness and humor of Bishop Latimer. He had kindred qualities also with those of Luther, and the perusal of Luther's Commentary on Galatians, we doubt not, exerted a great influence on the character of Bunyan's preaching. Nevertheless, the little that Bunyan received from others became his own, as
much as if it had originated with himself; being a process as natural and unconscious in his intellectual and moral being, as that in which the dews and light from heaven, falling on the plants, are worked into the nature of the fruits and foliage.
Bunyan always preached what he saw and felt, and so the character of his preaching varied with the aspect which Divine Truth, in the coloring of his personal hopes and fears, wore to his own soul. He enumerates three chief enclosures in the pastures of Divine Truth, in which he was detained by his own experience ; for he dared not break through that hedge, and take things at second hand, as he might find them. He says, that he never endeavored nor durst make use, of other men's lives, or tracings, though, he adds, I do not condemn all that do; for I verily thought and found by experience that what was taught me by the word and Spirit of Christ could be spoken, maintained, and stood to by the soundest and best established conscience. He could, in a great measure, say with the apostle, I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In the first years of his preaching, Bunyan had not advanced to that richness and blissfulness of religious experience, in the possession and command of which he wrote the Pilgrim's Progress. As a preacher, he was at first as a man flying from hell, and warning others to flee also, but not having reached the gates of Heaven. He was as his own
Pilgrim, trembling beneath the overhanging rocks of Sinai, stunned by the crashing peals of thunder, and well nigh blinded by the lightning. He was passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and knowing the terrors of the Lord he persuaded men, pouring out upon them, as in a stream of fire, the intensity of his own convictions. How he preached in the midst of such soul-torturing experience may be gathered from his own language. “This part of my work,” says he, “I fulfilled with great sense : for the terrors of the Law, and guilt for my transgressions, lay heavy upon my conscience. I preached what I felt, what smartingly I did feel, even that, under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to astonishment. Indeed, I have been as one sent to them from the dead. I WENT MYSELF IN CHAINS TO PREACH TO THEM IN CHAINS; AND CARRIED THAT FIRE IN MY OWN CONSCIENCE, THAT I PERSUADED THEM TO BE AWARE OF. I can truly say, that when I have been to preach, I have gone full of Guilt and Terror to the pulpit door ; and then it hath been taken off, and I have been at liberty in my mind until I have done my work; and then immediately, even before I could get down the pulpit stairs, I have been as bad as I was before. Yet God carried me on; but surely with a strong hand, for neither guilt nor hell could take me off my work."
work.” So, Bunyan preached, and preaching so, it is no wonder that he made an impression both on men and devils. He describes with great nature and truth his various frames in preaching; sometimes with such enlargement of soul, that he could speak as in a very flame of fire ;