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Title: Bunyan
Author: Froude, James Anthony, 1818-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bunyan" ***

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English Men of Letters

Edited by John Morley




Macmillan and Co.


   CHAPTER I.                                           PAGE

   EARLY LIFE                                             1


   CONVICTION OF SIN                                     16


   GRACE ABOUNDING                                       35


   CALL TO THE MINISTRY                                  52


   ARREST AND TRIAL                                      65


   THE BEDFORD GAOL                                      78


   LIFE AND DEATH OF MR. BADMAN                          90


   THE HOLY WAR                                         114


   THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS                               151


   LAST DAYS AND DEATH                                  173




'I was of a low and inconsiderable generation, my father's house being
of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all families in the
land.' 'I never went to school, to Aristotle or Plato, but was brought
up in my father's house in a very mean condition, among a company of
poor countrymen.' 'Nevertheless, I bless God that by this door He
brought me into the world to partake of the grace and life that is by
Christ in His Gospel.' This is the account given of himself and his
origin by a man whose writings have for two centuries affected the
spiritual opinions of the English race in every part of the world more
powerfully than any book or books, except the Bible.

John Bunyan was born at Elstow, a village near Bedford, in the year
1628. It was a memorable epoch in English history, for in that year
the House of Commons extorted the consent of Charles I. to the
Petition of Right. The stir of politics, however, did not reach the
humble household into which the little boy was introduced. His father
was hardly occupied in earning bread for his wife and children as a
mender of pots and kettles: a tinker,--working in neighbours' houses
or at home, at such business as might be brought to him. 'The
Bunyans,' says a friend, 'were of the national religion, as men of
that calling commonly were.' Bunyan himself, in a passage which has
been always understood to refer to his father, describes him 'as an
honest poor labouring man, who, like Adam unparadised, had all the
world to get his bread in, and was very careful to maintain his
family.' In those days there were no village schools in England; the
education of the poor was an apprenticeship to agriculture or
handicraft; their religion they learnt at home or in church. Young
Bunyan was more fortunate. In Bedford there was a grammar school,
which had been founded in Queen Mary's time by the Lord Mayor of
London, Sir William Harper. Hither, when he was old enough to walk to
and fro, over the mile of road between Elstow and Bedford, the child
was sent, if not to learn Aristotle and Plato, to learn at least 'to
read and write according to the rate of other poor men's children.'

If religion was not taught at school, it was taught with some care in
the cottages and farmhouses by parents and masters. It was common in
many parts of England, as late as the end of the last century, for the
farmers to gather their apprentices about them on Sunday afternoons,
and to teach them the Catechism. Rude as was Bunyan's home, religious
notions of some kind had been early and vividly impressed upon him. He
caught, indeed, the ordinary habits of the boys among whom he was
thrown. He learnt to use bad language, and he often lied. When a
child's imagination is exceptionally active, the temptations to
untruth are correspondingly powerful. The inventive faculty has its
dangers, and Bunyan was eminently gifted in that way. He was a
violent, passionate boy besides, and thus he says of himself that for
lying and swearing he had no equal, and that his parents did not
sufficiently correct him. Wickedness, he declares in his own
remorseful story of his early years, became a second nature to him.
But the estimate which a man forms of himself in later life, if he has
arrived at any strong abhorrence of moral evil, is harsher than others
at the time would have been likely to have formed. Even then the poor
child's conscience must have been curiously sensitive, and it revenged
itself upon him in singular tortures.

'My sins,' he says, 'did so offend the Lord that even in my childhood
He did scare and affright me with fearful dreams, and did terrify me
with dreadful visions. I have been in my bed greatly afflicted while
asleep, with apprehensions of devils and wicked spirits, who still, as
I then thought, laboured to draw me away with them, of which I could
never be rid. I was afflicted with thoughts of the Day of Judgment
night and day, trembling at the thoughts of the fearful torments of
hell fire.' When, at ten years old, he was running about with his
companions in 'his sports and childish vanities,' these terrors
continually recurred to him, yet 'he would not let go his sins.'

Such a boy required rather to be encouraged than checked in seeking
innocent amusements. Swearing and lying were definite faults which
ought to have been corrected; but his parents, perhaps, saw that there
was something unusual in the child. To them he probably appeared not
worse than other boys, but considerably better. They may have thought
it more likely that he would conquer his own bad inclinations by his
own efforts, than that they could mend him by rough rebukes.

When he left school he would naturally have been bound apprentice,
but his father brought him up at his own trade. Thus he lived at home,
and grew to manhood there, forming his ideas of men and things out of
such opportunities as the Elstow neighbourhood afforded.

From the time when the Reformation brought them a translation of it,
the Bible was the book most read--it was often the only book which was
read--in humble English homes. Familiarity with the words had not yet
trampled the sacred writings into practical barrenness. No doubts or
questions had yet risen about the Bible's nature or origin. It was
received as the authentic word of God Himself. The Old and New
Testament alike represented the world as the scene of a struggle
between good and evil spirits; and thus every ordinary incident of
daily life was an instance or illustration of God's Providence. This
was the universal popular belief, not admitted only by the intellect,
but accepted and realised by the imagination. No one questioned it,
save a few speculative philosophers in their closets. The statesman in
the House of Commons, the judge on the Bench, the peasant in a midland
village, interpreted literally by this rule the phenomena which they
experienced or saw. They not only believed that God had miraculously
governed the Israelites, but they believed that as directly and
immediately He governed England in the seventeenth century. They not
only believed that there had been a witch at Endor, but they believed
that there were witches in their own villages, who had made compacts
with the devil himself. They believed that the devil still literally
walked the earth like a roaring lion: that he and the evil angels were
perpetually labouring to destroy the souls of men; and that God was
equally busy overthrowing the devil's work, and bringing sin and
crimes to eventual punishment.

In this light the common events of life were actually looked at and
understood, and the air was filled with anecdotes so told as to
illustrate the belief. These stories and these experiences were
Bunyan's early mental food. One of them, which had deeply impressed
the imagination of the Midland counties, was the story of 'Old Tod.'
This man came one day into court, in the Summer Assizes at Bedford,
'all in a dung sweat,' to demand justice upon himself as a felon. No
one had accused him, but God's judgment was not to be escaped, and he
was forced to accuse himself. 'My Lord,' said Old Tod to the judge, 'I
have been a thief from my childhood. I have been a thief ever since.
There has not been a robbery committed these many years, within so
many miles of this town, but I have been privy to it.' The judge,
after a conference, agreed to indict him of certain felonies which he
had acknowledged. He pleaded guilty, implicating his wife along with
him, and they were both hanged.

An intense belief in the moral government of the world creates what it
insists upon. Horror at sin forces the sinner to confess it, and makes
others eager to punish it. 'God's revenge against murder and adultery'
becomes thus an actual fact, and justifies the conviction in which it
rises. Bunyan was specially attentive to accounts of judgments upon
swearing, to which he was himself addicted. He tells a story of a man
at Wimbledon, who, after uttering some strange blasphemy, was struck
with sickness, and died cursing. Another such scene he probably
witnessed himself,[1] and never forgot. An alehouse-keeper in the
neighbourhood of Elstow had a son who was half-witted. The favourite
amusement, when a party was collected drinking, was for the father to
provoke the lad's temper, and for the lad to curse his father and wish
the devil had him. The devil at last did have the alehouse-keeper, and
rent and tore him till he died. 'I,' says Bunyan, 'was eye and ear
witness of what I here say. I have heard Ned in his roguery cursing
his father, and his father laughing thereat most heartily, still
provoking of Ned to curse that his mirth might be increased. I saw his
father also when he was possessed. I saw him in one of his fits, and
saw his flesh as it was thought gathered up in an heap about the
bigness of half an egg, to the unutterable torture and affliction of
the old man. There was also one Freeman, who was more than an ordinary
doctor, sent for to cast out the devil, and I was there when he
attempted to do it. The manner whereof was this. They had the
possessed in an outroom, and laid him upon his belly upon a form, with
his head hanging down over the form's end. Then they bound him down
thereto; which done, they set a pan of coals under his mouth, and put
something therein which made a great smoke--by this means, as it was
said, to fetch out the devil. There they kept the man till he was
almost smothered in the smoke, but no devil came out of him, at which
Freeman was somewhat abashed, the man greatly afflicted, and I made to
go away wondering and fearing. In a little time, therefore, that which
possessed the man carried him out of the world, according to the
cursed wishes of his son.'

[Footnote 1: The story is told by Mr. Attentive in the 'Life of Mr.
Badman;' but it is almost certain that Bunyan was relating his own

The wretched alehouse-keeper's life was probably sacrificed in this
attempt to dispossess the devil. But the incident would naturally
leave its mark on the mind of an impressionable boy. Bunyan ceased to
frequent such places after he began to lead a religious life. The
story, therefore, most likely belongs to the experiences of his first
youth after he left school; and there may have been many more of a
similar kind, for, except that he was steady at his trade, he grew up
a wild lad, the ringleader of the village apprentices in all manner of
mischief. He had no books, except a life of Sir Bevis of Southampton,
which would not tend to sober him; indeed, he soon forgot all that he
had learnt at school, and took to amusements and doubtful adventures,
orchard-robbing, perhaps, or poaching, since he hints that he might
have brought himself within reach of the law. In the most passionate
language of self-abhorrence, he accuses himself of all manner of sins,
yet it is improbable that he appeared to others what in later life he
appeared to himself. He judged his own conduct as he believed that it
was regarded by his Maker, by whom he supposed eternal torment to have
been assigned as the just retribution for the lightest offence. Yet he
was never drunk. He who never forgot anything with which he could
charge himself, would not have passed over drunkenness, if he could
remember that he had been guilty of it; and he distinctly asserts,
also, that he was never in a single instance unchaste. In our days, a
rough tinker who could say as much for himself after he had grown to
manhood, would be regarded as a model of self-restraint. If, in
Bedford and the neighbourhood, there was no young man more vicious
than Bunyan, the moral standard of an English town in the seventeenth
century must have been higher than believers in Progress will be
pleased to allow.

He declares that he was without God in the world, and in the sense
which he afterwards attached to the word this was probably true. But
serious thoughts seldom ceased to work in him. Dreams only reproduce
the forms and feelings with which the waking imagination is most
engaged. Bunyan's rest continued to be haunted with the phantoms which
had terrified him when a child. He started in his sleep, and
frightened the family with his cries. He saw evil spirits in monstrous
shapes and fiends blowing flames out of their nostrils. 'Once,' says a
biographer, who knew him well, and had heard the story of his visions
from his own lips, 'he dreamed that he saw the face of heaven as it
were on fire, the firmament crackling and shivering with the noise of
mighty thunder, and an archangel flew in the midst of heaven, sounding
a trumpet, and a glorious throne was seated in the east, whereon sat
One in brightness like the morning star. Upon which, he thinking it
was the end of the world, fell upon his knees and said, "Oh, Lord,
have mercy on me! What shall I do? The Day of Judgment is come and I
am not prepared."'

At another time 'he dreamed that he was in a pleasant place jovial and
rioting, when an earthquake rent the earth, out of which came bloody
flames, and the figures of men tossed up in globes of fire, and
falling down again with horrible cries and shrieks and execrations,
while devils mingled among them, and laughed aloud at their torments.
As he stood trembling, the earth sank under him, and a circle of
flames embraced him. But when he fancied he was at the point to
perish, One in shining white raiment descended and plucked him out of
that dreadful place, while the devils cried after him to take him to
the punishment which his sins had deserved. Yet he escaped the danger,
and leapt for joy when he awoke and found it was a dream.'

Mr. Southey, who thinks wisely that Bunyan's biographers have
exaggerated his early faults, considers that at worst he was a sort of
'blackguard.' This, too, is a wrong word. Young village blackguards do
not dream of archangels flying through the midst of heaven, nor were
these imaginations invented afterwards, or rhetorically exaggerated.
Bunyan was undoubtedly given to story-telling as a boy, and the
recollection of it made him peculiarly scrupulous in his statements in
later life. One trait he mentions of himself which no one would have
thought of who had not experienced the feeling, yet every person can
understand it and sympathise with it. These spectres and hobgoblins
drove him wild. He says, 'I was so overcome with despair of life and
heaven, that I should often wish either that there had been no hell,
or that I had been a devil; supposing that they were only tormentors,
and that, if it must needs be that I went thither, I might rather be a
tormentor than tormented myself.'

The visions at last ceased. God left him to himself, as he puts it,
and gave him over to his own wicked inclinations. He fell, he says,
into all kinds of vice and ungodliness without further check. The
expression is very strong, yet when we look for particulars we can
find only that he was fond of games which Puritan preciseness
disapproved. He had high animal spirits, and engaged in lawless
enterprises. Once or twice he nearly lost his life. He is sparing of
details of his outward history, for he regarded it as nothing but
vanity; but his escapes from death were providences, and therefore he
mentions them. He must have gone to the coast somewhere, for he was
once almost drowned in a creek of the sea. He fell out of a boat into
the river at another time, and it seems that he could not swim.
Afterwards he seized hold of an adder, and was not bitten by it. These
mercies were sent as warnings, but he says that he was too careless
to profit by them. He thought that he had forgotten God altogether,
and yet it is plain that he had not forgotten. A bad young man, who
has shaken off religion because it is a restraint, observes with
malicious amusement the faults of persons who make a profession of
religion. He infers that they do not really believe it, and only
differ from their neighbours in being hypocrites. Bunyan notes this
disposition in his own history of Mr. Badman. Of himself, he says:
'Though I could sin with delight and ease, and take pleasure in the
villanies of my companions, even then, if I saw wicked things done by
them that professed goodness, it would make my spirit tremble. Once,
when I was in the height of my vanity, hearing one swear that was
reckoned a religious man, it made my heart to ache.'

He was now seventeen, and we can form a tolerably accurate picture of
him--a tall, active lad, working as his father's apprentice, at his
pots and kettles, ignorant of books, and with no notion of the world
beyond what he could learn in his daily drudgery, and the talk of the
alehouse and the village green; inventing lies to amuse his
companions, and swearing that they were true; playing bowls and
tipcat, ready for any reckless action, and always a leader in it, yet
all the while singularly pure from the more brutal forms of vice, and
haunted with feverish thoughts, which he tried to forget in
amusements. It has been the fashion to take his account of himself
literally, and represent him as the worst of reprobates, in order to
magnify the effects of his conversion, and perhaps to make
intelligible to his admiring followers the reproaches which he heaps
upon himself. They may have felt that they could not be wrong in
explaining his own language in the only sense in which they could
attach a meaning to it. Yet, sinner though he may have been, like all
the rest of us, his sins were not the sins of coarseness and
vulgarity. They were the sins of a youth of sensitive nature and very
peculiar gifts: gifts which brought special temptations with them, and
inclined him to be careless and desperate, yet from causes singularly
unlike those which are usually operative in dissipated and uneducated

It was now the year 1645. Naseby Field was near, and the first Civil
War was drawing to its close. At this crisis Bunyan was, as he says,
drawn to be a soldier; and it is extremely characteristic of him and
of the body to which he belonged, that he leaves us to guess on which
side he served. He does not tell us himself. His friends in after life
did not care to ask him, or he to inform them, or else they also
thought the matter of too small importance to be worth mentioning with
exactness. There were two traditions, and his biographers chose
between them as we do. Close as the connection was in that great
struggle between civil and religious liberty--flung as Bunyan was
flung into the very centre of the conflict between the English people
and the Crown and Church and aristocracy--victim as he was himself of
intolerance and persecution, he never but once took any political
part, and then only in signing an address to Cromwell. He never showed
any active interest in political questions; and if he spoke on such
questions at all after the Restoration, it was to advise submission to
the Stuart Government. By the side of the stupendous issues of human
life, such miserable _rights_ as men might pretend to in this world
were not worth contending for. The only _right_ of man that he thought
much about, was the right to be eternally damned if he did not lay
hold of grace. King and subject were alike creatures whose sole
significance lay in their individual immortal souls. Their relations
with one another upon earth were nothing in the presence of the awful
judgment which awaited them both. Thus whether Bunyan's brief career
in the army was under Charles or under Fairfax must remain doubtful.
Probability is on the side of his having been with the Royalists. His
father was of 'the national religion.' He himself had as yet no
special convictions of his own. John Gifford, the Baptist minister at
Bedford, had been a Royalist. The only incident which Bunyan speaks of
connected with his military experience points in the same direction.
'When I was a soldier,' he says, 'I was with others drawn out to go to
such a place to besiege it. But when I was just ready to go, one of
the company desired to go in my room. Coming to the siege as he stood
sentinel he was shot in the heart with a musket bullet and died.'
Tradition agrees that the place to which these words refer was
Leicester. Leicester was stormed by the King's troops a few days
before the battle of Naseby. It was recovered afterwards by the
Parliamentarians, but on the second occasion there was no fighting, as
it capitulated without a shot being fired. Mr. Carlyle supposes that
Bunyan was not with the attacking party, but was in the town as one of
the garrison, and was taken prisoner there. But this cannot be, for he
says expressly that he was one of the besiegers. Legend gathers freely
about eminent men, about men especially who are eminent in religion,
whether they are Catholic or Protestant. Lord Macaulay is not only
positive that the hero of the English Dissenters fought on the side of
the Commonwealth, but he says, without a word of caution on the
imperfection of the evidence, 'His Greatheart, his Captain Boanerges,
and his Captain Credence, are evidently portraits of which the
originals were among those martial saints who fought and expounded in
Fairfax's army.'[2]

[Footnote 2: _Life of Bunyan_: Collected Works, vol. vii. p. 299.]

If the martial saints had impressed Bunyan so deeply, it is
inconceivable that he should have made no more allusion to his
military service than in this brief passage. He refers to the siege
and all connected with it merely as another occasion of his own
providential escapes from death.

Let the truth of this be what it may, the troop to which he belonged
was soon disbanded. He returned at the end of the year to his tinker's
work at Elstow, much as he had left it. The saints, if he had met with
saints, had not converted him. 'I sinned still,' he says, 'and grew
more and more rebellious against God and careless of my own
salvation.' An important change of another kind, however, lay before
him. Young as he was he married. His friends advised it, for they
thought that marriage would make him steady. The step was less
imprudent than it would have been had Bunyan been in a higher rank of
life, or had aimed at rising into it. The girl whom he chose was a
poor orphan, but she had been carefully and piously brought up, and
from her acceptance of him, something more may be inferred about his
character. Had he been a dissolute idle scamp, it is unlikely that a
respectable woman would have become his wife when he was a mere boy.
His sins, whatever these were, had not injured his outward
circumstances; it is clear that all along he worked skilfully and
industriously at his tinkering business. He had none of the habits
which bring men to beggary. From the beginning of his life to the end
of it he was a prudent, careful man, and, considering the station to
which he belonged, a very successful man.

'I lighted on a wife,' he says, 'whose father was counted godly. We
came together as poor as poor might be, not having so much household
stuff as a dish or a spoon between us. But she had for her portion two
books, "The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven," and "The Practice of
Piety," which her father had left her when he died. In these two books
I sometimes read with her. I found some things pleasing to me, but all
this while I met with no conviction. She often told me what a godly
man her father was, how he would reprove and correct vice both in his
house and among his neighbours, what a strict and holy life he lived
in his day both in word and deed. These books, though they did not
reach my heart, did light in me some desire to religion.'

There was still an Established Church in England, and the constitution
of it had not yet been altered. The Presbyterian platform threatened
to take the place of Episcopacy, and soon did take it; but the
clergyman was still a priest and was still regarded with pious
veneration in the country districts as a semi-supernatural being. The
altar yet stood in its place, the minister still appeared in his
surplice, and the Prayers of the Liturgy continued to be read or
intoned. The old familiar bells, Catholic as they were in all the
emotions which they suggested, called the congregation together with
their musical peal, though in the midst of triumphant Puritanism. The
'Book of Sports,' which, under an order from Charles I., had been read
regularly in Church, had in 1644 been laid under a ban; but the gloom
of a Presbyterian Sunday was, is, and for ever will be detestable to
the natural man; and the Elstow population gathered persistently after
service on the village green for their dancing, and their leaping,
and their archery. Long habit cannot be transformed in a day by an
Edict of Council, and amidst army manifestoes and battles of Marston
Moor, and a king dethroned and imprisoned, old English life in
Bedfordshire preserved its familiar features. These Sunday sports had
been a special delight to Bunyan, and it is to them which he refers in
the following passage, when speaking of his persistent wickedness. On
his marriage he became regular and respectable in his habits. He says,
'I fell in with the religion of the times to go to church twice a day,
very devoutly to say and sing as the others did, yet retaining my
wicked life. Withal I was so overrun with the spirit of superstition
that I adored with great devotion even all things, both the high
place, priest, clerk, vestment, service, and what else belonging to
the Church, counting all things holy therein contained, and especially
the priest and clerk most happy and without doubt greatly blessed.
This conceit grew so strong in my spirit, that had I but seen a
priest, though never so sordid and debauched in his life, I should
find my spirit fall under him, reverence, and be knit to him. Their
name, their garb, and work did so intoxicate and bewitch me.'

Surely if there were no other evidence, these words would show that
the writer of them had never listened to the expositions of the
martial saints.



The 'Pilgrim's Progress' is the history of the struggle of human
nature to overcome temptation and shake off the bondage of sin, under
the convictions which prevailed among serious men in England in the
seventeenth century. The allegory is the life of its author cast in an
imaginative form. Every step in Christian's journey had been first
trodden by Bunyan himself; every pang of fear and shame, every spasm
of despair, every breath of hope and consolation, which is there
described, is but a reflexion as on a mirror from personal experience.
It has spoken to the hearts of all later generations of Englishmen
because it came from the heart; because it is the true record of the
genuine emotions of a human soul; and to such a record the emotions of
other men will respond, as one stringed instrument vibrates
responsively to another. The poet's power lies in creating sympathy;
but he cannot, however richly gifted, stir feelings which he has not
himself known in all their intensity.

    Ut ridentibus arrident ita flentibus adflent
    Humani vultus. Si vis me flere dolendum est
    Primum ipsi tibi.

The religious history of man is essentially the same in all ages. It
takes its rise in the duality of his nature. He is an animal, and as
an animal he desires bodily pleasure and shrinks from bodily pain. As
a being capable of morality, he is conscious that for him there exists
a right and wrong. Something, whatever that something may be, binds
him to choose one and avoid the other. This is his religion, his
religatio, his obligation, in the sense in which the Romans, from whom
we take it, used the word; and obligation implies some superior power
to which man owes obedience. The conflict between his two dispositions
agitates his heart, and perplexes his intellect. To do what the
superior power requires of him, he must thwart his inclinations. He
dreads punishment, if he neglects to do it. He invents methods by
which he can indulge his appetites, and finds a substitute by which he
can propitiate his invisible ruler or rulers. He offers sacrifices; he
institutes ceremonies and observances. This is the religion of the
body, the religion of fear. It is what we call superstition. In his
nobler moods he feels that this is but to evade the difficulty. He
perceives that the sacrifice required is the sacrifice of himself. It
is not the penalty for sin which he must fear, but the sin itself. He
must conquer his own lower nature. He must detach his heart from his
pleasures, and he must love good for its own sake, and because it is
his only real good; and this is spiritual religion or piety. Between
these two forms of worship of the unseen, the human race has swayed to
and fro from the first moment in which they learnt to discern between
good and evil. Superstition attracts, because it is indulgent to
immorality by providing means by which God can be pacified. But it
carries its antidote along with it, for it keeps alive the sense of
God's existence; and when it has produced its natural effects, when
the believer rests in his observances and lives practically as if
there was no God at all, the conscience again awakes. Sacrifices and
ceremonies become detested as idolatry, and religion becomes
conviction of sin, a fiery determination to fight with the whole soul
against appetite, vanity, self-seeking, and every mean propensity
which the most sensitive alarm can detect. The battle unhappily is
attended with many vicissitudes. The victory, though practically it
may be won, is never wholly won. The struggle brings with it every
variety of emotion, alternations of humility and confidence,
despondency and hope. The essence of it is always the same--the effort
of the higher nature to overcome the lower. The form of it varies from
period to period, according to the conditions of the time, the
temperament of different people, the conception of the character of
the Supreme Power, which the state of knowledge enables men to form.
It will be found even when the puzzled intellect can see no light in
Heaven at all, in the stern and silent fulfilment of moral duty. It
will appear as enthusiasm; it will appear as asceticism. It will
appear wherever there is courage to sacrifice personal enjoyment for a
cause believed to be holy. We must all live. We must all, as we
suppose, in one shape or other give account for our actions; and
accounts of the conflict are most individually interesting when it is
an open wrestle with the enemy; as we find in the penances and
austerities of the Catholic saints, or when the difficulties of belief
are confessed and detailed, as in David's Psalms, or in the Epistles
of St. Paul. St. Paul, like the rest of mankind, found a law in his
members warring against the law which was in his heart. The problem
presented to him was how one was to be brought into subjection to the
other, and the solution was by 'the putting on of Christ.' St. Paul's
mind was charged with the ideas of Oriental and Greek philosophy then
prevalent in the Roman Empire. His hearers understood him, because he
spoke in the language of the prevailing speculations. We who have not
the clue cannot, perhaps, perfectly understand him; but his words have
been variously interpreted as human intelligence has expanded, and
have formed the basis of the two great theologies which have been
developed out of Christianity. The Christian religion taught that evil
could not be overcome by natural human strength. The Son of God had
come miraculously upon earth, had lived a life of stainless purity,
and had been offered as a sacrifice to redeem men conditionally from
the power of sin. The conditions, as English Protestant theology
understands them, are nowhere more completely represented than in the
'Pilgrim's Progress.' The Catholic theology, rising as it did in the
two centuries immediately following St. Paul, approached probably
nearer to what he really intended to say.

Catholic theology, as a system, is a development of Platonism. The
Platonists had discovered that the seat of moral evil was material
substance. In matter, and therefore in the human body, there was
either some inherent imperfection, or some ingrained perversity and
antagonism to good. The soul so long as it was attached to the body
was necessarily infected by it; and as human life on earth consisted
in the connection of soul and body, every single man was necessarily
subject to infirmity. Catholic theology accepted the position and
formulated an escape from it. The evil in matter was a fact. It was
explained by Adam's sin. But there it was. The taint was inherited by
all Adam's posterity. The flesh of man was incurably vitiated, and if
he was to be saved a new body must be prepared for him. This Christ
had done. That Christ's body was not as other men's bodies was proved
after his resurrection, when it showed itself independent of the
limitations of extended substance. In virtue of these mysterious
properties it became the body of the Corporate Church into which
believers were admitted by baptism. The natural body was not at once
destroyed, but a new element was introduced into it, by the power of
which, assisted by penance and mortification, and the spiritual food
of the Eucharist, the grosser qualities were gradually subdued, and
the corporeal system was changed. Then body and spirit became alike
pure together, and the saint became capable of obedience, so perfect
as not only to suffice for himself, but to supply the wants of others.
The corruptible put on incorruption. The bodies of the saints worked
miracles, and their flesh was found unaffected by decay after hundreds
of years.

This belief so long as it was sincerely held issued naturally in
characters of extreme beauty; of beauty so great as almost to
demonstrate its truth. The purpose of it, so far as it affected
action, was self-conquest. Those who try with their whole souls to
conquer themselves find the effort lightened by a conviction that they
are receiving supernatural assistance; and the form in which the
Catholic theory supposed the assistance to be given was at least
perfectly innocent. But it is in the nature of human speculations,
though they may have been entertained at first in entire good faith,
to break down under trial, if they are not in conformity with fact.
Catholic theology furnished Europe with a rule of faith and action
which lasted 1500 years. For the last three centuries of that period
it was changing from a religion into a superstition, till, from being
the world's guide, it became its scandal. 'The body of Christ' had
become a kingdom of this world, insulting its subjects by the
effrontery of its ministers, the insolence of its pretensions, the
mountains of lies which it was teaching as sacred truths. Luther
spoke; and over half the Western world the Catholic Church collapsed,
and a new theory and Christianity had to be constructed out of the
fragments of it.

There was left behind a fixed belief in God and in the Bible as His
revealed word, in a future judgment, in the fall of man, in the
atonement made for sin by the death of Christ, and in the new life
which was made possible by His resurrection. The change was in the
conception of the method by which the atonement was imagined to be
efficacious. The material or sacramental view of it, though it
lingered inconsistently in the mind even of Luther himself, was
substantially gone. New ideas adopted in enthusiasm are necessarily
extreme. The wrath of God was held to be inseparably and eternally
attached to every act of sin, however infirm the sinner. That his
nature could be changed, and that he could be mystically strengthened
by incorporation with Christ's body in the Church was contrary to
experience, and was no longer credible. The conscience of every man,
in the Church or out of it, told him that he was daily and hourly
offending. God's law demanded a life of perfect obedience, eternal
death being the penalty of the lightest breach of it. No human being
was capable of such perfect obedience. He could not do one single act
which would endure so strict a scrutiny. All mankind were thus
included under sin. The Catholic Purgatory was swept away. It had
degenerated into a contrivance for feeding the priests with money, and
it implied that human nature could in itself be renovated by its own
sufferings. Thus nothing lay before the whole race except everlasting
reprobation. But the door of hope had been opened on the cross of
Christ. Christ had done what man could never do. He had fulfilled the
law perfectly. God was ready to accept Christ's perfect righteousness
as a substitute for the righteousness which man was required to
present to him, but could not. The conditions of acceptance were no
longer sacraments or outward acts, or lame and impotent efforts after
a moral life, but faith in what Christ had done; a complete
self-abnegation, a resigned consciousness of utter unworthiness, and
an unreserved acceptance of the mercy held out through the Atonement.
It might have been thought that since man was born so weak that it was
impossible for him to do what the law required, consideration would be
had for his infirmity; that it was even dangerous to attribute to the
Almighty a character so arbitrary as that He would exact an account
from his creatures which the creature's necessary inadequacy rendered
him incapable of meeting. But the impetuosity of the new theology
would listen to no such excuses. God was infinitely pure, and nothing
impure could stand in his sight. Man, so long as he rested on merit of
his own, must be for ever excluded from his presence. He must accept
grace on the terms on which it was held out to him. Then and then only
God would extend his pity to him. He was no longer a child of wrath:
he was God's child. His infirmities remained, but they were constantly
obliterated by the merits of Christ. And he had strength given to him,
partially, at least, to overcome temptation, under which, but for that
strength, he would have fallen. Though nothing which he could do could
deserve reward, yet he received grace in proportion to the firmness of
his belief; and his efforts after obedience, imperfect though they
might be, were accepted for Christ's sake. A good life, or a constant
effort after a good life, was still the object which a man was bound
to labour after. Though giving no claim to pardon, still less for
reward, it was the necessary fruit of a sense of what Christ had done,
and of love and gratitude towards him. Good works were the test of
saving faith, and if there were no signs of them, the faith was
barren: it was not real faith at all.

This was the Puritan belief in England in the seventeenth century. The
reason starts at it, but all religion is paradoxical to reason. God
hates sin, yet sin exists. He is omnipotent, yet evil is not overcome.
The will of man is free, or there can be no guilt, yet the action of
the will, so far as experience can throw light on its operation, is as
much determined by antecedent causes as every other natural force.
Prayer is addressed to a Being assumed to be omniscient, who knows
better what is good for us than we can know, who sees our thought
without requiring to hear them in words, whose will is fixed and
cannot be changed. Prayer, therefore, in the eye of reason is an
impertinence. The Puritan theology is not more open to objection on
the ground of unreasonableness than the Catholic theology or any other
which regards man as answerable to God for his conduct. We must judge
of a creed by its effects on character, as we judge of the
wholesomeness of food as it conduces to bodily health. And the creed
which swept like a wave through England at that time, and recommended
itself to the noblest and most powerful intellects, produced also in
those who accepted it a horror of sin, an enthusiasm for justice,
purity, and manliness, which can be paralleled only in the first age
of Christianity. Certainly there never was such a theory to take man's
conceit out of him. He was a miserable wretch, so worthless at his
best as to deserve everlasting perdition. If he was to be saved at
all, he could be saved only by the unmerited grace of God. In himself
he was a child of the devil; and hell, not in metaphor, but in hard
and palpable fact, inevitably waited for him. This belief, or the
affectation of this belief, continues to be professed, but without a
realisation of its tremendous meaning. The form of words is repeated
by multitudes who do not care to think what they are saying. Who can
measure the effect of such a conviction upon men who were in earnest
about their souls, who were assured that this account of their
situation was actually true, and on whom, therefore, it bore with
increasing weight in proportion to their sincerity?

With these few prefatory words, I now return to Bunyan. He had begun
to go regularly to church, and by Church he meant the Church of
England. The change in the constitution of it, even when it came, did
not much alter its practical character in the country districts. At
Elstow, as we have seen, there was still a high place; there was still
a liturgy; there was still a surplice. The Church of England is a
compromise between the old theology and the new. The Bishops have the
apostolical succession, but many of them disbelieve that they derive
any virtue from it. The clergyman is either a priest who can absolve
men from sins, or he is a minister as in other Protestant communions.
The sacraments are either means of grace, or mere outward signs. A
Christian is either saved by baptism, or saved by faith, as he pleases
to believe. In either case he may be a member of the Church of
England. The effect of such uncertain utterances is to leave an
impression that in defining such points closely, theologians are
laying down lines of doctrines about subjects of which they know
nothing, that the real truth of religion lies in what is common to the
two theories, the obligation to lead a moral life; and to this
sensible view of their functions the bishops and clergy had in fact
gradually arrived in the last century, when the revival of what is
called earnestness, first in the form of Evangelicalism, and then of
Anglo-Catholicism, awoke again the old controversies.

To a man of fervid temperament suddenly convinced of sin, incapable of
being satisfied with ambiguous answers to questions which mean life or
death to him, the Church of England has little to say. If he is quiet
and reasonable, he finds in it all that he desires. Enthusiastic ages
and enthusiastical temperaments demand something more complete and
consistent. The clergy under the Long Parliament caught partially the
tone of the prevailing spirit. The reading of the 'Book of Sports' had
been interdicted, and from their pulpits they lectured their
congregations on the ungodliness of the Sabbath amusements. But the
congregations were slow to listen, and the sports went on.

One Sunday morning, when Bunyan was at church with his wife, a sermon
was delivered on this subject. It seemed to be especially addressed to
himself, and it much affected him. He shook off the impression, and
after dinner he went as usual to the green. He was on the point of
striking at a ball when the thought rushed across his mind, Wilt thou
leave thy sins and go to Heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell? He
looked up. The reflection of his own emotion was before him in visible
form. He imagined that he saw Christ himself looking down at him from
the sky. But he concluded that it was too late for him to repent. He
was past pardon. He was sure to be damned, and he might as well be
damned for many sins as for few. Sin at all events was pleasant, the
only pleasant thing that he knew, therefore he would take his fill of
it. The sin was the game, and nothing but the game. He continued to
play, but the Puritan sensitiveness had taken hold of him. An
artificial offence had become a real offence when his conscience was
wounded by it. He was reckless and desperate.

'This temptation of the devil,' he says, 'is more usual among poor
creatures than many are aware of. It continued with me about a month
or more; but one day as I was standing at a neighbour's shop-window,
and there cursing and swearing after my wonted manner, there sate
within the woman of the house and heard me, who, though she was a
loose and ungodly wretch, protested that I swore and cursed at such a
rate that she trembled to hear me. I was able to spoil all the youths
in a whole town. At this reproof I was silenced and put to secret
shame, and that too, as I thought, before the God of Heaven. I stood
hanging down my head and wishing that I might be a little child that
my father might learn me to speak without this wicked sin of swearing,
for, thought I, I am so accustomed to it that it is vain to think of a

These words have been sometimes taken as a reflection on Bunyan's own
father, as if he had not sufficiently checked the first symptoms of a
bad habit. If this was so, too much may be easily made of it. The
language in the homes of ignorant workmen is seldom select. They have
not a large vocabulary, and the words which they use do not mean what
they seem to mean. But so sharp and sudden remorse speaks remarkably
for Bunyan himself. At this time he could have been barely twenty
years old, and already he was quick to see when he was doing wrong,
to be sorry for it, and to wish that he could do better. Vain the
effort seemed to him, yet from that moment 'he did leave off swearing
to his own great wonder,' and he found 'that he could speak better and
more pleasantly than he did before.'

It lies in the nature of human advance on the road of improvement,
that, whatever be a man's occupation, be it handicraft, or art, or
knowledge, or moral conquest of self, at each forward step which he
takes he grows more conscious of his shortcomings. It is thus with his
whole career, and those who rise highest are least satisfied with
themselves. Very simply Bunyan tells the story of his progress. On his
outward history, on his business and his fortunes with it, he is
totally silent. Worldly interests were not worth mentioning. He is
solely occupied with his rescue from spiritual perdition. Soon after
he had profited by the woman's rebuke, he fell in 'with a poor man
that made profession of religion and talked pleasantly of the
Scriptures.' Earnestness in such matters was growing common among
English labourers. Under his new friend's example, Bunyan 'betook him
to the Bible, and began to take great pleasure in reading it,' but
especially, as he admits frankly (and most people's experience will
have been the same), 'especially the historical part; for as for St.
Paul's Epistles and Scriptures of that nature, he could not away with
them, being as yet ignorant of the corruption of his nature, or of the
want and worth of Jesus Christ to save him.'

Not as yet understanding these mysteries, he set himself to reform his
life. He became strict with himself in word and deed. 'He set the
Commandments before him for his way to Heaven.' 'He thought if he
could but keep them pretty well he should have comfort.' If now and
then he broke one of them, he suffered in conscience; he repented of
his fault, he made good resolutions for the future and struggled to
carry them out. 'His neighbours took him to be a new man, and
marvelled at the alteration.' Pleasure of any kind, even the most
innocent, he considered to be a snare to him, and he abandoned it; he
had been fond of dancing, but he gave it up. Music and singing he
parted with, though it distressed him to leave them. Of all
amusements, that in which he had most delighted had been in ringing
the bells in Elstow church tower. With his bells he could not part all
at once. He would no longer ring himself: but when his friends were
enjoying themselves with the ropes, he could not help going now and
then to the tower door to look on and listen; but he feared at last
that the steeple might fall upon him and kill him. We call such
scruples in these days exaggerated and fantastic. We are no longer in
danger ourselves of suffering from similar emotions. Whether we are
the better for having got rid of them, will be seen in the future
history of our race.

Notwithstanding his struggles and his sacrifices, Bunyan found that
they did not bring him the peace which he expected. A man can change
his outward conduct, but if he is in earnest he comes in sight of
other features in himself which he cannot change so easily; the
meannesses, the paltrinesses, the selfishnesses which haunt him in
spite of himself, which start out upon him at moments the most
unlocked for, which taint the best of his actions and make him loathe
and hate himself. Bunyan's life was now for so young a person a model
of correctness; but he had no sooner brought his actions straight than
he discovered that he was admiring and approving of himself. No
situation is more humiliating, none brings with it a feeling of more
entire hopelessness. 'All this while,' he says, 'I knew not Christ,
nor grace, nor faith, nor hope, and had I then died my state had been
most fearful. I was but a poor painted hypocrite, going about to
establish my own righteousness.'

Like his own Pilgrim, he had the burden on his back of his conscious
unworthiness. How was he to be rid of it?

'One day in a street in Bedford, as he was at work in his calling, he
fell in with three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun
talking about the things of God.' He was himself at that time 'a brisk
talker' about the matters of religion, and he joined these women.
Their expressions were wholly unintelligible to him. 'They were
speaking of the wretchedness of their own hearts, of their unbelief,
of their miserable state. They did contemn, slight, and abhor their
own righteousness as filthy and insufficient to do them any good. They
spoke of a new birth and of the work of God in their hearts, which
comforted and strengthened them against the temptations of the Devil.'

The language of the poor women has lost its old meaning. They
themselves, if they were alive, would not use it any longer. The
conventional phrases of Evangelical Christianity ring untrue in a
modern ear like a cracked bell. We have grown so accustomed to them as
a cant, that we can hardly believe that they ever stood for sincere
convictions. Yet these forms were once alive with the profoundest of
all moral truths; a truth not of a narrow theology, but which lies at
the very bottom of the well, at the fountain-head of human morality;
namely, that a man who would work out his salvation must cast out
self, though he rend his heart-strings in doing it; not love of
self-indulgence only, but self-applause, self-confidence, self-conceit
and vanity, desire or expectation of reward; self in all the subtle
ingenuities with which it winds about the soul. In one dialect or
another, he must recognise that he is himself a poor creature not
worth thinking of, or he will not take the first step towards
excellence in any single thing which he undertakes.

Bunyan left the women and went about his work, but their talk went
with him. 'He was greatly affected.' 'He saw that he wanted the true
tokens of a godly man.' He sought them out and spoke with them again
and again. He could not stay away; and the more he went the more he
questioned his condition.

'I found two things,' he says, 'at which I did sometimes marvel,
considering what a blind ungodly wretch but just before I was; one a
great softness and tenderness of heart, which caused me to fall under
the conviction of what, by Scripture, they asserted; the other a great
bending of my mind to a continual meditating on it. My mind was now
like a horse-leech at the vein, still crying Give, give; so fixed on
eternity and on the kingdom of heaven (though I knew but little), that
neither pleasure, nor profit, nor persuasion, nor threats could loosen
it or make it let go its hold. It is in very deed a certain truth; it
would have been then as difficult for me to have taken my mind from
heaven to earth, as I have found it often since to get it from earth
to heaven.'

Ordinary persons who are conscious of trying to do right, who resist
temptations, are sorry when they slip, and determine to be more on
their guard for the future, are well contented with the condition
which they have reached. They are respectable, they are right-minded
in common things, they fulfil their every-day duties to their
families and to society with a sufficiency for which the world speaks
well of them, as indeed it ought to speak; and they themselves
acquiesce in the world's verdict. Any passionate agitation about the
state of their souls they consider unreal and affected. Such men may
be amiable in private life, good neighbours, and useful citizens; but
be their talents what they may, they could not write a 'Pilgrim's
Progress,' or ever reach the Delectable Mountains, or even be
conscious that such mountains exist.

Bunyan was on the threshold of the higher life. He knew that he was a
very poor creature. He longed to rise to something better. He was a
mere ignorant, untaught mechanic. He had not been to school with
Aristotle and Plato. He could not help himself or lose himself in the
speculations of poets and philosophers. He had only the Bible, and
studying the Bible he found that the wonder-working power in man's
nature was Faith. Faith! What was it? What did it mean? Had he faith?
He was but 'a poor sot,' and yet he thought that he could not be
wholly without it. The Bible told him that if he had faith as a grain
of mustard seed, he could work miracles. He did not understand
Oriental metaphors; here was a simple test which could be at once

'One day,' he writes, 'as I was between Elstow and Bedford, the
temptation was hot upon me to try if I had faith by doing some
miracle. I must say to the puddles that were in the horse-pads, "be
dry," and truly at one time I was agoing to say so indeed. But just as
I was about to speak, the thought came into my mind: Go under yonder
hedge first and pray that God would make you able. But when I had
concluded to pray, this came hot upon me, that if I prayed and came
again and tried to do it, and yet did nothing notwithstanding, then
be sure I had no faith but was a castaway and lost. Nay, thought I, if
it be so, I will never try it yet, but will stay a little longer. Thus
was I tossed between the Devil and my own ignorance, and so perplexed
at some times that I could not tell what to do.'

Common sense will call this disease, and will think impatiently that
the young tinker would have done better to attend to his business. But
it must be observed that Bunyan was attending to his business, toiling
all the while with grimed hands over his pots and kettles. No one ever
complained that the pots and kettles were ill-mended. It was merely
that being simple-minded, he found in his Bible that besides earning
his bread he had to save or lose his soul. Having no other guide he
took its words literally, and the directions puzzled him.

He grew more and more unhappy--more lowly in his own eyes--

    'Wishing him like to those more rich in hope'--

like the women who were so far beyond him on the heavenly road. He was
a poet without knowing it, and his gifts only served to perplex him
further. His speculations assumed bodily forms which he supposed to be
actual visions. He saw his poor friends sitting on the sunny side of a
high mountain refreshing themselves in the warmth, while he was
shivering in frost and snow and mist. The mountain was surrounded by a
wall, through which he tried to pass, and searched long in vain for an
opening through it. At last he found one, very straight and narrow,
through which he struggled after desperate efforts. 'It showed him,'
he said, 'that none could enter into life but those who were in
downright earnest, and unless they left the wicked world behind them,
for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul
and sin.' The vision brought him no comfort, for it passed away and
left him still on the wrong side: a little comfortable self-conceit
would have set him at rest. But, like all real men, Bunyan had the
worst opinion of himself. He looked at his Bible again. He found that
he must be elected. Was he elected? He could as little tell as whether
he had faith. He knew that he longed to be elected, but 'the Scripture
trampled on his desire,' for it said, 'It is not of him that willeth,
or of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;' therefore,
unless God had chosen him his labour was in vain. The Devil saw his
opportunity; the Devil among his other attributes must have possessed
that of omnipresence, for whenever any human soul was in straits, he
was personally at hand to take advantage of it.

'It may be that you are not elected,' the tempter said to Bunyan. 'It
may be so indeed,' thought he. 'Why then,' said Satan, 'you had as
good leave off and strive no farther; for if indeed you should not be
elected and chosen of God, there is no talk of your being saved.'

A comforting text suggested itself. 'Look at the generations of old;
did any ever trust in the Lord and was confounded?' But these exact
words, unfortunately, were only to be found in the Apocrypha. And
there was a further distressing possibility, which has occurred to
others besides Bunyan. Perhaps the day of grace was passed. It came on
him one day as he walked in the country that perhaps those good people
in Bedford were all that the Lord would save in those parts, and that
he came too late for the blessing. True, Christ had said, 'Compel them
to come in, for yet there is room.' It might be 'that when Christ
spoke those words,' He was thinking of him--him among the rest that
he had chosen, and had meant to encourage him. But Bunyan was too
simply modest to gather comfort from such aspiring thoughts. Be
desired to be converted, craved for it, longed for it with all his
heart and soul. 'Could it have been gotten for gold,' he said, 'what
would I not have given for it. Had I had a whole world it had all gone
ten thousand times over for this, that my soul might have been in a
converted state. But, oh! I was made sick by that saying of Christ:
"He called to Him whom He would, and they came to Him." I feared He
would not call me.'

Election, conversion, day of grace, coming to Christ, have been pawed
and fingered by unctuous hands for now two hundred years. The bloom is
gone from the flower. The plumage, once shining with hues direct from
heaven, is soiled and bedraggled. The most solemn of all realities
have been degraded into the passwords of technical theology. In
Bunyan's day, in camp and council chamber, in High Courts of
Parliament, and among the poor drudges in English villages, they were
still radiant with spiritual meaning. The dialect may alter; but if
man is more than a brief floating bubble on the eternal river of time;
if there be really an immortal part of him which need not perish; and
if his business on earth is to save it from perishing, he will still
try to pierce the mountain barrier. He will still find the work as
hard as Bunyan found it. We live in days of progress and
enlightenment; nature on a hundred sides has unlocked her storehouses
of knowledge. But she has furnished no 'open sesame' to bid the
mountain gate fly wide which leads to conquest of self. There is still
no passage there for 'body and soul and sin.'



The women in Bedford, to whom Bunyan had opened his mind, had been
naturally interested in him. Young and rough as he was, he could not
have failed to impress anyone who conversed with him with a sense that
he was a remarkable person. They mentioned him to Mr. Gifford, the
minister of the Baptist Church at Bedford. John Gifford had, at the
beginning of the Civil War, been a loose young officer in the king's
army. He had been taken prisoner when engaged in some exploit which
was contrary to the usages of war. A court-martial had sentenced him
to death, and he was to have been shot in a few hours, when he broke
out of his prison with his sister's help, and, after various
adventures, settled at Bedford as a doctor. The near escape had not
sobered him. He led a disorderly life, drinking and gambling, till the
loss of a large sum of money startled him into seriousness. In the
language of the time he became convinced of sin, and joined the
Baptists, the most thorough-going and consistent of all the Protestant
sects. If the Sacrament of Baptism is not a magical form, but is a
personal act, in which the baptised person devotes himself to Christ's
service, to baptise children at an age when they cannot understand
what they are doing may well seem irrational and even impious.

Gifford, who was now the head of the Baptist community in the town,
invited Bunyan to his house, and explained the causes of his distress
to him. He was a lost sinner. It was true that he had parted with his
old faults, and was leading a new life. But his heart was unchanged;
his past offences stood in record against him. He was still under the
wrath of God, miserable in his position, and therefore miserable in
mind. He must become sensible of his lost state, and lay hold of the
only remedy, or there was no hope for him.

There was no difficulty in convincing Bunyan that he was in a bad way.
He was too well aware of it already. In a work of fiction, the
conviction would be followed immediately by consoling grace. In the
actual experience of a living human soul, the medicine operates less

'I began,' he says, 'to see something of the vanity and inward
wretchedness of my wicked heart, for as yet I knew no great matter
therein. But now it began to be discovered unto me, and to work for
wickedness as it never did before. Lusts and corruptions would
strongly put themselves forth within me in wicked thoughts and desires
which I did not regard before. Whereas, before, my soul was full of
longing after God; now my heart began to hanker after every foolish

Constitutions differ. Mr. Gifford's treatment, if it was ever good for
any man, was too sharp for Bunyan. The fierce acid which had been
poured into his wounds set them all festering again. He frankly admits
that he was now farther from conversion than before. His heart, do
what he would, refused to leave off desiring forbidden pleasures, and
while this continued, he supposed that he was still under the law, and
must perish by it. He compared himself to the child who, as he was
being brought to Christ, was thrown down by the devil and wallowed
foaming. A less healthy nature might have been destroyed by these
artificially created and exaggerated miseries. He supposed he was
given over to unbelief and wickedness, and yet he relates with
touching simplicity:--

'As to the act of sinning I was never more tender than now. I durst
not take up a pin or a stick, though but so big as a straw, for my
conscience now was sore and would smart at every touch. I could not
tell how to speak my words for fear I should misplace them.'

But the care with which he watched his conduct availed him nothing. He
was on a morass 'that shook if he did but stir,' and he was 'there
left both of God and Christ and the Spirit, and of all good things.'
'Behind him lay the faults of his childhood and youth, every one of
which he believed to be recorded against him. Within were his
disobedient inclinations, which he conceived to be the presence of the
Devil in his heart. If he was to be presented clean of stain before
God he must have a perfect righteousness which was to be found only in
Christ, and Christ had rejected him. 'My original and inward
pollution,' he writes, 'was my plague and my affliction. I was more
loathsome in my own eyes than was a toad, and I thought I was so in
God's eyes too. I thought every one had a better heart than I had. I
could have changed heart with anybody. I thought none but the Devil
himself could equal me for inward wickedness and pollution. Sure,
thought I, I am given up to the Devil and to a reprobate mind; and
thus I continued for a long while, even for some years together.'

And all the while the world went on so quietly; these things over
which Bunyan was so miserable not seeming to trouble anyone except
himself; and, as if they had no existence except on Sundays and in
pious talk. Old people were hunting after the treasures of this life,
as if they were never to leave the earth. Professors of religion
complained when they lost fortune or health; what were fortune and
health to the awful possibilities which lay beyond the grave? To
Bunyan the future life of Christianity was a reality as certain as the
next day's sunrise; and he could have been happy on bread and water if
he could have felt himself prepared to enter it. Every created being
seemed better off than he was. He was sorry that God had made him a
man. He 'blessed the condition of the birds, beasts, and fishes, for
they had not a sinful nature. They were not obnoxious to the wrath of
God. They were not to go to hell-fire after death.' He recalled the
texts which spoke of Christ and forgiveness. He tried to persuade
himself that Christ cared for him. He could have talked of Christ's
love and mercy 'even to the very crows which sate on the ploughed land
before him.' But he was too sincere to satisfy himself with formulas
and phrases. He could not, he would not, profess to be convinced that
things would go well with him when he was not convinced. Cold spasms
of doubt laid hold of him--doubts, not so much of his own salvation,
as of the truth of all that he had been taught to believe; and the
problem had to be fought and grappled with, which lies in the
intellectual nature of every genuine man, whether he be an Æschylus or
a Shakespeare, or a poor working Bedfordshire mechanic. No honest soul
can look out upon the world and see it as it really is, without the
question rising in him whether there be any God that governs it at
all. No one can accept the popular notion of heaven and hell as
actually true, without being as terrified as Bunyan was. We go on as
we do, and attend to our business and enjoy ourselves, because the
words have no real meaning to us. Providence in its kindness leaves
most of us unblessed or uncursed with natures of too fine a fibre.

Bunyan was hardly dealt with. 'Whole floods of blasphemies,' he says,
'against God, Christ, and the Scriptures were poured upon my spirit;
questions against the very being of God and of his only beloved Son,
as whether there was in truth a God or Christ, or no, and whether the
Holy Scriptures were not rather a fable and cunning story than the
holy and pure Word of God.'

'How can you tell,' the tempter whispered, 'but that the Turks have as
good a Scripture to prove their Mahomet the Saviour, as we have to
prove our Jesus is? Could I think that so many tens of thousands in so
many countries and kingdoms should be without the knowledge of the
right way to heaven, if there were indeed a heaven, and that we who
lie in a corner of the earth, should alone be blessed therewith. Every
one doth think his own religion the rightest, both Jews, Moors, and
Pagans; and how if all our faith, and Christ, and Scripture should be
but "a think so" too.' St. Paul spoke positively. Bunyan saw shrewdly
that on St. Paul the weight of the whole Christian theory really
rested. But 'how could he tell but that St. Paul, being a subtle and
cunning man, might give himself up to deceive with strong delusions?'
'He was carried away by such thoughts as by a whirlwind.'

His belief in the active agency of the Devil in human affairs, of
which he supposed that he had witnessed instances, was no doubt a
great help to him. If he could have imagined that his doubts or
misgivings had been suggested by a desire for truth, they would have
been harder to bear. More than ever he was convinced that he was
possessed by the devil. He 'compared himself to a child carried off by
a gipsy.' 'Kick sometimes I did,' he says, 'and scream, and cry, but
yet I was as bound in the wings of temptation, and the wind would bear
me away.' 'I blessed the dog and toad, and counted the condition of
everything that God had made far better than this dreadful state of
mine. The dog or horse had no soul to perish under the everlasting
weight of hell for sin, as mine was like to do.'

Doubts about revelation and the truth of Scripture were more easy to
encounter then than they are at present. Bunyan was protected by want
of learning, and by a powerful predisposition to find the objections
against the credibility of the Gospel history to be groundless.
Critical investigation had not as yet analysed the historical
construction of the sacred books, and scepticism, as he saw it in
people round him, did actually come from the devil, that is from a
desire to escape the moral restraints of religion. The wisest,
noblest, best instructed men in England, at that time regarded the
Bible as an authentic communication from God, and as the only
foundation for law and civil society. The masculine sense and strong
modest intellect of Bunyan ensured his acquiescence in an opinion so
powerfully supported. Fits of uncertainty recurred even to the end of
his life; it must be so with men who are honestly in earnest; but his
doubts were of course only intermittent, and his judgment was in the
main satisfied that the Bible was, as he had been taught, the Word of
God. This, however, helped him little; for in the Bible he read his
own condemnation. The weight which pressed him down was the sense of
his unworthiness. What was he that God should care for him? He fancied
that he heard God saying to the angels, 'This poor, simple wretch doth
hanker after me, as if I had nothing to do with my mercy but to bestow
it on such as he. Poor fool, how art thou deceived! It is not for such
as thee to have favour with the Highest.'

Miserable as he was, he clung to his misery as the one link which
connected him with the object of his longings. If he had no hope of
heaven, he was at least distracted that he must lose it. He was afraid
of dying, yet he was still more afraid of continuing to live; lest the
impression should wear away through time, and occupation and other
interests should turn his heart away to the world, and thus his wounds
might cease to pain him.

Readers of the 'Pilgrim's Progress' sometimes ask with wonder, why,
after Christian had been received into the narrow gate, and had been
set forward upon his way, so many trials and dangers still lay before
him. The answer is simply that Christian was a pilgrim, that the
journey of life still lay before him, and at every step temptations
would meet him in new, unexpected shapes. St. Anthony in his hermitage
was beset by as many fiends as had ever troubled him when in the
world. Man's spiritual existence is like the flight of a bird in the
air; he is sustained only by effort, and when he ceases to exert
himself he falls. There are intervals, however, of comparative calm,
and to one of these the storm-tossed Bunyan was now approaching. He
had passed through the Slough of Despond. He had gone astray after Mr.
Legality, and the rocks had almost overwhelmed him. Evangelist now
found him and put him right again, and he was to be allowed a
breathing space at the Interpreter's house. As he was at his ordinary
daily work his mind was restlessly busy. Verses of Scripture came into
his head, sweet while present, but like Peter's sheet caught up again
into heaven. We may have heard all our lives of Christ. Words and
ideas with which we have been familiar from childhood are trodden into
paths as barren as sand. Suddenly, we know not how, the meaning
flashes upon us. The seed has found its way into some corner of our
minds where it can germinate. The shell breaks, the cotyledons open,
and the plant of faith is alive. So it was now to be with Bunyan.

'One day,' he says, 'as I was travelling into the country, musing on
the wickedness of my heart, and considering the enmity that was in me
to God, the Scripture came into my mind, "He hath made peace through
the blood of His cross." I saw that the justice of God and my sinful
soul could embrace and kiss each other. I was ready to swoon, not with
grief and trouble, but with solid joy and peace.' Everything became
clear: the Gospel history, the birth, the life, the death of the
Saviour; how gently he gave himself to be nailed on the cross for his
(Bunyan's) sins. 'I saw Him in the spirit,' he goes on, 'a Man on the
right hand of the Father, pleading for me, and have seen the manner of
His coming from Heaven to judge the world with glory.'

The sense of guilt which had so oppressed him was now a key to the
mystery. 'God,' he says, 'suffered me to be afflicted with temptations
concerning these things, and then revealed them to me.' He was crushed
to the ground by the thought of his wickedness; 'the Lord showed him
the death of Christ, and lifted the weight away.'

Now he thought he had a personal evidence from Heaven that he was
really saved. Before this, he had lain trembling at the mouth of hell;
now he was so far away from it that he could scarce tell where it was.
He fell in at this time with a copy of Luther's commentary on the
Epistle to the Galatians, 'so old that it was like to fall to pieces.'
Bunyan found in it the exact counterpart of his own experience: 'of
all the books that he had ever met with, it seemed to him the most fit
for a wounded conscience.'

Everything was supernatural with him: when a bad thought came into his
mind, it was the devil that put it there. These breathings of peace he
regarded as the immediate voice of his Saviour. Alas! the respite was
but short. He had hoped that his troubles were over, when the tempter
came back upon him in the most extraordinary form which he had yet
assumed, Bunyan had himself left the door open; the evil spirits could
only enter 'Mansoul' through the owner's negligence, but once in, they
could work their own wicked will. How it happened will be told
afterwards. The temptation itself must be described first. Never was a
nature more perversely ingenious in torturing itself.

He had gained Christ, as he called it. He was now tempted 'to sell and
part with this most blessed Christ, to exchange Him for the things of
this life--for anything.' If there had been any real prospect of
worldly advantage before Bunyan, which he could have gained by
abandoning his religious profession, the words would have had a
meaning; but there is no hint or trace of any prospect of the kind;
nor in Bunyan's position could there have been. The temptation, as he
called it, was a freak of fancy: fancy resenting the minuteness with
which he watched his own emotions. And yet he says, 'It lay upon me
for a year, and did follow me so continually that I was not rid of it
one day in a month, sometimes not an hour in many days together,
unless when I was asleep. I could neither eat my food, stoop for a
pin, chop a stick, or cast my eye to look on this or that, but still
the temptation would come, "Sell Christ for this, sell Him for that!
Sell Him! Sell Him!"'

He had been haunted before with a notion that he was under a spell;
that he had been fated to commit the unpardonable sin; and he was now
thinking of Judas, who had been admitted to Christ's intimacy, and had
then betrayed him. Here it was before him--the very thing which he had
so long dreaded. If his heart did but consent for a moment, the deed
was done. His doom had overtaken him. He wrestled with the thought as
it rose, thrust it from him 'with his hands and elbows,' body and mind
convulsed together in a common agony. As fast as the destroyer said,
'Sell Him,' Bunyan said, 'I will not; I will not; I will not, not for
thousands, thousands, thousands of worlds!' One morning as he lay in
his bed, the voice came again, and would not be driven away. Bunyan
fought against it, till he was out of breath. He fell back exhausted,
and without conscious action of his will, the fatal sentence passed
through his brain, 'Let Him go if He will.'

That the 'selling Christ' was a bargain in which he was to lose all
and receive nothing is evident from the form in which he was overcome.
Yet if he had gained a fortune by fraud or forgery, he could not have
been more certain that he had destroyed himself.

Satan had won the battle, and he, 'as a bird shot from a tree, had
fallen into guilt and despair.' He got out of bed, 'and went moping
into the fields,' where he wandered for two hours, 'as a man bereft of
life, and now past recovering,' 'bound over to eternal punishment.' He
shrank under the hedges, 'in guilt and sorrow, bemoaning the hardness
of his fate.' In vain the words now came back that had so comforted
him, 'The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.' They had no
application to him. He had acquired his birthright, but, like Esau, he
had sold it, and could not any more find place for repentance. True it
was said that 'all manner of sins and blasphemies should be forgiven
unto men,' but only such sins and blasphemies as had been committed in
the natural state. Bunyan had received grace, and after receiving it,
had sinned against the Holy Ghost.

It was done, and nothing could undo it. David had received grace, and
had committed murder and adultery after it. But murder and adultery,
bad as they might be, were only transgressions of the law of Moses.
Bunyan had sinned against the Mediator himself, 'he had sold his
Saviour.' One sin, and only one there was which could not be pardoned,
and he had been guilty of it. Peter had sinned against grace, and even
after he had been warned. Peter, however, had but denied his Master.
Bunyan had sold him. He was no David or Peter, he was Judas. It was,
very hard. Others naturally as bad as he had been saved. Why had he
been picked out to be made a Son of Perdition? A Judas! Was there any
point in which he was better than Judas? Judas had sinned with
deliberate purpose: he 'in a fearful hurry,' and 'against prayer and
striving.' But there might be more ways than one of committing the
unpardonable sin, and there might be degrees of it. It was a dreadful
condition. The old doubts came back.

'I was now ashamed,' he says, 'that I should be like such an ugly man
as Judas. I thought how loathsome I should be to all the saints at the
Day of Judgment. I was tempted to content myself by receiving some
false opinion, as that there should be no such thing as the Day of
Judgment, that we should not rise again, that sin was no such grievous
thing, the tempter suggesting that if these things should be indeed
true, yet to believe otherwise would yield me ease for the present. If
I must perish, I need not torment myself beforehand.'

Judas! Judas! was now for ever before his eyes. So identified he was
with Judas that he felt at times as if his breastbone was bursting. A
mark like Cain's was on him. In vain he searched again through the
catalogue of pardoned sinners. Manasseh had consulted wizards and
familiar spirits. Manasseh had burnt his children in the fire to
devils. He had found mercy; but, alas! Manasseh's sins had nothing of
the nature of selling the Saviour. To have sold the Saviour 'was a sin
bigger than the sins of a country, of a kingdom, or of the whole
world--not all of them together could equal it.'

His brain was overstrained, it will be said. Very likely. It is to be
remembered, however, who and what he was, and that he had overstrained
it in his eagerness to learn what he conceived his Maker to wish him
to be--a form of anxiety not common in this world. The cure was as
remarkable as the disorder. One day he was 'in a good man's shop,'
still 'afflicting himself with self-abhorrence,' when something seemed
to rush in through an open window, and he heard a voice saying, 'Didst
ever refuse to be justified by the blood of Christ?' Bunyan shared the
belief of his time. He took the system of things as the Bible
represented it; but his strong common sense put him on his guard
against being easily credulous. He thought at the time that the voice
was supernatural. After twenty years he said modestly that he 'could
not make a judgment of it.' The effect, any way, was as if an angel
had come to him and had told him that there was still hope. Hapless as
his condition was, he might still pray for mercy, and might possibly
find it. He tried to pray, and found it very hard. The devil whispered
again that God was tired of him; God wanted to be rid of him and his
importunities, and had, therefore, allowed him to commit this
particular sin that he might hear no more of him. He remembered Esau,
and thought that this might be too true: 'the saying about Esau was a
flaming sword barring the way of the tree of life to him.' Still he
would not give in. 'I can but die,' he said to himself, 'and if it
must be so, it shall be said that such an one died at the feet of
Christ in prayer.'

He was torturing himself with illusions. Most of the saints in the
Catholic Calendar have done the same. The most remorseless philosopher
can hardly refuse a certain admiration for this poor uneducated
village lad struggling so bravely in the theological spider's web. The
'Professors' could not comfort him, having never experienced similar
distresses in their own persons. He consulted 'an Antient Christian,'
telling him that he feared that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost,
The Antient Christian answered gravely that he thought so too. The
devil having him at advantage, began to be witty with him. The devil
suggested that as he had offended the second or third Person of the
Trinity, he had better pray the Father to mediate for him with Christ
and the Holy Spirit. Then the devil took another turn. Christ, he
said, was really sorry for Bunyan, but his case was beyond remedy.
Bunyan's sin was so peculiar, that it was not of the nature of those
for which He had bled and died, and had not, therefore, been laid to
His charge. To justify Bunyan he must come down and die again, and
that was not to be thought of. 'Oh!' exclaimed the unfortunate victim,
'the unthought-of imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors, that are
effected by a thorough application of guilt (to a spirit) that is
yielded to desperation. This is the man that hath his dwelling among
the tombs.'

Sitting in this humour on a settle in the street at Bedford, he was
pondering over his fearful state. The sun in heaven seemed to grudge
its light to him. 'The stones in the street and the tiles on the
houses did bend themselves against him.' Each crisis in Bunyan's mind
is always framed in the picture of some spot where it occurred. He was
crying 'in the bitterness of his soul, How can God comfort such a
wretch as I am?' As before, in the shop, a voice came in answer, 'This
sin is not unto death.' The first voice had brought him hope which was
almost extinguished; the second was a message of life. The night was
gone, and it was daylight. He had come to the end of the Valley of the
Shadow of Death, and the spectres and the hobgoblins which had
jibbered at him suddenly all vanished. A moment before he had supposed
that he was out of reach of pardon, that he had no right to pray, no
right to repent, or, at least, that neither prayer nor repentance
could profit him. If his sin was not to death, then he was on the same
ground as other sinners. If they might pray, he might pray, and might
look to be forgiven on the same terms. He still saw that his 'selling
Christ' had been 'most barbarous,' but despair was followed by an
extravagance, no less unbounded, of gratitude, when he felt that
Christ would pardon even this.

'Love and affection for Christ,' he says, 'did work at this time such
a strong and hot desire of revengement upon myself for the abuse I had
done to Him, that, to speak as then I thought, had I had a thousand
gallons of blood in my veins, I could freely have spilt it all at the
command of my Lord and Saviour. The tempter told me it was vain to
pray. Yet, thought I, I will pray. But, said the tempter, your sin is
unpardonable. Well, said I, I will pray. It is no boot, said he. Yet,
said I, I will pray: so I went to prayer, and I uttered words to this
effect: Lord, Satan tells me that neither Thy mercy nor Christ's blood
is sufficient to save my soul. Lord, shall I honour Thee most by
believing that Thou wilt and canst, or him, by believing that Thou
neither wilt nor canst? Lord, I would fain honour Thee by believing
that Thou wilt and canst. As I was there before the Lord, the
Scripture came, Oh! man, great is thy faith, even as if one had
clapped me on the back.'

The waves had not wholly subsided; but we need not follow the
undulations any farther. It is enough that after a 'conviction of
sin,' considerably deeper than most people find necessary for
themselves, Bunyan had come to realise what was meant by salvation in
Christ, according to the received creed of the contemporary Protestant
world. The intensity of his emotions arose only from the completeness
with which he believed it. Man had sinned, and by sin was made a
servant of the devil. His redemption was a personal act of the Saviour
towards each individual sinner. In the Atonement Christ had before him
each separate person whom he designed to save, blotting out his
offences, however heinous they might be, and recording in place of
them his own perfect obedience. Each reconciled sinner in return
regarded Christ's sufferings as undergone immediately for himself, and
gratitude for that great deliverance enabled and obliged him to devote
his strength and soul thenceforward to God's service. In the
seventeenth century, all earnest English Protestants held this belief.
In the nineteenth century, most of us repeat the phrases of this
belief, and pretend to hold it. We think we hold it. We are growing
more cautious, perhaps, with our definitions. We suspect that there
may be mysteries in God's nature and methods which we cannot fully
explain. The outlines of 'the scheme of salvation' are growing
indistinct; and we see it through a gathering mist. Yet the essence of
it will remain true whether we recognise it or not. While man remains
man he will do things which he ought not to do. He will leave undone
things which he ought to do. To will, may be present with him; but how
to perform what he wills, he will never fully know, and he will still
hate 'the body of death' which he feels clinging to him. He will try
to do better. When he falls he will struggle to his feet again. He
will climb and climb on the hill side, though he never reaches the
top, and knows that he can never reach it. His life will be a failure,
which he will not dare to offer as a fit account of himself, or as
worth a serious regard. Yet he will still hope that he will not be
wholly cast away, when after his sleep in death he wakes again.

Now, says Bunyan, there remained only the hinder part of the tempest.
Heavenly voices continued to encourage him. 'As I was passing in the
field,' he goes on, 'I heard the sentence, thy righteousness is in
heaven; and methought I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ
at God's right hand, there I say, as my righteousness, so that
wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me He
wants my righteousness, for that was just before Him. Now did my
chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my affliction and
irons; my temptations also fled away, so that from that time those
dreadful Scriptures of God left off to trouble me. Now went I home
rejoicing for the grace and love of God. Christ of God is made unto us
wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. I now
lived very sweetly at peace with God through Christ. Oh! methought,
Christ, Christ! There was nothing but Christ before my eyes. I was not
now only looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as
of His blood, burial, and resurrection, but considered Him as a whole
Christ. All those graces that were now green in me were yet but like
those cracked groats and fourpence half-pennies which rich men carry
in their purses, while their gold is in their trunks at home. Oh! I
saw my gold was in my trunk at home in Christ my Lord and Saviour. The
Lord led me into the mystery of union with the Son of God, that I was
joined to Him, that I was flesh of His flesh. If He and I were one,
His righteousness was mine, His merits mine, His victory mine. Now I
could see myself in heaven and earth at once; in heaven by my Christ,
though on earth by my body and person. Christ was that common and
public person in whom the whole body of His elect are always to be
considered and reckoned. We fulfilled the law by Him, died by Him,
rose from the dead by Him, got the victory over sin and death, the
devil and hell by Him. I had cause to say, Praise ye the Lord. Praise
God in His sanctuary.'



The Pilgrim falls into the hands of Giant Despair because he has
himself first strayed into Byepath Meadow. Bunyan found an explanation
of his last convulsion in an act of unbelief, of which, on looking
back, he perceived that he had been guilty. He had been delivered out
of his first temptation. He had not been sufficiently on his guard
against temptations that might come in the future. Nay, he had himself
tempted God. His wife had been overtaken by a premature confinement,
and was suffering acutely. It was at the time when Bunyan was
exercised with questions about the truth of religion altogether. As
the poor woman lay crying at his side, he had said mentally, 'Lord, if
Thou wilt now remove this sad affliction from my wife, and cause that
she be troubled no more therewith this night, then I shall know that
Thou canst discern the more secret thoughts of the heart.' In a moment
the pain ceased and she fell into a sleep which lasted till morning.
Bunyan, though surprised at the time, forgot what had happened, till
it rushed back upon his memory, when he had committed himself by a
similar mental assent to selling Christ. He remembered the proof which
had been given to him that God could and did discern his thoughts. God
had discerned this second thought also, and in punishing him for it
had punished him at the same time for the doubt which he had allowed
himself to feel. 'I should have believed His word,' he said, 'and not
have put an "if" upon the all-seeingness of God.'

The suffering was over now, and he felt that it had been infinitely
beneficial to him. He understood better the glory of God and of his
Son. The Scriptures had opened their secrets to him, and he had seen
them to be in very truth the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. Never so
clearly as after this 'temptation' had he perceived 'the heights of
grace, and love, and mercy.' Two or three times 'he had such strange
apprehensions of the grace of God as had amazed him.' The impression
was so overpowering that if it had continued long 'it would have
rendered him incapable for business.' He joined his friend Mr.
Gifford's church. He was baptised in the Ouse, and became a professed
member of the Baptist congregation. Soon after, his mental conflict
was entirely over, and he had two quiet years of peace. Before a man
can use his powers to any purpose, he must arrive at some conviction
in which his intellect can acquiesce. 'Calm yourself,' says Jean Paul;
'it is your first necessity. Be a stoic if nothing else will serve.'
Bunyan had not been driven into stoicism. He was now restored to the
possession of his faculties, and his remarkable ability was not long
in showing itself.

The first consequence of his mental troubles was an illness. He had a
cough which threatened to turn into consumption. He thought it was all
over with him, and he was fixing his eyes 'on the heavenly Jerusalem
and the innumerable company of angels;' but the danger passed off, and
he became well and strong in mind and body. Notwithstanding his
various miseries, he had not neglected his business, and had indeed
been specially successful. By the time that he was twenty-five years
old he was in a position considerably superior to that in which he was
born. 'God,' says a contemporary biographer, 'had increased his stores
so that he lived in great credit among his neighbours.' On May 13,
1653, Bedfordshire sent an address to Cromwell approving the dismissal
of the Long Parliament, recognising Oliver himself as the Lord's
instrument, and recommending the county magistrates as fit persons to
serve in the Assembly which was to take its place. Among thirty-six
names attached to this document, appear those of Gifford and Bunyan.
This speaks for itself: he must have been at least a householder and a
person of consideration. It was not, however, as a prosperous brazier
that Bunyan was to make his way. He had a gift of speech, which, in
the democratic congregation to which he belonged, could not long
remain hid. Young as he was, he had sounded the depths of spiritual
experience. Like Dante he had been in hell--the popular hell of
English Puritanism--and in 1655 he was called upon to take part in the
'ministry.' He was modest, humble, shrinking. The minister when he
preached was, according to the theory, an instrument uttering the
words not of himself but of the Holy Spirit. A man like Bunyan, who
really believed this, might well be alarmed. After earnest entreaty,
however, 'he made experiment of his powers' in private, and it was at
once evident that, with the thing which these people meant by
inspiration, he was abundantly supplied. No such preacher to the
uneducated English masses was to be found within the four seas. He
says that he had no desire of vain glory; no one who has studied his
character can suppose that he had. He was a man of natural genius,
who believed the Protestant form of Christianity to be completely
true. He knew nothing of philosophy, nothing of history, nothing of
literature. The doubts to which he acknowledged being without their
natural food, had never presented themselves in a form which would
have compelled him to submit to remain uncertain. Doubt, as he had
felt it, was a direct enemy of morality and purity, and as such he had
fought with it and conquered it. Protestant Christianity was true. All
mankind were perishing unless they saw it to be true. This was his
message; a message--supposing him to have been right--of an importance
so immeasurable that all else was nothing. He was still 'afflicted
with the fiery darts of the devil,' but he saw that he must not bury
his abilities. 'In fear and trembling,' therefore, he set himself to
the work, and 'did according to his power preach the Gospel that God
had shewn him.'

'The Lord led him to begin where his Word began--with sinners. This
part of my work,' he says, 'I fulfilled with a great sense, for the
terrors of the law and guilt for my transgressions lay heavy on my
conscience. I preached what I felt. I had been sent to my hearers as
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
beware of. I have gone full of guilt and terror to the pulpit door;
God carried me on with a strong hand, for neither guilt nor hell could
take me off.'

Many of Bunyan's addresses remain in the form of theological
treatises, and that I may not have to return to the subject, I shall
give some account of them. His doctrine was the doctrine of the best
and strongest minds in Europe. It had been believed by Luther, it had
been believed by Knox. It was believed at that moment by Oliver
Cromwell as completely as by Bunyan himself. It was believed, so far
as such a person could be said to believe anything, by the all
accomplished Leibnitz himself. Few educated people use the language of
it now. In them it was a fire from heaven shining like a sun in a dark
world. With us the fire has gone out; in the place of it we have but
smoke and ashes, and the Evangelical mind in search of 'something
deeper and truer than satisfied the last century,' is turning back to
Catholic verities. What Bunyan had to say may be less than the whole
truth: we shall scarcely find the still missing part of it in lines of
thought which we have outgrown.

Bunyan preached wherever opportunity served--in woods, in barns, on
village greens, or in town chapels. The substance of his sermons he
revised and published. He began, as he said, with sinners, explaining
the condition of men in the world. They were under the law, or they
were under grace. Every person that came into the world was born under
the law, and as such was bound, under pain of eternal damnation, to
fulfil completely and continually every one of the Ten Commandments.
The Bible said plainly, 'Cursed is every one that continueth not in
all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.' 'The
soul that sinneth it shall die.' The Ten Commandments extended into
many more, and to fail in a single one was as fatal as to break them
all. A man might go on for a long time, for sixty years perhaps,
without falling. Bunyan does not mean that anyone really could do all
this, but he assumes the possibility; yet he says if the man slipped
once before he died, he would eternally perish. The law does not refer
to words and actions only, but to thoughts and feelings. It followed
a man in his prayers, and detected a wandering thought. It allowed no
repentance to those who lived and died under it. If it was asked
whether God could not pardon, as earthly judges pardon criminals, the
answer was, that it is not the law which is merciful to the earthly
offender but the magistrate. The law is an eternal principle. The
magistrate may forgive a man without exacting satisfaction. The law
knows no forgiveness. It can be as little changed as an axiom of
mathematics. Repentance cannot undo the past. Let a man leave his sins
and live as purely as an angel all the rest of his life, his old
faults remain in the account against him, and his state is as bad as
ever it was. God's justice once offended knows not pity or compassion,
but runs on the offender like a lion and throws him into prison, there
to lie to all eternity unless infinite satisfaction be given to it.
And that satisfaction no son of Adam could possibly make.

This conception of Divine justice, not as a sentence of a judge, but
as the action of an eternal law, is identical with Spinoza's. That
every act involves consequences which cannot be separated from it, and
may continue operative to eternity, is a philosophical position which
is now generally admitted. Combined with the traditionary notions of a
future judgment and punishment in hell, the recognition that there was
a law in the case and that the law could not be broken, led to the
frightful inference that each individual was liable to be kept alive
and tortured through all eternity. And this, in fact, was the fate
really in store for every human creature unless some extraordinary
remedy could be found. Bunyan would allow no merit to anyone. He would
not have it supposed that only the profane or grossly wicked were in
danger from the law. 'A man,' he says, 'may be turned from a vain,
loose, open, profane conversation and sinning against the law, to a
holy, righteous, religious life, and yet be under the same state and
as sure to be damned as the others that are more profane and loose.'
The natural man might think it strange, but the language of the curse
was not to be mistaken. Cursed is every one who has failed to fulfil
the whole law. There was not a person in the whole world who had not
himself sinned in early life. All had sinned in Adam also, and St.
Paul had said in consequence, 'There is none that doeth good, no, not
one! The law was given not that we might be saved by obeying it, but
that we might know the holiness of God and our own vileness, and that
we might understand that we should not be damned for nothing. God
would have no quarrelling at His just condemning of us at that day.'

This is Bunyan's notion of the position in which we all naturally
stand in this world, and from which the substitution of Christ's
perfect fulfilment of the law alone rescues us. It is calculated, no
doubt, to impress on us a profound horror of moral evil when the
penalty attached to it is so fearful. But it is dangerous to introduce
into religion metaphysical conceptions of 'law.' The cord cracks that
is strained too tightly; and it is only for brief periods of high
spiritual tension that a theology so merciless can sustain itself. No
one with a conscience in him will think of claiming any merit for
himself. But we know also that there are degrees of demerit, and,
theory or no theory, we fall back on the first verse of the English
Liturgy, as containing a more endurable account of things.

For this reason, among others, Bunyan disliked the Liturgy. He thought
the doctrine of it false, and he objected to a Liturgy on principle.
He has a sermon on Prayer, in which he insists that to be worth
anything prayer must be the expression of an inward feeling; and that
people cannot feel in lines laid down for them. Forms of prayer he
thought especially mischievous to children, as accustoming them to use
words to which they attached no meaning.

'My judgment,' he says, 'is that men go the wrong way to learn their
children to pray. It seems to me a better way for people to tell their
children betimes what cursed creatures they are, how they are under
the wrath of God by reason of original and actual sin; also to tell
them the nature of God's wrath and the duration of misery, which if
they would conscientiously do, they would sooner learn their children
to pray than they do. The way that men learn to pray is by conviction
of sin, and this is the way to make our "sweet babes" do so too.'

'Sweet babes' is unworthy of Bunyan. There is little sweetness in a
state of things so stern as he conceives. He might have considered,
too, that there was a danger of making children unreal in another and
worse sense by teaching them doctrines which neither child nor man can
comprehend. It may be true that a single sin may consign me to
everlasting hell, but I cannot be made to acknowledge the justice of
it. 'Wrath of God' and such expressions are out of place when we are
brought into the presence of metaphysical laws. Wrath corresponds to
free-will misused. It is senseless and extravagant when pronounced
against actions which men cannot help, when the faulty action is the
necessary consequence of their nature, and the penalty the necessary
consequence of the action.

The same confusion of thought lies in the treatment of the kindred
subjects of Free-will, Election, and Reprobation. The logic must be
maintained, and God's moral attributes simultaneously vindicated.
Bunyan argues about it as ingeniously as Leibnitz himself. Those who
suppose that specific guilt attaches to particular acts, that all men
are put into the world, free to keep the Commandments or to break
them, that they are equally able to do one as to do the other, and
are, therefore, proper objects of punishment, hold an opinion which is
consistent in itself, but is in entire contradiction with facts.
Children are not as able to control their inclinations as grown men,
and one man is not as able to control himself as another. Some have no
difficulty from the first, and are constitutionally good; some are
constitutionally weak, or have incurable propensities for evil. Some
are brought up with care and insight; others seem never to have any
chance at all. So evident is this, that impartial thinkers have
questioned the reality of human guilt in the sense in which it is
generally understood. Even Butler allows that if we look too curiously
we may have a difficulty in finding where it lies. And here, if
anywhere, there is a real natural truth in the doctrine of Election,
independent of the merit of those who are so happy as to find favour.
Bunyan, however, reverses the inference. He will have all guilty
together, those who do well and those who do ill. Even the elect are
in themselves as badly off as the reprobate, and are equally included
under sin. Those who are saved are saved for Christ's merits and not
for their own.

Men of calmer temperament accept facts as they find them. They are too
conscious of their ignorance to insist on explaining problems which
are beyond their teach. Bunyan lived in an age of intense religious
excitement, when the strongest minds were exercising themselves on
those questions. It is noticeable that the most effective intellects
inclined to necessitarian conclusions: some in the shape of Calvinism,
some in the corresponding philosophic form of Spinozism. From both
alike there came an absolute submission to the decrees of God, and a
passionate devotion to his service; while the morality of Free-will is
cold and calculating. Appeals to a sense of duty do not reach beyond
the understanding. The enthusiasm which will stir men's hearts and
give them a real power of resisting temptation must be nourished on
more invigorating food.

But I need dwell no more on a subject which is unsuited for these

The object of Bunyan, like that of Luther, like that of all great
spiritual teachers, was to bring his wandering fellow-mortals into
obedience to the commandments, even while he insisted on the
worthlessness of it. He sounded the strings to others which had
sounded loudest in himself. When he passed from mysticism into matters
of ordinary life, he showed the same practical good sense which
distinguishes the chief of all this order of thinkers--St. Paul. There
is a sermon of Bunyan's on Christian behaviour, on the duties of
parents to children, and masters to servants, which might be studied
with as much advantage in English households as the 'Pilgrim's
Progress' itself. To fathers he says, 'Take heed that the misdeeds for
which thou correctest thy children be not learned them by thee. Many
children learn that wickedness of their parents, for which they beat
and chastise them. Take heed that thou smile not upon them to
encourage them in small faults, lest that thy carriage to them be an
encouragement to them to commit greater faults. Take heed that thou
use not unsavoury and unseemly words in thy chastising of them, as
railing, miscalling, and the like--this is devilish. Take heed that
thou do not use them to many chiding words and threatenings, mixed
with lightness and laughter. This will harden.'

And again: 'I tell you that if parents carry it lovingly towards their
children, mixing their mercies with loving rebukes, and their loving
rebukes with fatherly and motherly compassions, they are more likely
to save their children than by being churlish and severe to them. Even
if these things do not save them, if their mercy do them no good, yet
it will greatly ease them at the day of death to consider, I have done
by love as much as I could to save and deliver my child from hell.'

Whole volumes on education have said less, or less to the purpose,
than these simple words. Unfortunately, parents do not read Bunyan. He
is left to children.

Similarly, he says to masters:--

'It is thy duty so to behave thyself to thy servant that thy service
may not only be for thy good, but for the good of thy servant, and
that in body and soul. Deal with him as to admonition as with thy
children. Take heed thou do not turn thy servants into slaves by
overcharging them in thy work with thy greediness. Take heed thou
carry not thyself to thy servant as he of whom it is said, "He is such
a man of Belial that his servants cannot speak to him." The Apostle
bids you forbear to threaten them, because you also have a Master in
Heaven. Masters, give your servants that which is just, just labour
and just wages. Servants that are truly godly care not how cheap they
serve their masters, provided they may get into godly families, or
where they may be convenient for the Word. But if a master or
mistress takes this opportunity to make a prey of their servants, it
is abominable. I have heard poor servants say that in some carnal
families they have had more liberty to God's things and more fairness
of dealing than among many professors. Such masters make religion to
stink before the inhabitants of the land.'

Bunyan was generally charitable in his judgment upon others. If there
was any exception, it was of Professors who discredited their calling
by conceit and worldliness.

'No sin,' he says, 'reigneth more in the world than pride among
Professors. The thing is too apparent for any man to deny. We may and
do see pride display itself in the apparel and carriage of Professors
almost as much as among any in the land. I have seen church members so
decked and bedaubed with their fangles and toys that when they have
been at worship I have wondered with what faces such painted persons
could sit in the place where they were without swooning. I once talked
with a maid, by way of reproof for her fond and gaudy garment; she
told me the tailor would make it so. Poor proud girl, she gave orders
to the tailor to make it so.'

I will give one more extract from Bunyan's pastoral addresses. It
belongs to a later period in his ministry, when the law had, for a
time, remade Dissent into a crime; but it will throw light on the part
of his story which we are now approaching, and it is in every way very
characteristic of him. He is speaking to sufferers under persecution.
He says to them:--

'Take heed of being offended with magistrates, because by their
statutes they may cross thy inclinations. It is given to them to bear
the sword, and a command is to thee, if thy heart cannot acquiesce
with all things, with meekness and patience to suffer. Discontent in
the mind sometimes puts discontent into the mouth; and discontent in
the mouth doth sometimes also put a halter about thy neck. For as a
man speaking a word in jest may for that be hanged in earnest, so he
that speaks in discontent may die for it in sober sadness. Above all,
get thy conscience possessed more and more with this, that the
magistrate is God's ordinance, and is ordered of God as such; that he
is the minister of God to thee for good, and that it is thy duty to
fear him and to pray for him; to give thanks to God for him and be
subject to him; as both Paul and Peter admonish us; and that not only
for wrath, but for conscience sake. For all other arguments come short
of binding the soul when this argument is wanting, until we believe
that of God we are bound thereto.

'I speak not these things as knowing any that are disaffected to the
government, for I love to be alone, if not with godly men, in things
that are convenient. I speak to show my loyalty to the king, and my
love to my fellow-subjects, and my desire that all Christians shall
walk in ways of peace and truth.'



Bunyan's preaching enterprise became an extraordinary success. All the
Midland Counties heard of his fame, and demanded to hear him. He had
been Deacon under Gifford at the Bedford Church; but he was in such
request as a preacher, that, in 1657, he was released from his duties
there as unable to attend to them. Sects were springing up all over
England as weeds in a hotbed. He was soon in controversy; Controversy
with Church of England people; Controversy with the Ranters, who
believed Christ to be a myth; Controversy with the Quakers who, at
their outset, disbelieved in his Divinity and in the inspiration of
the Scriptures. Envy at his rapidly acquired reputation brought him
baser enemies. He was called a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman. It was
reported that he had 'his misses,' that he had two wives, &c. 'My foes
have missed their mark in this,' he said with honest warmth: 'I am not
the man. If all the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged
by the neck, John Bunyan, the object of their envy, would be still
alive and well. I know not whether there be such a thing as a woman
breathing under the cope of the whole heavens but by their apparel,
their children, or common fame, except my wife.'

But a more serious trial was now before him. Cromwell passed away. The
Protectorate came to an end. England decided that it had had enough of
Puritans and republicans, and would give the Stuarts and the
Established Church another trial. A necessary consequence was the
revival of the Act of Uniformity. The Independents were not meek like
the Baptists, using no weapons to oppose what they disapproved but
passive resistance. The same motives which had determined the original
constitution of a Church combining the characters of Protestant and
Catholic, instead of leaving religion free, were even more powerful at
the Restoration than they had been at the accession of Elizabeth.
Before toleration is possible, men must have learnt to tolerate
toleration itself; and in times of violent convictions, toleration is
looked on as indifference, and indifference as Atheism in disguise.
Catholics and Protestants, Churchmen and Dissenters, regarded one
another as enemies of God and the State, with whom no peace was
possible. Toleration had been tried by the Valois princes in France.
Church and chapel had been the rendezvous of armed fanatics. The
preachers blew the war-trumpet, and every town and village had been
the scene of furious conflicts, which culminated in the Massacre of
St. Bartholomew. The same result would have followed in England if the
same experiment had been ventured. The different communities were
forbidden to have their separate places of worship, and services were
contrived which moderate men of all sorts could use and interpret
after their own convictions. The instrument required to be delicately
handled. It succeeded tolerably as long as Elizabeth lived. When
Elizabeth died, the balance was no longer fairly kept. The High Church
party obtained the ascendancy and abused their power. Tyranny brought
revolution, and the Catholic element in turn disappeared. The Bishops
were displaced by Presbyterian elders. The Presbyterian elders became
in turn 'hireling wolves,' 'old priest' written in new characters.
Cromwell had left conscience free to Protestants. But even he had
refused equal liberty to Catholics and Episcopalians. He was gone too,
and Church and King were back again. How were they to stand? The stern
resolute men, to whom the Commonwealth had been the establishment of
God's kingdom upon earth, were as little inclined to keep terms with
Antichrist as the Church people had been inclined to keep terms with
Cromwell. To have allowed them to meet openly in their conventicles
would have been to make over the whole of England to them as a
seed-bed in which to plant sedition. It was pardonable, it was even
necessary, for Charles II. and his advisers, to fall back upon
Elizabeth's principles, at least as long as the ashes were still
glowing. Indulgence had to be postponed till cooler times. With the
Fifth Monarchy men abroad, every chapel, except those of the Baptists,
would have been a magazine of explosives.

Under the 35th of Elizabeth, Nonconformists refusing to attend worship
in the parish churches were to be imprisoned till they made their
submission. Three months were allowed them to consider. If at the end
of that time they were still obstinate, they were to be banished the
realm; and if they subsequently returned to England without permission
from the Crown, they were liable to execution as felons. This Act had
fallen with the Long Parliament, but at the Restoration it was held to
have revived and to be still in force. The parish churches were
cleared of their unordained ministers. The Dissenters' chapels were
closed. The people were required by proclamation to be present on
Sundays in their proper place. So the majority of the nation had
decided. If they had wished for religious liberty they would not have
restored the Stuarts, or they would have insisted on conditions, and
would have seen that they were observed.

Venner's plot showed the reality of the danger and justified the

The Baptists and Quakers might have been trusted to discourage
violence, but it was impossible to distinguish among the various
sects, whose tenets were unknown and even unsettled. The great body of
Cromwell's spiritual supporters believed that armed resistance to a
government which they disapproved was not only lawful, but was

Thus, no sooner was Charles II. on the throne than the Nonconformists
found themselves again under bondage. Their separate meetings were
prohibited, and they were not only forbidden to worship in their own
fashion, but they had to attend church, under penalties. The Bedford
Baptists refused to obey. Their meeting-house in the town was shut up,
but they continued to assemble in woods and outhouses; Bunyan
preaching to them as before, and going to the place in disguise.
Informers were soon upon his track. The magistrates had received
orders to be vigilant. Bunyan was the most prominent Dissenter in the
neighbourhood. He was too sensible to court martyrdom. He had intended
to leave the town till more quiet times, and had arranged to meet a
few of his people once more to give them a parting address. It was
November 12, 1660. The place agreed on was a house in the village of
Samsell near Harlington. Notice of his intention was privately
conveyed to Mr. Wingate, a magistrate in the adjoining district. The
constables were set to watch the house, and were directed to bring
Bunyan before him. Some member of the congregation heard of it. Bunyan
was warned, and was advised to stay at home that night, or else to
conceal himself. His departure had been already arranged; but when he
learnt that a warrant was actually out against him, he thought that he
was bound to stay and face the danger. He was the first Nonconformist
who had been marked for arrest. If he flinched after he had been
singled out by name, the whole body of his congregation would be
discouraged. Go to church he would not, or promise to go to church;
but he was willing to suffer whatever punishment the law might order.
Thus at the time and place which had been agreed on, he was in the
room, at Samsell, with his Bible in his hand, and was about to begin
his address, when the constables entered and arrested him. He made no
resistance. He desired only to be allowed to say a few words, which
the constables permitted. He then prepared to go with them. He was not
treated with any roughness. It was too late to take him that night
before the magistrate. His friends undertook for his appearance when
he should be required, and he went home with them. The constables came
for him again on the following afternoon.

Mr. Wingate, when the information was first brought to him, supposed
that he had fallen on a nest of Fifth Monarchy men. He enquired, when
Bunyan was brought in, how many arms had been found at the meeting.
When he learnt that there were no arms, and that it had no political
character whatever, he evidently thought it was a matter of no
consequence. He told Bunyan that he had been breaking the law, and
asked him why he could not attend to his business. Bunyan said that
his object in teaching was merely to persuade people to give up their
sins. He could do that and attend to his business also. Wingate
answered that the law must be obeyed. He must commit Bunyan for trial
at the Quarter Sessions; but he would take bail for him, if his
securities would engage that he would not preach again meanwhile.
Bunyan refused to be bailed on any such terms. Preach he would and
must, and the recognizances would be forfeited. After such an answer,
Wingate could only send him to gaol: he could not help himself. The
committal was made out, and Bunyan was being taken away, when two of
his friends met him, who were acquainted with Wingate, and they begged
the constable to wait. They went in to the magistrate. They told him
who and what Bunyan was. The magistrate had not the least desire to be
hard, and it was agreed that if he would himself give some general
promise of a vague kind he might be let go altogether. Bunyan was
called back. Another magistrate who knew him had by this time joined
Wingate. They both said that they were reluctant to send him to
prison. If he would promise them that he would not call the people
together any more, he might go home.

They had purposely chosen a form of words which would mean as little
as possible. But Bunyan would not accept an evasion. He said that he
would not force the people to come together, but if he was in a place
where the people were met, he should certainly speak to them. The
magistrate repeated that the meetings were unlawful. They would be
satisfied if Bunyan would simply promise that he would not call such
meetings. It was as plain as possible that they wished to dismiss the
case, and they were thrusting words into his mouth which he could use
without a mental reservation; but he persisted that there were many
ways in which a meeting might be called; if people came together to
hear him, knowing that he would speak, he might be said to have called
them together.

Remonstrances and entreaties were equally useless, and, with extreme
unwillingness, they committed him to Bedford Gaol to wait for the

It is not for us to say that Bunyan was too precise. He was himself
the best judge of what his conscience and his situation required. To
himself, at any rate, his trial was at the moment most severe. He had
been left a widower a year or two before, with four young children,
one of them blind. He had lately married a second time. His wife was
pregnant. The agitation at her husband's arrest brought on premature
labour, and she was lying in his house in great danger. He was an
affectionate man, and the separation at such a time was peculiarly
distressing. After some weeks the quarter sessions came on. Bunyan was
indicted under the usual form, that he 'being a person of such and
such condition had since such a time devilishly and perniciously
abstained from coming to church to hear Divine service, and was a
common upholder of unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the great
disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom,
contrary to the laws of our Sovereign Lord the King.'

There seems to have been a wish to avoid giving him a formal trial. He
was not required to plead, and it may have been thought that he had
been punished sufficiently. He was asked why he did not go to church?
He said that the Prayer-book was made by man; he was ordered in the
Bible to pray with the spirit and the understanding, not with the
spirit and the Prayer-book. The magistrates, referring to another Act
of Parliament, cautioned Bunyan against finding fault with the
Prayer-book, or he would bring himself into further trouble. Justice
Keelin who presided said (so Bunyan declares, and it has been the
standing jest of his biographers ever since) that the Prayer-book had
been in use ever since the Apostles' time. Perhaps the words were that
parts of it had been then in use (the Apostles' Creed, for instance),
and thus they would have been strictly true. However this might be,
they told him kindly, as Mr. Wingate had done, that it would be better
for him if he would keep to his proper work. The law had prohibited
conventicles. He might teach, if he pleased, in his own family and
among his friends. He must not call large numbers of people together.
He was as impracticable as before, and the magistrates, being but
unregenerate mortals, may be pardoned if they found him provoking. If,
he said, it was lawful for him to do good to a few, it must be equally
lawful to do good to many. He had a gift, which he was bound to use.
If it was sinful for men to meet together to exhort one another to
follow Christ, he should sin still.

He was compelling the Court to punish him, whether they wished it or
not. He describes the scene as if the choice had rested with the
magistrates to convict him or to let him go. If he was bound to do his
duty, they were equally bound to do theirs. They took his answers as a
plea of guilty to the indictment, and Justice Keelin, who was
chairman, pronounced his sentence in the terms of the Act. He was to
go to prison for three months; if, at the end of three months, he
still refused to conform, he was to be transported; and if he came
back without license he would be hanged. Bunyan merely answered, 'If
I were out of prison to-day, I would preach, the Gospel again
to-morrow.' More might have followed, but the gaoler led him away.

There were three gaols in Bedford, and no evidence has been found to
show in which of the three Bunyan was confined. Two of them, the
county gaol and the town gaol, were large roomy buildings. Tradition
has chosen the third, a small lock-up, fourteen feet square, which
stood over the river between the central arches of the old bridge; and
as it appears from the story that he had at times fifty or sixty
fellow-prisoners, and as he admits himself that he was treated at
first with exceptional kindness, it may be inferred that tradition, in
selecting the prison on the bridge, was merely desiring to exhibit the
sufferings of the Nonconformist martyr in a sensational form, and that
he was never in this prison at all. When it was pulled down in 1811 a
gold ring was found in the rubbish, with the initials 'J. B.' upon it.
This is one of the 'trifles light as air' which carry conviction to
the 'jealous' only, and is too slight a foundation on which to assert
a fact so inherently improbable.

When the three months were over, the course of law would have brought
him again to the bar, when he would have had to choose between
conformity and exile. There was still the same desire to avoid
extremities, and as the day approached, the clerk of the peace was
sent to persuade him into some kind of compliance. Various
insurrections had broken out since his arrest, and must have shown
him, if he could have reflected, that there was real reason for the
temporary enforcement of the Act. He was not asked to give up
preaching. He was asked only to give up public preaching. It was well
known that he had no disposition to rebellion. Even the going to
church was not insisted on. The clerk of the peace told him that he
might 'exhort his neighbours in private discourse,' if only he would
not bring the people together in numbers, which the magistrates would
be bound to notice. In this way he might continue his usefulness, and
would not be interfered with.

Bunyan knew his own freedom from seditious intentions. He would not
see that the magistrates could not suspend the law and make an
exception in his favour. They were going already to the utmost limit
of indulgence. But the more he disapproved of rebellion, the more
punctilious he was in carrying out resistance of another kind which he
held to be legitimate. He was a representative person, and he thought
that in yielding he would hurt the cause of religious liberty. 'The
law,' he said, 'had provided two ways of obeying--one to obey
actively, and if he could not in conscience obey actively, then to
suffer whatever penalty was inflicted on him.'

The clerk of the peace could produce no effect. Bunyan rather looked
on him as a false friend trying to entangle him. The three months
elapsed, and the magistrates had to determine what was to be done. If
Bunyan was brought before them, they must exile him. His case was
passed over and he was left in prison, where his wife and children
were allowed to visit him daily. He did not understand the law or
appreciate their forbearance. He exaggerated his danger. At the worst
he could only have been sent to America, where he might have remained
as long as he pleased. He feared that he might perhaps be hanged.

'I saw what was coming,' he said, 'and had two considerations
especially on my heart, how to be able to endure, should my
imprisonment be long and tedious, and how to be able to encounter
death should that be my portion. I was made to see that if I would
suffer rightly, I must pass sentence of death upon everything that can
properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my
wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments all as dead to me, and
myself as dead to them. Yet I was a man compassed with infirmities.
The parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in
this place (the prison in which he was writing) as the pulling of my
flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am too, too, fond of
those great mercies, but also because I should have often brought to
my mind the hardships, miseries, and wants 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 I had besides. Poor child, thought I,
what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou
must be beaten, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand
calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow on thee.
But yet, thought I, I must venture all with God, though it goeth to
the quick to leave you. I was as a man who was pulling down his house
upon the head of his wife and children. Yet thought I, I must do it--I
must do it. I had this for consideration, that if I should now venture
all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concernments. Also I had
dread of the torments of hell, which I was sure they must partake of
that for fear of the cross do shrink from their profession. I had this
much upon my spirit, that my imprisonment might end in the gallows for
aught I could tell. In the condition I now was in I was not fit to
die, nor indeed did I think I could if I should be called to it. I
feared I might show a weak heart, and give occasion to the enemy. This
lay with great trouble on me, for methought I was ashamed to die with
a pale face and tottering knees for such a cause as this. The things
of God were kept out of my sight. The tempter followed me with, "But
whither must you go when you die? What will become of you? What
evidence have you for heaven and glory, and an inheritance among them
that are sanctified?" Thus was I tossed many weeks; but I felt it was
for the Word and way of God that I was in this condition. God might
give me comfort or not as He pleased. 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 no, 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 does not come
in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even blindfold into
eternity, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell. Now was my heart full
of comfort.'

The ladder was an imaginary ladder, but the resolution was a genuine
manly one, such as lies at the bottom of all brave and honourable
action. Others who have thought very differently from Bunyan about
such matters have felt the same as he felt. Be true to yourself
whatever comes, even if damnation come. Better hell with an honest
heart, than heaven with cowardice and insincerity. It was the more
creditable to Bunyan, too, because the spectres and hobgoblins had
begun occasionally to revisit him.

'Of all temptations I ever met with in my life,' he says, 'to question
the being of God and the truth of His Gospel is the worst and worst to
be borne. When this temptation comes it takes my girdle from me and
removes the foundation from under me. Though God has visited my soul
with never so blessed a discovery of Himself, yet afterwards I have
been in my spirit so filled with darkness, that I could not so much as
once conceive what that God and that comfort was with which I had been



The irregularities in the proceedings against Bunyan had perhaps been
suggested by the anticipation of the general pardon which was expected
in the following spring. At the coronation of Charles, April 23, 1661,
an order was issued for the release of prisoners who were in gaol for
any offences short of felony. Those who were waiting their trials were
to be let go at once. Those convicted and under sentence might sue out
a pardon under the Great Seal at any time within a year from the
proclamation. Was Bunyan legally convicted or not? He had not pleaded
directly to the indictment. No evidence had been heard against him.
His trial had been a conversation between himself and the Court. The
point had been raised by his friends. His wife had been in London to
make interest for him, and a peer had presented a petition in Bunyan's
behalf in the House of Lords. The judges had been directed to look
again into the matter at the midsummer assizes. The high sheriff was
active in Bunyan's favour. The Judges Twisden, Chester, and no less a
person than Sir Matthew Hale, appear to have concluded that his
conviction was legal, that he could not be tried again, and that he
must apply for pardon in the regular way. His wife, however, at the
instance of the sheriff, obtained a hearing, and they listened
courteously to what she had to say. When she had done, Mr. Justice
Twisden put the natural question, whether, if her husband was
released, he would refrain from preaching in public for the future. If
he intended to repeat his offence immediately that he was at liberty,
his liberty would only bring him into a worse position. The wife at
once said that he dared not leave off preaching as long as he could
speak. The judge asked if she thought her husband was to be allowed to
do as he pleased. She said that he was a peaceable person, and wished
only to be restored to a position in which he could maintain his
family. They had four small children who could not help themselves,
one of them being blind, and they had nothing to live upon as long as
her husband was in prison but the charity of their friends. Hale
remarked that she looked very young to have four children. 'I am but
mother-in-law to them,' she said, 'having not been married yet full
two years. I was with child when my husband was first apprehended, but
being young, I being dismayed at the news fell in labour, and so
continued for eight days. I was delivered, but my child died.'

Hale was markedly kind. He told her that as the conviction had been
recorded they could not set it aside. She might sue out a pardon if
she pleased, or she might obtain 'a writ of error,' which would be
simpler and less expensive.

She left the court in tears--tears, however, which were not altogether
tears of suffering innocence. 'It was not so much,' she said, 'because
they were so hardhearted against me and my husband, but to think what
a sad account such poor creatures would have to give at the coming of
the Lord.' No doubt both Bunyan and she thought themselves cruelly
injured, and they confounded the law with the administration of it.
Persons better informed than they often choose to forget that judges
are sworn to administer the law which they find, and rail at them as
if the sentences which they are obliged by their oaths to pass were
their own personal acts.

A pardon, it cannot be too often said, would have been of no use to
Bunyan, because he was determined to persevere in disobeying a law
which he considered to be unjust. The most real kindness which could
be shown to him was to leave him where he was. His imprisonment was
intended to be little more than nominal. His gaoler, not certainly
without the sanction of the sheriff, let him go where he pleased; once
even so far as London. He used his liberty as he had declared that he
would. 'I followed my wonted course of preaching,' he says, 'taking
all occasions that were put in my hand to visit the people of God.'
This was deliberate defiance. The authorities saw that he must be
either punished in earnest or the law would fall into contempt. He
admitted that he expected to be 'roundly dealt with.' His indulgences
were withdrawn, and he was put into close confinement.

Sessions now followed sessions, and assizes, assizes. His detention
was doubtless irregular, for by law he should have been sent beyond
the seas. He petitioned to be brought to trial again, and complained
loudly that his petition was not listened to; but no legislator, in
framing an Act of Parliament, ever contemplated an offender in so
singular a position. Bunyan was simply trying his strength against the
Crown and Parliament. The judges and magistrates respected his
character, and were unwilling to drive him out of the country; he had
himself no wish for liberty on that condition. The only resource,
therefore, was to prevent him forcibly from repeating an offence that
would compel them to adopt harsh measures which they were so earnestly
trying to avoid.

Such was the world-famous imprisonment of John Bunyan, which has been
the subject of so much eloquent declamation. It lasted in all for more
than twelve years. It might have ended at any time if he would have
promised to confine his addresses to a private circle. It did end
after six years. He was released under the first declaration of
indulgence; but as he instantly recommenced his preaching, he was
arrested again. Another six years went by; he was again let go, and
was taken once more immediately after, preaching in a wood. This time
he was detained but a few months, and in form more than reality. The
policy of the government was then changed, and he was free for the
rest of his life.

His condition during his long confinement has furnished a subject for
pictures which if correct would be extremely affecting. It is true
that, being unable to attend to his usual business, he spent his
unoccupied hours in making tags for bootlaces. With this one fact to
build on, and with the assumption that the scene of his sufferings was
the Bridge Lockhouse, Nonconformist imagination has drawn a 'den' for
us, 'where there was not a yard or a court to walk in for daily
exercise;' 'a damp and dreary cell;' 'a narrow chink which admits a
few scanty rays of light to render visible the abode of woe;' 'the
prisoner, pale and emaciated, seated on the humid earth, pursuing his
daily task, to earn the morsel which prolongs his existence and his
confinement together. Near him, reclining in pensive sadness, his
blind daughter, five other distressed children, and an affectionate
wife, whom pinching want and grief have worn down to the gate of
death. Ten summer suns have rolled over the mansion of his misery
whose reviving rays have never once penetrated his sad abode,' &c. &c.

If this description resembles or approaches the truth, I can but say
that to have thus abandoned to want their most distinguished pastor
and his family was intensely discreditable to the Baptist community.
English prisons in the seventeenth century were not models of good
management. But prisoners, whose friends could pay for them, were not
consigned to damp and dreary cells; and in default of evidence of
which not a particle exists, I cannot charge so reputable a community
with a neglect so scandalous. The entire story is in itself
incredible. Bunyan was prosperous in his business. He was respected
and looked up to by a large and growing body of citizens, including
persons of wealth and position in London. He was a representative
sufferer fighting the battle of all the Nonconformists in England. He
had active supporters in the town of Bedford and among the gentlemen
of the county. The authorities, so far as can be inferred from their
actions, tried from the first to deal as gently with him as he would
allow them to do. Is it conceivable that the Baptists would have left
his family to starve; or that his own confinement would have been made
so absurdly and needlessly cruel? Is it not far more likely that he
found all the indulgences which money could buy and the rules of the
prison would allow? Bunyan is not himself responsible for these wild
legends. Their real character appears more clearly when we observe how
he was occupied during these years.

Friends, in the first place, had free access to him, and strangers who
were drawn to him by reputation; while the gaol was considered a
private place, and he was allowed to preach there, at least
occasionally, to his fellow-prisoners. Charles Doe, a distinguished
Nonconformist, visited him in his confinement, and has left an account
of what he saw. 'When I was there,' he writes, 'there were about sixty
dissenters besides himself, taken but a little before at a religious
meeting at Kaistor, in the county of Bedford, besides two eminent
dissenting ministers, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Dun, by which means the
prison was much crowded. Yet, in the midst of all that hurry, I heard
Mr. Bunyan both preach and pray with that mighty spirit of faith and
plerophory of Divine assistance, that he made me stand and wonder.
Here they could sing without fear of being overheard; no informers
prowling round, and the world shut out.'

This was not all. A fresh and more severe Conventicle Act was passed
in 1670. Attempts were made to levy fines in the town of Bedford.
There was a riot there. The local officers refused to assist in
quelling it. The shops were shut. Bedford was occupied by soldiers.
Yet, at this very time, Bunyan was again allowed to go abroad through
general connivance. He spent his nights with his family. He even
preached now and then in the woods. Once when he had intended to be
out for the night, information was given to a clerical magistrate in
the neighbourhood, who disliked him, and a constable was sent to
ascertain if the prisoners were all within ward. Bunyan had received a
hint of what was coming. He was in his place when the constable came;
and the governor of the gaol is reported to have said to him, 'You may
go out when you please, for you know better when to return than I can
tell you.' Parliament might pass laws, but the execution of them
depended on the local authorities. Before the Declaration of
Indulgence, the Baptist church in Bedford was reopened. Bunyan, while
still nominally in confinement, attended its meetings. In 1671 he
became an Elder; in December of that year he was chosen Pastor. The
question was raised whether, as a prisoner, he was eligible. The
objection would not have been set aside had he been unable to
undertake the duties of the office. These facts prove conclusively
that, for a part at least of the twelve years, the imprisonment was
little more than formal. He could not have been in the Bridge Gaol
when he had sixty fellow-prisoners, and was able to preach to them in
private. It is unlikely that at any time he was made to suffer any
greater hardships than were absolutely inevitable.

But whether Bunyan's confinement was severe or easy, it was otherwise
of inestimable value to him. It gave him leisure to read and reflect.
Though he preached often, yet there must have been intervals, perhaps
long intervals, of compulsory silence. The excitement of perpetual
speech-making is fatal to the exercise of the higher qualities. The
periods of calm enabled him to discover powers in himself of which he
might otherwise have never known the existence. Of books he had but
few; for a time only the Bible and Foxe's 'Martyrs.' But the Bible
thoroughly known is a literature of itself--the rarest and the richest
in all departments of thought or imagination which exists. Foxe's
'Martyrs,' if he had a complete edition of it, would have given him a
very adequate knowledge of history. With those two books he had no
cause to complain of intellectual destitution. He must have read more,
however. He knew George Herbert--perhaps Spenser--perhaps 'Paradise
Lost.' But of books, except of the Bible, he was at no time a great
student. Happily for himself, he had no other book of Divinity, and he
needed none. His real study was human life as he had seen it, and the
human heart as he had experienced the workings of it. Though he never
mastered successfully the art of verse, he had other gifts which
belong to a true poet. He had imagination, if not of the highest, yet
of a very high order. He had infinite inventive humour, tenderness,
and, better than all, powerful masculine sense. To obtain the use of
these faculties he needed only composure, and this his imprisonment
secured for him. He had published several theological compositions
before his arrest, which have relatively little value. Those which he
wrote in prison--even on theological subjects--would alone have made
him a reputation as a Nonconformist divine. In no other writings are
the peculiar views of Evangelical Calvinism brought out more clearly,
or with a more heartfelt conviction of their truth. They have
furnished an arsenal from which English Protestant divines have ever
since equipped themselves. The most beautiful of them, 'Grace
Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,' is his own spiritual biography,
which contains the account of his early history. The first part of the
'Pilgrim's Progress' was composed there as an amusement. To this, and
to his other works which belong to literature, I shall return in a
future chapter.

Visitors who saw him in the gaol found his manner and presence as
impressive as his writings. 'He was mild and affable in conversation,'
says one of them, 'not given to loquacity or to much discourse, unless
some urgent occasion required. It was observed he never spoke of
himself or of his talents, but seemed low in his own eyes. He was
never heard to reproach or revile any, whatever injury he received,
but rather rebuked those who did so. He managed all things with such
exactness as if he had made it his study not to give offence.'

The final 'Declaration of Indulgence' came at last, bringing with it
the privilege for which Bunyan had fought and suffered. Charles II.
cared as little for liberty as his father or his brother, but he
wished to set free the Catholics, and as a step towards it he conceded
a general toleration to the Protestant Dissenters. Within two years of
the passing of the Conventicle Act of 1670, this and every other penal
law against Nonconformists was suspended. They were allowed to open
their 'meeting houses' for 'worship and devotion,' subject only to a
few easy conditions. The localities were to be specified in which
chapels were required, and the ministers were to receive their
licenses from the Crown. To prevent suspicions, the Roman Catholics
were for the present excluded from the benefit of the concession. Mass
could be said, as before, only in private houses. A year later the
Proclamation was confirmed by Act of Parliament.

Thus Bunyan's long imprisonment was ended. The cause was won. He had
been its foremost representative and champion, and was one of the
first persons to receive the benefit of the change of policy. He was
now forty-four years old. The order for his release was signed on May
8, 1672. His license as pastor of the Baptist chapel at Bedford was
issued on the 9th. He established himself in a small house in the
town. 'When he came abroad,' says one, 'he found his temporal affairs
were gone to wreck, and he had as to them to begin again as if he had
newly come into the world. But yet he was not destitute of friends who
had all along supported him with necessaries, and had been very good
to his family: so that by their assistance, getting things a little
about him again, he resolved, as much as possible, to decline worldly
business, and give himself wholly up to the service of God.' As much
as possible; but not entirely. In 1685, being afraid of a return of
persecution, he made over, as a precaution, his whole estate to his
wife; 'All and singular his goods, chattels, debts, ready money,
plate, rings, household stuff, apparel, utensils, brass, pewter,
bedding, and all his other substance.' In this deed he still describes
himself as a brazier. The language is that of a man in easy, if not
ample circumstances. 'Though by reason of losses which he sustained by
imprisonment,' says another biographer, 'his treasures swelled not to
excess, he always had sufficient to live decently and creditably.' His
writings and his sufferings had made him famous throughout England. He
became the actual head of the Baptist community. Men called him, half
in irony, half in seriousness, Bishop Bunyan, and he passed the rest
of his life honourably and innocently, occupied in writing, preaching,
district visiting, and opening daughter churches. Happy in his work,
happy in the sense that his influence was daily extending--spreading
over his own country, and to the far-off settlements in America, he
spent his last years in his own land of Beulah, Doubting Castle out of
sight, and the towers and minarets of Emmanuel Land growing nearer and
clearer as the days went on.

He had not detected, or at least, at first, he did not detect, the
sinister purpose which lay behind the Indulgence. The exception of the
Roman Catholics gave him perfect confidence in the Government, and
after his release he published a 'Discourse upon Antichrist,' with a
preface, in which he credited Charles with the most righteous
intentions, and urged his countrymen to be loyal and faithful to him.
His object in writing it, he said, 'was to testify his loyalty to the
King, his love to the brethren, and his service to his country.'
Antichrist was of course the Pope, the deadliest of all enemies to
vital Christianity. To its kings and princes England owed its past
deliverance from him. To kings England must look for his final

'As the noble King Henry VIII. did cast down the Antichristian
worship, so he cast down the laws that held it up; so also did the
good King Edward his son. The brave Queen Elizabeth, also, the sister
of King Edward, left of things of this nature to her lasting fame
behind her.' Cromwell he dared not mention--perhaps he did not wish to
mention him. But he evidently believed that there was better hope in
Charles Stuart than in conspiracy and revolution.

'Kings,' he said, 'must be the men that shall down with Antichrist,
and they shall down with her in God's time. God hath begun to draw the
hearts of some of them from her already, and He will set them in time
against her round about. If, therefore, they do not that work so fast
as we would have them, let us exercise patience and hope in God. 'Tis
a wonder they go as fast as they do since the concerns of whole
kingdoms lie upon their shoulders, and there are so many Sanballats
and Tobias's to flatter them and misinform them. Let the King have
visibly a place in your hearts, and with heart and mouth give God
thanks for him. He is a better Saviour of us than we may be aware of,
and hath delivered us from more deaths than we can tell how to think.
We are bidden to give God thanks for all men, and in the first place
for kings, and all that are in authority. Be not angry with them, no
not in thy thought. But consider if they go not in the work of
Reformation so fast as thou wouldest they should, the fault may be
thine. Know that thou also hast thy cold and chill frames of heart,
and sittest still when thou shouldest be up and doing. Pray for the
long life of the King. Pray that God would give wisdom and judgment to
the King. Pray that God would discern all plots and conspiracies
against his person and government. I do confess myself one of the
old-fashioned professors that wish to fear God and honour the King. I
am also for blessing them that curse me, for doing good to them that
hate me, and for praying for them that despitefully use me and
persecute me; and I have had more peace in the practice of these
things than all the world are aware of.'

The Stuarts, both Charles and James, were grateful for Bunyan's
services. The Nonconformists generally went up and down in Royal
favour; lost their privileges and regained them as their help was
needed or could be dispensed with. But Bunyan was never more molested.
He did what he liked. He preached where he pleased, and no one
troubled him or called him to account. He was not insincere. His
constancy in enduring so long an imprisonment which a word from him
would have ended, lifts him beyond the reach of unworthy suspicions.
But he disapproved always of violent measures. His rule was to submit
to the law; and where, as he said, he could not obey actively, then to
bear with patience the punishment that might be inflicted on him.
Perhaps he really hoped, as long as hope was possible, that good might
come out of the Stuarts.



To his contemporaries Bunyan was known as the Nonconformist Martyr,
and the greatest living Protestant preacher. To us he is mainly
interesting through his writings, and especially through the
'Pilgrim's Progress.' Although he possessed, in a remarkable degree,
the gift of expressing himself in written words, he had himself no
value for literature. He cared simply for spiritual truth, and
literature in his eyes was only useful as a means of teaching it.
Every thing with which a reasonable man could concern himself was
confined within the limits of Christian faith and practice. Ambition
was folly. Amusement was idle trifling in a life so short as man's,
and with issues so far-reaching depending upon it. To understand, and
to make others understand, what Christ had done, and what Christ
required men to do, was the occupation of his whole mind, and no
object ever held his attention except in connection with it. With a
purpose so strict, and a theory of religion so precise, there is
usually little play for imagination or feeling. Though we read
Protestant theology as a duty, we find it as dry in the mouth as
sawdust. The literature which would please must represent nature, and
nature refuses to be bound into our dogmatic systems. No object can be
pictured truly, except by a mind which has sympathy with it.
Shakespeare no more hates Iago than Iago hates himself. He allows Iago
to exhibit himself in his own way, as nature does. Every character, if
justice is to be done to it, must be painted at its best, as it
appears to itself; and a man impressed deeply with religious
convictions is generally incapable of the sympathy which would give
him an insight into what he disapproves and dislikes. And yet Bunyan,
intensely religious as he was, and narrow as his theology was, is
always human. His genius remains fresh and vigorous under the least
promising conditions. All mankind being under sin together, he has no
favourites to flatter, no opponents to misrepresent. There is a
kindliness in his descriptions, even of the Evil One's attacks upon

The 'Pilgrim's Progress,' though professedly an allegoric story of the
Protestant plan of salvation, is conceived in the large, wide spirit
of humanity itself. Anglo-Catholic and Lutheran, Calvinist and Deist
can alike read it with delight, and find their own theories in it.
Even the Romanist has only to blot out a few paragraphs, and can
discover no purer model of a Christian life to place in the hands of
his children. The religion of the 'Pilgrim's Progress' is the religion
which must be always and everywhere, as long as man believes that he
has a soul and is responsible for his actions; and thus it is that,
while theological folios once devoured as manna from Heaven now lie on
the bookshelves dead as Egyptian mummies, this book is wrought into
the mind and memory of every well-conditioned English or American
child; while the matured man, furnished with all the knowledge which
literature can teach him, still finds the adventures of Christian as
charming as the adventures of Ulysses or Æneas. He sees there the
reflexion of himself, the familiar features of his own nature, which
remain the same from era to era. Time cannot impair its interest, or
intellectual progress make it cease to be true to experience.

But the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' though the best known, is not the only
work of imagination which Bunyan produced; he wrote another religious
allegory, which Lord Macaulay thought would have been the best of its
kind in the world if the 'Pilgrim's Progress' had not existed. The
'Life of Mr. Badman,' though now scarcely read at all, contains a
vivid picture of rough English life in the days of Charles II. Bunyan
was a poet, too, in the technical sense of the word, and though he
disclaimed the name, and though rhyme and metre were to him as Saul's
armour to David, the fine quality of his mind still shows itself in
the uncongenial accoutrements.

It has been the fashion to call Bunyan's verse doggerel; but no verse
is doggerel which has a sincere and rational meaning in it. Goethe,
who understood his own trade, says that the test of poetry is the
substance which remains when the poetry is reduced to prose. Bunyan
had infinite invention. His mind was full of objects which he had
gathered at first hand, from observation and reflection. He had
excellent command of the English language, and could express what he
wished with sharp, defined outlines, and without the waste of a word.
The rhythmical structure of his prose is carefully correct. Scarcely a
syllable is ever out of place. His ear for verse, though less true, is
seldom wholly at fault, and whether in prose or verse, he had the
superlative merit that he could never write nonsense. If one of the
motives of poetical form be to clothe thought and feeling in the dress
in which it can lie most easily remembered, Bunyan's lines are often
as successful as the best lines of Quarles or George Herbert. Who, for
instance, could forget these?--

    Sin is the worm of hell, the lasting fire:
    Hell would soon lose its heat should sin expire;
    Better sinless in hell than to be where
    Heaven is, and to be found a sinner there.

Or these, on persons whom the world calls men of spirit:--

    Though you dare crack a coward's crown,
      Or quarrel for a pin,
    You dare not on the wicked frown,
      Or speak against their sin.

The 'Book of Ruth' and the 'History of Joseph' done into blank verse
are really beautiful idylls. The substance with which he worked,
indeed, is so good that there would be a difficulty in spoiling it
completely; but the prose of the translation in the English Bible,
faultless as it is, loses nothing in Bunyan's hands, and if we found
these poems in the collected works of a poet laureate, we should
consider that a difficult task had been accomplished successfully.
Bunyan felt, like the translators of the preceding century, that the
text was sacred, that his duty was to give the exact meaning of it,
without epithets or ornaments, and thus the original grace is
completely preserved.

Of a wholly different kind, and more after Quarles's manner, is a
collection of thoughts in verse, which he calls a book for boys and
girls. All his observations ran naturally in one direction; to minds
possessed and governed by religion, nature, be their creed what it
may, is always a parable reflecting back their own views.

But how neatly expressed are these 'Meditations upon an Egg':--

    The egg's no chick by falling from a hen,
    Nor man's a Christian till he's born again;
    The egg's at first contained in the shell,
    Men afore grace in sin and darkness dwell;
    The egg, when laid, by warmth is made a chicken,
    And Christ by grace the dead in sin doth quicken;
    The egg when first a chick the shell's its prison,
    So flesh to soul who yet with Christ is risen.

Or this, 'On a Swallow':--

    This pretty bird! Oh, how she flies and sings;
    But could she do so if she had not wings?
    Her wings bespeak my faith, her songs my peace;
    When I believe and sing, my doubtings cease.

Though the Globe Theatre was, in the opinion of Nonconformists, 'the
heart of Satan's empire,' Bunyan must yet have known something of
Shakespeare. In the second part of the 'Pilgrim's Progress' we find:--

    Who would true valour see,
      Let him come hither;
    One here will constant be,
      Come wind, come weather.

The resemblance to the song in 'As You Like It' is too near to be

    Who doth ambition shun,
    And loves to be in the sun;
    Seeking the food he eats,
    And pleased with what he gets,
    Come hither, come hither, come hither.
    Here shall be no enemy,
    Save winter and rough weather.

Bunyan may, perhaps, have heard the lines, and the rhymes may have
clung to him without his knowing whence they came. But he would never
have been heard of outside his own communion, if his imagination had
found no better form of expression for itself than verse. His especial
gift was for allegory, the single form of imaginative fiction which he
would not have considered trivial, and his especial instrument was
plain, unaffected Saxon prose. 'The Holy War' is a people's Paradise
Lost and Paradise Regained in one. The 'Life of Mr. Badman' is a
didactic tale, describing the career of a vulgar, middle-class,
unprincipled scoundrel.

These are properly Bunyan's 'works,' the results of his life so far as
it affects the present generation of Englishmen; and as they are
little known, I shall give an account of each of them.

The 'Life of Badman' is presented as a dialogue between Mr. Wiseman
and Mr. Attentive. Mr. Wiseman tells the story, Mr. Attentive comments
upon it. The names recall Bunyan's well-known manner. The figures
stand for typical characters; but as the _dramatis personæ_ of many
writers of fiction, while professing to be beings of flesh and blood
are no more than shadows, so Bunyan's shadows are solid men whom we
can feel and handle.

Mr. Badman is, of course, one of the 'reprobate.' Bunyan considered
theoretically that a reprobate may to outward appearance have the
graces of a saint, and that there may be little in his conduct to mark
his true character. A reprobate may be sorry for his sins, he may
repent and lead a good life. He may reverence good men and may try to
resemble them; he may pray, and his prayers may be answered; he may
have the spirit of God, and may receive another heart, and yet he may
be under the covenant of works, and may be eternally lost. This
Bunyan could say while he was writing theology; but art has its rules
as well as its more serious sister, and when he had to draw a living
specimen, he drew him as he had seen him in his own Bedford

Badman showed from childhood a propensity for evil. He was so
'addicted to lying that his parents could not distinguish when he was
speaking the truth. He would invent, tell, and stand to the lies which
he invented, with such an audacious face, that one might read in his
very countenance the symptoms of a hard and desperate heart. It was
not the fault of his parents; they were much dejected at the
beginnings of their son, nor did he want counsel and correction, if
that would have made him better: but all availed nothing.'

Lying was not Badman's only fault. He took to pilfering and stealing.
He robbed his neighbours' orchards. He picked up money if he found it
lying about. Especially, Mr. Wiseman notes that he hated Sundays.
'Reading Scriptures, godly conferences, repeating of sermons and
prayers, were things that he could not away with.' 'He was an enemy to
that day, because more restraint was laid upon him from his own ways
than was possible on any other.' Mr. Wiseman never doubts that the
Puritan Sunday ought to have been appreciated by little boys. If a
child disliked it, the cause could only be his own wickedness. Young
Badman 'was greatly given also to swearing and cursing.' 'He made no
more of it' than Mr. Wiseman made 'of telling his fingers.' 'He
counted it a glory to swear and curse, and it was as natural to him as
to eat, drink, or sleep.' Bunyan, in this description, is supposed to
have taken the picture from himself. But too much may be made of this.
He was thinking, perhaps, of what he might have been if God's grace
had not preserved him. He himself was saved. Badman is represented as
given over from the first. Anecdotes, however, are told of
contemporary providential judgments upon swearers, which had much
impressed Bunyan. One was of a certain Dorothy Mately, a woman whose
business was to wash rubbish at the Derby lead mines. Dorothy (it was
in the year when Bunyan was first imprisoned), had stolen twopence
from the coat of a boy who was working near her. When the boy taxed
her with having robbed him, she wished the ground might swallow her up
if she had ever touched his money. Presently after, some children who
were watching her, saw a movement in the bank on which she was
standing. They called to her to take care, but it was too late. The
bank fell in, and she was carried down along with it. A man ran to
help her, but the sides of the pit were crumbling round her: a large
stone fell on her head; the rubbish followed, and she was overwhelmed.
When she was dug out afterwards, the pence were found in her pocket.
Bunyan was perfectly satisfied that her death was supernatural. To
discover miracles is not peculiar to Catholics. They will be found
wherever there is an active belief in immediate providential

Those more cautious in forming their conclusions will think, perhaps,
that the woman was working above some shaft in the mine, that the
crust had suddenly broken, and that it would equally have fallen in
when gravitation required it to fall, if Dorothy Mately had been a
saint. They will remember the words about the Tower of Siloam. But to
return to Badman.

His father, being unable to manage so unpromising a child, bound him
out as an apprentice. The master to whom he was assigned was as good
a man as the father could find: uptight, Godfearing, and especially
considerate of his servants. He never worked them too hard. He left
them time to read and pray. He admitted no light or mischievous books
within his doors. He was not one of those whose religion 'hung as a
cloke in his house, and was never seen on him when he went abroad.'
His household was as well fed and cared for as himself, and he
required nothing of others of which he did not set them an example in
his own person.

This man did his best to reclaim young Badman, and was particularly
kind to him. But his exertions were thrown away. The good-for-nothing
youth read filthy romances on the sly. He fell asleep in church, or
made eyes at the pretty girls. He made acquaintance with low
companions. He became profligate, got drunk at alehouses, sold his
master's property to get money, or stole it out of the cashbox. Thrice
he ran away and was taken back again. The third time he was allowed to
go. 'The House of Correction would have been the most fit for him, but
thither his master was loath to send him, for the love he bore his

He was again apprenticed; this time to a master like himself. Being
wicked he was given over to wickedness. The ways of it were not
altogether pleasant. He was fed worse and he was worked harder than he
had been before; when he stole, or neglected his business, he was
beaten. He liked his new place, however, better than the old. 'At
least, there was no godliness in the house, which he hated worst of

So far, Bunyan's hero was travelling the usual road of the Idle
Apprentice, and the gallows would have been the commonplace ending of
it. But this would not have answered Bunyan's purpose. He wished to
represent the good-for-nothing character, under the more instructive
aspect of worldly success, which bad men may arrive at as well as
good, if they are prudent and cunning. Bunyan gives his hero every
chance. He submits him from the first to the best influences; he
creates opportunities for repentance at every stage of a long
career--opportunities which the reprobate nature cannot profit by, yet
increases its guilt by neglecting.

Badman's term being out, his father gives him money and sets him up as
a tradesman on his own account. Mr. Attentive considers this to have
been a mistake. Mr. Wiseman answers that even in the most desperate
cases, kindness in parents is more likely to succeed than severity,
and if it fails they will have the less to reproach themselves with.
The kindness is, of course, thrown away. Badman continues a loose
blackguard, extravagant, idle and dissolute. He comes to the edge of
ruin. His situation obliges him to think; and now the interest of the
story begins. He must repair his fortune by some means or other. The
easiest way is by marriage. There was a young orphan lady in the
neighbourhood, who was well off and her own mistress. She was a
'professor' eagerly given to religion, and not so wise as she ought to
have been. Badman pretends to be converted. He reforms, or seems to
reform. He goes to meeting, sings hymns, adopts the most correct form
of doctrine, tells the lady that he does not want her money, but that
he wants a companion who will go with him along the road to Heaven. He
was plausible, good-looking, and, to all appearance, as absorbed as
herself in the one thing needful. The congregation warn her, but to no
purpose. She marries him, and finds what she has done too late. In
her fortune he has all that he wanted. He swears at her, treats her
brutally, brings prostitutes into his house, laughs at her religion,
and at length orders her to give it up. When she refuses, Bunyan
introduces a special feature of the times, and makes Badman threaten
to turn informer, and bring her favourite minister to gaol. The
informers were the natural but most accursed products of the
Conventicle Acts. Popular abhorrence relieved itself by legends of the
dreadful judgments which had overtaken these wretches.

In St. Neots an informer was bitten by a dog. The wound gangrened and
the flesh rotted off his bones. In Bedford 'there was one W. S.'
(Bunyan probably knew him too well), 'a man of very wicked life, and
he, when there seemed to be countenance given to it, would needs turn
informer. Well, so he did, and was as diligent in his business as most
of them could be. He would watch at nights, climb trees and range the
woods of days, if possible to find out the meeters, for then they were
forced to meet in the fields. Yea, he would curse them bitterly, and
swore most fearfully what he would do to them when he found them.
Well, after he had gone on like a Bedlam in his course awhile, and had
done some mischief to the people, he was stricken by the hand of God.
He was taken with a faltering in his speech, a weakness in the back
sinews of his neck, that ofttimes he held up his head by strength of
hand. After this his speech went quite away, and he could speak no
more than a swine or a bear. Like one of them he would gruntle and
make an ugly noise, according as he was offended or pleased, or would
have anything done. He walked about till God had made a sufficient
spectacle of his judgments for his sin, and then, on a sudden, he was
stricken, and died miserably.'

Badman, says Mr. Wiseman, 'had malice enough in his heart' to turn
informer, but he was growing prudent and had an eye to the future. As
a tradesman he had to live by his neighbours. He knew that they would
not forgive him, so 'he had that wit in his anger that he did it not.'
Nothing else was neglected to make the unfortunate wife miserable. She
bore him seven children, also typical figures. 'One was a very
gracious child, that loved its mother dearly. This child Mr. Badman
could not abide, and it oftenest felt the weight of its father's
fingers. Three were as bad as himself. The others that remained became
a kind of mongrel professors, not so bad as their father nor so good
as their mother, but betwixt them both. They had their mother's
notions and their father's actions. Their father did not like them
because they had their mother's tongue. Their mother did not like them
because they had their father's heart and life, nor were they fit
company for good or bad. They were forced with Esau to join in
affinity with Ishmael, to wit, to look out for a people that were
hypocrites like themselves, and with them they matched and lived and

Badman meanwhile, with the help of his wife's fortune, grew into an
important person, and his character becomes a curious study. 'He
went,' we are told, 'to school with the Devil, from his childhood to
the end of his life.' He was shrewd in matters of business, began to
extend his operations, and 'drove a great trade.' He carried a double
face. He was evil with the evil. He pretended to be good with the
good. In religion he affected to be a freethinker, careless of death
and judgment, and ridiculing those who feared them 'as frighted with
unseen bugbears.' But he wore a mask when it suited him, and admired
himself for the ease with which he could assume whatever aspect was
convenient. 'I can be religious and irreligious,' he said; 'I can be
anything or nothing. I can swear and speak against swearing. I can lie
and speak against lying. I can drink, wench, be unclean, and defraud,
and not be troubled for it. I can enjoy myself and am master of my own
ways, not they of me. This I have attained with much study, care, and
pains.' 'An Atheist Badman was, if such a thing as an Atheist could
be. He was not alone in that mystery. There was abundance of men of
the same mind and the same principle. He was only an arch or chief one
among them.'

Mr. Badman now took to speculation, which Bunyan's knowledge of
business enabled him to describe with instructive minuteness. His
adventures were on a large scale, and by some mistakes and by personal
extravagance he had nearly ruined himself a second time. In this
condition he discovered a means, generally supposed to be a more
modern invention, of 'getting money by hatfuls.'

'He gave a sudden and great rush into several men's debts to the value
of four or five thousand pounds, driving at the same time a very great
trade by selling many things for less than they cost him, to get him
custom and blind his creditors' eyes. When he had well feathered his
nest with other men's goods and money, after a little while he breaks;
while he had by craft and knavery made so sure of what he had, that
his creditors could not touch a penny. He sends mournful sugared
letters to them, desiring them not to be severe with him, for he bore
towards all men an honest mind, and would pay them as far as he was
able. He talked of the greatness of the taxes, the badness of the
times, his losses by bad debts, and he brought them to a composition
to take five shillings in the pound. His release was signed and
sealed, and Mr. Badman could now put his head out of doors again, and
be a better man than when he shut up shop by several thousands of

Twice or three times he repeated the same trick with equal success. It
is likely enough that Bunyan was drawing from life and perhaps from a
member of his own congregation; for he says that 'he had known a
professor do it.' He detested nothing so much as sham religion which
was put on as a pretence. 'A professor,' he exclaims, 'and practise
such villanies as these! Such an one is not worthy the name. Go
professors, go--leave off profession unless you will lead your lives
according to your profession. Better never profess than make
profession a stalking horse to sin, deceit, the devil, and hell.'

Bankruptcy was not the only art by which Badman piled up his fortune.
The seventeenth century was not so far behind us as we sometimes
persuade ourselves. 'He dealt by deceitful weights and measures. He
kept weights to buy by and weights to sell by, measures to buy by and
measures to sell by. Those he bought by were too big, and those he
sold by were too little. If he had to do with other men's weights and
measures, he could use a thing called sleight of hand. He had the art
besides to misreckon men in their accounts, whether by weight or
measure or money; and if a question was made of his faithful dealing,
he had his servants ready that would vouch and swear to his look or
word. He would sell goods that cost him not the best price by far, for
as much as he sold his best of all for. He had also a trick to mingle
his commodity, that that which was bad might go off with the least
mistrust. If any of his customers paid him money, he would call for
payment a second time, and if they could not produce good and
sufficient ground of the payment, a hundred to one but they paid it

'To buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest' was Mr.
Badman's common rule in business. According to modern political
economy, it is the cardinal principle of wholesome trade. In Bunyan's
opinion it was knavery in disguise, and certain to degrade and
demoralise everyone who acted upon it. Bunyan had evidently thought on
the subject. Mr. Attentive is made to object:--

'But you know that there is no settled price set by God upon any
commodity that is bought or sold under the sun; but all things that we
buy and sell do ebb and flow as to price like the tide. How then shall
a man of tender conscience do, neither to wrong the seller, buyer, nor
himself in the buying and selling of commodities?'

Mr. Wiseman answers in the spirit of our old Acts of Parliament,
before political economy was invented:--

'Let a man have conscience towards God, charity to his neighbours, and
moderation in dealing. Let the tradesman consider that there is not
that in great gettings and in abundance which the most of men do
suppose; for all that a man has over and above what serves for his
present necessity and supply, serves only to feed the lusts of the
eye. Be thou confident that God's eyes are upon thy ways; that He
marks them, writes them down, and seals them up in a bag against the
time to come. Be sure that thou rememberest that thou knowest not the
day of thy death. Thou shalt have nothing that thou mayest so much as
carry away in thy hand. Guilt shall go with thee if thou hast gotten
thy substance dishonestly, and they to whom thou shalt leave it shall
receive it to their hurt. These things duly considered, I will shew
thee how thou should'st live in the practical part of this art. Art
thou to buy or sell? If thou sellest do not commend. If thou buyest do
not dispraise, any otherwise but to give the thing that thou hast to
do with its just value and worth. Art thou a seller and do things grow
cheap? set not thy hand to help or hold them up higher. Art thou a
buyer and do things grow dear? use no cunning or deceitful language to
pull them down. Leave things to the Providence of God, and do thou
with moderation submit to his hand. Hurt not thy neighbour by crying
out Scarcity, scarcity! beyond the truth of things. Especially take
heed of doing this by way of a prognostic for time to come. This
wicked thing may be done by hoarding up (food) when the hunger and
necessity of the poor calls for it. If things rise do thou be grieved.
Be also moderate in all thy sellings, and be sure let the poor have a
pennyworth, and sell thy corn to those who are in necessity; which
thou wilt do when thou showest mercy to the poor in thy selling to
him, and when thou undersellest the market for his sake because he is
poor. This is to buy and sell with a good conscience. The buyer thou
wrongest not, thy conscience thou wrongest not, thyself thou wrongest
not, for God will surely recompense with thee.'

These views of Bunyan's are at issue with modern science, but his
principles and ours are each adjusted to the objects of desire which
good men in those days and good men in ours have respectively set
before themselves. If wealth means money, as it is now assumed to do,
Bunyan is wrong and modern science right. If wealth means moral
welfare, then those who aim at it will do well to follow Bunyan's
advice. It is to be feared that this part of his doctrine is less
frequently dwelt upon by those who profess to admire and follow him,
than the theory of imputed righteousness or justification by faith.

Mr. Badman by his various ingenuities became a wealthy man. His
character as a tradesman could not have been a secret from his
neighbours, but money and success coloured it over. The world spoke
well of him. He became 'proud and haughty,' took part in public
affairs, 'counted himself as wise as the wisest in the country, as
good as the best, and as beautiful as he that had the most of it.' 'He
took great delight in praising himself, and as much in the praises
that others gave him.' 'He could not abide that any should think
themselves above him, or that their wit and personage should be by
others set before his.' He had an objection, nevertheless, to being
called proud, and when Mr. Attentive asked why, his companion answered
with a touch which reminds us of De Foe, that 'Badman _did not tell
him the reason_. He supposed it to be that which was common to all
vile persons. They loved their vice, but cared not to bear its name.'
Badman said he was unwilling to seem singular and fantastical, and in
this way he justified his expensive and luxurious way of living.
Singularity of all kinds he affected to dislike, and for that reason
his special pleasure was to note the faults of professors. 'If he
could get anything by the end that had scandal in it, if it did but
touch professors, however falsely reported, oh, then he would glory,
laugh and be glad, and lay it upon the whole party. Hang these rogues,
he would say, there is not a barrel better herring in all the holy
brotherhood of them. Like to like, quoth the Devil to the collier.
This is your precise crew, and then he would send them all home with a

Thus Bunyan developed his specimen scoundrel, till he brought him to
the high altitudes of worldly prosperity; skilful in every villanous
art, skilful equally in keeping out of the law's hands, and feared,
admired and respected by all his neighbours. The reader who desires to
see Providence vindicated would now expect to find him detected in
some crimes by which justice could lay hold, and poetical retribution
fall upon him in the midst of his triumph. An inferior artist would
certainly have allowed his story to end in this way. But Bunyan,
satisfied though he was that dramatic judgments did overtake offenders
in this world with direct and startling appropriateness, was yet aware
that it was often otherwise, and that the worst fate which could be
inflicted on a completely worthless person was to allow him to work
out his career unvisited by any penalties which might have disturbed
his conscience and occasioned his amendment. He chose to make his
story natural, and to confine himself to natural machinery. The
judgment to come Mr. Badman laughed at 'as old woman's fable,' but his
courage lasted only as long as he was well and strong. One night as he
was riding home drunk, his horse fell and he broke his leg. 'You would
not think,' says Mr. Wiseman, 'how he swore at first. Then coming to
himself, and finding he was badly hurt, he cried out, after the manner
of such, Lord help me; Lord have mercy on me; good God deliver me, and
the like. He was picked up and taken home, where he lay some time. In
his pain he called on God, but whether it was that his sin might be
pardoned and his soul saved, or whether to be rid of his pain,' Mr.
Wiseman 'could not determine.' This leads to several stories of
drunkards which Bunyan clearly believed to be literally true. Such
facts or legends were the food on which his mind had been nourished.
They were in the air which contemporary England breathed.

'I have read in Mr. Clarke's Looking-glass for Sinners,' Mr. Wiseman
said, 'that upon a time a certain drunken fellow boasted in his cups
that there was neither heaven nor hell. Also he said he believed that
man had no soul, and that for his own part he would sell his soul to
any that would buy it. Then did one of his companions buy it of him
for a cup of wine, and presently the devil, in man's shape, bought it
of that man again at the same price; and so in the presence of them
all laid hold of the soul-seller, and carried him away through the air
so that he was no more heard of.'


'There was one at Salisbury drinking and carousing at a tavern, and he
drank a health to the devil, saying that if the devil would not come
and pledge him, he could not believe that there was either God or
devil. Whereupon his companions, stricken with fear, hastened out of
the room, and presently after, hearing a hideous noise and smelling a
stinking savour, the vintner ran into the chamber, and coming in he
missed his guest, and found the window broken, the iron bars in it
bowed and all bloody, but the man was never heard of afterwards.'

These visitations were answers to a direct challenge of the evil
spirit's existence, and were thus easy to be accounted for. But no
devil came for Mr. Badman. He clung to his unfortunate neglected wife.
'She became his dear wife, his godly wife, his honest wife, his duck,
his dear and all.' He thought he was dying, and hell and all its
horrors rose up before him. 'Fear was in his face, and in his tossings
to and fro he would often say I am undone, I am undone, my vile life
hath undone me.' Atheism did not help him. It never helped anyone in
such extremities Mr. Wiseman said; as he had known in another

'There was a man dwelt about twelve miles off from us,' he said, 'that
had so trained up himself in his Atheistical notions, that at last he
attempted to write a book against Jesus Christ and the Divine
authority of the Scriptures. I think it was not printed. Well, after
many days God struck him with sickness whereof he died. So being sick,
and musing of his former doings, the book that he had written tore his
conscience as a lion would tear a kid. Some of my friends went to see
him, and as they were in his chamber one day he hastily called for pen
and ink and paper, which, when it was given to him, he took it and
writ to this purpose. "I such an one in such a town must go to hell
fire for writing a book against Jesus Christ." He would have leaped
out of the window to have killed himself, but was by them prevented of
that, so he died in his bed by such a death as it was.'

Badman seemed equally miserable. But deathbed repentances, as Bunyan
sensibly said, were seldom of more value than 'the howling of a dog.'
The broken leg was set again. The pain of body went, and with it the
pain of mind. He was assisted out of his uneasiness, says Bunyan, with
a characteristic hit at the scientific views then coming into fashion,
'by his doctor,' who told him that his alarms had come 'from an
affection of the brain, caused by want of sleep;' 'they were nothing
but vapours and the effects of his distemper.' He gathered his spirits
together, and became the old man once more. His poor wife, who had
believed him penitent, broke her heart, and died of the
disappointment. The husband gave himself up to loose connections with
abandoned women, one of whom persuaded him one day, when he was drunk,
to make her a promise of marriage, and she held him to his word. Then
retribution came upon him, with the coarse, commonplace, yet rigid
justice which fact really deals out. The second bad wife avenged the
wrongs of the first innocent wife. He was mated with a companion 'who
could fit him with cursing and swearing, give him oath for oath, and
curse for curse. They would fight and fly at each other like cat and
dog.' In this condition--for Bunyan, before sending his hero to his
account, gave him a protracted spell of earthly discomforts--they
lived sixteen years together. Fortune, who had so long favoured his
speculations, turned her back upon him. Between them they 'sinned all
his wealth away,' and at last parted 'as poor as howlets.'

Then came the end. Badman was still in middle life, and had naturally
a powerful constitution; but his 'cups and his queans' had undermined
his strength. Dropsy came, and gout, with worse in his bowels, and 'on
the top of them all, as the captain of the men of death that came to
take him away,' consumption. Bunyan was a true artist, though he knew
nothing of the rules, and was not aware that he was an artist at all.
He was not to be tempted into spoiling a natural story with the
melodramatic horrors of a sinner's deathbed. He had let his victim
'howl' in the usual way, when he meant him to recover. He had now
simply to conduct him to the gate of the place where he was to receive
the reward of his iniquities. It was enough to bring him thither still
impenitent, with the grave solemnity with which a felon is taken to

'As his life was full of sin,' says Mr. Wiseman, 'so his death was
without repentance. He had not, in all the time of his sickness, a
sight and a sense of his sins; but was as much at quiet as if he had
never sinned in his life: he was as secure as if he had been sinless
as an angel. When he drew near his end, there was no more alteration
in him than what was made by his disease upon his body. He was the
selfsame Mr. Badman still, not only in name, but in condition, and
that to the very day of his death and the moment in which he died.
There seemed not to be in it to the standers by so much as a strong
struggle of nature. He died like a lamb, or, as men call it, like a
chrisom child, quietly and without fear.'

To which end of Mr. Badman Bunyan attaches the following remarks: 'If
a wicked man, if a man who has lived all his days in notorious sin,
dies quietly, his quiet dying is so far from being a sign of his being
saved that it is an incontestable proof of his damnation. No man can
be saved except he repents; nor can he repent that knows not that he
is a sinner: and he that knows himself to be a sinner will, I warrant
him, be molested for his knowledge before he can die quietly. I am no
admirer of sick-bed repentance; for I think verily it is seldom good
for anything. But I see that he that hath lived in sin and profaneness
all his days, as Badman did, and yet shall die quietly, that is,
without repentance steps in between his life and his death, is
assuredly gone to hell. When God would show the greatness of his anger
against sin and sinners in one word, He saith, Let them alone! Let
them, alone--that is, disturb them not. Let them go on without
control: Let the devil enjoy them peaceably. Let him carry them out of
the world unconverted quietly. This is the sorest of judgments. I do
not say that all wicked men that are molested at their death with a
sense of sin and fear of hell do therefore go to heaven; for some are
made to see and are left to despair. But I say there is no surer sign
of a man's damnation than to die quietly after a sinful life, than to
sin and die with a heart that cannot repent. The opinion, therefore,
of the common people of this kind of death is frivolous and vain.'

So ends this very remarkable story. It is extremely interesting,
merely as a picture of vulgar English life in a provincial town such
as Bedford was when Bunyan lived there. The drawing is so good, the
details so minute, the conception so unexaggerated, that we are
disposed to believe that we must have a real history before us. But
such a supposition is only a compliment to the skill of the composer.
Bunyan's inventive faculty was a spring that never ran dry. He had a
manner, as I said, like De Foe's, of creating the illusion that we are
reading realities, by little touches such as 'I do not know,' 'He did
not tell me this,' or the needless introduction of particulars
irrelevant to the general plot such as we always stumble on in life,
and writers of fiction usually omit. Bunyan was never prosecuted for
libel by 'Badman's' relations, and the character is the corresponding
contrast to Christian in the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' the pilgrim's
journey being in the opposite direction to the other place. Throughout
we are on the solid earth, amidst real experiences. No demand is made
on our credulity by Providential interpositions, except in the
intercalated anecdotes which do not touch the story itself. The wicked
man's career is not brought to the abrupt or sensational issues so
much in favour with ordinary didactic tale-writers. Such issues are
the exception, not the rule, and the edifying story loses its effect
when the reader turns from it to actual life, and perceives that the
majority are not punished in any such way. Bunyan conceals nothing,
assumes nothing, and exaggerates nothing. He makes his bad man sharp
and shrewd. He allows sharpness and shrewdness to bring him the
rewards which such qualities in fact command. Badman is successful, he
is powerful; he enjoys all the pleasures which money can buy; his bad
wife helps him to ruin, but otherwise he is not unhappy, and he dies
in peace. Bunyan has made him a brute, because such men do become
brutes. It is the real punishment of brutal and selfish habits. There
the figure stands; a picture of a man in the rank of English life with
which Bunyan was most familiar, travelling along the primrose path to
the everlasting bonfire, as the way to Emmanuel's Land was through the
Slough of Despond and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Pleasures are
to be found among the primroses, such pleasures as a brute can be
gratified by. Yet the reader feels that even if there was no bonfire,
he would still prefer to be with Christian.



The supernatural has been successfully represented in poetry,
painting, or sculpture, only at particular periods of human history,
and under peculiar mental conditions. The artist must himself believe
in the supernatural, or his description of it will be a sham, without
dignity and without credibility. He must feel himself able at the same
time to treat the subject which he selects with freedom, throwing his
own mind boldly into it, or he will produce, at best, the hard and
stiff forms of literal tradition. When Benvenuto Cellini was preparing
to make an image of the Virgin, he declares gravely that Our Lady
appeared to him that he might know what she was like; and so real was
the apparition that for many months after, he says that his friends
when the room was dark could see a faint aureole about his head. Yet
Benvenuto worked as if his own brain was partly the author of what he
produced, and, like other contemporary artists, used his mistresses
for his models, and was no servile copyist of phantoms seen in
visions. There is a truth of the imagination, and there is a truth of
fact, religion hovering between them, translating one into the other,
turning natural phenomena into the activity of personal beings; or
giving earthly names and habitations to mere creatures of fancy.
Imagination creates a mythology. The priest takes it and fashions out
of it a theology, a ritual, or a sacred history. So long as the priest
can convince the world that he is dealing with literal facts, he holds
reason prisoner, and imagination is his servant. In the twilight when
dawn is coming near but has not yet come; when the uncertain nature of
the legend is felt, though not intelligently discerned; imagination is
the first to resume its liberty; it takes possession of its own
inheritance, it dreams of its gods and demigods, as Benvenuto dreamt
of the Virgin, and it re-shapes the priest's traditions in noble and
beautiful forms. Homer and the Greek dramatists would not have dared
to bring the gods upon the stage so freely, had they believed Zeus and
Apollo were living persons, like the man in the next street, who might
call the poet to account for what they were made to do and say; but
neither, on the other hand, could they have been actively conscious
that Zeus and Apollo were apparitions, which had no existence, except
in their own brains.

The condition is extremely peculiar. It can exist only in certain
epochs, and in its nature is necessarily transitory. Where belief is
consciously gone the artist has no reverence for his work, and
therefore can inspire none. The greatest genius in the world could not
reproduce another Athene like that of Phidias. But neither must the
belief be too complete. The poet's tongue stammers when he would bring
beings before us who, though invisible, are awful personal existences,
in whose stupendous presence we one day expect to stand. As long as
the conviction survives that he is dealing with literal truths, he is
safe only while he follows with shoeless feet the letter of the
tradition. He dares not step beyond, lest he degrade the Infinite to
the human level, and if he is wise he prefers to content himself with
humbler subjects. A Christian artist can represent Jesus Christ as a
man because He was a man, and because the details of the Gospel
history leave room for the imagination to work. To represent Christ as
the Eternal Son in heaven, to bring before us the Persons of the
Trinity consulting, planning, and reasoning, to take us into their
everlasting Council Chamber, as Homer takes us into Olympus, will be
possible only when Christianity ceases to be regarded as a history of
true facts. Till then it is a trespass beyond the permitted limits,
and revolts us by the inadequacy of the result. Either the artist
fails altogether by attempting the impossible, or those whom he
addresses are themselves intellectually injured by an unreal treatment
of truths hitherto sacred. They confound the representation with its
object, and regard the whole of it as unreal together.

These observations apply most immediately to Milton's 'Paradise Lost,'
and are meant to explain the unsatisfactoriness of it. Milton himself
was only partially emancipated from the bondage of the letter; half in
earth, half 'pawing to get free' like his own lion. The war in heaven,
the fall of the rebel angels, the horrid splendours of Pandemonium
seem legitimate subjects for Christian poetry. They stand for
something which we regard as real, yet we are not bound to any actual
opinions about them. Satan has no claim on reverential abstinence; and
Paradise and the Fall of Man are perhaps sufficiently mythic to permit
poets to take certain liberties with them. But even so far Milton has
not entirely succeeded. His wars of the angels are shadowy. They have
no substance like the battles of Greeks and Trojans, or Centaurs and
Lapithæ; and Satan could not be made interesting without touches of a
nobler nature, that is, without ceasing to be the Satan of the
Christian religion. But this is not his worst. When we are carried up
into heaven and hear the persons of the Trinity conversing on the
mischiefs which have crept into the universe, and planning remedies
and schemes of salvation like Puritan divines, we turn away
incredulous and resentful. Theologians may form such theories for
themselves, if not wisely, yet without offence. They may study the
world in which they are placed, with the light which can be thrown
upon it by the book which they call the Word of God. They may form
their conclusions, invent their schemes of doctrine, and commend to
their flocks the interpretation of the mystery at which they have
arrived. The cycles and epicycles of the Ptolemaic astronomers were
imperfect hypotheses, but they were stages on which the mind could
rest for a more complete examination of the celestial phenomena. But
the poet does not offer us phrases and formulas; he presents to us
personalities living and active, influenced by emotions and reasoning
from premises; and when the unlimited and incomprehensible Being whose
attributes are infinite, of whom from the inadequacy of our ideas we
can only speak in negatives, is brought on the stage to talk like an
ordinary man, we feel that Milton has mistaken the necessary limits of
his art.

When Faust claims affinity with the Erdgeist, the spirit tells him to
seek affinities with beings which he can comprehend. The commandment
which forbade the representation of God in a bodily form, forbids the
poet equally to make God describe his feelings and his purposes. Where
the poet would create a character he must himself comprehend it first
to its inmost fibre. He cannot comprehend his own Creator. Admire as
we may 'Paradise Lost;' try as we may to admire 'Paradise Regained;'
acknowledge as we must the splendour of the imagery and the stately
march of the verse; there comes upon us irresistibly a sense of the
unfitness of the subject for Milton's treatment of it. If the story
which he tells us is true, it is too momentous to be played with in
poetry. We prefer to hear it in plain prose, with a minimum of
ornament and the utmost possible precision of statement. Milton
himself had not arrived at thinking it to be a legend, a picture like
a Greek Mythology. His poem falls between two modes of treatment and
two conceptions of truth; we wonder, we recite, we applaud, but
something comes in between our minds and a full enjoyment, and it will
not satisfy us better as time goes on.

The same objection applies to 'The Holy War' of Bunyan. It is as I
said, a people's version of the same series of subjects--the creation
of man, the fall of man, his redemption, his ingratitude, his lapse,
and again his restoration. The chief figures are the same, the action
is the same, though more varied and complicated, and the general
effect is unsatisfactory from the same cause. Prose is less ambitious
than poetry. There is an absence of attempts at grand effects. There
is no effort after sublimity, and there is consequently a lighter
sense of incongruity in the failure to reach it. On the other hand,
there is the greater fulness of detail so characteristic of Bunyan's
manner; and fulness of detail on a theme so far beyond our
understanding is as dangerous as vague grandiloquence. In 'The
Pilgrim's Progress' we are among genuine human beings. The reader
knows the road too well which Christian follows. He has struggled
with him in the Slough of Despond. He has shuddered with him in the
Valley of the Shadow of Death. He has groaned with him in the dungeons
of Doubting Castle. He has encountered on his journey the same
fellow-travellers. Who does not know Mr. Pliable, Mr. Obstinate, Mr.
Facing-both-ways, Mr. Feeble Mind, and all the rest? They are
representative realities, flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. 'If
we prick them they bleed, if we tickle them they laugh,' or they make
us laugh. 'They are warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer'
as we are. The human actors in 'The Holy War' are parts of
men--special virtues, special vices: allegories in fact as well as in
name, which all Bunyan's genius can only occasionally substantiate
into persons. The plot of 'The Pilgrim's Progress' is simple. 'The
Holy War' is prolonged through endless vicissitudes, with a doubtful
issue after all, and the incomprehensibility of the Being who allows
Satan to defy him so long and so successfully is unpleasantly and
harshly brought home to us. True it is so in life. Evil remains after
all that has been done for us. But life is confessedly a mystery. 'The
Holy War' professes to interpret the mystery, and only restates the
problem in a more elaborate form. Man Friday on reading it would have
asked even more emphatically, 'Why God not kill the Devil?' and
Robinson Crusoe would have found no assistance in answering him. For
these reasons, I cannot agree with Macaulay in thinking that if there
had been no 'Pilgrim's Progress,' 'The Holy War' would have been the
first of religious allegories. We may admire the workmanship, but the
same undefined sense of unreality which pursues us through Milton's
epic would have interfered equally with the acceptance of this. The
question to us is if the facts are true. If true they require no
allegories to touch either our hearts or our intellects.

'The Holy War' would have entitled Bunyan to a place among the masters
of English literature. It would never have made his name a household
word in every English-speaking family on the globe.

The story which I shall try to tell in an abridged form is introduced
by a short prefatory poem. Works of fancy, Bunyan tells us, are of
many sorts, according to the author's humour. For himself he says to
his reader:

                I have something else to do
    Than write vain stories thus to trouble you.
    What here I say some men do know too well;
    They can with tears and joy the story tell.
    The town of Mansoul is well known to many,
    Nor are her troubles doubted of by any
    That are acquainted with those histories
    That Mansoul and her wars anatomize.

    Then lend thine ears to what I do relate
    Touching the town of Mansoul and her state,
    How she was lost, took captive, made a slave,
    And how against him set that should her save,
    Yea, how by hostile ways she did oppose
    Her Lord and with his enemy did close,
    For they are true; he that will them deny
    Must needs the best of records vilify.

    For my part, I myself was in the town
    Both when 'twas set up and when pulling down.
    I saw Diabolus in his possession,
    And Mansoul also under his oppression:
    Yea I was there when she him owned for Lord,
    And to him did submit with one accord.

    When Mansoul trampled upon things divine,
    And wallowed in filth as doth a swine,
    When she betook herself unto his arms,
    Fought her Emmanuel, despised his charms;
    Then was I there and did rejoice to see
    Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.

    Let no man count me then a fable maker,
    Nor make my name or credit a partaker
    Of their derision. What is here in view
    Of mine own knowledge I dare say is true.

At setting out we are introduced into the famous continent of
'Universe,' a large and spacious country lying between the two
poles--'the people of it not all of one complexion nor yet of one
language, mode or way of religion; but differing as much as the
planets themselves, some right, some wrong, even as it may happen to

In this country of 'Universe' was a fair and delicate town and
corporation called 'Mansoul,' a town for its building so curious, for
its situation so commodious, for its privileges so advantageous, that
with reference to its original (state) there was not its equal under
heaven. The first founder was Shaddai, who built it for his own
delight. In the midst of the town was a famous and stately palace
which Shaddai intended for himself.[3] He had no intention of allowing
strangers to intrude there. And the peculiarity of the place was that
the walls of Mansoul[4] could never be broken down or hurt unless the
townsmen consented. Mansoul had five gates which in like manner could
only be forced if those within allowed it. These gates were Eargate,
Eyegate, Mouthgate, Nosegate, and Feelgate. Thus provided, Mansoul
was at first all that its founder could desire. It had the most
excellent laws in the world. There was not a rogue or a rascal inside
its whole precincts. The inhabitants were all true men.

[Footnote 3: Bunyan says in a marginal note, that by this palace he
means the heart.]

[Footnote 4: The body.]

Now there was a certain giant named Diabolus--king of the blacks or
negroes, as Bunyan noticeably calls them--the negroes standing for
sinners or fallen angels. Diabolus had once been a servant of Shaddai,
one of the chief in his territories. Pride and ambition had led him to
aspire to the crown which was settled on Shaddai's Son. He had formed
a conspiracy and planned a revolution. Shaddai and his Son, 'being all
eye,' easily detected the plot. Diabolus and his crew were bound in
chains, banished, and thrown into a pit, there to 'abide for ever.'
This was their sentence; but out of the pit, in spite of it, they in
some way contrived to escape. They ranged about full of malice against
Shaddai, and looking for means to injure him. They came at last on
Mansoul. They determined to take it, and called a council to consider
how it could best be done. Diabolus was aware of the condition that no
one could enter without the inhabitants' consent. Alecto, Apollyon,
Beelzebub, Lucifer (Pagan and Christian demons intermixed
indifferently) gave their several opinions. Diabolus at length at
Lucifer's suggestion decided to assume the shape of one of the
creatures over which Mansoul had dominion; and he selected as the
fittest that of a snake, which at that time was in great favour with
the people as both harmless and wise.

The population of Mansoul were simple, innocent folks who believed
everything that was said to them. Force, however, might be necessary
as well as cunning, and the Tisiphone, a fury of the Lakes, was
required to assist. The attempt was to be made at Eargate. A certain
Captain Resistance was in charge of this gate, whom Diabolus feared
more than any one in the place. Tisiphone was to shoot him.

The plans being all laid, Diabolus in his snake's dress approached the
wall, accompanied by one 'Ill Pause,' a famous orator, the Fury
following behind. He asked for a parley with the heads of the town.
Captain Resistance, two of the great nobles, Lord 'Innocent,' and Lord
'Will be Will,' with Mr. Conscience, the Recorder, and Lord
Understanding, the Lord Mayor, came to the gate to see what he wanted.
Lord 'Will be Will' plays a prominent part in the drama both for good
and evil. He is neither Free Will, nor Wilfulness, nor Inclination,
but the quality which metaphysicians and theologians agree in
describing as 'the Will.' 'The Will' simply--a subtle something of
great importance; but what it is they have never been able to explain.

Lord Will be Will inquired Diabolus's business. Diabolus, 'meek as a
lamb,' said he was a neighbour of theirs. He had observed with
distress that they were living in a state of slavery, and he wished to
help them to be free. Shaddai was no doubt a great prince, but he was
an arbitrary despot. There was no liberty where the laws were
unreasonable, and Shaddai's laws were the reverse of reasonable. They
had a fruit growing among them, in Mansoul, which they had but to eat
to become wise. Knowledge was well known to be the best of
possessions. Knowledge was freedom; ignorance was bondage; and yet
Shaddai had forbidden them to touch this precious fruit.

At that moment Captain Resistance fell dead, pierced by an arrow from
Tisiphone. Ill Pause made a flowing speech, in the midst of which
Lord Innocent fell also, either through a blow from Diabolus, or
'overpowered by the stinking breath of the old villain Ill Pause.' The
people flew upon the apple tree; Eargate and Eyegate were thrown open,
and Diabolus was invited to come in; when at once he became King of
Mansoul and established himself in the castle.[5]

[Footnote 5: The heart.]

The magistrates were immediately changed. Lord Understanding ceased to
be Lord Mayor. Mr. Conscience was no longer left as Recorder. Diabolus
built up a wall in front of Lord Understanding's palace, and shut off
the light, 'so that till Mansoul was delivered the old Lord Mayor was
rather an impediment than, an advantage to that famous town.' Diabolus
tried long to bring 'Conscience' over to his side, but never quite
succeeded. The Recorder became greatly corrupted, but he could not be
prevented from now and then remembering Shaddai; and when the fit was
on him he would shake the town with his exclamations. Diabolus
therefore had to try other methods with him. 'He had a way to make the
old gentleman when he was merry unsay and deny what in his fits he had
affirmed, and this was the next way to make him ridiculous and to
cause that no man should regard him.' To make all secure Diabolus
often said, 'Oh, Mansoul, consider that, notwithstanding the old
gentleman's rage and the rattle of his high thundering words, you hear
nothing of Shaddai himself.' The Recorder had pretended that the voice
of the Lord was speaking in him. Had this been so, Diabolus argued
that the Lord would have done more than speak. 'Shaddai,' he said,
'valued not the loss nor the rebellion of Mansoul, nor would he
trouble himself with calling his town to a reckoning.'

In this way the Recorder came to be generally hated, and more than
once the people would have destroyed him. Happily his house was a
castle near the waterworks. When the rabble pursued him, he would pull
up the sluices,[6] let in the flood, and drown all about him.

[Footnote 6: Fears.]

Lord Will be Will, on the other hand, 'as high born as any in
Mansoul,' became Diabolus's principal minister. He had been the first
to propose admitting Diabolus, and he was made Captain of the Castle,
Governor of the Wall, and Keeper of the Gates. Will be Will had a
clerk named Mr. Mind, a man every way like his master, and Mansoul was
thus brought 'under the lusts' of Will and Intellect. Mr. Mind had in
his house some old rent and torn parchments of the law of Shaddai. The
Recorder had some more in his study; but to these Will be Will paid no
attention, and surrounded himself with officials who were all in
Diabolus's interest. He had as deputy one Mr. Affection, 'much
debauched in his principles, so that he was called Vile Affection.'
Vile Affection married Mr. Mind's daughter, Carnal Lust, by whom he
had three sons--Impudent, Black Mouth, and Hate Reproof; and three
daughters--Scorn Truth, Slight Good, and Revenge. All traces of
Shaddai were now swept away. His image, which had stood in the
market-place, was taken down, and an artist called Mr. No Truth was
employed to set up the image of Diabolus in place of it. Lord
Lustings--'who never savoured good, but evil'--was chosen for the new
Lord Mayor. Mr. Forget Good was appointed Recorder. There were new
burgesses and aldermen, all with appropriate names, for which Bunyan
was never at a loss--Mr. Incredulity, Mr. Haughty, Mr. Swearing, Mr.
Hardheart, Mr. Pitiless, Mr. Fury, Mr. No Truth, Mr. Stand to Lies,
Mr. Falsepeace, Mr. Drunkenness, Mr. Cheating, Mr. Atheism, and
another; thirteen of them in all. Mr. Incredulity was the eldest, Mr.
Atheism the youngest in the company--a shrewd and correct arrangement.
Diabolus, on his part, set to work to fortify Mansoul. He built three
fortresses--'The Hold of Defiance' at Eyegate, that the light might be
darkened there;' 'Midnight Hold' near the old Castle, to keep Mansoul
from knowledge of itself; and 'Sweet Sin Hold' in the market-place,
that there might be no desire of good there. These strongholds being
established and garrisoned, Diabolus thought that he had made his
conquest secure.

So far the story runs on firmly and clearly. It is vivid, consistent
in itself, and held well within the limits of human nature and
experience. But, like Milton, Bunyan is now, by the exigencies of the
situation, forced upon more perilous ground. He carries us into the
presence of Shaddai himself, at the time when the loss of Mansoul was
reported in heaven.

The king, his son, his high lords, his chief captains and nobles were
all assembled to hear. There was universal grief, in which the king
and his son shared or rather seemed to share--for at once the drama of
the Fall of mankind becomes no better than a Mystery Play. 'Shaddai
and his son had foreseen it all long before, and had provided for the
relief of Mansoul, though they told not everybody thereof--but because
they would have a share in condoling of the misery of Mansoul they
did, and that at the rate of the highest degree, bewail the losing of
Mansoul'--'thus to show their love and compassion.'

'Paradise Lost' was published at the time that Bunyan wrote this
passage. If he had not seen it, the coincidences of treatment are
singularly curious. It is equally singular, if he had seen it, that
Milton should not here at least have taught him to avoid making the
Almighty into a stage actor. The Father and Son consult how 'to do
what they had designed before.' They decide that at a certain time,
which they preordain, the Son,'a sweet and comely person,' shall make
a journey into the Universe and lay a foundation there for Mansoul's
deliverance. Milton offends in the scene less than Bunyan; but Milton
cannot persuade us that it is one which should have been represented
by either of them. They should have left 'plans of salvation' to
eloquent orators in the pulpit.

Though the day of deliverance by the method proposed was as yet far
off, the war against Diabolus was to be commenced immediately. The
Lord Chief Secretary was ordered to put in writing Shaddai's
intentions, and cause them to be published.[7] Mansoul, it was
announced, was to be put into a better condition than it was in before
Diabolus took it.

[Footnote 7: The Scriptures.]

The report of the Council in Heaven was brought to Diabolus, who took
his measures accordingly, Lord Will be Will standing by him and
executing all his directions Mansoul was forbidden to read Shaddai's
proclamation. Diabolus imposed a great oath on the townspeople never
to desert him; he believed that if they entered into a covenant of
this kind Shaddai could not absolve them from it. They 'swallowed the
engagement as if it had been a sprat in the mouth of a whale.' Being
now Diabolus's trusty children, he gave them leave 'to do whatever
their appetites prompted to do.' They would thus involve themselves in
all kinds of wickedness, and Shaddai's son 'being Holy' would be less
likely to interest himself for them. When they had in this way put
themselves, as Diabolus hoped, beyond reach of mercy, he informed
them that Shaddai was raising an army to destroy the town. No quarter
would be given, and unless they defended themselves like men they
would all be made slaves. Their spirit being roused, he armed them
with the shield of unbelief, 'calling into question the truth of the
Word.' He gave them a helmet of hope--'hope of doing well at last,
whatever lives they might lead'; for a breastplate a heart as hard as
iron, 'most necessary for all that hated Shaddai;' and another piece
of most excellent armour, 'a drunken and prayerless spirit that
scorned to cry for mercy.' Shaddai on his side had also prepared his
forces. He will not as yet send his son. The first expedition was to
fail and was meant to fail. The object was to try whether Mansoul
would return to obedience. And yet Shaddai knew that it would not
return to obedience. Bunyan was too ambitious to explain the
inexplicable. Fifty thousand warriors were collected, all chosen by
Shaddai himself. There were four leaders--Captain Boanerges, Captain
Conviction, Captain Judgment, and Captain Execution--the martial
saints, with whom Macaulay thinks Bunyan made acquaintance when he
served, if serve he did, with Fairfax. The bearings on their banners
were three black thunderbolts--the Book of the Law, wide open, with a
flame of fire bursting from it; a burning, fiery furnace; and a
fruitless tree with an axe at its root. These emblems represent the
terrors of Mount Sinai, the covenant of works which was not to

The captains come to the walls of Mansoul, and summon the town to
surrender. Their words 'beat against Eargate, but without force to
break it open.' The new officials answer the challenge with defiance.
Lord Incredulity knows not by what right Shaddai invades their
country. Lord Will be Will and Mr. Forget Good warn them to be off
before they rouse Diabolus. The townspeople ring the bells and dance
on the walls. Will be Will double-bars the gates. Bunyan's genius is
at its best in scenes of this kind. 'Old Mr. Prejudice, with sixty
deaf men,' is appointed to take charge of Eargate. At Eargate, too,
are planted two guns, called Highmind, and Heady, 'cast in the earth
by Diabolus's head founder, whose name was Mr. Puffup.'

The fighting begins, but the covenant of works makes little progress.
Shaddai's captains, when advancing on Mansoul, had fallen in with
'three young fellows of promising appearance' who volunteered to go
with them--Mr. Tradition, Mr. Human Wisdom, and Mr. Man's Invention.'
They were allowed to join, and were placed in positions of trust, the
captains of the covenant being apparently wanting in discernment. They
were taken prisoners in the first skirmish, and immediately changed
sides and went over to Diabolus. More battles follow. The roof of the
Lord Mayor's house is beaten in. The law is not wholly ineffectual.
Six of the Aldermen, the grosser moral sins--Swearing, Stand to Lies,
Drunkenness, Cheating, and others--are overcome and killed. Diabolus
grows uneasy and loses his sleep. Old Conscience begins to talk again.
A party forms in the town in favour of surrender, and Mr. Parley is
sent to Eargate to treat for terms. The spiritual sins--False Peace,
Unbelief, Haughtiness, Atheism--are still unsubdued and vigorous. The
conditions offered are that Incredulity, Forget Good, and Will be Will
shall retain their offices; Mansoul shall be continued in all the
liberties which it enjoys under Diabolus; and a further touch is added
which shows how little Bunyan sympathised with modern notions of the
beauty of self-government. No new law or officer shall have any power
in Mansoul without the people's consent.

Boanerges will agree to no conditions with rebels. Incredulity and
Will be Will advise the people to stand by their rights, and refuse to
submit to 'unlimited' power. The war goes on, and Incredulity is made
Diabolus's universal deputy. Conscience and Understanding, the old
Recorder and Mayor, raise a mutiny, and there is a fight in the
streets. Conscience is knocked down by a Diabolonian called 'Mr.
Benumming.' Understanding had a narrow escape from being shot. On the
other hand Mr. Mind, who had come over to the Conservative side, laid
about bravely, tumbled old Mr. Prejudice into the dirt, and kicked him
where he lay. Even Will be Will seemed to be wavering in his
allegiance to Diabolus. 'He smiled and did not seem to take one side
more than another.' The rising, however, is put down--Understanding
and Conscience are imprisoned, and Mansoul hardens its heart, chiefly
'being in dread of slavery,' and thinking liberty too fine a thing to
be surrendered.

Shaddai's four captains find that they can do no more. The covenant of
works will not answer. They send home a petition,'by the hand of that good
man Mr. Love to Mansoul,' to beg that some new general may come to lead
them. The preordained time has now arrived, and Emmanuel himself is to take
the command. He, too, selects his captains--Credence and Good Hope,
Charity, and Innocence, and Patience; and the captains have their squires,
the counterparts of themselves--Promise and Expectation, Pitiful, Harmless,
and Suffer Long. Emmanuel's armour shines like the sun. He has forty-four
battering rams and twenty-two slings--the sixty-six books of the
Bible--each made of pure gold. He throws up mounds and trenches, and arms
them with his rams, five of the largest being planted on Mount Hearken,
over against Eargate. Bunyan was too reverent to imitate the Mystery Plays,
and introduce a Mount Calvary with the central sacrifice upon it. The
sacrifice is supposed to have been already offered elsewhere. Emmanuel
offers mercy to Mansoul, and when it is rejected he threatens judgment and
terror. Diabolus, being wiser than man, is made to know that his hour is
approaching. He goes in person to Mouthgate to protest and remonstrate. He
asks why Emmanuel is come to torment him. Mansoul has disowned Shaddai and
sworn allegiance to himself. He begs Emmanuel to leave him to rule his own
subjects in peace.

Emmanuel tells him 'he is a thief and a liar.' 'When,' Emmanuel is
made to say, 'Mansoul sinned by hearkening to thy lie, I put in and
became a surety to my Father, body for body, soul for soul, that I
would make amends for Mansoul's transgressions, and my Father did
accept thereof. So when the time appointed was come, I gave body for
body, soul for soul, life for life, blood for blood, and so redeemed
my beloved Mansoul. My Father's law and justice, that were both
concerned in the threatening upon transgression, are both now
satisfied, and very well content that Mansoul should be delivered.'

Even against its deliverers, Mansoul was defended by the original
condition of its constitution. There was no way into it but through
the gates. Diabolus, feeling that Emmanuel still had difficulties
before him, withdrew from the wall, and sent a messenger, Mr. Loth to
Stoop, to offer alternative terms, to one or other of which he
thought Emmanuel might consent. Emmanuel might be titular sovereign
of all Mansoul, if Diabolus might keep the administration of part of
it. If this could not be, Diabolus requested to be allowed to reside
in Mansoul as a private person. If Emmanuel insisted on his own
personal exclusion, at least he expected that his friends and kindred
might continue to live there, and that he himself might now and then
write them letters, and send them presents and messages, 'in
remembrance of the merry times they had enjoyed together.' Finally, he
would like to be consulted occasionally when any difficulties arose in

It will be seen that in the end Mansoul was, in fact, left liable to
communications from Diabolus very much of this kind. Emmanuel's
answer, however, is a peremptory No. Diabolus must take himself away,
and no more must be heard of him. Seeing that there was no other
resource, Diabolus resolves to fight it out. There is a great battle
under the walls, with some losses on Emmanuel's side, even Captain
Conviction receiving three wounds in the mouth. The shots from the
gold slings mow down whole ranks of Diabolonians. Mr. Love no Good and
Mr. Ill Pause are wounded. Old Prejudice and Mr. Anything run away.
Lord Will be Will, who still fought for Diabolus, was never so daunted
in his life: 'he was hurt in the leg, and limped.'

Diabolus, when the fight was over, came again to the gate with fresh
proposals to Emmanuel. 'I,' he said, 'will persuade Mansoul to receive
thee for their Lord, and I know that they will do it the sooner when
they understand that I am thy deputy. I will show them wherein they
have erred, and that transgression stands in the way to life. I will
show them the Holy law to which they must conform, even that which
they have broken. I will press upon them the necessity of a
reformation according to thy law. At my own cost I will set up and
maintain a sufficient ministry, besides lecturers, in Mansoul.' This
obviously means the Established Church. Unable to keep mankind
directly in his own service, the Devil offers to entangle them in the
covenant of works, of which the Church of England was the
representative. Emmanuel rebukes him for his guile and deceit. 'I will
govern Mansoul,' he says, 'by new laws, new officers, new motives, and
new ways. I will pull down the town and build it again, and it shall
be as though it had not been, and it shall be the glory of the whole

A second battle follows. Eargate is beaten in. The Prince's army
enters and advances as far as the old Recorder's house, where they
knock and demand entrance. 'The old gentleman, not fully knowing their
design, had kept his gates shut all the time of the fight. He as yet
knew nothing of the great designs of Emmanuel, and could not tell what
to think.' The door is violently broken open, and the house is made
Emmanuel's head-quarters. The townspeople, with Conscience and
Understanding at their head, petition that their lives may be spared;
but Emmanuel gives no answer, Captain Boanerges and Captain Conviction
carrying terror into all hearts. Diabolus, the cause of all the
mischief, had retreated into the castle.[8] He came out at last, and
surrendered, and in dramatic fitness he clearly ought now to have been
made away with in a complete manner. Unfortunately, this could not be
done. He was stripped of his armour, bound to Emmanuel's chariot
wheels, and thus turned out of Mansoul 'into parched places in a salt
land, where he might seek rest and find none.' The salt land proved
as insecure a prison, for this embarrassing being as the pit where he
was to have abode for ever.

[Footnote 8: The heart.]

Meanwhile, Mansoul being brought upon its knees, the inhabitants were
summoned into the castle yard, when Conscience, Understanding, and
Will be Will were committed to ward. They and the rest again prayed
for mercy, but again without effect. Emmanuel was silent. They drew
another petition, and asked Captain Conviction to present it for them.
Captain Conviction declined to be an advocate for rebels, and advised
them to send it by one of themselves, with a rope about his neck. Mr.
Desires Awake went with it. The Prince took it from his hands, and
wept as Desires Awake gave it in. Emmanuel bade him go his way till
the request could be considered. The unhappy criminals knew not how to
take the answer. Mr. Understanding thought it promised well.
Conscience and Will be Will, borne down by shame for their sins,
looked for nothing but immediate death. They tried again. They threw
themselves on Emmanuel's mercy. They drew up a confession of their
horrible iniquities. This, at least, they wished to offer to him
whether he would pity them or not. For a messenger some of them
thought of choosing one Old Good Deed. Conscience, however, said that
would never do. Emmanuel would answer, 'Is Old Good Deed yet alive in
Mansoul? Then let Old Good Deed save it.' Desires Awake went again
with the rope on his neck, as Captain Conviction recommended. Mr. Wet
Eyes went with him, wringing his hands.

Emmanuel still held out no comfort; he promised merely that in the
camp the next morning he would give such an answer as should be to his
glory. Nothing but the worst was now looked for. Mansoul passed the
night in sackcloth and ashes. When day broke, the prisoners dressed
themselves in mourning, and were carried to the camp in chains, with
ropes on their necks, beating their breasts. Prostrate before
Emmanuel's throne, they repeated their confession. They acknowledged
that death and the bottomless pit would be no more than a just
retribution for their crimes. As they excused nothing and promised
nothing, Emmanuel at once delivered them their pardons sealed with
seven seals. He took off their ropes and mourning, clothed them in
shining garments, and gave them chains and jewels.

Lord Will be Will 'swooned outright.' When he recovered, 'the Prince'
embraced and kissed him. The bells in Mansoul were set ringing.
Bonfires blazed. Emmanuel reviewed his army; and Mansoul, ravished at
the sight, prayed him to remain and be their King for ever. He entered
the city again in triumph, the people strewing boughs and flowers
before him. The streets and squares were rebuilt on a new model. Lord
Will be Will, now regenerate, resumed the charge of the gates. The old
Lord Mayor was reinstated. Mr. Knowledge was made Recorder, 'not out
of contempt for old Conscience, who was by-and-bye to have another
employment.' Diabolus's image was taken down and broken to pieces, and
the inhabitants of Mansoul were so happy that they sang of Emmanuel in
their sleep.

Justice, however, remained to be done on the hardened and impenitent.

There were 'perhaps necessities in the nature of things,' as Bishop
Butler says, and an example could not be made of the principal
offender. But his servants and old officials were lurking in the lanes
and alleys. They were apprehended, thrown into gaol, and brought to
formal trial. Here we have Bunyan at his best. The scene in the court
rises to the level of the famous trial of Faithful in Vanity Fair. The
prisoners were Diabolus's Aldermen, Mr. Atheism, Mr. Incredulity, Mr.
Lustings, Mr. Forget Good, Mr. Hardheart, Mr. Falsepeace, and the
rest. The proceedings were precisely what Bunyan must have witnessed
at a common English Assizes. The Judges were the new Recorder and the
new Mayor. Mr. Do-right was Town Clerk. A jury was empanelled in the
usual way. Mr. Knowall, Mr. Telltrue, and Mr. Hatelies were the
principal witnesses.

Atheism was first brought to the bar, being charged 'with having
pertinaciously and doltingly taught that there was no God.' He pleaded
Not Guilty. Mr. Knowall was placed in the witness-box and sworn.

'My Lord,' he said, 'I know the prisoner at the bar. I and he were
once in Villains Lane together, and he at that time did briskly talk
of diverse opinions. And then and there I heard him say that for his
part he did believe that there was no God. "But," said he, "I can
profess one and be religious too, if the company I am in and the
circumstances of other things," said he, "shall put me upon it.'"

Telltrue and Hatelies were next called.

     _Telltrue._ My Lord, I was formerly a great companion of the
     prisoner's, for the which I now repent me; and I have often
     heard him say, and with very great stomach-fulness, that he
     believed there was neither God, Angel, nor Spirit.

     _Town Clerk._ Where did you hear him say so?

     _Telltrue._ In Blackmouth Lane and in Blasphemers Row, and
     in many other places besides.

     _Town Clerk._ Have you much knowledge of him?

     _Telltrue._ I know him to be a Diabolonian, the son of a
     Diabolonian, and a horrible man to deny a Deity. His
     father's name was Never be Good, and he had more children
     than this Atheism.

     _Town Clerk._ Mr. Hatelies. Look upon the prisoner at the
     bar. Do you know him?

     _Hatelies._ My Lord, this Atheism is one of the vilest
     wretches that ever I came near or had to do with in my life.
     I have heard him say that there is no God. I have heard him
     say that there is no world to come, no sin, nor punishment
     hereafter; and, moreover, I have heard him say that it was
     as good to go to a bad-house as to go to hear a sermon.

     _Town Clerk._ Where did you hear him say these things?

     _Hatelies._ In Drunkards Row, just at Rascal Lane's End, at
     a house in which Mr. Impiety lived.

The next prisoner was Mr. Lustings, who said that he was of high birth
and 'used to pleasures and pastimes of greatness.' He had always been
allowed to follow his own inclinations, and it seemed strange to him
that he should be called in question for things which not only he but
every man secretly or openly approved.

When the evidence had been heard against him he admitted frankly its
general correctness.

'I,' he said, 'was ever of opinion that the happiest life that a man
could live on earth was to keep himself back from nothing that he
desired; nor have I been false at any time to this opinion of mine,
but have lived in the love of my notions all my days. Nor was I ever
so churlish, having found such sweetness in them myself, as to keep
the commendation of them from others.'

Then came Mr. Incredulity. He was charged with having encouraged the
town of Mansoul to resist Shaddai. Incredulity too had the courage of
his opinions.

'I know not Shaddai,' he said. 'I love my old Prince. I thought it my
duty to be true to my trust, and to do what I could to possess the
minds of the men of Mansoul to do their utmost to resist strangers and
foreigners, and with might to fight against them. Nor have I nor
shall I change my opinion for fear of trouble, though you at present
are possessed of place and power.'

Forget Good pleaded age and craziness. He was the son of a Diabolonian
called Love Naught. He had uttered blasphemous speeches in Allbase
Lane, next door to the sign of 'Conscience Seared with a Hot Iron;'
also in Flesh Lane, right opposite the Church; also in Nauseous
Street; also at the sign of the 'Reprobate,' next door to the 'Descent
into the Pit.'

Falsepeace insisted that he was wrongly named in the indictment. His
real name was Peace, and he had always laboured for peace. When war
broke out between Shaddai and Diabolus, he had endeavoured to
reconcile them, &c. Evidence was given that Falsepeace was his right
designation. His father's name was Flatter. His mother, before she
married Flatter, was called Mrs. Sootheup. When her child was born she
always spoke of him as Falsepeace. She would call him twenty times a
day, my little Falsepeace, my pretty Falsepeace, my sweet rogue
Falsepeace! &c.

The court rejected his plea. He was told 'that he had wickedly
maintained the town of Mansoul in rebellion against its king, in a
false, lying, and damnable peace, contrary to the law of Shaddai.
Peace that was not a companion of truth and holiness, was an accursed
and treacherous peace, and was grounded on a lie.'

No Truth had assisted with his own hands in pulling down the image of
Shaddai. He had set up the horned image of the beast Diabolus at the
same place, and had torn and consumed all that remained of the laws of
the king.

Pitiless said his name was not Pitiless, but Cheer Up. He disliked to
see Mansoul inclined to melancholy, and that was all his offence.
Pitiless, however, was proved to be the name of him. It was a habit of
the Diabolonians to assume counterfeit appellations. Covetousness
called himself Good Husbandry; Pride called himself Handsome; and so

Mr. Haughty's figure is admirably drawn in a few lines. Mr. Haughty,
when arraigned, declared 'that he had carried himself bravely, not
considering who was his foe, or what was the cause in which he was
engaged. It was enough for him if he fought like a man and came off

The jury, it seems, made no distinctions between opinions and acts.
They did not hold that there was any divine right in man to think what
he pleased, and to say what he thought. Bunyan had suffered as a
martyr; but it was as a martyr for truth, not for general licence. The
genuine Protestants never denied that it was right to prohibit men
from teaching lies, and to punish them if they disobeyed. The
persecution of which they complained was the persecution of the honest
man by the knave.

All the prisoners were found guilty by a unanimous verdict. Even Mr.
Moderate, who was one of the jury, thought a man must be wilfully
blind who wished to spare them. They were sentenced to be executed the
next day. Incredulity contrived to escape in the night. Search was
made for him, but he was not to be found in Mansoul. He had fled
beyond the walls, and had joined Diabolus near Hell Gate. The rest, we
are told, were crucified--crucified by the hands of the men of Mansoul
themselves. They fought and struggled at the place of execution so
violently that Shaddai's secretary was obliged to send assistance.
But justice was done at last, and all the Diabolonians, except
Incredulity, were thus made an end of.

They were made an end of for a time only. Mansoul, by faith in Christ,
and by the help of the Holy Spirit, had crucified all manner of sin in
its members. It was faith that had now the victory. Unbelief had,
unfortunately, escaped. It had left Mansoul for the time, and had gone
to its master the Devil. But unbelief, being intellectual, had not
been crucified with the sins of the flesh, and thus could come back,
and undo the work which faith had accomplished. I do not know how far
this view approves itself to the more curious theologians. Unbelief
itself is said to be a product of the will; but an allegory must not
be cross-questioned too minutely.

The cornucopia of spiritual blessings was now opened on Mansoul. All
offences were fully and completely forgiven. A Holy Law and Testament
was bestowed on the people for their comfort and consolation, with a
portion of the grace which dwelt in the hearts of Shaddai and Emmanuel
themselves. They were to be allowed free access to Emmanuel's palace
at all seasons, he himself undertaking to hear them and redress their
grievances, and they were empowered and enjoined to destroy all
Diabolonians who might be found at any time within their precincts.

These grants were embodied in a charter which was set up in gold
letters on the castle door. Two ministers were appointed to carry on
the government--one from Shaddai's court; the other a native of
Mansoul. The first was Shaddai's chief secretary, the Holy Spirit. He,
if they were obedient and well-conducted, would be 'ten times better
to them than the whole world.' But they were cautioned to be careful
of their behaviour, for if they grieved him he would turn against
them, and the worst might then be looked for. The second minister was
the old Recorder, Mr. Conscience, for whom, as was said, a new office
had been provided. The address of Emmanuel to Conscience in handing
his commission to him contains the essence of Bunyan's creed.

'Thou must confine thyself to the teaching of moral virtues, to civil
and natural duties. But thou must not attempt to presume to be a
revealer of those high and supernatural mysteries that are kept close
in the bosom of Shaddai, my father. For those things knows no man; nor
can any reveal them but my father's secretary only.... In all high and
supernatural things, thou must go to him for information and
knowledge. Wherefore keep low and be humble; and remember that the
Diabolonians that kept not their first charge, but left their own
standing, are now made prisoners in the pit. Be therefore content with
thy station. I have made thee my father's vicegerent on earth in the
things of which I have made mention before. Take thou power to teach
them to Mansoul; yea, to impose them with whips and chastisements if
they shall not willingly hearken to do thy commandments.... And one
thing more to my beloved Mr. Recorder, and to all the town of Mansoul.
You must not dwell in nor stay upon anything of that which he hath in
commission to teach you, as to your trust and expectation of the next
world. Of the next world, I say; for I purpose to give another to
Mansoul when this is worn out. But for that you must wholly and solely
have recourse to and make stay upon the doctrine of your teacher of
the first order. Yea, Mr. Recorder himself must not look for life from
that which he himself revealeth. His dependence for that must be
founded in the doctrine of the other preacher. Let Mr. Recorder also
take heed that he receive not any doctrine or points of doctrine that
are not communicated to him by his superior teacher, nor yet within
the precincts of his own formal knowledge.'

Here, as a work of art, the 'Holy War' should have its natural end.
Mansoul had been created pure and happy. The Devil plotted against it,
took it, defiled it. The Lord of the town came to the rescue, drove
the Devil out, executed his officers and destroyed his works. Mansoul,
according to Emmanuel's promise, was put into a better condition than
that in which it was originally placed. New laws was drawn for it. New
ministers were appointed to execute them. Vice had been destroyed.
Unbelief had been driven away. The future lay serene and bright before
it; all trials and dangers being safely passed. Thus we have all the
parts of a complete drama--the fair beginning, the perils, the
struggles, and the final victory of good. At this point, for purposes
of art, the curtain ought to fall.

For purposes of art--not, however, for purposes of truth. For the
drama of Mansoul was still incomplete, and will remain incomplete till
man puts on another nature or ceases altogether to be. Christianity
might place him in a new relation to his Maker, and, according to
Bunyan, might expel the Devil out of his heart. But for practical
purposes, as Mansoul too well knows, the Devil is still in possession.
At intervals--as in the first centuries of the Christian era, for a
period in the middle ages, and again in Protestant countries for
another period at the Reformation--mankind made noble efforts to drive
him out, and make the law of God into reality. But he comes back
again, and the world is again as it was. The vices again flourish
which had been nailed to the Cross. The statesman finds it as little
possible as ever to take moral right and justice for his rule in
politics. The Evangelical preacher continues to confess and deplore
the desperate wickedness of the human heart. The Devil had been
deposed, but his faithful subjects have restored him to his throne.
The stone of Sisyphus has been brought to the brow of the hill only to
rebound again to the bottom. The old battle has to be fought a second
time, and, for all we can see, no closing victory will ever be in
'this country of Universe.' Bunyan knew this but too well. He tries to
conceal it from himself by treating Mansoul alternately as the soul of
a single individual from which the Devil may be so expelled as never
dangerously to come back, or as the collective souls of the Christian
world. But, let him mean which of the two he will, the overpowering
fact remains that, from the point of view of his own theology, the
great majority of mankind are the Devil's servants through life, and
are made over to him everlastingly when their lives are over; while
the human race itself continues to follow its idle amusements and its
sinful pleasures as if no Emmanuel had ever come from heaven to rescue
it. Thus the situation is incomplete, and the artistic treatment
necessarily unsatisfactory--nay in a sense even worse than
unsatisfactory, for the attention of the reader, being reawakened by
the fresh and lively treatment of the subject, refuses to be satisfied
with conventional explanatory commonplaces. His mind is puzzled; his
faith wavers in its dependence upon a Being who can permit His work to
be spoilt, His power defied, His victories even, when won, made

Thus we take up the continuation of the 'Holy War' with a certain
weariness and expectation of disappointment. The delivery of Mansoul
has not been finished after all, and, for all that we can see, the
struggle between Shaddai and Diabolus may go on to eternity. Emmanuel,
before he withdraws his presence, warns the inhabitants that many
Diabolonians are still lurking about the outside walls of the town.[9]
The names are those in St. Paul's list--Fornication, Adultery, Murder,
Anger, Lasciviousness, Deceit, Evil Eye, Drunkenness, Revelling,
Idolatry, Witchcraft, Variance, Emulation, Wrath, Strife, Sedition,
Heresy. If all these were still abroad, not much had been gained by
the crucifixion of the Aldermen. For the time, it was true, they did
not show themselves openly. Mansoul after the conquest was clothed in
white linen, and was in a state of peace and glory. But the linen was
speedily soiled again. Mr. Carnal Security became a great person in
Mansoul. The Chief Secretary's functions fell early into abeyance. He
discovered the Recorder and Lord Will be Will at dinner in Mr. Carnal
Security's parlour, and ceased to communicate with them. Mr. Godly
Fear sounded an alarm, and Mr. Carnal Security's house was burnt by
the mob; but Mansoul's backslidings grew worse. It had its fits of
repentance, and petitioned Emmanuel, but the messenger could have no
admittance. The Lusts of the Flesh came out of their dens. They held a
meeting in the room of Mr. Mischief, and wrote to invite Diabolus to
return. Mr. Profane carried their letter to Hell Gate. Cerberus opened
it, and a cry of joy ran through the prison. Beelzebub, Lucifer,
Apollyon, and the rest of the devils came crowding to hear the news.
Deadman's bell was rung. Diabolus addressed the assembly, putting them
in hopes of recovering their prize. 'Nor need you fear, he said, that
if ever we get Mansoul again, we after that shall be cast out any
more. It is the law of that Prince that now they own, that if we get
them a second time they shall be ours for ever.' He returned a warm
answer to his friend, 'which was subscribed as given at the Pit's
mouth, by the joint consent of all the Princes of Darkness, by me,
Diabolus.' The plan was to corrupt Mansoul's morals, and three devils
of rank set off disguised to take service in the town, and make their
way into the households of Mr. Mind, Mr. Godly Fear, and Lord Will be
Will. Godly Fear discovered his mistake and turned the devil out. The
other two established themselves successfully, and Mr. Profane was
soon at Hell Gate again to report progress. Cerberus welcomed him with
a 'St. Mary, I am glad to see thee.' Another council was held in
Pandemonium, and Diabolus was impatient to show himself again on the
scene. Apollyon advised him not to be in a hurry. 'Let our friends,'
he said, 'draw Mansoul more and more into sin--there is nothing like
sin to devour Mansoul;' but Diabolus would not wait for so slow a
process, and raised an army of Doubters 'from the land of Doubting on
the confines of Hell Gate Hill.' 'Doubt,' Bunyan always admitted, had
been his own most dangerous enemy.

[Footnote 9: The Flesh.]

Happily the townspeople became aware of the peril which threatened
them. Mr. Prywell, a great lover of Mansoul, overheard some
Diabolonians talking about it at a place called Vile Hill. He carried
his information to the Lord Mayor; the Recorder rang the Alarm Bell;
Mansoul flew to penitence, held a day of fasting and humiliation, and
prayed to Shaddai. The Diabolonians were hunted out, and all that
could be found were killed. So far as haste and alarm would permit,
Mansoul mended its ways. But on came the Doubting army, led by
Incredulity, who had escaped crucifixion--'none was truer to Diabolus
than he'--on they came under their several captains, Vocation
Doubters, Grace Doubters, Salvation Doubters, &c.--figures now gone to
shadow; then the deadliest foes of every English Puritan soul. Mansoul
appealed passionately to the Chief Secretary; but the Chief Secretary
'had been grieved,' and would have nothing to say to it. The town
legions went out to meet the invaders with good words, Prayer, and
singing of Psalms. The Doubters replied with 'horrible objections,'
which were frightfully effective. Lord Reason was wounded in the head
and the Lord Mayor in the eye; Mr. Mind received a shot in the
stomach, and Conscience was hit near the heart; but the wounds were
not mortal. Mansoul had the best of it in the first engagement. Terror
was followed by boasting and self-confidence; a night sally was
attempted--night being the time when the Doubters were strongest. The
sally failed, and the men of Mansoul were turned to rout. Diabolus's
army attacked Eargate, stormed the walls, forced their way into the
town, and captured the whole of it except the castle. Then 'Mansoul
became a den of dragons, an emblem of Hell, a place of total
darkness.' 'Mr. Conscience's wounds so festered that he could have no
rest day or night.' 'Now a man might have walked for days together in
Mansoul, and scarce have seen one in the town that looked like a
religious man. Oh, the fearful state of Mansoul now!' 'Now every
corner swarmed with outlandish Doubters; Red Coats and Black Coats
walked the town by clusters, and filled the houses with hideous
noises, lying stories, and blasphemous language against Shaddai and
his Son.'

This is evidently meant for fashionable London in the time of Charles
II. Bunyan was loyal to the King. He was no believer in moral
regeneration through political revolution. But none the less he could
see what was under his eyes, and he knew what to think of it.

All was not lost, for the castle still held out. The only hope was in
Emmanuel, and the garrison proposed to petition again in spite of the
ill reception of their first messengers. Godly Fear reminded them that
no petition would be received which was not signed by the Lord
Secretary, and that the Lord Secretary would sign nothing which he had
not himself drawn up. The Lord Secretary, when appealed to in the
proper manner, no longer refused his assistance. Captain Credence flew
up to Shaddai's court with the simple words that Mansoul renounced all
trust in its own strength and relied upon its Saviour. This time its
prayer would be heard.

The devils meanwhile, triumphant though they were, discovered that
they could have no permanent victory unless they could reduce the
castle. 'Doubters at a distance,' Beelzebub said, 'are but like
objections repelled by arguments. Can we but get them into the hold,
and make them possessors of that, the day will be our own.' The object
was, therefore, to corrupt Mansoul at the heart.

Then follows a very curious passage. Bunyan had still his eye on
England, and had discerned the quarter from which her real danger
would approach. Mansoul, the Devil perceived, 'was a market town, much
given to commerce.' 'It would be possible to dispose of some of the
Devil's wares there.' The people would be filled full, and made rich,
and would forget Emmanuel. 'Mansoul,' they said, 'shall be so cumbered
with abundance, that they shall be forced to make their castle a
warehouse.' Wealth once made the first object of existence,
'Diabolus's gang will have easy entrance, and the castle will be our

Political economy was still sleeping in the womb of futurity. Diabolus
was unable to hasten its birth, and an experiment which Bunyan thought
would certainly have succeeded was not to be tried. The _Deus ex
Machinâ_ appeared with its flaming sword. The Doubting army was cut to
pieces, and Mansoul was saved. Again, however, the work was
imperfectly done. Diabolus, like the bad genius in the fairy tale,
survived for fresh mischief. Diabolus flew off again to Hell Gate, and
was soon at the head of a new host; part composed of fugitive Doubters
whom he rallied, and part of a new set of enemies called _Bloodmen_,
by whom we are to understand persecutors, 'a people from a land that
lay under the Dog Star.' 'Captain Pope' was chief of the Bloodmen. His
escutcheon 'was the stake, the flame, and good men in it.' The
Bloodmen had done Diabolus wonderful service in time past. 'Once they
had forced Emmanuel out of the Kingdom of the Universe, and why,
thought he, might they not do it again?'

Emmanuel did not this time go in person to the encounter. It was
enough to send his captains. The Doubters fled at the first onset.
'The Bloodmen, when they saw that no Emmanuel was in the field,
concluded that no Emmanuel was in Mansoul. Wherefore, they, looking
upon what the captains did to be, as they called it, a fruit of the
extravagancy of their wild and foolish fancies, rather despised them
than feared them.' 'They proved, nevertheless, chicken-hearted, when
they saw themselves matched and equalled.' The chiefs were taken
prisoners, and brought to trial like Atheism and his companions, and
so, with an address from the Prince, the story comes to a close.

Thus at last the 'Holy War' ends or seems to end. It is as if Bunyan
had wished to show that though the converted Christian was still
liable to the assaults of Satan, and even to be beaten down and
overcome by him, his state was never afterwards so desperate as it had
been before the redemption, and that he had assistance ready at hand
to save him when near extremity. But the reader whose desire it is
that good shall triumph and evil be put to shame and overthrown
remains but partially satisfied; and the last conflict and its issues
leave Mansoul still subject to fresh attacks. Diabolus was still at
large. Carnal Sense broke prison and continued to lurk in the town.
Unbelief 'was a nimble Jack: him they could never lay hold of, though
they attempted to do it often.' Unbelief remained in Mansoul till the
time that Mansoul ceased to dwell in the country of the Universe; and
where Unbelief was Diabolus would not be without a friend to open the
gates to him. Bunyan says, indeed, that 'he was stoned as often as he
showed himself in the streets.' He shows himself in the streets much
at his ease in these days of ours after two more centuries.

Here lies the real weakness of the 'Holy War.' It may be looked at
either as the war in the soul of each sinner that is saved, or as the
war for the deliverance of humanity. Under the first aspect it leaves
out of sight the large majority of mankind who are not supposed to be
saved, and out of whom, therefore, Diabolus is not driven at all.
Under the other aspect the struggle is still unfinished; the last act
of the drama has still to be played, and we know not what the
conclusion is to be.

To attempt to represent it, therefore, as a work of art, with a
beginning, a middle, and an end, is necessarily a failure. The
mysteries and contradictions which the Christian revelation leaves
unsolved are made tolerable to us by Hope. We are prepared to find in
religion many things which we cannot understand; and difficulties do
not perplex us so long as they remain in a form to which we are
accustomed. To emphasise the problem by offering it to us in an
allegory, of which we are presumed to possess a key, serves only to
revive Man Friday's question, or the old dilemma which neither
intellect nor imagination has ever dealt with successfully. 'Deus aut
non vult tollere mala, aut nequit. Si non vult non est bonus. Si
nequit non est omnipotens.' It is wiser to confess with Butler that
'there may be necessities in the nature of things which we are not
acquainted with.'



If the 'Holy War' is an unfit subject for allegorical treatment, the
'Pilgrim's Progress' is no less perfectly adapted for it. The 'Holy
War' is a representation of the struggle of human nature with evil,
and the struggle is left undecided. The 'Pilgrim's Progress' is a
representation of the efforts of a single soul after holiness, which
has its natural termination when the soul quits its mortal home and
crosses the dark river. Each one of us has his own life battle to
fight out, his own sorrows and trials, his own failures or successes,
and his own end. He wins the game, or he loses it. The account is
wound up, and the curtain falls upon him. Here Bunyan had a material
as excellent in itself as it was exactly suited to his peculiar
genius; and his treatment of the subject from his own point of
view--that of English Protestant Christianity--is unequalled and never
will be equalled. I may say never, for in this world of change the
point of view alters fast, and never continues in one stay. As we are
swept along the stream of time, lights and shadows shift their places,
mountain plateaus turn to sharp peaks, mountain ranges dissolve into
vapour. The river which has been gliding deep and slow along the
plain, leaps suddenly over a precipice and plunges foaming down a
sunless gorge. In the midst of changing circumstances the central
question remains the same--What am I? what is this world in which I
appear and disappear like a bubble? who made me? and what am I to do?
Some answer or other the mind of man demands and insists on receiving.
Theologian or poet offers at long intervals explanations which are
accepted as credible for a time. They wear out, and another follows,
and then another. Bunyan's answer has served average English men and
women for two hundred years, but no human being with Bunyan's
intellect and Bunyan's sincerity can again use similar language; and
the 'Pilgrim's Progress' is and will remain unique of its kind--an
imperishable monument of the form in which the problem presented
itself to a person of singular truthfulness, simplicity, and piety,
who after many struggles accepted the Puritan creed as the adequate
solution of it. It was composed exactly at the time when it was
possible for such a book to come into being; the close of the period
when the Puritan formula was a real belief, and was about to change
from a living principle into an intellectual opinion. So long as a
religion is fully alive, men do not talk about it or make allegories
about it. They assume its truth as out of reach of question, and they
simply obey its precepts as they obey the law of the land. It becomes
a subject of art and discourse only when men are unconsciously ceasing
to believe, and therefore the more vehemently think that they believe,
and repudiate with indignation the suggestion that doubt has found its
way into them. After this religion no longer governs their lives. It
governs only the language in which they express themselves, and they
preserve it eagerly, in the shape of elaborate observances or in the
agreeable forms of art and literature.

The 'Pilgrim's Progress' was written before the 'Holy War,' while
Bunyan was still in prison at Bedford, and was but half conscious of
the gifts which he possessed. It was written for his own
entertainment, and therefore without the thought--so fatal in its
effects and so hard to be resisted--of what the world would say about
it. It was written in compulsory quiet, when he was comparatively
unexcited by the effort of perpetual preaching, and the shapes of
things could present themselves to him as they really were,
undistorted by theological narrowness. It is the same story which he
has told of himself in 'Grace Abounding,' thrown out into an objective

He tells us himself, in a metrical introduction, the circumstances
under which it was composed:--

    When at the first I took my pen in hand,
    Thus for to write, I did not understand
    That I at all should make a little book
    In such a mode. Nay, I had undertook
    To make another, which when almost done,
    Before I was aware I this begun.

    And thus it was.--I writing of the way
    And race of saints in this our Gospel day,
    Fell suddenly into an Allegory
    About the journey and the way to glory
    In more than twenty things which I set down.
    This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
    And these again began to multiply,
    Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
    Nay then, thought I, if that you breed so fast
    I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
    Should prove _ad Infinitum_, and eat out
    The book that I already am about.

    Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
    To show to all the world my pen and ink
    In such a mode. I only thought to make,
    I knew not what. Nor did I undertake
    Merely to please my neighbours; no, not I.
    I did it mine own self to gratify.

    Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
    In this my scribble; nor did I intend
    But to divert myself in doing this
    From worser thoughts which make me do amiss.
    Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
    And quickly had my thoughts in black and white;
    For having now my method by the end,
    Still as I pulled it came; and so I penned
    It down: until at last it came to be
    For length and breadth the bigness which you see.

    Well, when I had thus put my ends together,
    I showed them others, that I might see whether
    They would condemn them or them justify.
    And some said, Let them live; some, Let them die;
    Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so;
    Some said it might do good; others said, No.

    Now was I in a strait, and did not see
    Which was the best thing to be done by me.
    At last I thought, since you are thus divided,
    I print it will; and so the case decided.

The difference of opinion among Bunyan's friends is easily explicable.
The allegoric representation of religion to men profoundly convinced
of the truth of it might naturally seem light and fantastic, and the
breadth of the conception could not please the narrow sectarians who
knew no salvation beyond the lines of their peculiar formulas. The
Pilgrim though in a Puritan dress is a genuine man. His experience is
so truly human experience, that Christians of every persuasion can
identify themselves with him; and even those who regard Christianity
itself as but a natural outgrowth of the conscience and intellect,
and yet desire to live nobly and make the best of themselves, can
recognise familiar foot-prints in every step of Christian's journey.
Thus the 'Pilgrim's Progress' is a book, which, when once read, can
never be forgotten. We too, every one of us, are pilgrims on the same
road, and images and illustrations come back upon us from so faithful
an itinerary, as we encounter similar trials, and learn for ourselves
the accuracy with which Bunyan has described them. There is no
occasion to follow a story minutely which memory can so universally
supply. I need pause only at a few spots which are too charming to
pass by.

How picturesque and vivid are the opening lines:

'As I walked through the wilderness of this world I lighted on a
certain place where there was a den,[10] and I laid me down in that
place to sleep, and as I slept I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and
behold I saw a man, a man clothed in rags, standing with his face from
his own home with a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his

[Footnote 10: The Bedford Prison.]

The man is Bunyan himself as we see him in 'Grace Abounding.' His sins
are the burden upon his back. He reads his book and weeps and
trembles. He speaks of his fears to his friends and kindred. They
think 'some frenzy distemper has got into his head.' He meets a man in
the fields whose name is Evangelist. Evangelist tells him to flee from
the City of Destruction. He shows him the way by which he must go, and
points to the far-off light which will guide him to the wicket-gate.
He sets off, and his neighbours of course think him mad. The world
always thinks men mad who turn their backs upon it. Obstinate and
Pliable (how well we know them both!) follow to persuade him to
return. Obstinate talks practical common sense to him, and as it has
no effect, gives him up as a fantastical fellow. Pliable thinks that
there may be something in what he says, and offers to go with him.

Before they can reach the wicket-gate, they fall into a 'miry slough.'
Who does not know the miry slough too? When a man begins for the first
time to think seriously about himself, the first thing that rises
before him is a consciousness of his miserable past life. Amendment
seems to be desperate. He thinks it is too late to change for any
useful purpose, and he sinks into despondency.

Pliable finding the road disagreeable has soon had enough of it. He
scrambles out of the slough 'on the side which was nearest to his own
house' and goes home. Christian struggling manfully is lifted out 'by
a man whose name was Help,' and goes on upon his journey, but the
burden on his back weighs him down. He falls in with Mr. Worldly
Wiseman who lives in the town of Carnal Policy. Mr. Worldly Wiseman,
who looks like a gentleman, advises him not to think about his sins.
If he has done wrong he must alter his life and do better for the
future. He directs him to a village called Morality, where he will
find a gentleman well known in those parts, who will take his burden
off--Mr. Legality. Either Mr. Legality will do it himself, or it can
be done equally well by his pretty young son, Mr. Civility.

The way to a better life does not lie in a change of outward action,
but in a changed heart. Legality soon passes into civility, according
to the saying that vice loses half its evil when it loses its
grossness. Bunyan would have said that the poison was the more deadly
from being concealed. Christian after a near escape is set straight
again. He is admitted into the wicket-gate and is directed how he is
to go forward. He asks if he may not lose his way. He is answered Yes,
'There are many ways (that) butt down on this and they are crooked and
wide. But thus thou mayest know the right from the wrong, that only
being straight and narrow.'

Good people often suppose that when a man is once 'converted,' as they
call it, and has entered on a religious life, he will find everything
made easy. He has turned to Christ, and in Christ he will find rest
and pleasantness. The path of duty is unfortunately not strewed with
flowers at all. The primrose road leads to the other place. As on all
other journeys, to persevere is the difficulty. The pilgrim's feet
grow sorer the longer he walks. His lower nature follows him like a
shadow watching opportunities to trip him up, and ever appearing in
some new disguise. In the way of comfort he is allowed only certain
resting places, quiet intervals of peace when temptation is absent,
and the mind can gather strength and encouragement from a sense of the
progress which it has made.

The first of these resting places at which Christian arrives is the
'Interpreter's House.' This means, I conceive, that he arrives at a
right understanding of the objects of human desire as they really are.
He learns to distinguish there between passion and patience, passion
which demands immediate gratification, and patience which can wait and
hope. He sees the action of grace on the heart, and sees the Devil
labouring to put it out. He sees the man in the iron cage who was once
a flourishing professor, but had been tempted away by pleasure and had
sinned against light. He hears a dream too--one of Bunyan's own early
dreams, but related as by another person. The Pilgrim himself was
beyond the reach of such uneasy visions. But it shows how profoundly
the terrible side of Christianity had seized on Bunyan's imagination
and how little he was able to forget it.

'This night as I was in my sleep I dreamed, and behold the heavens
grew exceeding black: also it thundered and lightened in most fearful
wise, that it put me into an agony; so I looked up in my dream and saw
the clouds rack at an unusual rate, upon which I heard a great sound
of a trumpet, and saw also a man sit upon a cloud attended with the
thousands of heaven. They were all in a flaming fire, and the heaven
also was in a burning flame. I heard then a voice, saying, Arise ye
dead and come to judgment; and with that the rocks rent, the graves
opened, and the dead that were therein came forth. Some of them were
exceeding glad and looked upward, some sought to hide themselves under
the mountains. Then I saw the man that sate upon the cloud open the
book and bid the world draw near. Yet there was, by reason of a fierce
flame that issued out and came from before him, a convenient distance
betwixt him and them, as betwixt the judge and the prisoners at the
bar. I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended on the man that
sate on the cloud, Gather together the tares, the chaff, and the
stubble, and cast them into the burning lake. And with that the
bottomless pit opened just whereabouts I stood, out of the mouth of
which there came in an abundant manner smoke and coals of fire with
hideous noises. It was also said to the same persons, Gather the wheat
into my garner. And with that I saw many catched up and carried away
into the clouds, but I was left behind. I also sought to hide myself,
but I could not, for the man that sate upon the cloud still kept his
eye upon me. My sins also came into my mind, and my conscience did
accuse me on every side. I thought the day of judgment was come and I
was not ready for it.'

The resting time comes to an end. The Pilgrim gathers himself
together, and proceeds upon his way. He is not to be burdened for ever
with the sense of his sins. It fell from off his back at the sight of
the cross. Three shining ones appear and tell him that his sins are
forgiven; they take off his rags and provide him with a new suit.

He now encounters fellow-travellers; and the seriousness of the story is
relieved by adventures and humorous conversations. At the bottom of a hill
he finds three gentlemen asleep, 'a little out of the way.' These were
Simple, Sloth, and Presumption. He tries to rouse them, but does not
succeed. Presently two others are seen tumbling over the wall into the
Narrow Way. They are come from the land of Vain Glory, and are called
Formalist and Hypocrisy. Like the Pilgrim, they are bound for Mount Zion;
but the wicket-gate was 'too far about,' and they had come by a short cut.
'They had custom for it a thousand years and more; and custom being of so
long standing would be admitted legal by any impartial judge.' Whether
right or wrong they insist that they are in the way, and no more is to be
said. But they are soon out of it again. The hill is the hill Difficulty,
and the road parts into three. Two go round the bottom, as modern engineers
would make them. The other rises straight over the top. Formalist and
Hypocrisy choose the easy ways, and are heard of no more. Pilgrim climbs
up, and after various accidents comes to the second resting-place, the
Palace Beautiful, built by the Lord of the Hill to entertain strangers in.
The recollections of Sir Bevis of Southampton furnished Bunyan with his
framework. Lions guard the court. Fair ladies entertain him as if he had
been a knight-errant in quest of the Holy Grail. The ladies, of course, are
all that they ought to be: the Christian graces--Discretion, Prudence,
Piety, and Charity. He tells them his history. They ask him if he has
brought none of his old belongings with him. He answers yes; but greatly
against his will: his inward and carnal cogitations, with which his
countrymen, as well as himself, were so much delighted. Only in golden
hours they seemed to leave him. Who cannot recognise the truth of this? Who
has not groaned over the follies and idiocies that cling to us like the
doggerel verses that hang about our memories? The room in which he sleeps
is called Peace. In the morning he is shown the curiosities, chiefly
Scripture relics, in the palace. He is taken to the roof, from which he
sees far off the outlines of the Delectable Mountains. Next, the ladies
carry him to the armoury, and equip him for the dangers which lie next
before him. He is to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, and pass
thence through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Bunyan here shows the finest insight. To some pilgrims the Valley of
Humiliation was the pleasantest part of the journey. Mr. Feeblemind,
in the second part of the story, was happier there than anywhere. But
Christian is Bunyan himself; and Bunyan had a stiff self-willed
nature, and had found his spirit the most stubborn part of him. Down
here he encounters Apollyon himself, 'straddling quite over the whole
breadth of the way'--a more effective devil than the Diabolus of the
'Holy War.' He fights him for half-a-day, is sorely wounded in head,
hand, and foot, and has a near escape of being pressed to death.
Apollyon spreads his bat wings at last, and flies away; but there
remains the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the dark scene of lonely
horrors. Two men meet him on the borders of it. They tell him the
valley is full of spectres; and they warn him, if he values his life,
to go back. Well Bunyan knew these spectres, those dreary misgivings
that he was toiling after an illusion; that 'good' and 'evil' had no
meaning except on earth, and for man's convenience; and that he
himself was but a creature of a day, allowed a brief season of what is
called existence, and then to pass away and be as if he had never
been. It speaks well for Bunyan's honesty that this state of mind
which religious people generally call wicked is placed directly in his
Pilgrim's path, and he is compelled to pass through it. In the valley,
close at the road-side, there is a pit, which is one of the mouths of
hell. A wicked spirit whispers to him as he goes by. He imagines that
the thought had proceeded out of his own heart.

The sky clears when he is beyond the gorge. Outside it are the caves
where the two giants, Pope and Pagan, had lived in old times. Pagan
had been dead many a day. Pope was still living, 'but he had grown so
crazy and stiff in his joints that he could now do little more than
sit in his cave's mouth, grinning at pilgrims as they went by, and
biting his nails because he could not come at them.'

Here he overtakes 'Faithful,' a true pilgrim like himself. Faithful
had met with trials; but his trials have not resembled Christian's.
Christian's difficulties, like Bunyan's own, had been all spiritual.
'The lusts of the flesh' seem to have had no attraction for him.
Faithful had been assailed by 'Wanton,' and had been obliged to fly
from her. He had not fallen into the slough; but he had been beguiled
by the Old Adam, who offered him one of his daughters for a wife. In
the Valley of the Shadow of Death he had found sunshine all the way.
Doubts about the truth of religion had never troubled the simpler
nature of the good Faithful.

Mr. Talkative is the next character introduced, and is one of the best
figures which Bunyan has drawn; Mr. Talkative, with Scripture at his
fingers' ends, and perfect master of all doctrinal subtleties, ready
'to talk of things heavenly or things earthly, things moral or things
evangelical, things sacred or things profane, things past or things to
come, things foreign or things at home, things essential or things
circumstantial, provided that all be done to our profit.'

This gentleman would have taken in Faithful, who was awed by such a
rush of volubility. Christian has seen him before, knows him well, and
can describe him. 'He is the son of one Saywell. He dwelt in Prating
Row. He is for any company and for any talk. As he talks now with you
so will he talk when on the ale-bench. The more drink he hath in his
crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth. Religion hath no
place in his heart, or home, or conversation; all that he hath lieth
in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith.'

The elect, though they have ceased to be of the world, are still in
the world. They are still part of the general community of mankind,
and share, whether they like it or not, in the ordinary activities of
life. Faithful and Christian have left the City of Destruction. They
have shaken off from themselves all liking for idle pleasures. They
nevertheless find themselves in their journey at Vanity Fair, 'a fair
set up by Beelzebub 5000 years ago.' Trade of all sorts went on at
Vanity Fair, and people of all sorts were collected there: cheats,
fools, asses, knaves, and rogues. Some were honest, many were
dishonest; some lived peaceably and uprightly, others robbed,
murdered, seduced their neighbours' wives, or lied and perjured
themselves. Vanity Fair was European society as it existed in the days
of Charles II. Each nation was represented. There was British Row,
French Row, and Spanish Row. 'The wares of Rome and her merchandise
were greatly promoted at the fair, only the English nation with some
others had taken a dislike to them.' The pilgrims appear on the scene
as the Apostles appeared at Antioch and Rome, to tell the people that
there were things in the world of more consequence than money and
pleasure. The better sort listen. Public opinion in general calls them
fools and Bedlamites. The fair becomes excited, disturbances are
feared, and the authorities send to make inquiries. Authorities
naturally disapprove of novelties; and Christian and Faithful are
arrested, beaten, and put in the cage. Their friends insist that they
have done no harm, that they are innocent strangers teaching only what
will make men better instead of worse. A riot follows. The authorities
determine to make an example of them, and the result is the
ever-memorable trial of the two pilgrims. They are brought in irons
before my Lord Hategood, charged with 'disturbing the trade of the
town, creating divisions, and making converts to their opinions in
contempt of the law of the Prince.'

Faithful begins with an admission which would have made it difficult
for Hategood to let him off, for he says that the Prince they talked
of, being Beelzebub, the enemy of the Lord, he defied him and all his
angels. Three witnesses were then called: Envy, Superstition, and

Envy says that Faithful regards neither prince nor people, but does
all he can to possess men with disloyal notions, which he call
principles of faith and holiness.

Superstition says that he knows little of him, but has heard him say
that 'our religion is naught, and such by which no man can please God,
from which saying his Lordship well knows will follow that we are yet
in our sins, and finally shall be damned.'

Pickthank deposes that he has heard Faithful rail on Beelzebub, and
speak contemptuously of his honourable friends my Lord Old Man, my
Lord Carnal Delight, my Lord Luxurious, my Lord Desire of Vain Glory,
my Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, and the rest of the nobility,
besides which he has railed against his lordship on the bench himself,
calling him an ungodly villain.

The evidence was perfectly true, and the prisoner, when called on for
his defence, confirmed it. He says (avoiding the terms in which he was
said to rail and the like) that 'the Prince of the town, with all the
rabblement of his attendants by this gentleman named, are more fit for
a being in hell than in this town or country.'

Lord Hategood has been supposed to have been drawn from one or other
of Charles II.'s judges, perhaps from either Twisden or Chester, who
had the conversation with Bunyan's wife. But it is difficult to see
how either one or the other could have acted otherwise than they did.
Faithful might be quite right. Hell might be and probably was the
proper place for Beelzebub, and for all persons holding authority
under him. But as a matter of fact, a form of society did for some
purpose or other exist, and had been permitted to exist for 5000
years, owning Beelzebub's sovereignty. It must defend itself, or must
cease to be, and it could not be expected to make no effort at
self-preservation. Faithful had come to Vanity Fair to make a
revolution--a revolution extremely desirable, but one which it was
unreasonable to expect the constituted authorities to allow to go
forward. It was not a case of false witness. A prisoner who admits
that he has taught the people that their Prince ought to be in hell,
and has called the judge an ungodly villain, cannot complain if he is
accused of preaching rebellion.

Lord Hategood charges the jury, and explains the law. 'There was an
Act made,' he says, 'in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our
Prince, that lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and
grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river.
There was also an Act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great,
that whoever would not fall down and worship his golden image should
be thrown into a fiery furnace. There was also an Act made in the days
of Darius that whoso for some time called upon any God but him should
be cast into the lion's den. Now the substance of these laws this
rebel hath broken, not only in thought (which is not to be borne), but
also in word and deed, which must, therefore, be intolerable. For that
of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition to prevent mischief,
no crime being yet apparent. For the second and third you see his
disputations against our religion, and for the treason he hath
confessed he deserveth to die the death.'

'Then went the jury out, whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr. Nogood,
Mr. Malice, Mr. Lovelust, Mr. Liveloose, Mr. Heady, Mr. Highmind, Mr.
Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hatelight, and Mr. Implacable, who
every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves,
and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the
judge. And first, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said: I see clearly that
this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No Good, Away with such a fellow
from the earth. Aye, said Mr. Malice, I hate the very looks of him.
Then said Mr. Lovelust, I could never endure him. Nor I, said Mr.
Liveloose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang
him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. Highmind. My heart riseth
against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is
too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the
way, said Mr. Hatelight. Then, said Mr. Implacable, might I have all
the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore, let
us forthwith bring him in guilty of death.'

Abstract qualities of character were never clothed in more substantial
flesh and blood than these jurymen. Spenser's knights in the 'Fairy
Queen' are mere shadows to them. Faithful was, of course, condemned,
scourged, buffeted, lanced in his feet with knives, stoned, stabbed,
at last burned, and spared the pain of travelling further on the
narrow road. A chariot and horses were waiting to bear him through the
clouds, the nearest way to the Celestial Gate. Christian, who it seems
had been remanded, contrives to escape. He is joined by Hopeful, a
convert whom he has made in the town, and they pursue their journey in
company. A second person is useful dramatically, and Hopeful takes
Faithful's place. Leaving Vanity Fair, they are again on the Pilgrim's
road. There they encounter Mr. Bye-ends. Bye-ends comes from the town
of Plain-Speech, where he has a large kindred, My Lord Turnabout, my
Lord Timeserver, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Two Tongues, the parson of
the parish. Bye-ends himself was married to a daughter of Lady
Feignings. Bunyan's invention in such things was inexhaustible.

They have more trials of the old kind with which Bunyan himself was so
familiar. They cross the River of Life and even drink at it, yet for
all this and directly after, they stray into Bye Path Meadow. They
lose themselves in the grounds of Doubting Castle, and are seized upon
by Giant Despair--still a prey to doubt--still uncertain whether
religion be not a dream, even after they have fought with wild beasts
in Vanity Fair and have drunk of the water of life. Nowhere does
Bunyan show better how well he knew the heart of man. Christian even
thinks of killing himself in the dungeons of Doubting Castle. Hopeful
cheers him up, they break their prison, recover the road again, and
arrive at the Delectable Mountains in Emmanuel's own land. There it
might be thought the danger would be over, but it is not so. Even in
Emmanuel's Land there is a door in the side of a hill which is a
byeway to hell, and beyond Emmanuel's Land is the country of conceit,
a new and special temptation for those who think that they are near
salvation. Here they encounter 'a brisk lad of the neighbourhood,'
needed soon after for a particular purpose, who is a good liver, prays
devoutly, fasts regularly, pays tithes punctually, and hopes that
everyone will get to heaven by the religion which he professes,
provided he fears God and tries to do his duty. The name of this brisk
lad is Ignorance. Leaving him, they are caught in a net by Flatterer,
and are smartly whipped by 'a shining one,' who lets them out of it.
False ideas and vanity lay them open once more to their most dangerous
enemy. They meet a man coming towards them from the direction in which
they are going. They tell him that they are on the way to Mount Zion.
He laughs scornfully and answers:--

'There is no such place as you dream of in all the world. When I was
at home in my own country, I heard as you now affirm, and from hearing
I went out to see; and have been seeking this city these twenty years,
but I find no more of it than I did the first day I went out. I am
going back again and will seek to refresh myself with things which I
then cast away for hopes of that which I now see is not.'

Still uncertainty--even on the verge of eternity--strange, doubtless,
and reprehensible to Right Reverend persons, who never 'cast away'
anything; to whom a religious profession has been a highway to
pleasure and preferment, who live in the comfortable assurance that as
it has been in this life so it will be in the next. Only moral
obliquity of the worst kind could admit a doubt about so excellent a
religion as this. But Bunyan was not a Right Reverend. Christianity
had brought him no palaces and large revenues, and a place among the
great of the land. If Christianity was not true his whole life was
folly and illusion, and the dread that it might be so clung to his
belief like its shadow.

The way was still long. The pilgrims reach the Enchanted Ground and
are drowsy and tired. Ignorance comes up with them again. He talks
much about himself. He tells them of the good motives that come into
his mind and comfort him as he walks. His heart tells him that he has
left all for God and Heaven. His belief and his life agree together,
and he is humbly confident that his hopes are well-founded. When they
speak to him of Salvation by Faith and Conviction by Sin, he cannot
understand what they mean. As he leaves them they are reminded of one
Temporary, 'once a forward man in religion.' Temporary dwelt in
Graceless, 'a town two miles from Honesty, next door to one Turnback.'
He 'was going on pilgrimage, but became acquainted with one Save Self,
and was never more heard of.'

These figures all mean something. They correspond in part to Bunyan's
own recollection of his own trials. Partly he is indulging his humour
by describing others who were more astray than he was. It was over at
last: the pilgrims arrive at the land of Beulah, the beautiful sunset
after the storms were all past. Doubting Castle can be seen no more,
and between them and their last rest there remains only the deep river
over which there is no bridge, the river of Death. On the hill beyond
the waters glitter the towers and domes of the Celestial City; but
through the river they must first pass, and they find it deeper or
shallower according to the strength of their faith. They go through,
Hopeful feeling the bottom all along; Christian still in character,
not without some horror, and frightened by hobgoblins. On the other
side they are received by angels, and are carried to their final home,
to live for ever in the Prince's presence. Then follows the only
passage which the present writer reads with regret in this admirable
book. It is given to the self-righteous Ignorance who, doubtless, had
been provoking with 'his good motives that comforted him as he
walked;' but Bunyan's zeal might have been satisfied by inflicting a
lighter chastisement upon him. He comes up to the river. He crosses
without the difficulties which attended Christian and Hopeful. 'It
happened that there was then at the place one Vain Hope, a Ferryman,
that with his boat' (some viaticum or priestly absolution) 'helped him
over.' He ascends the hill, and approaches the city, but no angels are
in attendance, 'neither did any man meet him with the least
encouragement.' Above the gate there was the verse written--'Blessed
are they that do His commandments that they may have right to the Tree
of Life, and may enter in through the gate into the city.' Bunyan, who
believed that no man could keep the commandments, and had no right to
anything but damnation, must have introduced the words as if to mock
the unhappy wretch who, after all, had tried to keep the commandments
as well as most people, and was seeking admittance, with a conscience
moderately at ease. 'He was asked by the men that looked over the
gate--Whence come you and what would you have?' He answered, 'I have
eaten and drunk in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our
street.' Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go
in and show it to the king. So he fumbled in his bosom for one and
found none. Then said they, 'Have you none?' But the man answered
never a word. So they told the king but he would not come down to see
him, but commanded the two shining ones that conducted Christian and
Hopeful to the city to go out and take Ignorance and bind him hand and
foot, and have him away. Then they took him up and carried him through
the air to the door in the side of the hill, and put him in there.
'Then,' so Bunyan ends, 'I saw that there was a way to Hell even from
the gates of Heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction; so I
awoke, and behold it was a dream!'

Poor Ignorance! Hell--such a place as Bunyan imagined Hell to be--was
a hard fate for a miserable mortal who had failed to comprehend the
true conditions of justification. We are not told that he was a vain
boaster. He could not have advanced so near to the door of Heaven if
he had not been really a decent man, though vain and silly. Behold, it
was a dream! The dreams which come to us when sleep is deep on the
soul may be sent direct from some revealing power. When we are near
waking, the supernatural insight may be refracted through human

Charity will hope that the vision of Ignorance cast bound into the
mouth of Hell, when he was knocking at the gate of Heaven, came
through Homer's ivory gate, and that Bunyan here was a mistaken
interpreter of the spiritual tradition. The fierce inferences of
Puritan theology are no longer credible to us; yet nobler men than the
Puritans are not to be found in all English history. It will be well
if the clearer sight which enables us to detect their errors, enables
us also to recognise their excellence.

The second part of the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' like most second parts,
is but a feeble reverberation of the first. It is comforting, no
doubt, to know that Christian's wife and children were not left to
their fate in the City of Destruction. But Bunyan had given us all
that he had to tell about the journey, and we do not need a repetition
of it. Of course there, are touches of genius. No writing of Bunyan's
could be wholly without it. But the rough simplicity is gone, and
instead of it there is a tone of sentiment which is almost mawkish.
Giants, dragons, and angelic champions carry us into a spurious fairy
land, where the knight-errant is a preacher in disguise. Fair ladies
and love matches, however decorously chastened, suit ill with the
sternness of the mortal conflict between the soul and sin. Christiana
and her children are tolerated for the pilgrim's sake to whom they
belong. Had they appealed to our interest on their own merits, we
would have been contented to wish them well through their
difficulties, and to trouble ourselves no further about them.



Little remains to be told of Bunyan's concluding years. No friends
preserved his letters. No diaries of his own survive to gratify
curiosity. Men truly eminent think too meanly of themselves or their
work to care much to be personally remembered. He lived for sixteen
years after his release from the gaol, and those years were spent in
the peaceful discharge of his congregational duties, in writing, in
visiting the scattered members of the Baptist communion, or in
preaching in the villages and woods. His outward circumstances were
easy. He had a small but well-provided house in Bedford, into which he
collected rare and valuable pieces of old furniture and plate, and
other articles--presents, probably, from those who admired him. He
visited London annually to preach in the Baptist churches. The
'Pilgrim's Progress' spread his fame over England, over Europe, and
over the American settlements. It was translated into many languages;
and so catholic was its spirit, that it was adapted with a few
alterations for the use even of the Catholics themselves. He
abstained, as he had done steadily throughout his life, from all
interference with politics, and the Government in turn never again
meddled with him. He even received offers of promotion to larger
spheres of action which might have tempted a meaner nature. But he
could never be induced to leave Bedford, and there he quietly stayed
through changes of ministry, Popish plots, and Monmouth rebellions,
while the terror of a restoration of Popery was bringing on the
Revolution; careless of kings and cabinets, and confident that Giant
Pope had lost his power for harm, and thenceforward could only bite
his nails at the passing pilgrims. Once only, after the failure of the
Exclusion Bill, he seems to have feared that violent measures might
again be tried against him. It is even said that he was threatened
with arrest, and it was on this occasion that he made over his
property to his wife. The policy of James II., however, transparently
treacherous though it was, for the time gave security to the
Nonconformist congregations, and in the years which immediately
preceded the final expulsion of the Stuarts, liberty of conscience was
under fewer restrictions than it had been in the most rigorous days of
the Reformation, or under the Long Parliament itself. Thus the anxiety
passed away, and Bunyan was left undisturbed to finish his earthly

He was happy in his family. His blind child, for whom he had been so
touchingly anxious, had died while he was in prison. His other
children lived and did well; and his brave companion, who had spoken
so stoutly for him to the judges, continued at his side. His health,
it was said, had suffered from his confinement; but the only serious
illness which we hear of, was an attack of 'sweating sickness,' which
came upon him in 1687, and from which he never thoroughly recovered.
He was then fifty-nine, and in the next year he died.

His end was characteristic. It was brought on by exposure when he was
engaged in an act of charity. A quarrel had broken out in a family at
Reading with which Bunyan had some acquaintance. A father had taken
offence at his son, and threatened to disinherit him. Bunyan undertook
a journey on horseback from Bedford to Reading in the hope of
reconciling them. He succeeded, but at the cost of his life. Returning
by London he was overtaken on the road by a storm of rain, and was
wetted through before he could find shelter. The chill, falling on a
constitution already weakened by illness, brought on fever. He was
able to reach the house of Mr. Strudwick, one of his London friends;
but he never left his bed afterwards. In ten days he was dead. The
exact date is uncertain. It was towards the end of August 1688,
between two and three months before the landing of King William. He
was buried in Mr. Strudwick's vault in the Dissenters' burying-ground
at Bunhill Fields. His last words were 'Take me, for I come to Thee.'

So ended, at the age of sixty, a man who, if his importance may be
measured by the influence which he has exerted over succeeding
generations, must be counted among the most extraordinary persons whom
England has produced. It has been the fashion to dwell on the
disadvantages of his education, and to regret the carelessness of
nature which brought into existence a man of genius in a tinker's hut
at Elstow. Nature is less partial than she appears, and all situations
in life have their compensations along with them.

Circumstances, I should say, qualified Bunyan perfectly well for the
work which he had to do. If he had gone to school, as he said, with
Aristotle and Plato; if he had been broken in at a university and been
turned into a bishop; if he had been in any one of the learned
professions, he might easily have lost or might have never known the
secret of his powers. He was born to be the Poet-apostle of the
English middle classes, imperfectly educated like himself; and, being
one of themselves, he had the key of their thoughts and feelings in
his own heart. Like nine out of ten of his countrymen, he came into
the world with no fortune but his industry. He had to work with his
hands for his bread, and to advance by the side of his neighbours
along the road of common business. His knowledge was scanty, though of
rare quality. He knew his Bible probably by heart. He had studied
history in Foxe's 'Martyrs,' but nowhere else that we can trace. The
rest of his mental furniture was gathered at first hand from his
conscience, his life, and his occupations. Thus every idea which he
received falling into a soil naturally fertile, sprouted up fresh,
vigorous, and original. He confessed to have felt--(as a man of his
powers could hardly have failed to feel)--continued doubts about the
Bible and the reality of the Divine government. It has been well said
that when we look into the world to find the image of God, it is as if
we were to stand before a looking-glass expecting to see ourselves
reflected there, and to see nothing. Education scarcely improves our
perception in this respect; and wider information, wider acquaintance
with the thoughts of other men in other ages and countries, might as
easily have increased his difficulties as have assisted him in
overcoming them. He was not a man who could have contented himself
with compromises and half-convictions. No force could have subdued him
into a decent Anglican divine--a 'Mr. Two Tongues, parson of the
parish.' He was passionate and thorough-going. The authority of
conscience presented itself to him only in the shape of religious
obligation. Religion once shaken into a 'perhaps,' would have had no
existence to him; and it is easy to conceive a university-bred Bunyan,
an intellectual meteor, flaring uselessly across the sky and
disappearing in smoke and nothingness.

Powerful temperaments are necessarily intense. Bunyan, born a tinker,
had heard right and wrong preached to him in the name of the Christian
creed. He concluded after a struggle that Christianity was true, and
on that conviction he built himself up into what he was. It might have
been the same perhaps with Burns had he been born a century before.
Given Christianity as an unquestionably true account of the situation
and future prospects of man, the feature of it most appalling to the
imagination is that hell-fire--a torment exceeding the most horrible
which fancy can conceive, and extending into eternity--awaits the
enormous majority of the human race. The dreadful probability seized
hold on the young Bunyan's mind. He shuddered at it when awake. In the
visions of the night it came before him in the tremendous details of
the dreadful reality. It became the governing thought in his nature.

Such a belief, if it does not drive a man to madness, will at least
cure him of trifling. It will clear his mind of false sentiment, take
the nonsense out of him, and enable him to resist vulgar temptation as
nothing else will. The danger is that the mind may not bear the
strain, that the belief itself may crack and leave nothing. Bunyan was
hardly tried, but in him the belief did not crack. It spread over his
character. It filled him first with terror; then with a loathing of
sin, which entailed so awful a penalty; then, as his personal fears
were allayed by the recognition of Christ, it turned to tenderness
and pity.

There was no fanaticism in Bunyan; nothing harsh or savage. His
natural humour perhaps saved him. His few recorded sayings all refer
to the one central question; but healthy seriousness often best
expresses itself in playful quaintness. He was once going somewhere
disguised as a waggoner. He was overtaken by a constable who had a
warrant to arrest him. The constable asked him if he knew that devil
of a fellow Bunyan. 'Know him!' Bunyan said. 'You might call him a
devil if you knew him as well as I once did.'

A Cambridge student was trying to show him what a divine thing reason
was--'reason, the chief glory of man which distinguished him from a
beast,' &c., &c.

Bunyan growled out: 'Sin distinguishes man from beast. Is sin divine?'

He was extremely tolerant in his terms of Church membership. He
offended the stricter part of his congregation by refusing even to
make infant baptism a condition of exclusion. The only persons with
whom he declined to communicate were those whose lives were openly
immoral. His chief objection to the Church of England was the
admission of the ungodly to the Sacraments. He hated party titles and
quarrels upon trifles. He desired himself to be called a Christian or
a Believer, or 'any name which was approved by the Holy Ghost.'
Divisions, he said, were to Churches like wars to countries. Those who
talked most about religion cared least for it; and controversies about
doubtful things, and things of little moment, ate up all zeal for
things which were practicable and indisputable.

'In countenance,' wrote a friend, 'he appeared to be of a stern and
rough temper, but in his conversation mild and affable; not given to
loquacity or to much discourse in company unless some urgent occasion
required it; observing never to boast of himself or his parts, but
rather to seem low in his own eyes, and submit himself to the judgment
of others; abhorring lying and swearing, being just, in all that lay
in his power, to his word; not seeming to revenge injuries, loving to
reconcile differences and make friendships with all. He had a sharp
quick eye, with an excellent discerning of persons, being of good
judgment and quick wit.' 'He was tall of stature, strong boned, though
not corpulent, somewhat of a ruddy face, with sparkling eyes, wearing
his hair on his upper lip; his hair reddish, but in his later days
time had sprinkled it with grey; his nose well set, but not declining
or bending; his mouth moderate large, his forehead something high, and
his habit always plain and modest.'

He was himself indifferent to advancement, and he did not seek it for
his family. A London merchant offered to take his son into his house.
'God,' he said, 'did not send me to advance my family, but to preach
the Gospel.' He had no vanity--an exemption extremely rare in those
who are personally much before the public. The personal popularity was
in fact the part of his situation which he least liked. When he was to
preach in London, 'if there was but one day's notice the meeting house
was crowded to overflowing.' Twelve hundred people would be found
collected before seven o'clock on a dark winter's morning to hear a
lecture from him. In Zoar Street, Southwark, his church was sometimes
so crowded that he had to be lifted to the pulpit stairs over the
congregation's heads. It pleased him, but he was on the watch against
the pleasure of being himself admired. A friend complimented him once
after service, on 'the sweet sermon' which he had delivered. 'You need
not remind me of that,' he said. 'The Devil told me of it before I was
out of the pulpit.'

'Conviction of sin' has become a conventional phrase, shallow and
ineffective even in those who use it most sincerely. Yet moral evil is
still the cause of nine-tenths of the misery in the world, and it is
not easy to measure the value of a man who could prolong the conscious
sense of the deadly nature of it, even under the forms of a
decomposing theology. Times are changing. The intellectual current is
bearing us we know not where, and the course of the stream is in a
direction which leads us far from the conclusions in which Bunyan and
the Puritans established themselves; but the truths which are most
essential for us to know cannot be discerned by speculative arguments.
Chemistry cannot tell us why some food is wholesome and other food is
poisonous. That food is best for us which best nourishes the body into
health and strength; and a belief in a Supernatural Power which has
given us a law to live by and to which we are responsible for our
conduct, has alone, of all the influences known to us, succeeded in
ennobling and elevating the character of man. The particular theories
which men have formed about it have often been wild and extravagant.
Imagination, agitated by fear or stimulated by pious enthusiasm, has
peopled heaven with demigods and saints--creations of fancy, human
forms projected upon a mist and magnified into celestial images. How
much is true of all that men have believed in past times and have now
ceased to believe, how much has been a too eager dream, no one now can
tell. It may be that other foundations may be laid hereafter for human
conduct on which an edifice can be raised no less fair and beautiful;
but no signs of it are as yet apparent.

So far as we yet know, morality rests upon a sense of obligation; and
obligation has no meaning except as implying a Divine command, without
which it would cease to be. Until 'duty' can be presented to us in a
shape which will compel our recognition of it with equal or superior
force, the passing away of 'the conviction of sin' can operate only to
obscure our aspirations after a high ideal of life and character. The
scientific theory may be correct, and it is possible that we may be
standing on the verge of the most momentous intellectual revolution
which has been experienced in the history of our race. It may be so,
and also it may not be so. It may be that the most important factors
in the scientific equation are beyond the reach of human intellect.
However it be, the meat which gives strength to the man is poison to
the child; and as yet we are still children, and are likely to remain
children. 'Every relief from outward restraint,' says one who was not
given to superstition, 'if it be not attended with increased power of
self-command, is simply fatal.' Men of intelligence, therefore, to
whom life is not a theory, but a stern fact, conditioned round with
endless possibilities of wrong and suffering, though they may never
again adopt the letter of Bunyan's creed, will continue to see in
conscience an authority for which culture is no substitute; they will
conclude that in one form or other responsibility is not a fiction but
a truth; and, so long as this conviction lasts, the 'Pilgrim's
Progress' will still be dear to all men of all creeds who share in it,
even though it pleases the 'elect' modern philosophers to describe its
author as a 'Philistine of genius.'

       *       *       *       *       *

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MILTON. By MARK PATTISON. Crown 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._

     'The writer knows the times and the man, and of both he has
     written with singular force and discrimination.'--SPECTATOR.

HAWTHORNE. By HENRY JAMES. Crown 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._

SOUTHEY. By Professor DOWDEN. Crown 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._

BUNYAN. By JAMES A. FROUDE. Crown 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._

CHAUCER. By Professor A.W. WARD. Crown 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._

       *       *       *       *       *




BYRON. By Professor NICHOL.

COWPER. By GOLDWIN SMITH.               [_Shortly._


BENTLEY. By Professor R.C. JEBB.


POPE. By LESLIE STEPHEN.                [_Shortly._

_Others will follow._


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