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Title: Works of John Bunyan — Complete
Author: Bunyan, John
Language: English
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www.johnbunyan.org.



THE WORKS OF JOHN BUNYAN

WITH AN

INTRODUCTION TO EACH TREATISE, NOTES,

AND A

SKETCH OF HIS LIFE, TIMES, AND CONTEMPORARIES.

VOLUME FIRST.

EXPERIMENTAL, DOCTRINAL, AND PRACTICAL.

EDITED BY

GEORGE OFFOR, ESQ.



MEMOIR OF JOHN BUNYAN

THE FIRST PERIOD.

THIS GREAT MAN DESCENDED FROM IGNOBLE PARENTS--BORN IN POVERTY--HIS
EDUCATION AND EVIL HABITS--FOLLOWS HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS AS A
BRAZIER--ENLISTS FOR A SOLDIER--RETURNS FROM THE WARS AND OBTAINS
AN AMIABLE, RELIGIOUS WIFE--HER DOWER.

'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of
the power may be of God, and not of us.'--2 Cor 4:7

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my
ways, saith the Lord.'--Isaiah 55:8.

'Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the
wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow
gold.'--Psalm 68:13.

When the Philistine giant, Goliath, mocked the host of Israel,
and challenged any of their stern warriors to single combat, what
human being could have imagined that the gigantic heathen would be
successfully met in the mortal struggle by a youth 'ruddy and of
a fair countenance?' who unarmed, except with a sling and a stone,
gave the carcases of the hosts of the Philistines to the fouls of
the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth.'

Who, upon seeing an infant born in a stable, and laid in a manger,
or beholding him when a youth working with his father as a carpenter,
could have conceived that he was the manifestation of the Deity
in human form, before whom every knee should bow, and every tongue
confess Him to be THE ETERNAL?

Father Michael, a Franciscan friar, on a journey to Ancona,
having lost his way, sought direction from a wretched lad keeping
hogs--deserted, forlorn, his back smarting with severe stripes,
and his eyes suffused with tears. The poor ragged boy not only went
cheerfully with him to point out his road, but besought the monk
to take him into his convent, volunteering to fulfill the most
degrading services, in the hope of procuring a little learning,
and escaping from 'those filthy hogs.' How incredulously would the
friar have listened to anyone who could have suggested that this
desolate, tattered, dirty boy, might and would fill a greater than
an imperial throne! Yet, eventually that swine-herd was clothed
in purple and fine linen, and, under the title of Pope Sixtus V.,
became one of those mighty magicians who are described in Rogers
Italy, as


   'Setting their feet upon the necks of kings,
    And through the worlds subduing, chaining down
    The free, immortal spirit--theirs a wondrous spell.' [1]


A woman that was 'a loose and ungodly wretch' hearing a tinker lad
most awfully cursing and swearing, protested to him that 'he swore
and cursed at that most fearful rate that it made her tremble to
hear him,' 'that he was the ungodliest fellow for swearing that
ever she heard in all her life,' and 'that he was able to spoil
all the youth in a whole town, if they came in his company.' This
blow at the young reprobate made that indelible impression which all
the sermons yet he had heard had failed to make. Satan, by one of
his own slaves, wounded a conscience which had resisted all the
overtures of mercy. The youth pondered her words in his heart;
they were good seed strangely sown, and their working formed one
of those mysterious steps which led the foul-mouthed blasphemer
to bitter repentance; who, when he had received mercy and pardon,
felt impelled to bless and magnify the Divine grace with shining,
burning thoughts and words. The poor profligate, swearing tinker
became transformed into the most ardent preacher of the love of
Christ--the well-trained author of The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, or
Good News to the Vilest of Men.

How often have the Saints of God been made a most unexpected blessing
to others. The good seed of Divine truth has been many times sown
by those who did not go out to sow, but who were profitably engaged
in cultivating their own graces, enjoying the communion of Saints,
and advancing their own personal happiness! Think of a few poor,
but pious happy women, sitting in the sun one beautiful summer's
day, before one of their cottages, probably each one with her
pillow on her lap, dexterously twisting the bobbins to make lace,
the profits of which helped to maintain their children. While
they are communing on the things of God, a traveling tinker draws
near, and, over-hearing their talk, takes up a position where
he might listen to their converse while he pursued his avocation.
Their words distil into his soul; they speak the language of Canaan;
they talk of holy enjoyments, the result of being born again,
acknowledging their miserable state by nature, and how freely and
undeservedly God had visited their hearts with pardoning mercy,
and supported them while suffering the assaults and suggestions
of Satan; how they had been borne up in every dark, cloudy, stormy
day; and how they contemned, slighted, and abhorred their own
righteousness as filthy and insufficient to do them any good. The
learned discourses our tinker had heard at church had casually
passed over his mind like evanescent clouds, and left little or no
lasting impression. But these poor women, 'methought they spake as
actually did make them speak; they speak with such pleasant as of
Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they
said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world, as
if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned
among their neighbors' (Num 23:9).

O! how little did they imagine that their pious converse was to
be the means employed by the Holy Spirit in the conversion of that
poor tinker, and that, by their agency, he was to be transformed
into one of the brightest luminaries of heaven; who, when he had
entered into rest would leave his works to follow him as spiritual
thunder to pierce the hearts of the impenitent, and as heavenly
consolation to bind up the broken-hearted; liberating the prisoners
of Giant Despair, and directing the pilgrims to the Celestial City.
Thus were blessings in rich abundance showered down upon the church
by the instrumentality, in the first instance, of a woman that was
a sinner, but most eminently by the Christian converse of a few
poor but pious women.

This poverty-stricken, ragged tinker was the son of a working
mechanic at Elstow, near Bedford. So obscure was his origin that
even the Christian name of his father is yet unknown:[2] he was
born in 1628, a year memorable as that in which the Bill of Rights
was passed. Then began the struggle against arbitrary power, which
was overthrown in 1688, the year of Bunyan's death, by the accession
of William III. Of Bunyan's parents, his infancy, and childhood,
little is recorded. All that we know is from his own account, and
that principally contained in his doctrine of the Law and Grace,
and in his extraordinary development of his spiritual life, under
the title of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. His birth would
have shed a luster on the wealthiest mansion, and have imparted
additional grandeur to any lordly palace. Had royal or noble
gossips, and a splendid entertainment attended his christening,
it might have been pointed to with pride; but so obscure was his
birth, that it has not been discovered that he was christened at
all; while the fact of his new birth by the Holy Ghost is known
over the whole world to the vast extent that his writings have
been circulated. He entered this world in a labourer's cottage of
the humblest class, at the village of Elstow, about a mile from
Bedford.[3] His pedigree is thus narrated by himself:--'My descent
was of a low and inconsiderable generation, my father's house being
of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families
in the land.'[4] Bunyan alludes to this very pointedly in the preface
to A Few Sighs from Hell:--'I am thine, if thou be not ashamed to
own me, because of my low and contemptible descent in the world.'[5]
His poor and abject parentage was so notorious, that his pastor,
John Burton, apologized for it in his recommendation to The Gospel
Truths Opened:--'Be not offended because Christ holds forth the
glorious treasure of the gospel to thee in a poor earthen vessel,
by one who hath neither the greatness nor the wisdom of this world
to commend him to thee.'[6] And in his most admirable treatise, on
The Fear of God, Bunyan observes--'The poor Christian hath something
to answer them that reproach him for his ignoble pedigree, and
shortness of the glory of the wisdom of this world. True may that
man say I am taken out of the dunghill. I was born in a base and
low estate; but I fear God. This is the highest and most noble; he
hath the honour, the life, and glory that is lasting.'[7] In his
controversy with the Strict Baptists, he chides them for reviling
his ignoble pedigree:--'You closely disdain my person because of
my low descent among men, stigmatizing me as a person of THAT rank
that need not be heeded or attended unto.'[8] He inquired of his
father--'Whether we were of the Israelites or no? for, finding in
the Scripture that they were once the peculiar people of God, thought
I, if I were one of this race, my soul must needs be happy.'[9]
This somewhat justifies the conclusion that his father was a Gipsy
tinker, that occupation being then followed by the Gipsy tribe.
In the life of Bunyan appended to the forged third part of the
Pilgrim's Progress, his father is described as 'an honest poor
labouring man, who, like Adam unparadised, had all the world before
him to get his bread in; and was very careful and industrious to
maintain his family.'[10]

Happily for Bunyan, he was born in a neighbourhood in which it was
a disgrace to any parents not to have their children educated. With
gratitude he records, that 'it pleased God to put it into their
hearts to put me to school to learn both to read and to write.' In
the neighbourhood of his birthplace, a noble charity diffused the
blessings of lettered knowledge.[11] To this charity Bunyan was
for a short period indebted for the rudiments of education; but,
alas, evil associates made awful havoc of those slight unshapen
literary impressions which had been made upon a mind boisterous
and impatient of discipline. He says--'To my shame, I confess I
did soon lose that little I learned, and that almost utterly.'[12]
This fact will recur to the reader's recollection when he peruses
Israel's Hope Encouraged, in which, speaking of the all-important
doctrine of justification, he says--'It is with many that begin
with this doctrine as it is with boys that go to the Latin school;
they learn till they have learned the grounds of their grammar,
and then go home and forget all.'[13]

As soon as his strength enabled him, he devoted his whole soul and
body to licentiousness--'As for my own natural life, for the time
that I was without God in the world, it was indeed according to
the course of this world, and the spirit that now worketh in the
children of disobedience. It was my delight to be taken captive by
the devil at his will: being filled with all unrighteousness; that
from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, swearing,
lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God.'[14]

It has been supposed, that in delineating the early career of
Badman, 'Bunyan drew the picture of his own boyhood.'[15] But the
difference is broadly given. Badman is the child of pious parents,
who gave him a 'good education' in every sense, both moral and
secular;[16] the very reverse of Bunyan's training. His associates
would enable him to draw the awful character and conduct of Badman,
as a terrible example to deter others from the downward road to
misery and perdition.

Bunyan's parents do not appear to have checked, or attempted to
counteract, his unbridled career of wickedness. He gives no hint
of the kind; but when he notices his wife's father, he adds that he
'was counted godly'; and in his beautiful nonsectarian catechism,
there is a very touching conclusion to his instructions to children
on their behaviour to their parents:--'The Lord, if it be his will,
convert our poor parents, that they, with us, may be the children
of God.'[17] These fervent expressions may refer to his own parents;
and, connecting them with other evidence, it appears that he was
not blessed with pious example. Upon one occasion, when severely
reproved for swearing, he says--'I wished, with all my heart, that
I might be a little child again, that my father might learn me to
speak without this wicked way of swearing.'[18] In his numerous
confessions, he never expresses pain at having, by his vicious
conduct, occasioned grief to his father or mother. From this
it may be inferred, that neither his father's example nor precept
had checked this wretched propensity to swearing, and that he owed
nothing to his parents for moral training; but, on the contrary,
they had connived at, and encouraged him in, a course of life which
made him a curse to the neighbourhood in which he lived.

In the midst of all this violent depravity, the Holy Spirit began
the work of regeneration in his soul--a long, a solemn, yea, an
awful work--which was to fit this poor debauched youth for purity
of conduct--for communion with heaven--for wondrous usefulness as
a minister of the gospel--for patient endurance of sufferings for
righteousness' sake--for the writing of works which promise to be
a blessing to the Church in all ages--for his support during his
passage through the black river which has no bridge--to shine all
bright and glorious, as a star in the firmament of heaven. 'Wonders
of grace to God belong.'

During the period of his open profligacy, his conscience was ill
at ease; at times the clanking of Satan's slavish chains in which
he was hurrying to destruction, distracted him. The stern reality
of a future state clouded and embittered many of those moments
employed in gratifying his baser passions. The face of the eventful
times in which he lived was rapidly changing; the trammels were
loosened, which, with atrocious penalties, had fettered all free
inquiry into religious truth. Puritanism began to walk upright; and
as the restraints imposed upon Divine truths were taken off, in the
same proportion restraints were imposed upon impiety, profaneness,
and debauchery. A ringleader in all wickedness would not long
continue without reproof, either personally, or as seen in the holy
conduct of others. Bunyan very properly attributed to a gracious
God, those checks of conscience which he so strongly felt even while
he was apparently dead in trespasses and sins. 'The Lord, even in
my childhood, did scare and affright me with fearful dreams, and did
terrify me with dreadful visions.'[19] 'I often wished that there
had been no hell, or that I had been a devil to torment others.'
A common childish but demoniac idea. His mind was as 'the troubled
sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.'
'A while after, these terrible dreams did leave me; and with more
greediness, according to the strength of nature, I did let loose
the reins of my lusts, and delighted in all transgression against
the law of God.' 'I was the very ringleader of all the youth that
kept me company, into ALL MANNER of vice and ungodliness.'[20]

Dr. Southey and others have attempted to whiten this blackamore, but
the veil that they throw over him is so transparent that it cannot
deceive those who are in the least degree spiritually enlightened.
He alleges that Bunyan, in his mad career of vice and folly, 'was
never so given over to a reprobate mind,'[21] as to be wholly
free from compunctions of conscience. This is the case with every
depraved character; but he goes further, when he asserts that
'Bunyan's heart never was hardened.'[22] This is directly opposed
to his description of himself:--'I found within me a great desire
to take my fill of sin, still studying what sin was yet to be
committed; and I made as much haste as I could to fill my belly
with its delicates, lest I should die before I had my desire.' He
thus solemnly adds, 'In these things, I protest before God, I lie
not, neither do I feign this sort of speech; these were really,
strongly, and with all my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose
mercy is unsearchable, forgive me my transgressions.' The whole
of his career, from childhood to manhood, was, 'According to the
course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the
air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience'
(Eph 2:2).

These reminiscences are alluded to in the prologue of the Holy
War:--


   'When Mansoul trampled upon things Divine,
    And wallowed in filth as doth a swine,
    Then I was there, and did rejoice to see
    Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.'


The Laureate had read this, and yet considers it the language of
a heart that 'never was hardened.' He says that 'the wickedness
of the tinker has been greatly overcharged, and it is taking the
language of self-accusation too literally to pronounce of John
Bunyan, that he was at any time depraved. The worst of what he was
in his worst days is to be expressed in a single word, the full
meaning of which no circumlocution can convey; and which, though
it may hardly be deemed presentable in serious composition, I shall
use, as Bunyan himself (no mealy-mouthed writer) would have used
it, had it in his days borne the same acceptation in which it is now
universally understood;--in that word then, he had been a blackguard.


    The very head and front of his offending
    Hath this extent--no more.'[23]


The meaning of the epithet is admirably explained; but what could
Dr. Southey imagine possible to render such a character more vile
in the sight of God, or a greater pest to society? Is there any
vicious propensity, the gratification of which is not included in
that character? Bunyan's estimate of his immorality and profaneness
prior to his conversion, was not made by comparing himself with
the infinitely Holy One, but he measured his conduct by that of
his more moral neighbours. In his Jerusalem Sinner Saved, he pleads
with great sinners, the outwardly and violently profane and vicious,
that if HE had received mercy, and had become regenerated, they
surely ought not to despair, but to seek earnestly for the same
grace. He thus describes himself:--'I speak by experience; I was
one of those great sin-breeders; I infected all the youth of the
town where I was born; the neighbours counted me so, my practice
proved me so: wherefore, Christ Jesus took me first; and, taking
me first, the contagion was much allayed all the town over. When
God made me sigh, they would hearken, and inquiringly say, What's
the matter with John? When I went out to seek the bread of life,
some of them would follow, and the rest be put into a muse at home.
Some of them, perceiving that God had mercy upon me, came crying to
him for mercy too.'[24] Can any one, in the face of such language,
doubt that he was most eminently 'a brand snatched from the fire';
a pitchy burning brand, known and seen as such by all who witnessed
his conduct? He pointedly exemplified the character set forth by
James, 'the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, set on fire of
hell' (James 3:6). This was as publicly known before his conversion,
as the effects of the wondrous change were openly seen in his
Christian career afterwards. He who, when convinced of sin, strained
his eyes to see the distant shining light over the wicket-gate,
after he had gazed upon


      --'The wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,'


became a luminous beacon, to attract the vilest characters to seek
newness of life; and if there be hope for them, no one ought to
despair. Far be it from us to cloud this light, or to tarnish so
conspicuous an example. Like a Magdalene or a thief on the cross,
his case may be exhibited to encourage hope in every returning
prodigal. During this period of his childhood, while striving to
harden his heart against God, many were the glimmerings of light
which from time to time directed his unwilling eyes to a dread
eternity. In the still hours of the night 'in a dream God opened'
his ears[25]--the dreadful vision was that 'devils and wicked
spirits laboured to draw me away with them.' These thoughts must
have left a deep and alarming impression upon his mind; for he
adds, 'of which I could never be rid.'[26]

The author of his life, published in 1692, who was one of his
personal friends, gives the following account of Bunyan's profligacy,
and his checks of conscience:--'He himself hath often, since his
conversion, confessed with horror, that when he was but a child or
stripling, he had but few equals for lying, swearing, and blaspheming
God's holy name--living without God in the world; the thoughts of
which, when he, by the light of Divine grace, came to understand his
dangerous condition, drew many showers of tears from his sorrowful
eyes, and sighs from his groaning heart. The first thing that
sensibly touched him in this his unregenerate state, were fearful
dreams, and visions of the night, which often made him cry out in
his sleep, and alarm the house, as if somebody was about to murder
him, and being waked, he would start, and stare about him with
such a wildness, as if some real apparition had yet remained;
and generally those dreams were about evil spirits, in monstrous
shapes and forms, that presented themselves to him in threatening
postures, as if they would have taken him away, or torn him in
pieces. At some times they seemed to belch flame, at other times
a continuous smoke, with horrible noises and roaring. Once he
dreamed he saw the face of the heavens, as it were, all on fire;
the firmament crackling and shivering with the noise of mighty
thunders, 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, with uplifted
hands towards heaven, cried, O Lord God, have mercy upon me! What
shall I do, the day of judgment is come, and I am not prepared! When
immediately he heard a voice behind him, exceeding loud, saying,
Repent. At another time he dreamed that he was in a pleasant
place, jovial and rioting, banqueting and feasting his senses, when
a mighty earthquake suddenly rent the earth, and made a wide gap,
out of which came bloody flames, and the figures of men tossed
up in globes of fire, and falling down again with horrible cries,
shrieks, and execrations, whilst some devils that were mingled
with them, laughed aloud at their torments; and whilst he stood
trembling at this sight, he thought the earth sunk under him, and
a circle of flame enclosed him; but when he fancied he was just at
the point to perish, one in white shining raiment descended, and
plucked him out of that dreadful place; whilst the devils cried
after him, to leave him with them, to take the just punishment his
sins had deserved, yet he escaped the danger, and leaped for joy
when he awoke and found it was a dream.'

Such dreams as these fitted him in after life to be the glorious
dreamer of the Pilgrim's Progress, in which a dream is told which
doubtless embodies some of those which terrified him in the night
visions of his youth.

In the interpreter's house he is 'led into a chamber where there
was one rising out of bed, and as he put on his raiment he shook
and trembled. Then said Christian, Why doth this man thus tremble?
The Interpreter then bid him tell to Christian the reason of his
so doing. So he began and said, 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 flaming fire; also the heavens were 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; and some sought to hide themselves under
the mountains. Then I saw the man that sat upon the cloud open the
book, and bid the world draw near. Yet there was, by reason of a
fierce flame which issued out and came from before him, a convenient
distance betwixt him and them, as betwixt the judge and prisoners
at the bar. I heard it also proclaimed, "Gather together the tares,
the chaff, and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake"; and
with that the bottomless pit opened just whereabout 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, "Gather my
wheat into the 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 sat 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. Upon that I awaked
from my sleep.'

No laboured composition could have produced such a dream as this.
It flows in such dream-like order as would lead us to infer, that
the author who narrates it had, when a boy, heard the twenty-fifth
chapter of Matthew read at church, and the solemn impression
following him at night assisted in producing a dream which stands,
and perhaps will ever stand, unrivalled.

Awful as must have been these impressions upon his imagination, they
were soon thrown off, and the mad youth rushed on in his desperate
career of vice and folly. Is he then left to fill up the measure
of his iniquities? No, the Lord has a great work for him to do.
HIS hand is not shortened that he cannot save. Bunyan has to be
prepared for his work; and if terrors will not stop him, manifested
mercies in judgments are to be tried.

'God did not utterly leave me, but followed me still, not now with
convictions, but judgments; yet such as were mixed with mercy. For
once I fell into a creek of the sea, and hardly escaped drowning.
Another time I fell out of a boat into Bedford river, but mercy
yet preserved me alive. Besides, another time, being in the field
with one of my companions, it chanced that an adder passed over
the highway, so I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over the
back; and having stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my stick,
and plucked her sting out with my fingers; by which act, had not
God been merciful unto me, I might by my desperateness have brought
myself to my end.

'This also have I taken notice of, with thanksgiving. When I was a
soldier, I, with others, were 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, to which, when I had consented, he took
my place; and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was
shot into the head with a musket bullet, and died.'[27]

In addition to these mercies recorded by his own pen, one of his
friends asserts that he acknowledged his deep obligations to Divine
mercy for being saved when he fell into an exceeding deep pit, as
he was traveling in the dark; for having been preserved in sickness;
and also for providential goodness that such a sinner was sustained
with food and raiment, even to his own admiration.

Bunyan adds, 'Here were judgments and mercy, but neither of them
did awaken my soul to righteousness'; wherefore I sinned still,
and grew more and more rebellious against God, and careless of mine
own salvation.'[28]

That such a scape-grace should enter the army can occasion no surprise.
His robust, hardy frame, used to exposure in all weathers--his
daring courage, as displayed in his perilous dealing with the
adder, bordering upon fool-hardiness--his mental depravity and
immoral habits, fitted him for all the military glory of rapine and
desolation. In his Grace Abounding he expressly states that this
took place before his marriage, while his earliest biographer places
this event some years after his marriage, and even argues upon
it, as a reason why he became a soldier, that 'when the unnatural
civil war came on, finding little or nothing to do to support
himself and small family, he, as many thousands did, betook himself
to arms.'[29] The same account states that, 'in June, 1645, being
at the siege of Leicester, he was called out to be one who was to
make a violent attack upon the town, vigorously defended by the
King's forces against the Parliamentarians, but appearing to the
officer who was to command them to be somewhat awkward in handling
his arms, another voluntarily, and as it were thrust himself into
his place, who, having the same post that was designed Mr. Bunyan,
met his fate by a carbine-shot from the wall; but this little or
nothing startled our too secure sinner at that time; for being now
in an army where wickedness abounded, he was the more hardened.'

Thus we find Bunyan engaged in military affairs. There can be no
doubt but that he was a soldier prior to his marriage, and that he
was present at the siege of Leicester; but it is somewhat strange
(if true) that he should have preferred the Parliamentary to the
Royal army. Although this is a question that cannot be positively
decided without further evidence than has yet been discovered,
there are strong reasons for thinking that so loyal a man joined
the Royal army, and not that of the Republicans.

The army into which Bunyan entered is described as being 'where
wickedness abounded,' but, according to Hume, in this year the
Republican troops were generally pious men.

Bunyan's loyalty was so remarkable as to appear to be natural to
him; for even after he had so severely suffered from the abuse of
kingly power, in interfering with the Divine prerogative of appointing
modes of worship, he, who feared the face of no man--who never
wrote a line to curry favour with any man or class of men--thus
expresses his loyal feelings--'I do confess myself one of the
old-fashioned professors, that covet to fear God, and honour the
king. I also am for blessing of 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 have had more peace in the practice of
these things than all the world are aware of.' 'Pray for the long
life of the king.' 'Pray that God would discover all plots and
conspiracies against his person and government.'[30] 'Will you rebel
against the king? is a word that shakes the world.'[31] 'Pray for
all that are in authority; reproach not the governor, he is set over
thee; all his ways are God's, either for thy help or the trial of
thy graces--this is duty, will render thee lovely to thy friends,
terrible to thine enemies, serviceable as a Christian.'[32]
'Let kings have that fear, honour, reverence, worship that is due
to their place, their office and dignity.' 'I speak it to show my
loyalty to the king, and my love to my fellow-subjects.'[33] With
such proofs of his peaceful submission to government in all things
that touched not the prerogatives of God; it would have been marvelous
indeed if he had taken up arms against his king. His infatuated
delight in swearing, and roisterous habits, were ill suited to the
religious restraints of the Parliamentarians, while they would render
him a high prize to Rupert's dragoons. Add to this, the remarkable
fact, that Leicester was besieged and stormed with terrible slaughter
by the king, but not by the army of the Parliament. The taking of
Leicester by the king in person was attended with great cruelties.
The abbey was burnt by the cavaliers. Rupert's black flag was
hoisted on the gate which had been treacherously given up. Every
Scotchman found in the town was murdered. The mace and town seals
were carried off as plunder; and, if the account given by Thoresby
in his History of Leicester is correct, the scene of carnage was
quite enough to sicken Bunyan of a military life. He knew the mode
in which plunder taken from the bodies of the slain was divided by
the conquerors:--


   'Or as the soldiers give unto
    Each man the share and lot,
    Which they by dint of sword have won,
    From their most daring foe;
    While he lies by as still as stone,
    Not knowing what they do.'[34]


'The king's forces having made their batteries, stormed Leicester;
those within made stout resistance, but some of them betrayed
one of the gates; the women of the town laboured in making up the
breaches, and in great danger. The king's forces having entered
the town, had a hot encounter in the market-place; and many of them
were slain by shot out of the windows, that they gave no quarter,
but hanged some of the committee, and cut others to pieces. Some
letters say that the kennels ran down with blood; Colonel Gray the
governor, and Captain Hacker, were wounded and taken prisoners,
and very many of the garrison were put to the sword, and the town
miserably plundered. The king's forces killed divers who prayed
quarter, and put divers women to the sword,[35] and other women
and children they turned naked into the streets, and many they
ravished. They hanged Mr. Reynor and Mr. Sawyer in cold blood; and
at Wighton they smothered Mrs. Barlowes, a minister's wife, and
her children.'[36]

Lord Clarendon admits the rapine and plunder, and that the king
regretted that some of his friends suffered with the rest.[37]
Humphrey Brown deposed that he was present when the garrison, having
surrendered upon a promise of quarter, he saw the king's soldiers
strip and wound the prisoners, and heard the king say--'cut them
more, for they are mine enemies.' A national collection was made
for the sufferers, by an ordinance bearing date the 28th October,
1645, which states that--'Whereas it is very well known what miseries
befell the inhabitants of the town and county of Leicester, when
the king's army took Leicester, by plundering the said inhabitants,
not only of their wares in their shops, but also all their household
goods, and their apparel from their backs, both of men, women,
and children, not sparing, in that kind, infants in their cradles;
and, by violent courses and tortures, compelled them to discover
whatsoever they had concealed or hid, and after all they imprisoned
their persons, to the undoing of the tradesmen, and the ruin of
many of the country.'

Can we wonder that 'the king was abused as a barbarian and a
murderer, for having put numbers to death in cold blood after the
garrison had surrendered; and for hanging the Parliament's committee,
and some Scots found in that town?' The cruelties practiced in the
king's presence were signally punished. He lost 709 men on that
occasion, and it infused new vigour into the Parliament's army. The
battle of Naseby was fought a few days after; the numbers of the
contending forces were nearly equal; the royal troops were veterans,
commanded by experienced officers; but the God of armies avenged
the innocent blood shed in Leicester, and the royal army was cut to
pieces; carriages, cannon, the king's cabinet, full of treasonable
correspondence, were taken, and from that day he made feeble fight,
and soon lost his crown and his life. The conquerors marched to
Leicester, which surrendered by capitulation. Heath, in his Chronicle,
asserts that 'no life was lost at the retaking of Leicester.' Many
of Bunyan's sayings and proverbs are strongly tinged with the spirit
of Rupert's dragoons--'as we say, blood up to the ears.'[38] 'What
can be the meaning of this (trumpeters), they neither sound boot
and saddle, nor horse and away, nor a charge?'[39] In his allegories
when he alludes to fighting, it is with the sword and not with the
musket;[40] 'rub up man, put on thy harness.'[41] 'The father's
sword in the hand of the sucking child is not able to conquer a
foe.'[42]

Considering his singular loyalty, which, during the French
Revolution, was exhibited as a pattern to Dissenters by an eminent
Baptist minister; [43] considering also his profligate character
and military sayings, it is very probable that Bunyan was in the
king's army in 1645, being about seventeen years of age. It was a
finishing school to the hardened sinner, which enabled him, in his
account of the Holy War, so well to describe every filthy lane and
dirty street in the town of Mansoul.

Whether Bunyan left the army when Charles was routed at the battle
of Naseby, or was discharged, is not known. He returned to his
native town full of military ideas, which he used to advantage in
his Holy War. He was not reformed, but hardened in sin, and, although
at times alarmed with convictions of the danger of his soul, yet in
the end, the flesh pleading powerfully, it prevailed; and he made
a resolution to indulge himself in such carnal delights and pleasures
as he was accustomed to, or that fell in his way. 'His neglecting
his business, and following gaming and sports, to put melancholy
thoughts out of his mind, which he could not always do, had rendered
him very poor and despicable.'[44]

In this forlorn and miserable state, he was induced, by the persuasion
of friends, under the invisible guidance of God, to enter into the
marriage state. Such a youth, then only twenty years of age, would
naturally be expected to marry some young woman as hardened as
himself, but he made a very different choice. His earliest biographer
says, with singular simplicity, 'his poverty, and irregular course
of life, made it very difficult for him to get a wife suitable to
his inclination; and because none that were rich would yield to
his allurements, he found himself constrained to marry one without
any fortune, though very virtuous, loving, and conformably obedient
and obliging, being born of good, honest, godly parents, who had
instructed her, as well as they were able, in the ways of truth
and saving knowledge.'[45] The idea of his seeking a rich wife is
sufficiently droll; he must have been naturally a persuasive lover,
to have gained so good a helpmate. They were not troubled with
sending cards, cake, or gloves, nor with the ceremony of receiving
the visits of their friends in state; for he says, that 'This woman
and I came together as poor as poor might be, not having so much
household stuff as a dish or spoon betwixt us both.'[46] His wife
had two books, The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, and The Practice
of Piety; but what was of more importance than wealth or household
stuff, she had that seed sown in her heart which no thief could
steal.[47] She enticed and persuaded him to read those books. To
do this he by application 'again recovered his reading, which he
had almost lost.' His wife became an unspeakable blessing to him.
She presents a pattern to any woman, who, having neglected the
apostolic injunction not to be unequally yoked, finds herself under
the dominion of a swearing dare devil. It affords a lovely proof
of the insinuating benign favour of female influence. This was the
more surprising, as he says, 'the thoughts of religion were very
grievous to me,' and when 'books that concerned Christian piety
were read in my hearing, it was as it were a prison to me.' In spite
of all obstacles, his rugged heart was softened by her tenderness
and obedience, he 'keeping on the old course,'[48] she upon every
proper season teaching him how her father's piety secured his own
and his family's happiness. Here was no upbraiding, no snubbing,
no curtain lectures; all was affectionate, amiable mildness. At
first, he became occasionally alarmed for his soul's salvation;
then with the thought of having sinned away the day of grace, he
plunged again into sin with greediness; anon a faint hope of mercy
would fill him with fear and trembling. But this leads us to the
wondrous narrative of his new birth.

THE SECOND PERIOD.

THE INTERNAL CONFLICT, OR BUNYAN'S CONVICTIONS AND CONVERSION.

All nature is progressive; if an infant was suddenly to arrive at
manhood, how idiotic and dangerous he would be! A long training is
essential to fit the human being for the important duties of life;
and just so is it in the new birth to spiritual existence--first a
babe, then the young man; at length the full stature, and at last
the experienced Christian.

The narrative of Bunyan's progress in his conversion is, without
exception, the most astonishing of any that has been published. It
is well calculated to excite the profoundest investigation of the
Christian philosopher. Whence came those sudden suggestions, those
gloomy fears, those heavenly rays of joy? Much learning certainly
did not make him mad. The Christian dares not attribute his intense
feelings to a distempered brain. Whence came the invisible power
that struck Paul from his horse? Who was it that scared Job with
dreams, and terrified him with visions? What messenger of Satan
buffeted Paul? Who put 'a new song' into the mouth of David? We
have no space in this short memoir to attempt the drawing a line
between convictions of sin and the terrors of a distempered brain.
Bunyan's opinions upon this subject are deeply interesting, and
are fully developed in his Holy War. The capabilities of the soul
to entertain vast armies of thoughts, strong and feeble, represented
as men, women, and children, are so great as almost to perplex the
strongest understanding. All these multitudes of warriors are the
innumerable thoughts--the strife--in ONE soul. Upon such a subject
an interesting volume might be written. But we must fix our attention
upon the poor tinker who was the subject of this wondrous war.

The tender and wise efforts of Mrs. Bunyan to reclaim her husband, were
attended by the Divine blessing, and soon led to many resolutions,
on his part, to curb his sinful propensities and to promote an outward
reformation; his first effort was regularly to attend Divine worship.

He says, 'I fell in very eagerly with the religion of the times, to
wit, to go to church twice a-day, and that too with the foremost;
and there should very devoutly both say and sing as others did,
yet retaining my wicked life; but withal, I was so overrun with a
spirit of superstition, that I adored, and that 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 that were therein contained, and especially, the priest and
clerk most happy, and without doubt greatly blessed, because they
were the servants, as I then thought,[49] of God, and were principal
in the holy temple, to do his work therein. This conceit grew so
strong in little time upon my spirit, that had I but seen a priest,
though never so sordid and debauched in his life,[50] I should find
my spirit fall under him, reverence him, and knit unto him; yea,
I thought, for the love I did bear unto them, supposing they were
the ministers of God, I could have lain down at their feet, and
have been trampled upon by them; their name, their garb, and work
did so intoxicate and bewitch me.'

All this took place at the time when The Book of Common Prayer,
having been said to occasion 'manifold inconveniency,' was, by an
Act of Parliament, 'abolished,'[51] and by a subsequent Act[52]
prohibited, under severe penalties, from being publicly used.
The 'manifold inconveniences' to which the Act refers, arose from
differences of opinion as to the propriety of the form which had
been enforced, heightened by the enormous cruelties practiced upon
multitudes who refused to use it. Opposition to the English Liturgy
as more combined in Scotland, by a covenant entered into, June 20,
1580, by the king, lords, nobles, and people, against Popery; and
upon Archbishop Laud's attempt, in 1637, to impose the service-book
upon our northern neighbours, tumults and bloodshed ensued; until,
in 1643, a new and very solemn league and covenant was entered into,
which, in 1645, extended its influence to England, being subscribed
by thousands of our best citizens, with many of the nobility--'wherein
we all subscribe, and each with his own hands lifted up to the
Most High God, doe swear'; that being the mode of taking an oath,
instead of kissing the cover of a book, as is now practiced. To the
cruel and intemperate measures of Laud, and the zeal of Charles,
for priestly domination over conscience, may be justly attributed
the wars which desolated the country, while the solemn league and
covenant brought an overwhelming force to aid the Parliament in
redressing the grievances of the kingdom. During the Commonwealth
there was substituted, in place of the Common Prayer, A directory
for the Publique Worship of God, and the uniformity which was
enjoined in it was like that of the Presbyterians and Dissenters
of the present day. The people having assembled, and been exhorted
to reverence and humility, joined the preacher in prayer. He then
read portions of Scripture, with or without an exposition, as he
judged it necessary, but not so as to render the service tedious.
After singing a psalm, the minister prayed, leading the people
to mourn under a sense of sin, and to hunger and thirst after the
grace of God, in Jesus Christ; an outline or abstract is given of
the subject of public prayer, and similar instructions are given as
to the sermon or paraphrase. Immediately after the sermon, prayer
was again offered up, and after the outline that is given of this
devotional exercise, it is noted, 'And because the prayer which
Christ taught his disciples, is not only a pattern of prayer, but
itself a most comprehensive prayer, we recommend it also to be
used in the prayers of the Church.' This being ended, a psalm was
sung, and the minister dismissed the congregation with a solemn
blessing.[53] Some of the clergy continued the use of prayers,
contained in the liturgy, reciting, instead of reading them--a
course that was not objected to. This was the form of service which
struck Bunyan with such awe and reverence, leaving a very solemn
impression upon his mind, which the old form of common prayer had
never produced.

Bunyan was fond of athletic sports, bell-ringing, and dancing; and
in these he had indulged, so far as his worldly calling allowed.
Charles I, whether to promote Popery--to divert his subjects from
political grievances--or to punish the Puritans, had endeavoured
to drown their serious thoughts in a vortex of dissipation,
by re-publishing the Book of Sports, to be used on Sundays. That
'after Divine service our good people be not disturbed, letted, or
discouraged from dancing, either men or women; archery, leaping,
vaulting, or any other such harmless recreations; May games,
Whitsun-ales, Morris dances, May poles, and other sports.' But this
was not all, for every 'Puritan and Precisian was to be constrained
to conformity with these sports, or to leave their country.' The
same severe penalty was enforced upon every clergyman who refused to
read from his pulpit the Book of Sports, and to persuade the people
thus to desecrate the Lord's-day. 'Many hundred godly ministers
were suspended from their ministry, sequestered, driven from their
livings, excommunicated, prosecuted in the high commission court,
and forced to leave the kingdom for not publishing this declaration.'[54]
A little gleam of heavenly light falls upon those dark and gloomy
times, from the melancholy fact that nearly eight hundred conscientious
clergymen were thus wickedly persecuted. This was one of the works
of Laud, who out-bonnered Bonner himself in his dreadful career
of cruelty, while making havoc of the church of Christ. Even
transportation for refusing obedience to such diabolical laws was
not the greatest penalty; in some cases it was followed by the death
of the offender. The punishments inflicted for nonconformity were
accompanied by the most refined and barbarous cruelties. Still many
of the learned bowed their necks to this yoke with abject servility:
thus, Robert Powell, speaking of the Book of Sports, says, 'Needless
is it to argue or dispute for that which authority hath commanded,
and most insufferable insolence to speak or write against it.'[55]
These Sunday sports, published by Charles I, in 1633, had doubtless
aided in fostering Bunyan's bad conduct in his youthful days.
In 1644, when The Book of Common Prayer was abolished, an Act was
passed for the better observance of the Lord's-day; all persons
were prohibited on that day to use any wrestlings, shooting, bowing,
ringing of bells for pastime, masques, wakes, church-ales, dancing,
game, sports or pastime whatever; and that 'the Book of Sports
shall be seized, and publicly burnt.' During the civil war this
Act does not appear to have been strictly enforced; for, four years
after it was passed, we find Bunyan and his dissolute companions
worshipping the priest, clerk, and vestments on the Sunday morning,
and assembling for their Sabbath-breaking sports in the afternoon.
It was upon one of these occasions that a most extraordinary
impression was fixed upon the spirit of Bunyan. A remarkable scene
took place, worthy the pencil of the most eminent artist. This
event cannot be better described than in his own words:--

'One day, amongst all the sermons our parson made, his subject
was, to treat of the Sabbath-day, and of the evil of breaking that,
either with labour, sports, or otherwise; now I was, notwithstanding
my religion, one that took much delight in all manner of vice, and
especially that was the day that I did solace myself therewith;
wherefore I fell in my conscience under his sermons, thinking and
believing that he made that sermon on purpose to show me my evil
doing. And at that time I felt what guilt was, though never before,
that I can remember; but then I was, for the present, greatly
loaden therewith, and so went home, when the sermon was ended, with
a great burthen upon my spirit.

'This, for that instant, did benumb the sinews of my best delights,
and did imbitter my former pleasures to me; but behold it lasted
not for before I had well dined, the trouble began to go off my
mind, and my heart returned to its old course. But O! how glad was
I, that this trouble was gone from me, and that the fire was put
out, that I might sin again without control! Wherefore, when I had
satisfied nature with my food, I shook the sermon out of my mind,
and to my old custom of sports and gaming I returned with great
delight.

'But the same day, as I was in the midst of a game at cat, and
having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to
strike it the second time, a voice did suddenly dart from heaven
into my soul, which said, "Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to
heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?" At this I was put to an
exceeding maze; wherefore leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked
up to heaven, and was as if I had, with the eyes of my understanding,
seen the Lord Jesus looking down upon me, as being very hotly
displeased with me, and as if he did severely threaten me with some
grievous punishment for these and other my ungodly practices.

'I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but, suddenly, this
conclusion was fastened on my spirit, for the former hint did set
my sins again before my face, that I had been a great and grievous
sinner, and that it was now too late for me to look after heaven;
for Christ would not forgive me, nor pardon my transgressions. Then
I fell to musing upon this also; and while I was thinking on it,
and fearing lest it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair,
concluding it was too late; and therefore I resolved in my mind I
would go on in sin: for, thought I, if the case be thus, my state
is surely miserable; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable
if I follow them; I can but be damned, and if I must be so, I had
as good be damned for many sins, as be damned for few.

'Thus I stood in the midst of my play, before all that then were
present: but yet I told them nothing. But I say, I having made this
conclusion, I returned desperately to my sport again; and I well
remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my
soul, that I was persuaded I could never attain to other comfort
than what I should get in sin; for heaven was gone already; so that
on that I must not think.'[56]

How difficult is it, when immorality has been encouraged by royal
authority, to turn the tide or to stem the torrent. For at least
four years, an Act of Parliament had prohibited these Sunday
sports. Still the supinelness of the justices, and the connivance
of the clergy, allowed the rabble youth to congregate on the Green
at Elstow, summoned by the church bells to celebrate their sports
and pastimes, as they had been in the habit of doing on the Lord's
day.[57]

This solemn warning, received in the midst of his sport, was one
of a series of convictions, by which he hardened sinner was to
be fitted to receive the messages of mercy and love. In the midst
of his companions and of the spectators, Bunyan was struck with a
sense of guilt. How rapid were his thoughts--'Wilt thou leave thy
sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?' With the
eye of his understanding he saw the Lord Jesus as 'hotly displeased.'
The tempter suggests it is 'too, too late' to seek for pardon,
and with a desperate resolution which must have cost his heart the
severest pangs, he continued his game. Still the impression remained
indelibly fixed upon his mind.

The next blow which fell upon his hardened spirit was still more
deeply felt, because it was given by one from whom he could the
least have expected it. He was standing at a neighbour's shop-window,
'belching out oaths like the madman that Solomon speaks of, who
scatters abroad firebrands, arrows, and death'[58] 'after his wonted
manner.' He exemplified the character drawn by the Psalmist. 'As
he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment: so let
it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.'
Here was a disease that set all human skill at defiance, but the
great, the Almighty Physician, cured it with strange physic. Had
any professor reproved him, it might have been passed by as a matter
of course; but it was so ordered that a woman who was notoriously
'a very loose and ungodly wretch,' protested that she trembled to
hear him swear and curse at that most fearful rate; that he was
the ungodliest fellow she had ever heard, and that he was able to
spoil all the youth in a whole town.[59] Public reproof from the
lips of such a woman was an arrow that pierced his inmost soul;
it effected a reformation marvelous to all his companions, and
bordering upon the miraculous. The walls of a fortified city were
once thrown down by a shout and the tiny blast of rams'-horns (Josh
6:20); and in this instance, the foundations of Heart Castle,
fortified by Satan, are shaken by the voice of one of his own
emissaries. Mortified and convicted, the foul-mouthed blasphemer
swore no more; an outward reformation in words and conduct took
place, but without inward spiritual life. Thus was he making vows
to God and breaking them, repenting and promising to do better next
time; so, to use his own homely phrase, he was 'feeding God with
chapters, and prayers, and promises, and vows, and a great many
more such dainty dishes, and thinks that he serveth God as well as
any man in England can, while he has only got into a cleaner way
to hell than the rest of his neighbours are in.'[60]

Such a conversion, as he himself calls it, was 'from prodigious
profaneness to something like moral life.'[61] 'Now I was, as they
said, become godly, and their words pleased me well, though as yet
I was nothing but a poor painted hypocrite.' These are hard words,
but, in the most important sense, they were true. He was pointed
out as a miracle of mercy--the great convert--a wonder to the world.
He could now suffer opprobrium and cavils--play with errors--entangle
himself and drink in flattery. No one can suppose that this outward
reform was put on hypocritically, as a disguise to attain some
sinister object; it was real, but it arose from a desire to shine
before his neighbours, from shame and from the fear of future
punishment, and not from that love to God which leads the Christian
to the fear of offending him. It did not arise from a change
of heart; the secret springs of action remained polluted; it was
outside show, and therefore he called himself a painted hypocrite.
He became less a despiser of religion, but more awfully a destroyer
of his own soul.

A new source of uneasiness now presented itself in his practice
of bell-ringing, an occupation requiring severe labour, usually
performed on the Lord's-day; and, judging from the general character
of bell-ringers, it has a most injurious effect, both with regard
to morals and religion. A circumstance had recently taken place
which was doubtless interpreted as an instance of Divine judgment
upon Sabbath-breaking. Clark, in his Looking-Glass for Saints
and Sinners, 1657, published the narrative:--'Not long since, in
Bedfordshire, a match at football being appointed on the Sabbath,
in the afternoon whilst two were in the belfry, tolling of a bell
to call the company together, there was suddenly heard a clap
of thunder, and a flash of lightning was seen by some that sat in
the church-porch coming through a dark lane, and flashing in their
faces, which must terrified them, and, passing through the porch
into the belfry, it tripped up his heels that was tolling the bell,
and struck him stark dead; and the other that was with him was so
sorely blasted therewith, that shortly after he died also.'[62] Thus
we find that the church bells ministered to the Book of Sports, to
call the company to Sabbath-breaking. The bell-ringers might come
within the same class as those upon whom the tower at Siloam fell,
still it was a most solemn warning, and accounts for the timidity
of so resolute a man as Bunyan. Although he thought it did not become
his newly-assumed religious character, yet his old propensity drew
him to the church tower. At first he ventured in, but took care to
stand under a main beam, lest the bell should fall and crush him;
afterwards he would stand in the door; then he feared the steeple might
fall; and the terrors of an untimely death, and his newly-acquired
garb of religion, eventually deterred him from this mode
of Sabbath-breaking. His next sacrifice made at the shrine of
self-righteousness was dancing: this took him one whole year to
accomplish, and then he bade farewell to these sports for the rest
of his life.[63] We are not to conclude from the example of a man
who in after-life proved so great and excellent a character, that,
under all circumstances, bell-ringing and dancing are immoral.
In those days, such sports and pastimes usually took place on the
Lord's-day; and however the Church of England might then sanction
it, and proclaim by royal authority, in all her churches, the
lawfulness of sports on that sacred day, yet it is now universally
admitted that it was commanding a desecration of the Sabbath, and
letting loose a flood of vice and profaneness. In themselves, on
days proper for recreation, such sports may be innocent; but if they
engender an unholy thought, or occupy time needed for self-examination
and devotion, they ought to be avoided as sinful hindrances to a
spiritual life.

Bunyan was now dressed in the garb of a religious professor, and had
become a brisk talker in the matters of religion, when, by Divine
mercy, he was stripped of all his good opinion of himself; his want
of holiness, and his unchanged heart, were revealed to his surprise
and wonder, by means simple and efficacious, but which no human
forethought could have devised. Being engaged in his trade at
Bedford, he overheard the conversation of some poor pious women,
and it humbled and alarmed him. 'I heard, but I understood not; for
they were far above, out of my reach. Their talk was about a new
birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced
of their miserable state by nature; how God had visited their souls
with his love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises
they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the
temptations of the devil. Moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions
and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other by
which they had been afflicted, and how they were borne up under his
assaults. hey also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart,
of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own
righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to do them any good. And
methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with
such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance
of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found
a new world; as if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not
to be reckoned among their neighbours (Num 23:9).

'At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my
condition to be nought; for I saw that in all my thoughts about
religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my
mind; neither knew I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the
deceitfulness and treachery of my own wicked heart. As for secret
thoughts, I took no notice of them; neither did I understand what
Satan's temptations were, nor how they were to be withstood, and
resisted.

'Thus, therefore, when I heard and considered what they said, I
left them, and went about my employment again, but their talk and
discourse went with me; also my heart would tarry with them, for
I was greatly affected with their words, both because by them I
was convinced that I wanted the true tokens of a truly godly man,
and also because by them I was convinced of the happy and blessed
condition of him that was such a one.'[64]

The brisk talker of 'talkative,' was confounded--he heard pious
godly women mourning over their worthlessness instead of vaunting
of their attainments. They exhibited, doubtless to his great surprise,
that self-distrust and humility are the beginnings of wisdom.

These humble disciples could have had no conception that the Holy
Spirit was blessing their Christian communion to the mind of the
tinker, standing near them, pursuing his occupation. The recollection
of the converse of these poor women led to solemn heart-searching
and the most painful anxiety; again and again he sought their
company, and his convictions became more deep, his solicitude more
intense. This was the commencement of an internal struggle, the
most remarkable of any upon record, excepting that of the psalmist
David.

It was the work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating and preparing
an ignorant and rebellious man for extraordinary submission to
the sacred Scriptures, and for most extensive usefulness. To those
who never experienced in any degree such feelings, they appear to
indicate religious insanity. It was so marvelous and so mysterious,
as to be mistaken by a poet laureate, who profanely calls it a
being 'shaken continually by the hot and cold fits of a spiritual
ague': 'reveries': or one of the 'frequent and contagious disorders
of the human mind,'[65] instead of considering it as wholesome but
bitter medicine for the soul, administered by the heavenly Physician.
At times he felt, like David, 'a sword in his bones,' 'tears his
meat.' God's waves and billows overwhelmed him (Psa 43). Then came
glimmerings of hope--precious promises saving him from despair--followed
by the shadow of death overspreading his soul, and involving him
in midnight darkness. He could complain in the bitterness of his
anguish, 'Thy fierce wrath goeth over me.' Bound in affliction and
iron, his 'soul was melted because of trouble.' 'Now Satan assaults
the soul with darkness, fears, frightful thoughts of apparitions;
now they sweat, pant, and struggle for life. The angels now come
(Psa 107) down to behold the sight, and rejoice to see a bit of
dust and ashes to overcome principalities, and powers, and might,
and dominion.'[66] His mind was fixed on eternity, and out of the
abundance of his heart he spoke to one of his former companions;
his language was that of reproof--'Harry, why do you swear and curse
thus? what will become of you if you die in this condition?'[67]
His sermon, probably the first he had preached, was like throwing
pearls before swine--'He answered in a great chafe, what would the
devil do for company, if it were not for such as I am.'[68]

By this time he had recovered the art of reading, and its use a
little perplexed him, for he became much puzzled with the opinions
of the Ranters, as set forth in their books. It is extremely
difficult to delineate their sentiments; they were despised by all
the sects which had been connected with the government, because,
with the Quakers and Baptists, they denied any magisterial or state
authority over conscience, and refused maintenance to ministers;
but from the testimony of Bunyan, and that of the early Quakers,
they appear to have been practical Antinomians, or at least very
nearly allied to the new sect called Mormonites. Ross, who copied
from Pagitt, describes them with much bitterness--'The Ranters are
unclean beasts--their maxim is that there is nothing sin but what
a man thinks to be so--they reject the Bible--they are the merriest
of all devils--they deny all obedience to magistrates.'[69]

This temptation must have been severe. The Ranters were like the
black man with the white robe, named Flatterer, who led the pilgrims
into a net,[70] under the pretence of showing them the way to the
celestial city; or like Adam the first, who offered Faithful his
three daughters to wife[71]--the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life--if he would dwell with him in the
town of Deceit. 'These temptations,' he says, 'were suitable to my
flesh,'[72] I being but a young man, and my nature in its prime;
and, with his characteristic humility, he adds, 'God, who had, as
I hope, designed me for better things, kept me in the fear of his
name, and did not suffer me to accept such cursed principles.' Prayer
opened the door of escape; it led him to the fountain of truth.
'I began to look into the Bible with new eyes. Prayer preserved me
from Ranting errors. The Bible was precious to me in those days.'[73]
His study of the Holy Oracles now became a daily habit, and that
with intense earnestness and prayer. In the mist of the multitude
of sects with which he was on all sides surrounded, he felt the
need of a standard for the opinions which were each of them eagerly
followed by votaries, who proclaimed them to be THE TRUTH, the
way, and the life. He was like a man, feeling that if he erred
in the way, it would be attended with misery, and, but for Divine
interference, with unutterable ruin--possessed of a correct map,
but surrounded with those who, by flattery, or threats, or deceit,
and armed with all human eloquence, strove to mislead him. With an
enemy within to urge him to accept their wily guidance, that they
might lead him to perdition--inspired by Divine grace, like Christian
in his Pilgrim, he 'put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying
Life, life, eternal life.' He felt utter dependence upon Divine
guidance, leading him to most earnest prayer, and an implicit obedience
to Holy Writ, which followed him all through the remainder of his
pilgrimage. 'The Bible' he calls 'the scaffold, or stage, that
God has builded for hope to play his part upon in this world.'[74]
Hence the Word was precious in his eyes; and with so immense
a loss, or so magnificent a gain, the throne of grace was all his
hope, that he might be guided by that counsel that cannot err, and
that should eventually insure his reception to eternal glory.

While in this inquiring state, he experienced much doubt and
uncertainty arising from the apparent confidence of many professors.
In his own esteem he appeared to be thoroughly humbled; and when
he lighted on that passage--'To one is given by the spirit the word
of wisdom, to another, knowledge, and to another, faith' (1 Cor
12:8,9), his solemn inquiry was, how it happened that he possessed
so little of any of these gifts of wisdom, knowledge, or faith--more
especially of faith, that being essential to the pleasing of God.
He had read (Matt 21:21), 'If ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall
say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into
the sea; it shall be done'; and (Luke 17:6), 'If ye had faith as a
grain of mustard seed, ye might say to this sycamore tree, Be thou
plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it shall
obey you'; and (1 Cor 13:2), 'Though I have all faith, so that I
could remove mountains.' The poor tinker, considering these passages
in their literal import, imagined they were meant as tests to try
whether the believer possessed faith or not. He was a stranger to
the rules of Hebrew rhetoric; nor did he consider that they were
addressed to the apostles, who had the power to work miracles. He
had no idea that the removing a mountain, or planting a sycamore
tree in the sea, were figures of speech conveying to us the fact
that, aided by faith, mountainous difficulties might and would be
overcome. Anxious for some ocular demonstration that he had faith,
he almost determined to attempt to work a miracle--not to convert
or confirm the faith of others, but to satisfy his own mind as to
his possessing faith. He had no such magnificent idea as the removal
of a mountain, for there were none in his neighbourhood, nor to
plant a tree in the sea, for Bedfordshire is an inland county; but
it was of the humblest kind--that some puddles on the road between
Elstow and Bedford should change places with the dry ground. When
he had thought of praying for ability, his natural good sense led
him to abandon the experiment.[75] This he calls 'being in my plunge
about faith, tossed betwixt the devil and my own ignorance.'[76] All
this shows the intensity of his feelings and his earnest inquiries.

It may occasion surprise to some, that a young man of such
extraordinary powers of mind, should have indulged the thought of
working a miracle to settle or confirm his doubts; but we must take
into account, that when a boy he had no opportunity of acquiring
scriptural knowledge; no Sunday schools, no Bible class excited
his inquiries as to the meaning of the sacred language. The Bible
had been to him a sealed book until, in a state of mental agony,
he cried, What must I do to be saved? The plain text was all his
guide; and it would not have been surprising, had he been called
to bottle a cask of new wine, if he had refused to use old wine
bottles; or had he cast a loaf into the neighbouring river Ouse,
expecting to find it after many days. The astonishing fact is, that
one so unlettered should, by intense thought, by earnest prayer,
and by comparing one passage with another, arrive eventually at so
clear a view both of the external and internal meaning of the whole
Bible. The results of his researches were more deeply impressed
upon his mind by the mistakes which he had made; and his intense
study, both of the Old and New Testaments, furnished him with an
inexhaustible store of things new and old--those vivid images and
burning thoughts, those bright and striking illustrations of Divine
truth, which so shine and sparkle in all his works. What can be
more clear than his illustration of saving faith which worketh by
love, when in after-life he wrote the Pilgrim's Progress. Hopeful
was in a similar state of inquiry whether he had faith. 'Then I said,
But, Lord, what is believing?' And then I saw from that saying, He
that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me
shall never thirst, that believing and coming was all one, and that
he that came, that is, ran out in his heart and affections after
salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ (John 6:25).[77]

In addition to his want of scriptural education, it must be remembered
that, when he thought of miraculous power being an evidence of faith,
his mind was in a most excited state--doubts spread over him like
a huge masses of thick black clouds, hiding the Sun of Righteousness
from his sight. Not only is he to be pardoned for his error, but
admired for the humility which prompted him to record so singular
a trial, and his escape from 'this delusion of the tempter.' While
'thus he was tossed betwixt the devil and his own ignorance,'[78]
the happiness of the poor women whose conversation he had heard at
Bedford, was brought to his recollection by a remarkable reverie
or day dream:--

'About this time, the state and happiness of these poor people at
Bedford was thus, in a dream or vision, represented to me. I saw
as if they were set on the sunny side of some high mountain, there
refreshing themselves with the pleasant beams of the sun, while
I was shivering and shrinking in the cold, afflicted with frost,
snow, and dark clouds. Methought also, betwixt me and them, I saw
a wall that did compass about this mountain; now through this wall
my soul did greatly desire to pass, concluding that if I could, I
would go even into the very midst of them, and there also comfort
myself with the heat of their sun.

'About this wall I thought myself to go again and again, still
prying, as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by
which I might enter therein; but none could I find for some time.
At the last I saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a little doorway
in the wall, through which I attempted to pass; but the passage
being very strait and narrow, I made many efforts to get in, but
all in vain, even until I was well nigh quite beat out, by striving
to get in; at last, with great striving, methought I at first did
get in my head, and after that, by a sidling striving, my shoulders,
and my whole body; then I was exceeding glad, and went and sat down
in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat
of their sun.

'Now this mountain, and wall, was thus made out to me: The mountain
signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone thereon,
the comfortable shining of his merciful face on them that were
therein; the wall I thought was the Word, that did make separation
between the Christians and the world; and the gap which was in
this wall, I thought, was Jesus Christ, who is the way to God the
Father (John 14:6; Matt 7:14). But forasmuch as the passage was
wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could not, but with great
difficulty, enter in thereat, it showed me, that none could enter
into life, but those that were in downright earnest, and unless
also they left this wicked world behind them; for here was only
room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.[79]

'This resemblance abode upon my spirit many days; all which time
I saw myself in a forlorn and sad condition, but yet was provoked
to a vehement hunger and desire to be one of that number that did
sit in the sunshine. Now also I should pray wherever I was; whether
at home or abroad, in house or field, and should also often, with
lifting up of heart, sing that of the fifty-first Psalm, "O Lord,
consider my distress."'[80]

In this striking reverie we discover the budding forth of that great
genius which produced most beautiful flowers and delicious fruit,
when it became fully developed in his allegories.

While this trial clouded his spirits, he was called to endure
temptations which are common to most, if not all, inquiring souls,
and which frequently produce much anxiety. He plunged into the
university problems of predestination, before he had completed his
lower grammar-school exercises on faith and repentance. Am I one of
the elect? or has the day of grace been suffered to pass by never
to return? 'Although he was in a flame to find the way to heaven
and glory,' these questions afflicted and disquieted him, so that
the very strength of his body was taken away by the force and
power thereof. 'Lord, thought I, what if I should not be elected!
It may be you are not, said the tempter; it may be so, indeed
thought I. Why then, said Satan, you had as good leave off, and
strive no farther; for if indeed you should not be elected and
chosen of God, there is no talk of your being saved; "for it is
neither of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God
that showeth mercy."

'By these things I was driven to my wit's end, not knowing what to
say, or how to answer these temptations. Indeed, I little thought
that Satan had thus assaulted me, but that rather it was my own
prudence thus to start the question: for that the elect only obtained
eternal life; that I without scruple did heartily close withal;
but that myself was one of them, there lay all the question.'[81]

Thus was he for many weeks oppressed and cast down, and near
to 'giving up the ghost of all his hopes of ever attaining life,'
when a sentence fell with weight upon his spirit--'Look at the
generations of old and see; did ever any trust in the Lord and was
confounded' (Ecclesiasticus 2:10). This encouraged him to a diligent
search from Genesis to Revelation, which lasted for above a year,
and although he could not find that sentence, yet he was amply
rewarded for this diligent examination of the Holy Oracles, and
thus he obtained 'yet more experience of the love and kindness of
God.' At length he found it in the Apocrypha, and, although not the
language of inspiration, yet as it contained the sum and substance
of the promises, he took the comfort of it, and it shone before his
face for years. The fear that the day of grace had passed pressed
heavily upon him; he was humbled, and bemoaned the time that he
had wasted. Now he was confronted with that 'grim-faced one, the
Captain Past-hope, with his terrible standard,' carried by Ensign
Despair, red colours, with a hot iron and a hard heart, and
exhibited at Eye-gate.[82] At length these words broke in upon his
mind, 'compel them to come in, that my house may be filled--and yet
there is room.' This Scripture powerfully affected him with hope,
that there was room in the bosom and in the house of Jesus for his
afflicted soul.

His next temptation was to return to the world. This was that
terrible battle with Apollyon, depicted in the Pilgrim's Progress,
and it is also described at some length in the Jerusalem Sinner
Saved. Among many very graphic and varied pictures of his own
experience, he introduces the following dialogue with the tempter,
probably alluding to the trials he was now passing through. Satan
is loath to part with a great sinner. 'This day is usually attended
with much evil towards them that are asking the way to Zion, with
their faces thitherward. Now the devil has lost a sinner; there is
a captive has broke prison, and one run away from his master. Now
hell seems to be awakened from sleep, the devils are come out. They
roar, and roaring they seek to recover their runaway. Now tempt
him, threaten him, flatter him, stigmatize him, throw dust into
his eyes, poison him with error, spoil him while he is upon the
potter's wheel, anything to keep him from coming to Christ.'[83]
'What, my true servant,' quoth he, 'my old servant, wilt thou forsake
me now? Having so often sold thyself to me to work wickedness,
wilt thou forsake me now? Thou horrible wretch, dost not know,
that thou hast sinned thyself beyond the reach of grace, and dost
thou think to find mercy now? Art not thou a murderer, a thief, a
harlot, a witch, a sinner of the greatest size, and dost thou look
for mercy now? Dost thou think that Christ will foul his fingers
with thee? It is enough to make angels blush, saith Satan, to see
so vile a one knock at heaven-gates for mercy, and wilt thou be
so abominably bold to do it?' Thus Satan dealt with me, says the
great sinner, when at first I came to Jesus Christ. And what did
you reply? saith the tempted. Why, I granted the whole charge to
be true, says the other. And what, did you despair, or how? No,
saith he, I said, I am Magdalene, I am Zaccheus, I am the thief,
I am the harlot, I am the publican, I am the prodigal, and one of
Christ's murderers; yea, worse than any of these; and yet God was
so far off from rejecting of me, as I found afterwards, that there
was music and dancing in his house for me, and for joy that I was
come home unto him. O blessed be God for grace (says the other),
for then I hope there is favour for me. Yea, as I told you, such
a one is a continual spectacle in the church, for every one by to
behold God's grace and wonder by.[84] These are the 'things the
angels desire to look into' (1 Peter 1:12), or as Bunyan quaintly
says, this is the music which causes 'them that dwell in the higher
orbs to open their windows, put out their heads, and look down to
see the cause of that glory' (Lev 15:7,10).[85]

As he became less agitated with fear, and drew consolation more
frequently from the promises, with a timid hope of salvation, he
began to exhibit singular powers of conception in spiritualizing
temporal things. His first essay was to find the hidden meaning
in the division of God's creatures into clean and unclean. Chewing
the cud, and parting the hoof, he conceived to be emblematical of
our feeding upon the Word of God, and parting, if we would be saved,
with the ways of ungodly men.[86] It is not sufficient to chew the
cud like the hare--nor to part the hoof like the wine--we must do
both; that is, possess the word of faith, and that be evidenced
by parting with our outward pollutions. This spiritual meaning of
part of the Mosaic dispensation is admirably introduced into the
Pilgrim's Progress, when Christian and Faithful analyse the character
of Talkative.[87] This is the germ of that singular talent which
flourished in after-life, of exhibiting a spiritual meaning drawn
from every part of the Mosaic dispensation, and which leads one of
our most admired writers[88] to suggest, that if Bunyan had lived
and written during the early days of Christianity, he would have
been the greatest of the fathers.

Although he had received that portion of comfort which enabled him
to indulge in religious speculations, still his mind was unsettled,
and full of fears. He now became alarmed lest he had not been
effectually called to inherit the kingdom of heaven.[89] He felt
still more humbled at the weakness of human nature, and at the
poverty of wealth. Could this call have been gotten for money, and
'could I have given it; had I a whole world, it had all gone ten
thousand times over for this.' In this he was sincere, and so he
was when he said, I would not lose one promise, or have it struck
out of the Bible, if in return I could have as much gold as would
reach from London to York, piled up to the heavens. In proportion
to his soul's salvation, honour was a worthless phantom, and gold
but glittering dust. His earnest desire was to hear his Saviour's
voice calling him to his service. Like many young disciples, he
regretted not having been born when Christ was manifest in the flesh.
'Would I had been Peter or John!' their privations, sufferings,
martyrdom, was nothing in comparison to their being with, and hearing
the voice of the Son of God calling them to his service. Strange,
but general delusion! as if Christ were not the same yesterday, to
day, and for ever. Groaning for a sense of pardon, he was comforted
by Joel--'I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed,
for the Lord dwelleth in Zion' (Joel 3:21), and he was led to seek
advice and assistance from a neighbouring minister, and from pious
persons.

The poor women in Bedford, whose conversation had been blessed to
his thorough awakening, were sought for, and to them he unfolded his
sorrows. They were members of a Baptist church, under the pastoral
care of John Gifford, a godly, painstaking, and most intelligent
minister, whose history is very remarkable. In early life he had
been, like Bunyan, a thoroughly depraved character; like him had
entered the army, and had been promoted to the rank of a major
in the royal forces. Having made an abortive attempt to raise a
rebellion in his native county of Kent,[90] he and eleven others were
made prisoners, tried by martial law, and condemned to the gallows.
On the night previous to the day appointed for his execution, his
sister found access to the prison. The guards were asleep, and his
companions drowned in intoxication. She embraced the favourable
moment, and set him at liberty. He lay concealed in a ditch for
three days, till the heat of the search was over, and in disguise
escaped to London, and thence to Bedford, where, aided by some
great people who favoured the royal cause, he commenced business
as a doctor. Here his evil habits followed him, notwithstanding his
merciful deliverance. Swearing, drunkenness, gambling, and other
immoral practices, rendered him a curse to others, especially to
the Puritans, whom he bitterly persecuted. One night he lost fifteen
pounds at play, and, becoming outrageous, he cast angry reproaches
upon God. In this state he took up a book by R. Bolton--he read,
and his conscience was terror-stricken. Distress, under conviction
of sin, followed him. He searched his Bible, and found pardon
and acceptance. He now sought acquaintance with those whom before
he had persecuted, but, like Paul, when in similar circumstances,
'they were all afraid of him.' His sincerity soon became apparent;
and, uniting with eleven others, they formed a church. These men
had thrown off the fetters of education, and were, unbiased by any
sectarian feeling, being guided solely by their prayerful researches
into divine truth as revealed in the Bible. Their whole object
was to enjoy Christian communion--to extend the reign of grace--to
live to the honour of Christ--and they formed a new, and at that time
unheard-of, community. Water-baptism was to be left to individual
conviction; they were to love each other equally, whether they
advocated baptism in infancy, or in riper years. The only thing
essential to church-fellowship, in Mr. Gifford's opinion, was--'UNION
WITH CHRIST; this is the foundation of all saints' communion, and
not any judgment about externals.' To the honour of the Baptists,
these peaceable principles appear to have commenced with two or
three of their ministers, and for the last two centuries they have
been, like heavenly leaven, extending their delightful influence
over all bodies of Christians.

Such was the man to whom Bunyan was introduced for religious
advice and consolation; and he assisted in forming those enlarged
and nonsectarian principles which made his ministry blessed, and will
render his Works equally acceptable to all evangelical Christians
in every age of the church. Introduced to such a minister, and
attending social meetings for prayer and Christian converse, he felt
still more painfully his own ignorance, and the inward wretchedness
of his own heart. 'His corruptions put themselves forth, and
his desires for heaven seemed to fail.' In fact, while he compared
himself with his former self, he was a religious giant; in comparison
with these pious, long-standing Christians, he dwindled into a
pigmy; and in the presence of Christ he became, in his own view,
less than nothing, and vanity. He thus describes his feelings:--'I
began to sink--my heart laid me low as hell. I was driven as with
a tempest--my heart would be unclean--the Canaanites would dwell
in the land.'[91] He was like the child which the father brought
to Christ, who, while he was coming to Him, was thrown down by the
devil, and so rent and torn that he lay and wallowed, foaming. His
heart felt so hard, that with many a bitter sigh he cried, 'Good
Lord! break it open. Lord, break these gates of brass, and cut these
bars of iron asunder' (Psa 107:16). Little did he then think that
his bitterness of spirit was a direct answer to such prayers.
Breaking the heart was attended with anguish in proportion as it
had been hardened. During this time he was tender and sensitive
as to the least sin; 'now I durst not take a pin or a stick, my
conscience would smart at every touch.' 'O, how gingerly did I then
go in all I said or did!'[92] 'Still sin would as naturally bubble
out of my heart as water would bubble out of a fountain.' He felt
surprised when he saw professors much troubled at their losses, even
at the death of the dearest relative. His whole concern was for his
salvation. He imagined that he could bear these small afflictions
with patience; but 'a wounded spirit who can bear?'

In the midst of all these miseries, and at times regretting that he
had been endowed with an immortal spirit, liable to eternal ruin,
he was jealous of receiving comfort, lest it might be based upon
any false foundation. Still as his only hope he was constant in
his attendance upon the means of grace, and 'when comforting time
was come,' he heard one preach upon two words of a verse, which
conveyed strong consolation to his weary spirit; the words were, 'my
love' (Song 4:1). From these words the minister drew the following
conclusions:--1. That the church, and so every saved soul, is Christ's
love, even when loveless; 2. Christ's love is without a cause; 3.
They are Christ's love when hated of the world; 4. Christ's love
when under temptation and under desertion; 5. Christ's love from
first to last.[93] Now was his heart filled with comfort and hope.
'I could believe that my sins should be forgiven me'; and, in a
state of rapture, he thought that his trials were over, and that
the savour of it would go with him through life. Alas! his enjoyment
was but for a season--the preparation of his soul for future
usefulness was not yet finished. In a short time the words of our
Lord to Peter came powerfully into his mind--'Satan hath desired
to have you'; and so strong was the impression they made, that he
thought some man addressed them to him; he even turned his head to
see who it was that thus spoke to him. This was the forerunner of
a cloud and a storm that was coming upon him. It was the gathering
up of Satan's mighty strength, to have, if possible, overwhelmed
him. His narrative of this internal tempest in his soul--this last
great struggle with the powers of darkness--is very striking.

'About the space of a month after, a very great storm came down
upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met
with before; it came stealing upon me, now by one piece, then by
another. First, all my comfort was taken from me; then darkness
seized upon me; after which, whole floods of blasphemies, both
against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit,
to my great confusion and astonishment. These blasphemous thoughts
were such as also stirred up questions in me against the very
being of God, and of his only beloved Son. As, whether there were
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.

'These suggestions, with many others, which at this time I may not,
dare not utter, neither by word nor pen, did make such a seizure upon
my spirit, and did so overweigh my heart, both with their number,
continuance, and fiery force, that I felt as if there were nothing
else but these from morning to night within me, and as though indeed
there could be room for nothing else; and also concluded, that God
had, in very wrath to my soul, given me up unto them, to be carried
away with them as with a mighty whirlwind.

'Only by the distaste that they gave unto my spirit, I felt there
was something in me that refused to embrace them.'[94]

Here are the facts which are allegorized in the history of
Christian, passing through the Valley of Humiliation, and fighting
with the Prince of the power of the air. 'Then Apollyon, espying his
opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling
with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian's
sword flew out of his hand.' This was the effect of his doubts of
the inspiration of the Scriptures--the sword of the Spirit. 'I am
sure of thee now, said Apollyon; and with that he had almost pressed
him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life; but as
God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow,
Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught
it, saying, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, when I fall I
shall arise" (Matt 7:8), and with that gave him a deadly thrust,
which made him give back as one that had received his mortal wound.
Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, "Nay, in all
these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved
us"; and with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped
him away.'[95] What an awful moment, when he fell unarmed before
his ferocious enemy! 'Faith now has but little time to speak to
the conscience--it is now struggling for life--it is now fighting
with angels--with infernals--all it can do now is to cry, groan,
sweat, fear, fight, and gasp for life.'[96] How desperate the
conflict--the mouth of hell yawning to swallow him--man cannot aid
the poor warrior, all his help is in God. Is it not a wonder to see
a poor creature, who in himself is weaker than the moth, to stand
against and overcome all devils--all the world--all his lusts and
corruptions; or, if he fall, is it not a wonder to see him, when
devils and guilt are upon him, to rise again, stand upon his legs,
walk with God again, and persevere in faith and holiness?[97]

This severe conflict lasted for about a year. He describes his
feelings at times as resembling the frightful pangs of one broken
on the wheel. The sources of his misery were fears that he had sinned
against the Holy Ghost; and that through his hardness of heart and
impatience in prayer--he should not persevere to the end. During
all this time, occasional visits of mercy kept him from despair;
and at some intervals filled him with transports of joy. At one
time so delightfully was his burden removed that he could not tell
how to contain himself. 'I thought I could have spoken of his love
and of his mercy to me, even to the very crows that sat upon the
ploughed lands before me, had they been capable to have understood
me.'[98] Thus his feelings were controlled by reason, very different
to the poor madman who, in olden time, is represented as preaching
to the fish. With Bunyan it was a hallowed joy--a gush of holy
gladness, in which he wished all creation to participate. his heart
was baptized in hope. 'I know that my Redeemer liveth'; and with
holy Job, he wished to perpetuate his joy by a memorial not in
rock, but in a book of resemblance. 'I would I had a pen and ink
here to write it down.' This is the first desire that he expressed
to proclaim or publish to others the great Saviour he had found:
but he was not yet prepared; he must pass through deeper depths,
and possess a living knowledge of Divine truth, burnt into his soul
by satanic fires.

Very soon after this, he was harassed with fear lest he should part
with Christ. The tempter, as he did with Christian in the Valley of
the Shadow of Death, suggested blasphemies to him, which he thought
had proceeded from his own mind. 'Satan troubled him with his
stinking breath. How many strange, hideous, and amazing blasphemies
have some that are coming to Christ had injected upon their spirits
against him.'[99] 'The devil is indeed very busy at work during
the darkness of a soul. He throws in his fiery darts to amazement,
when we are encompassed with the terrors of a dismal night; he is
bold and undaunted in his assaults, and injects with a quick and
sudden malice a thousand monstrous and abominable thoughts of God,
which seem to be the motions of our own minds, and terribly grieve
and trouble us.'[100]

What makes those arrows more penetrating and distressing is, that
Satan, with subtle art, tips them with sentences of Scripture. 'No
place for repentance'; 'rejected'; 'hath never forgiveness,' and
other passages which, by the malignant ingenuity of the fiend, are
formed by his skill as the cutting and barbed points of his shafts.
At one time Bunyan concluded that he was possessed of the devil;
then he was tempted to speak and sin against the Holy Ghost. He
thought himself alone in such a tempest, and that no one had ever
felt such misery as he did. When in prayer, his mind was distracted
with the thought that Satan was pulling his clothes; he was even
tempted to fall down and worship him. Then he would cry after God,
in awful fear that eventually Satan would overcome him. During all
this time he was struggling against the tempter; and, at length,
the dayspring visited him in these words, 'I am persuaded that
nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.'
Again he was cast down with a recollection of his former blasphemies.
What reason can I have to hope for an inheritance in eternal life?
The questions was answered with that portion of Scripture, 'If God
be for us, who can be against us?' These were visits which, like
Peter's sheet, of a sudden were caught up to heaven again.[101]
At length the Sun of Righteousness arose, and shone upon him with
healing influence. 'He hath made peace through the blood of his
cross,' came with power to his mind, followed by the consoling words
of the apostle, 'Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of
flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;
that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death,
that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were
all their lifetime subject to bondage' (Heb 2:14,15). This was the
key that opened every lock in Doubting Castle. The prisoner escaped
to breathe the air of hope, and joy, and peace. 'This,' said he,
'was a good day to me, I hope I shall not forget it.' 'I thought
that the glory of those words was then so weighty on me, that I
was, both once and twice, ready to swoon as I sat, not with grief
and trouble, but with solid joy and peace.'

His mind was now in a fit state to seek for church fellowship, as a
further means of advance in his knowledge of Divine love. To effect
this object, he was naturally led to the Baptist church at Bedford,
to which those pious women belonged whose Christian communion had
been blessed to him. I sat under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford,
whose doctrine, by God's grace, was much for my stability.[102]
Although his soul was led from truth to truth, his trials were not
over--he passed through many severe exercises before he was received
into communion with the church.[103]

At length he determined to become identified with a body of
professed Christians, who were treated with great scorn by other
sects because they denied infant baptism, and he became engaged in
the religious controversies which were fashionable in those days.
We have noticed his encounter with the Ranters, and he soon had
to give battle to persons called Quakers. Before the Society of
Friends was formed, and their rules of discipline were published,
many Ranters and others, some of whom were bad characters and held
the wildest opinions, passed under the name of Quakers. Some of
these denied that the Bible was the Word of God; and asserted that
the death of Christ was not a full atonement for sin--that there
is no future resurrection, and other gross errors. The Quakers,
who were afterwards united to form the Society of Friends, from the
first denied all those errors. Their earliest apologist, Barclay,
in his theses on the Scriptures, says, 'They are the doctrines of
Christ, held forth in precious declarations, spoken and written
by the movings of God's Spirit.' Whoever it was that asserted the
heresies, to Bunyan the investigation of them, in the light of Divine
truth, was attended with great advantages. It was through 'this
narrow search of the Scriptures that he was not only enlightened,
but greatly confirmed and comforted in the truth.'[104]

He longed to compare his experience with that of some old and eminent
convert, and 'God did cast into his hand' Luther On the Galatians,
'so old that it was ready to fall piece from piece, if I did but
turn it over.'[105] The commentary of this enlightened man was
a counterpart to his own feelings. 'I found,' says Bunyan, 'my
condition, in his experience so largely and profoundly handled,
as if his book had been written out of my own heart. I prefer the
book before all others as most fit for a wounded conscience.' This
was the 'voice of a man' that Christian 'heard as going before him
in the Valley of the Shadow of Death,' and was glad that some who
feared God were in this valley as well as himself, who could say,
'I will fear no evil for thou art with me.'[106] In many things
Luther and Bunyan were men of similar temperament. Like Emmanuel's
captains, in the Holy War, they were 'very stout rough-hewn men;
men that were fit to break the ice, and to make their way by dint
of sword.'[107] They were animated by the same principles, and
fought with the same weapons; and although Luther resided in a castle
protected by princes, was furnished with profound scholastic learning,
and became a terror to Popery; yet the voice of the unlettered
tinker, issuing from a dreary prison, bids fair to be far more
extensively heard and blessed than that of this most illustrious
reformer.[108]

Bunyan's happiness was now very great; his soul, with all its
affections, clave unto Christ: but lest spiritual pride should
exalt him beyond measure, and lest he should be scared to renounce
his Saviour, by the threat of transportation and death, his heart
was again wounded, and quickly after this his 'love was tried to
purpose.'

The tempter came in upon him with a most grievous and dreadful
temptation; it was to part with Christ, to exchange him for the
things of this life; he was perpetually tormented with the words
'sell Christ.' At length, he thought that his spirit gave way
to the temptation, and a dreadful and profound state of despair
overpowered him for the dreary space of more than two years.[109]
This is the most extraordinary part of this wonderful narrative, that
he, without apparent cause, should thus be tempted, and feel the
bitterness of a supposed parting with Christ. There was, doubtless,
a cause for every pang; his heavenly Father afflicted him for
his profit. We shall soon have to follow him through fiery trials.
Before the justices, allured by their arguments, and particularly by
the sophistry of their clerk, Mr. Cobb, and then dragged from a
beloved wife and from children to whom he was most fondly attached--all
these fiery trials might be avoided, if he would but 'sell Christ.'
A cold damp dungeon was to incarcerate his body for twelve tedious
years of the prime of his life, unless he would 'sell Christ.' His
ministering brother and friend, John Child, a Bedford man, who had
joined in recommending Bunyan's Vindication of Gospel Truths,[110]
fell under this temptation, and fearing temporal ruin and imprisonment
for life, conformed, and then fell into the most awful state of
despair, suffering such agonies of conscience, that, to get rid of
present trouble, he hurried himself into eternity. Probably Bunyan
alludes to this awful instance of fell despair in his Publican
and Pharisee: 'Sin, when appearing in its monstrous shape and hue,
frighteth all mortals out of their wits, away from God; and if he
stops them not, also out of the world.'[111] To arm Bunyan against
being overcome by a fear of the lions in the way to the house
Beautiful--against giving way, under persecution--he was visited
with terrors lest he should sell or part with Christ. During these
sad years he was not wholly sunk in despair, but had at times some
glimmerings of mercy. In comparing his supposed sin with that of
Judas, he was constrained to find a difference between a deliberate
intention to sell Christ and a sudden temptation.[112] Through
all these searchings of heart and inquiries at the Word, he became
fixed in the doctrine of the final perseverance of God's saints. 'O
what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see mixing
itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God's ways to his
people; he never let them fall into sin unpardonable.' 'But these
thoughts added grief and horror to me; I thought that all things
wrought for my eternal overthrow.' So ready is the tender heart to
write bitter things against itself, and as ready is the tempter to
whisper despairing thoughts. In the midst of this distress he 'saw
a glory in walking with God,' although a dismal cloud enveloped
him.

This misery was aggravated by reading the fearful estate of Francis
Spira, who had been persuaded to return to a profession of Popery,
and died in a state of awful despair.[113] 'This book' was to his
troubled spirit like salt rubbed into a fresh wound.

Bunyan now felt his body and mind shaking and tottering under the
sense of the dreadful judgment of God; and he thought his sin--of
a momentary and unwilling consent to give up Christ--was a greater
sin than all the sins of David, Solomon, Manasseh, and even than
all the sins that had been committed by all God's redeemed ones.
Was there ever a man in the world so capable of describing the
miseries of Doubting Castle, or of the Slough of Despond, as poor
John Bunyan?

He would have run from God in utter desperation; 'but, blessed
be his grace, that Scripture, in these flying sins, would call,
as running after me, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy
transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me, for I have
redeemed thee"' (Isa 44:22).Still he was haunted by that scripture,
'You know how that afterwards, when he would have inherited the
blessing, he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears.' Thus was he tossed and buffeted, involved in
cloudy darkness, with now and then a faint gleam of hope to save
him from despair. 'In all these,' he says, 'I was but as those
that justle against the rocks; more broken, scattered, and rent.
Oh! the unthought of imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors, that
are effected by a thorough application of guilt.'[114] 'Methought
I saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens did grudge to give
light, and as if the very stones in the street, and tiles upon the
houses, did bend themselves against me.'[115] Here we find him in
that doleful valley, where Christian was surrounded by enemies that
'cared not for his sword,' he put it up, and places his dependence
upon the more penetrating weapon, 'All Prayer.' Depending upon
this last resource, he prayed, even when in this great darkness
and distress. To whom could he go? his case was beyond the power
of men or angels. His refuge, from a fear of having committed the
unpardonable sin, was that he had never refused to be justified by
the blood of Christ, but ardently wished it; this, in the midst of
the storm, caused a temporary clam. At length, he was led to look
prayerfully upon those scriptures that had tormented him, and to
examine their scope and tendency, and then he 'found their visage
changed, for they looked not so grimly on him as before he thought
they did.'[116] Still, after such a tempest, the sea did not at
once become a calm. Like one that had been scared with fire, every
voice was fire, fire; every little touch hurt his tender conscience.[117]

All this instructive history is pictured by a few words in the
Pilgrim's Progress. At the Interpreter's house the pilgrim is shown
'a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always
casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn
higher and hotter.'[118] As Esau beat him down, Christ raised him
again. The threatening and the promise were like glittering swords
clashing together, but the promise must prevail.

His entire relief at last was sudden, while meditating in the field
upon the words, 'Thy righteousness is in heaven.' Hence he drew the
conclusion, that his righteousness was in Christ, at God's right
hand, ever before him, secure from all the powers of sin and
Satan. Now his chains fell off; he was loosed from his affliction
and irons; his temptation fled away. His present supply of grace
he compared to the cracked groats and fourpence half-pennies,[119]
which rich men carry in their pockets, while their treasure is safe
in their trunks at home, as his was in the store-house of heaven.

This dreary night of awful conflict lasted more than two years; but
when the day-spring from on high visited him, the promises spangled
in his eyes, and he broke out into a song, 'Praise ye the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his
power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his
excellent greatness.'[120]

Bunyan's opinion as to the cause of this bitter suffering, was his
want of watchfulness, his not coming boldly to the throne of grace,
and that he had tempted God. The advantages he considered that
he had gained by it were, that it confirmed his knowledge of the
existence of God, so that he lost all his temptations to unbelief,
blasphemy, and hardness of heart, Doubts as to the truth of the
Word, and certainty of the world to come, were gone for ever.

He found no difficulty as to the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
'Now I saw the apostles to be the elders of the city of refuge,
those that they were to receive in, were received to life, but
those that they were to shut out, were to be slain by the avenger
of blood.' Those were to enter who, with Peter, confessed to Jesus,
'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matt 16:16).
This is simply an authority to proclaim salvation or condemnation
to those who receive or reject the Saviour. It is upon his shoulder
the key of the house is laid (Isa 22:22). Christ only has the key,
no MAN openeth or shutteth (Rev 1:18, 3:7). All that man can do,
as to binding or loosening, is to warn the hardened and to invite
the contrite.

By these trials, the promises, became more clear and invaluable
than ever. He never saw those heights and depths in grace, and
love, and mercy, as he saw them after this severe trial--'great
sins drew out great grace'; and the more terrible and fierce guilt
was, the more high and mighty did the mercy of God in Christ appear.
These are Bunyan's own reflections; but may we not add to them, that
while he was in God's school of trial, every groan, every bitter
pang of anguish, and every gleam of hope, were intended to fit him
for his future work as a preacher and writer? Weighed in the balances
of the sanctuary, there was not a jot too little, or an iota too
much. Every important subject which embarrasses the convert, was
most minutely investigated, especially faith, the sin against the
Holy Ghost, the divinity of Christ, and such essential truths. He
well knew every dirty lane, and nook, and corner of Mansoul, in
which the Diabolonians found shelter, and well he knew the frightful
sound of Diabolus' drum.[121] Well did his pastor, John Burton,
say of him, 'He hath through grace taken these three heavenly
degrees, to wit, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit,
and experience of the temptations of Satan, which do more fit
a man for that mighty work of preaching the gospel, than all the
university learning and degrees that can be had.'[122]

Preserved in Christ Jesus, and called--selected from his associates
in sin, he was taken into this school, and underwent the strictest
religious education. It was here alone that his rare talent could
be cultivated, to enable him, in two immortal allegories, to narrate
the internal discipline he underwent. It was here he attained
that habitual access to the throne of grace, and that insight into
the inspired volume, which filled his writings with those solemn
realities of the world to come; while it enabled him to reveal
the mysteries of communion with the Father of spirits, as he so
wondrously does in his treatise on prayer. To use the language of
Milton--'These are works that could not be composed by the invocation
of Dame Memory and her Siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that
eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge,
and send out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar,
to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases, without reference
to station, birth, or education.' The tent-maker and tinker, the
fisherman and publican, and even a friar or monk,[123] became the
honoured instruments of his choice.

Throughout all Bunyan's writings, he never murmurs at his want
of education, although it is often a source of humble apology. He
honoured the learned godly as Christians, but preferred the Bible
before the library of the two universities.[124] He saw, what every
pious man must see and lament, that there is much idolatry in human
learning, and that it was frequently applied to confuse and impede
the gospel. Thus he addresses the reader of his treatise on The Law
and Grace--'If thou find this book empty of fantastical expressions,
and without light, vain, whimsical, scholar-like terms, it is because
I never went to school, to Aristotle or Plato, but was brought up
at my father's house, in a very mean condition, among a company of
poor countrymen. But if thou do find a parcel of plain, yet sound,
true, and home sayings, attribute that to the Lord Jesus his gifts
and abilities, which he hath bestowed upon such a poor creature as
I am and have been.'[125] His maxim was--'Words easy to be understood
do often hit the mark, when high and learned ones do only pierce
the air. He also that speaks to the weakest may make the learned
understand him; when he that striveth to be high, is not only
of the most part understood but of a sort, but also many times is
neither understood by them nor by himself!'[126] This is one of
Bunyan's maxims, well worthy the consideration of the most profoundly
learned writers, and also of the most eloquent preachers and public
speakers.

Bunyan was one of those pioneers who are far in advance of the age
in which they live, and the narrative of his birth and education
adds to the innumerable contradictions which the history of man
opposes to the system of Mr. Owen and the Socialists, and to every
scheme for making the offspring of the poor follow in leading-strings
the course of their parents, or for rendering them blindly submissive
to the dictates of the rich, the learned, or the influential. It
incontestably proves the gospel doctrine of individuality, and,
that native talent will rise superior to all impediments. Our
forefathers struggled for the right of private judgment in matters
of faith and worship--their descendants will insist upon it,
as essential to salvation, personally to examine every doctrine
relative to the sacred objects of religion, limited only by Holy
Writ. This must be done with rigorous impartiality, throwing aside
all the prejudices of education, and be followed by prompt obedience
to Divine truth, at any risk of offending parents, or laws, or
resisting institutions, or ceremonies which he discovers to be of
human invention. All this, as we have seen in Bunyan, was attended
with great mental sufferings, with painstaking labour, with a
simple reliance upon the Word of God, and with earnest prayer. If
man impiously dares to submit his conscience to his fellow-man,
or to any body of men called a church, what perplexity must he
experience ere he can make up his mind which to choose! Instead of
relying upon the ONE standard which God has given him in his Word;
should he build his hope upon a human system he could be certain only
that man is fallible and subject to err. How striking an instance
have we, in our day, of the result of education, when the mind does
not implicitly follow the guidance of the revealed Word of God.
Two brothers, named Newman, educated at the same school, trained in
the same university, brought up under the same religious system--all
human arts exhausted to mould their minds into strict uniformity,
yet gradually receding from the same point in opposite directions,
but in equally downward roads; one to embrace the most puerile
legends of the middle ages, the other to open infidelity. Not so
with those who follow the teachings of the Word of God, by which,
and not by any church, they are to be individually judged at the great
day: no pontiff, no priest, no minister, can intervene or mediate
for them at the bar of God. There it will be said, 'I know you, by
your prayers for Divine guidance and your submission to my revealed
will'; or, 'I know you not,' for you preferred the guidance of
frail, fallible men, to me, and to my Word--a solemn consideration,
which, as it proved a source of solid happiness and extensive
usefulness to Bunyan in his pilgrimage, so it insured to him, as
it will to all who follow his course, a solid foundation on which
to stand at the great and terrible day, and thus enable them to
live as well as die in the sure and certain hope of a triumphant
entry into the celestial city.

THE THIRD PERIOD.

BUNYAN IS BAPTIZED, AND ENTERS INTO COMMUNION WITH A CHRISTIAN
CHURCH AT BEDFORD--IS SET APART TO FILL THE DEACON'S OFFICE, AND
SENT OUT AS AN ITINERANT PREACHER IN THE NEIGHBOURING VILLAGES.

Man is naturally led to seek the society of his fellow-men.
His personal progress, and the great interests of civilization,
depend upon the nature of his friendly intercourse and his proper
associations. So is it with the Christian, but in a much higher
degree. Not only does he require companions with whom he can enjoy
Christian communion--of sufferings and of pleasures--in seasons of
depressing trials, and in holy elevations--but with whom he may also
form plans to spread the genial influence of Christianity, which
has blessed and so boundlessly enriched his own soul. Christian
fellowship and communion has received the broad seal of heaven.
'The Lord hearkened,' when they that feared him spake often to one
another, 'and a book of remembrance was written before him for them
that feared the Lord' (Mal 3:16).

Bunyan possessed a soul with faculties capable of the highest
enjoyment of the communion of saints in church order. His ideas of
mutual forbearance--that 'in lowliness of mind should each esteem
others better than themselves'--he enforces with very peculiar
power, and, at the same time, with delicate sensibility. After the
pilgrims had been washed by Innocence in the Interpreter's bath,
he sealed them, which 'greatly added to their beauty,' and then
arrayed them in white raiment of fine linen; and 'when the women
were thus adorned, they seemed to be a terror one to the other, for
that they could not see that glory each one on herself which they
could see in each other. Now, therefore, they began to esteem
each other better than themselves.'[127] 'The Interpreter led them
into his garden, where was great variety of flowers. Then said he,
Behold, the flowers are diverse in stature, in quality and colour,
and smell and virtue, and some are better than some; also, where the
gardener hath set them, there they stand, and quarrel not with one
another.'[128] 'When Christians stand every one in their places,
and do their relative work, then they are like the flowers in the
garden that grow where the gardener hath planted them, and both
honour the gardener and the garden in which they are planted.'[129]
In the same treatise on Christian Behaviour, similar sentiments
are expressed in language extremely striking and beautiful. 'The
doctrine of the gospel is like the dew and the small rain that
distilleth upon the tender grass, wherewith it doth flourish and
is kept green (Deut 32:2).Christians are like the several flowers
in a garden that have upon each of them the dew of heaven, which,
being shaken with the wind, they let fall their dew at each other's
roots, whereby they are jointly nourished, and become nourishers
of one another. For Christians to commune savourly of God's matters
one with another, it is as if they opened to each other's nostrils
boxes of perfume.'[130] Similar peaceful, heavenly principles, flow
through Bunyan's Discourse of the Building, &c., of the House of
God and its inmates;[131] and blessed would it be if in all our
churches every believer was baptized into such motives of forbearance
and brotherly love. These sentiments do honour to the head and heart
of the prince of allegorists, and should be presented in letters
of gold to every candidate for church fellowship. A young man
entertaining such opinions as these, however rude his former conduct,
being born again to spiritual enjoyments, would become a treasure
to the Christian society with which he might be connected.

In ordinary cases, the minister or people who have been useful to
a young convert, lead him in his first choice of Christian associates;
but here we have no ordinary man. Bunyan, in all things pertaining
to religion, followed no human authority, but submitted himself to
the guidance of the inspired volume. Possessing a humble hope of
salvation, he would read with deep interest that 'the Lord added
to the church such as should be saved.' The question which has so
much puzzled the learned, as to a church or the church, would be
solved without difficulty by one who was as learned in the Scriptures
as he was ignorant of the subtle distinctions and niceties of the
schools. He found that there was one church at Jerusalem (Acts
8:1), another at Corinth (1 Cor 1:2), seven in Asia (Rev 1:4),
and others distributed over the world; that 'the visible church of
Christ is a (or every) congregation of faithful men.'[132] He well
knew that uniformity is a fool's paradise; that though man was
made in the image of God; it derogates not from the beauty of that
image that no two men are alike. The stars show forth God's handy
work, yet 'one star different from another star in glory' (1 Cor
15:41). Uniformity is opposed to every law of nature, for no two
leaves upon a majestic tree are alike. Who but an idiot or a maniac
would attempt to reduce the mental powers of all men to uniformity?
Every church may have its own order of public worship while the
Scriptures form the standard of truth and morals. Where differences
of opinion occur, as they most certainly will, as to the observance
of days or abstinence from meats--whether to stand, or sit, or
kneel, in prayer--whether to stand while listening to some pages
of the inspired volume, and to sit while others are publicly
read--whether to call Jude a saint, and refuse the title to Isaiah--are
questions which should bring into active exercise all the graces of
Christian charity; and, in obedience to the apostolic injunction,
they must agree to differ. 'Let every man be fully persuaded in
his own mind' (Rom 14:5). Human arts have been exhausted to prevent
that mental exercise or self-persuasion which is essential to a
Christian profession. The great object of Satan has ever been to
foster indifference, that deadly lethargy, by leading man to any
source of information rather than prayerful researches into the
Bible. Bunyan's severe discipline in Christ's school would lead
him to form a judgment for himself; he was surrounded by a host
of sects, and, with such a Bible-loving man, it is an interesting
inquiry what party he would join.

He lived in times of extraordinary excitement. England was in a
transition state. A long chain of events brought on a crisis which
involved the kingdom in tribulation. It was the struggle between
the unbridled despotism of Epsicopacy, and the sturdy liberty of
Puritanism. For although the immediate cause of the civil wars was
gross misgovernment--arbitrary taxation without the intervention
of Parliament, monopolies and patents, to the ruin of trade; in
fact, every abuse of the royal power--still, without the additional
spur of religious persecution, the spirit of the people would never
have proved invincible and overpowering. The efforts of Archbishop
Laud, aided by the queen and her popish confessor, Panzani, to
subjugate Britain to the galling yoke of Rome, signally failed,
involving in the ruin the life of the king and his archbishop, and
all the desolating calamities of intestine wars, strangely called
'civil.' In this strife many of the clergy and most of the bishops
took a very active part, aiding and abetting the king's party in their
war against the parliament--and they thus brought upon themselves
great pains and penalties. The people became suddenly released
from mental bondage; and if the man who had been born blind, when
he first received the blessing of sight, 'saw men as trees walking,'
we cannot be surprised that religious speculations were indulged in,
some of which proved to be crude and wild, requiring much vigorous
persuasive pruning before they produced good fruit. Bunyan was
surrounded by all these parties; for although the rights of conscience
were not recognized--the Papists and Episcopalians, the Baptists
and Unitarians, with the Jews, being proscribed--yet the hand of
persecution was comparatively light. Had Bunyan chosen to associate
with the Episcopalians, he would not have passed through those
severe sufferings on which are founded his lasting honours. The
Presbyterians and Independents received the patronage of the state
under the Commonwealth, and the great mass of the clergy conformed to
the directory, many of them reciting the prayers they had formerly
read; while a considerable number, whose conscience could not
submit to the system then enforced by law, did, to their honour,
resign their livings, and suffer the privations and odium of being
Dissenters. Among these were necessarily included the bishops.[133]

Of all sects that of the Baptists had been the most bitterly
written against and persecuted. Even their first cousins, the
Quakers, attacked them in language that would, in our peaceful days,
be considered outrageous. 'The Baptists used to meet in garrets,
cheese-lofts, coal-holes, and such like mice walks,'--'theses
tumultuous, blood-thirsty, covenant-breaking, government-destroying
Anabaptists.'[134] The offence that called forth these epithets
was, that in addressing Charles II on his restoration, they stated
that "they were no abettors of the Quakers." Had royal authority
possessed the slightest influence over Bunyan's religious opinions,
the question as to his joining the Baptists would have been settled
without investigation. Among other infatuations of Charles I, had
been his hatred of any sect that professed the right and duty of
man to think for himself in choosing his way to heaven. In 1639
he published his 'Declaration concerning the tumults in Scotland,'
when violence was resorted to against the introduction of the Common
Prayer in which he denounced voluntary obedience because it was not
of constraint, and called it 'damnable'; he calls the principles
of the Anabaptists, in not submitting their consciences to human
laws, 'furious frenzies,' and 'madness'; all Protestants are 'to
detest and persecute them'; 'these Anabaptists raged most in their
madness'; 'the scandal of their frenzies'; 'we are amazed at, and
aggrieved at their horrible impudence'; 'we do abhor and detest
them all as rebellious and treasonable.'[135] This whole volume
is amusingly assuming. The king claims his subjects as personal
chattels, with whose bodies and minds he had a right to do as he
pleased. Bunyan owed no spiritual submission to man, 'whose breath
is in his nostrils'; and risking all hazards, he became one of the
denounced and despised sect of Baptists. To use the language of his
pilgrim, he passed the lions, braving all the dangers of an open
profession of faith in Christ, and entered the house called Beautiful,
which 'was built by the Lord of the hill, on purpose to entertain
such pilgrims in.'[136] He first gains permission of the watchman,
or minister, and then of the inmates, or church members. This
interesting event is said to have taken place about the year
1653.[137] Mr. Doe, in The Struggler, thus refers to it, Bunyan
'took all advantages to ripen his understanding in religion, and
so he lit on the dissenting congregation of Christians at Bedford,
and was, upon confession of faith, baptized about the year 1653,'[138]
when he was in the twenty-fifth year of his age. No minutes of the
proceedings of this church, prior to the death of Mr. Gifford in
1656,[139] are extant, or they would identify the exact period when
Bunyan's baptism and admission to the church took place. The spot
where he was baptized is a creek by the river Ouse, at the end
of Duck Mill Lane. It is a natural baptistery, a proper width and
depth of water constantly fresh; pleasantly situated; sheltered
from the public highway near the High Street. The Lord's Supper was
celebrated in a large room in which the disciples met, the worship
consecrating the place.[140]

Religious feelings and conduct have at all times a tendency to
promote the comfort, and elevate the character of the poor. How
often have we seen them thus blessed; the ragged family comfortably
clothed, the hungry fed, and the inmates of a dirty miserable cottage
or hovel become a pattern of cleanly happiness. One of Bunyan's
biographers, who was an eye-witness, bears this testimony. 'By this
time his family was increased, and as that increased God increased
his stores, so that he lived now in great credit among his neighbours.'
He soon became a respectable member of civil as well as religious
society; for, by the time that he joined the church, his Christian
character was so fully established, that, notwithstanding the meanness
of his origin and employment, he was considered worthy of uniting
in a memorial to the Lord Protector. It was to recommend two
gentlemen to form part of the council, after Cromwell had dissolved
the Long Parliament. It is a curious document, very little known,
and illustrative of the peculiar style of these eventful times.

Letter from the people of Bedfordshire to the Lord Generall Cromwell,
and the Councell of the army.

May 13th, 1653.

May it please your Lordship, and the rest of the council of the
army. We (we trust) servants of Jesus Christ, inhabitants in the
county of Bedford, haveing fresh upon our hearts the sadde oppressions
we have (a long while) groan'd under from the late parlayment, and
now eyeing and owning (through grace) the good hand of God in this
great turne of providence, being persuaded that it is from the Lord
that you should be instrument in his hand at such a time as this,
for the electing of such persons whoe may goe in and out before his
people in righteousnesse, and governe these nations in judgment,
we having sought the Lord for yow, and hopeing that God will still
doe greate things by yow, understanding that it is in your hearte
through the Lord's assistance, to establish an authority consisting
of men able, loveing truth, feareing God, and hateing covetouseness;
and we having had some experience of men with us, we have judged
it our duty to God, to yow, and to the rest of his people, humbly
to present two men, viz., Nathaniell Taylor, and John Croke, now
Justices of Peace in our County, whom we judge in the Lord qualified
to manage a trust in the ensuing government. All which we humbly
referre to your serious considerations, and subscribe our names
this 13th day of May, 1653--

John Eston, Clement Berridge, Isaac Freeman, John Grewe, John
Bunyan, William Dell, John Gifford, William Baker, junr., William
Wheelar, Ja. Rush, Anth. Harrington, John Gibbs, Tho. Varrse,
Richard Spensley, John Donne, Michael Cooke, Edward Covinson, Tho.
Gibbs, John Ramsay, John Hogge, Edward White, Robert English, John
Jeffard, John Browne, John Edridge, John Ivory, John White, George
Gee, Daniell Groome, Charles Peirse, Ambrose Gregory, Luke Parratt,
Thomas Cooke, William Page, Thomas Knott, Thomas Honnor. These to
the Lord Generall Cromwell, and the rest of the councell of the
army, present.[141]

Bunyan's daughter Elizabeth was born at Elstow, April 14, 1654, and
a singular proof of his having changed his principles on baptism
appears in the church register. His daughter Mary was baptized
in 1650, but his Elizabeth in 1654 is registered as born, but no
mention is made of baptism.

The poor harassed pilgrim having been admitted into communion with
a Christian church, enjoyed fully, for a short season, his new
privileges. He thus expresses his feelings:--'After I had propounded
to the church that my desire was to walk in the order and ordinances
of Christ with them, and was also admitted by them: while I thought
of that blessed ordinance of Christ, which was his last supper
with his disciples before his death, that scriptures, "this do in
remembrance of me," was made a very precious word unto me; for by
it the Lord came down upon my conscience with the discovery of his
death for my sins: and as I then felt, did as if he plunged me in
the virtue of the same.'[142]

In this language we have an expression which furnishes a good
sample of his energetic feelings. He had been immersed in water at
his baptism, and doubtless believed it to be a figure of his death
to sin and resurrection to holiness; and when he sat at the Lord's
table he felt that he was baptized into the virtue of his Lord's
death; he is plunged into it, and feels the holy influence covering
his soul with all its powers.

His pastor, John Gifford, was a remarkably pious and sensible man,
exactly fitted to assist in maturing the mind of his young member.
Bunyan had, for a considerable time, sat under his ministry, and
had cultivated acquaintance with the members of his church; and so
prayerfully had he made up his mind as to this important choice of
a church, with which he might enter into fellowship, that, although
tempted by the most alluring prospects of greater usefulness,
popularity, and emolument, he continued his church fellowship with
these poor people through persecution and distress, imprisonment
and the threats of transportation, or an ignominious death, until
he crossed the river 'which has no bridge,' and ascended to the
celestial city, a period of nearly forty years. Of the labours of
his first pastor, John Gifford, but little is known, except that
he founded the church of Christ at Bedford, probably the first, in
modern times, which allowed to every individual freedom of judgment
as to water baptism; receiving all those who decidedly appeared
to have put on Christ, and had been received by him; but avoiding,
with godly jealousy, any mixture of the world with the church. Mr.
Gifford's race was short, consistent, and successful. Bunyan calls
him by an appellation, very probably common in his neighbourhood
and among his flock, 'holy Mr. Gifford';[143] a title infinitely
superior to all the honours of nobility, or of royalty. He was
a miracle of mercy and grace, for a very few years before he had
borne the character of an impure and licentious man--an open enemy
to the saints of God. His pastoral letter, left upon record in the
church-book, written when drawing near the end of his pilgrimage,
is most admirable; it contains an allusion to his successors, Burton
or Bunyan, and must have had a tendency in forming their views of
a gospel church. Even Mr. Southey praises this puritanic epistle
as exemplifying 'a wise and tolerant and truly Christian spirit':
and as it has not been published in any life of Bunyan, I venture
to introduce it without abridgement:--

To the Church over which God made me an overseer when I was in the
world.

I beseech you, brethren beloved, let these following words (wrote
in my love to you, and care over you, when our heavenly Father
was removing me to the kingdom of his dear Son), be read in your
church-gatherings together. I shall not now, dearly beloved, write
unto you about that which is the first, and without which all other
things are as nothing in the sight of God, viz., the keeping the
mystery of the faith in a pure conscience; I shall not, I say, write
of these things, though the greatest, having spent my labours among
you, to root you and build you up in Christ through the grace you
have received; and to press you to all manner of holiness in your
conversations, that you may be found of the Lord, without spot,
and blameless, at His coming. But the things I shall speak to you
of, are about your CHURCH AFFAIRS, which I fear have been little
considered by most of you; which things, if not mended aright,
and submitted unto, according to the will of God, will by degrees
bring you under divisions, distractions, and at last, to confusion
of that gospel order and fellowship which now, through grace, you
enjoy. Therefore, my brethren, in the first place, I would not
have any of you ignorant of this, that every one of you are as much
bound now to walk with the church in all love; and in the ordinances
of Jesus Christ our Lord, as when I was present among you: neither
have any of you liberty to join yourselves to any other society,
because your pastor is removed from you; for you were not joined
to the ministry, but to Christ, and the church; and this is and was
the will of God in Christ to all the churches of the saints, read
Acts 2:42; and compare it with Acts 1:14, 15. And I charge you
before the Lord, as you will answer it at the coming of our Lord
Jesus, that none of you be found guilty herein.

Secondly. Be constant in your church assemblies. Let all the work
which concerns the church be done faithfully among you; as admission
of members, exercising of gifts, election of officers, as need
requires, and all other things as if named, which the Scriptures
being searched, will lead you into, through the Spirit; which things,
if you do, the Lord will be with you, and you will convince others
that Christ is your head, and your dependency is not upon man; but
if you do the work of the Lord negligently, if you mind your own
things and not the things of Christ, if you grow of indifferent
spirits, whether you mind the work of the Lord in his church
or no, I fear the Lord by degrees will suffer the comfort of your
communion to be dried up, and the candlestick which is yet standing
to be broken in pieces; which God forbid.

Now, concerning your admission of members, I shall leave you to the
Lord for counsel, who hath hitherto been with you; only thus much
I think expedient to stir up your remembrance in; that after you
are satisfied in the work of grace in the party you are to join
with, the said party do solemnly declare (before some of the church
at least), That Union with Christ is the foundation of all saints'
communion; and not any ordinances of Christ, or any judgment
or opinion about externals; and the said party ought to declare,
whether a brother or sister, that through grace they will walk in
love with the church, though there should happen any difference in
judgment about other things. Concerning separation from the church
about baptism, laying on of hands, anointing with oil, psalms, or
any externals, I charge every one of you respectively, as you will
give an account for it to our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge
both quick and dead at his coming, that none of you be found guilty
of this great evil; which, while some have committed, and that
through a zeal for God, yet not according to knowledge, they have
erred from the law of the love of Christ, and have made a rent from
the true church, which is but one. I exhort you, brethren, in your
comings together, Let all things be done decently, and in order,
according to the Scriptures. Let all things be done among you
without strife and envy, without self-seeking and vain-glory. Be
clothed with humility, and submit to one another in love. Let the
gifts of the church be exercised according to order. Let no gift be
concealed which is for edification; yet let those gifts be chiefly
exercised which are most for the perfecting of the saints. Let
your discourses be to build up one another in your most holy faith,
and to provoke one another to love and good works: if this be not
well-minded, much time may be spent and the church reap little or
no advantage. Let there be strong meat for the strong, and milk
for babes. In your assemblies avoid all disputes which gender to
strife, as questions about externals, and all doubtful disputations.
If any come among you who will be contentious in these things,
let it be declared that you have no such order, nor any of the
churches of God. If any come among you with any doctrine contrary
to the doctrine of Christ, you must not treat with such an one as
with a brother, or enter into dispute of the things of faith with
reasonings (for this is contrary to the Scriptures); but let such
of the brethren who are the fullest of the Spirit, and the word of
Christ, oppose such an one steadfastly face to face, and lay open
his folly to the church, from the Scriptures. If a brother through
weakness speak anything contrary to any known truth of God (though
not intended by him), some other brother of the church must
in love clear up the truth, lest many of the church be laid under
temptation. Let no respect of persons be in your comings-together;
when you are met as a church there's neither rich nor poor, bond
nor free in Christ Jesus. 'Tis not a good practice to be offering
places or seats when those who are rich come in; especially it is
a great evil to take notice of such in time of prayer, or the word;
then are bowings and civil observances at such times not of God.
Private wrongs are not presently to be brought unto the church. If
any of the brethren are troubled about externals, let some of the
church (let it not be a church business) pray for and with such
parties.

None ought to withdraw from the church if any brother should walk
disorderly, but he that walketh disorderly must bear his own burden,
according to the Scriptures. If any brother should walk disorderly,
he cannot be shut out from any ordinance before church censure.
Study among yourselves what is the nature of fellowship, as the
word,[144] prayer, and breaking of bread; which, whilst few, I
judge, seriously consider, there is much falling short of duty in
the churches of Christ. You that are most eminent in profession,
set a pattern to all the rest of the church. Let your faith, love,
and zeal, be very eminent; if any of you cast a dim light, you will
do much hurt in the church. Let there be kept up among you solemn
days of prayer and thanksgiving; and let some time be set apart, to
seek God for your seeds, which thing hath hitherto been omitted. Let
your deacons have a constant stock by them, to supply the necessity
of those who are in want. Truly, brethren, there is utterly a fault
among you that are rich, especially in this thing, 'tis not that
little which comes from you on the first day of the week that will
excuse you. I beseech you, be not found guilty of this sin any
longer. He that sows sparingly will reap sparingly. Be not backward
in your gatherings-together; let none of you willingly stay till
part of the meeting be come,[145] especially such who should be
examples to the flock. One or two things are omitted about your
comings-together, which I shall here add. I beseech you, forbear
sitting in prayer, except parties be any way disabled; 'tis not a
posture which suits with the majesty of such an ordinance. Would you
serve your prince so? In prayer, let all self-affected expressions
be avoided, and all vain repetitions. God hath not gifted, I judge,
every brother to be a mouth to the church. Let such as have most
of the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, shut up all your
comings-together, that ye may go away with your hearts comforted
and quickened.

Come together in time, and leave off orderly; for God is a God of
order among his saints. Let none of you give offence to his brethren
in indifferent things, but be subject to one another in love. Be
very careful what gifts you approve of by consent for public service.

Spend much time before the Lord, about choosing a pastor, for though
I suppose he is before you,[146] whom the Lord hath appointed, yet
it will be no disadvantage to you, I hope, if you walk a year or
two as you are before election; and then, if you be all agreed, let
him be set apart, according to the Scriptures. Salute the brethren
who walk not in fellowship with you, with the same love and name
of brother or sister as those who do.

Let the promises made to be accomplished in the latter days, be
often urged before the Lord in your comings-together; and forget
not your brethren in bonds. Love him much for the work's sake, who
labours over you in the word and doctrine. Let no man despise his
youth.[147] Muzzle not the mouth of the ox that treads out the
corn to you. Search the Scriptures; let some of them be read to
you about this thing. If your teacher at any time be laid aside,
you ought to meet together as a church, and build up one another.
If the members at such a time will go to a public ministry, it
must first be approved of by the church. Farewell; exhort, counsel,
support, reprove one another in love.

Finally, brethren, be all of one mind, walk in love one to another,
even as Christ Jesus hath loved you, and given himself for you.
Search the Scriptures for a supply of those things wherein I am
wanting. Now the God of peace, who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ
from the dead, multiply his peace upon you, and preserve you to
his everlasting kingdom by Jesus Christ. Stand fast: the Lord is
at hand.

That this was written by me, I have set my name to it, in the
presence of two of the brethren of the church.

John Gifford.[148]

Bunyan was now settled under the happiest circumstances, and doubtless
looked forward to much religious enjoyment. A pious wife--peace
in his soul--a most excellent pastor, and in full communion with
a Christian church. Alas! his enjoyments were soon interrupted;
again a tempest was to agitate his mind, that he might be more deeply
humbled and prepared to become a Barnabas or son of consolation to
the spiritually distressed.

It is a remarkable fact, that upon the baptism of our Lord, after
that sublime declaration of Jehovah--'this is my beloved Son,'
'Jesus was led into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.' As
it was with their leader, so it frequently happens to his followers.
After having partaken, for the first time, of the holy enjoyments
of the Lord's table--tending to exalt and elevate them, they are
often abased and humbled in their own esteem, by the assaults of
Satan and his temptations, aided by an evil heart of unbelief. Thus
Christian having been cherished in the house called Beautiful, and
armed for the conflict, descended into the Valley of Humiliation,
encountered Apollyon in deadly combat, and walked through the Valley
of the Shadow of Death. 'For three quarters of a year, fierce and
said temptations did beset me to blasphemy, that I could never have
rest nor ease. But at last the Lord came in upon my soul with that
same scripture, by which my soul was visited before; and after that,
I have been usually very well and comfortable in the partaking of
that blessed ordinance; and have, I trust, therein discerned the
Lord's body, as broken for my sins, and that his precious blood hath
been shed for my transgressions.'[149] This is what Bunyan calls,
'the soul killing to itself its sins, its righteousness, wisdom,
resolutions, and the things which it trusted in by nature'; and
then receiving 'a most glorious, perfect, and never-fading life.'
The life of Christ in all its purity and perfections imputed to
me--'Sometimes I bless the Lord my soul hath had this life not only
imputed to me, but the very glory of it upon my soul--the Son of
God himself in his own person, now at the right hand of his Father
representing me complete before the mercy-seat in his ownself.'
'There was my righteousness just before the eyes of Divine glory.'[150]

About this period his robust hardy frame gave way under the attack
of disease, and we have to witness his feelings when the king of
terrors appeared to be beginning his deadly work. Whether the fiery
trials, the mental tempest through which he had passed, were too
severe for his bodily frame, is not recorded. His narrative is, that,
'Upon a time I was somewhat inclining to a consumption, wherewith,
about the spring I was suddenly and violently seized, with much
weakness in my outward man; insomuch that I thought I could not
live.'[151] This is slightly varied in his account of this illness
in his Law and Grace. He there says, 'having contracted guilt upon
my soul, and having some distemper of body upon me, I supposed
that death might now so seize upon, as to take me away from among
men.[152] These serious considerations led to a solemn investigation
of his hopes. His having been baptized, his union to a church, the
good opinion of his fellow-men, are not in the slightest degree
relied upon as evidences of the new birth, or of a death to sin
and resurrection to holiness.' 'Now began I afresh to give myself
up to a serious examination after my state and condition for the
future, and of my evidences for that blessed world to come: for
it hath, I bless the name of God, been my usual course, as always,
so especially in the day of affliction, to endeavour to keep my
interest in the life to come, clear before my eye.

'But I had no sooner began to recall to mind my former experience
of the goodness of God to my soul, but there came flocking into my
mind an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions: amongst
which these were at this time most to my affliction, namely,
my deadness, dullness, and coldness in holy duties; my wanderings
of heart, my wearisomeness in all good things, my want of love to
God, his ways and people, with this at the end of all, "Are these
the fruits of Christianity? Are these the tokens of a blessed man?"

'At the apprehension of these things my sickness was doubled upon
me, for now was I sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged with
guilt; now also was my former experience of God's goodness to me
quite taken out of my mind, and hid as if it had never been, nor seen.
Now was my soul greatly pinched between these two considerations,
"Live I must not, die I dare not." Now I sunk and fell in my spirit,
and was giving up all for lost; but as I was walking up and down
in my house, as a man in a most woeful state, that word of God took
hold of my heart, Ye are "justified freely by his grace, through
the redemption that is in Jesus Christ" (Rom 3:24). But O! what a
turn it made upon me!

'Now was I as one awakened out of some troublesome sleep and dream;
and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had heard
it thus expounded to me:--"Sinner, thou thinkest, that because of
thy sins and infirmities, I cannot save thy soul; but behold my Son
is by me, and upon him I look, and not on thee, and will deal with
thee according as I am pleased with him." At this I was greatly
lightened in my mind, and made to understand, that God could
justify a sinner at any time; it was but his looking upon Christ,
and imputing of his benefits to us, and the work was forthwith
done.'[153]

'Now was I got on high, I saw myself within the arms of grace and
mercy; and though I was before afraid to think of a dying hour, yet
now I cried, Let me die. Now death was lovely and beautiful in my
sight, for I saw that we shall never live indeed, till we be gone
to the other world. I saw more in those words, "Heirs of God" (Rom
8:17), than ever I shall be able to express. "Heirs of God," God
himself is the portion of his saints.'[154]

As his mental agitation subsided into this delicious calm, his bodily
health was restored; to use his own figure, Captain Consumption,
with all his men of death, were[155] routed, and his strong bodily
health trimphed over disease; or, to use the more proper language
of an eminent Puritan, 'When overwhelmed with the deepest sorrows,
and that for many doleful months, he who is Lord of nature healed
my body, and he who is the Father of mercies and God of all grace
has proclaimed liberty to the captive, and given rest to my weary
soul.'[156] Here we have a key to the most eventful picture in
the Pilgrim's Progress--The Valley of the Shadow of Death--which
is placed in the midst of the journey. When in the prime of life,
death looked at him and withdrew for a season. It was the shadow
of death that came over his spirit.

The church at Bedford having increased, Bunyan was chosen to fill
the honourable office of a deacon. No man could have been better
fitted for that office than Bunyan was. He was honesty itself, had
suffered severe privations, so as to feel for those who were pinched
with want; he had great powers of discrimination, to distinguish
between the poverty of idleness, and that distress which arises from
circumstances over which human foresight has no control, so as to
relieve with propriety the pressure of want, without encouraging
the degrading and debasing habit of depending upon alms, instead
of labouring to provide the necessaries of life. He had no fine
clothes to be spoiled by trudging down the filthiest lanes, and
entering the meanest hovels to relieve suffering humanity. The
poor--and that is the great class to whom the gospel is preached,
and by whom it is received--would hail him as a brother. Gifted in
prayer, full of sound and wholesome counsel drawn from holy writ,
he must have been a peculiar blessing to the distressed, and to all
the members who stood in need of advice and assistance. Such were
the men intended by the apostles, 'men of honest report, full
of the Holy Ghost and wisdom' (Acts 6:3), whom the church were to
select, to relieve the apostles from the duties of ministration to
the wants of the afflicted members, in the discharge of which they
had given offence.

While thus actively employed, he was again visited with a severe
illness, and again was subject to a most searching and solemn
investigation as to his fitness to appear before the judgment-seat
of God. 'All that time the tempter did beset me strongly, labouring
to hide from me my former experience of God's goodness; setting
before me the terrors of death, and the judgment of God, insomuch
that at this time, through my fear of miscarrying for ever, should
I now die, I was as one dead before death came; I thought that
there was no way but to hell I must.'[157]

'A wounded spirit who can bear.' Well might the apostle say, 'If
in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most
miserable' (1 Cor 15:19). Bunyan had enjoyed holy emotions full of
glory, and now the devil was threatening him, not only with the loss
of heaven, but the terrors of hell. The Puritan, Rogers, describes
religious melancholy as 'the worst of all distempers, and those sinking
and guilty fears which it brings along with it are inexpressibly
dreadful; what anguish, what desolation! I dare not look to heaven;
there I see the greatness of God, who is against me. I dare not
look into his Word; for there I see all his threats, as so many
barbed arrows to strike me to the heart. I dare not look into the
grave; because thence I am like to have a doleful resurrection; in
this doleful night the soul hath no evidence at all of its former
grace.'[158] Bunyan's experience reminds us of the impressive
language of Job--a book full of powerful imagery and magnificent
ideas, in which Bunyan delighted, calling it 'that blessed
book.'[159] Job goes on, from step to step, describing his mental
wretchedness, until he rises to a climax, God 'runneth upon me like
a giant' (16:7-22). 'Thou huntest me as a fierce lion' (10:16).
'The arrows of the Almighty are within me; they drink up my spirit:
the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me' (6:4).
Poor Bunyan, in the depth of his distress, cried unto God, and was
heard and relieved from these soul troubles. He recollected the
joyful ascent of Lazarus from the extreme of human misery to the
height of celestial enjoyments. His spirit was sweetly revived, and
he was enabled, with delight, to hope yet in God, when that word
fell with great weight upon his mind, 'O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?' 'At this he became both well in
body and mind at once; his sickness did presently vanish, and he
again walked comfortably in his work for God.'[160] The words, 'by
grace are ye saved,' followed him through the rest of his pilgrimage.
His consolation was, that 'a little true grace will go a great way;
yea, and do more wonders than we are aware of. If we have but grace
enough to keep us groaning after God, it is not all the world that
can destroy us.'[161] He had now become deeply instructed in the
school of Christ, and was richly furnished with the weapons of
spiritual warfare; 'a scribe instructed into the kingdom of heaven,
like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out
of his treasure things new and old' (Matt 13:12). Or, as 'the man
of God, perfected, thoroughly furnished unto all good works' (2
Tim 3:17). It was powerfully impressed upon his mind that all his
inward conflicts were to be made use of in preparing him to instruct
others. All the events of his Saviour's life passed before his mind
as if he had stood by as a witness to his birth--his walking with
his disciples; his wondrous parables and stupendous miracles; his
mental and bodily sufferings; his sacrifice, burial, ascension,
intercession, and final judgment; all passed in vivid review before
the eye of his mind; and then, he says, 'as I was musing with myself
what these things should mean, methought I heard such a word in my
heart as this, I have set thee down on purpose, for I have something
more than ordinary for thee to do'; which made me the more to
marvel, saying, 'What, my Lord, such a poor wretch as I?'[162] Such
was his inward call to the ministry; and it being attended with
the three requisites usually insisted on among Dissenters--ability,
inclination, and opportunity--he was sent out as an itinerant
preacher in the surrounding villages in 1655, and laid the foundation
of many churches, which now flourish to the praise of the glory of
Divine grace. In some of these villages the gospel had never before
been preached; they were strongholds of Satan. These were fit places
for the full display of his intrepid energy.

After thus preaching and much suffering, for fifteen years, he was
appointed to the pastoral office, or eldership.[163] Can a man enter
upon the work of the ministry from a better school than this? Deeply
versed in scriptural knowledge; thoroughly humbled by the assaults
of sin and Satan; aware of his devices; with a keen perception of
the value of the soul; its greatness; and, if lost, the causes and
the unspeakable extent of its loss. Solemnly devout and fluent in
prayer; ready in conversation upon heavenly things; speaking the
truth without fear of consequences, yet avoiding unnecessary offence;
first speaking in the church-meeting, and then more extensively in
barns, or woods, or dells, to avoid the informers.[164] Such was
his training; and the result was, that, when permitted to proclaim
the gospel publicly, thousands hung upon his words with intense
feeling; numerous converts were by his means added to the church;
the proud became broken-hearted, and the lowly were raised, and
blessings abounded; the drunkards were made sober; thieves and
covetous were reclaimed; the blasphemers were made to sing the
praises of God; the desert bid fair to blossom and bring forth
fruit as a garden. But, alas! his early labours were contrary to
acts of parliament; the spirit of intolerance and persecution soon
troubled, and eventually consigned him to a prison.

Before we bid a final farewell to Bunyan's extraordinary mental
struggles with unbelief, it may be well to indulge in a few sober
reflections. Are the narratives of these mighty tempests in his
spirit plain matters of fact? No one can read the works of Bunyan
and doubt for a moment his truthfulness. His language is that of
the heart, fervent but not exaggerated, strong but a plain tale of
real feelings. He says, and he believed it, 'My sins have appeared
so big to me, that I thought one of my sins have been as big as
all the sins of all the men in the nation; ay and of other nations
too, reader; these things be not fancies, for I have smarted for
this experience. It is true that Satan has the art of making the
uttermost of every sin; he can blow it up, make it swell, make every
hair of its head as big as a cedar;[165] but yet the least stream
of the heart blood of Jesus hath vanished all away and hath made
it to fly, to the astonishment of such a poor sinner, and hath
delivered me up into sweet and heavenly peace and joy in the Holy
Ghost.'[166] Some have supposed the narrative to be exaggerated,
while others have attributed the disturbed state of his mind to
disease; my humble belief is that the whole is a plain unvarnished
account of facts; that those facts occurred while he was in full
possession of all the faculties of his mind. To ascribe such powers
to the invisible world by which we are constantly surrounded, does
not agree with the doctrines of modern philosophers. Those holy
or unholy suggestions suddenly injected, would by the world be set
down as the hallucinations of a distempered imagination. Carnal
relations attributed Christian's alarm to 'some frenzy distemper
got into his head,' and Southey, following their example, ascribes
Bunyan's hallowed feelings to his want of 'sober judgment,' 'his
brutality and extreme ignorance,' a 'stage of burning enthusiasm,'
and to 'an age in which hypocrisy was regnant, and fanaticism rampant
throughout the land.'[167] What a display of reigning hypocrisy
and rampant fanaticism was it to see the game at cat openly played
by men on Sunday, the church bells calling them to their sport!!!
Had Southey been poet-laureate to Charles II, he might with equal
truth have concealed the sensuality, open profaneness, and debauchery
of that profligate monarch and his court of concubines, and have
praised him as 'the Lord's anointed.' Bunyan was an eye-witness of
the state of the times in which he lived, and he associated with
numbers of the poor in Bedfordshire and the adjoining counties. So
truthful a man's testimony is of great value, and he proves that
no miraculous reformation of manners had taken place; no regnant
hypocrisy nor rampant fanaticism. In 1655, that being the brightest
period of the Commonwealth, he thus 'sighs' over the state of his
country:--'There are but a few places in the Bible but there are
threatenings against one sinner or another; against drunkards,
swearers, liars, proud persons, strumpets, whoremongers, covetous,
railers, extortioners, thieves, lazy persons. In a word, all manner
of sins are reproved, and there is a sore punishment to be executed
on the committers of them; and all this made mention of in the
Scriptures. But for all this, how thick, and by heaps, do these
wretches walk up and down our streets? Do but go into the ale-houses,
and you shall see almost every room besprinkled with them, so
foaming out their own shame that it is enough to make the heart of
a saint to tremble.'[168] This was a true character of the great
masses of the labouring and trading portions of the commonwealth.
Let us hear his testimony also as to the most sacred profession,
the clergy, in 1654:--

'A reason why delusions do so easily take place in the hearts of
the ignorant, is, because those that pretend to be their teachers,
do behave themselves so basely among them. And indeed I may say
of these, as our Lord said of the Pharisees in another case, the
blood of the ignorant shall be laid to their charge. They that
pretend they are sent of the Lord, and come, saying, Thus saith
the Lord; we are the servants of the Lord, our commission is from
the Lord by succession; I say, these pretending themselves to be the
preachers of truth, but are not, do, by their loose conversation,
render the doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, by whom the
saints are saved, contemptible, and do give the adversary mighty
encouragement, to cry out against the truths of our Lord Jesus
Christ, because of their wicked waling. For the most part of them,
they are the men that at this day do so harden their hearers in
their sins by giving them such ill examples, that none goeth beyond
them for impiety. As, for example, would a parishioner learn to
be proud, he or she need look no farther than to the priest, his
wife, and family; for there is a notable pattern before them. Would
the people learn to be wanton? they may also see a pattern among
their teachers. Would they learn to be drunkards? they may also have
that from some of their ministers; for indeed they are ministers
in this, to minister ill example to their congregations. Again,
would the people learn to be covetous? they need but look to
their minister, and they shall have a lively, or rather a deadly
resemblance set before them, in both riding and running after great
benefices, and parsonages by night and by day. Nay, they among
themselves will scramble for the same. I have seen, that so soon
as a man hath but departed from his benefice as he calls it, either
by death or out of covetousness of a bigger, we have had one priest
from this town, and another from that, so run, for these tithe-cocks
and handfuls of barley, as if it were their proper trade, and calling,
to hunt after the same. O wonderful impiety and ungodliness! are
you not ashamed of your doings? Read Romans 1 towards the end. As
it was with them, so, it is to be feared, it is with many of you,
who knowing the judgments of God, that they who do such things are
worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure also in
them that do them. And now you that pretend to be the teachers of
the people in verity and truth, though we know that some of you
are not, is it a small thing with you to set them such an example
as this? Were ever the Pharisees so profane; to whom Christ said,
Ye vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Doth not the
ground groan under you? surely, it will favour you no more than it
favoured your fore-runners. Certainly the wrath of God lies heavy
at your doors, it is but a very little while, and your recompense
shall be upon your own head. And as for you that are indeed of
God among them, though not of them, separate yourselves. Why should
the righteous partake of the same plagues with the wicked? O ye
children of the harlot! I cannot well tell how to have done with
you, your stain is so odious, and you are so senseless, as appears
by your practices.'[169]

The testimony of George Fox as to England's fashions in 1654, is
very pointed and extremely droll:--Men and women are carried away
with fooleries and vanities; gold and silver upon their backs,[170]
store of ribbands hanging about the waist, knees, and feet--red or
white, black or yellow; women with their gold; their spots on their
faces, noses, cheeks, foreheads; rings on their fingers, cuffs
double, like a butcher's white sleeves; ribbands about their hands,
and three or four gold laces about their clothes; men dressed like
fiddlers' boys or stage players; see them playing at bowls, or
at tables, or at shovel-board, or each one decking his horse with
bunches of ribbands on his head, as the rider hath on his own.
These are gentlemen, and brave fellows, that say pleasures are
lawful, and in their sports they should like wild asses. This is
the generation carried away with pride, arrogancy, lust, gluttony,
and uncleanness; who eat and drink and rise up to play, their eyes
full of adultery, and their bodies of the devil's adorning.[171]
Such quotations from the writings of men of undoubted veracity, and
who lived during that period, might be multiplied to fill a volume.

Is this the regnant hypocrisy and rampant fanaticism which prevailed
in England, and which Southey supposes to have influenced Bunyan
and deranged his sober judgment? It is true that the Protector
and his council discountenanced vice and folly, and that there was
more piety and virtue in the kingdom at that time than it had ever
before witnessed. But it would have been the greatest of miracles,
had the people been suddenly moralized, after having been baptized
in brutality for ages. Not a century had elapsed since the autos
da fe had blazed throughout the country, burning the most pious,
moral, and enlightened of her citizens. A century of misery to the
professors of religions had passed, in which the persecutions of
Papists and Puritans, hanging, transporting, murdering by frightful
imprisonments all those who dared to dissent from the church of
England. All this must have produced a debasing effect upon public
morals. Even among professors Bunyan discovered pride, covetousness,
impiety and uncleanness.[172]

Bunyan's religious impressions did not, as Southey states, arise
from his ignorance, brutal manners, low station, nor from the
fanaticism of the age in which he lived. Did the similar feeling of
Job or David spring from these polluted fountains? He is a stranger
to Christ's school that confounds its discipline with mental
drunkenness, or with the other depraved sources alluded to by
Southey. The luxurious imagination which ruled over him, must be
curbed and brought into subjection to Christ. He must be weaned
from a reliance upon sudden impulses to rely upon Divine truth.
The discovery of errors by scriptural investigation was putting
on armour of proof. Self-confidence was gradually swallowed up
by dependence upon the word--the result of the severest spiritual
training. Those painful exercises produced a life of holiness and
usefulness. Can the thistle produce grapes, or the noxious weeds
corn? Never! His experience came from heaven, in mercy to his
soul, and to make him a blessing to millions of his race. By this
he was made truly wise, civilized, enlightened, and elevated.
Every painful feeling was measured by Divine rule--weighed in the
sanctuary balance--not one iota too much or too little to form
his noble character. He has been compared with Lord Byron, one of
our most impassioned thinkers and writers; but the noble poet's
heart-griefs were on the wrong side. Judging of his own feelings
by those painted on his heroes--they fight for freedom only to
gratify lust, pride, and ambition, while the future appeared in
dark, dreary uncertainty. But Bunyan strives to be released from
the slavery of sin and Satan, that he might enjoy the liberty of
being a servant of Christ, whose service is perfect freedom, with a
glorious vista of eternity occasionally breaking in upon his soul.

Well may it be said of him:--Simple, enchanting man! what does not
the world owe to thee and to the great Being who could produce such
as thee? Teacher alike of the infant and of the aged; who canst
direct the first thought and remove the last doubt of man; property
alike of the peasant and the prince; welcomed by the ignorant and
honoured by the wise; thou hast translated Christianity into a new
language, and that a universal one! Thou art the prose poet of all
time!

THE FOURTH PERIOD.

BUNYAN ENTERS INTO CONTROVERSY--BECOMES AN AUTHOR--OFFENDS A
PERSECUTING MAGISTRACY, AND IS PROCEEDED AGAINST AT THE SESSIONS
UNDER AN ACT OF THE COMMONWEALTH--IS ACCUSED OF REPORTING A STRANGE
CHARGE OF WITCHCRAFT--PUBLICLY DISPUTES WITH THE QUAKERS.

In proportion as a man becomes a public character, especially if
eminent for talent and usefulness in the church, so will his enemies
increase. The envy of some and the malice of others will invent
slanders, or, what is worse, put an evil construction upon the
most innocent conduct, in the hope of throwing a shade over that
brightness which reveals their own defects. In this they are aided
by all the craft, and cunning, and power of Satan, the archenemy of
man. The purity of gospel truth carries with it the blessed fruits
of the highest order of civilization; the atmosphere in which it
lives is 'good will to man.' Salvation is a free gift, direct from
God to the penitent sinner. It cannot be obtained by human aid,
nor for all the gold in the universe. It cannot possibly be traded
in, bought, or sold, but is bestowed without money or price. Hence
the opposition of Antichrist. The cry or groan of the contrite
enters heaven and brings down blessings, while the most elegant and
elaborately-composed prayer, not springing from the heart, is read
or recited in vain. Human monarchs must be approached by petitions
drawn up in form, and which may be accepted, although the perfection
of insincerity and hypocrisy. The King of kings accepts no forms;
he knows the heart, and requires the approach of those who worship
him to be in sincerity and in truth; the heart may plead without
words, God accepteth the groans and sighs of those that fear him.
These were the notions that Bunyan had drawn from the Holy Oracles,
and his conversation soon made him a favourite with the Puritans,
while it excited feelings of great hostility among the neighbouring
clergy and magistrates.

Bunyan's conversion from being a pest to the neighbourhood to
becoming a pious man, might have been pardoned had he conformed to
the Directory; but for him to appear as a Dissenter and a public
teacher, without going through the usual course of education and
ordination, was an unpardonable offence. The opinions of man gave
him no concern; all his anxiety was to have the approbation of
his God, and then to walk accordingly, braving all the dangers,
the obloquy, and contempt that might arise from his conscientious
discharge of duties, for the performance of which he knew that he
alone must give a solemn account at the great day.

He entered upon the serious work of the ministry with fear and
trembling, with much heart-searching, earnest prayer, and the advice
of the church to which he was united, not with any pledge to abide
by their decision contrary to his own conviction, but to aid him
in his determination. His own account of these important inquiries
is very striking:--'After I had been about five or six years awakened,
and helped myself to see both the want and worth of Jesus Christ
our Lord, and also enabled to venture my soul upon him, some of
the most able among the saints with us, for judgment and holiness
of life, as they conceived, did perceive that God had counted me
worthy to understand something of his will in His holy and blessed
Word, and had given me utterance, in some measure, to express what
I saw to others for edification; therefore they desired me, and that
with much earnestness, that I would be willing at some times to
take in hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation
unto them. The which, though at the first it did much dash and
abash my spirit, yet being still by them desired and entreated, I
consented to their request, and did twice, at two several assemblies
in private, though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my
gift amongst them; at which they did solemnly protest, as in the
sight of the great God, they were both affected and comforted, and
gave thanks to the Father of mercies for the grace bestowed on me.

'After this, sometimes, when some of them did go into the country
to teach, they would also that I should go with them; where, though
as yet I did not, nor durst not, make use of my gift in an open
way, yet more privately, as I came amongst the good people in those
places, I did sometimes speak a word of admonition unto them also,
the which they, as the other, received with rejoicing at the mercy
of God to me-ward, professing their souls were edified thereby.

'Wherefore at last, being still desired by the church, after some
solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was more particularly
called forth, and appointed to a more ordinary and public preaching
of the word, not only to and amongst them that believed, but also
to offer the gospel to those who had not yet received the faith
thereof.'[173]

The ministry of Bunyan's pastor, whom he affectionately called
holy Mr. Gifford, must have been wonderfully blessed. In 1650 only
twelve pious men and women were formed into a Christian church,
and, although subject to fierce persecution, they had so increased
that in 1672 ten members had been solemnly set apart for the work
of the ministry, and they became a blessing to the country round
Bedford. The benighted state of the villages was a cause of earnest
prayer that men might be sent out, apt to teach, and willing to
sacrifice liberty, and even life, to promote the peaceful reign of
the Redeemer. The names of the men who were thus set apart were--John
Bunyan, Samuel Fenn, Joseph Whiteman, John Fenn, Oliver Scott, Luke
Ashwood, Thomas Cooper, Edward Dent, Edward Isaac, and Nehemiah
Coxe.[174] Four of these were permitted to fulfil their course
without notoriety; the others were severely persecuted, fined and
imprisoned, but not forsaken.

Encouraged by the opinion of the church which had been so prayerfully
formed, that it was his duty to proclaim the glad tidings of
salvation, Bunyan entered upon his important work, and was soon
encouraged by a hope that his labours were useful to his fellow-men.
'About this time,' he narrates, 'I did evidently find in my mind
a secret pricking forward thereto, though, I bless God, not for
desire of vain glory, for at that time I was most sorely afflicted
with the fiery darts of the devil concerning my eternal state. But
yet I could not be content unless I was found in the exercise of
my gift; unto which also I was greatly animated, not only by the
continual desires of the godly, but also by that saying of Paul to
the Corinthians, "I beseech you, brethren [ye know the household
of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they
have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints], that ye
submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with
us, and laboureth" (1 Cor 16:15,16).

'By this text I was made to see that the Holy Ghost never intended
that men, who have gifts and abilities, should bury them in the
earth, but rather did command and stir up such to the exercise of
their gift, and also did commend those that were apt and ready so
to do.

'Wherefore, though of myself, of all the saints the most unworthy,
yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight of my own
weakness, did set upon the work, and did according to my gift, and
the proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel that God
had showed me in the holy Word of truth; which, when the country
understood, they came in to hear the Word by hundreds, and that from
all parts. And I thank God he gave unto me some measure of bowels
and pity for their souls, which did put me forward to labour with
great diligence and earnestness, to find out such a word as might,
if God would bless it, lay hold of and awaken the conscience, in
which also the good Lord had respect to the desire of his servant;
for I had not preached long before some began to be touched, and
be greatly afflicted in their minds at the apprehension of the
greatness of their sin, and of their need of Jesus Christ.

'But I at first could not believe that God should speak by me to
the heart of any man, still counting myself unworthy; yet those
who were thus touched would love me, and have a particular respect
for me; and though I did put it from me that they should be awakened
by me, still they would confess it, and affirm it before the saints
of God. They would also bless God for me, unworthy wretch that I
am! and count me God's instrument that showed to them the way of
salvation.

'Wherefore, seeing them in both their words and deeds to be so
constant, and also in their hearts so earnestly pressing after the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, rejoicing that ever God did send me where
they were; then I began to conclude that it might be so, that God
had owned in his work such a foolish one as I; and then came that
word of God to my heart with much sweet refreshment, "The blessing
of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the
widow's heart to sing for joy" (Job 29:13).

'At this therefore I rejoiced; yea, the tears of those whom God
did awaken by my preaching would be both solace and encouragement
to me. I thought on those sayings, "Who is he that maketh me glad,
but the same that is made sorry by me" (2 Cor 2:2). And again,
"Though I be not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am unto you:
for the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord" (1 Cor 9:2).
These things, therefore, were as an another argument unto me, that
God had called me to, and stood by me in this work.

'In my preaching of the Word I took special notice of this one
thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where his Word
begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open
and allege, that the curse of God by the law doth belong to, and
lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.
Now this part of my work I fulfilled with great feeling, for the
terrors of the law, and guilt for my transgressions, lay heavy on
my own conscience. I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did
feel, even that under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to
astonishment. Indeed, I have been as one sent to them from the
dead; I went myself in chains to preach to them in chains; and
carried that fire in my own conscience that I persuaded them to
beware of.[175] I can truly say, that when I have been to preach,
I have gone full of guilt and terror even to the pulpit-door, and
there it hath been taken off, and I have been at liberty in my
mind until I have done my work, and then, immediately, even before
I could get down the pulpit stairs, I have been as bad as I was
before: yet God carried me on with a strong hand, for neither guilt
nor hell could take me off my work. Thus I went on for the space
of two years, crying out against men's sins, and their fearful
state because of them.'[176]

A man so much in earnest soon became a most acceptable and popular
preacher. He studied his sermons carefully, and wrote such memorandums
and notes as might refresh his memory before going into the pulpit,
although his intensity of feeling, his ready utterance, and natural
eloquence which charmed his hearers, and his extensive usefulness
as a preacher, render it quite improbable that he restricted himself
to notes while publicly engaged in sacred services. They must have
aided him when he did not enjoy liberty of utterance. 'At times
when I have begun to speak the Word with much liberty, I have been
presently so straitened in speech that I scarcely knew what I was
about, or as if my head had been in a bag.'[177] They were valuable,
also, as a proof that all he said had its exclusive reference to
the world to come, without the mixture of politics, which might
have given offence to the Government. Thus, when he was apprehended
for neglecting to attend the church service and for preaching the
gospel, in his conversation with Mr. Cobb, the magistrate's clerk,
he said 'that, to cut off all occasions of suspicion from any,
as touching the harmlessness of my doctrine, in private I would
willingly take the pains to give any one the notes of all my
sermons, for I do sincerely desire to live quietly in my country,
and to submit to the present authority.'[178] In such troublesome
times these would afford abundant proof that he was desirous of
submitting to all the political institutions of his country, while
he dared not conform to human laws affecting his faith or his mode
of worshipping God, for which he alone was to stand answerable at
the great day.

The employment of his time in earning a maintenance for his family,
and his constant engagements to preach, interfered with the proper
fulfillment of his duties as a deacon of the church. His resignation
of this important office is thus recorded in the minutes of the
church--'At a meeting held on the 27th of the 6th month, 1657, the
deacon's office was transferred from John Bunyan to John Pernie,
because he could no longer discharge its duties aright, in consequence
of his being so much employed in preaching.'

We cannot wonder that his time was incessantly employed. His was
no ordinary case. He had to recover and improve upon the little
education he had received, and lost again by dissipated habits. He
must have made every effort, by his diligent study of the Bible,
to gain that spiritual knowledge which alone could enable him
to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that profound
internal converse with the throne of God which appears in all his
writings. In addition to all this, he was engaged in continual
controversy with a variety of sects, which, in his sober judgment,
opposed the simplicity of the gospel. Among these the Ranters, or
Sweet Singers, were very conspicuous. It is difficult to discover
what were their opinions, but they appear to have been nearly
like the Dutch Adamites; they were severely persecuted, by public
authority, under the Commonwealth, for blasphemy. George Fox
found some of them in prison at Coventry in 1649, and held a short
disputation with them. They claimed each one to be GOD, founding
their notion on such passages as 1 Corinthians 14:25, 'God is in
you of a truth.' Fox quaintly asked them whether it would rain the
next day; and upon their answering that they could not tell, 'Then
said I unto them, God can tell.'[179] Strange as it may appear,
the Ranters had many followers, while numerous pious people were
troubled by their impudence and perversion of Scripture, but more
especially by their being a persecuted people. Taking advantage of
the inquiries that were excited by these strange doctrines, Bunyan
determined to become an author, that he might set forth more
extensively than he could do by preaching, the truths of the gospel
in their native purity, simplicity, and beauty, as an antidote to
fanaticism. The learned and eloquent looked with contempt upon the
follies of the Ranters, Familists, and some loose Quakers, 'and
only deigned to abuse them with raillery, while the poor unlettered
tinker wrote against them.' To indite a work would be to him a
pleasant recreation, but writing a book must have been extremely
difficult, and have required extraordinary patience. This will be
better seen by a specimen of his handwriting, now in the Bedford
Library, found in Fox's Book of Martyrs, the three volumes of which
beguiled many of his tedious hours when in prison.

To write a volume, containing about twenty-five thousand words,
must have been a serious task to such a scribe.

It is interesting to trace his improvement in calligraphy while
recovering his lost education, and advancing in proficiency in an
art so essential to his constantly extending usefulness. The next
is a more useful running hand, however defective in orthography
and grammar; it is from the first page of a copy of Bishop Andrews'
sermons[180]--

The inscription in a copy of his Holy City, 1665, in Dr. Williams'
or the Dissenter's Library, Red Cross Street, is in a still more
useful hand, as good as that of most authors of that day--

The autograph in Powell's Concordance, in the library of the Baptist
Academy, Bristol, is in a fair hand--

His autograph is in possession of the Society of Antiquaries. The
document to which it is subscribed is written in a remarkably neat
hand, addressed to the Lord Protector. The signatures appear to be
written as if in the writer's best style.[181]

Signature to the deed of gift[182]--

In addition to the motives which have been noticed as inducing
him to become an author, it appears, that in the course of his
itinerating labours, he was much grieved with the general depravity
which had overspread all classes of society. Evil communications
had corrupted the great mass, and occasioned an aversion to hear
the gospel, which plunged the people into carnal security. When
roused by his preaching they too often found refuge in despair, or
in vain attempts to impose upon God their unholy self-righteousness,
endeavouring 'to earn heaven with their fingers' ends';[183]
anything rather than submit to receive salvation as the free gift
of God, and thus be led to consecrate all their powers to his glory
and the comfort of society. A few who appeared to have thought on
this solemn subject, without any change of conduct, are called by
Bunyan 'light notionists, with here and there a legalist,'[184] or
those who relied upon a creed without the fruits of righteousness,
and some of these imbibed notions of the strangest kind--that the
light within was all-sufficient, without any written revelation of
the will of God--that the account of Christ's personal appearance
on earth was a myth, to represent his residence in the persons of
believers, in whom he suffers, is crucified, buried, and raised
again to spiritual life--that such persons might do whatever their
inclinations led them to, without incurring guilt or sin; in short,
many sinned that grace might abound!! Some of them professed to
be the Almighty God manifest in the flesh. All this took place in
what was called a Christian country, upon which millions of treasure
had been spent to teach religion by systems, which had persecuted
the honest, pious professors of vital Christianity to bonds,
imprisonment, and death. This had naturally involved the kingdom
in impiety and gross immorality. The discovery of the awful state
of his country, while he was engaged in preaching in the villages
round Bedford induced him, in the humble hope of doing good, to
become an author, and with trembling anxiety he issued to the world
the first production of his pen, in 1656, under the title of Some
Gospel Truths Opened According to the Scriptures; and, as we shall
presently find, it met with a rough reception, plunging him into
controversy, which in those days was conducted with bitter acrimony.

Before it was published, he sought the approbation and protection
of Mr. John Burton, who had been united with Mr. Gifford in the
pastoral charge of the church to which Bunyan belonged. The testimony
that he gives is very interesting:--

'Here thou hast things certain and necessary to be believed, which
thou canst not too much study. Therefore pray that thou mayest
receive it, so it is according to the Scriptures, in faith and
love, not as the word of man but as the word of God, and be not
offended, because Christ holds forth the glorious treasure of the
gospel to thee in a poor earthen vessel, by one who hath neither
the greatness nor the wisdom of this world to commend him to thee;
for as the Scriptures saith, Christ, who was low and contemptible
in the world himself, ordinarily chooseth such for himself and for
the doing of his work. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish
things of the world." This man [Bunyan] is not chosen out of an
earthly, but out of the heavenly university, the church of Christ,
furnished with the Spirit, gifts, and graces of Christ--out of
which, to the end of the world, the word of the Lord and all true
gospel ministers must proceed. And, though this man hath not the
learning or wisdom of man; yet, through grace, he hath received the
teaching of God, and the learning of the Spirit of Christ. He hath
taken these three heavenly degrees--union with Christ, the anointing
of the Spirit, and experience of the temptations of Satan--which
do more fit a man for the mighty work of preaching the gospel, than
all the university learning and degrees that can be had. I have
had experience with many other saints of this man's [Bunyan's]
soundness in the faith, his godly conversation, and his ability to
preach the gospel, not by human art, but by the Spirit of Christ,
and that with much success in the conversion of sinners. I thought
it my duty to bear witness with my brother to these glorious truths
of the Lord Jesus Christ.'[185]

Bunyan was twenty-eight years of age when he published this work,
and as he attacked the follies of his times, and what he deemed to
be heresies, were exposed to Scripture light and condemned without
mercy, it very naturally involved him in controversy. This brought
forth the remarkable resources of his mind, which was stored with
the Scriptures--his fearlessness--ready wit and keen retort, much
sanctified by an earnest desire for the salvation of his opponents.
An extraordinary man, younger than himself, full of energy and
enthusiasm, entered the lists with him; and in Edward Burrough,
very properly called a son of thunder and of consolation, Bunyan
found an able disputant. He was talented, pious, and fearless in his
Master's work, and became eminently useful in laying the foundation
of the Society of Friends. Soon after this he was numbered with the
noble army of martyrs at the age of twenty-eight, being sacrificed
in Newgate, at the shrine of religious intolerance.

At this time the Quakers were not united as a body, and consequently
there was no test of character nor rules of discipline for those
who assumed that name. They were very dissimilar men to their quiet
and unobtrusive descendants. The markets, fairs, and every public
concourse were attended by them, denouncing false weights and
measures, drunkenness and villany, with the curses of the Almighty,
calling upon the people, frequently with furious and fearful energy
and powerful eloquence, to repent, and cry unto God, that his mercy
might be extended to the salvation of their immortal souls. their
zeal led them to many breaches of good manners. They would enter
churches, and after the service, when the quiet folks were thinking
of gratifying their bodies with a substantial dinner, they were
arrested by the violent declamation of a man or woman, frequently
denouncing the priest as being the blind leading the blind.
This naturally led to a scene of riot and confusion, in which the
Quakers were in many cases handled with great barbarity. among these
disturbers were mingled persons of bad character. The violence of
sectarian feeling in the churches thus disturbed, made no discrimination
between bad and good; they were equally subjected to the roughest
treatment. Bunyan attacked those who denied that Christ had appeared
in the world as Emmanuel, God with us 'in fashion as a man,' that
by the infinite merits of his life and death imputed to believers,
they might be made holy. His attack was also directed against those
who refused obedience to the written Word, or who relied upon inward
light in contradistinction and preference to the Bible. The title
to Burrough's answer is a strange contrast to the violence of his
language--The Gospel of Peace Contended for in the Spirit of Meekness
and Love. In this spirit of meekness he calls his opponents 'crafty
fowlers preying upon the innocent'; and lovingly exclaims, 'How
long shall the righteous be a prey to your teeth, ye subtle foxes;
your dens are in darkness, and your mischief is hatched upon your
beds of secret whoredoms.' The unhallowed spirit of the age mistook
abuse for argument, and harsh epithets for faithful dealing.[186]

Bunyan replied in A Vindication of Gospel Truths, to the great
satisfaction of all his friends; and although Burrough answered
this tract also, Bunyan very wisely allowed his railing opponent to
have the last word, and applied his great powers to more important
labours than caviling with one who in reality did not differ with
him. The Quaker had been seriously misled by supposing that the
Baptist was a hireling preacher; and we must be pleased that he was
so falsely charged, because it elicited a crushing reply. Burrough,
in reply to an imputation made by Bunyan, that the Quakers were
the false prophets alluded to in Scripture, observed that 'in those
days there was not a Quaker heard of.' 'Friend,' replied Bunyan,
'thou hast rightly said, there was not a Quaker heard of indeed,
though there were many Christians heard of then. Again, to defend
thyself thou throwest the dirt in my face, saying, If we should
diligently trace thee, we should find thee in the steps of the
false prophets, through fancied words, through covetousness, making
merchandise of souls, loving the wages of unrighteousness.' To
which Bunyan replied; 'Friend, dost thou speak this as from thy
own knowledge, or did any other tell thee so? However, that spirit
that led thee out this way, is a lying spirit; for though I be poor,
and of no repute in the world as to outward things, yet through
grace I have learned, by the example of the apostle, to preach the
truth, and also to work with my hands, both for mine own living,
and for those that are with me, when I have opportunity. And I
trust that the Lord Jesus, who hath helped me to reject the wages
of unrighteousness hitherto, will also help me still, so that I
shall distribute that which God hath given me freely, and not for
filthy lucre sake.'[187] Thus had he learned of the apostle to
'make the gospel of Christ without charge' (1 Cor 9:18); and upon
this subject they strangely agreed. The same agreement existed
between them upon the necessity of inward light from the Holy
Spirit; without which they both considered the Bible to be a dead
letter. The peculiar principle which separates the Quaker from
every other Christian community, has nothing to do with the light
within. Upon that subject all evangelical sects are agreed. The
substantial difference is whether our Lord intended the work of
the ministry to be exclusively a work of benevolence, charity, and
love, binding all who are capable of using the talent intrusted
to them, to do it without worldly reward. Surely every man may be
satisfied in his own mind upon such a subject, without quarrelling
with, or anathematizing each other. Bunyan and Burrough agreed,
without knowing it, in the sentiments of their illustrious and
learned cotemporary, John Milton, as to the ministry being without
charge; and had they, when offended, followed their Master's rule,
'If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault
between thee and him along' (Matt 18:15), had they met, and on
their knees before the throne of grace, sought from heaven wisdom
and charity in defending Divine truth, we can easily imagine that
the approbation of God would have been manifested, by sending them
on their important work in peaceful unity. They had been immersed
in the same deep and solemn regeneration, and their ardent object
was the same--to spread the influence of the kingdom of Christ.

When Christians of various denominations meet in prayer, how it melts
down their sectarian bitterness. In this controversy, mention is
made of a total abstinence movement in the time of the commonwealth,
a germ which has put forth its mighty efforts in our more peaceful
and happy times. A cloud now hovered over Bunyan, and threatened
him with troubles of a very different kind to those of religious
controversy. It will startle many of our readers to hear that,
under the government of Cromwell, Bunyan was persecuted for his
religious opinions and practices. Mr. Jukes, in his interesting
History of Bunyan's Church, thus refers to it: 'Soon after he had
resigned the office of deacon in 1657, the hand of persecution was
raised against him; for at a meeting of the church, held on the
25th day of the twelfth month, in the same year (Feb. 1658), it
was agreed that the 3d day of the next month be set apart to seek
God in the behalf of our brother Wheeler, who hath been long ill in
body, whereby his ministry hath been hindered; and also about the
church affairs, and the affairs of the nation; and for our brother
Whitbread, who has long been ill; and also for counsel what to do
with respect to the indictment of brother Bunyan at the assizes,
for preaching at Eaton.'[188]

Although persecution for religious opinions assumed a milder form
under the Commonwealth, the great principles of religious freedom
and equality were neither known nor practiced. The savage barbarities
perpetrated upon Prynne, Bastwick, Burton, Leighton, and others,
by Charles I and his archbishop, Laud, were calculated to open the
eyes of the nation to the wickedness and inutility of sanguinary
or even any laws to govern the conscience, or interfere with Divine
worship. Alas! even those who suffered and survived became, in
their turn, persecutors. The great object of persecution was the
book of Common Prayer, the use of which was rigorously prohibited.
The clergy were placed in an extremely awkward predicament. No
sooner was the Act of Parliament passed ordering the Directory to
be used and the Prayer-book to be laid aside, than the king, by his
royal proclamation, issued from Oxford, November 13, 1645, ordered
the Directory to be set aside, and the Common Prayer to be used
in all the churches and chapels. Both these orders were under very
severe penalties.

The Act against atheistical opinions, which passed August 9, 1650,
illustrates the extraordinary state of the times. The preamble states
that, 'Divers men and women have lately discovered themselves to
be most monstrous in their opinions, and loose in all wicked and
abominable practices.' It then enacts that--'Any one, not being mad,
who pretends to be God Almighty, or who declares that unrighteousness,
uncleanness, swearing, drunkenness, and the like filthiness and
brutishness, or denying the existence of God, or who shall profess
that murder, adultery, incest, fornication, uncleanness, filthy or
lascivious speaking, are not wicked, sinful, impious, abominable,
and detestable, shall be imprisoned, and, for a second offence, be
transported.'[189]

One of the Acts that affected Bunyan was passed April 26, 1645,
cap. 52--'None may preach but ordained ministers, except such as,
intending the ministry, shall, for trial of their gifts, be allowed
by such as be appointed by both houses of Parliament.' This was
amended by 'an ordinance appointing commissioners for approbation
of public preachers,' March, 1653. In this Dr. Owen, Goodwin, Caryl,
and many others are named, who were to judge of the candidate's
fitness to preach.[190] The Act which more seriously touched Bunyan
was that of May 2, 1648, which enacts that any person saying,
'that man is bound to believe no more than by his reason he can
comprehend, or that the baptizing of infants is unlawful, or such
baptism is void, and that such persons ought to be baptized again,
and, in pursuance thereof, shall baptize any person formerly baptized,
shall be imprisoned until he gives security that he will not publish
or maintain the said error any more.'[191] It was these intolerant
proceedings that led Milton to publish a poem On the New Forcers
of Conscience, beginning with these lines--


   'Dare ye, for this, adjure the civil sword,
    To force our consciences that Christ set free.'


This last-mentioned ungracious and uncalled-for Act against the
Baptists, led some violent spirits to print a paper, entitled,
'The Second Part of England's new Chains Discovered,' this was read
in many Baptist meeting-houses, and the congregations called upon
to subscribe it: fortunately, they were peaceably disposed, and
denounced it to the House of Commons in a petition, dated April 2,
1649. Mr. Kiffin and the others were called in, when the Speaker
returned them this answer--'The House doth take notice of the good
affection to the Parliament and public you have expressed, both
in this petition and otherways. They have received satisfaction
thereby, concerning your disclaiming that pamphlet, which gave such
just offence to the Parliament, and also concerning your disposition
to live peaceably, and in submission to the civil magistracy; your
expressions whereof they account very Christian and seasonable.
That for yourselves and other Christians, walking answerable to
such professions as in this petition you make, they do assure you
of liberty and protection, so far as God shall enable them, in all
things consistent with godliness, honesty, and civil peace.'[192]
Whether it was in consequence of this good understanding having
remained between the Baptists and the Parliament, or from some
application to the Protector, or from some unknown cause, the
persecution was stayed;[193] for the indictment does not appear to
have been tried, and Bunyan is found to have been present, and to
have taken a part in the affairs of the church, until the 25th day
of the 2d Month, 1660 (April), when 'it was ordered, according to
our agreement, that our brother, John Bunyan, do prepare to speak
a word at the next church meeting and that our brother Whiteman
fail not to speak to him of it.'[194]

This invitation was very probably intended to introduce him to the
congregation, with a view to his becoming an assistant pastor, but
before it took place, he again appeared before the public as an
author. The second production of his pen is a solemn and most searching
work, founded upon the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, under
the title of A Few Sighs from Hell, or the Groans of a Damned
Soul; by that poor and contemptible Servant of Jesus Christ, John
Bunyan, 1658. His humility led him to seek the patronage of his
pastor; and Mr. Gifford, under the initials of J. G., wrote a
preface of thirty-eight pages, but he dying before it reached the
second edition, that preface was discontinued, and the title somewhat
altered. The only copy of this first edition yet discovered is in
the royal library at the British Museum. It appears to have belonged
to Charles II, who, with more wit than decorum, has bound it up,
as a supplement, to an extremely licentious book, as if it was
intended to say, 'Her house is the way to hell, going down to the
chamber of death'; or that a licentious life endeth in 'sighs from
hell.'

Mr. Gifford, in this preface, after strongly recommending the work,
speaks of the author in the most respectful and affectionate terms,
showing that his zeal, and energy, and great usefulness had excited
the envy of many who ought to have encouraged him as one taught
by the Spirit, and used in his hand to do souls good--'divers have
felt the power of the Word delivered by him; and I doubt not but
that many more may, if the Lord continues him in his work'; and he
gives this as a reason 'why the archers have shot so sorely at him';
and then scripturally proves that no objection should be made to
his valuable services from his want of human learning. As the whole
of this interesting preface is accurately reprinted with the book,
the reader is referred to it without further extracts.[195] The
Editor's introduction to these Sighs was written under very solemn
feelings, produced by reading this searching treatise. The rich
man is intended to personify those who, neglecting salvation, die
in their sins, while Lazarus personates all those who humbly receive
salvation as the gift of God; who, however they may suffer in this
world, retain their integrity to death. In this parable, a voice
is heard from the place of torment--the cry is a 'drop of water,'
the slightest relief to unutterable woes; and that a messenger may
be sent to warn his relatives, lest they should be plunged into the
same torment. The impassable gulf defies the vain request, while
the despised Christian reposes in everlasting and indescribable
enjoyment. This little volume was very popular; nine editions were
printed and sold in the author's lifetime, besides pirated copies.
Bunyan's feelings and mode of preaching are well described in the
Grace Abounding,[196] and will be felt by every attentive reader
of his Sighs from Hell:--'When I have been preaching, I thank God,
my heart hath often, with great earnestness, cried to God that
he would make the Word effectual to the salvation of the soul.
Wherefore I did labour so to speak the Word, as that thereby, if
it were possible, the sin and person guilty might be particularized
by it.'

'And when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart,
to think the Word should now fall as rain on stony places; still
wishing from my heart, O! that they who have heard me speak this
day, did but see as I do, what sin, death, hell, and the curse
of God is; and also what the grace, and love, and mercy of God
is, through Christ, to men in such a case as they are who are yet
estranged from him.

'For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been
engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ, without works, as if an
angel of God had stood by at my back to encourage me.'

Such feelings are not limited to Bunyan, but are most anxiously
felt by all our pious ministers. How fervently ought their hearers
to unite in approaches to the mercy-seat, that the Divine blessing
may make the Word fruitful.

In those days it was not an uncommon thing for the hearers, at the
close of the sermon, to put questions to the preacher, sometimes
to elicit truth, or to express a cordial union of sentiments, or
to contradict what the minister had said. Upon one occasion, Mr.
Bunyan, after his sermon, had a singular dispute with a scholar.
It is narrated by Mr. C. Doe, who was a personal friend and great
admirer of our author, and who probably heard it from his own mouth,
and will be found in the Struggler, inserted vol. iii., p. 767.

It is the common taunt of the scorner, and sometimes a stone of
stumbling to the inquirer, that, while the Christian believes in
the intensity of the Saviour's sufferings, and that God was made
flesh that he might offer himself as an atonement to redeem mankind,
yet few are saved, in comparison with those who are lost--broad is
the way that leadeth to destruction, and many walk therein, while
few attempt the narrow way to life; that four sorts of hearers
are described by the Saviour, only one receiving the truth; as if
the doleful realms of darkness and misery would be more thickly
peopled than those of light and happiness, and Satan prove stronger
than Christ. Such cavilers forget that the far greater portion of
mankind die in infancy, purified by the Saviour's sufferings, and
enter heaven in the perfection of manhood. As Mr. Toplady justly
observes, what a vista does this open to the believer through the
dreary gloom of the infidel! They forget, also, that all those who
gain the narrow path, once helped to throng the road to destruction;
and that the hearers, whose hardened deceitful hearts rejected the
gospel under one sermon, may, by mercy, have them opened to receive
it under another. And who dares to limit the Almighty? The power
that prepared the spirit of the thief, when upon the cross, even in
his last moments, for the pure enjoyments of heaven, still exists.
Is the arm of the Lord shortened that he cannot save? The myriads of
heaven will be found countless as are the sands upon the sea-shore,
and the harmony of their worship shall swell like the voice of
many waters and mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluja, for the Lord
God omnipotent reigneth.' What! Satan stronger than the Almighty
Redeemer? Perish the thought. Still how common is the question,
which one of the disciples put to his master, 'Lord, are there few
that be saved?' How striking the answer! 'Strive to enter in at the
strait gate' (Luke 13:23). Encumber not thy mind with such needless
inquiries, but look to thine own salvation.

Another very singular anecdote is related, which proves that the
use of the churches was not then limited to any one sect. 'Being
to preach in a church in a country village (before the restoration
of king Charles) in Cambridgeshire, and the people being gathered
together in the church-yard, a Cambridge scholar, and none of the
soberest of 'em neither, enquired what the meaning of that concourse
of people was, it being upon the week day, and being told, That one
Bunyan, a tinker, was to preach there, he gave a boy twopence to
hold his horse, saying, He was resolved to hear the tinker prate;
and so went into the church to hear him. But God met with him there
by his ministry, so that he came out much changed, and would, by
his good will, hear none but the tinker for a long time after, he
himself becoming a very eminent preacher in that county afterwards.
This story I know to be true, having many a time discoursed with
the man, and, therefore, I could not but set it down as a singular
instance of the power of God that accompanied his ministry.'[197]

Bunyan's veneration for the Scriptures, as the only source and
standard of religious knowledge, led him into frequent controversies.
In common with the Christian world, he wholly depended upon the
enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit to impress the Divine
truths of revelation upon the mind, and also to illustrate, open,
and apply the sacred writings to the heart of man. Unable to read
the Bible in the original languages in which it was written, he
wisely made use of every aid that might enable him to study its
contents with the greatest advantage. It was his habit to examine
the two translations then in common use. The present authorized
version, first published in 1611, is that to which he usually
refers; comparing it with the favourite Puritan version made by the
refugees at Geneva, and first printed in 1560. He sometimes quotes
the Genevan, and so familiar were the two translations, that in
several instances he mixes them in referring from memory to passages
of holy writ.

Upon one of his journeys, being upon the road near Cambridge, he
was overtaken by a scholar, who concluded that he was an itinerant
preacher, whether from having heard him, or observing his serious
deportment, or his Bible reading, does not appear, although the
latter was probably the reason. But the student determined to have
a brush with him, and said, 'How dare you preach from the Bible,
seeing you have not the original, being not a scholar?' Then said
Mr. Bunyan, 'Have you the original?' 'Yes, said the scholar.' 'Nay,
but,' said Mr. Bunyan, 'have you the very self-same original copies
that were written by the penmen of the Scriptures, prophets and
apostles?' 'No,' said the scholar, 'but we have the true copies of
these originals.' 'How do you know that?' said Mr. Bunyan. 'How?'
said the scholar. 'Why, we believe what we have is a true copy
of the original.' 'Then,' said Mr. Bunyan, 'so do I believe our
English Bible is a true copy of the original.' Then away rid the
scholar.[198] As neither persecution nor railing, nor temptations,
nor the assaults of Satan, produced any effect upon Bunyan to prevent
his preaching, but rather excited his zeal and energy, means of
a more deadly nature were resorted to, to injure or prevent his
usefulness. As Mr. Gifford said, 'The archers shot sorely at him'
by the most infamous and unfounded slanders, which he thus narrates:--

'When Satan perceived that his thus tempting and assaulting of me
would not answer his design, to wit, to overthrow my ministry, and
make it ineffectual, as to the ends thereof: then he tried another
way, which was to stir up the minds of the ignorant and malicious
to load me with slanders and reproaches. Now, therefore, I may say,
that what the devil could devise, and his instruments invent, was
whirled up and down the country against me, thinking, as I said,
that by that means they should make my ministry to be abandoned.
It began, therefore, to be rumoured up and down among the people,
that I was a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman, and the like. To all
which, I shall only say, God knows that I am innocent. But as for
mine accusers, let them provide themselves to meet me before the
tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for all these things,
with all the rest of their iniquities, unless God shall give them
repentance for them, for the which I pray with all my heart.

'But that which was reported with the boldest confidence, was, that
I had my misses, yea, two wives at once, and the like. Now these
slanders, with the others, I glory in, because but slanders, foolish,
or knavish lies, and falsehoods cast upon me by the devil and his
seed; and should I not be dealt with thus wickedly by the world,
I should want one sign of a saint, and a child of God. "Blessed
are ye (said the Lord Jesus) when men shall revile you and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my
sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in
heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

'These things therefore, upon mine own account, trouble me not. No,
though they were twenty times more than they are, I have a good
conscience; and whereas they speak evil of me, they shall be ashamed
that falsely accuse my good conversation in Christ. Therefore I
bind these lies and slanders to me as an ornament, it belongs to
my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached, and
reviled. I rejoice in reproaches for Christ's sake. My foes have
missed their mark in this their shooting at me. I am not the man.
If all the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged by
the neck till they be dead, 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 copes of the whole heaven,
but by their apparel, their children, or by common fame, except my
wife.

'And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that he made me shy of
women from my first conversion until now. When I have seen good men
salute those women that they have visited, I have made my objection
against it; and when they have answered, that it was but a piece of
civility, I have told them, it is not a comely sight. Some indeed
have urged the holy kiss; but then I have asked why they made baulks,
why they did salute the most handsome, and let the ill-favoured
go. Not that I have been thus kept, because of any goodness in me,
more than any other, but God has been merciful to me, and has kept
me, to whom I pray that he will keep me still, not only from this,
but every evil way and work, and preserve me to his heavenly kingdom.
Amen.'[199]

Notwithstanding all Mr. Bunyan's care to avoid the slightest
appearance of evil, yet being over-persuaded to an act of humanity
and civility to one of his female members, he was most unjustly
calumniated. The circumstances which gave rise to this slander
are narrated in James's Abstract of God's dealings with Mrs. Agnes
Beaumont, of which an abridged account will be found in a note to
the Grace Abounding.[200] It exhibits in a remarkable manner how
easily such reports are raised against the holiest men.

Another still more extraordinary and unnatural charge was made
against Bunyan. He lived at a period when witchcraft, witches,
and wizards were in the height of fashion. Any poor woman who had
outlived or had become a burden to her natural protectors, and
whose temper was soured by infirmities, especially if her language
was vulgar and her appearance repulsive, ran the risk of being
defamed as a witch. If in her neighbourhood a murrain seized the
cattle, or a disease entered a family which baffled the little
knowledge of the country practitioners--such as epilepsy, St. Vitus'
dance, or St. Anthony's fire--it was ascribed to witchcraft, and
vengeance was wreaked upon any reputed witch. In many parts of
England she was tried by a kind of Lynch law, in a very summary
manner. Her hands and feet being bound together, she was thrown
into deep water; if she sank, and was drowned, she was declared
innocent; if she swam, it was a proof of guilt, and a little form
of law condemned her to the stake or halter. In Scotland, they were
treated with greater barbarity; they were awfully tortured--thumb-screws,
the boots to crush their knees, pricking them with needles or awls
night and day, to prevent a moment's rest, were persevered in--until
a confession was extorted, to be followed by a frightful death. The
ignorance that prevailed may account for the faith of the vulgar
in witchcraft; but that learned divines, and even the enlightened
Judge Hale, should fall into the delusion, is most surprising.
The charge against Bunyan was, that he had circulated some paper
libeling a most respectable widow, a Quakeress, as a witch. This
paper cannot now be discovered; but the story is so perfectly
ridiculous as to render it quite improbable that Bunyan had any
knowledge of it. The account is contained in a rare pamphlet of
four leaves, preserved in the very curious library of the Society
of Friends at Devonshire House, Bishopsgate. It is entitled, 'A
lying wonder discovered, and the strange and terrible news from
Cambridge proved false; which false news is published in a libel,
concerning a wicked slander cast upon a Quaker; but the author
of the said libel was ashamed to subscribe his name to it. Also,
this contains an answer to John Bunion's paper, touching the said
imagined witchcraft, which he hath given forth to your wonderment,
as he saith; but it is also proved a lie and a slander by many
credible witnesses hereafter mentioned.'[201] It narrates that
Margaret Pryor, of Long Stanton, indicted, on the 28th July, 1659,
the widow Morlin, a Quaker lady, for having, on the 29th November,
1657, took her out of bed from her husband in the night, put a
bridle in her mouth, and transformed her into a bay mare, and with
a Quaker, William Allen, rode upon her to Maddenly House, a distance
of four miles; that they made her fast to the latch of the door,
while she saw them partake of a feast of mutton, rabbits, and lamb
[lamb in November!!]; that they shone like angels, and talked of
doctrine, and that she knew some of the guests; that her feet were
a little sore, but not her hands, nor was she dirty. In examining
her, the judge elicited that she made no mention of the story for
a year and three-quarters, and that her deposition then was that
some evil spirit changed her into a bay-horse; that her hands and
feet were lamentably bruised, and changed as black as a coal; that
she had her chemise on, which was all bloody, from her sides being
rent and torn with the spurs. All this was unknown to her husband;
nor had she accounted for her chemise so strangely fitting a horse
or mare. It was proved that the complainant had received money for
bringing the charge, and pretended to have burnt some of her hair
with elder-bark, as a counter-charm to prevent it happening again.
The judge summed up with observing that it was a mere dream or
phantasy, and that the complainant was the sorceress, by practicing
incantations in burning her hair and bark. The jury found a verdict
of--not guilty; and thus two innocent persons were saved by an
enlightened judge from an ignominious death. It is almost incredible
that, even after the trial, priests and magistrates who had promoted
the prosecution professed to believe that the charge was true. This
singular narrative, in defence of the poor persecuted Quakeress,
is signed James Blackley, an alderman, George Whitehead, and three
others. No one can believe that John Bunyan gave credit to such
a tale, or mentioned it to the injury of the parties accused. His
reply was, that these slanders were devised by the devil and his
instruments--'God knows that I am innocent.' The probability is,
that the pamphlet called Strange News from Cambridge had been sent
to him, and that he gave it to some Quaker to answer.

Considering the almost universal belief in witchcraft in those
days--that Baxter, Cotton Mather, Clarke, and many of our most
eminent divines, believed in it--and that Bunyan received the
Scriptures in our authorized translation with the deepest reverence,
it becomes an interesting inquiry how far he believed in witchcraft,
possessions, incantations, and charms. He was persuaded that Satan
could appear to mankind in the shape of animals, and in the human
form. Had any one doubted the possibility of these appearances, he
would at that time have been called an atheist and an unbeliever in
the existence of God and of separate spirits. Thus he argues, that
'If sin can make one who was sometimes a glorious angel in heaven
now so to abuse himself as to become, to appearance, as a filthy
frog, a toad, a rat, a cat, a fly, a mouse, or a dog, to serve its
ends upon a poor mortal, that it might gull them of everlasting
life, no marvel if the soul is so beguiled as to sell itself from
God and all good for so poor a nothing as a momentary pleasure.'[202]
When speaking of the impropriety of excluding a pious person from
the Lord's table, because of a difference of opinion as to water
baptism, he says, 'Do you more to the openly profane--yea, to all
wizards and witches in the land?'[203] In quoting Isaiah 13, he,
taught by the Puritan version, puts the key in the margin--'Wild
beasts of the desert shall be there and their houses shall be full
of doleful creatures. And owls shall dwell there, and satyrs [that
is, the hobgoblins, or devils] shall dance there.'[204] He gave no
credence to the appearance of departed spirits, except in the hour
of death; and then, while between time and eternity, he thought
that in some rare cases spiritual sight was given to see objects
otherwise invisible.[205]

He fully believed in the power of Satan to suggest evil thoughts
to the pious Christian, and to terrify and punish the wicked, even
in this life; but never hints, through all his works, at any power
of Satan to communicate to man any ability to injure his fellows.
What a contrast is there between the Pilgrim of Loretto, with
its witch and devil story, mentioned in the introduction to the
Pilgrim's Progress, and Bunyan's great allegorical work! Conjurors
and fortune-tellers, or witches and wizards, were vagabonds deserving
for their fraudulent pretensions,[206] punishment by a few months'
imprisonment to hard labour, but not a frightful death. In all these
things this great man was vastly in advance of his age. He had
studied nature from personal observation and the book of revelation.
In proportion as the laws of nature are understood, the crafty
pretensions of conjurors and witches become exposed to contempt.
Bunyan never believed that the great and unchangeable principles
which the Creator has ordained to govern nature could be disturbed
by the freaks of poor old crazy women, for purposes trifling and
insignificant. No, such a man could never have circulated a report
that a woman was turned into a bay mare, and her chemise into a
horse-cloth and saddle! Unbridled sectarian feeling perverted some
remark of his, probably made with the kindest intention, into a
most incredible slander.

Among the many singularities of that very interesting period, one
was the number of religious tournaments or disputations that were
held all over the country. The details of one of these, between
Fisher, a Jesuit, and Archbishop Laud, occupy a folio volume. In
these wordy duels the Baptists and Quakers bore a prominent part.
To write a history of them would occupy more space than our narrow
limits will allow. Bunyan entered into one of these controversies
with the Quakers at Bedford Market-cross,[207] and probably held
others in the church, those buildings being at times available under
the Protectorate for such purposes. Bunyan was met by the son of
thunder, Edward Burrough, who was also assisted by Anne Blackly, a
remarkably pious woman and an able disputant. Bunyan pressed them
with the Scriptures, and dealt such severe blows that Mrs. Blackly,
in the public assembly, bid him throw away the Scriptures. To which
he answered, 'No, for then the devil would be too hard for me.'
The great controversy was as to Christ within his saints. Bunyan
proved, by the holy oracles, that Christ had ascended, and was
at the right hand of God; to which Mrs. Blackly answered, that he
preached up an idol, and used conjuraton and witchcraft. To the
charge of spiritual conjuration and witchcraft he made no reply,
it being unworthy his notice; but called upon her to repent of her
wickedness in calling Christ an idol. With regard to his presence
in his saints, he reminded her, that if any man have not the Spirit
of Christ, he is none of his.[208] As a matter of course, both
parties claimed the victory; and although the hearers were puzzled,
doubtless much good was effected.

These were comparatively happy days for God's fearers--much valuable
seed was sown, and the light of divine truth penetrated into many
a benighted town and village. At length dark and portentous clouds
rolled over the horizon. The Protector had entered into rest; his
son was wholly incapable of taking the helm of public affairs.
The exiled king, Charles II, declared his determination to publish
an amnesty for all political offences; and from Breda issued his
proclamation for liberty of conscience, and the kingdom was cajoled
and sold. The king was scarcely seated on his throne, and armed
with power, when he threw off the mask. Men who had faithfully
performed very painful duties under the authority of Acts of
Parliament were put to death, others imprisoned and transported,
and uniformity in religion was re-enacted under ferocious penalties.
Bunyan was to endure a cruel imprisonment, with all the fears of an
ignominious death. 'Now,' he says, 'as Satan laboured by reproaches
and slanders, to make me vile among my countrymen, that if possible
my preaching might be made of none effect, so there was added hereto
a long and tedious imprisonment, that thereby I might be frighted
from my service for Christ, and the world terrified and made afraid
to hear me preach, of which I shall in the next place give you a
brief account.'[209]

THE FIFTH PERIOD.

BUNYAN SUFFERS PERSECUTION, AND A LONG AND DANGEROUS IMPRISONMENT,
FOR REFUSING TO ATTEND THE COMMON PRAYER SERVICE, AND FOR PREACHING.


   --'O happie he who doth possesse
    Christ for his fellow prisoner, who doth gladde
    With heavenly sunbeams, goales that are most sad.'


(Written by William Prynne, on his Prison wall, in the Tower.)

The men who arraign their fellows before any standard of orthodoxy,
or claim the right of dictating forms of belief or modes of worship
under pains or penalties, are guilty of assuming the prerogative
of the Most High, and of claiming, for their frail opinions,
infallibility. Such are guilty of high treason against the Majesty
of heaven--and all their machinations have a direct tendency to
destroy human happiness--the wealth of the nation, and that universal
good-will among men which the gospel is intended to establish. Such
men present to us the various features of antichrist, the dread
enemy of mankind.

The duty of every intelligent creature is to watch the operations
of nature, that he may be led to just perceptions of the greatness
of the Creator, and the goodness of his immutable laws. Soon he
finds his perceptions dim, and is conscious of evil propensities,
which baffle all his efforts at sinless perfection. He finds nothing
in nature to solve the solemn inquiry how sin is to be pardoned,
and evil thoughts and habits to be rooted out. The convinced sinner
then feels the necessity of a direct revelation from God; and in
the Bible alone he finds that astounding declaration, which leaves
all human philosophy at an immeasurable distance--'Ye must be
born again.' God only can effect the wondrous change--man, priest,
prophet, or magi, can do him no good--his terror-stricken conscience
drives him to his Creator, and faith in the Redeemer causes
consolation to abound.

In every kingdom of the world, the Christian inquirer is met by the
opposition of antichrist, in some form or other, attempts will
be made to limit his free-born spirit to human inventions and
mediations in seeking Divine mercy. He feels that he is bound, by
all his hopes of happiness, here and hereafter, to obey God rather
than man, in everything pertaining to spiritual religion. In his
simple obedience to the Word of God, he braves all dangers, sure
of the Divine blessing and support while encountering obloquy,
contempt, allurements, and persecution, in its varied polluted
forms and appalling cruelties.

After the decease of Oliver Cromwell, it soon became apparent that
the exiled king would be restored. In the prospect of that event,
Charles II promised a free pardon to all his subjects, excepting
only such persons as should be excepted by parliament; and 'we
do declare a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man shall
be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in
matters of religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.'
Who could imagine, that, in the face of this solemn declaration,
acts, the most oppressive and tyrannical, would be passed--compelling
pretended uniformity in belief and real uniformity in the mode of
public worship--driving the most pious and useful clergymen from
their pulpits and livings--preventing them from becoming tutors
or schoolmasters--and not suffering them to live within five miles
of a city or town. Ruinous penalties were inflicted, not only on
every minister, but upon every hearer, who met to worship God in
private houses or in the fields and woods. Christians, convinced
of the wickedness of such laws, strove, by every possible means,
to evade the penalties, with a stern determination to worship God
in the way that their conscience led them. They met their beloved
ministers in private places, and at the most unseasonable hours.
It is said that Bunyan, to avoid discovery, went from a friend's
house disguised as a carter; with his white frock, wide-awake cap,
and his whip in his hand, to attend a private meeting in a sheltered
field or barn. To prevent these meetings, severe and almost
arbitrary penalties were enforced, a considerable part of which
went to the informers--men of debauched habits and profligate
principles. With all their vigilance, these prohibited meetings
could not be prevented. In some cases, the persecuted disciples of
a persecuted Lord took houses adjoining each other, and, by opening
internal communications, assembled together. In some cases, the
barn or room in which they met, had a door behind the pulpit, by
which the preacher could escape. A curious letter, preserved in
the archives at Devonshire House, states, that when a Christian
assembly was held near Devonshire Square, while the minister was in
his sermon, the officers and trained bands entered the meeting-house.
The preacher immediately ceased preaching, and gave out the lines
of a hymn, which the congregation joined in singing, and the officers
waited till the devotional exercise was ended. The preacher, taking
advantage of their hesitation, made his escape by a door at the
back of the pulpit; 'thus,' says the quaint Quaker, 'he choked
the informers off with his hymn.' In the Life of Badman are some
illustrative anecdotes relating to informers and their violent ends,
with an interesting cut of a religious meeting in the fields. One
informer is in a neighbouring tree, to identify the meeters; while
in the distance, another is running for the officers, with this
verse under the print:--


   'Informer, art thou in the tree?
    Take heed, lest there thou hanged be:
    Look likewise to thy foot-hold well;
    Lest, if thou slip, thou fall to hell.'


In many cases the justices considered a field preacher to be
equally guilty with a regicide.[210] One of the informers, named W.
S., was very diligent in this business; 'he would watch a-nights,
climb trees, and range the woods a-days, if possible to find out
the meeters, for then they were forced to meet in the fields.' At
length he was stricken by the hand of God, and died a most wretched
object.[211] The cruelties that were inflicted upon Dissenters
are scarcely credible. Penn, the Quaker, gives this narrative of
facts:--The widow's mite hath not escaped their hands; they have
made her cow the forfeit of her conscience, not leaving her a bed
to lie on, nor a blanket to cover her; and what is yet more barbarous,
and helps to make up this tragedy, the poor helpless orphan's milk,
boiling over the fire, was flung away, and the skillet made part
of their prize; that, had not nature in neighbours been stronger
than cruelty in informers and officers, to open her bowels for
their relief, they must have utterly perished.[212] One of these
infamous, hard-hearted wretches in Bedford, was stricken, soon
after, with death; and such had been his notorious brutality, that
his widow could not obtain a hearse, but was obliged to carry his
body to the grave in a cart.

It is gratifying to leave these horrors--these stains upon
our national history--for a moment, to record an event which took
place about fifty years back. The Rev. S. Hillyard, the pastor of
Bunyan's church, thus writes:--'When our meeting-house was lately
repaired, we were allowed, by the Lord Lieutenant and the justices,
to carry on our public worship, for a quarter of a year in the
town-hall, where, if it had been standing in Mr. Bunyan's time,
he must have been tried and committed to jail for preaching.' How
different our position from that of our pilgrim forefathers.

The justices, if the law had allowed them, would, from the first,
have prevented Bunyan's preaching. When they had the power,
he possessed nothing to excite the cupidity of an informer: this,
with the caution of his friends, saved him, for some months, from
being apprehended; they met privately in barns, milk-houses, and
stables, or in any convenient place in which they were not likely
to be disturbed. In addition to these services, every opportunity was
embraced to visit his friends--praying with them, and administering
consolation, arming them with a steady resolve to be patient
in suffering, and to trust in God for their safety and reward. At
length an information was laid, and he was caught in the very act
of worshipping God with some pious neighbours. Bunyan's account of
this event is deeply interesting; but the want of sufficient space
prevents my giving more than an abstract of it, referring the reader
to his Grace Abounding for fuller details.

On November 12, 1660, as the winter was setting in, having been
invited to preach at Samsell, in Bedfordshire, he prepared a sermon
upon these words--'Dost thou believe in the Son of God?' (John
9:35); from which he intended 'to show the absolute need of faith
in Jesus Christ, and that it was also a thing of the highest concern
for men to inquire into, and to ask their own hearts whether they
had faith or no.'[213] He had then been a preacher of the glorious
gospel of Christ for five or six years, without any interruption;
for, although indicted, he had continued his useful career, and
through grace had received great encouragement and eminent proofs
of the Divine blessing.

Francis Wingate, a neighbouring justice of the peace, having heard
of the intended meeting, issued his warrant to bring the preacher
before him. The intention of the magistrate was whispered about,
and came to Bunyan's ears before the meeting was held, probably to
give him an opportunity of escape. His friends, becoming alarmed
for his safety, advised him to forego the opportunity. It was a
trying moment for him; he had a beloved wife to whom he had not been
long married, and four dear children, one of them blind, depending
upon his daily labour for food. If he escaped, he might continue
his stolen opportunities of doing good to the souls of men. He
hesitated but for a few minutes for private prayer; he had hitherto
shown himself hearty and courageous in preaching, and it was his
business to encourage the timid flock. 'Therefore, thought I, if I
should now run and make an escape, it will be of a very ill savour
in the country; what will my weak and newly converted brethren
think of it? If I should run, now there was a warrant out for me,
I might, by so doing, make them afraid to stand when great words
only should be spoken to them.' He retired into a close, privately,
to seek Divine direction, and came back resolved to abide the will
of God. It was the first attempt, near Bedford, to apprehend a
preacher of the gospel, and he thus argued with himself--'If God,
of his mercy, should choose me to go upon the forlorn hope, that is,
to be the first that should be opposed for the gospel, if I should
fly it might be a discouragement to the whole body that should follow
after. And I thought that the world thereby would take occasion
at my cowardliness, to have blasphemed the gospel.'[214] These
considerations brought him to the noble resolution of fulfilling his
duty, under all its difficulties and dangers. In these reasonings
the same honourable decision of mind animated him which impelled
Daniel, and the three Hebrew youths, to violate the wicked laws of
the nation in which they lived, because these laws were opposed to
the will of God. He and they, as well as the apostles, judged for
themselves, and opposed statutes or ancient customs which, in their
opinion, were contrary to the Divine law by which they were to be
judged at the solemn and great day. Nor did they, in the prospect
of the most dread personal sufferings, hesitate to follow the
convictions of their minds. Some laws are more honoured in the breach
than in the observance of them. The law of Pharaoh to destroy the
male children of the Israelites, in ancient times, and the present
Popish laws of Tuscany, that the Bible shall not be read, are laws
so contrary to common sense, and the most sacred duties of man,
that 'God dealt well' with those who broke them in Egypt, as he has
ever dealt with those who have thus honoured him. The millions of
prayers that were offered up for a blessing upon the confessors,
Madiai, have been answered. Had they perished in the prisons of
Tuscany, they would have joined the noble army of martyrs before
the throne of God, to witness his judgments upon that persecuting
church which has shed so much holy blood.

When Bunyan was advised to escape by dismissing the meeting, which
consisted of about forty persons, he replied, 'No, by no means; I
will not stir, neither will I have the meeting dismissed. Come, be
of good cheer, let us not be daunted; our cause is good, we need
not be ashamed of it; to preach God's Word is so good a work, that
we shall be well rewarded if we suffer for that.'[215] All this
took place about an hour before the officers arrived. The service
was commenced with prayer at the time appointed, the preacher and
hearers had their Bibles in their hands to read the text, when the
constable and his attendants came in, and, exhibiting the warrant,
ordered him to lave the pulpit and come down; but he mildly told
him that he was about his Master's business, and must rather obey
his Lord's voice than that of man. Then a constable was ordered
to fetch him down, who, coming up and taking hold of his coat, was
about to remove him, when Mr. Bunyan fixed his eyes steadfastly
upon him; having his Bible open in his hand, the man let go, looked
pale, and retired; upon which he said to the congregation, 'See
how this man trembles at the Word of God.' Truly did one of his
friends say, 'he had a sharp, quick eye.' But being commanded in
the king's name, he went with the officer, accompanied by some of
his friends, to the magistrate's residence. Before they left, the
constable allowed him to speak a few words to the people of counsel
and encouragement. He declared that it was a mercy when called to
suffer upon so good an account; that it was of grace that they had
been kept from crimes, which might have caused their apprehension
as thieves and murderers, or for some wickedness; but by the
blessing of God it was not so, but, as Christians, they were called
to suffer for well-doing; and that we had better be persecuted than
the persecutors. The constable took him to the justice's house, but
as he was from home, to save the expense and trouble of charging
a watch to secure his prisoner, he allowed him to go home, one of
his friends undertaking to be answerable for his appearance the
next day. On the following morning they went to the constable and
then to the justice. The celebrated Quaker, John Roberts, managed
an affair of that kind better. There was plenty of time to have
held and dismissed the meeting before the constable arrived, and
then he might have done as Roberts did--made the best of his way
to the magistrate's house, and demanded, 'Dost thou want me, old
man?' and when asked whether or not he went to church, his ready
reply was, 'Yes, sometimes I go to the church, and sometimes the
church comes to me.'[216]

When Bunyan and the constable came before Justice Wingate, he inquired
what the meeters did, and what they had with them; suspecting that
they met armed, or for treasonable practices: but when the constable
told him that they were unarmed, and merely assembled to preach and
hear the Word, he could not well tell what to say. Justice Wingate
was not the only magistrate who had felt difficulties as to the
construction of the persecuting acts of 35 Eliz. and 15 Chas. II.
Had he taken an opinion, as one of the justices at that time did,
it might have saved him from the infamy and guilt of punishing an
innocent man. The case was this:--'Two persons of insolent behaviour,
calling themselves informers, demanded, on their evidence of having
been present, without summons or hearing in presence of the accused,
that a fine of £100 should be levied; they were at the meeting and
heard no Common Prayer service.' The opinion was that there must
be evidence showing the intent, and that the meeting was held
under colour and pretence of any exercise of religion to concoct
sedition.[217] Mr. Wingate asked Bunyan why he did not follow his
calling and go to church? to which he replied, that all his intention
was to instruct and counsel people to forsake their sins, and that
he did, without confusion, both follow his calling and preach the
Word. At this the angry justice ordered his commitment to jail,
refusing bail, unless he would promise to give up preaching. While
his mittimus was preparing, he had a short controversy with an
old enemy of the truth, Dr. Lindale, and also with a persecuting
justice, Mr. Foster, who, soon after, sorely vexed the people
of God at Bedford. They tried their utmost endeavours to persuade
him to promise not to preach; a word from him might have saved his
liberty; but it was a word which would have sacrificed his religious
convictions, and these were dearer to him than life itself. This
was a trying moment, but he had been forewarned of his danger by
the extraordinary temptation to sell Christ narrated in his Grace
Abounding. His feelings, while they were conducting him to the
prison, were so cheering as to enable him to forget his sorrows;
he thus describes them--'Verily, as I was going forth of the doors
I had much ado to forbear saying to them, that I carried the peace
of God along with me; and, blessed be the Lord, I went away to
prison with God's comfort in my poor soul.'[218]

Tradition points out the place in which this eminently pious man
was confined, as an ancient prison, built with the bridge over the
river Ouse, supported on one of the piers near the middle of the
river.[219] As the bridge was only four yards and a half wide,
the prison must have been very small. Howard, the philanthropist,
visited the Bedford prison, that which was dignified as the county
jail about 1788, and thus describes it:--'The men and women felons
associate together; their night-rooms are two dungeons. Only one
court for debtors and felons; and no apartment for the jailer.'[220]
Imagination can hardly realize the miseries of fifty or sixty pious
men and women, taken from a place of public worship and incarcerated
in such dens or dungeons with felons, as was the case while Bunyan
was a prisoner. Twelve feet square was about the extent of the
walls; for it occupies but one pier between the center arches of
the bridge. How properly does the poor pilgrim call it a certain
DEN! What an abode for men and women who had been made by God kings
and priests--the heirs of heaven! The eyes of Howard, a Dissenter,
penetrated these dens, these hidden things of darkness, these abodes
of cruelty. He revealed what lay and clerical magistrates ought to
have published centuries before, that they were not fit places in
which to imprison any, even the worst of criminals. He denounced
them, humanity shuddered at the discovery, and they were razed to
their foundations. In this den God permitted his honoured servant,
John Bunyan, to be incarcerated for more than twelve years of the
prime of his life. A man, whose holy zeal for the salvation of
sinners, whose disinterested labours, whose sufferings for Christ
prove his apostolical descent much better than those who claim
descent from popes, and Wolsey or Bonner--those fiends in human
shape.

Bedford bridge was pulled down in the year 1811, when the present
handsome bridge was built. One of the workmen employed upon the
ruins found, among the rubbish, where the prison had stood, a ring
made of fine gold, bearing an inscription which affords strong
presumptive evidence that it belonged to our great allegorist. Dr.
Abbot, a neighbouring clergyman, who had daily watched the labours
of the workmen, luckily saw it, and saved it from destruction. He
constantly wore it, until, drawing near the end of his pilgrimage,
in 1817, he took it off his own finger and placed it upon that of
his friend Dr. Bower, then curate of Elstow,[221] and at present
the dean of Manchester, charging him to keep it for his sake. This
ring must have been a present from some person of property, as a
token of great respect for Bunyan's pious character, and probably
from an indignant sense of his unjust and cruel imprisonment. By
the kind permission of the dean, we are enabled to give a correct
representation of this curious relic.[222][223]

Bunyan was thirty-two years of age when taken to prison. He had
suffered the loss of his pious wife, whose conversation and portion
had been so blessed to him. It is not improbable that her peaceful
departure is pictured in Christiana's crossing the river which has
no bridge. She left him with four young children, one of whom very
naturally and most strongly excited his paternal feelings, from
the circumstance of her having been afflicted with blindness. He
had married a second time, a woman of exemplary piety and retiring
modesty; but whose spirit, when roused to seek the release of her
beloved husband, enabled her to stand unabashed, and full of energy
and presence of mind, before judges in their courts, and lords in
their mansions. When her partner was sent to jail, she was in that
peculiar state that called for all his sympathy and his tenderest
care. The shock was too severe for her delicate situation; she became
dangerously ill, and, although her life was spared, all hopes had
fled of her maternal feelings being called into exercise. Thus did
one calamity follow another; still he preserved his integrity.[224]

Bunyan was treated with all the kindness which many of his jailers
dared to show him. In his times, imprisonment and fetters were
generally companions. Thus he says--'When a felon is going to be
tried, his fetters are still making a noise on his heels.'[225] So
the prisoners in the Holy War are represented as being 'brought in
chains to the bar' for trial. 'The prisoners were handled by the
jailer so severely, and loaded so with irons, that they died in the
prison.'[226] In many cases, prisoners for conscience' sake were
treated with such brutality, before the form of trial, as to cause
their death. By Divine mercy, Bunyan was saved from these dreadful
punishments, which have ceased as civilization has progressed, and
now cloud the narratives of a darker age.

After having lain in prison about seven weeks, the session was
held at Bedford, for the county; and Bunyan was placed at the bar,
indicted for devilishly and perniciously abstaining from coming to
church to hear Divine service, and as a common upholder of several
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. In this indictment Bunyan
is not described as 'of Elstow' but 'of Bedford.' Probably he had
removed to Bedford soon after he joined Gifford's church. The bench
was numerous, and presided over by Justice Keelin.[227] If this was
Sergeant Kelynge who, the following year, was made Lord Chief-Justice,
he was a most arbitrary tyrant, equaled or excelled only by Judge
Jeffreys. It was before him that some persons were indicted for
attending a conventicle; but it being only proved that they had
assembled on the Lord's-day with Bibles in their hands without
prayer-books, and there being no proof that their meeting was only
under colour or pretence of religion, the jury acquitted them. Upon
this he fined each of the jury-men one hundred marks, and imprisoned
them till the fines were paid. Again, on a trial for murder, the
prisoner being under suspicion of Dissent, was one whom the judge
had a great desire to hang, he fined and imprisoned all the jury
because, contrary to his direction, they brought in a verdict
of manslaughter! Well was it said, that he was more fit to charge
the Roundheads under Prince Rupert than to charge a jury. After
a short career, he fell into utter contempt.[228] He entered into
a long argument with the poor tinker, about using the liturgy of
the Church of England, first warning him of his danger if he spake
lightly of it. Bunyan argued that prayer was purely spiritual, the
offering of the heart, and not the reading of a form. The justice
declared--'We know the Common Prayer-book hath been ever since the
apostles' time, and is lawful to be used in the church!!' It is
surprising that such a dialogue was ever entered upon; either Keling
was desirous of triumphing over the celebrated tinker, or his
countenance and personal appearance commanded respect. For some
cause he was treated with great liberality for those times; the
extent of it may be seen by one justice asking him, 'Is your God
Beelzebub?' and another declaring that he was possessed with the
devil! 'All which,' says Bunyan, 'I passed over, the Lord forgive
them!' When, however, the justice was worsted in argument, and
acknowledged that he was not well versed in Scripture, he demanded
the prisoner's plea, saying, 'Then you confess the indictment?'
'Now,' says Bunyan, 'and not till now, I saw I was indicted; and
said--"This I confess, we have had many meetings together, both to
pray to God, and to exhort one another; and that we had the sweet
comforting presence of the Lord among us for our encouragement
(blessed be his name!); therefore I confess myself guilty, and
no otherwise."' This was recorded as a plea of guilty, and Keling
resumed his natural ferocity. 'Then,' said he, 'hear your judgment.
You must be had back again to prison, and there lie for three months
following; and then, if you do not submit to go to church to hear
Divine service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished the
realm; and after that, if you shall be found in this realm without
special license from the king, you must stretch by the neck for
it. I tell you plainly'; 'and so he bid my jailer have me away.'
The hero answered--'I am at a point with you: if I were out of
prison to-day, I would preach the gospel again to-morrow, by the
help of God.'[229]

The statutes, by virtue of which this awful sentence was pronounced,
together with the legal form of recantation used by those who were
terrified into conformity, are set forth in a note to the Grace
Abounding.[230] Bunyan was, if not the first, one of the first
Dissenters who were proceeded against after the restoration of
Charles II; and his trial, if such it may be called, was followed
by a wholesale persecution. The king, as head of the Church
of England, wreaked his vengeance upon all classes of Dissenters,
excepting Roman Catholics and Jews.

The reign of Charles II was most disgraceful and disastrous to the
nation, even the king being a pensioner upon the French court. The
Dutch swept the seas, and threatened to burn London; a dreadful
plague depopulated the metropolis--the principal part of which was,
in the following year, with its cathedral, churches, and public
buildings, destroyed by fire; plots and conspiracies alarmed the
people; tyranny was triumphant; even the bodies of the illustrious
dead were exhumed, and treated with worse than savage ferocity;
while a fierce persecution raged throughout the kingdom, which
filled the jails with Dissenters.

In Scotland, the persecution raged with still more deadly violence.
Military, in addition to civil despotism, strove to enforce the
use of the Book of Common Prayer. The heroic achievements and awful
suffering of Scottish Christians saved their descendants from this
yoke of bondage.[231]

A short account of the extent of the sufferings of our pious ancestors
is given in the Introduction to the Pilgrim's Progress[232]--a
narrative which would appear incredible did it not rest upon
unimpeachable authority. It would be difficult to believe the
records of the brutal treatment which the sufferers underwent had
they not been handed down to us in the State Trials, and in public
registers, over which the persecuted had no control. Two instances
will show the extreme peril in which the most learned and pious
men held their lives. John James, the pastor of a Baptist church in
Whitechapel, was charged, upon the evidence of a perjured drunken
vagabond named Tipler, a pipe-maker's journeyman, who was not present
in the meeting, but swore that he heard him utter treasonable words.
Notwithstanding the evidence of some most respectable witnesses,
who were present during the whole service, and distinctly proved
that no such words were used, Mr. James was convicted, and sentenced
to be hung. His distracted wife saw the king, presented a petition,
and implored mercy, when the unfeeling monarch replied, 'O! Mr.
James; he is a sweet gentleman.' Again, on the following morning,
she fell at his feet, beseeching his royal clemency, when he spurned
her from him, saying, 'John James, that rogue, he shall be hanged;
yea, he shall be hanged.' And, in the presence of his weeping
friends, he ascended from the gibbet to the mansions of the blessed.
His real crime was, that he continued to preach after having been
warned not to do so by John Robinson, lieutenant of the Tower,
properly called, by Mr. Crosby,[233] a devouring wolf, upon whose
head the blood of this and other innocent Dissenters will be found.
Another Dissenting minister, learned, pious, loyal, and peaceful,
was, during Bunyan's time, marked for destruction. Thomas Rosewell
was tried before the monster Jeffreys. He was charged, upon the
evidence of two infamous informers, with having doubted the power
of the king to cure the kings' evil, and with saying that they
should overcome their enemies with rams' horns, broken platters, and
a stone in a sling. A number of most respectable witnesses deposed
to their having been present; that no such words were uttered, and
that Mr. Rosewell was eminent for loyalty and devoted attachment to
the Government. Alas! he was a Dissenting teacher of high standing,
of extensive acquirements, and of great earnestness in seeking
the salvation of sinners; and, under the direction of that brutal
judge, the venal jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to be
hung. This frightful sentence would have been executed but from a
singular interposition of Providence. Sir John Talbot was present
during the trial, and a stranger to Mr. Rosewell; but he was so
struck with the proceedings, that he hastened to the king, related
the facts, and added, 'that he had seen the life of a subject,
who appeared to be a gentleman and a scholar, in danger, upon such
evidence as he would not hang his dog on.' And added, 'Sire, if you
suffer this man to die, we are none of us safe in our own houses.'
At this moment Jeffreys came in, gloating over his prey, exulting
in the innocent blood he was about to shed, when, to his utter
confusion, the king said, 'Mr. Rosewell shall not die'; and his
pardon was issued under the great seal.[234] Every Englishman should
read the state trials of that period, recording the sufferings of
Richard Baxter, William Penn, Sir H. Vane, and many others of our
most pious forefathers; and they must feel that it was a miracle of
mercy that saved the life of Bunyan, and gave him leisure to write
not only his popular allegories, but the most valuable treatises
in the English language upon subjects of the deepest importance.

When he entered the prison, his first and prayerful object was to
levy a tax upon his affliction--to endeavour to draw honey from
the carcass of the lion. His care was to render his imprisonment
subservient to the great design of showing forth the glory of God
by patient submission to His will. Before his commitment, he had
a strong presentiment of his sufferings; his earnest prayer, for
many months, was that he might, with composure, encounter all his
trials, even to an ignominious death. This led him to the solemn
consideration of reckoning himself, his wife, children, health,
enjoyments, all as dying, and in perfect uncertainty, and to live
upon God, his invisible but ever-present Father.

Like an experienced military commander, he wisely advises every
Christian to have a reserve for Christ in case of dire emergency.
'We ought to have a reserve for Christ, to help us at a dead lift.
When profession and confession will not do; when loss of goods and
a prison will not do; when loss of country and of friends will not
do; when nothing else will do, then willingly to lay down our lives
for his name.'[235] In the midst of all these dread uncertainties,
his soul was raised to heavenly contemplations of the future
happiness of the saints of God.

It is deeply impressive to view a man, with gigantic intellect,
involved in the net which was laid to trammel his free spirit,
disregarding his own wisdom; seeking guidance from heaven in earnest
prayer, and in searching the sacred Scriptures; disentangling
himself, and calmly waiting the will of his heavenly Father. Still
he severely felt the infirmities of nature. Parting with his wife
and children, he described as 'the pulling the flesh from the bones.
I saw 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.'[236] His
feelings were peculiarly excited to his poor blind Mary.[237] 'O!
the thoughts of the hardships my poor blind one might go under, would
break my heart in pieces.' It is one of the governing principles
of human nature, that the most delicate or afflicted child excites
our tenderest feelings. 'I have seen men,' says Bunyan, 'take most
care of, and best provide for those of their children that have
been most infirm and helpless; and our Advocate "shall gather his
lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom."'[238] While
in this state of distress, the promise came to his relief--'Leave
thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy
widows trust in me.' He had heard of the miseries of those banished
Christians who had been sold into slavery, and perished with cold
and calamities, lying in ditches like poor, forlorn, desolate sheep.

At the end of three months he became anxious to know what the
enemies of the cross intended to do with him. His sentence was
transportation and death, unless he conformed. To give up or shrink
from his profession of Christ, by embracing the national forms and
submitting his conscience to human laws, he dared not. He resolved
to persevere even at the sacrifice of his life. To add to his distress,
doubts and fears clouded his prospects of futurity; 'Satan,' said
he, 'laid hard at me to beat me out of heart.' At length he came
to the determination to venture his eternal state with Christ,
whether he had present comfort or not. His state of mind he thus
describes--'If God doth not come in (to comfort me) I will leap
off the ladder, even blindfold, into eternity, sink or swim, come
heaven, come hell. Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; I will
venture all for thy name.' From this time he felt a good hope and
great consolation.

The clerk of the peace, Mr. Cobb, was sent by the justices to persuade
him to conform, and had a very long and interesting conference
with him in the prison. This shows that the magistrates were well
convinced that he was a leader in nonconformity, who, if brought
over, would afford them a signal triumph. In fact, he was called,
by a beneficed clergyman, 'the most notorious schismatic in all
the county of Bedford.'[239] It is perhaps to the arguments of Cobb
that he refers in his Advice to Sufferers. 'The wife of the bosom
lies at him, saying, O do not cast thyself away; if thou takest
this course, what shall I do? Thou hast said thou lovest me; now
make it manifest by granting this my small request--Do not still
remain in thine integrity. Next to this come the children, which
are like to come to poverty, to beggary, to be undone, for want of
wherewithal to feed, and clothe, and provide for them for time to
come. Now also come kindred, and relations, and acquaintance; some
chide, some cry, some argue, some threaten, some promise, some
flatter, and some do all to befool him for so unadvised an act as
to cast away himself, and to bring his wife and children to beggary
for such a thing as religion. These are sore temptations.'[240]
It was during this period of his imprisonment that the mad attempt
was made, by Venner and his rabble, to overturn the government.
This was pressed upon Bunyan as a reason why he should not hold
meetings for religious exercises, but rely upon his more private
opportunities of exhorting his neighbours. In reply to this,
Mr. Cobb is reminded of Bunyan's well-known loyalty, which would
become useful in proportion to his public teaching. It was a
pleasing interview, which, while it did not for a moment shake his
determination, led him to thank Mr. Cobb for his civil and meek
discourse, and to ejaculate a heartfelt prayer--'O that we might
meet in heaven.'[241] The whole of it is reprinted at the end of
the Grace Abounding, and it shows that God gave him favour even with
his persecutors. It Is not surprising that such a prisoner should
have won the good opinion of his jailer, so that he was permitted
the consolation of seeing his relatives and friends, who ministered
to his comforts.

When the time arrived for the execution of the bitterest part of
his sentence, God, in his providence, interposed to save the life of
his servant. He had familiarized his mind with all the circumstances
of a premature and appalling death; the gibbet, the ladder, the
halter, had lost much of their terrors; he had even studied the
sermon he would then have preached to the concourse of spectators.
At this critical time the king's coronation took place, on April
23, 1661. To garnish this grand ceremony, the king had ordered the
release of numerous prisoners of certain classes, and within that
description of offences was that for which Bunyan was confined.
The proclamation allowed twelve months' time to sue out the pardon
under the great seal, but without this expensive process thousands
of vagabonds and thieves were set at liberty, while, alas, an
offence against the church was not to be pardoned upon such easy
terms. Bunyan and his friends were too simple, honest, and virtuous,
to understand why such a distinction should be made. The assizes
being held in August, he determined to seek his liberty by a petition
to the judges. The court sat at the Swan Inn, and as every incident
in the life of this extraordinary man excites our interest, we
are gratified to have it in our power to exhibit the state of this
celebrated inn at that time.

Having written his petition, and made some fair copies of it, his
modest, timid wife determined to present them to the judges. Her
heroic achievements--for such they deserve to be called--on behalf
of her husband, are admirably narrated by Bunyan, the whole of
which is reprinted in our first volume,[243] and deserves a most
attentive perusal. Want of space prevents us repeating it here, or
even making extracts from it. She had previously traveled to London
with a petition to the House of Lords, and entrusted it to Lord
Barkwood, who conferred with some of the peers upon it, and informed
her that they could not interfere, the king having committed the
release of the prisoners to the judges. When they came the circuit
and the assizes were held at Bedford; Bunyan in vain besought the
local authorities that he might have liberty to appear in person
and plead for his release. This reasonable request was denied,
and, as a last resource, he committed his cause to an affectionate
wife. Several times she appeared before the judges; love to her
husband, a stern sense of duty, a conviction of the gross injustice
practiced upon one to whom she was most tenderly attached, overcame
her delicate, modest, retiring habits, and forced her upon this
strange duty. Well did she support the character of an advocate.
This delicate, courageous, high-minded woman appeared before Judge
Hale, who was much affected with her earnest pleading for one so
dear to her, and whose life was so valuable to his children. It
was the triumph of love, duty, and piety, over bashful timidity.
Her energetic appeals were in vain. She returned to the prison with
a heavy heart, to inform her husband that, while felons, malefactors,
and men guilty of misdemeanours were, without any recantation or
promise of amendment, to be let loose upon society to grace the
coronation, the poor prisoners for conscience' sake were to undergo
their unjust and savage sentences. Or, in plain words, that refusing
to go to church to hear the Common Prayer was an unpardonable
crime, not to be punished in any milder mode than recantation, or
transportation, or the halter. With what bitter feelings must she
have returned to the prison, believing that it would be the tomb
of her beloved husband! How natural for the distressed, insulted
wife to have written harsh things against the judge! She could not
have conceived that, under the stately robes of Hale, there was
a heart affected by Divine love. And when the nobleman afterwards
met the despised tinker and his wife, on terms of perfect equality,
clothed in more glorious robes in the mansions of the blessed, how
inconceivable their surprise! It must have been equally so with
the learned judge, when, in the pure atmosphere of heaven, he found
that the illiterate tinker, harassed by poverty and imprisonment,
produced books, the admiration of the world. As Dr. Cheever eloquently
writes--'How little could he dream, that from that narrow cell in
Bedford jail a glory would shine out, illustrating the grace of
God, and doing more good to man, than all the prelates and judges
of the kingdom would accomplish.'[244]

Bunyan was thus left in a dreary and hopeless state of imprisonment,
in which he continued for somewhat more than twelve years, and it
becomes an interesting inquiry how he spent his time and managed to
employ his great talent in his Master's service. The first object
of his solicitude would be to provide for his family, according to
1 Timothy 5:8. How to supply his house with bare necessaries to
meet the expenses of a wife and four children, must have filled him
with anxiety. The illness, death, and burial of his first beloved
wife, had swept away any little reserve which otherwise might have
accumulated, so that, soon after his imprisonment commenced, before
he could resume any kind of labour, his wife thus pleaded with the
judge for his liberty, 'My lord, I have four small children that
cannot help themselves, of which one is blind, and have nothing
to live upon but the charity of good people.' How inscrutable are
the ways of Providence; the rich reveling in luxury while using
their wealth to corrupt mankind, while this eminent saint, with his
family, were dependent upon charity! As soon as he could get his
tools in order he set to work; and we have the following testimony
to his industry by a fellow-prisoner, Mr. Wilson, the Baptist
minister, and of Charles Doe, who visited him in prison:--'Nor did
he, while he was in prison, spend his time in a supine and careless
manner, nor eat the bread of idleness; for there have I been
witness that his own hands have ministered to his and his family's
necessities, making many hundred gross of long tagged laces, to
fill up the vacancies of his time, which he had learned to do for
that purpose, since he had been in prison. There, also, I surveyed
his library, the least, but yet the best that e'er I saw--the Bible
and the Book of Martyrs.[245] And during his imprisonment (since I
have spoken of his library), he writ several excellent and useful
treatises, particularly The Holy City, Christian Behaviour,
The Resurrection of the Dead, and Grace Abounding to the Chief of
Sinners.'[246] Besides these valuable treatises, Charles Doe states
that, of his own knowledge, in prison Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's
Progress, the first part, and that he had this from his own mouth.[247]
In addition to the demonstration of this important fact contained
in the introduction to The Pilgrim's Progress, there ought to
have been added, Bunyan's statement made in introducing his second
part:--'Now, having taken up my lodgings in a wood about a mile
off the place': no longer in 'a den,' but sheltered, in a wood, in
a state of comparative, but not of perfect liberty, about a mile
distant from the den in which he wrote his first part. Whether this
may refer to his former cottage at Elstow, of which there is great
doubt, or to the house he occupied in Bedford after his release,
they were equally about a mile from the jail. He certainly means
that the two parts were not written in the same place, nor is
there a shadow of a doubt as to the fact that in prison the great
allegory was conceived and written. Well might Mr. Doe say, 'What
hath the devil or his agents got by putting our great gospel minister
in prison?' They prevented his preaching to a few poor pilgrims in
the villages round Bedford, and it was the means of spreading his
fame, and the knowledge of the gospel, by his writings, throughout
the world. Thus does the wrath of man praise God. In addition to the
works above enumerated, he also published some extremely valuable
tracts, several editions of a work which ought to be read by all
young Christians--A Treatise on the Covenants of the Law and of
Grace; several editions of Sighs from Hell; A Map of Salvation and
Damnation; The Four Last Things, a poem; Mount Ebal and Gerizim,
or, Redemption from the Curse, a poem; Prison Meditations, a poem:
the four last are single sheets, probably sold by his children or
friends to assist him in obtaining his livelihood: Justification
by Faith in Jesus Christ, 4to; Confession of His Faith and Reason
of His Practice. The most remarkable treatise which he published
while in confinement, is on prayer, from the words of the apostle,
'I will pray with the spirit and with the understanding also.' His
attention had been fixed on this subject when his free-born spirit
was roused by the threat of Justice Keeling, 'Take heed of speaking
irreverently of the Book of Common Prayer, for if you do you will
bring great damage upon yourself.'

Bunyan had formed his ideas of prayer from heartfelt experience;
it is the cry of the burthened, sinking sinner, 'Lord save us, we
perish'; or adoration rising from the heart to the throne of grace,
filled with hopes of pardon and immortality. In his estimation, any
form of human invention was an interference with the very nature
of prayer, and with the work of the Holy Spirit, who alone can
inspire our souls with acceptable prayer.

In expressing his views upon this all-important subject, Bunyan was
simply guided by a sense of duty. Fear of the consequences, or of
offending his enemies, never entered his mind. He felt that they
were in the hands of his heavenly Father, and that all their malice
must be over-ruled for good. Notwithstanding his solemn warning
not to speak irreverently of the book, his refusal to use which had
subjected him to severe privations and the fear of a halter, this
Christian hero was not daunted, but gives his opinion of it with
all that freedom and liberty which he considered essential to excite
in his fellow-men inquiries as to its origin and imposition.

It is not my province to enter into the controversy whether in
public worship a form of prayer ought to be used. Let every one
be persuaded in his own mind; but to pass a law denouncing those
that refuse to use a prescribed form as worthy of imprisonment,
transportation, or death, is an attack upon the first principles
of Christianity. To punish those who spoke irreverently of it, was
almost an acknowledgment that it would not bear investigation. To
speak of the book as in his serious judgment it deserved, was not
that mark of sectarianism which Romaine exhibited when he called
the beautiful hymns of Dr. Watts, which are used so much in public
worship among Dissenters, 'Watts' jingle,' and 'Watts' whims!'[248]
No answer appears to have been published to Bunyan's extremely
interesting volume until twelve years after the author's death,
when a reply appeared under the title of Liturgies Vindicated by the
Dissenters, or the Lawfulness of Forms of Prayer proved against John
Bunyan and the Dissenters. 1700. This is a very rare and curious
volume. The author, as usual in such controversies, deals wholesale
in invective, and displays all the ability of a sophist.

The Christian world is indebted to Dr. Cheever for a beautiful
picture of Bunyan's devotional exercise in his cell. 'It is evening;
he finishes his work, to be taken home by his dear blind child.
He reads a portion of Scripture, and, clasping her small hands in
his, kneels on the cold stone floor, and pours out his soul to God;
then, with a parting kiss, dismisses her to her mother. The rude
lamp glimmers on the table; with his Bible, pen, and paper, he writes
as though joy did make him write. His face is lighted as from the
radiant jasper walls of the celestial city. He clasps his hands,
looks upward, and blesses God for his goodness. The last you see
of him--is alone, kneeling on the prison floor; he is alone with
God.'

Charles Doe, who manifested most laudable anxiety to hand down the
works of Bunyan to posterity, bears honourable testimony to his
conduct while in prison. 'It was by making him a visit in prison
that I first saw him, and became acquainted with him; and I must
profess I could not but look upon him to be a man of an excellent
spirit, zealous for his master's honour, and cheerfully committing
all his own concernments unto God's disposal. When I was there,
there were about sixty Dissenters besides himself there, taken but
a little before at a religious meeting at Kaistoe, in the county
of Bedford; besides two eminent Dissenting ministers, Mr. Wheeler
and Mr. Dun (both very well known in Bedfordshire, though long since
with God[249]), by which means the prison was very much crowded;
yet, in the midst of all that hurry which so many new-comers
occasioned, I have heard Mr. Bunyan both preach and pray with that
mighty spirit of faith and plerophory of divine assistance that
has made me stand and wonder.'[250] Here they could sing, without
fear of being overheard; no informers prowling round. The world was
shut out; and, in communion with heaven, they could forget their
sorrows, and have a rich foretaste of the inconceivable glory of
the celestial city. It was under such circumstances that Bunyan
preached one of his most remarkable sermons, afterwards published
under the title of The Holy City or the New Jerusalem, 1665.
'Upon a certain first-day, being together with my brethren in
our prison-chamber, they expected that, according to our custom,
something should be spoken out of the Word for our mutual edification.
I felt myself, it being my turn to speak, so empty, spiritless, and
barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speak among
them so much as five words of truth with life and evidence. At
last I cast mine eye upon this prophecy, when, after considering
awhile, methought I perceived something of that jasper in whose light
you find this holy city descended; wherefore, having got some dim
glimmering thereof, and finding a desire to see farther thereinto,
I with a few groans did carry my meditations to the Lord Jesus for
a blessing, which he did forthwith grant, and helping me to set
before my brethren, we did all eat, and were well refreshed; and
behold, also, that while I was in the distributing of it, it so
increased in my hand, that of the fragments that we left, after we
had well dined, I gathered up this basketful. Wherefore, setting
myself to a more narrow search, through frequent prayer, what first
with doing and then with undoing, and after that with doing again,
I thus did finish it.'[251] To this singular event the religious
public are indebted for one of Bunyan's ablest treatises, full
of the striking sparkles of his extraordinary imagination. It was
a subject peculiarly adapted to display his powers--the advent of
New Jerusalem, her impregnable walls and gates of precious stones,
golden streets, water of life, temple, and the redeemed from all
nations flocking into it.[252]

In these times of severe persecution, two of the church members,
S. Fenn and J. Whiteman, were ordained joint pastors. Fenn has
just been delivered out of prison; yet they ventured to brave the
storm, and in this year, although the lions prowled before the
porch, a number were added to the church. Thus was their little
Jerusalem built 'even in troublous times.'

Bunyan's popularity and fame for wisdom and knowledge had spread
all round the country, and it naturally brought him visitors, with
their doubts, and fears, and cases of conscience. Among these a
singular instance is recorded in the Life of Badman. 'When I was
in prison,' says the narrator, 'there came a woman to me that was
under a great deal of trouble. So I asked her, she being a stranger
to me, what she had to say to me? She said she was afraid she should
be damned. I asked her the cause of those fears. She told me that
she had, some time since, lived with a shopkeeper at Wellingborough,
and had robbed his box in the shop several times of money, and pray,
says she, tell me what I shall do? I told her I would have her go
to her master, and make him satisfaction. She said she was afraid
lest he should hang her. I told her that I would intercede for her
life, and would make use of other friends to do the like; but she
told me she durst not venture that. Well, said I, shall I send
to your master, while you abide out of sight, and make your peace
with him before he sees you? and with that I asked her master's
name. But all she said in answer to this was, pray let it alone
till I come to you again. So away she went, and neither told me
her master's name nor her own; and I never saw here again.'[253]
He adds, 'I could tell you of another, that came to me with a like
relation concerning herself, and the robbing of her mistress.'

To his cruel imprisonment the world is indebted for the most
surprising narrative of a new birth that has ever appeared. It was
there that he was led to write the Grace Abounding to the Chief
of Sinners. He displays in the preface his deep interest in the
spiritual welfare of those who had been born under his ministry.
He rejoices in their happiness, even while he was 'sticking between
the teeth of the lions in the wilderness. I now again, as before
from the top of shenir and Hermon, so now from the lions' dens,
from "the mountains of the leopards," do look yet after you all,
greatly longing to see your safe arrival into the desired haven.'[254]
How natural it was that, while narrating his own experience, he
should be led to write a guide to pilgrims through time to eternity,
and that it should be dated from 'the den!'


   'And thus it was: I writing of the way
    And race of saints, in this our gospel-day,
    Fell suddenly into an allegory
    About their journey, and the way to glory.'[255]


Any one possessing powers of imagination, to whom the adventures
of Christian are familiar, would, on reading the Grace Abounding,
be continually struck with the likeness there drawn of the pilgrim--the
more he contemplates the two pictures of Christian experience, so
much the more striking is their similarity. The one is a narrative
of facts, the other contains the same facts allegorized. Thus, by
an irresistible impulse from heaven upon the mind of a prisoner for
Christ, did a light shine forth from the dungeon on Bedford bridge
which has largely contributed to enlighten the habitable globe. The
Pilgrim has been translated into most of the languages and dialects
of the world. The Caffrarian and Hottentot, the enlightened Greek
and Hindoo, the remnant of the Hebrew race, the savage Malay and
the voluptuous Chinese--all have the wondrous narrative in their
own languages. Bunyan was imprisoned by bigots and tyrants, to
prevent his being heard or known; and his voice, in consequence,
reaches to the ends of the earth. Let every wretched persecutor
contemplate this instance of God's over-ruling power. You will surely
plunge the avenging sword into your own vitals if, by persecution,
you vainly endeavour to wound the saints of the living God. You
may make hypocrites throw off their disguise. The real Christian may
be discouraged, but he perseveres. He feels the truth of Bunyan's
quaint saying, 'the persecutors are but the devil's scarecrows,
the old one himself lies quat'; while the eye of God is upon him to
save the children of Zion.[256] His otherwise dreary imprisonment
was lightened, and the time beguiled by these delightful writings. His
fellow-prisoners were benefited by hearing him read his pilgrim's
adventures. But this has been so fully displayed in the introduction
to the Pilgrim that any further notice is unnecessary.[257]

While busily occupied with his Grace Abounding and Pilgrim's Progress,
he wrote a poetical epistle in answer to the kind inquiries of his
numerous friends and visitors. After thanking them for counsel and
advice, he describes his feelings in prison. His feet stood on Mount
Zion; his body within locks and bars, while his mind was free to
study Christ, and elevated higher than the stars. Their fetters
could not tame his spirit, nor prevent his communion with God. The
more his enemies raged, the more peace he experienced. In prison
he received the visits of saints, of angels, and the Spirit of God.
'I have been able to laugh at destruction, and to fear neither the
horse nor his rider. I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness
of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another
world.'[258] If his ears were to be pierced in the pillory, it would
be only 'to hang a jewel there.' The source of his happy feelings
is well expressed in one of the stanzas:--


   'The truth and I were both here cast
        Together, and we do
    Lie arm in arm, and so hold fast
        Each other; this is true.'[259]


Yes, honest John Bunyan, the world at large now gives you credit
for the truth of that saying.

How strange must it seem to the luxurious worldling, with his bed
of down and splendid hangings, but aching heart, to hear of the
exquisite happiness of the prisoner for Christ on his straw pallet!
'When God makes the bed,' as Bunyan says, 'he must needs be easy
that is cast thereon; a blessed pillow hath that man for his head,
though to all beholders it is hard as a stone.'[260] In the whole
course of his troubles, he enjoyed the sympathy of his family and
friends. his food was brought daily, and such was the veneration
in which his memory was embalmed, that the very jug in which his
broth was taken to the prison has been preserved to this day.[261]

In the midst of all his sufferings he murmurs not nor for a moment
gives way to revenge; he leaves the persecutor in the hands of God.
Stand off, Christian; pity the poor wretch that brings down upon
himself the vengeance of God. Your pitiful arm must no strike
him--no, stand by, 'that God may have his full blow at him in his
time. Wherefore he saith avenge not yourself--"Vengeance is mine,
saith the Lord." Give place, leave such an one to be handled by
me.'[262]

'There are several degrees of suffering for righteousness--the
scourge of the tongue, the ruin of an estate, the loss of liberty,
a gaol, a gibbet, a stake, a dagger. Now answerable to these are the
comforts of the Holy Ghost, prepared like to like, part proportioned
to part, only the consolations are said to abound.'[263] The mind
of Bunyan was imbued with these sentiments; baptized into them,
and consequently elevated far above the fear of what man could do
unto him. Yes, he knew the power of God. 'He can make those things
that in themselves are most fearful and terrible to behold, the
most delightful and most desirable things. He can make a gaol more
beautiful than a palace, restraint more sweet by far than liberty,
and the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of
Egypt.'[264]

The Bible, that heavenly storehouse, was opened to him: 'I
never had, in all my life, so great an inlet into the Word of God
as now.'[265] 'I have had sweet sights of forgiveness and of the
heavenly Jerusalem. I have seen here that which, while in this
world, I shall never be able to express.'

About a year before he was set at liberty he received a very popular
work, written by Edward Fowler, a Bedfordshire clergyman, who was
soon after elevated to the see of Gloucester. It was entitled The
Design of Christianity, and professed to prove that the object of
the Saviour was merely to place man in a similar position to that
of Adam before the fall. It is an extremely learned production,
full of Greek and Latin quotations; but, in Bunyan's estimation, it
aimed a deadly blow at the foundations of Christianity. To restore
man to Adam's innocency, and then to leave him to cope with Satanic
subtlety, was to cut off all hopes of salvation. It was brought
to him in February 1672, and in the very short period of forty-two
days, Fowler's theory was most completely demolished by Bunyan's
Defence of the Doctrine of Justification, 4to, dated from prison,
the 27th of the 12th Month, 1671 (27th March, 1672). This was
answered by a small 4to volume, entitled Dirt Wiped Off. Bunyan had
used some harsh epithets; but the clergyman, or his curate, beat
the tinker in abusive language. He had been by this time promoted
to the rectory of Cripplegate. For an account of this controversy,
the reader is referred to the introduction to Bunyan's work
on Justification, and to that to the Pilgrim's Progress.[266] The
impression it made upon the public mind is well expressed in a rude
rhyme, made by an anonymous author, in his Assembly of Moderate
Divines:


   'There's a moderate Doctour at Cripplegate dwells,
    Whom Smythes his curate in trimming excells;
    But Bunyan a tinker hath tickled his gills.'


The last work that he wrote in prison was the confession of his
faith, and reason of his practice as to mixed communion, not with
the world, but with saints of other denominations. As this plunged him
into a fearful controversy with his Dissenting brethren (Baptists,
Independents, and Presbyterians), a notice of it will more properly be
introduced in our account of that conflict. He had been incarcerated
nearly twelve years, and had determined to suffer to the end. Here
he found time 'to weigh, and pause, and pause again, the grounds
and foundations of those principles for which he suffered,' and
he was a Nonconformist still. 'I cannot, I dare not now revolt or
deny my principles, on pain of eternal damnation,'[267] are his
impressive words. 'Faith and holiness are my professed principles,
with an endeavour to be at peace with all men. Let they themselves be
judges, if aught they find in my writing or preaching doth render
me worthy of almost twelve years' imprisonment, or one that deserveth
to be hanged or banished for ever, according to their tremendous
sentence. If nothing will do unless I make of my conscience a
continual butchery and slaughter-shop, unless putting out my own
eyes, I commit me to the blind to lead me, I have determined, the
Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life
might continue so long, even until the moss shall grow over mine
eye-brows, rather than to violate my faith and principles.'[268]
The allusion to moss growing on his eye-brows most probably referred
to the damp state of his den or dungeon.

The continuation to the Grace Abounding, written by a friend, and
published four years after his decease, divides his imprisonment into
three periods; but as Bunyan makes it one continued imprisonment,
there can be no doubt but that it was a long, dreary confinement;
during which the testimony of his friend, Samuel Wilson, is, that
it was 'an uncomfortable and close prison, and sometimes under
cruel and oppressive jailers.' The division into three parts most
probably alludes to the severity or liberality of his jailers. He
had at times, while a prisoner, an extraordinary degree of liberty;
like Joseph in Egypt, some of his jailers committed all to his
hands. There can be little doubt but that he went from the prison
to preach in the villages or woods, and at one time went to London
to visit his admiring[269] friends; but this coming to the ears of
the justices, the humane jailer had well nigh lost his place, and
for some time he was not permitted to look out at the door. When
this had worn off, he had again opportunities of visiting his
church and preaching by stealth. It is said that many of the Baptist
congregations in Bedfordshire owe their origin to his midnight
preaching.

Upon one occasion, having been permitted to go out and visit
his family, with whom he intended to spend the night, long before
morning he felt so uneasy that at a very late hour he went back
to the prison. Information was given to a neighbouring clerical
magistrate that there was strong suspicion of Bunyan having broke
prison. At midnight, he sent a messenger to the jail, that he
might be a witness against the merciful keeper. On his arrival,
he demanded, 'Are all the prisoners safe?' the answer was, 'Yes.'
'Is John Bunyan safe?' 'Yes.' 'Let me see him.' He was called
up and confronted with the astonished witness, and all passed off
well. His kind-hearted jailer said to him, 'You may go out when
you will, for you know much better when to return than I can tell
you.'[270]

During these twelve terrible years, and particularly towards the
end of his imprisonment, the members and elders of his church at
Bedford suffered most severely, a very abridged account of which
is given in the introduction to the Pilgrim's Progress.[271] The
set time for his liberation was now drawing near, but the singular
means by which it was accomplished must be reserved for our next
chapter.

PERIOD SIXTH.

BUNYAN IS DELIVERED FROM PRISON--CONTROVERSY WITH THE CHRISTIAN
CHURCH ON THE SUBJECT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER--PUBLISHES THE PILGRIM'S
PROGRESS, AND MANY BOOKS, AND BECOMES EXTREMELY POPULAR--HIS DECEASE
AND CHARACTER.

As Charles II felt himself securely seated on his throne, his design
to establish an absolute monarchy became more and more apparent.
The adulation of his professed friends, and the noisy popularity
with which he was greeted, appear to have fostered his crafty designs
to rid himself of parliamentary government. His whole conduct was
that of a Papist, who keeps no faith with Protestants; or of a
statesman, whose religion, honour, and truthfulness, were wholly
subservient to expediency. To further his object, he formed a council
of five noblemen, two of whom were Roman Catholics, and the other
three either careless as to religion or professed infidels. The
first letter of their names formed the word CABAL. Aided by these
he sought to extinguish liberty, and extirpate the Protestant
faith.[272] To furnish himself with the means of indulging his
unbridled passions, he, like a buccaneer, seized the Dutch merchantmen
returning from India and Smyrna, without any declaration of war,
and laid his hands upon all the money borrowed of his merchants
which had been deposited in the exchequer. He then united himself
with France to destroy Holland, the stronghold of liberty. To gratify
the Roman Catholics, and conciliate the Dissenters, he issued a
declaration in favour of liberty of conscience, the seal to which
he afterwards broke with his own hands,[273] but he could not
prevent a considerable degree of religious liberty arising from
such vacillating conduct.

Bunyan, who had secured the confidence and esteem of his jailer,
now found his prison more like a lodging-house, and enjoyed great
privileges. He frequently, if not regularly, attended the church
meetings, and preached with some degree of publicity. The church at
Bedford was at this time in want of a pastor, and their eyes were
naturally fixed upon Bunyan to succeed to that important office.
There were two weighty considerations that required Divine guidance
in coming to a conclusion. One was, whether it might injuriously
affect the prisoner's comforts, and the other was, the propriety
of making choice of a Christian brother to be their ministering
elder, while incarcerated in a jail. Feeling these difficulties,
the church held several meetings on the subject, the minutes of
which are very interesting. The first was held at Hawnes, on the
24th of the eighth month (October) 1671, when 'the improvement of
the gifts of the church, and their disposal in an orderly way, were
proposed to consideration, that God might be sought for direction
therein; and a time further to consider and debate thereof, was
appointed this day seven-night, at evening, at Bedford, where the
principal brethren were desired for that purpose to come together,
at brother John Fenn's; and a church-meeting was appointed to be
there that day week. The church was also minded to seek God about
the choice of brother, Bunyan to the office of elder, that their
way in that respect may be cleared up to them.' At a meeting held
at Bedford, on the last day of the ninth month (November), there
was appointed another meeting 'to pray and consult about concluding
the affair before propounded, concerning gifts of the brethren
to be improved, and the choice of brother Bunyan to office, at
Gamlingay, on the 14th day, and at Hawnes, the 20th, and at Bedfod,
the 21st of the same instant, which it was desired might be a
general meeting.' After all this jealous care, and these fervent
applications to the throne of grace for divine guidance, the
result was most gratifying. 'At a full assembly of the church at
Bedford, the 21st of the tenth month,[274] after much seeking God
by prayer and sober conference formally had, the congregation did
at this meeting, with joynt consent, signified by solemn lifting
up of their hands, call forth and appoint our brother John Bunyan
to the pastoral office or eldership. And he accepting thereof,
gave himself up to serve Christ and his Church, in that charge, and
received of the elders the right hand of fellowship, after having
preached fifteen years.' The choice thus solemnly made, was ratified
by the abundant blessings of heavenly union and great prosperity--no
stranger or novice, but one whose preaching and writings had
proved most acceptable to them for a series of years--on that had
been owned and blessed of his God, and whom the church delighted
to honour.

At the same church meeting, 'The congregation having had long
experience of the faithfulness of brother John Fenn in his care
for the poor, did after the same manner solemnly choose him to the
honourable office of a deacon, and committed their poor and purse
to him, and he accepted thereof, and gave himself up to the Lord
and them in that service.' The church did also determine to keep
the 26th inst. as a day of fasting and prayer, both here, and
at Hawnes, and at Gamlingay, solemnly to commend to the grace of
God brother Bunyan and brother Fenn, and to entreat his gracious
assistance and presence with them in their respective works,
whereunto he hath called them.

The most extraordinary circumstance that took place at this time
was, that while Bunyan was a prisoner in a wretched dungeon for
preaching the glad tidings of salvation, or, in the mysterious
legal jargon of the period, 'holding conventicles,' he received
his Majesty's license to preach, and thus to hold conventicles--it
was one of the first that was granted. His Majesty continued to
keep him a prisoner for preaching more than six months after he
had licensed him to preach!! At the same time that the permission
to preach was granted to Bunyan, the house of Josiah Roughed,
Bedford, was licensed by his Majesty's command, for the use of such
as do not conform to the Church of England. In this John Bunyan was
authorized to teach, or in any other licensed place.[275] These
were among the first licenses that were granted. The present
highly-respected pastor of the church considers that this license
does not refer to Roughed's private dwelling, but rather to 'an
edifice or a barn, purchased of Robert Crompton, Esq., with a piece
of ground adjoining it,' in the parishes of St. Paul and Cuthbert,
for £50, in 1672, by Roughed, Bunyan, Fenn, and others, and which
was released by Fenn to Bunyan and others, November 10, 1681, two
days before Fenn's death. This building having been properly fitted
up by voluntary contribution, became permanently occupied by the
church as its place of meeting, until the old chapel was erected
in 1707. From this we may conclude that Bunyan was engaged in his
worldly occupation as a brazier, in the year that he obtained his
release from prison, and to 1681.

How utterly contemptible does any Government become when they tamper
with spiritual worship. At one period they punished Dissenters with
imprisonment, transportation, and, to use Judge Keeling's elegant
expression in his sentence on Bunyan, 'to stretch by the neck for
it'; and anon, the very same Government, under the same king, gives
them license to dissent! Human laws affecting religion can never
be the standard of morality; to read the Bible is considered to be
sin in Tuscany, and righteousness in Britain. The release of this
great and pious man from his tedious imprisonment, has been hitherto
involved in a cloud of mystery, which it will be our happiness
to disperse, while we record that event in a clear, indisputable
narrative of facts. His earlier biographer, Mr. Doe, not having
access to archives which the lapse of time has now rendered available,
attributed his release to the influence of Bishop Barlow, by the
interference of Dr. Owen. It is narrated in the life of Dr. Owen,
published in 1721:--'The doctor had some friends also among the
bishops, Dr. Barlow, formerly his tutor, then bishop of Lincoln,
who yet upon a special occasion failed him, when he might have
expected the service of his professed friendship. The case was this,
Mr. John Bunyan had been confined to a jail twelve years, upon an
excommunication for Nonconformity. Now there was a law, that if
any two persons will go to the bishop of the diocese, and offer
a cautionary bond, that the prisoner shall conform in half a year,
the bishop may release him upon that bond; whereupon a friend
of this poor man desired Dr. Owen to give him his letter to the
bishop in his behalf, which he readily granted. It was soon after
the discovery of the Popish plot, when this letter was carried to
the bishop, who having read it, desired "a little time to consider
of it, and if I can do it, you may be assured of my readiness."
He was waited upon again in about a fortnight, and his answer was,
"I would desire you to move the Lord Chancellor in the case, and,
upon his order, I will do it." To which it was replied, "this method
would be chargeable, and the man was poor, not able to expend so
much money; and, being satisfied he could do it legally, it was hoped
his Lordship would remember his promise, there being no straining
a point in the case. But he would do it upon no other terms, which
at last was done, and the poor man released." And for this we are
told that "Mr. Bunyan returned him his unfeigned thanks, and often
remembered him in his prayers, as, next to God, his deliverer."' The
whole of this story, so far as it relates to Bunyan, is not only
improbable, but utterly impossible. Bunyan was never excommunicated, and
he was certainly released from prison two or three years previous
to Dr. Barlow becoming a bishop. The critical times to which
he alludes, refer doubtless to the Popish plot, which took place
in 1678, Bunyan having been released in 1672. The probability is,
that Dr. Owen did about 1678 apply to the bishop of Lincoln for the
release of some poor prisoner under sentence of excommunication,
it being his province to release such prisoners upon their making
peace with the Church. If this person was a friend of Bunyan's,
his prayers for the bishop, and acknowledgments for this act of
kindness, are readily accounted for. That Barlow had nothing to
do with Bunyan's release is now perfectly clear; because all, even
the minutest particulars relative to it, have been discovered. This
is a very romantic history, and necessarily leads us back to the
battle of Worcester. At this battle, the republicans were numerous,
well disciplined, and led by experienced officers; the royal army
was completely routed, and its leaders, who survived the battle,
were subject to the severest privations. Charles found refuge
at Boscobel House, and, disguised as a woodcutter, was hid in an
oak. His adventures and hair-breadth escapes fill a volume:--the
parliament offered one thousand pounds reward for his apprehension.
At length, after wandering in various disguises forty days, he
arrived at Brighton, then a small fishing town, and here his friends
succeeded in hiring a fishing boat to take him to France. Numerous
histories of this extraordinary escape were published, but no two
of them agree, excepting that, to please the king, all the credit
was given to Roman Catholics. Of these narratives, that by Dr.
Lingard has the strangest blunder. When they left Shoreham, 'The
ship stood with easy sail towards the Isle of Wight, as if she were
on her way to Deal, to which port she was bound'[276]--Deal being
exactly in the contrary direction! Carte has the best account. The
vessel was bound for Poole, coal-laden; they left Shoreham at seven
a.m. under easy sail; and at five, being off the Isle of Wight, with
the wind north, she stood over to France, and returned to Poole,
no one discovering that they had been out of their course. A letter
recently discovered among the archives of the Society of Friends
at Devonshire House solves every difficulty. It is written by Ellis
Hookes to the wife of George Fox, dated January, 1670--

'Yesterday there was a friend (a quaker) wth the king, one that
is John Groves mate, he was the may yt. was mate to the master of
the fisher-boat yt carried the king away when he went from Worcester
fight, and only this friend and the master knew of it in the ship,
and the friend carried him (the king) ashoare on his shoulders.
the king knew him again, and was very friendly to him, and told
him he remembered him and of severall tings yt was done in ye ship
att the same time. the friend told him the reason why he did not
come all this while was yt he was satisfied in yt he had peace and
satisfaction in himself yt he did what he did to releiue a man in
distresse and now he desired nothing of him (the king) but that he
would sett friends at libertie who were great sufferers or to that
purpose and told the king he had a paper of 110 that were premunired
yt had lain in prison about 6 years and none can release ym but him.
Soe the king took the paper and said there was many of ym and yt
they would be in again in a monthes time and yt the country gentlemen
complained to him yt they were so troubled wth the quakers. So he
said he would release him six. but ye friend thinkes to goe to him
again, for he had not fully cleared himselfe.'

This letter is endorsed by Fox himself, 'E Hookes to M F of passages
consering Richard Carver, that cared the King of his backe.'

E. Hooke's next letter, addressed to George Fox, thus continues
the narrative--

'February, 1669-70.

'Dear G. F. As for the friend that was with the King, his love is
to thee. He has been with the King lately, and Thomas Moore was with
him, and the King was very loving to them. He had a fair and free
opportunity to open his mind to the King, and the King has promised
to do for him, but willed him to wait a month or two longer. I rest
thy faithful friend to serve thee,

'E.H.'[277]

The captain of the fisher-boat was Nicholas Tattersall, whose
grave, covered with a slab of black marble, is still to be seen in
Brighton church-yard, with a long poetical inscription, now scarcely
legible. On the Restoration, he applied for his reward, and was
made a commander in the royal navy, with an annuity to him and his
heirs for ever of £100. The family have recently become extinct.
His fisher-boat was moored for a considerable time in the Thames,
opposite Whitehall. Years had rolled on, but the Quaker mate
who had so materially assisted the flying prince--by keeping the
secret--arranging the escape with the crew, and when, in fear of
danger from a privateer, rowing the prince ashore, and in shoal
water carrying him on his shoulders to the land, near the village
of Fecamp, in Normandy, yet he had not been with the king to claim
any reward. This escape took place in 1651, and nearly twenty years
had elapsed, ten of which were after the Restoration; so that in all
probability the king, who with all his faults was not ungrateful,
was agreeably surprised with his appearance at the palace. Whatever
alteration the rough life of a sailor had made on his appearance,
the king at once recognized him. All the progress he had made as
to worldly prosperity was from being mate of a fisher-boat, under
Tattersall, to becoming mate of a West Indiaman, under Captain
Grove. His Majesty, who had passed his time more with courtiers
than with Quakers, was doubtless astonished that a poor man, having
such a claim on his bounty, should have been so many years without
seeking his recompense. On asking the reason, the Quaker nobly
answered to this effect, That the performance of his duty in saving
the life of the hunted prince, was only a moral obligation, for the
discharge of which God had amply repaid him by peace and satisfaction
in his mind and conscience. And now, Sire, I ask nothing for myself,
but that your Majesty would do the same to my friends that I did
for you--set the poor pious sufferers at liberty, that they may
bless you, and that you may have that peace and satisfaction which
always follows good and benevolent actions. The king attempted
feebly to argue, that they would soon offend again, and that they
were much complained of by the country gentlemen. How readily the
sailor might have said to his sailor king, Alter the ship's articles,
let all the crew fare alike as to their free choice in religion,
and there will be no grumbling in your noble ship; every subject
will do his duty. The king offered to release any six, and we may
imagine the sailor's blunt answer, What, six poor Quakers for a
king's ransom!! His Majesty was so pleased as to invite him to come
again, when he introduced another member of the Society of Friends,
Thomas Moore. At this period an amazing number of Friends, men and
women, were in the jails throughout the kingdom, torn from their
families, and suffering most severe privations, under which great
numbers had perished. The application for the release of the
survivors, thus happily commenced, was followed up with zeal and
energy, and crowned with great success. This narrative solves all
those difficulties which rendered that remarkable event extremely
mysterious. The question naturally arises why so debauched and
dissolute a king should prefer such tight-laced Christians to be
the peculiar objects of his mercy. The reason is perfectly obvious,
he owed his life to one of their members, who, however poor as to
this world, possessed those riches of piety which prevented his
taking any personal reward for an act of duty. Shade of the noble
sailor, thy name, Richard Carver, is worthy of all honour! And the
more so, because thy gallant bearing has been studiously concealed
in all the histories of these important transactions. Had he been
a mischief-making Jesuit, like Father Huddleston, his noble deed
would have been trumpeted forth for the admiration of the world in
all ages. His name was left to perish in oblivion, because he was
of a despised sect. It is an honour to Christianity that a labouring
man preferred the duty of saving the life of a human being, and
that of an enemy, to gaining so easily heaps of glittering gold.
And when all the resources of royalty were ready munificently to
reward him, he, like Moses, preferred the rescue of his suffering
friends to personal honours or emoluments--even to all the riches
of England!

The efforts of Carver and Moore were followed by most earnest
appeals for mercy by George Whitehead, who with Moore appeared before
the king in council several times, until at length the royal word
sanctioned this act of mercy. The Quakers were then appealed to by
sufferers of other denominations, and advised them to obtain the
permission of the king in council, that their names might be inserted
in the deed; rendering them all the assistance that was in their
power. Great difficulties were encountered in passing the cumbrous
deed through the various offices, and then in pleading it in all
parts of the country. The number of Quakers thus released from
imprisonment was 471, being about the same number as those who had
perished in the jails. The rest of the prisoners liberated by this
deed were Baptists and Independents, and among the former was JOHN
BUNYAN.

A very circumstantial narrative of these proceedings, copies of the
minutes of the privy council, and other documents, will be found
in the introduction to The Pilgrim's Progress.[278] One of these
official papers affords an interesting subject of study to an
occasional conformist. It is the return of the sheriff of Bedfordshire,
stating that ALL the sufferings of Bunyan--his privation of liberty,
sacrifice of wife, children, and temporal comforts, with the fear
of an ignominious death--were for refusing to attend his parish
church and hear the Common Prayer service.

When it is considered that Bunyan was very severe in his remarks
upon the Quakers, the event reflects no ordinary degree of honour
upon the Society of Friends, at whose sole charge, and entirely
by their own exertions, this great deed of benevolence was begun,
carried on, and completed. It is difficult to ascertain the exact
duration of this sad imprisonment, because we cannot discover any
record of the day of his release. His imprisonment commenced November
13, 1660, and his pardon under the great seal is dated September
13, 1672. As the pardon included nearly 500 sufferers, it occupied
some time to obtain official duplicates to be exhibited at the
assizes and sessions for the various counties. A letter from E. Hooks
to Mrs. Fox intimates that none were released on the 1st November
1672. Another letter shows that the Bedfordshire prisoners were
discharged before January 10, 1673;[279] confirming Bunyan's own
account, published by him in the Grace Abounding, 1680, that his
imprisonment lasted complete twelve years.[280]

During the latter period of his imprisonment, probably from the
time of his receiving the royal license to preach, May 15, 1672,
he enjoyed extraordinary liberty--visiting those who had been kind
to his family, and preaching in the surrounding counties. An entry
in the records of the city of Leicester proves that he was there,
and claimed the liberty of preaching--'John Bunyan's license bears
date the 15th of May 1672, to teach as a Congregational person,
being of that persuasion, in the house of Josias Roughed, Bedford,
or in any other place, room, or house, licensed by his Majestie's
memorand. The said Bunyan shewed his license to Mr. Mayor, Mr.
Overinge, Mr. Freeman, and Mr. Browne, being then present, the 6th
day of October, 1672, that being about two months before his final
release from jail.'[281]

His first object, upon recovering his liberty, appears to have
been the proper arrangement of his worldly business, that he might
provide for the wants of his family, a matter of little difficulty
with their frugal habits. He, at the same time, entered with all
his soul into his beloved work of preaching and writing, to set
forth the glories of Immanuel. The testimony of one who was his
'true friend and long acquaintance,' is, that one of the first
fruits of his liberation was to visit those who had assisted him
and comforted his family during his incarceration, encouraging those
who were in fear of a prison, and collecting means of assistance
to those who still remained prisoners; traveling even to remote
counties to effect these merciful objects.[282]

While the premises occupied by Mr. Roughed were being converted into
a capacious meeting-house, the pastor was indefatigable in visiting
the sick, and preaching from house to house, settling churches in
the villages, reconciling differences, and extending the sacred
influences of the gospel, so that in a very short time he attained
the appellation of Bishop Bunyan--a title much better merited by
him than by the downy prelates who sent him to jail for preaching
that which they ought to have preached.

He formed branch churches at Gamlingay, Hawnes, Cotton-end, and
Kempston, in connection with that at Bedford. When he opened the
new meeting-house, it was so thronged that many were constrained
to stay without, though it was very spacious, every one striving
to partake of his instructions. Here he lived, in much peace and
quiet of mind, contenting himself with that little God had bestowed
upon him, and sequestering himself from all secular employments to
follow that of his call to the ministry.[283] The word 'sequestering'
would lead us to conclude, that his business was continued by his
family, under his care, but so as to allow him much time for his
Christian duties, and his benevolent pursuits. His peaceful course
was interrupted by a severe controversy with the Christian world upon
the subject of communion at the Lord's Table, which had commenced
while he was in prison. He would admit none but those who, by a
godly conversation, brought forth fruits meet for repentance, nor
dared he to refuse any who were admitted to spiritual communion
with the Redeemer. Every sect which celebrated the Lord's Supper,
fenced the table round with ritual observances, except the Baptist
church at Bedford, which stood preeminent for non-sectarianism. A
singular proof of this is, that the catechism called Instruction
of the Ignorant, written and published by Bunyan, is admirably
adapted for the use, not only of his own church, but of Christians
of all denominations.

His spirit was greatly refreshed by finding that his precept and
example had been blessed to his son Thomas. On the 6th of the 11th
month, 1673, he passed the lions, and was welcomed into the house
called Beautiful, uniting in full communion with his father's
church. There doubtless was, as Mercy expresses it, 'music in the
house, music in the heart, and music also in heaven, for joy that
he was here.'[284] He afterwards became a village preacher.

Bunyan was by no means a latitudinarian. No one felt greater
decision than he did for the truths of our holy faith. When his
Lord's design in Christianity was, as he thought, perverted by a
beneficed clergyman, then he sent forth from his prison an answer
as from a son of thunder, even at the risk of his life. His love
for the pure doctrines of the gospel was as decided as his aversion
to sectarian titles. 'As for those factious titles of Anabaptists,
Independents, Presbyterians, or the like, I conclude that they
came neither from Jerusalem, nor from Antioch, but rather from hell
and Babylon, for they naturally tend to divisions.'[285] The only
title that he loved was that of Christian. 'It is strange to see
how men are wedded to their own opinions, beyond what the law of
grace and love will admit. Here is a Presbyter--here an Independent
and a Baptist, so joined each man to his own opinions, that they
cannot have that communion one with another as by the testament of
the Lord Jesus they are commanded and enjoined.'[286] The meaning
which he attached to the word 'sectarian' is very striking--Pharisees
are sectarians, they who in Divine worship turn aside from the
rule of the written Word, and in their manner do it to be seen of
men--these are sectaries.[287] Bunyan was most decided as to the
importance of baptism and the Lord's Supper. 'Do you think that
love letters are not desired between lovers? Why these, God's
ordinances, they are his love letters, and his love tokens, too.
No marvel, then, if the righteous do so desire them. "More to be
desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also
than honey, and the honey-comb." Christ made himself known to his
disciples in breaking of bread; who would not, then, that loves to
know him, be present at such an ordinance? Ofttimes the Holy Ghost,
in the comfortable influence of it, has accompanied the baptized in
the very act of administering of it.' His views of the fellowship
of the saints were equally explicit--'Church fellowship, rightly
managed, is the glory of all the world. No place, no community, no
fellowship, is adorned and bespangled with those beauties, as is
a church rightly knit together to their Head, and lovingly serving
one another.'[288] Such he admitted to the table of their common
Lord; but, in his esteem, to communicate with the profane was all
one with sacrificing to the devil.

All this liberality was accompanied by very strict notions of church
fellowship, not allowing private judgment in the withdrawing of
any member, if the church withheld its approbation. Mary Tilney
had been cruelly robbed by the persecuting Justice Porter, for not
attending the parish church. He carted away all her goods, beds,
and bedding, even to the hangings of her rooms. She was a most
benevolent widow, and was more troubled with the crying and sighing
of her poor neighbours, than with the loss of her goods. Harassed
by persecution at Bedford, she removed to London, and requested her
dismission to a church of which her son-in-law was pastor, which
was refused. As the letter announcing this to her is a good example
of Bunyan's epistolary correspondence, it is carefully extracted
from the church book.

'Our dearly-beloved sister Tilney.

'Grace, mercy, and peace be with you, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

'I received your letter, and have presented it to the sight of the
brethren, who, after due consideration of your motion, have jointly
concluded to give you this answer. This for yourself (honoured
sister), you are of high esteem with the church of God in this
place, both because his grace hath been bestowed richly upon you,
and because of your faithful fellowship with us; for you have been
rightly a daughter of Abraham while here, not being afraid with any
amazement. Your holy and quiet behaviour, also, while with patience
and meekness, and in the gentleness of Christ, you suffered yourself
to be robbed for his sake, hath the more united our affections
to you in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Yea, it hath begotten you
reverence, also, in the hearts of them who were beholders of your
meekness and innocency while you suffered; and a stinging conviction,
as we are persuaded, in the consciences of those who made spoil
for themselves; all which will redound to the praise of God our
Father, and to your comfort and everlasting consolation by Christ,
in the day he shall come to take vengeance for his people, and to
be glorified in them that believe. Wherefore we cannot (our honoured
sister) but care for your welfare, and increase of all good in the
faith and kingdom of Christ, whose servant you are, and whose name
is written in your forehead; and do therefore pray God and our
Father, that he would direct your way, and open a door in his temple
for you, that you may eat his fat and be refreshed, and that you
may drink the pure blood of the grape. And be you assured that, with
all readiness, we will help and forward you what we can therein,
for we are not ashamed to own you before all the churches of Christ.

'But, our dearly beloved, you know that, for our safety and your
profit, it is behoofful that we commit you to such, to be fed and
governed in the Word and doctrines as, we are sufficiently persuaded,
shall be able to deliver you up with joy at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ with all his saints: otherwise we (that we say not
you) shall receive blushing and shame before him and you; yea, and
you also, our honoured sister, may justly charge us with want of
love, and a due respect for your eternal condition, if, for want
of care and circumspection herein, we should commit you to any
from whom you should receive damage, or by whom you should not be
succoured and fed with the sincere milk of the incorruptible Word
of God, which is able to save your soul. Wherefore we may not,
neither dare give our consent that you feed and fold with such
whose principles and practices, in matters of faith and worship,
we, as yet, are strangers to, and have not received commendations
concerning, either from works of theirs or epistles from others.
Yourself, indeed, hath declared that you are satisfied therein;
but, elect sister, seeing the act of delivering you up is an act
of ours and not yours, it is convenient, yea, very expedient, that
we, as to so weighty a matter, be well persuaded before. Wherefore
we beseech you, that, for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, you
give us leave to inform ourselves yet better before we grant your
request; and that you also forbear to sit down at the table with
any without the consent of your brethren. You were, while with
us, obedient, and we trust you will not be unruly now. And for the
more quick expedition of this matter, we will propound before you
our further thoughts. 1. Either we shall consent to your sitting down
with brother Cockain, brother Griffith, brother Palmer, or other,
who, of long continuance in the city, have showed forth their faith,
their worship, and good conversation with the Word; 2. Or if you
can get a commendatory epistle from brother Owen, brother Cockain,
brother Palmer, or brother Griffith, concerning the faith and
principles of the person and people you mention, with desire to be
guided and governed by, you shall see our readiness, in the fear of
God, to commit you to the doctrine and care of that congregation.
Choose you whether of these you will consent unto, and let us hear
of your resolution. And we beseech you, for love's sake, you show,
with meekness, your fear and reverence of Christ's institution; your
love to the congregation, and regard to your future good. Finally,
we commit you to the Lord and the Word of his grace, who is able
to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are
sanctified. To God, the only wise, be glory and power everlasting.
Amen.--Your affectionate brethren, to serve you in the faith and
fellowship of the gospel.

'Sent from Bedford, the 19th of the Fourth Month, 1671.

As a farther illustration of Bunyan's sentiments on this subject,
we give the following letter to the church at Braintree:--

'The 7th of the Twelfth Month, 1676 (Feb. 1677).

'The church of Christ in and about Bedford, to the church of Christ
in and about Braintree, sendeth greeting,

'Holy and beloved--We, fellow-heirs with you of the grace of life,
having considered your request concerning our honoured and beloved
brother, Samuel Hensman: that he shall be given up to you for
your mutual edification, and his furtherance and joy of faith; and
considering also, in the capacity he now standeth by reason of
his habitation amongst you, his edification is to be from you, not
from us--he being, by God's providence (by which he disposeth the
world), placed at such a distance from us. And considering, also,
the great end of Christ our Lord, in ordaining the communion of
saints, is his glory in their edification, and that all things are
to be done by his command to the edification of the body in general,
and of every member in particular, and that this we oft (ought?)
to design in our receiving him, and giving up to other churches,
and not to please ourselves: do as before God and the elect angels,
grant and give up to you our elect brother, to be received by you
in the Lord, and to be nourished, in the church at Braintree, with
you as one that is dear to the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ;
and this we the willinger do, because, as we are informed concerning
you, beloved, you are not rigid in your principles, but are for
communion with saints as saints, and have been taught by the Word
to receive the brotherhood, because they are beloved, and received
of the Father and the Son, to whose grace we commend you, with
the brother of late a member with us, but now one of you. Grace be
with you all. Written by the appointment of the church here, and
subscribed, in her name, by your brethren, as followeth:--


    John Bunyan

    Sam. Fenn.    Oliver Stot.
    John Fenn.    Thomas Cooper.
    Luke Astwood. John Croker.


The late Mr. Kilpin of Bedford considered the whole of this letter
to be entered in the minutes in Bunyan's hand-writing.

There is also in the church book the copy of a letter, in 1674,
addressed to the 'church sometime walking with our brother Jesse,'
refusing to dismiss to them Martha Cumberland, unless they were
certified that they continued in the practice of mixed communion.
In these sentiments Bunyan lived and died. His church remains
the same to the present day. In the new, commodious, and handsome
meeting-house, opened in 1850, there is a baptistery, frequently
used. The present minister, the amiable and talented John Jukes,
baptizes infants, and receives the assistance of a neighbouring
Baptist minister to baptize adults.

Not only had Bunyan clear, well-defined, and most decided views of
the ordinances of the gospel, but also of all its doctrines. His
knowledge upon those solemn subjects was drawn exclusively from the
sacred pages; nor dared he swerve in the slightest degree from the
path of duty; still he belonged to no sect, but that of Christian,
and the same freedom which had guided him in forming his principles,
he cheerfully allowed to others. Hitherto, water baptism had been
considered a pre-requisite to the Lord's table by all parties.
The Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents, had denounced
the Baptists as guilty of a most serious heresy, or blasphemy, in
denying the right of infants to baptism; not only did they exclude
the Baptists from communion with their churches, but they persecuted
them with extreme rigour. When the Independents made laws for the
government of their colony in America, in 1644, one of the enactments
was, 'That if any person shall either openly condemn, or oppose the
baptizing of infants, or seduce others, or leave the congregation
during the administration of the rite, they shall be sentenced to
banishment.' The same year a poor man was tied up and whipped, for
refusing to have his child baptized. 'The Rev. J. Clarke, and Mr.
O. Holmes, of Rhode Island, for visiting a sick Baptist brother in
Massachusetts, instead of being admitted to the Lord's table, they
were arrested, fined, imprisoned, and whipped.' At this very time,
the Baptists formed their colony at Rhode Island, and the charter
concludes with these words, 'All men may walk as their consciences
persuade them, every one in the name of his God.' This is probably
the only spot in the world where persecution was never known. The
Baptists considered that immersion in water was the marriage rite
between the believer and Saviour; that to sit at the Lord's table
without it was spiritual adultery, to be abhorred and avoided, and
therefore refused to admit any person to the Lord's table who had
not been baptized in water upon a personal profession of faith
in the Saviour. This was the state of parties when Bunyan, at the
commencement of his pastorate, entered into the controversy. He had
been promised a commendation to his book by the great, the grave,
'the sober' Dr. Owen, but he withdrew his sanction. 'And perhaps it
was more for the glory of God, that truth should go naked into the
world,' said Bunyan, 'than as seconded by so weighty an armour-bearer
as he.'[289] Bunyan denied that water could form a wedding garment,
or that water baptism was a pre-requisite for the Lord's table, or
that being immersed in water was putting on our Lord's livery, by
which disciples may be known. 'Away, fond man, do you forget the
text, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love one to another."'[290] And attempt was made to embroil
Bunyan in a public disputation in London upon this subject, which
he very wisely avoided.[291] This controversy will be found in our
second volume, and is deeply interesting, making allowance for the
esprit de corps manifested on all sides. A verse in the emblems is
very pertinent upon the violence of this dispute:--


   'Our gospel has had here a summer's day,
    But in its sunshine we, like fools, did play;
    Or else fall out, and with each other wrangle,
    And did, instead of work, not much but jangle.'[292]


After a lapse of nearly two centuries, Bunyan's peaceable principles
have greatly prevailed; so that now few churches refuse communion
on account of the mode, in which water baptism has been administered.
The Baptists are no longer deemed heretics as they formerly were.
Dr. Watts aided this kindly feeling--'A church baptized in infancy,
or in adult age, may allow communion to those that are of the contrary
practice in baptism.'[293] Robert Robinson praises Bunyan's work,
and advocates his sentiments upon the most liberal principles.
One of his remarks is very striking:--'Happy community! that can
produce a dispute of one hundred and fifty years unstained with
the blood, and unsullied with the fines, the imprisonments, and the
civil inconveniences of the disputants. As to a few coarse names,
rough compliments, foreign suppositions, and acrimonious exclamations,
they are only the harmless squeakings of men in a passion, caught
and pinched in a sort of logical trap.'[294] To this time, Bunyan
was only known as an extraordinarily talented and eloquent man,
whose retentive memory was most richly stored with the sacred
Scriptures. All his sermons and writings were drawn from his own
mental resources, aided, while in prison, only by the Bible, the
Concordance, and Fox's Book of Martyrs. Very emphatically he says,
'I am for drinking water out of my own cistern.' 'I find such
a spirit of idolatry in the learning of this world, that had I it
at command I durst not use it, but only use the light of the Word
and Spirit of God.' 'I will not take of it from a thread even to
a shoe latchet.'[295] It must not be understood that he read no
other works but his Bible and Book of Martyrs, but that he only used
those in composing his various treatises while in confinement. He
certainly had and read The Plain Man's Pathway, Practice of Piety,
Luther on the Galatians, Clarke's Looking-glass for Saints and
Sinners, Dodd on the Commandments, Andrews' Sermons, Fowler's Design
of Christianity, D'Anvers and Paul on Baptism, and doubtless all
the books which were within his reach, calculated to increase his
store of knowledge.

About this time he published a small quarto tract, in which he
scripturally treats the doctrine of eternal election and reprobation.
This rare book, published for sixpence, we were glad to purchase at
a cost of one guinea and a half, because a modern author rejected
its authenticity! It is included in every early list of Bunyan's
works, and especially in that published by himself, in 1688, to
guard his friends from deception; for he had become so popular an
author that several forgeries had been published under his initials.
These few pages on election contain a scriptural treatise upon
a very solemn subject, written by one whose mind was so imbued
by the fear of God, as to have cast out the fear of man; which so
generally embarrasses writers upon this subject. It was translated
into Welsh, and is worthy an attentive perusal, especially by those
who cannot see the difference between God's foreknowledge and his
foreordination.

A new era was now dawning upon him, which, during the last ten years
of his life, added tenfold to his popularity. For many years his
beautifully simple, but splendid allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress,
lay slumbering in his drawer.[296] Numerous had been his consultations
with his pious associates and friends, and various had been their
opinions, whether it was serious enough to be published. All of them
had a solemn sense of the impropriety of anything like trifling as
to the way of escape from destruction, and the road to the celestial
city. It appears strange to us, who have witnessed the very solemn
impressions, in all cases, made by reading that book, that there
could have been a doubt of the propriety of treating in a colloquial
manner, and even under the fashion of a dream, those most important
truths. Some said, 'John, print it'; others said, 'not so.' Some
said, 'it might do good'; others said, 'no.' The result of all
those consultations was his determination, 'I print it will,' and
it has raised an imperishable monument to his memory. Up to this
time, all Bunyan's popularity arose from his earlier works, and
his sermons. Leaving out of the question those most extraordinary
books, The Pilgrim's Progress and Holy War, his other writings ought
to have handed down his name, with honour and popularity, to the
latest posterity. While the logical and ponderous works of Baxter
and Owen are well calculated to furnish instruction to those who
are determined to obtain knowledge, the works of Bunyan create that
very determination, and furnish that very knowledge, so blended
with amusement, as to fix it in the memory. Let one illustration
suffice. It is our duty to love our enemies, but it is a hard lesson;
we must learn it from the conduct of the Divine Creator--'There
is a man hates God, blasphemes his name, despises his being; yea,
says there is no God. And yet the God that he carrieth it thus
towards doth give me his breakfast, dinner, and supper; clothes him
well, and, when night comes, has him to bed, gives him good rest,
blesses his field, his corn, his cattle, his children, and raises
him to high estate; yea, and this our God doth not only once
or twice, but until these transgressors become old; his patience
is thus extended years after years, that we might learn of him to
do well.'[297] All the works of Bunyan abound with such striking
lessons, as to render them extremely valuable, especially to
Sunday-school teachers and ministers, to enliven their addresses and
sermons. But, in The Pilgrim's Progress, the world has acknowledged
one train of beauties; picture after picture, most beautifully
finished, exhibiting the road from destruction to the celestial
city; our only difficulty in such a display being to decide as to
which is the most interesting and striking piece of scenery.[298]
The editor's introduction to that extraordinary book is intended
to prove that it was written while the author was imprisoned
for refusing to submit his conscience to human laws, and that it
is a perpetual monument to the folly of persecution; the peculiar
qualifications of the author are displayed in its having been
a spontaneous effusion of his own mind, unaided by any previous
writer; an analysis is given of all prior pilgrimages, in which,
more especially in The Pilgrims, The Pylgremage of the Soule,
Grande Amoure, and in The Pilgrim of Loretto, the reader will find
a faithful picture of some of the singularities of Popery drawn by
itself; an account of the editions, forgeries, errors in printing,
versions and translations of this wonderful book; the opinions of
the learned and pious of its merits, principal scenes, and a synopsis.
It has been the source of very numerous courses of lectures by
ministers of all denominations; and has been turned into a handsome
volume of hymns, adapted for public worship, by the late Mr. Purday,
a friend of John Wesley's, and a laborious preacher for more than
half a century.

Great efforts have been made by the most popular artists to enliven the
scenes of the pilgrimage; but no colour glows like the enchanting
words of Bunyan. No figures are so true to nature, and so life-like.
Those eminent engravers, Sturt and Strut, Stothard and Martin,
with the prize efforts excited by the Art Union of England, and
the curious outlines by Mrs. M'Kenzie, the daughter of a British
admiral, have endeavoured to exhaust the scenes in this inexhaustible
work of beautiful scenery. The most elegant and correct edition is
the large-paper, sumptuous volume by Mr. Bogue, admirably illustrated
with new designs, engraved on wood in superior style--a volume
worthy the drawing-room of queens and emperors. The designs, also,
of the late David Scott, recently published at Edinburgh, are new,
and peculiarly striking. His entrance to the Valley of the Shadow
of Death is mysteriously impressive, a fit accompaniment to Bunyan's
description, which is not excelled by any thing in Dante, Spencer,
or Milton. In both parts of The Pilgrim's Progress this scene is
full of terrific sublimity. But we must be excused, if we most warmly
recommend our own offspring--the present edition--as combining
accuracy, elegance, and cheapness, with the addition of very
numerous notes, which, we trust, will prove highly illustrative
and entertaining.

The carping criticisms of Mr. Dunlop, in his History of Fiction,
and of an author in the Penny Encyclopedia, are scarcely worth
notice. The complaint is, want of benevolence in the hero of the
tale. How singular it is, and what a testimony to its excellence,
that an intelligent writer upon fictions should have been so
overpowered with this spiritual narrative, as to confound it with
temporal things. Christian leaves his wife and children, instead
of staying with them, to be involved in destruction--all this
relates to inward spiritual feelings, and to these only. Visited
by compunctions of heart, Christian strives to inspire his wife
and children with the same, but in vain; he attends solitarily to
his spiritual state, taunted by his family, while, as to temporal
things, he becomes a better husband and father than ever he
was--but this is not prominent, because it is entirely foreign to
the author's object, which is to display the inward emotions of
the new birth, the spiritual journey alone, apart from all temporal
affairs. Multitudes read it as if it was really a dream, the old
sleeping portrait confirming the idea. In the story, Christian most
mysteriously embodies all classes of men, from the prince to the
peasant--the wealthiest noble, or merchant, to the humbles mechanic
or labourer--and it illustrates the most solemn, certain truth,
that, with respect to the salvation of the soul, the poorest creature
in existence is upon perfect equality with the lordly prelate, or
magnificent emperor, with this word ringing in their ears, 'the POOR
have the gospel preached to them.' The Grace Abounding, or Life of
Bunyan, is a key to all the mysteries of The Pilgrim's Progress,
and Holy War.

Bunyan's singular powers are those of description, not of invention.
He had lived in the city of destruction--he had heard the distant
threatening of the awful storm that was shortly to swallow it up
in unutterable ruin--he had felt the load of sin, and rejoiced when
it was rolled away before a crucified Saviour--he knew every step
of the way, and before he had himself passed the black river, he
had watched prayerfully over those who were passing, and when the
gate of the city was opened to let them enter, he had strained his
eyes to see their glory.

The purifying influence of The Pilgrim's Progress may be traced in
the writings of many imaginative authors. How does it in several
parts beautify the admirable tale of Uncle Tom, and his Cabin. In
that inimitable scene, the death of the lovely Eva, the distressed
negro, watching with intense anxiety the progress of death, says,
'When that blessed child goes into the kingdom, they'll open the
door so wide, we'll all get a look in at the glory.' Whence came
this strange idea--not limited to the poor negro, but felt by
thousands who have watched over departing saints? It comes from
the entrance of Christian and Hopeful into the celestial city--'I
looked in after them, and, behold, the city shone like the sun; the
streets, also, were paved with gold, and in them they walked with
crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps
to sing praises, which, when I had seen, I wished myself among
them.'[299] How often has Bunyan's wit sparkled in sermons, and
even in speeches delivered in the senate. Recently, in a speech on
the collation ministry, the following reference was introduced:--'Mr.
Facing-both-ways, of honest John Bunyan, is not a creature mankind
can regard with any complacency; nor will they likely suffer any
one to act with one party, and reserve his principles for another.'
It has also been strangely quoted in novel writing--thus in Bell's
Villette--visiting a God-mother in a pleasant retreat, is said 'to
resemble the sojourn of Christian and Hopeful, beside the pleasant
stream, with green trees on each bank, and meadows beautified with
lilies all the year round.' It is marvelous that a picture of
nature should have been so beautifully and strikingly described
by an unlettered artisan, as to be used in embellishing an elegant
novel, written nearly two centuries after his decease.[300]

The Pilgrim was followed by a searching treatise on The Fear of God.
The value of this book led to its republication by the Tract Society,
and 4000 copies have been circulated. It is a neat and acceptable
volume, but why altered? and a psalm omitted.[301] Bunyan says,
'Your great ranting, swaggering, roysters'; this is modernized into
'Your ranting boasters.'[302] Then followed, the Come and Welcome
to Jesus Christ. This was frequently reprinted, and hundreds of
thousands have been circulated to benefit the world. His popularity
increased with his years; efforts were made, but in vain, to steal
him from his beloved charge at Bedford. 'He hath refused a more
plentiful income to keep his station,' is the language of his
surviving friend, Charles Doe. It is not surprising that he was
thus tempted to leave his poor country church, for we are told by
the same biographer, that 'When Mr. Bunyan preached in London, if
there were but one day's notice given, there would be more people
come together to hear him preach, than the meeting-house could hold.
I have seen to hear him preach, by my computation, about 1200 at
a morning lecture, by seven o'clock, on a working day, in the dark
winter time. I also computed about 3000 that came to hear him one
Lord's-day, at London, at a town's end meeting-house, so that half
were fain to go back again for want of room, and then himself was
fain at a back door to be pulled almost over people to get up stairs
to his pulpit.' This took place in a large meeting-house, erected
in Zoar Street, either on the site or near the Globe Theatre,
Southwark.[303] On this spot, the prince of dramatists amused and
corrupted crowded houses; while in the immediate vicinity were
the stews and bear garden, frequented by libertines of the lowest
caste. One Sunday, in 1582, many were killed or miserably wounded
while attending the brutal sport of bear-baiting. Here, in the heart
of Satan's empire, the prince of allegorists attracted multitudes,
to be enlightened by his natural eloquence, and to be benefited
by the fruits of his prolific and vivid imagination, at all times
curbed and directed by the holy oracles. It was a spacious building,
covering about 2000 feet of ground (50 by 40), with three galleries,
quite capable of holding the number computed by Mr. Doe. We have,
from correct drawings, furnished our subscribers with the plan
and elevation of this ancient meeting-house. Having preached with
peculiar warmth and enlargement, one of his friends took him by
the hand, and could not help observing what a sweet sermon he had
delivered; 'Ay,' said he, 'you need not remind me of that, for the
devil told me of it before I was out of the pulpit!'[304] Amongst
his hearers were to be found the learned and the illiterate. It
was well known that Dr. John Owen, when he had the opportunity,
embraced it with pleasure, and sat at the feet of the unlearned,
but eloquent tinker. Charles II, hearing of it, asked the learned
D.D., 'How a man of his great erudition could sit to hear a tinker
preach?' to which the doctor replied, 'May it please your Majesty,
if I could possess the tinker's abilities, I would gladly give in
exchange all my learning.'

He now pictured the downward road of the sinner to the realms of
death and darkness in the Life of Badman. This was published in
1680, and is written in a language which fraudulent tradesmen at
that period could not misunderstand; using terms now obsolete or
vulgar. It is full of anecdotes, which reveal the state of the times,
as superlatively immoral, and profane. He incidentally notices that
a labourer received eightpence or tenpence per day.[305] At that
time, bread and all the necessaries of life, excepting meat, were
dearer than they are at present. In fact, our days are much happier
for the poor than any preceding ones in British history. Bunyan's
notions of conscientious dealing, will make all traders who read
them--blush.[306]

November 12, 1681, Bunyan's friend and fellow-labourer Samuel Fenn,
was removed from this world, and in the following year persecution
raged severely. The church was, for a season, driven from the
meeting-house, and obliged to assemble in the fields. The Word of
the Lord was precious in those days.

In 1682, while surrounded by persecution, he prepared and published
his most profound and beautiful allegory, The Holy War, made by
Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the Regaining of the Metropolis of the
World; or, The Losing and Taking again the Town of Mansoul.[307]
The frontispiece is the most accurate likeness of Bunyan that is
extant; it is engraved by White, from a drawing, also by him, now
preserved in the print department of the British Museum. From this
drawing, carefully compared with the print, we have furnished the
expressive likeness which forms the frontispiece to this volume.
It has also a correct whole-length portrait, with emblematical
devices. This exceedingly beautiful and most finished allegory has
never been so popular as The Pilgrim's Progress, for reasons which
are shown in the introduction to The Holy War.[308] The whole
narrative of this wondrous war appears to flow as naturally as
did that of the pilgrimage from the highly imaginative mind of the
author. Man, in his innocence, attracts the notice and hatred of
Apollyon. Nothing could be accomplished by force--all by
subtlety and deceit. He holds a council of war--selects his
officers--approaches--parleys, and gains admittance--then fortifies
the town against its king--Immanuel determines to recover it--vast
armies, under appropriate leaders, surround the town, and attack
every gate. The ear is garrisoned by Captain Prejudice and his deaf
men. But he who rides forth conquering and to conquer is victorious.
All the pomp, and parade, and horrors of a siege are as accurately
told, as if by one who had been at the sacking of many towns. The
author had learnt much in a little time, at the siege of Leicester.
All the sad elements of war appear, and make us shudder--masses
of armed men with their slings and battering-rams--clarions and
shouts--wounded and slain, all appear as in a panorama. The mind
becomes entranced, and when sober reflection regains her command,
we naturally inquire, Can all this have taken place in my heart?
Then the armies of Diabolus, with his thousands of Election Doubters,
and as many Vocation Doubters, and his troops of Blood-men--thousands
slain, and yet thousands start into existence. And all this in one
man! How numberless are our thoughts--how crafty the approaches of
the enemy--how hopeless and helpless is the sinner, unless Immanuel
undertakes his recovery. The Holy War is a most surprising narrative
of the fall and of the recovery of man's soul, as accurate as
it is most deeply interesting. It is one of the most perfect of
allegories.[309] There is as vast a superiority in Bunyan's Holy
War over that by Chrysostom, as there is in the sun over a rush-light.

In 1684, he completed his Pilgrim's Progress, with the Journey of
a Female Christian, her Children, and the Lovely Mercy; and now, as
his invaluable and active life drew towards its close, his labours
were redoubled. In his younger days, there appeared to have been
no presentiment on his part that the longest term of human life
would with him be shortened, but rather an expectation of living
to old age, judging from an expression in his Grace Abounding.
when he enjoyed a good hope, and bright anticipation of heavenly
felicity, 'I should often long and desire that the last days were
come. O! thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that I
might die quickly and be gone to rest.'[310] At that time he did
not anticipate twelve years' imprisonment in a wretched jail, nor
the consequent effects it must have upon his robust frame, well
calculated to stand all weathers, but easily sapped and undermined
by a damp dungeon. Symptoms of decay, after having enjoyed his
liberty for about a year, led him to close his Affectionate Advice
to his Beloved Flock, on their Christian Behaviour; with these
words, 'Thus have I written to you, before I die, to provoke you
to faith and holiness, and to love one another, when I am deceased,
and shall be in paradise, as through grace I comfortably believe;
yet it is not there, but here, I must do you good.'[311] It
is remarkable that Bunyan escaped all the dangers of the trying
reign of James II, who, at times, was a persecutor, and at times
endeavoured, in vain, by blandishments, to win the Nonconformists.
his minions had their eyes upon our pilgrim, but were foiled in every
attempt to apprehend him; all that he suffered was the occasional
spoiling of his goods.[312] Neither violence nor allurements induced
him to deviate from his line of duty. No fear of man appeared to
agitate his breast--he richly enjoyed that 'perfect love,' which
'casteth out fear' (1 John 4:18). James did all that an unprincipled
man could do to cajole the Dissenters, that by their aid he might
pull down the walls of Protestantism, and give full sway to the
Papacy. He attempted, among many others, to bribe John Bunyan. He
knew not how well he was read in the Book of Martyrs; how well he
was aware that 'the instruments of cruelty are in their habitations,'
and that the only advantage he could have received, would have been
the same that Polypheme, the monstrous giant of Sicily, allowed to
Ulysses, that he would eat his men first, and do him the favour of
being eaten last. Mr. Doe states that 'Regulators were sent into all
cities and towns corporate to new-model the magistracy, by turning
out some, and putting in others. Against this Bunyan expressed his
zeal with great anxiety, as foreseeing the bad consequences that
would attend it, and laboured with his congregation to prevent
their being imposed on in this kind. And when a great man in those
days, coming to Bedford upon some such errand, sent for him, as it
is supposed, to give him a place of public trust, he would by no
means come at him, but sent his excuse.'[313] He knew that in his
flesh he possessed what he calls 'Adam's legacy, a conduit pipe,
through which the devil conveys his poisoned spawn and venom,'[314]
and he wisely avoided this subtle temptation. He detested the
'painted Satan, or devil in fine clothes.'[315] It was one of these
hypocritical pretences to correct evil, while really meaning to
increase it, and which Bunyan calls, 'the devil correcting vice.'
He was watchful, lest 'his inward man should catch cold,'[316] and
every attempt to entangle him failed.

This godly jealousy led him to sacrifice worldly interests to an
extent not justifiable, if all the facts appear. When told that a
very worthy citizen of London would take his son Joseph apprentice
without fee, and advance his interests, he refused, saying, 'God
did not send me to advance my family, but to preach the gospel.'

At this time he again manifested his lion heart, by writing and
preparing for the press a fearless treatise on Antichrist, and
his Ruin. In this he shows, that human interference with Divine
worship, by penal laws or constraint, is 'Antichrist'--that which
pretends to regulate thought, and thus to reduce the kingdom
of Christ to a level with the governments of this world. In this
treatise, he clearly exhibits the meaning of that passage, so
constantly quoted by the advocates of tyranny and persecution (Ezra
7:26), and shows that the laws interfered not with Divine worship,
but that they upheld to the fullest extent the principle of voluntary
obedience (v 13); so that any man putting constraint upon another
in religious affairs, would be guilty of breaking the law, and
subject him to extreme punishment. This was one of the last treatises
which Bunyan prepared for the press, as if in his dying moments he
would aim a deadly thrust at Apollyon. Reader, it is worthy your
most careful perusal, as showing the certain downfall of Antichrist,
and the means by which it must be accomplished.

Feeling the extreme uncertainty of life, and that he might be robbed
of all his worldly goods, under a pretence of fines and penalties,
he, on the 23d of December, 1685, executed a deed of gift, vesting
what little he possessed in his wife. It is a singular instrument,
especially as having been sealed with a silver twopenny piece. The
original is in the church book, at Bedford:--

'To all people to whom this present writing shall com, J. Bunyan of
the parish of St. Cuthbirt's, in the towne of Bedford, in the county
of Bedford, Brazier send greeting. Know ye, that I the said John
Bunyan as well for, and in consideration of the natural affection
and loue which I have, and bear vnto my welbeloued wife, Elizabeth
Bunyan, as also for divers other good causes and considerations, me
at this present especially moneing, have given and granted, and by
these presents, do give, grant, and conferm vnto the said Elizabeth
Bunyan, my said wife, all and singuler my goods, chattels, debts,
ready mony, plate, rings, household stuffe, aparrel, vtensills,
brass, peuter, beding, and all other my substance, whatsoever moueable
and immoueable, of what kinde, nature, quality, or condition soever
the same are or be, and in what place or places soever the same be,
shall or may be found as well in mine own custodies, possession, as
in the possession, hands, power, and custody of any other person,
or persons whatsoever. To have and to hold all and singuler the
said goods, chattels, debts, and all other, the aforesaid premises
vnto the said Elizabeth, my wife, her executors, administerators,
and assigns to her and their proper vses and behoofs, freely and
quietly without any matter of challinge, claime, or demand of me
the said John Bunyan, or of any other person, or persons, whatsoever
for me in my name, by my means cavs or procurement, and without any
mony or other thing, therefore to be yeeilded, paid or done vnto
me the said John Bunyan, my executors, administrators or assigns.
And I, the said John Bunyan, all and singular, the aforesaid goods,
chattels, and premises to the said Elizabeth my wife, her executors,
administrators, and assignes to the vse aforesaid, against all
people do warrant and forever defend by these presents. And further,
know ye, that I the said John Bunyan have put the said Elizabeth,
my wife, in peacable and quiet possession of all and singuler the
aforesaid premises, by the delivrye vnto her at the ensealing hereof
one coyned peece of silver, commonly called two pence, fixed on
the seal of these presents.[317]

'In wittnes wherof, I the said John Bunyan have herevnto set my
hand and seall this 23d day of December, in the first year of the
reigne of our soueraigne lord, King James the Second of England,
&c., in the year of our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, 1685.

John Bunyan

Sealed and delivered in the presence of vs, whos names are here
vnder written:--


    John Bardolph.    Willm Hawkes.
    Nicholas Malin.   Lewes Norman.


It appears from this deed that Bunyan continued in business as a
brazier, and it is very probable that he carried it on until his
decease. This deed secured to his wife what little he possessed,
without the trouble or expense of applying to the ecclesiastical
courts for probate of a will.

Among other opinions which then divided the Christian world, was
a very important one relative to the law of the ten commandments,
whether it was given to the world at large, or limited to the
Jews as a peculiar nation until the coming of Messiah, and whether
our Lord altered or annulled the whole or any part of that law.
This question involves the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath.
An awful curse is denounced upon those who do not continue in ALL
things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal
3:10; Deut 27:26). When an innovation upon the almost universal
practice of infant baptism had become an object of inquiry only to
be answered from the New Testament, it is not surprising that the
serious question, why God's Sabbath-day had been altered, should
also be agitated with deep feeling. Generally, those who advocated
the restoration of the Jewish Sabbath were decidedly of opinion
that believers only were fit subjects for baptism, and that the
scriptural mode of administering it was by immersion; hence they
were called Seventh-day Baptists--Sabbatarians, or Sabbath-keepers.

Bunyan entered with very proper and temperate zeal into this
controversy. Popular feeling had no influence over him; nor could
he submit to the opinions of the ancient fathers. His storehouse
of knowledge was limited to the revealed will of God, and there
he found ample material to guide his opinion. His work upon this
subject is called, Questions about the Nature and Perpetuity of
the Seventh-day Sabbath; and proof that the First Day of the Week
is the Christian Sabbath. It is one of the smallest of his volumes,
but so weighty in argument as never to have been answered.

We now arrive at the last year of his eventful and busy life,
during which he published six important volumes, and left twelve
others in manuscript, prepared for publication. A list of these will
be found in The Struggler;[318] they are upon the most important
subjects, which are very admirably treated. We notice among these,
The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, or Good News for the Vilest of Men.
It is a specimen of preaching calculated to excite the deepest
interest, and afford the strongest consolation to a soul oppressed
with the sense of sin. Great sinner! thou art called to mercy by
name. Arise! shoulder thy way into court through any crowd,--'say,
Stand away, devil; stand away all discouragements; my Saviour calls
me to receive mercy.' In this treatise, Bunyan has repeated from
memory what he had read in some book when in prison, four and twenty
years before. It is a curious legend, which he doubtless believed
to be true, and it displays his most retentive memory.[319] His
poetry, like his prose, was not written to gain a name, but to make
a deep impression. One of his professed admirers made a strange
mistake when he called them doggerel rhymes.[320] His Caution to
Watch Against Sin is full of solemn and impressive thoughts, the
very reverse of doggerel or burlesque. his poem on the house of
God is worthy of a most careful perusal; and thousands have been
delighted and improved with his emblems. One rhyme in the Pilgrim
can never be forgotten--


   'He that is down need fear no fall;
    He that is low no pride;
    He that is humble ever shall
    Have God to be his guide,' &c.


The careful perusal of every one of his treatises, has excited in
my mind a much livelier interest than any other religious works
which, in a long life, have come under my notice. In fact, the
works of Bunyan to a country minister may be compared to a vast
storehouse, most amply replenished with all those solemn subjects
which call for his prayerful investigation; well arranged, ready of
access, striking in their simplicity, full of vivid ideas conveyed
in language that a novice may understand. They are all so admirably
composed that pious persons, whether in houses of convocation or
of parliament, or the inmates of a workhouse, may equally listen
to them with increasing delight and instruction. No man ever more
richly enjoyed the magnificent language of Job. He called it 'that
blessed book.'[321] The deep interest that he took in its scenery
may be traced through all his writings. His spirit, with its mighty
powers, grasped the wondrous truths so splendidly pourtrayed in
that most ancient book. The inspired writings, which so eminently
give wisdom to the simple, expanded his mind, while his mental
powers were strengthened and invigorated by his so deeply drinking
into the spirit of the inspired volume.

The time was drawing near when, in the midst of his usefulness, and
with little warning, he was to be summoned to his eternal rest. He
had been seriously attacked with that dangerous pestilence which,
in former years, ravaged this country, called the sweating sickness,
a malady as mysterious and fatal as the cholera has been in later
times. The disease was attended by great prostration of strength;
but, under the careful management of his affectionate wife, his
health became sufficiently restored to enable him to undertake a
work of mercy; from the fulfillment of which, as a blessed close
to his incessant earthly labour, he was to ascend to his Father and
his God to be crowned with immortality. A father had been seriously
offended with his son, and had threatened to disinherit him. To
prevent the double mischief of a father dying in anger with his
child, and the evil consequence to the child of his being cut off
from his patrimony, Bunyan again ventured, in his weak state, on
his accustomed work, to win the blessings of the peace-maker. He
made a journey on horseback to Reading, it being the only mode of
travelling at that time, and he was rewarded with success. Returning
home by way of London to impart the gratifying intelligence, he was
overtaken by excessive rains, and, in an exhausted state, he found
a kindly refuge in the house of his Christian friend Mr. Strudwick,
and was there seized with a fatal fever. His much-loved wife, who
had so powerfully pleaded for his liberty with the judges, and to
whom he had been united thirty years, was at a great distance from
him. Bedford was then two days' journey from London. Probably at
first, his friends had hopes of his speedy recovery; but when the
stroke came, all his feelings, and those of his friends, appear to
have been absorbed, by the anticipated blessings of immortality,
to such an extent, that no record is left as to whether his wife,
or any of his children, saw him cross the river of death. There is
abundant testimony of his faith and patience, and that the presence
of God was eminently with him.

He bore his trying sufferings with all the patience and fortitude
that might be expected from such a man. His resignation was most
exemplary; his only expressions were 'a desire to depart, to be
dissolved, to be with Christ.' His sufferings were short, being
limited to ten days. He enjoyed a holy frame of mind, desiring his
friends to pray with him, and uniting fervently with them in the
exercise. His last words, while struggling with death, were, 'Weep
not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who will, no doubt, through the mediation of his blessed
Son, receive me, though a sinner; where I hope we ere long shall
meet, to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world
without end. Amen.' He felt the ground solid under his feet in passing
the black river which has no bridge, and followed his pilgrim into
the celestial city in August, 1688, in the sixtieth year of his age.
There is some uncertainty as to the day of his decease: Charles
Doe, in the Struggler, 1692, has August 31, and this has been copied
in all his portraits. In the life appended to the Grace Abounding,
1692, his death-day is stated as August 12; and in the memoir
appended to the third part of the Pilgrim, also in 1692, the date
is August 17. The circumstances of his peaceful decease are well
compared by Dr. Cheever to the experience of Mr. Standfast, when he
was called to pass the river: the great calm--the firm footing--the
address to by-standers--until his countenance changed, his strong
man bowed under him, and his last words were, 'Take me, for I come
to thee.' Then the joy among the angels while they welcomed the
hero of such spiritual fights, and conducted his wandering soul to
the New Jerusalem, which he had so beautifully described as 'the
holy city'; and then his wonder and amazement to find how infinitely
short his description came to the blissful reality.

The deep affliction that his church was plunged into led to several
special meetings. Wednesday, the 4th of September, 'was kept in
prayer and humiliation for this heavy stroke upon us--the death of
dear brother Bunyan; it was appointed also, that Wednesday next be
kept in prayer and humiliation on the same account. At the meeting
held on the 11th, it was appointed that all the brethren meet
together on the 18th of this month, September, to humble themselves
for this heavy hand of God upon us, and also to pray unto the Lord
for counsel and direction what to do, in order to seek out for a
fit person to make choice of for an elder. On the 18th, when the
whole congregation met to humble themselves before God, by fasting
and prayer, for his heavy and severe stroke upon us in taking away
our honoured brother Bunyan by death, it was agreed by the whole
congregation that care be taken to seek out for one suitably qualified
to be chosen an elder among us, and that care was committed by the
whole to the brethren at Bedford.' Thus did the church manifest
that they had improved in wisdom under his ministry by flying, in
their extreme distress, to the only source of consolation.

The saddest feelings of sorrow extended to every place where he
had been known. His friend, the Rev. G. Cockayn, of London, says,
'it pleased the Lord to remove him, to the great loss and inexpressible
grief of many precious souls.' Numerous elegies, acrostics, and
poems were published on the occasion of his decease, lamenting the
loss thus sustained by his country--by the church at large, and
particularly by the church and congregation at Bedford. One of
these, 'written by a dear friend of his,' is a fair sample of the
whole:--

A SHORT ELEGY IN MEMORY OF MR. JOHN BUNYAN, WRITTEN BY A DEAR FRIEND
OF HIS.


    The pilgrim traveling the world's vast stage,
    At last does end his weary pilgrimage:
    He now in pleasant valleys does sit down,
    And, for his toil, receives a glorious crown.
    The storms are past, the terrors vanish all,
    Which in his way did so affrighting fall;
    He grieves nor sighs no more, his race is run
    Successfully, that was so well begun.
    You'll say he's dead: O no, he cannot die,
    He's only changed to immortality--
    Weep not for him, who has no cause of tears;
    Hush, then, your sighs, and calm your needless fears.
    If anything in love to him is meant,
    Tread his last steps, and of your sins repent:
    If knowledge of things here at all remains
    Beyond the grave, to please him for his pains
    And suffering in this world; live, then, upright,
    And that will be to him a grateful sight.
    Run such a race as you again may meet,
    And find your conversation far more sweet;
    When purged from dross, you shall, unmix'd, possess
    The purest essence of eternal bliss

   'He in the pulpit preached truth first, and then
    He in his practice preached it o'er again.'


His remains were interred in Bunhill Fields, in the vault of his
friend Mr. Strudwick, at whose house he died. His tomb[322] has been
visited by thousands of pilgrims, blessing God for his goodness in
raising up such a man, so signally fitted to be a blessing to the
times in which he lived. All the accounts of his decease, published
at the time, agree as to his place of burial. The words of Mr. Doe,
who probably attended the funeral, are, 'he was buried in the new
burying-place, near the artillery ground, where he sleeps to the
morning of the resurrection.'[323] His Life and Actions, 1692,
records that 'his funeral was performed with much decency, and he
was buried in the new burying-ground by Moorfields.' The Struggler
calls it 'Finsbury burying-ground, where many London Dissenting
ministers are laid.'[324] Bunhill Fields burying-ground for
Dissenters was first opened in 1666. The inscription upon the tomb
to his memory was engraven many years after his funeral. It is not
contained in the list of inscriptions published in 1717. His widow
survived him four years. He had six children by his first wife,
three of whom survived him--Thomas, Joseph, and Sarah. His son
Thomas joined his church in 1673, and was a preacher in 1692. He
appears to have been usefully employed in visiting absent members
until December 1718. My kind friend, the Rev. J. P. Lockwood,
rector of South Hackney, recently discovered entries in the register
of Kimbolton, in Huntingdonshire, probably of the descendants of
this son, Thomas. November 26, 1698, John Bonion and Mary Rogers,
married: she was buried, September 7, 1706; and he again married
Anne, and buried her in 1712, leaving a son and two daughters. His
death is not recorded. One of the descendants, Hannah Bunyan, died
in 1770, aged seventy-six years, and lies in the burial-ground by
the meeting-house at Bedford. John Bunyan's son, Joseph, settled at
Nottingham, and marrying a wealthy woman, conformed to the Church.
A lineal descendant of his was living, in 1847, at Islington, near
London, aged eighty-four, Mrs. Senegar, a fine hearty old lady, and
a Strict Baptist. She said to me, 'Sir, excuse the vanity of an old
woman, but I will show you how I sometimes spend a very pleasant
half-hour.' She took down a portrait on canvas of her great
forefather, and propped it up on the table with a writing-desk, with
a looking-glass by its side. 'There, Sir, I look at the portrait,
and then at myself, and can trace every feature; we resemble each
other like two pins.' 'Excepting the imperial and moustachios,' I
replied; to which she readily assented. It was the fact that there
was a striking family likeness between the picture and her reflection
in the looking-glass. Another descendant, from the same branch
of the family, is now living at Lincoln. He was born in 1775, and
possessed a quarto Bible, published by Barker and Bill in 1641, given
by John Bunyan to his son Joseph. This was preserved in his family
until the present year, when it came into the editor's possession,
with the following relics, which were, and I trust will yet be
preserved with the greatest care:--An iron pencase, made by Bunyan
the brazier, with some stumps of old pens, with which it is said
he wrote some of his sermons and books; the buckles worn by him,
and his two pocket-knives, one of them made before springs were
invented, and which is kept open by turning a ferrule; his apple-scoop,
curiously carved, and a seal; his pocket-box of scales and weights
for money, being stamped with the figures on each side of the coins
of James and Charles I.[325] These were given by Robert Bunyan,
in 1839, then sixty-four years of age, to a younger branch of the
family, Mr. Charles Robinson, of Wilford, near Nottingham (his
sister's son), for safe custody. He died in 1852; while his aged
uncle remains in good health, subject to the infirmities of his
seventy-eighth year. On many of the blank spaces in the Bible are
the registers of births and deaths in the family, evidently written
at the time. Those relics are deposited in a carved oak box. They
were sold with the late Mr. Robinson's effects, January, 1853, and
secured for me by my excellent friend James Dix, Esq., of Bristol,
who met with them immediately after the sale, on one of his journeys
at Nottingham. They are not worshipped as relics, nor have they
performed miracles, but as curiosities of a past age they are worthy
of high consideration. Everything that was used by him, and that
survives the ravages of time, possesses a peculiar charm; even the
chair in which he at is preserved in the vestry of the new chapel,
and is shown to those who make the pilgrimage to the shrine of
Bunyan.[326]

In the same vestry is also a curious inlaid cabinet, small, and
highly finished. It descended from Bunyan to a lady who lived to
an advanced age--Madam Bithray; from her to the Rev. Mr. Voley; and
of his widow it was purchased to ornament the vestry of Bunyan's
meeting-house.

The personal appearance and character of our pilgrim's guide,
drawn by his friend Charles Doe, will be found at the end of
his Grace Abounding; to which is appended his Dying Sayings--'of
sin--afflictions--repentance and coming to Christ--of prayer--of
the Lord's day, sermons, and week days: "Make the Lord's day the
market for thy soul"--of the love of the world--of suffering--of
death and judgment--of the joys of heaven--and the torments of
hell.'

How inscrutable are the ways of God! Had Bunyan lived a month longer,
he would have witnessed the glorious Revolution--the escape of
a great nation. The staff and hope of Protestant Europe was saved
from a subtle--a Jesuitical attempt--to introduce Popery and
arbitrary government. The time of his death, as a release from the
incumbrance of a material body, was fixed by infinite wisdom and
love at that juncture, and it ought not to be a cause of regret.
His interest in the welfare of the church ceased not with his mortal
life. How swiftly would his glorified spirit fly to see the landing
of William, and hover with joy over the flight of the besotted
James! He was now in a situation to prove the truth of that saying,
'the angels desire to look into' the truth and spread of the glad
tidings. How he would prove the reality of his opinion, expressed
in The Holy War, of the interest taken by the inhabitants of
heaven in the prosperity of the church on earth. When Mansoul was
conquered, the spirits that witnessed the victory 'shouted with
that greatness of voice, and sung with such melodious notes, that
they caused them that dwell in the highest orbs to open their
windows, and put out their heads and look down to see the cause of
that glory' (Luke 15:7-10).[327] So may we imagine that the happy,
happy, glorified spirit of Bunyan would look down rejoicing, when,
a few years after he had yielded up his pastoral cares, the seed
which he had been instrumental in sowing produced its fruit in
such numbers, that the old meeting-house was pulled down, and in
its place a large and respectable one was erected. And again, on
the 20th February, 1850, with what joy would he look down upon the
opening of a still larger, more commodious, and handsome meeting-house,
bearing his name, and capable of holding 1150 worshippers. One of
Bunyan's pungent, alarming sayings to the careless was, 'Once die,
we cannot come back and die better.'[328] If anything could tempt
him, in his angelic body, to re-visit this earth, it would be to
address the multitude at the new Bunyan Chapel with his old sermon
on The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, or Good News to the Vilest of Men.
But we have Moses and the prophets--Christ and his apostles; if
we shut our ears to them, neither should we listen to a messenger
from the New Jerusalem.

When it is recollected that Bunyan received the most imperfect
rudiments of education in a charity school when very young, which
were 'almost entirely' obliterated by bad habits--that he was a
hard-working man through life, maintaining himself, a wife, and four
children, by his severe labour as a brazier--and yet, by personal
efforts, he educated himself and wrote sixty-two valuable religious
treatises, numbering among them his inimitable allegories, The
Pilgrim's Progress and Holy War, made a Concordance to the Bible,
and conducted important controversies. Preaching, while at liberty,
almost innumerable sermons on the Lord's-days and week-days, early
in the morning and late at night. Visiting his flock with pastoral
care--founding churches in the villages, and even in towns and
cities far distant from his dwelling--constantly giving advice to
promote peace and good will, and rendering benevolent aid by long
journeys! His whole life presents to us a picture of most astonishing,
energetic perseverance. Every moment of time must have been employed
as if he valued it as a precious trust, which, if once lost, could
never be regained. Who of us can compare our life with his last
thirty years, and not blush with shame!

The finest trait in Bunyan's Christian character was his deep,
heartfelt humility. This is the more extraordinary from his want
of secular education, and his unrivalled talent. The more we learn,
the greater is the field for research that opens before us, insomuch
that the wisest philosophers have most seriously felt the little
progress they have made. He acknowledged to Mr. Cockayn, who considered
him the most eminent man, and a star of the first magnitude in the
firmament of the churches,[329] that spiritual pride was his easily
besetting sin, and that he needed the thorn in the flesh, lest he
should be exalted above measure. A sense of this weakness probably
led him to peculiar watchfulness against it. His self-abasement was
neither tinctured with affectation, nor with the pride of humility.
His humble-mindedness appeared to arise form his intimate communion
with Heaven. In daily communion with God, he received a daily
lesson of deeper and deeper humility. 'I am the high and lofty One,
I inhabit eternity! verily this consideration is enough to make a
broken-hearted man creep into a mouse-hole, to hide himself from such
majesty! There is room in this man's heart for God to dwell.'[330]
'I find it one of the hardest things that I can put my soul upon,
even to come to God, when warmly sensible that I am a sinner, for
a share in grace and mercy. I cannot but with a thousand tears say,
"God be merciful to me a sinner" (Ezra 9:15).'[331]

The Revs. Messrs. Chandler and Wilson, bear the following testimony
as eye-witnesses to his character:--'His fancy and invention were
very pregnant and fertile. His wit was sharp and quick--his memory
tenacious, it being customary with him to commit his sermons
to writing after he had preached them,' a proof of extraordinary
industry. 'His understanding was large and comprehensive--his judgment
sound and deep in the fundamentals of the gospel. His experience
of Satan's temptations in the power and policy of them, and of
Christ's presence in, and by his Word and Spirit to succour and
comfort him, was more than ordinary; the grace of God was magnified
in him and by him, and a rich anointing of the Spirit was upon him;
and yet this great saint was always in his own eyes the chiefest
of sinners, and the least of saints. He was not only well furnished
with the helps and endowments of nature, beyond ordinary, but eminent
in the graces and gifts of the Spirit, and fruits of holiness. He
was from first to last established in, and ready to maintain, that
God-like principle of having communion with saints as such, without
any respect to difference in things disputable among the godly. His
carriage was condescending, affable, and meek to all, yet bold and
courageous for Christ. He was much struck at, in the lat times of
persecution; being far from any sinful compliance to save himself,
he did cheerfully bear the cross.' Such was the character given
of him by these two eminent divines, in 1693, while his memory, in
its fullest fragrance, was cherished by all the churches.

This humility peculiarly fitted him to instruct the young, of whom
he was very fond--


   'Nor do I blush, although I think some may
    Call me a baby, 'cause I with them play;
    I do 't to show them how each fingle fangle
    On which they doating are, their souls entangle;
    And, since at gravity they make a tush,
    My very beard I cast behind a bush.'[332]


He had friends among the rich as well as the poor. Of this his
solid gold ring and handsome cabinet are proofs. From a letter
in the Ellis correspondence, we learn that Bunyan had so secured
the affections of the Lord Mayor of London, as to be called his
chaplain.[333]

Among his religious friends and associates he must have been a
pleasing, entertaining, lively companion. However solemn, nay awful,
had been his experience when walking through the Valley of the
Shadow of Death, yet when emerging from the darkness and enjoying
the sunshine of Divine favour, he loved social intercourse and
communion of saints. It is one of the slanders heaped upon Christianity
to call it a gloomy, melancholy theme: though 'it is better to go
to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting,' yet the
wisely pious man will endeavour, even at an elegant entertainment
or a Lord Mayor's dinner, to drop useful hints. Whenever Bunyan
describes a social party, especially a feast, he always introduces
a wholesome dish; and it is singular, in the abundance of publications,
that we have not been favoured with John Bunyan's Nuts to Crack
at Religious Entertainments, or a Collection of his Pious Riddles.
Thus, at the splendid royal feast given to Emmanuel, when he entered
Mansoul in triumph, 'he entertained the town with some curious
riddles, of secrets drawn up by his father's secretary, by the
skill and wisdom of Shaddai, the like to which there are not in any
kingdom.' 'Emmanuel also expounded unto them some of those riddles
himself, but O how were they lightened! They saw what they never
saw, they could not have thought that such rarities could have been
couched in such few and ordinary words. The lamb, the sacrifice,
the rock, the door, the way.'[334] 'The second Adam was before the
first, and the second covenant was before the first.'[335] 'Was
Adam bad before he eat the forbidden fruit?'[336] 'How can a man
say his prayers without a word being read or uttered?'[337] 'How
do men speak with their feet?' Answer, Proverbs 6:13.[338] 'Why was
the brazen laver made of the women's looking-glasses?'[339] 'How
can we comprehend that which cannot be comprehended, or know that
which passeth knowledge?'[340] 'Who was the founder of the state
or priestly domination over religion?'[341] What is meant by the
drum of Diabolus and other riddles mentioned in The Holy War?[342]
The poetical riddles in The Pilgrim's Progress are very striking--


   'A man there was, though some did count him mad,
    The more he cast away, the more he had.'

    How can 'evil make the soul from evil turn.'[343]

    Can 'sin be driven out of the world by suffering?'[344]

   'Though it may seem to some a riddle,
    We use to light our candles at the middle.'[345]

   'What men die two deaths at once?'[346]

   'Are men ever in heaven and on earth at the same time?'[347]

    'Can a beggar be worth ten thousand a-year and not know it?'[348]


He even introduced a dance upon the destruction of Despair, Mr.
Ready-to-halt, with his partner Miss Much-afraid, while Christiana
and Mercy furnished the music. 'True, he could not dance without
one crutch in his hand; but I promise you he footed it well. Also
the girl was to be commended, for she answered the music handsomely.'
Is this the gloomy fanaticism of a Puritan divine? It is true,
that promiscuous dancing, or any other amusement tending to evil,
he had given up and discountenanced, but all his writings tend to
prove that the Christian only can rationally and piously enjoy the
world that now is, while living in the delightful hope of bliss in
that which is to come.

Bunyan's personal appearance and character was drawn by his friend
Mr. Doe. 'He appeared in countenance stern and rough, but was mild
and affable; loving to reconcile differences and make friendships.
He made it his study, above all other things, not to give occasion
of offence. In his family he kept a very strict discipline in
prayer and exhortations. He had a sharp, quick eye, and an excellent
discerning of persons; of good judgment and quick wit. Tall
in stature, strong-boned; somewhat of a ruddy face with sparkling
eyes; his hair reddish, but sprinkled with gray; nose well set;
mouth moderately large; forehead something high, and his habit
always plain and modest.'

My determination in writing this memoir has been to follow the
scriptural example, by fairly recording every defect discoverable
in Bunyan's character; but what were considered by some to be
blemishes, after his conversion, appear, in my estimation, to be
beauties. His moral and religious character was irreproachable,
and his doctrinal views most scriptural; all agree in this, that
he was a bright and shining light; unrivalled for his allegories,
and for the vast amount of his usefulness. His friend, Mr. Wilson,
says, 'Though his enemies and persecutors, in his lifetime, did
what they could to vilify and reproach him, yet, being gone, he
that before had the testimony of their consciences, hath now their
actual commendation and applause.'[349] To this we may add, that
he was without sectarianism, a most decided Bible Christian. This
reveals the secret of his striking phraseology. It was in the sacred
pages of Divine truth that he learned grammar and rhetoric. Style,
and all his knowledge of the powers of language--all were derived
from the only source of his religious wisdom and learning. He lived,
and thought, and wrote under the influence of the holy oracles,
translated by the Puritans in 1560, compared with the version of
1611. This gives a charm to all his works, and suits them to every
human capacity.

Reader, the object of biography is to excite emulation. Why should
not others arise as extensively to bless the world as Bunyan did?
The storehouses of heaven from which he was replenished with holy
treasures, are inexhaustible. As he said, 'God has bags of mercy yet
unsealed.' We have the same holy oracles, and the same mercy-seat.
The time is past for merely challenging the right to personal
judgment of religious truths. In Britain the lions are securely
chained, and the cruel giants disabled. The awful crime of imprisoning
and torturing man for conscience' sake, exists only in kingdoms
where darkness reigns--


   ''Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy.'


We stand upon higher ground than our forefathers; we take our more
solemn stand upon the imperative duty of personal investigation--that
no one can claim the name of Christian, unless he has laid aside
all national, or family, or educational prejudices, and drawn from
the holy oracles alone all his scheme of salvation and rules of
conduct. All the secret of Bunyan's vast usefulness, the foundation
of all his honour, is, that the fear of God swallowed up the fear of
man; that he was baptized into the truths of revelation, and lived
to exemplify them. He was a bright and shining light in a benighted
world; and of him it may be most emphatically said, 'Blessed are the
dead which die in the Lord, that they may rest from their labours;
and their works do follow them.'

GEORGE OFFOR.



FOOTNOTES:

1. For a most interesting account of the rise of Sixtus V, see the
new volume of the Lounger's Common-place Book, 1807, p. 152.

2. The Rev. J. H. A. Rudd, the Vicar of Elstow, has most kindly
furnished me with an extract from the registers of all the entries
relative to Bunyan's family. The register commences in 1641, and has
been searched to 1750. It confirms the Rev. J. Juke's impression,
that soon after Bunyan joined Gifford's church he left Elstow to
live in Bedford.

Thomas Bonion, buried, Dec. 9, 1641. Margaret Bonion, wife, buried,
June 20, 1644. Margaret Bonion, b., July 24, 1644. Charles, the
son of Thos. Bunion, bapt., May 22, 1645. Charles Bunion, bur.,
May 30, 1645. Mary, the daught. of Joh. Bonion, bapt., July 20,
1650 Elizabeth, the daughter of John Bonyon, was born 14th day of
April, 1654.

Thomas Bonion of the town of Bedford, and Elizabeth _______ of
the parish of Elstow, were married, May 10, 1656. (The Christian
name of the husband, and the surname of the wife, are very much
obliterated.)

Ann Bonyonn, Widdo, was buried, 12th day of April, 1659. Thos.
Bunyan, buried, Feby. 7th, 1675. Ann Bunyon, Widdo, buried in
Woolen, September 25, 1680.

The marriage here recorded, May 10, 1656, could not be that of John
Bunyan to his second wife Elizabeth; for she declared to Judge Hale
in August, 1661, that she had 'not been married to him yet full
two years.'--Vol. i. 61.

3. This cottage has long ceased to exist, and has been replaced by
another of the poorest description. But from an old print we have
given in the Plate, p. 1, vol. i., a representation of the original,
with the shed at side often mentioned as 'The forge'; thus leading
us to believe, that to the 'tinker's' humble calling might be united
that of the 'smith,' a more manly and honourable trade.

4. Grace Abounding, No. 2.

5. Vol. iii., p. 674.

6. Vol. ii., p. 140.

7. Vol. i., p. 490.

8. Vol. ii., p. 617.

9. Grace Abounding, No. 18.

10. Extracted from the first edition in the British Museum. It was
much altered in the subsequent impressions.

11. In 1566, Sir Thomas Harper, Lord Mayor of London, gave £180
for thirteen acres and a rood of meadow land in Holborn. This was
settled, in trust, to promote the education of the poor in and
round Bedford. In 1668, it produced a yearly revenue of £99--a
considerable sum in that day, but not in any proportion to the
present rental, which amounts to upwards of £12,000 a-year.

12. Grace Abounding, No. 3.

13. Vol. i., p. 618.

14. Grace Abounding, No. 4.

15. Philip's Life of Bunyan, p. 4.

16. Vol. iii., p. 597.

17. Vol. ii., p. 564.

18. Grace Abounding, No. 27.

19. Grace Abounding, No. 5.

20. Ibid., No. 8.

21. Life, p. vii.

22. Ibid. p. viii.

23. Life, pp. xli., xlii.

24. Vol. i., p. 79.

25. Job 33:15.

26. Grace Abounding, No. 5, vol. i., p. 6.

27. Life appended to the first and second editions of the forged
third part of Pilgrim's Progress.

28. Grace Abounding, Nos. 12-14, vol. i., p. 7. How do these
hair-breadth escapes illustrate the unerring providence of God,
and the short-sightedness of even pious Christians. It is easy to
imagine the exclamations of a reflecting character when hearing
of the marvelous escapes of this wicked youth. 'Dark providences!
the good and benevolent are snatched away; but such a plague as this
has his life preserved to pester us still. Short-sighted mortal,
"shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"' No life in the
British empire was so precious in the sight and gracious purposes
of God, as that of the poor depraved lad; which was thus preserved
by the special care of Divine providence.

29. Life appended to part third of Pilgrim's Progress, 1692. This
is omitted from the third edition (1700), and all the subsequent
ones.

30. Vol. ii., p. 74.

31. Vol. i., p. 732.

32. Vol. ii., p. 738.

33. Vol. ii., p. 709; ii., p. 45; ii., 601.

34. Vol. iii., p. 727; v. 7, 8.

35. The women were remarkably active in defending the town.

36. Thoresby's Leicester, 4to, p. 128.

37. Hist. of Rebellion, edition 1712, vol. ii., p. 652.

38. Vol. i., p. 661.

39. Vol. iii., p. 357.

40. Vol. iii., p. 113, 358.

41. Vol. i., p. 726.

42. Vol. i., p. 694.

43. The Political Sentiments of John Bunyan, re-published by John
Martin, 1798.

44. Life of Bunyan, 1692, p. 12.

45. Ibid., 1692, p. 13.

46. Vol. i., p. 7.

47. The Pathway to Heaven is the work of that pious puritan Dent,
and is full of those striking illustrations which were admirably
adapted to prepare Bunyan for writing his allegories. A copy with
the name Ma Bunyann, written on the title page, has long been in
the editor's library. We give a facsimile of the writing, as it
has been supposed that of Bunyan. This is very doubtful; it appears
more like a woman's hand; but, if it is the name of Mrs. Bunyan,
then it indicates that his daughter Mary, baptized 20th July, 1650,
was called after her.

48. Life of Bunyan, 1691, p. 13.

49. This is a solemn consideration; many profess to serve God while
they are bond-slaves to sin; and many are servants in his family
who are not sons, nor heirs, of heaven. Blessed are those who are
both servants and sons.

50. Vol. i., p. 7, 8.

51. Jan. 3, 1644-5.

52. Aug. 23, 1645.

53. 4to Edit., 1644.

54. Neale, 1822, vol. ii., p. 220.

55. Life of Alfred, comparing him to Charles I. Preface. 8vo. 1634.

56. Vol. i., p. 8, 9.

57. The game of cat, tipcat, or "sly," so called by Wilson, in his
life of Bunyan [Wilson's Edition of Works, vol. i., fol. 1736], is
an ancient game well known in many parts of the kingdom. A number
of holes are made in the ground, at equal distances, in a circular
direction; a player is stationed at each hole; the opposite party
stand around; one of them throws the cat to the batsman nearest to
him; every time the cat is struck, the batsmen run from one hole
to the next, and score as many as they change positions; but if the
cat is thrown between them before reaching the hole, the batsman
is out [Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, 8vo., p. 110]. Such was the
childish game played by men on the Lord's-day.

58. Life by C. Doe, 1698.

59. Vol. i., p. 9.

60. Saved by Grace, vol. i., p. 351.

61. Vol. i., p. 9; No. 32.

62. Folio edition, pp. 595-6.

63. In the Engraving, p. 1, vol. i., is a view of part of the
village green, Elstow, with the ancient building now used as a
school-house, as seen from the church-yard. This building is older
than the time of Bunyan, and was the scene of village meetings at
the period in which he lived, and doubtless associated with his
dancing and thoughtless amusements, as the green itself was the scene
of the game of cat. A view looking towards the church is given in
Vignette to vol. i. of the Works.

64. Vol. i., p. 10.

65. Southey's Life, pp. xxv., xxxii.

66. Vol. i., p. 80.

67. Vol. i., p. 11.

68. Vol. iii., p. 607.

69. Heresiography. 4tp. 1654. p. 143.

70. Vol. iii., p. 151.

71. Vol. iii., p. 118.

72. Vol. i., p. 11.

73. Vol. i., p. 11.

74. Vol. i., p. 591.

75. The Rev. H. J. Rose, in his Biographical Dictionary, distorts
this singular affair into, 'he laid claim to a faith of such
magnitude as to work miracles!'

76. Vol. i., p. 12.

77. Vol. iii., pp. 155, 156.

78. Vol. i., p. 12.

79. It is as easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
as for a man to pass through this door with the world on his back.

80. Vol. i., p. 13.

81. Vol. i., p. 13.

82. Holy War, vol. iii., p. 342, 346.

83. Bunyan on the Throne of Grace, vol. i., p. 677.

84. Vol. i., p. 80.

85. Holy War, vol. iii., p. 297.

86. Vol. i., p. 14.

87. Vol. iii., p. 123.

88. Addison.

89. Vol. i., p. 14.

90. April 1645. About 300 discontented persons got together in
Kent, and took Sir Percival Hart's house; Colonel Blunt attacked
and dispersed them with horse and foot, regained the house, and
made the chief of them prisoners. Whitelock, folio 137.

91. Vol. i., p. 15.

92. Vol. i., p. 15; No. 82.

93. Vol. i., p. 16.

94. Vol. i., p. 17, 18.

95. Vol. iii., p. 113.

96. Bunyan's Saints' Privilege and Profit, vol. i., p. 661.

97. Bunyan's Saved by Grace, vol. i., p. 340.

98. Vol. i., p. 17.

99. Bunyan's Christ a Complete Saviour, vol. i., p. 210.

100. Rogers on Trouble of Mind. Preface. Thus temptations are suited
to the state of the inquiring soul; the learned man who studies
Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, is filled with doubts arising from
'philosophy and vain deceit, profane and vain babblings'; the
unlettered mechanic is tried not by logic, but by infernal artillery;
the threatenings of God's Word are made to obscure the promises.
It is a struggle which, to one possessing a vivid imagination, is
attended with almost intolerable agonies--unbelief seals up the
door of mercy.

Bunyan agreed with his learned contemporary, Milton, in the invisible
agency of good and bad spirits.

'Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth Unseen, both when
we wake and when we sleep!'

The malignant demons watch their opportunity to harass the pilgrim
with evil thoughts, injected when least expected.

101. Vol. i., p. 19.

102. Vol. i., p. 20.

103. The anxiety of this pious teacher was to press upon his
hearers to take special heed, not to receive any truth upon trust
from any man, but to pray over it and search 'the Holy Word.'
This, Mr. Southey designates, 'doctrine of a most perilous kind.'
How happy would it be for society if every religious teacher
pressed this perilous doctrine upon their hearers, that it might
bring forth the same fruit universally, as it did specially in
Bunyan. Compare Grace Abounding, No. 117, and Southey's Life, p.
27, 28.

104. Vol. i., p. 21.

105. Vol. i., p. 22.

106. Vol. iii., p. 115.

107. Vol. iii., p. 270.

108. Luther fell into the same mistake as to the Baptists, that
Bunyan did as to the Quakers. Both were keenly alive to the honour
of Christianity, and were equally misled by the loose conduct
of some unworthy professors. Luther charges the Baptists as being
'devils possessed with worse devils' [Preface to Galatians]. 'It is
all one whether he be called a Frank, a Turk, a Jew, or an Anabaptist'
[Com. Gal. iv. 8, 9]. 'Possessed with the devil, seditious, and
bloody men' [Gal. v. 19]. Even a few days before his death, he wrote
to his wife, 'Dearest Kate, we reached Halle at eight o'clock, but
could not get on to Eisleben, for there met us a great Anabaptist,
with waves and lumps of ice, which threatened us with a second
baptism.' Bunyan, in the same spirit, calls the Quakers 'a company
of loose ranters, light notionists, shaking in their principles!' [Vol.
ii., p. 133, 9, 21]. Denying the Scriptures and the resurrection
[Com. Gal. iv. 29]. These two great men went through the same
furnace of the regeneration; and Bunyan, notwithstanding Luther's
prejudices against the Baptists, most affectionately recommended
his Comment on the Galatians, as an invaluable work for binding up
the broken-hearted.

109. Vol. i., p. 23.

110. Vol. ii., p. 181.

111. Vol. ii., p. 260.

112. Vol. i., p. 25; No. 158.

113. See note in vol. i., p. 26.

114. Vol. i., p. 29.

115. Vol. i., p. 30

116. The study of those scriptures, in order that the solemn question
might be safely resolved, 'Can such a fallen sinner rise again?'
was like the investigation of the title to an estate upon which a
whole livelihood depended. Every apparent flaw must be critically
examined. Tremblingly alive to the importance of a right decision,
his prayers were most earnest; and at length, to his unspeakable
delight, the word of the law and wrath gave place to that of life
and grace.

117. Vol. i., p. 35.

118. Vol. iii., p. 100.

119. Irish sixpences, which passed for fourpence-halfpenny. See the
note on vol. i., p. 36. Since writing that note I have discovered
another proof of the contempt with which that coin was
treated:--'Christian, the wife of Robert Green, of Brexham,
Somersetshire, in 1663, is said to have made a covenant with the
devil; he pricked the fourth finger of her right hand, between the
middle and upper joints, and took two drops of her blood on his
finger, giving her a fourpence-halfpenny. Then he spake in private
with Catharine her sister, and vanished, leaving a smell of brimstone
behind!'--Turner's Remarkable Providences, folio, 1667, p. 28.

120. Vol. i., p. 36.

121. Holy War.

122. Vol. ii., p. 141.

123. Luther and Tyndale.

124. Vol. iii., p. 398.

125. Vol. i., p. 495.

126. Vol. iii., p. 398.

127. Vol. iii., p.190.

128. Vol. iii., p. 186.

129. Bunyan on Christian Behaviour, vol. ii., p. 550.

130. Vol. ii., p. 570.

131. Vol. ii., p. 585.

132. The Nineteenth Article.

133. The sufferings of the Episcopalians were severe; they drank
the bitter cup which they had shortly before administered to the
Puritans. Under suspicion of disloyalty to the Commonwealth, they
were most unjustly compelled to swallow the Covenant as a religious
test, or leave preaching and teaching. Their miseries were not
to be compared with those of the Puritans. Laud was beheaded for
treason, but none were put to death for nonconformity. It was an
age when religious liberty was almost unknown. These sufferings
were repaid by an awful retaliation and revenge, when Royalty and
Episcopacy were restored.

134. Penn's Christian Quaker.

135. Folio, p. 417.

136. Vol. iii., p. 107.

137. Vol. iii., p. 765. The author of Bunyan's Life, published in
1690, dates his baptism 'about the year 1653.'

138. Life from his Cradle to his Grave, 1700.

139. September 21.

140. In the same year, and about the same period, Oliver Cromwell
was made Lord Protector. Upon this coincidence, Mr. Carlisle uses
the following remarkable language:--'Two common men thus elevated,
putting their hats upon their heads, might exclaim, "God enable me
to be king of what lies under this! For eternities lie under it,
and infinities, and heaven also and hell! and it is as big as the
universe, this kingdom; and I am to conquer it, or be for ever
conquered by it. Now, WHILE IT IS CALLED TO-DAY!'"

141. In possession of the Society of Antiquities.

142. Vol. i., p. 39.

143. Vol. i., p. 20.

144. Reading and Preaching.

145. Not to wait for one another, each one to come in good time.

146. Alluding to Bunyan, or his co-pastor, Burton, or to both of
them.

147. Bunyan was about twenty-seven years of age.

148. This letter was copied into the church records at the time:
the original cannot be found. It was published with Ryland's Funeral
Sermon on Symonds, 1788, and in Jukes' very interesting account of
Bunyan's church, in 1849. The signature is copied from an original
in the Milton State Papers, library of the Antiquarian Society.

149. Vol. i., p. 39.

150. Vol. i., p. 545.

151. Grace Abounding, No. 255, vol. i., p. 39.

152. Vol. i., p. 545.

153. Grace Abounding, No 255-259, vol. i., p. 39.

154. Vol. i., p. 40.

155. Vol. iii., p. 655.

156. Rogers on Trouble of Mind.

157. Grace Abounding, No. 260.

158. 1st edition, p. 355.

159. Vol. ii., p. 425.

160. Vol. i., p. 40.

161. Vol. i., p. 769.

162. Vol. i., p. 549.

163. Church Book, 1671.

164. This secrecy became needful after the Restoration, as noticed
more fully afterwards, p. lix. During those years of persecution,
a frequent place of resort was a dell in Wain-wood, about three
miles from Hitchin. Of this locality the following notice will be
acceptable:--On the 19th of May, 1853, a splendidly hot day, my
pilgrimage to the shrines of Bunyan was continued at Hitchin and its
vicinity, in company with S. B. Geard, Esq. Here it was my honour
to shake hands with honest Edward Foster, whose grandfather often
entertained and sheltered John Bunyan. So singular a case I had
never met with, that three lives should connect, in a direct line,
evidence of transactions which occurred at a distance of 190 years.
His grandfather was born in 1642, and for many years was a friend
and companion of the illustrious dreamer. In 1706, when he was
sixty-four years of age, his youngest son was born, and in 1777,
when that son was seventy-one years of age, his youngest son was
born, and in 1853 he has the perfect use of limbs and faculties,
and properly executes the important office of assistant overseer
to his extensive parish. With such direct testimony, we visited
the very romantic dell, where, in the still hours of midnight, the
saints of God were wont to meet and unite in Divine worship. It
is a most romantic dell, in Wain-wood, which crowns a hill about
three miles from Hitchin. We had some difficulty in making our
way through the underwood--crushing the beautiful hyacinths and
primroses which covered the ground in the richest profusion, and
near the top of the hill came suddenly upon this singular dell--a
natural little eminence formed the pulpit, while the dell would
hold under its shade at least a thousand people--and now I must
give you the countryman's eloquent description of the meetings of
his ancestors. "Here, under the canopy of heaven, with the rigour
of winter's nipping frost, while the clouds, obscuring the moon,
have discharged their flaky treasures, they often assembled while
the highly-gifted and heavenly-minded Bunyan has broken to them the
bread of life. The word of the Lord was precious in those days. And
here over his devoted head, while uncovered in prayer, the pious
matrons warded off the driving hail and snow, by holding a shawl
over him by its four corners. In this devoted dell these plain
unpolished husbandmen, like the ancient Waldenses, in the valleys
of Piedmont, proved themselves firm defenders of the faith in its
primitive purity, and of Divine worship in its primitive style."

Their horses on which they rode, from various parts, were sheltered
in neighbouring friendly farms, while they, to avoid suspicion,
ascended the hill by scarcely visible footpaths. Could fine weather
be insured, it would form a lovely spot for a meeting to celebrate
the third jubilee of religious toleration--there listen to a Bunyan
of our age, and devise measures for religious equality. Then we
might close the service by solemnly objuring every system which
gave power to tyrannise over the rights of conscience. Here, as
in other places where Bunyan founded churches, the cause of Christ
hath spread. At Hitchin, in 1681, about thirty-five Christians
united in the following covenant:--

'We who, through the mercy of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have
obtained grace to give ourselves to the Lord, and one to another
by the will of God, to have communion with one another, as saints
in one gospel fellowship:--Do, before God our Father, and our
Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy angels, agree and promise to walk
together in this one gospel communion and fellowship as a church of
Jesus Christ, in love to the Lord and one to another, and endeavour
to yield sincere and hearty obedience to the laws, ordinances, and
appointments of our Lord and Lawgiver in his church. And also do
agree and promise, the Lord assisting, to follow after the things
which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another,
that so living and walking in love and peace, the God of love and
peace may be with us. Amen.'

This was probably drawn by Bunyan, and so simple and comprehensive
has it proved, that the church has flourished, and lately a spacious
and handsome place of worship has been erected, to accommodate
a thousand worshippers, at a cost of £3000, all paid for, with
a surplus fund in hand for contingencies, of £500. In addition,
there are also large and commodious chapels for the Independents,
Wesleyans, and Quakers.

165. Christ a Complete Saviour, vol. i., p. 210.

166. Law and Grace, vol. i., pp. 549, 550.

167. Life of Bunyan, p. xiv.

168. Sighs, vol. iii., p. 712.

169. Gospel Truths, vol. ii., p. 178.

170. Like the Beef-eaters, or yeomen of the guard at the present
day.

171. Journal, folio, 1694, p. 144. Is it surprising that the Quakers,
at such a time, assumed their peculiar neatness of dress?

172. Vol. ii., p. 178, 566.

173. Grace Abounding, vol. i., p. 41.

174. Nehemiah Coxe is said to have been a descendant from Dr.
Richard Coxe, preceptor to Edward VI, and Dean of Oxford. He fled
from persecution under Mary, was a troubler of his brother refugees
by his turbulent temper, and his attachment to superstitious
ceremonies. On his return, he was made Bishop of Ely, and became
a bitter persecutor. Benjamin Coxe, A.M., probably a son of
the furious bishop, was as ardently fond of rites and ceremonies.
He was cited to appear before Laud for denying the jure divino of
bishops, and the poor bishop said, "God did so bless me that I gave
him satisfaction." Mr. Coxe soon after came out as a Baptist, and
having preached at Bedford, he settled in Coventry. Here he disputed
with Mr. Baxter and the Presbyterians; and the Independents had
him imprisoned for defending adult baptism (Crosby, History of
Baptists, i. 354), a very short mode of settling the controversy.
Probably Nehemiah Coxe was his son, settled at Bedford as a
shoemaker. He was a learned man, and, when tried at Bedford assizes
for preaching the gospel, he was indicted in the usual Norman-French,
or Latin; and pleaded first in Greek, which the prosecutors not
understanding, he pleaded in Hebrew, arguing, that as his indictment
was in a foreign tongue, he was entitled to plead in any of the
learned languages. The counsel being ignorant of those languages,
and the judge glad to get rid of a vexatious indictment, dismissed
him, saying to the counselors, 'Well, this cordwainer hath wound
you all up, gentlemen.' This anecdote is handed down in a funeral
sermon by T. Sutcliff, on the death of Symonds, one of the pastors
of the church at Bedford.

Another of this little band that was set apart with Bunyan, became
so useful a preacher as to have been honoured with a record in the
annals of persecution in the reign of Charles II. John Fenn was
on Lord's-day, May 15, 1670, committed to prison for preaching in
his own house; and on Tuesday, all his goods and stock in trade
were seized and carted away, leaving his family in the most desolate
condition.

In the following week, Edward Isaac, a blacksmith, another of this
little band, having been fined, had all his stock in trade, and
even the anvil upon which he worked, seized and carted away.

Such were the severe trials which these excellent citizens were,
with their families, called to pass through, by the tyranny of the
church; but they were light, indeed, in comparison with those that
awaited the amiable and pious Bunyan.

175. If Christians recollected with what anxiety their teachers
prepared and delivered their sermons, how constant and prayerful
would be their attendance on the means of grace.

176. Grace Abounding, vol. i., p. 42. The taunts and revilings of
a poet laureate upon Bunyan's preaching and sufferings need only
a passing notice. No words could be more vile and slanderous than
those of Mr. Southey. He says, 'Peace might be on his lips, and
zeal for the salvation of others in his heart, but he was certainly,
at that time, no preacher of good will, nor of Christian charity.'
How can we judge of a preacher's good will, but by 'peace on his
lips?' and what is the criterion of Christian charity, except it
be 'zeal for the salvation of others in his heart?'

177. Grace Abounding, No. 293, vol. i., p. 44.

178. Vol. i., p. 59. Eben. Chandler thus describes Bunyan: 'His
wit was sharp and quick, his memory tenacious; it being customary
with him to commit his sermons to writing after he had preached
them.'--Chandler and Wilson's Preface to Bunyan's Works, folio,
1692. All these autographs have unaccountably disappeared.

179. Noticed in the life annexed to Pilgrim, Part III.

180. In the editor's library, folio, 1635. Orthography was little
cared for in those days. On the beautiful portrait of Andrews, is
the autograph of Annie Brokett hir Blook!

181. This document is copied on page xxvi.

182. See page lxxii.

183. Vol. ii., p. 132.

184. Vol. ii., p. 133.

185. Vol. ii., pp. 140, 141.

186. The American authors of a recent life of Burrough, (William and
Thomas Evans, Philadelphia, republished by Gilpin, London, 1851),
have given an unfair account of his controversy with Bunyan, drawn
from Burrough's works in the shape of a supposed dialogue. Such
a disputation can only be understood by reading both sides of the
question. We unite with them in admiring the character of that
young but noble martyr. They are, however, wrong in their conclusion
that 'the meekness and gentleness of Christ softened and adorned
his whole character.' He was one of those that are called in the
Holy War, 'rough hewn men fit to break the ice.' Vol. iii. p. 270

187. Vol. ii., p. 201.

188. P. 16.

189. It is difficult to describe the state of those times. James
Naylor rode into Bristol, a multitude accompanying him, strewing
their scarfs, handkerchiefs, and garments on the ground for his
horse to tread on, and singing, Hosanna in the highest; holy, holy,
holy is the Lord God of Israel. He was addressed as the everlasting
son of righteousness, and prince of peace. His brain was bewildered
with adulation. Women kissed his feet, and called him Jesus the Son
of God. To stop the tumult, he was apprehended, and had he been
simply subjected to the discipline of a mad-house, like Mr. Brothers
of a later period, his blood would soon have recovered from its
agitation. Instead of this, a grand parade was made by trying him
before a Committee of the House of Commons, and, upon a report of
the whole house, he was convicted of 'horrid blasphemy,' and it
was by the small majority of fourteen that his life was spared.
His cruel sentence was whipping, pillory, his tongue bored through
with a red hot iron, a large letter B burnt into his forehead, and
to be imprisoned during the pleasure of Parliament. By his followers
he was considered a martyr; but the infatuation soon subsided. After
his release, he was mercifully restored to his senses, and became
a useful Quaker.

190. These commissioners were called 'triers,' and, being high
Calvinists, were nick-named Dr. Absolute, chairman, Mr. Fatality,
Mr. Fri-babe, Mr. Dam-man, Mr. Narrow-grace, Mr. Indefectible,
Mr. Dubious, and others. They turned out of their livings those
clergymen who were proved to be immoral in their conduct, and others
who did not come up to the orthodox standard. Of these, Mr. Walker,
in his account of the sufferings of the clergy, gives a long list.

191. This Act or ordinance of Parliament involved some of our
excellent ancestors in trouble. Hansard Knollys, Wm. Kiffin, Mr.
Lamb, and many others, were imprisoned for short periods; Edward
Barbour for eleven months. To avoid the informers, adult baptism was
performed at midnight; for this Henry Denne suffered imprisonment.
That gracious and valuable minister, Vavasor Powel also suffered a
short imprisonment during the Protectorate; his life was afterwards
sacrificed by a tedious imprisonment in the following reign. He was
taken, with his flock, at a midnight meeting; and for safe custody
they were locked up in the parish church, and there he preached
without molestation. When conveyed to the justice's house, while
waiting his worship's leisure, he again preached. When this
magistrate arrived, he was violently enraged that his house should
have been turned into a conventicle. He would have committed them
at once to prison, but two of his daughters were so affected with
the sermon, that, at their intercession, after severe threatenings,
the preacher and his friends were set at liberty.

192. From the original, in the editor's possession.

193. Cotton Mather says that these laws were never carried to
extremity, and were soon laid entirely by. Hist. of America.

194. Jukes' History of Bunyan's Church, p. 16.

195. Works, vol. iii., p. 667; especially pp. 672, 673.

196. No. 280-317, vol. i., p. 42-46.

197. Life and Death of Mr. J. Bunyan, 1700, p. 27.

198. Vol. iii., p. 767.

199. Grace Abounding, vol. i., p. 46.

200. See Note, vol. i., p. 45.

201. 4tp. London, 1659. A MS copy is in the editor's possession.

202. Vol. i., p. 683.

203. Vol. iii., p. 445.

204. Vol. iii., p. 48.

205. Vol. ii., p. 635.

206. Vol. iii., p. 680.

207. See postscript to The True Faith of the Gospel of Peace,
British Museum.

208. Vol. ii., p. 201.

209. Vol. i., p. 46.

210. Macaulay's History of England, vol. i.

211. Life of Badman.

212. Penn's England's Interest, 4to, 1676, p. 2.

213. Vol. ii., p. 593.

214. Vol. i., p. 51.

215. Vol. i., p. 51.

216. This very interesting Memoir was published by the Society of
Friends, 1825.

217. Case and Opinion, under the head 'Conventicles,' British
Museum. There is also a rare Tract, to prove that the Persecuting
Acts expired Oct. 24th, 1670.

218. Vol. i., p. 54. How unspeakable the mercy, that the persecutor
cannot plunge his implements of torture into the spirit, nor prevent
its intercourse with heaven!

A very deeply interesting narrative of all the particulars of this
examination and form of trial, was recorded by the sufferer. See
vol. i., p. 50.

219. There were three prisons in Bedford--the county jail,
the bridewell, and the tower jail. No decisive evidence has been
discovered as to which prison Bunyan was committed. Two views of
the bridge and prison are given in the plate at p. 63, vol. i.

220. Howard's Account of Lazarettos, &c. 4to, 1789, p. 150.

221. Elstow is a perpetual curacy or vicarage, worth at that time
only £35 per annum! forming one of the discreditable anomalies of
the church, in the division of its immense revenues.

222. He has favoured us with the following description of it:--'The
ring is of fine gold, very like in colour to that which has been
brought into this country from California. The head is, I think,
engraven, but the letters have not that sharpness about them which
indicates the engraving tool; and the I. B. are undoubted indents
made after the ring was finished.' It is not the usual emblem of a
mourning gift, for that would have the cross-bones under the skull;
it was more probably given as a special mark of esteem. Three things
are certain--1st, That it so valuable a gift excited the poor man's
pride, its loss must have been a serious annoyance to one whose
family was dependent upon his daily labour. 2d, His preaching
talent must have been highly appreciated, before he was known as the
author of the Pilgrim's Progress, to have brought him so valuable
a token of respect. But the most pleasing and remarkable reflection,
is the surprising progress of good-will among men of various
denominations, that a ring, worn by a despised and persecuted
Nonconformist of a former age, is now highly prized and worn, from
respect to his memory, by a dignified clergyman of the Established
church.

223. This was not his only ring; he left, inter alia, all his rings
to his wife. See. p. lxxii.

224. After he had lain in jail five or six days, an application
was made to a liberal justice at Elstow, named Crumpton, to release
him on bail; but he declined, fearing to give offence. He, however,
so felt for this persecuted servant of Christ, as to sell him an
edifice and barn, which, upon his release, was converted into a
large meeting-house.

225. Vol. ii., p. 107.

226. Vol. iii., p. 341, 366.

227. From his autograph, in the editor's possession, he spelt his
name John Keling.

228. Lord Campbell's lives of the Chief Justices.

229. Vol. i., p. 57. This forcibly reminds us of Greatheart's reply
to Giant Maul--'I am a servant of the God of heaven; my business
is to persuade sinners to repentance; if to prevent this be thy
quarrel, let us fall to it as soon as thou wilt,' vol. iii., p. 210.
Southey attempts to vindicate the justices in condemning Bunyan,
and grossly mis-states the facts; deeming him to be unreasonable
and intolerant; that preaching was incompatible with his calling,
and that he ought not to have sacrificed his liberty in such a
cause! The poet-laureate makes these assertions, knowing the vast
benefits which sprung from the determined piety and honesty of
the persecuted preacher. Would not By-ends, Facing-both-ways, and
Save-all, have jumped to the same conclusion?

230. Vol. i., p. 56.

231. Every Christian should read the appalling account of these
sufferings, recently published under the title of Ladies of the
Covenant.

232. Vol. iii., p. 17.

233. History of Baptists, vol. ii., p. 172. Robinson was a nephew
of Archbishop Laud, and appeared to inherit his evil spirit.

234. Wilson's History of Dissenting Churches, and the Trial of
Rosewell.

235. Vol. i., p. 198; and Grace Abounding, No. 326.

236. Vol. i., p. 48.

237. Baptized at Elstow, July 20, 1650.

238. Vol. i., p. 168.

239. Vol. ii., p. 279.

240. Vol. ii., p. 733.

241. Vol. i., p. 60.

242. The cut, copied from an old drawing of the house taken before
its entire demotion, at the end of last century, exhibits its quaint
characteristics. The bridge foot is to the spectator's right; the
church tower behind is that of St. Mary's, also seen in our view
of the jail, which would, of course, be seen from the bow-windows
of the old inn, in which the Judges met.

243. Vol. i., p. 60.

244. Lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress.

245. This valuable set of books came into the possession of my old
friend Mr. Wontner, of the Minories, London; it descended at his
decease, to his widow, who resided on Camberwell Green, and from
her to a daughter, married to Mr. Parnel, an orange merchant in
Botolph Lane. He was tempted to sell it to Mr. Bohn, the bookseller,
from whom it was bought for the Bedford library.

246. Charles Doe in Heavenly Footman, 2d edition, 1700.

247. Introduction to the Pilgrim, vol. iii., p. 6, 7.

248. Psalmody Edit., 1775, p. 137. George Whitefield, in recommending
the works of Bunyan, says, 'Ministers never write or preach so well
as when under the cross; the Spirit of Christ and of glory shall
rest upon them' [Preface to Bunyan's Works, 1767]. Admiring the
courage and honesty of Bunyan, when alluding to the Prayer-Book,
we earnestly unite in his petition--'The Lord in mercy turn the
hearts of his people, to seek more after the Spirit of prayer, and,
in the strength of that, to pour out their souls before the Lord.'

249. This was published in 1698.

250. Heavenly Footman, 2d edition, 1700, p. 126.

251. Vol. iii., p. 397, 398.

252. This deeply interesting book is dedicated to four sorts of
readers--the godly, the learned, the captious, and to the mother
of harlots. To her he says, 'I have nothing here to please your
wanton eye, or voluptuous palate; no paint for thy wrinkled face,
nor crutch to support thy tottering kingdom.' It is a very amusing
preface.

253. Vol. iii., p. 610.

254. Vol. i., p. 4.

255. Author's Apology for the Pilgrim.

256. Vol. i., p. 602.

257. Vol. iii., p. 7.

258. Grace Abounding, No. 322.

259. Vol. i., p. 65.

260. Vol. i., p. 741.

261. This jug is in possession of Mrs. Hillyard, widow of the late
Mr. Hillyard, who was minister of the chapel for fifty years, and
died in 1839. One tradition says the jug was used as noted in the
text; another that his broth was brought to 'chapel' in it, for
his Sunday dinner, in the vestry.

262. Vol. ii., p. 737-739.

263. 2 Cor 1:5; vol. ii., p. 735.

264. Vol. ii., p. 700.

265. Vol. i., p. 47.

266. Vol. i., p. 278; and vol. iii., p. 13.

267. Vol. ii., p. 593.

268. Vol. ii., p. 594.--Heroic man! British Christians are most
deeply indebted to thee, and thy fellow-sufferers, for the high
privileges they now enjoy. May thy name be had in everlasting
remembrance.

269. Vol. i., p. 62.

270. It has been doubted whether he was justified in thus making
excursions from the prison. This may be answered by the question--Was
Peter justified in leaving the prison, and going to the prayer-meeting
at Mary's house? Acts 12:7-19.

271. Vol. iii., p. 19.

272. Rapin.

273. For an accurate copy of this declaration, see vol. iii., p.
21.

274. The ecclesiastical year commenced in March. The tenth month
means December.

275. For a copy of these licenses, see vol. iii., p. 24.

276. 4to, vol. vii., p. 75.

277. I am greatly indebted to J. P. Brown, Esq., James Street,
Islington, for directing my attention to these letters.

278. Vol. iii., pp. 21-29.

279. Vol. iii., p. 27.

280. Vol. i., p. 47; No. 319.

281. Jukes' History of Bunyan's Church, p. 24.

282. Continuation of Life to Grace Abounding.

283. It is generally believed at Bedford, that, after Bunyan was
imprisoned, his family removed from Elstow to Bedford, in order
that they might have more frequent access to him; and that, on his
release, he made his abode there. His humble dwelling was much like
that of his father at Elstow, most unassuming; just such a cottage
as a poor wounded sinner would feel at home in when visiting his
pastor for advice. The late Rev. J. Geard, of Hitchin, in his Diary,
says--'July 17, 1774. I preached, for the first time, at Bedford,
to the successors of good Mr. Bunyan's congregation, and the next
day called at the house where he used to live, and went into the
room that tradition reported was his study. This house, though it
had been the habitation of so truly great a man, was now let for
about 40s. per annum.' Allowing for the difference in the value of
money, Bunyan would have now paid 16s. a-year rent for his humble
abode. It will be always matter of regret, that it was not purchased
and preserved by the members of the 'Old Meeting,' when it was
offered them before its destruction; we procured, however, a drawing
of it, which is here engraved. The cottage was in the parish of
St. Cuthbert, in the street opposite the meeting-house, and here
Bunyan lived, while he was pastor, from 1681 to 1688.

284. Pilgrim, vol. iii., p. 198.

285. Vol. ii., p. 649.

286. Vol. ii., p. 538.

287. Vol. ii., p. 219.

288. Vol. i., p. 757.

289. Vol. ii., 649.

290. Vol. ii., p. 638.

291. Vol. ii., p. 641.

292. Vol. iii., p. 758.

293. Christian Church, 8vo, 1747, p. 280.

294. The General Doctrine of Toleration, applied to Free Communion,
p. 8. George Whitefield most warmly approved the communion of all
God's saints with each other. This, I must own, more particularly
endears Mr. Bunyan to my heart. He was of a catholic spirit. The
want of water (adult baptism), with this man of God, was no bar to
outward Christian communion. And I am persuaded that if, like him,
we were more deeply and experimentally baptized into the benign and
gracious influences of the blessed Spirit, we should be less baptized
into the waters of strife about circumstantials and non-essentials.
For being thereby rooted and grounded in the love of God, we should
necessarily be constrained to think and let think, bear with and
forbear one another in love, and without saying, I am of Paul,
Apollos, or Cephas; have but one grand, laudable, disinterested
strife, namely, who should live, preach, and exalt the ever-loving,
altogether-lovely Jesus most.

295. Vol. iii., p. 398.

296. He hesitated as to the propriety of publishing it, probably
from the influence of the weighty opinion of Martin Luther. 'The
people are greatly delighted with allegories and similitudes, and
therefore Christ oftentimes useth them; for they are, as it were,
certain pictures which set forth things as if they were painted
before our eyes. Paul was a marvelous cunning workman in handling
allegories, but Origen and Jerome turn plain Scriptures into
unfit and foolish allegories. Therefore, to use allegories, it is
oftentimes a very dangerous thing' [Com. on Gal. iv. 21]. Such
instructions, from one he so much venerated, curbed his exuberant
imagination, and made him doubly watchful, lest allegorizing upon
subjects of such vast importance might 'darken counsel by words
without knowledge.'

297. Vol. iii., p. 739.

298. Even Dean Swift, in his popular Letter to a Young Divine,
says, 'I have been better entertained, and more informed by a few
pages in the Pilgrim's Progress, than by a long discourse upon
the will and the intellect, and simple and complex ideas.' Nothing
short of extraordinary merit could have called for such a eulogy
from so severe a critic.

299. Vol. iii., p. 166.

300. Within the Editor's memory, polished writers hesitated to
name our incomparable allegorist, on account of his humble name
and education. Thus Cowper sang--

'I name thee not, lest so despised a name Should move a sneer at
thy deserved fame.'

Now nearly all men find it difficult to do that name sufficient
honour. One of the most splendid steam-ships in America is called
after his name. A magnificent ship, for the China trade, was built
at Aberdeen by Walter Hood & Co., which so swiftly traversed the
ocean as to have made the voyage from Canton to London in ninety-nine
days, without any aid from steam. This beautiful and grand specimen
of the perfection of naval architecture is named The John Bunyan.
Roman Catholics have printed large editions of the Pilgrim, with
slight omissions, for circulation among the young under the care of
the nuns. Our English fanatics have committed a crime that would
make a papist blush. A Rev. E. Neale has clumsily altered the
Pilgrim's Progress, that Bunyan might appear to teach the things
which Bunyan's righteous heaven-born soul abhorred. It is a piece
of matchless self-conceit to think of mending that which has been
admired by the wisest of the human race in all nations, and which
has obtained an unbounded popularity. Such an attempt to alter it
is an acknowledgment that all the boasted power of Oxford, Exeter,
and Rome, are unable to invent a tale to supersede the matchless
beauties of the work of our spiritually-minded, heavenly-assisted
brazier. If Mr. Neale should, at any time, alter a deed and the
punishment for that felony is transportation for life. A similar
forgery was committed in a recent London edition of Dr. Cheever's
Hill Difficulty. The Tractarians, doubtless, commit these scandalous
outrages upon the Fathers, and all other writers, and deserve the
contempt of every honest, upright mind.

301. Vol. i., p. 473.

302. Vol. i., p. 480.

303. Two views of this meeting-house, an exterior and interior, after
its conversion into a workshop, are given in the Plate facing page
i. of this Memoir. In the interior, part of the beams and pillars
that supported the gallery still remain.

304. Toplady's Works, vol. iv., p. 463.

305. Vol. iii., p. 637.

306. One of his anecdotes is remarkable, as exhibiting the state
of medical knowledge in his neighbourhood. A poor wretch, who had
taught his son to blaspheme, was affected with a nervous twisting
of the muscles of his chest. This was supposed to arise from
a Satanic possession. One Freeman, a more than ordinary doctor,
attempted the cure. They bound the patient to a form, with his head
hanging down over the end; set a pan of coals under his mouth, and
put something therein that made a great smoke, to fetch out the
devil. There they kept the man till he was almost smothered, but
no devil came out of him [Vol. iii., p. 605]. The death-bed scene
of the broken-hearted Mrs. Badman, is delicately and beautifully
drawn.

307. Sutcliff's History of Bunyan's Church.

308. Vol. iii., p. 245.

309. A beautiful satire is contained in the account of the
traitors--tradition, human wisdom, and man's invention. This picture
is drawn by an inimitable artist. Nor have we seen anything more
admirably adapted to the present state of our Tractarian times.
Vol. iii. 277.

310. Vol. i., p. 22, No. 128.

311. Vol. ii., p. 574.

312. Life, 1692.

313. Grace Abounding (continued), vol. i., p. 63, and Life, 1692.

314. Vol. i., p. 505.

315. Vol. i., p. 719.

316. Vol. i., p. 753.

317. Some of the wax remains, but the coin is lost.

318. Vol. iii., p. 763.

319. Vol. i., p. 81.

320. Mr. Philip, Critique on Bunyan, p. vi. and xvi.

321. Vol. ii., p. 425.

322. Vol. iii., p. 766.

323. Grace Abounding, 1692.

324. No. 25, E.; 26, W.; 26, N.; 27, S.

325. As matters of curious interest to all lovers of Bunyan, we
insert, in the accompanying page, engravings of these relics, from
drawings by Mr. Edward Offor.

326. The chair is engraved above, and it will be seen that it has
suffered some little dilapidation since the last published engraving
of it. The legs have been cut down to suit the height of one of
his successors in the ministry!! With regard to the pulpit, an old
resident in Bedford says--The celebrated John Howard presented a
new pulpit in the room of the old one, which was cut up. Of part
of the wood a table was made, which now belongs to Mrs. Hillyerd.

327. Vol. iii., p. 297.

328. Vol. i., p. 714.

329. Vol. i., p. 686.

330. Vol. i., pp. 690, 691.

331. Vol. ii., p. 261.

332. Vol. iii., p. 748.

333. It is noticed, in a letter to the Secretary for Ireland,
dated September 6, 1688--'On teusday last died the Lord Mayor Sir
J. Shorter. A few days before died Bunnian his lordship's teacher
or chaplain a man said to be gifted that way though once a cobler'
[Ellis's Cor., vol. ii., p. 161]. We can excuse the sarcasm of a
Roman Catholic, and with equal good nature, and more truth, remark,
that the great and eminent pope, Sixtus V., was once a swineherd--not
a bad school in which to study how to keep up a despotic sway over
the Papacy.

334. Vol. iii., p. 308.

335. Law and Grace, marg., vol. i., p. 524.

336. Vol. ii., p. 651.

337. Vol. i., pp. 634, 635.

338. Vol. ii., p. 653.

339. Vol. i., p. 647.

340. Vol. ii., p. 15.

341. Vol. ii., p. 497.

342. Vol. iii., p. 251.

343. Emblem xiv., vol. iii., p. 751.

344. Christ is made known by the sufferings of his saints, vol.
ii., p. 701, and note.

345. Vol. iii., p. 751, and note.

346. Vol. iii., p. 595.

347. Vol. ii., p. 22.

348. Vol. ii., p. 257.

349. Works, folio, 1693.

***

GRACE ABOUNDING TO THE CHIEF OF SINNERS:

A BRIEF AND FAITHFUL RELATION OF THE EXCEEDING MERCY OF GOD IN
CHRIST TO HIS POOR SERVANT, JOHN BUNYAN;

WHEREIN IS PARTICULARLY SHOWED THE MANNER OF HIS CONVERSION, HIS
SIGHT AND TROUBLE FOR SIN, HIS DREADFUL TEMPTATIONS, ALSO HOW HE
DESPAIRED OF GOD'S MERCY, AND HOW THE LORD AT LENGTH THROUGH CHRIST
DID DELIVER HIM FROM ALL THE GUILT AND TERROR THAT LAY UPON HIM.

Whereunto is added a brief relation of his call to the work of
the ministry, of his temptations therein, as also what he hath met
with in prison. All which was written by his own hand there, and
now published for the support of the weak and tempted people of
God.

"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he
hath done for my soul."--Psalm 66:16.

London: Printed by George Larkin, 1666.

This title page was afterwards altered, and instead of what follows
the first line, he inserted,

Or a brief and faithful relation of the exceeding mercy of God in
Christ to his poor servant, John Bunyan; namely, in his taking of
him out of the dunghill, and converting of him to the faith of his
blessed Son, Jesus Christ. Here is also particularly showed, what
sight of, and what trouble he had for sin; and also what various
temptations he hath met with, and how God hath carried him through
them.

Corrected and much enlarged now by the Author, for the benefit of
the tempted and dejected Christian.

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.

The great utility of remarkable accounts of the ways of God in
bringing his sheep into the fold, must be admitted by all. The Bible
abounds with these manifestations of Divine grace from the gentle
voice that called Samuel, even unto the thunder which penetrated
the soul of one, who followed the church with continued malignity,
calling unto him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"--a voice
so terrible, and accompanied by such a flood of light, as to strike
the persecutor to the earth, and for a season to deprive him of
sight.

The 'Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners' is doubly interesting,
as it unfolds to us not only the return of a notorious prodigal,
but a wondrous system of education, by which a chosen man was fitted
for a wondrous work; heavenly and spiritual learning, which could
not have been obtained in all the schools and universities in the
world. It enabled a poor, vile, unlettered rebel--a blasphemous
travelling tinker, to become a most eminent preacher; one whose
native powers, sanctified by harrowing but hallowing feelings,
attracted the deep attention of the most learned and pious of his
contemporaries, while it carried conviction to the most impious and
profane. Even beyond all this, his spiritual acquirements fitted
him, without scholastic learning, to become the most popular, the
most attractive, the most useful of English authors. His works
increase remarkably in popularity. As time rolls on, they are still
read with deeper and deeper interest, while his bodily presence
and labours mingle in the records of the events of bygone ages.

Bunyan's account of his singular trials and temptations may have
excited alarm in the minds of some young Christians lest they should
be in an unconverted state, because they have not been called to
pass through a similar mode of training. Pray recollect, my dear
young Christian, that all are not called to such important public
labours as Bunyan, or Whitfield, or Wesley. All the members of
the Christian family are trained to fit them for their respective
positions in the church of Christ. It is a pleasant and profitable
exercise to look back to the day of our espousals, and trace the
operations of Divine grace in digging us from the hole of the pit;
but the important question with us all should be, not so much HOW
we became enlightened, but NOW do we love Christ? Now do we regret
our want of greater conformity to his image? If we can honestly
answer these questions in the affirmative, we are believers, and
can claim our part in that precious promise, "Whosoever liveth
and believeth in me shall never die." Spiritual life is ours, and
eternal life is essentially connected with it, and must be our portion,
without an inquiry into the means by which we were called, whether
by the thunders and lighting of Sinai, as Paul was smitten, or by
the "still small voice" (Acts 9:3,4; 1 Kings 19:12; Job 4:16,17).

The value of such a narrative to a terror-stricken prodigal is
vividly shown by Bunyan, in his 'Jerusalem Sinner Saved,' in one
of those colloquial pieces of composition in which he eminently
shone. 'Satan is loath to part with a great sinner. "What, my true
servant," quoth he, "my old servant, wilt thou forsake me now?
Having so often sold thyself to me to work wickedness, wilt thou
forsake me now? Thou horrible wretch, dost not know, that thou hast
sinned thyself beyond the reach of grace, and dost think to find
mercy now? Art not thou a murderer, a thief, a harlot, a witch,
a sinner of the greatest size, and dost thou look for mercy now?
Dost thou think that Christ will foul his fingers with thee? It
is enough to make angels blush, saith Satan, to see so vile a one
knock at heaven-gates for mercy, and wilt thou be so abominably
bold to do it?" Thus Satan dealt with me, says the great sinner,
when at first I came to Jesus Christ. And what did you reply? Saith
the tempted. Why, I granted the whole charge to be true, says the
other. And what, did you despair, or how? No, saith he, I said, I
am Magdalene, I am Zacheus, I am the thief, I am the harlot, I am
the publican, I am the prodigal, and one of Christ's murderers; yea,
worse than any of these; and yet God was so far off from rejecting
of me, as I found afterwards, that there was music and dancing
in his house for me, and for joy that I was come home unto him. O
blessed be God for grace, says the other, for then I hope there is
favour for me.'

The 'Grace Abounding' is a part of Bunyan's prison meditations,
and strongly reminds us of the conversation between Christian and
Hopeful on the enchanted ground.

'Christian. Now then, to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us
fall into good discourse.

'Hopeful. With all my heart.

'Christian. Where shall we begin?

'Hopeful. Where God began with us.'

To prevent drowsiness, to beguile the time, he looks back to his
past experience, and the prison became his Patmos--the gate of
heaven--a Bethel, in which his time was occupied in writing for
the benefit of his fellow-Christians. He looks back upon all the
wondrous way through which the Lord had led him from the City of
Destruction to Mount Zion. While writing his own spiritual pilgrimage,
his great work broke upon his imagination.


   'And thus it was: I writing of the way,
    And race of saints, in this our gospel day,
    Fell suddenly into an allegory
    About their journey, and the way to glory.'


'As you read the "Grace Abounding," you are ready to say at every
step, here is the future author of the "Pilgrim's Progress." It
is as if you stood beside some great sculptor, and watched every
movement of his chisel, having seen his design; so that at every
blow some new trait of beauty in the future statue comes clearly
into view.'[1]

A great difference of opinion has been expressed by learned men as
to whether Bunyan's account of himself is to be understood literally,
as it respects his bad conduct before his conversion, or whether
he views himself through a glass, by which his evil habits are
magnified. No one can doubt his perfect honesty. He plainly narrates
his bad, as well as his redeeming qualities; nor does his narrative
appear to be exaggerated. He was the son of a travelling tinker,
probably a gipsy, 'the meanest and most despised rank in the land';
when, alarmed at his sins, recollection that the Israelites were
once the chosen people of God, he asked his father, whether he was
of that race; as if he thought that his family were of some peculiar
people, and it was easy for such a lad to blend the Egyptians with
the Israelitish race. When he was defamed, his slanderers called
him a witch, or fortune teller, a Jesuit, a highwayman, or the like.
Brought up to his father's trade, with his evil habits unchecked, he
became a very depraved lad; and when he states his sad character,
it is with a solemn pledge that his account is strictly true. Probably,
with a view to the full gratification of his sinful propensities,
he entered the army, and served among the profligate soldiers of
Charles I at the siege of Leicester.[2]

During this time, he was ill at ease; he felt convinced of sin,
or righteousness, and of judgment, without a hope of mercy. Hence
his misery and internal conflicts, perhaps the most remarkable
of any upon record. His own Giant Despair seized him with an iron
grasp. He felt himself surrounded by invisible beings, and in the
immediate presence of a holy God. By day, he was bewildered with
tormenting visions, and by night alarming dreams presented themselves
to him upon his bed. The fictitious appeared to his terrified
imagination realities. His excited spirit became familiar with
shapeless forms and fearful powers. The sorrows of death, and the
pains of hell, got hold upon him. His internal conflict was truly
horrible, as one who thought himself under the power of demons;
they whispered in his ears--pulled his clothes; he madly fought,
striking at imaginary shades with his hands, and stamping with
his feet at the destroyer. Thoughts of the unpardonable sin beset
him, his powerful bodily frame became convulsed with agony, as if
his breast bone would split, and he burst asunder like Judas. He
possessed a most prolific mind, affording constant nourishment to
this excited state of his feelings. He thought that he should be
bereft of his wits; than a voice rushed in at the window like the
noise of wind, very pleasant, and produced a great calm in his
soul. His intervals of ease, however, were short; the recollection
of his sins, and a fear that he had sold his Saviour, haunted his
affrighted spirit. His soul became so tormented, as to suggest to
his ideas the suffering of a malefactor broken upon the wheel. The
climax of these terrors is narrated at paragraph No. 187. 'Thus was
I always sinking, whatever I did think or do. So one day I walked
to a neighbouring town, and sat down upon a settle in the street,
and fell into a very deep pause about the most fearful state my
sin had brought me to; and, after long musing, I lifted up my head,
but methought I saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens did
grudge to give light; and as if the very stones in the street, and
tiles upon the houses, did bend themselves against me; methought
that they all combined together, to banish me out of the world; I
was abhorred of them, and unfit to dwell among them, or be a partaker
of their benefits, because I had sinned against the Saviour.' In
this deep abyss of misery, THAT love which has heights and depths
passing knowledge, laid under him the everlasting arms, and raised
him from the horrible pit in miry clay, when no human powers could
have reached his case. Dr. Cheever eloquently remarks, that 'it was
through this valley of the shadow of death, overhung by darkness,
peopled with devils, resounding with blasphemy and lamentations;
and passing amidst quagmires and pitfalls, close by the very mouth
of hell, that Bunyan journeyed to that bright and fruitful land
of Beulah, in which he sojourned during the latter days of his
pilgrimage.' The only trace which his cruel sufferings and temptations
seen to have left behind them, was an affectionate compassion for
those who were still in the state in which he had once been.

Young Christians, you must not imagine that all these terrors are
absolute prerequisites to faith in the Saviour. God, as a sovereign,
calls his children to himself by various ways. Bunyan's was a very
extraordinary case, partly from his early habits--his excitable
mind, at a period so calculated to fan a spark of such feelings
into a flame. His extraordinary inventive faculties, softened down
and hallowed by this fearful experience, became fitted for most
extensive usefulness.

To eulogize this narrative, would be like 'gilding refined gold';
but I cannot help remarking, among a multitude of deeply interesting
passages, his observations upon that honest open avowal of Christian
principles, which brought down severe persecution upon him. They
excite our tenderest sympathy; his being dragged from his home and
wife and children, he says, 'hath oft been to me, as the pulling
my flesh from my bones; my poor blind child, what sorrow art thou
like to have for thy portion in this world! thou must be beaten,
must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities,
though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. O, I saw
I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his
wife and children; yet, recollecting myself, thought I, I must
venture you all with God.' How awful must be the state of the
wretched persecutor, who occasions such sufferings to the children
of the most high God!

In this edition, the greatest care has been taken to preserve the
exact words of the author, as he first published them; where he
altered or added to the text in subsequent editions, it is marked
with an inverted comma, or inserted in the notes. Obsolete words and
customs are explained; the numbering of his sections is continued,
in addition to which, it is divided into chapters for family reading,
upon the plan of the late Rev. J. Ivimey; double inverted commas
denote quotations of Scripture.

The reader is strongly pressed to keep in his recollection
the peculiar use made of the word should, by the author in this
narrative. It is from the Saxon scealan, to be obliged. Thus, in
the Saxon gospels (Matt 27:15), "the governor should release unto
the people a prisoner"; in our version it is, "was wont to release,"
meaning that custom compelled him so to do. In Bunyan's phraseology,
the word should is used in the same sense, that is, to show that,
under peculiar circumstances, his feelings or position involuntarily
produced a certain result. Thus, in No. 6, Troubled with the thoughts
of judgment and condemnation I should tremble; and in No. 15, The
father of his wife having left her two books, in these I should
sometimes read; probably the only books he then had. It is remarkable,
that although the Saxon language had not been spoken in Bedfordshire
for many centuries, still many valuable words remained in use.

The order in which this thrilling narrative of Bunyan's religious
feelings and experience is now for the first time published, is, I.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners--his call to the ministry,
and his imprisonment for refusing to attend the Church of England
service. II. His Relation of the Circumstances attending his
incarceration in Bedford Jail. III. The continuation of his Life
to his decease, written by one of his friends, and always printed
with Grace Abounding. IV. His Dying Thoughts. V. His Prison
Meditations--verses which were probably sold on a broadside or sheet
of paper by his children, to procure necessaries for his family.

The length of the notes may need some apology; the only one the
editor can make is his veneration for John Bunyan, and his earnest
desire to render this inestimable book more deeply interesting, by
explaining manners, customs, and words not now in use; the note on
No. 232, occupied the time of one whole day.

The errors, omissions, and additions, which existed to a most
extraordinary extent through the book, have been corrected, and the
text restored to its primitive beauty; among many hundred of these
errors, one may suffice as a specimen; it is in Bunyan's preface,
'God did not play in convincing of me, the devil did not play in
tempting of me,' this is altered in many editions to 'God did not
play in tempting of me.'

Most earnestly do I hope that this republication, now for the first
time, for nearly two hundred years, given in its native excellence
and purity, may be attended with the Divine blessing, to the comfort
of many despairing Jerusalem sinners; to the building up of the
church of Christ on earth; to the extension of pure, heart-felt,
genuine Christianity; and to the confusion of the persecutors. They
intended, by shutting the pious pilgrim up in a dungeon, to prevent
his voice from being heard to the comfort of his poor neighbours,
and by which violence, his persecutors have caused his voice to
burst the prison doors and walls, and to be heard over the whole
world. His 'Pilgrim's Progress,' which was written in prison, has
been, and now is, a guide to Christian pilgrims of all nations,
kindreds, tribes, and people, teaching them not to rest content
in any national religion, but personally to search the Scriptures,
with earnest supplications to the God of mercy and truth, that they
may be guided to Christ, as the Alpha and Omega of their salvation.

GEORGE OFFOR.

A PREFACE, OR BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PUBLISHING OF THIS WORK, WRITTEN
BY THE AUTHOR THEREOF, AND DEDICATED TO THOSE WHOM GOD HATH COUNTED
HIM WORTHY TO BEGET TO FAITH, BY HIS MINISTRY IN THE WORD.

Children, grace be with you, Amen. I being taken from you in presence,
and so tied up, that I cannot perform that duty that from God doth
lie upon me to youward, for your further edifying and building
up in faith and holiness, &c., yet that you may see my soul hath
fatherly care and desire after your spiritual and everlasting
welfare; I now once again, as before, from the top of Shenir and
Hermon, so 'now' from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the
leopards (Song 4:8), do look yet after you all, greatly longing to
see your safe arrival into the desired haven.[3]

I thank God upon every remembrance of you; and rejoice, even while
I stick between the teeth of the lions in the wilderness, at the
grace, and mercy, and knowledge of Christ our saviour, which God
hath bestowed upon you, with abundance of faith and love. Your
hungerings and thirstings also after further acquaintance with the
Father, in his Son; your tenderness of heart, your trembling at
sin, your sober and holy deportment also, before both God and men,
is great refreshment to me; "For ye are my glory and joy" (1 Thess
2:20).

I have sent you here enclosed, a drop of that honey, that I have
taken out of the carcase of a lion (Judg 14:5-9). I have eaten
thereof myself also, and am much refreshed thereby. (Temptations,
when we meet them at first, are as the lion that roared upon Samson;
but if we overcome them, the next time we see them, we shall find
a nest of honey within them.) The Philistines understand me not. It
is 'something of' a relation of the work of God upon my own soul,
even from the very first, till now; wherein you may perceive
my castings down, and raisings up; for he woundeth, and his hands
make whole. It is written in the Scripture (Isa 38:19), "The father
to the children shall make known the truth of God." Yea, it was
for this reason I lay so long at Sinai (Deut 4:10,11), to see the
fire, and the cloud, and the darkness, that I might fear the Lord
all the days of my life upon earth, and tell of his wondrous works
to my children (Psa 78:3-5).

Moses (Num 33:1,2) writ of the journeyings of the children of
Israel, from Egypt to the land of Canaan; and commanded also, that
they did remember their forty years' travel in the wilderness.
"Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee
these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove
thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep
his commandments, or no" (Deut 8:2). Wherefore this I have endeavoured
to do; and not only so, but to publish it also; that, if God will,
others may be put in remembrance of what he hath done for their
souls, by reading his work upon me.

It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the
very beginnings of grace with their souls. "It is a night to be
much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land
of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the
children of Israel in their generations" (Exo 12:42). "O my God,"
saith David (Psa 42:6), "my soul is cast down within me; therefore
will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites,
from the hill Mizar." He remembered also the lion and the bear,
when he went to fight with the giant of Gath (1 Sam 17:36,37).

It was Paul's accustomed manner (Acts 22), and that when tried for
his life (Acts 24), even to open, before his judges, the manner of
his conversion: he would think of that day, and that hour, in the
which he first did meet with grace;[4] for he found it support
unto him. When God had brought the children of Israel through the
Red Sea, far into the wilderness, yet they must turn quite about
thither again, to remember the drowning of their enemies there
(Num 14:25). For though they sang his praise before, yet "they soon
forgat his works" (Psa 106:11-13).

In this discourse of mine you may see much; much, I say, of the
grace of God towards me. I thank God I can count it much, for it
was above my sins and Satan's temptations too. I can remember my
fears, and doubts, and sad months with comfort; they are as the head
of Goliah in my hand. There was nothing to David like Goliah's
sword, even that sword that should have been sheathed in his bowels;
for the very sight and remembrance of that did preach forth God's
deliverance to him. Oh, the remembrance of my great sins, of my
great temptations, and of my great fears of perishing for ever!
They bring afresh into my mind the remembrance of my great help,
my great support from heaven, and that the great grace that God
extended to such a wretch as I.

My dear children, call to mind the former days, "and the years of
ancient times: remember also your songs in the night; and commune
with your own heart" (Psa 73:5-12). Yea, look diligently, and leave
no corner therein unsearched, for there is treasure hid, even the
treasure of your first and second experience of the grace of God
toward you. Remember, I say, the word that first laid hold upon
you; remember your terrors of conscience, and fear of death and
hell; remember also your tears and prayers to God; yea, how you
sighed under every hedge for mercy. Have you never a hill Mizar to
remember? Have you forgot the close, the milk house, the stable,
the barn, and the like, where God did visit your soul?[5] Remember
also the Word--the Word, I say, upon which the Lord hath caused
you to hope. If you have sinned against light; if you are tempted
to blaspheme; if you are down in despair; if you think God fights
against you; or if heaven is hid from your eyes, remember it was
thus with your father, but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

I could have enlarged much in this my discourse, of my temptations
and troubles for sin; as also of the merciful kindness and working
of God with my soul. I could also have stepped into a style much
higher than this in which I have here discoursed, and could have
adorned all things more than here I have seemed to do, but I dare
not. God did not play in convincing of me, the devil did not play
in tempting of me, neither did I play when I sunk as into a bottomless
pit, when the pangs of hell caught hold upon me; wherefore I may
not play in my relating of them, but be plain and simple, and lay
down the thing as it was. He that liketh it, let him receive it;
and he that does not, let him produce a better. Farewell.

My dear children, the milk and honey is beyond this wilderness. God
be merciful to you, and grant 'that' you be not slothful to go in
to possess the land.

JOHN BUNYAN.

GRACE ABOUNDING TO THE CHIEF OF SINNERS; OR, A BRIEF RELATION OF
THE EXCEEDING MERCY OF GOD IN CHRIST, TO HIS POOR SERVANT, JOHN
BUNYAN.

[BUNYAN'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF PREVIOUS TO HIS CONVERSION.]

1. In this my relation of the merciful working of God upon my soul,
it will not be amiss, if, in the first place, I do, in a few words,
give you a hint of my pedigree, and manner of bringing up; that
thereby the goodness and bounty of God towards me, may be the more
advanced and magnified before the sons of men.

2. For my descent then, it was, as is well known by many, of a
low and inconsiderable generation; my father's house being of that
rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families in the
land.[6] Wherefore I have not here, as others, to boast of noble
blood, or of a high-born state, according to the flesh; though,
all things considered, I magnify the heavenly Majesty, for that by
this door he brought me into this world, to partake of the grace
and life that is in Christ by the gospel.

3. But yet, notwithstanding the meanness and inconsiderableness
of my parents, it pleased God to put it into their hearts to put
me to school, to learn both to read and write; the which I also
attained, according to the rate of other poor men's children;[7]
though, to my shame I confess, I did soon lose that little I learned,
and that even almost utterly, and that long before the Lord did
work his gracious work of conversion upon my soul.

4. As for my own natural life, for the time that I was without God
in the world, it was indeed according to the course of this world,
and "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience"
(Eph 2:2,3). It was my delight to be "taken captive by the devil
at his will" (2 Tim 2:26). Being filled with all unrighteousness:
the which did also so strongly work and put forth itself, both in my
heart and life, and that from a child, that I had but few equals,
especially considering my years, which were tender, being few, both
for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God.

5. Yea, so settled and rooted was I in these things, that they
became as a second nature to me; the which, as I also have with
soberness considered since, 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; for often, after I had
spent this and the other day in sin, I have in my bed been greatly
afflicted, while asleep, with the 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.

6. Also I should, at these years, be greatly afflicted and troubled
with the thoughts of the day of judgment, and that both night and
day, and should tremble at the thoughts of the fearful torments
of hell fire; still fearing that it would be my lot to be found at
last amongst those devils and hellish fiends, who are there bound
down with the chains and bonds of eternal darkness, "unto the
judgment of the great day."

7. These things, I say, when I was but a child, 'but nine or ten
years old,' did so distress my soul, that when in the midst of my
many sports and childish vanities, amidst my vain companions, I
was often much cast down and afflicted in my mind therewith, yet
could I not let go my sins. Yea, I was 'also then' 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
they were only tormentors; that if it must needs be that I went
thither, I might be rather a tormentor, than 'be' tormented myself.

8. A while after, these terrible dreams did leave me, which also I
soon forgot; for my pleasures did quickly cut off the remembrance
of them, as if they had never been: wherefore, with more greediness,
according to the strength of nature, I did still let loose the
reins to my lusts, and delighted in all transgression against the
law of God: so that, until I came to the state of marriage, I was
the very ringleader of all the youth that kept me company, into
all manner of vice and ungodliness.[8]

9. Yea, such prevalency had the lusts and fruits of the flesh in
this poor soul of mine, that had not a miracle of precious grace
prevented, I had not only perished by the stroke of eternal justice,
but had also laid myself open, even to the stroke of those laws,
which bring some to disgrace and open shame before the face of the
world.

10. In these days, the thoughts of religion were very grievous to
me; I could neither endure it myself, nor that any other should;
so that, when I have seen some read in those books that concerned
Christian piety, it would be as it were a prison to me. Then I
said unto God, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of
thy ways" (Job 21:14). I was now void of all good consideration,
heaven and hell were both out of sight and mind; and as for saving
and damning, they were least in my thoughts.[9] O Lord, thou knowest
my life, and my ways were not hid from thee.

11. Yet this I well remember, that though I could myself sin with the
greatest delight and ease, and also take pleasure in the vileness
of my companions; yet, even then, if I have at any time seen wicked
things, by those who professed goodness, it would make my spirit
tremble. As once, above all the rest, when I was in my height of
vanity, yet hearing one to swear that was reckoned for a religious
man, it had so great a stroke upon my spirit, that it made my heart
to ache.

12. 'But God did not utterly leave me, but followed me still, not
now with convictions, but judgments; yet such as were mixed with
mercy. For once I fell into a creek of the sea, and hardly escaped
drowning. Another time I fell out of a boat into Bedford river,
but mercy yet preserved me alive. Besides, another time, being in
the field with one of my companions, it chanced that an adder passed
over the highway; so I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over
the back; and having stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my
stick, and plucked her sting out with my fingers; by which act, had
not God been merciful unto me, I might, by my desperateness, have
brought myself to mine end.'

13. 'This also have I taken notice of with thanksgiving; when I
was a soldier, I, with others, were 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; to which, when I had consented, he took
my place; and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was
shot into the head with a musket bullet, and died.'[10]

14. 'Here, as I said, were judgments and mercy, but neither of them
did awaken my soul to righteousness; wherefore I sinned still, and
grew more and more rebellious against God, and careless of mine
own salvation.'

15. Presently after this, I changed my condition into a married
state, and my mercy was to light upon a wife whose father was
counted godly.[11] This woman and I, though we came together as poor
as poor might be, not having so much household stuff as a dish or
spoon betwixt us both, yet this she had for her part, 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 should sometimes
read with her, wherein I also found some things that were somewhat
pleasing to me; but all this while I met with no conviction. She
also would be often telling of me, what a godly man her father was,
and how he would reprove and correct vice, both in his house, and
amongst his neighbours; what a strict and holy life he lived in
his day, both in word and deed.

16. Wherefore these books with this relation, though they did not
reach my heart, to awaken it about my sad and sinful state, yet
they did beget within me some desires to religion: so that, because
I knew no better, I fell in very eagerly with the religion of the
times; to wit, to go to church twice a day, and that too with the
foremost; and there should very devoutly, both say and sing as others
did, yet retaining my wicked life; but withal, I was so overrun
with a spirit of superstition, that I adored, and that 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 that were therein contained, and especially the
priest and clerk most happy, and without doubt, greatly blessed,
because they were the servants, as I then thought, of God, and were
principal in the holy temple, to do his work therein.

17. This conceit grew so strong in little time upon 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 him,
and knit unto him; yea, I thought for the love I did bear unto
them, supposing they were the ministers of God, I could have lain
down at their feet, and have been trampled upon by them; their
name, their garb, and work, did so intoxicate and bewitch me.

18. After I had been thus for some considerable time, another
thought came into my mind; and that was, whether we were of the
Israelites, or no? For finding in the Scriptures that they were
once the peculiar people of God, thought I, if I were one of this
race, my soul must needs be happy.[12] Now again, I found within
me a great longing to be resolved about this question, but could
not tell how I should. At last I asked my father of it; who told
me--No, we were not. Wherefore then I fell in my spirit as to the
hopes of that, and so remained.

19. But all this while, I was not sensible of the danger and evil
of sin; I was kept from considering that sin would damn me, what
religion soever I followed, unless I was found in Christ. Nay, I
never thought of him, nor whether there was one, or no. Thus man,
while blind, doth wander, but wearieth himself with vanity, for he
knoweth not the way to the city of God (Eccl 10:15).

20. But one day, amongst all the sermons our parson made, his subject
was, to treat of the Sabbath-day, and of the evil of breaking that,
either with labour, sports, or otherwise. Now I was, notwithstanding
my religion, one that took much delight in all manner of vice, and
especially that was the day that I did solace myself therewith,[13]
wherefore I fell in my conscience under his sermon, thinking and
believing that he made that sermon on purpose to show me my evil
doing; and at that time I felt what guilt was, though never before,
that I can remember; but then I was, for the present, greatly
loaden therewith, and so went home when the sermon was ended, with
a great burden upon my spirit.

21. This, for that instant, did 'benumb'[14] the sinews of my 'best'
delights, and did imbitter my former pleasures to me; but behold,
it lasted not, for before I had well dined, the trouble began to go
off my mind, and my heart returned to its old course: but oh! How
glad was I, that this trouble was gone from me, and that the fire
was put out, 'that I might sin again without control!' Wherefore,
when I had satisfied nature with my food, I shook the sermon out
of my mind, and to my old custom of sports and gaming I returned
with great delight.

22. But the same day, as I was in the midst of a game at cat,[15]
and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about
to strike it the second time, a voice did suddenly dart from heaven
into my soul, which said, Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven,
or have thy sins and go to hell? At this I was put to an exceeding
maze; wherefore, leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked up to
heaven, and was, as if I had, with the eyes of my understanding,
seen the Lord Jesus looking down upon me, as being very hotly
displeased with me, and as if he did severely threaten me with some
grievous punishment for these and other my ungodly practices.

23. I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but suddenly this
conclusion was fastened on my spirit, for the former hint did set
my sins again before my face, that I had been a great and grievous
sinner, and that it was now too too late for me to look after heaven;
for Christ would not forgive me, nor pardon my transgressions. Then
I fell to musing upon this also; and while I was thinking on it,
and fearing lest it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair,
concluding it was too late; and therefore I resolved in my mind I
would go on in sin: for, thought I, if the case be thus, my state
is surely miserable; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable
if I follow them; I can but be damned, and if I must be so, I had
as good be damned for many sins, as to be damned for few.

24. Thus I stood in the midst of my play, before all that then were
present; but yet I told them nothing: but I say, I having made this
conclusion, I returned 'desperately' to my sport again; and I well
remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my
soul, that I was persuaded, I could never attain to other comfort
than what I should get in sin; for heaven was gone already, so
that on that I must not think; wherefore I found within me a great
desire to take my fill of sin, still studying what sin was yet to
be committed, that I might taste the sweetness of it; and I made
as much haste as I could to fill my belly with its delicates, lest
I should die before I had my desire; for that I feared greatly. In
these things, I protest before God, I lie not, neither do I feign
this sort of speech; these were really, strongly, and with all
my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose mercy is unsearchable,
forgive me my transgressions.

25. And I am very confident, that this temptation of the devil is
more usual amongst poor creatures than many are aware of, even to
overrun their spirits with a scurvy and seared frame of heart, and
benumbing of conscience; which frame, he stilly and slyly supplieth
with such despair, that though not much guilt attendeth the soul,
yet they continually have a secret conclusion within them, that
there is no hopes for them; for they have loved sins, "therefore
after them they will go" (Jer 2:25, 18:12).

26. Now therefore I went on in sin with great greediness of mind,
still grudging that I could not be so satisfied with it as I would.
This did continue 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, and playing the madman, after my wonted manner, there
sat within, the woman of the house, and heard me, who, though she
was a very loose and ungodly wretch, yet protested that I swore and
cursed at that most fearful rate, that she was made to tremble to
hear me; and told me further, That I was the ungodliest fellow for
swearing that ever she heard in all her life; and that I, by thus
doing, was able to spoil all the youth in a whole town, if they
came but in my company.

27. At this reproof I was silenced, and put to secret shame, and
that too, as I thought, before the God of heaven; wherefore, while
I stood there, and hanging down my head, I wished with all my heart
that I might be a little child again, that my father might learn
me to speak without this wicked way of swearing;[16] for, thought
I, I am so accustomed to it, that it is in vain for me to think of
a reformation, for I thought it could never be.

28. But how it came to pass, I know not; I did from this time
forward so leave my swearing, that it was a great wonder to myself
to observe it; and whereas before, I knew not how to speak unless
I put an oath before, and another behind, to make my words have
authority; now, I could, 'without it,' speak better, and with more
pleasantness, than ever I could before. All this while I knew not
Jesus Christ, neither did I leave my sports and plays.

29. But quickly after this, I fell in company with one poor
man that made profession of religion; who, as I then thought, did
talk pleasantly of the Scriptures, and of the matters of religion;
wherefore, falling into some love and liking to what he said, I
betook me to my Bible, and began to take great pleasure in reading,
but especially with the historical part thereof; for, as for Paul's
epistles, and Scriptures of that nature, I could not away with
them, being as yet but ignorant, either of the corruptions of my
nature, or of the want and worth of Jesus Christ to save me.

30. Wherefore I fell to some outward reformation, both in my
words and life, and did set the commandments before me for my way
to heaven; which commandments I also did strive to keep, and, as
I thought, did keep them pretty well sometimes, and then I should
have comfort; yet now and then should break one, and so afflict my
conscience; but then I should repent, and say I was sorry for it,
and promise God to do better next time, and there get help again,
'for then I thought I pleased God as well as any man in England.'

31. Thus I continued about a year; all which time our neighbours
did take me to be a very godly man, a new and religious man, and
did marvel much to see such a great and famous alteration in my
life and manners; and, indeed, so it was, though yet I knew not
Christ, nor grace, nor faith, nor hope; and, truly, as I have well
seen since, had then died, my state had been most fearful; well,
this, I say, continued about a twelvemonth or more.

32. 'But, I say, my neighbours were amazed at this my great conversion,
from prodigious profaneness, to something like a moral life; and,
truly, so they well might; for this my conversion was as great, as
for Tom of Bedlam to become a sober man.[17] Now, therefore, they
began to praise, to commend, and to speak well of me, both to my
face, and behind my back. Now, I was, as they said, become godly;
now, I was become a right honest man. But, oh! When I understood
that these were their words and opinions of men, it pleased me
mighty well. For though, as yet, I was nothing but a poor painted
hypocrite, yet I loved to be talked of as one that was truly godly.
I was proud of my godliness, and, indeed, I did all I did, either
to be seen of, or to be well spoken of, by man. And thus I continued
for about a twelvemonth or more.'

33. 'Now, you must know, that before this I had taken much delight
in ringing, but my conscience beginning to be tender, I thought
such practice was but vain, and therefore forced myself to leave it,
yet my mind hankered; wherefore I should go to the steeple house,
and look on it, though I durst not ring. But I thought this did
not become religion neither, yet I forced myself, and would look
on still; but quickly after, I began to think, How, if one of the
bells should fall? Then I chose to stand under a main beam, that
lay overthwart the steeple, from side to side, thinking there I
might stand sure, but then I should think again, should the bell
fall with a swing, it might first hit the wall, and then rebounding
upon me, might kill me for all this beam. This made me stand in the
steeple door; and now, thought I, I am safe enough; for, if a bell
should then fall, I can slip out behind these thick walls, and so
be preserved notwithstanding.'

34. 'So, after this, I would yet go to see them ring, but would not
go further than the steeple door; but then it came into my head,
How, if the steeple itself should fall? And this thought, it may
fall for ought I know, when I stood and looked on, did continually
so shake my mind, that I durst not stand at the steeple door any
longer, but was forced to flee, for fear the steeple should fall
upon my head.'

35. 'Another thing was my dancing; I was a full year before I
could quite leave that; but all this while, when I thought I kept
this or that commandment, or did, by word or deed, anything that
I thought was good, I had great peace in my conscience; and should
think with myself, God cannot choose but be now pleased with me;
yea, to relate it in mine own way, I thought no man in England
could please God better than I.'

36. 'But poor wretch as I was, I was all this while ignorant of
Jesus Christ, and going about to establish my own righteousness;
and had perished therein, had not God, in mercy, showed me more of
my state of nature.'

[HIS CONVERSION AND PAINFUL EXERCISES OF MIND, PREVIOUS TO HIS
JOINING THE CHURCH AT BEDFORD.]

37. But upon a day, the good providence of God did cast me to
Bedford, to work on my calling; and in one of the streets of that
town, I came where there were three or four poor women sitting at
a door in the sun, and talking about the things of God; and being
now willing to hear them discourse, I drew near to hear what they
said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself in the matters of
religion, but now I may say, I heard, but I understood not; for
they were far above, out of my reach; for their talk was about
a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were
convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God
had visited their souls with his love in the Lord Jesus, and with
what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and
supported against the temptations of the devil. Moreover, they
reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular;
and told to each other by which they had been afflicted, and how
they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their
own wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight,
and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to
do them any good.

38. And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they
spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such
appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me, as if
they had found a new world,[18] as if they were people that dwelt
alone, and were not to be reckoned among their neighbours (Num
23:9).

39. At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my
condition to be nought; for I saw that in all my thoughts about
religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my
mind, neither knew I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the
deceitfulness and treachery of my own wicked heart. As for secret
thoughts, I took no notice of them; neither did I understand what
Satan's temptations were, nor how they were to be withstood and
resisted, &c.

40. Thus, therefore, when I had heard and considered what they
said, I left them, and went about my employment again, but their
talk and discourse went with me; also my heart would tarry with
them, for I was greatly affected with their words, both because
by them I was convinced that I wanted the true tokens of a truly
godly man, and also because by them I was convinced of the happy
and blessed condition of him that was such a one.[19]

41. Therefore I should often make it my business to be going again
and again into the company of these poor people, for I could not
stay away; and the more I went amongst them, the more did question my
condition; and as I still do remember, presently I found two things
within me, at which I did sometimes marvel, especially considering
what a blind, ignorant, sordid, and ungodly wretch but just before
I was; the one was a very great softness and tenderness of heart,
which caused me to fall under the conviction of what by Scripture
they asserted; and the other was a great bending in my mind to a
continual meditating on it, and on all other good things which at
any time I heard or read of.

42. 'By these things' my mind was now so turned, that it lay like
a horse leech at the vein, still crying out, Give, give (Prov
30:15); yea, it was so fixed on eternity, and on the things about
the kingdom of heaven, that is, so far as I knew, though as yet,
God knows, I knew but little; that neither pleasures, nor profits,
nor persuasions, nor threats, could loosen it, or make it let go
his hold; and though I may speak it with shame, yet it is in very
deed a certain truth, it would then have been as difficult for
me to have taken my mind from heaven to earth, as I have found it
often since to get it again from earth to heaven.'

43. 'One thing I may not omit: There was a young man in our town,
to whom my heart before was knit more than to any other, but he
being a most wicked creature for cursing, and swearing, and whoring,
I now shook him off, and forsook his company; but about a quarter
of a year after I had left him, I met him in a certain lane,
and asked him how he did; he, after his old swearing and mad way,
answered, He was well. But, Harry, said I, why do you swear and
curse thus? What will become of you, if you die in this condition?
He answered me in a great chafe, What would the devil do for company,
if it were not for such as I am?'

44. 'About this time I met with some Ranters' books, that were put
forth by some of our countrymen, which books were also highly in
esteem by several old professors; some of these I read, but was not
able to make a judgment about them; wherefore as I read in them,
and thought upon them, feeling myself unable to judge, I should
betake myself to hearty prayer in this manner: O Lord, I am a fool,
and not able to know the truth from error: Lord, leave me not to
my own blindness, either to approve of, or condemn this doctrine;
if it be of God, let me not despise it; if it be of the devil, let
me not embrace it. Lord, I lay my soul, in this matter, only at
thy foot; let me not be deceived, I humbly beseech thee. I had
one religious intimate companion all this while, and that was the
poor man that I spoke of before; but about this time he also turned
a most devilish Ranter,[20] and gave himself up to all manner of
filthiness, especially uncleanness: he would also deny that there
was a God, angel, or spirit; and would laugh at all exhortations
to sobriety. When I laboured to rebuke his wickedness, he would
laugh the more, and pretend that he had gone through all religions,
and could never light on the right till now. He told me also, that
in a little time I should see all professors turn to the ways of
the Ranters. Wherefore, abominating those cursed principles, I left
his company forthwith, and became to him as great a stranger, as
I had been before a familiar.'

45. 'Neither was this man only a temptation to me; but my calling
lying in the country, I happened to light into several people's
company, who, though strict in religion formerly, yet were also
swept away by these Ranters. These would also talk with me of their
ways, and condemn me as legal and dark; pretending that they only
had attained to perfection that could do what they would, and
not sin. Oh! These temptations were suitable to my flesh, I being
but a young man, and my nature in its prime; but God, who had, as
I hope, designed me for better things, kept me in the fear of his
name, and did not suffer me to accept of such cursed principles.
And blessed be God, who put it into my heart to cry to him to be
kept and directed, still distrusting mine own wisdom; for I have
since seen even the effect of that prayer, in his preserving me not
only from ranting errors, but from those also that have sprung up
since. The Bible was precious to me in those days.'

46. And now, methought, I began to look into the Bible with new
eyes, and read as I never did before; and especially the epistles
of the apostle Paul were sweet and pleasant to me; and, indeed, I
was then never out of the Bible, either by reading or meditation;
still crying out to God, that I might know the truth, and way to
heaven and glory.

47. And as I went on and read, I lighted on that passage, 'To one
is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of
knowledge by the same Spirit; and to another faith,' &c. (1 Cor
12:8,9). And though, as I have since seen, that by this Scripture
the Holy Ghost intends, in special, things extraordinary, yet
on me it did then fasten with conviction, that I did want things
ordinary, even that understanding and wisdom that other Christians
had. On this word I mused, and could not tell what to do, 'especially
this word faith put me to it, for I could not help it, but sometimes
must question, whether I had any faith or no'; for I feared that
it shut me out of all the blessings that other good people had give
them of God;[21] but I was loath to conclude I had no faith in my
soul; for if I do so, thought I, then I shall count myself a very
cast-away indeed.

48. No, said I with myself, though I am convinced that I am
an ignorant sot, and that I want those blessed gifts of knowledge
and understanding that other good people have; yet, at a venture,
I will conclude I am not altogether faithless, though I know not
what faith is. For it was showed me, and that too, as I have since
seen, by Satan, that those who conclude themselves in a faithless
state, have neither rest nor quiet in their souls; and I was loath
to fall quite into despair.

49. Wherefore, by this suggestion, I was for a while made afraid
to see my want of faith; but God would not suffer me thus to undo
and destroy my soul, but did continually, against this my blind and
sad conclusion, create still within me such suppositions, 'insomuch'
that I might in this deceive myself, that I could not rest content,
until I did now come to some certain knowledge, whether I had faith
or no; this always running in my mind, But how if you want faith
indeed? But how can you tell you have faith? 'and, besides, I saw
for certain, if I had not, I was sure to perish for ever.'

50. So that though I endeavoured at the first, to look over the
business of faith, yet in a little time, I better considering the
matter, was willing to put myself upon the trial, whether I had
faith or no. But, alas, poor wretch, so ignorant and brutish was
I, that I knew to this day no more how to do it, than I know how
to begin and accomplish that rare and curious piece of art, which
I never yet saw not considered.

51. Wherefore, while I was thus considering, and being put to my
plunge about it, for you must know, that as yet I had in this matter
broken my mind to no man, only did hear and consider, the tempter
came in with his delusion, That there was no way for me to know I
had faith, but by trying to work some miracle; urging those Scriptures
that seem to look that way, for the enforcing and strengthening
his temptation. Nay, one day as I was betwixt Elstow and Bedford,
the temptation was hot upon me, to try if I had faith, by doing of
some miracle: which miracle at that time was this, I must say to
the puddles that were in the horse pads, Be dry; and to the dry
places, Be you the puddles. And truly, one time I was agoing to
say so indeed; but just as I was about to speak, this thought came
into my mind, But go under yonder hedge and pray first, 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 cast-away and lost. Nay, thought I, if it be so, I will
never try yet, but will stay a little longer.

52. So I continued at a great loss; for I thought, if they only
had faith, which could do so wonderful things, then I concluded,
that, for the present, I neither had it, nor yet, for time to come,
were ever like to have it. Thus I was tossed betwixt the devil and
my own ignorance, and so perplexed, especially at some times, that
I could not tell what to do.

53. About this time, the state and happiness of these poor people
at Bedford was thus, in a dream or vision, represented to me. I
saw, as if they were set on the sunny side of some high mountain,
there refreshing themselves with the pleasant beams of the sun,
while I was shivering and shrinking in the cold, afflicted with
frost, snow, and dark clouds. Methought, also, betwixt me and them,
I saw a wall that did compass about this mountain; now, through
this wall my soul did greatly desire to pass; concluding, that if
I could, I would go even into the very midst of them, and there
also comfort myself with the heat of their sun.

54. About this wall I thought myself, to go again and again, still
prying as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by
which I might enter therein; but none could I find for some time.
At the last, I saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a little doorway
in the wall, through which I attempted to pass; but the passage
being very strait and narrow, I made many efforts to get in, but
all in vain, even until I was well nigh quite beat out, by striving
to get in; at last, with great striving, methought I at first did
get in my head, and after that, by a sidling striving, my shoulders,
and my whole body; then was I exceeding glad, and went and sat down
in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat
of their sun.

55. Now, this mountain and wall, &c., was thus made out to me--the
mountain signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone
thereon, the comfortable shining of his merciful face on them that
were therein; the wall, I thought, was the Word, that did make
separation between the Christians and the world; and the gap which
was in this wall, I thought, was Jesus Christ, who is the way to
God the Father (John 14:6; Matt 7:14). But forasmuch as the passage
was wonderful narrow, even so narrow, that I could not, but with
great difficulty, enter in thereat, it showed me that none could
enter into life, but those that were in downright earnest,[22] and
unless also they left this wicked world behind them; for here was
only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul, and sin.[23]

56. This resemblance abode upon my spirit many days; all which time,
I saw myself in a forlorn and sad condition, but yet was provoked
to a vehement hunger and desire to be one of that number that did
sit in the sunshine. Now also I should pray wherever I was, whether
at home or abroad, in house or field, and should also often, with
lifting up of heart, sing that of the 51st Psalm, O Lord, consider
my distress; for as yet I knew not where I was.

57. Neither as yet could I attain to any comfortable persuasion
that I had faith in Christ; but instead of having satisfaction,
here I began to find my soul to be assaulted with fresh doubts
about my future happiness; especially with such as these, Whether
I was elected? But how, if the day of grace should now be past and
gone?

58. By these two temptations I was very much afflicted and disquieted;
sometimes by one, and sometimes by the other of them. And first,
to speak of that about my questioning my election, I found at this
time, that though I was in a flame to find the way to heaven and
glory, and though nothing could beat me off from this, yet this
question did so offend and discourage me, that I was, especially
at some times, as if the very strength of my body also had been
taken away by the force and power thereof. This scripture did also
seem to me to trample upon all my desires, "It is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy"
(Rom 9:16).

59. With this scripture I could not tell what to do; for I evidently
saw, that unless the great God, of his infinite grace and bounty,
had voluntarily chosen me to be a vessel of mercy, though I should
desire, and long and labour until my heart did break, no good
could come of it. Therefore, this would still stick with me, How
can you tell that you are elected? And what if you should not? How
then?

60. O Lord, thought I, what if I should not, indeed? It may be you
are not, said the tempter; it may be so, indeed, thought I. Why,
then, said Satan, you had as good leave off, and strive no further;
for if, indeed, you should not be elected and chosen of God, there
is no talk of your being saved; "For it is neither of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."

61. By these things I was driven to my wits' end, not knowing
what to say, or how to answer these temptations. Indeed, I little
thought that Satan had thus assaulted me, but that rather it was
my own prudence, thus to start the question; for, that the elect
only attained eternal life, that I, without scruple, did heartily
close withal; but that myself was one of them, there lay all the
question.

62. Thus, therefore, for several days, I was greatly assaulted and
perplexed, and was often, when I have been walking, ready to sink
where I went, with faintness in my mind; but one day, after I had
been so many weeks oppressed and cast down therewith, as I was
now quite giving up the ghost of all my hopes of ever attaining
life, that sentence fell with weight upon my spirit, "Look at the
generations of old and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and
was confounded?"

63. At which I was greatly lightened and encouraged in my soul;
for thus, at that very instant, it was expounded to me, Begin at
the beginning of Genesis, and read to the end of the Revelation,
and see if you can find that there was ever any that trusted in
the Lord, and was confounded. So, coming home, I presently went to
my Bible to see if I could find that saying, not doubting but to
find it presently; for it was so fresh, and with such strength and
comfort on my spirit, that I was as if it talked with me.

64. Well, I looked, but I found it not; only it abode upon me;
then I did ask first this good man, and then another, if they knew
where it was, but they knew no such place. At this I wondered,
that such a sentence should so suddenly, and with such comfort and
strength, seize and abide upon my heart, and yet that none could
find it, for I doubted not but it was in holy Scripture.

65. Thus I continued above a year, and could not find the place;
but at last, casting my eye into the Apocrypha books, I found it
in Ecclesiasticus 2:10. This, at the first, did somewhat daunt me;
but because, by this time, I had got more experience of the love
and kindness of God, it troubled me the less; especially when
I considered, that though it was not in those texts that we call
holy and canonical, yet forasmuch as this sentence was the sum
and substance of many of the promises, it was my duty to take the
comfort of it; and I bless God for that word, for it was of God to
me: that word doth still, at times, shine before my face.

66. After this, that other doubt did come with strength upon me,
But how if the day of grace should be past and gone? How if you
have over-stood the time of mercy? Now, I remember that one day, as
I was walking into the country, I was much in the thoughts of this,
But how if the day of grace be past? And to aggravate my trouble,
the tempter presented to my mind those good people of Bedford, and
suggested thus unto me, That these being converted already, they
were all that God would save in those parts; and that I came too
late, for these had got the blessing before I came.

67. Now was I in great distress, thinking in very deed that this
might well be so; wherefore I went up and down bemoaning my sad
condition, counting myself far worse than a thousand fools, for
standing off thus long, and spending so many years in sin as I had
done; still crying out, Oh, that I had turned sooner; Oh, that I
had turned seven years ago! It made me also angry with myself, to
think that I should have no more wit, but to trifle away my time
till my soul and heaven were lost.

68. But when I had been long vexed with this fear, and was scarce
able to take one step more, just about the same place where I received
my other encouragement, these words broke in upon my mind, "Compel
them to come in, that my house may be filled"; "and yet there is
room" (Luke 14:22,23). These words, but especially them, "And yet
there is room" were sweet words to me; for, truly, I thought that
by them I saw there was place enough in heaven for me; and, moreover,
that when the Lord Jesus did speak these words, he then did think
of me; and that he knowing that the time would come that I should
be afflicted with fear that there was no place left for me in his
bosom, did before speak this word, and leave it upon record, that
I might find help thereby against this vile temptations. 'This, I
then verily believed.'

69. In the light and encouragement of this word, I went a pretty
while; and the comfort was the more, when I thought that the Lord
Jesus should think on me so long ago, and that he should speak them
words on purpose for my sake; for I did then think, verily, that
he did on purpose speak them, to encourage me withal.

70. 'But I was not without my temptations to go back again;
temptations, I say, both from Satan, mine own heart, and carnal
acquaintance; but I thank God these were outweighed by that sound
sense of death and of the day of judgment, which abode, as it were,
continually in my view; I should often also think on Nebuchadnezzar,
of whom it is said, He had given him all the kingdoms of the earth
(Dan 5:19). Yet, thought I, if this great man had all his portion
in this world, one hour in hell fire would make him forget all.
Which consideration was a great help to me.'

71. 'I was almost made, about this time, to see something concerning
the beasts that Moses counted clean and unclean. I thought those
beasts were types of men; the clean, types of them that were the
people of God; but the unclean, types of such as were the children
of the wicked one. Now, I read that the clean beasts chewed the
cud; that is, thought I, they show us we must feed upon the Word of
God. They also parted the hoof; I thought that signified we must
part, if we would be saved, with the ways of ungodly men. And also,
in further reading about them I found, that though we did chew the
cud as the hare, yet if we walked with claws like a dog, or if we
did part the hoof like the swine, yet if we did not chew the cud as
the sheep, we were still, for all that, but unclean; for I thought
the here to be a type of those that talk of the Word, yet walk
in the ways of sin; and that the swine was like him that parteth
with his outward pollutions, but still wanteth the Word of faith,
without which there could be no way of salvation, let a man be never
so devout (Deut 14).' After this I found, by reading the Word, that
those that must be glorified with Christ in another world must be
called by him here; called to the partaking of a share in his Word
and righteousness, and to the comforts and first fruits of his
spirit, and to a peculiar interest in all those heavenly things
which do indeed fore fit the soul for that rest and house of glory
which is in heaven above.

72. Here, again, I was at a very great stand, not knowing what to
do, fearing I was not called; for, thought I, if I be not called,
what then can do me good? 'None but those who are effectually
called, inherit the kingdom of heaven.' But oh! how I now loved
those words that spake of a Christian's calling! as when the Lord
said to one, "Follow me," and to another, "Come after me." And oh!
thought I, that he would say so to me too, how gladly would I run
after him!

73. I cannot now express with what longings and breakings in my soul
I cried to Christ to call me. Thus I continued for a time, all on
a flame to be converted to Jesus Christ; and did also see at that
day, such glory in a converted state, that I could not be contented
without a share therein. Gold! could it have been gotten for gold,
what could I have given for it! had I had a whole world it had all
gone ten thousand times over for this, that my soul might have been
in a converted state.

74. How lovely now was every one in my eyes that I thought to be
converted men and women! they shone, they walked like a people that
carried the broad seal of heaven about them. Oh! I saw the lot was
fallen to them in pleasant places, and they had a goodly heritage
(Psa 16:6). But that which made me sick was that of Christ, in
Mark, He went up into a mountain and called to him whom he would,
and they came unto him (Mark 3:13).

75. This scripture made me faint and fear, yet it kindled fire in
my soul. That which made me fear was this, lest Christ should have
no liking to me, for he called "whom he would." But oh! the glory
that I saw in that condition did still so engage my heart that
I could seldom read of any that Christ did call but I presently
wished, Would I had been in their clothes; would I had been born
Peter; would I had been born John; or would I had been by and had
heard him when he called them, how would I have cried, O Lord, call
me also. But oh! I feared he would not call me.

76. And truly the Lord let me go thus many months together and
showed me nothing; either that I was already, or should be called
hereafter. But at last, after much time spent, and many groans to
God, that I might be made partaker of the holy and heavenly calling,
that Word came in upon me--"I will cleanse their blood that I have
not cleansed, for the Lord dwelleth in Zion" (Joel 3:21). These
words I thought were sent to encourage me to wait still upon God,
and signified unto me, that if I were not already, yet time might
come I might be in truth converted unto Christ.[24]

77. About this time I began to break my mind to those poor people
in Bedford, and to tell them my condition, which, when they had
heard, they told Mr. Gifford of me, who himself also took occasion
to talk with me, and was willing to be 'well' persuaded of me, though
I think but from little grounds: but he invited me to his house,
where I should hear him confer with others, about the dealings of
God with the soul; from all which I still received more conviction,
and from that time began 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 also
to work at that rate for wickedness as it never did before. Now I
evidently found that lusts and corruptions would strongly put forth
themselves within me, in wicked thoughts and desires, which I did
not regard before; my desires also for heaven and life began to
fail. I found also, that whereas before my soul was full of longing
after God, now my heart began to hanker after every foolish vanity;
yea, my heart would not be moved to mind that that was good;
it began to be careless, both of my soul and heaven; it would now
continually hang back, both to, and in every duty; and was as a
clog on the leg of a bird to hinder her from flying.

78. Nay, thought I, now I grow worse and worse; now am I further
from conversion than ever I was before. Wherefore I began to sink
greatly in my soul, and began to entertain such discouragement in
my heart as laid me low as hell. If now I should have burned at
a stake, I could not believe that Christ had love for me; alas, I
could neither hear him, nor see him, nor feel him, nor savour any
of his things; I was driven as with a tempest, my heart would be
unclean, the Canaanites would dwell in the land.

79. Sometimes I would tell my condition to the people of God,
which, when they heard, they would pity me, and would tell me of
the promises; but they had as good have told me that I must reach
the sun with my finger as have bidden me receive or rely upon the
promise; and as soon as I should have done it, all my sense and
feeling was against me; and I saw I had a heart that would sin,
and 'that' lay under a law that would condemn.

80. These things have often made me think of that child which the
father brought to Christ, who, while he was yet a coming to him,
was thrown down by the devil, and also so rent and torn by him that
he lay and wallowed, foaming (Luke 9:42; Mark 9:20).

81. Further, in these days I should find my heart to shut itself
up against the Lord, and against his holy Word. I have found my
unbelief to set, as it were, the shoulder to the door to keep him
out, and that too even then, when I have with many a bitter sigh
cried, Good Lord, break it open; Lord, break these gates of brass,
and cut these bars of iron asunder (Psa 107:16). Yet that word
would sometimes create in my heart a peaceable pause, "I girded
thee, though thou hast not known me" (Isa 45:5).

82. But all this while as to the act of sinning, I never was more
tender than now; I durst not take 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 now tell how to speak my words, for fear
I should misplace them. Oh, how gingerly[25] did I then go in all
I did or said! I found myself as on a miry bog that shook if I
did but stir; and 'was' there left both of God and Christ, and the
Spirit, and all good things.

83. 'But, I observe, though I was such a great sinner before
conversion, yet God never much charged the guilt of the sins of
my ignorance upon me; only he showed me I was lost if I had not
Christ, because I had been a sinner; I saw that I wanted a perfect
righteousness to present me without fault before God, and this
righteousness was nowhere to be found, but in the person of Jesus
Christ.'

84. 'But my original and inward pollution, that, that was my plague
and my affliction; that, I say, at a dreadful rate, always putting
forth itself within me; that I had the guilt of, to amazement;
by reason of that, I was more loathsome in my own eyes than was a
toad; and I thought I was so in God's eyes too; sin and corruption,
I said, would as naturally bubble out of my heart, as water would
bubble out of a fountain. I thought now that every one had a
better heart than I had; I could have changed heart with any body;
I thought none but the devil himself could equalize me for inward
wickedness and pollution of mind. I fell, therefore, at the sight
of my own vileness, deeply into despair; for I concluded that this
condition that I was in could not stand with a state of grace. Sure,
thought I, I am forsaken of God; sure I am given up to the devil,
and to a reprobate mind; and thus I continued a long while, even
for some years together.'

85. 'While I was thus afflicted with the fears of my own damnation,
there were two things would make me wonder; the one was, when I
saw old people hunting after the things of this life, as if they
should live here always; the other was, when I found professors
much distressed and cast down, when they met with outward losses;
as of husband, wife, child, &c. Lord, thought I, what ado is here
about such little things as these! What seeking after carnal things
by some, and what grief in others for the loss of them! if they so
much labour after, and spend so many tears for the things of this
present life, how am I to be bemoaned, pitied, and prayed for!
My soul is dying, my soul is damning. Were my soul but in a good
condition, and were I but sure of it, ah! how rich should I esteem
myself, though blessed but with bread and water; I should count those
but small afflictions, and should bear them as little burdens. "A
wounded spirit who can bear?"'

86. And though I was thus troubled, and tossed, and afflicted,
with the sight and sense and terror of my own wickedness, yet I
was afraid to let this sight and sense go quite off my mind; for
I found, that unless guilt of conscience was taken off the right
way, that is, by the blood of Christ, a man grew rather worse for
the loss of his trouble of mind, than better. Wherefore, if my
guilt lay hard upon me, then I should cry that the blood of Christ
might take it off; and if it was going off without it (for the sense
of sin would be sometimes as if it would die, and go quite away),
then I would also strive to fetch it upon my heart again, by
bringing the punishment for sin in hell fire upon my spirits; and
should cry, Lord, let it not go off my heart, but the right way,
but by the blood of Christ, and by the application of thy mercy,
through him, to my soul; for that Scripture lay much upon me,
"without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb 9:22). And that
which made me the more afraid of this was, because I had seen some,
who, though when they were under wounds of conscience, then they
would cry and pray; but they seeking rather present ease from their
trouble, than pardon for their sin, cared not how they lost their
guilt, so they got it out of their mind; and, therefore, having
got it off the wrong way, it was not sanctified unto them; but they
grew harder and blinder, and more wicked after their trouble. This
made me afraid, and made me cry to God 'the more,' that it might
not be so with me.

87. And now was I sorry that God had made me a man, for I feared
I was a reprobate; I counted man as unconverted, the most doleful
of all the creatures. Thus being afflicted and tossed about my
sad condition, I counted myself alone, and above the most of men
unblessed.

88. 'Yea, I thought it impossible that ever I should attain to so
much goodness of heart, as to thank God that he had made me a man.
Man indeed is the most noble by creation, of all creatures in the
visible world; but by sin he had made himself the most ignoble.
The beasts, birds, fishes, &c., I blessed their condition, 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; I could therefore
have rejoiced, had my condition been as any of theirs.'

89. In this condition I went a great while; but when comforting
time was come, I heard one preach a sermon upon those words in the
Song (4:1), "Behold thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair."
But at that time he made these two words, "My love," his chief and
subject matter; from which, after he had a little opened the text,
he observed these several conclusions: 1. That the church, and
so every saved soul, is Christ's love, when loveless. 2. Christ's
love without a cause. 3. Christ's love when hated of the world.
4. Christ's love when under temptation, and under desertion. 5.
Christ's love from first to last.

90. But I got nothing by what he said at present, only when he came
to the application of the fourth particular, this was the word he
said; If it be so, that the saved soul is Christ's love when under
temptation and desertion; then poor tempted soul, when thou art
assaulted and afflicted with temptation, and the hidings of God's
face, yet think on these two words, "My love," still.

91. So as I was a going home, these words came again into my
thoughts; and I well remember, as they came in, I said thus in my
heart, What shall I get by thinking on these two words? This thought
had no sooner passed through my heart, but the words began thus to
kindle in my spirit, "Thou art my love, thou art my love," twenty
times together; and still as they ran thus in my mind, they waxed
stronger and warmer, and began to make me look up; but being as
yet between hope and fear, I still replied in my heart, But is it
true, but is it true? At which, that sentence fell in upon me, He
"wist not that it was true which was done by the angel" (Acts 12:9).

92. Then I began to give place to the word, which, with power, did
over and over make this joyful sound within my soul, thou art my
love, thou art my love; and nothing shall separate thee from my
love; and with that (Rom 8:39) came into my mind: Now was my heart
filled full of comfort and hope, and now I could believe that my
sins should be forgiven me; 'yea, I was now so taken with the love
and mercy of God, that I remember I could not tell how to contain
till I got home; I thought I could have spoken of his love, and of
his mercy to me, even to the very crows that sat upon the ploughed
lands before me, had they been capable to have understood me';
wherefore I said in my soul, with much gladness, well, I would
I had a pen and ink here, I would write this down before I go any
further, for surely I will not forget this forty years hence; but,
alas! within less than forty days, I began to question all again;
'which made me begin to question all still.'

93. Yet still at times, I was helped to believe that it was a true
manifestation of grace unto my soul, though I had lost much of the
life and savour of it. Now about a week or fortnight after this, I
was much followed by this scripture, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan
hath desired to have you" (Luke 22:31). And sometimes it would sound
so loud within me, yea, and as it were call so strongly after me,
that once above all the rest, I turned my head over my shoulder,
thinking verily that some man had, behind me, called to me; being at
a great distance, 'methought he called so loud; it came, as I have
thought since, to have stirred me up to prayer, and to watchfulness;
it came to acquaint me that a cloud and a storm was coming down
upon me, but I understood it not.'[26]

94. 'Also, as I remember, that time that it called to me so loud,
was the last time that it sounded in mine ear; but methinks I hear
still with what a loud voice these words, Simon, Simon, sounded
in mine ears. I thought verily, as I have told you, that somebody
had called after me, that was half a mile behind me; and although
that was not my name, yet it made me suddenly look behind me,
believing that he that called so loud meant me.'

95. But so foolish was I, and ignorant, that I knew not the reason
of this sound; which, as I did both see and feel soon after, was
sent from heaven as an alarm, to awaken me to provide for what was
coming; only it would make me muse and wonder in my mind, to think
what should be the reason that this scripture, and that at this
rate, so often and so loud, should still be sounding and rattling
in mine ears; but, as I said before, I soon after perceived the
end of God therein.

96. For about the space of a month after, a very great storm came
down upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had
met with before; it came stealing upon me, now by one piece, then
by another; first, all my comfort was taken from me, then darkness
seized upon me, after which, whole floods of blasphemies, both
against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit,
to my great confusion and astonishment. These blasphemous thoughts
were such as also stirred up questions in me, against the very
being of God, and of his only beloved Son; as, whether there were,
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?

97. The tempter would also much assault me with this, how can
you tell but that the Turks had as good Scriptures to prove their
Mahomet the Saviour, as we have to prove our Jesus is? And, could I
think, that so many ten 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 only, who live in a corner
of the earth, should alone be blessed therewith? Every one doth
think his own religion rightest, both Jews and Moors, and Pagans!
and how if all our faith, and Christ, and Scriptures, should be
but a think-so too?

98. Sometimes I have endeavoured to argue against these suggestions,
and to set some of the sentences of blessed Paul against them;
but, alas! I quickly felt, when I thus did, such arguings as these
would return again upon me, Though we made so great a matter of Paul,
and of his words, yet how could I tell, but that in very deed, he
being a subtle and cunning man, might give himself up to deceive
with strong delusions; and also take both that pains and travel,
to undo and destroy his fellows.

99. These suggestions, with many other which at this time I may
not, nor dare not utter, neither by word nor pen, did make such a
seizure upon my spirit, and did so overweigh my heart, both with
their number, continuance, and fiery force, that I felt as if there
were nothing else but these from morning to night within me; and
as though, indeed, there could be room for nothing else; and also
concluded, that God had, in very wrath to my soul, given me up unto
them, to be carried away with them, as with a mighty whirlwind.

100. Only by the distaste that they gave unto my spirit, I felt
there was something in me, that refused to embrace them. But this
consideration I then only had, when God gave me leave to swallow
my spittle, otherwise the noise, and strength, and force of these
temptations, would drown and overflow; and as it were, bury all
such thoughts or the remembrance of any such thing. While I was
in this temptation, I should often find my mind suddenly put upon
it, to curse and swear, or to speak some grievous thing against
God, or Christ his Son, and of the Scriptures.[27]

101. Now I thought, surely I am possessed of the devil; at other
times again, I thought I should be bereft of my wits; for instead
of lauding and magnifying God the Lord with others, if I have
but heard him spoken of, presently some most horrible blasphemous
thought or other, would bolt out of my heart against him; so that
whether I did think that God was, or again did think there were
no such thing; no love, nor peace, nor gracious disposition could
I feel within me.

102. These things did sink me into very deep despair; for
I concluded, that such things could not possibly be found amongst
them that loved God. I often, when these temptations have been
with force upon me, did compare myself in the case of such a child,
whom some gipsy hath by force took up under her apron,[28] and is
carrying from friend and country; kick sometimes I did, and also
scream and cry; but yet I was as bound in the wings of the temptation,
and the wind would carry me away. I thought also of Saul, and of
the evil spirit that did possess him; and did greatly fear that my
condition was the same with that of his (1 Sam 16:14).

103. In these days, when I have heard others talk of what was the
sin against the Holy Ghost, then would the tempter so provoke me
to desire to sin that sin, that I was as if I could not, must not,
neither should be quiet until I had committed that; now, no sin
would serve but that; if it were to be committed by speaking of
such a word, then I have been as if my mouth would have spoken that
word, whether I would or no; and in so strong a measure was this
temptation upon me, that often I have been ready to clap my hand
under my chin, to hold my mouth from opening; and to that end also
I have had thoughts at other times, to leap with my head downward,
into some muck hill hole or other, to keep my mouth from speaking.

104. Now I blessed the condition of the dog and toad, and counted
the estate of everything that God had made far better than this
dreadful state of mine, and such as my companions was; yea, gladly
would I have been in the condition of dog or horse, for I knew
they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weights of hell
for sin, as mine was like to do. Nay, and though I saw this, felt
this, and was broken to pieces with it, yet that which added to
my sorrow was, that I could not find that with all my soul I did
desire deliverance. That scripture did also tear and rend my soul,
in the midst of these distractions, "The wicked are like the troubled
sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There
is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa 57:20,21).

105. 'And now my heart was, at times, exceeding hard; if I would
have given a thousand pounds for a tear, I could not shed one;
no, nor sometimes scarce desire to shed one. I was much dejected
to think that this should be my lot. I saw some could mourn and
lament their sin; and others, again, could rejoice, and bless God
for Christ; and others, again, could quietly talk of, and with
gladness remember, the Word of God; while I only was in the storm
or tempest. This much sunk me; I thought my condition was alone.
I should, therefore, much bewail my hard hap; but get out of, or
get rid of, these things, I could not.'

106. While this temptation lasted, which was about a year, I could
attend upon none of the ordinances of God but with sore and great
affliction. Yea, then was I most distressed with blasphemies; if
I have been hearing the Word, then uncleanness, blasphemies, and
despair would hold me as captive there; if I have been reading,
then, sometimes, I had sudden thoughts to question all I read;
sometimes, again, my mind would be so strangely snatched away,
and possessed with other things, that I have neither known, nor
regarded, nor remembered so much as the sentence that but now I
have read.

107. In prayer, also, I have been greatly troubled at this time;
sometimes I have thought I should see the devil, nay, thought
I have felt him, behind me, pull my clothes; he would be, also,
continually at me in the time of prayer to have done; break off,
make haste, you have prayed enough, and stay no longer, still
drawing my mind away. Sometimes, also, he would cast in such
wicked thoughts as these: that I must pray to him, or for him. I
have thought sometimes of that--Fall down, or, "if thou wilt fall
down and worship me" (Matt 4:9).

108. Also, when, because I have had wandering thoughts in the time
of this duty, I have laboured to compose my mind and fix it upon
God, then, with great force, hath the tempter laboured to distract
me, and confound me, and to turn away my mind, by presenting to my
heart and fancy the form of a bush, a bull, a besom, or the like,
as if I should pray to those; to these he would, also, at some
times especially, so hold my mind that I was as if I could think
of nothing else, or pray to nothing else but to these, or such as
they.

109. Yet, at times I should have some strong and heart-affecting
apprehensions of God, and the reality of the truth of his gospel;
but, oh! how would my heart, at such times, put forth itself with
inexpressible groanings. My whole soul was then in every word; I
should cry with pangs after God that he would be merciful unto me;
but then I should be daunted again with such conceits as these; I
should think that God did mock at these, my prayers, saying, and
that in the audience of the holy 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. Alas, poor fool![29] how art thou
deceived! It is not for such as thee to have a favour with the
Highest.

110. Then hath the tempter come upon me, also, with such
discouragements as these--You are very hot for mercy, but I will
cool you; this frame shall not last always; many have been as hot
as you for a spirit, but I have quenched their zeal. And with this,
such and such who were fallen off would be set before mine eyes.
Then I should be afraid that I should do so too; but, thought I, I
am glad this comes into my mind. Well, I will watch, and take what
heed I can. Though you do, said Satan, I shall be too hard for you;
I will cool you insensibly, by degrees, by little and little. What
care I, saith he, though I be seven years in chilling your heart
if I can do it at last? Continual rocking will lull a crying child
asleep. I will ply it close, but I will have my end accomplished.
Though you be burning hot at present, yet, if I can pull you from
this fire, I shall have you cold before it be long.

111. These things brought me into great straits; for as I at present
could not find myself fit for present death, so I thought to live
long would make me yet more unfit; for time would make me forget
all, and wear even the remembrance of the evil of sin, the worth
of heaven, and the need I had of the blood of Christ to wash me,
both out of mind and thought; but I thank Christ Jesus these things
did not at present make me slack my crying, but rather did put me
more upon it, like her who met with the adulterer (Deut 22:27); in
which days that was a good word to me after I had suffered these
things a while: "I am persuaded that neither-height, nor depth,
nor life," &c., "shall--separate us from the love of God, which is
in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:38). And now I hoped long life should not
destroy me, nor make me miss of heaven.

112. Yet I had some supports in this temptation, though they were
then all questioned by me; that in the third of Jeremiah, at the
first, was something to me, and so was the consideration of the
fifth verse of that chapter; that though we have spoken and done
as evil things as we could, yet we should cry unto God, "My Father,
thou art the guide of my youth"; and should return unto him.

113. I had, also, once a sweet glance from that in 2 Corinthians
5:21: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." I remember,
also, that one day as I was sitting in a neighbour's house, and
there very sad at the consideration of my many blasphemies, and as
I was saying in my mind, What ground have I to think that I, who
have been so vile and abominable, should ever inherit eternal life?
that word came suddenly upon me, "What shall we then say to these
things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31). That,
also, was an help unto me, "Because I live, ye shall live also"
(John 14:19). But these were but hints, touches, and short visits,
though very sweet when present; only they lasted not; but, like to
Peter's sheet, of a sudden were caught up from me to heaven again
(Acts 10:16).

114. But afterwards the Lord did more fully and graciously discover
himself unto me; and, indeed, did quite, not only deliver me from
the guilt that, by these things, was laid upon my conscience, but
also from the very filth thereof; for the temptation was removed,
and I was put into my right mind again, as other Christians were.

115. I remember that one day, as I was traveling into the country
and musing on the wickedness and blasphemy of my heart, and
considering of the enmity that was in me to God, that scripture
came in my mind, He hath "made peace through the blood of his cross"
(Col 1:20). By which I was made to see, both again, and again, and
again, that day, that God and my soul were friends by this blood;
yea, I saw that the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace
and kiss each other through this blood. This was a good day to me;
I hope I shall not forget it.

116. At another time, as I sat by the fire in my house, and musing
on my wretchedness, the Lord made that also a precious word unto
me, "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and
blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through
death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is,
the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all
their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:14,15). I thought that
the glory of these words was then so weighty on me that I was,
both once and twice, ready to swoon as I sat; yet not with grief
and trouble, but with solid joy and peace.

[BUNYAN ATTENDS THE MINISTRY OF MR. GIFFORD, AND BECOMES INTENSELY
EARNEST TO UNDERSTAND THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL.]

117. At this time, also, I sat under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford,
whose doctrine, by God's grace, was much for my stability.[30] This
man made it much his business to deliver the people of God from
all those false and unsound rests that, by nature, we are prone
to take and make to our souls. He pressed us to take special heed
that we took not up any truth upon trust--as from this, or that,
or any other man or men--but to cry mightily to God that he would
convince us of the reality thereof, and set us down therein, by
his own Spirit, in the holy Word; for, said he, if you do otherwise
when temptations come, if strongly, you, not having received them
with evidence from heaven, will find you want that help and strength
now to resist as once you thought you had.

118. This was as seasonable to my soul as the former and latter
rain in their season; for I had found, and that by sad experience,
the truth of these his words; for I had felt [what] no man can say,
especially when tempted by the devil, that Jesus Christ is Lord
but by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore I found my soul, through grace,
very apt to drink in this doctrine, and to incline to pray to God
that, in nothing that pertained to God's glory and my own eternal
happiness, he would suffer me to be without the confirmation
thereof from heaven; for now I saw clearly there was an exceeding
different betwixt the notions of flesh and blood, and the revelations
of God in heaven; also, a great difference between that faith that
is feigned, and according to man's wisdom, and of that which comes
by a man's being born thereto of God (Matt 16:15-17; 1 John 5:1).

119. But, oh! now, how was my soul led from truth to truth by God!
even from the birth and cradle of the Son of God to his ascension
and second coming from heaven to judge the world.

120. Truly, I then found, upon this account, the great God was very
good unto me; for, to my remembrance, there was not anything that
I then cried unto God to make known and reveal unto me but he was
pleased to do it for me; I mean not one part of the gospel of the
Lord Jesus, but I was orderly led into it. Methought I saw with
great evidence, from the relation of the four evangelists, the
wonderful work of God, in giving Jesus Christ to save us, from
his conception and birth even to his second coming to judgment,
Methought I was as if I had seen him born, as if I had seen him grow
up, as if I had seen him walk through this world, from the cradle
to his cross; to which, also, when he came, I saw how gently he
gave himself to be hanged and nailed on it for my sins and wicked
doings. Also, as I was musing on this, his progress, that dropped
on my spirit, He was ordained for the slaughter (1 Peter 1:19,20).

121. When I have considered also the truth of his resurrection, and
have remembered that word, "Touch me not, Mary," &c., I have seen
as if he leaped at the grave's mouth for joy that he was risen
again, and had got the conquest over our dreadful foes (John 20:17).
I have also, in the spirit, seen him a man on the right hand of
God the Father for me, and have seen the manner of his coming from
heaven to judge the world with glory, and have been confirmed in
these things by these scriptures following, Acts 1:9, 10, 7:56,
10:42; Hebrews 7:24, 8:3; Revelation 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:17,
18.

122. Once I was much troubled to know whether the Lord Jesus was
both man as well as God, and God as well as man; and truly, in those
days, let men say what they would, unless I had it with evidence
from heaven, all was as nothing to me, I counted not myself set down
in any truth of God. Well, I was much troubled about this point,
and could not tell how to be resolved; at last, that in the fifth
of the Revelation came into my mind, "And I beheld, and lo, in the
midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of
the elders, stood a Lamb." In the midst of the throne, 'thought
I,' there is his Godhead; in the midst of the elders, there is his
manhood; but oh! methought this did glister! it was a goodly touch,
and gave me sweet satisfaction. That other scripture also did help
me much in this, "To us a child is born, unto us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall
be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting
Father, the Prince of Peace," &c. (Isa 9:6).

123. Also, besides these teachings of God in his Word, the Lord
made use of two things to confirm me in these things; the one was
the errors of the Quakers, and the other was the guilt of sin; for
as the Quakers did oppose his truth, so God did the more confirm
me in it, by leading me into the scriptures that did wonderfully
maintain it.[31]

124. 'The errors that this people then maintained were, 1. That the
holy Scriptures were not the Word of God. 2. That every man in the
world had the spirit of Christ, grace, faith, &c. 3. That Christ
Jesus, as crucified, and dying 1600 years ago, did not satisfy
divine justice for the sins of the people. 4. That Christ's flesh
and blood was within the saints. 5. That the bodies of the good
and bad that are buried in the churchyard shall not arise again. 6.
That the resurrection is past with good men already. 7. That that
man Jesus, that was crucified between two thieves on Mount Calvary,
in the land of Canaan, by Jerusalem, was not ascended up above the
starry heavens. 8. That he should not, even the same Jesus that
died by the hands of the Jews, come again at the last day, and as
man judge all nations, &c.'

125. 'Many more vile and abominable things were in those days
fomented by them, by which I was driven to a more narrow search of
the Scriptures, and was, through their light and testimony, not
only enlightened, but greatly confirmed and comforted in the truth';
and, as I said, the guilt of sin did help me much, for still as that
would come upon me, the blood of Christ did take it off again, and
again, and again, and that too, sweetly, according to the Scriptures.
O friends! cry to God to reveal Jesus Christ unto you; there is
none teacheth like him.

126. It would be too long for me here to stay, to tell you in
particular how God did set me down in all the things of Christ,
and how he did, that he might so do, lead me into his words; yea,
and also how he did open them unto me, make them shine before me,
and cause them to dwell with me, talk with me, and comfort me over
and over, both of his own being, and the being of his Son, and
Spirit, and Word, and gospel.

127. Only this, as I said before I will say unto you again, that
in general he was pleased to take this course with me; first, to
suffer me to be afflicted with temptation concerning them, and then
reveal them to me: as sometimes I should lie under great guilt for
sin, even crushed to the ground therewith, and then the Lord would
show me the death of Christ; yea, and so sprinkle my conscience
with his blood, that I should find, and that before I was aware,
that in that conscience where but just now did reign and rage the
law, even there would rest and abide the peace and love of God
through Christ.

128. Now had I an evidence, 'as I thought, of my salvation' from
heaven, with many golden seals thereon, all hanging in my sight;
now could I remember this manifestation and the other discovery
of grace, with comfort; and should often long and desire that the
last day were come, that I might for ever be inflamed with the
sight, and joy, and communion with him whose head was crowned with
thorns, whose face was spit on, and body broken, and soul made
an offering for my sins: for whereas, before, I lay continually
trembling at the mouth of hell, now methought I was got so far
therefrom that I could not, when I looked back, scarce discern
it; and, oh! thought I, that I were fourscore years old now, that
I might die quickly, that my soul might be gone to rest.[32]

129. 'But before I had got thus far out of these my temptations,
I did greatly long to see some ancient godly man's experience, who
had writ some hundreds of years before I was born; for those who
had writ in our days, I thought, but I desire them now to pardon
me, that they had writ only that which others felt, or else had,
through the strength of their wits and parts, studied to answer such
objections as they perceived others were perplexed with, without
going down themselves into the deep. Well, after many such longings
in my mind, the God in whose hands are all our days and ways, did
cast into my hand, one day, a book of Martin Luther; it was his
comment on the Galatians--it also was so old that it was ready to
fall piece from piece if I did but turn it over. Now I was pleased
much that such an old book had fallen into my hands; the which,
when I had but a little way perused, I found my condition, in his
experience, so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had
been written out of my heart. This made me marvel; for thus thought
I, This man could not know anything of the state of Christians now,
but must needs write and speak the experience of former days.'

130. 'Besides, he doth most gravely, also, in that book, debate
of the rise of these temptations, namely, blasphemy, desperation,
and the like; showing that the law of Moses as well as the devil,
death, and hell hath a very great hand therein, the which, at first,
was very strange to me; but considering and watching, I found it
so indeed. But of particulars here I intend nothing; only this,
methinks, I must let fall before all men, I do prefer this book of
Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before
all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded
conscience.'

131. 'And now I found, as I thought, that I loved Christ dearly;
oh! methought my soul cleaved unto him, my affections cleaved
unto him. I felt love to him as hot as fire; and now, as Job said,
I thought I should die in my nest; but I did quickly find that my
great love was but little, and that I, who had, as I thought, such
burning love to Jesus Christ, could let him go again for a very
trifle; God can tell how to abase us, and can hide pride from man.
Quickly after this my love was tried to purpose.'

132. For after the Lord had, in this manner, thus graciously
delivered me from this great and sore temptation, and had set me
down so sweetly in the faith of his holy gospel, and had given me
such strong consolation and blessed evidence from heaven touching
my interest in his love through Christ; the tempter came upon me
again, and that with a more grievous and dreadful temptation than
before.

133. And that was, To sell and part with this most blessed Christ,
to exchange him for the things of this life, for anything. The
temptation lay upon me for the space of a year, and did follow me
so continually that I was not rid of it one day in a month, no,
not sometimes one hour in many days together, unless 'when' I was
asleep.

134. And though, in my judgment, I was persuaded that those who
were once effectually in Christ, as I hoped, through his grace,
I had seen myself, could never lose him for ever--for "the land
shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine," saith God (Lev
25:23)[33]--yet it was a continual vexation to me to think that I
should have so much as one such thought within me against a Christ,
a Jesus, that had done for me as he had done; 'and yet then I had
almost none others, but such blasphemous ones.'

135. But it was neither my dislike of the thought, nor yet any
desire and endeavour to resist it that in the least did shake or
abate the continuation, or force and strength thereof; for it did
always, in almost whatever I thought, intermix itself therewith in
such sort that I could neither eat my food, stoop for a pin, chop
a stick, or cast mine eye to look on this or that, but still the
temptation would come, Sell Christ for this, or sell Christ for
that; 'sell him, sell him.'

136. Sometimes it would run in my thoughts, not so little as a
hundred times together, Sell him, sell him, sell him; against which
I may say, for whole hours together, I have been forced to stand as
continually leaning and forcing my spirit against it, least haply,
before I were aware, some wicked thought might arise in my heart
that might consent thereto; and sometimes also the tempter would
make me believe I had consented to it, then should I be as tortured
upon a rack for whole days together.

137. This temptation did put me to such scares, lest I should and
some times, I say, consent thereto, and be overcome therewith, that
by the very force of my mind, in labouring to gainsay and resist
this wickedness, my very body also would be put into action or
motion by way of pushing or thrusting 'with my hands or elbows,'
still answering as fast as the destroyer said, Sell him; I will
not, I will not, I will not, I will not; no, not for thousands,
thousands, thousands of worlds. Thus reckoning lest I should in
the midst of these assaults, set too low a value of him, even until
I scarce well knew where I was, or how to be composed began.

138. 'At these seasons he would not let me eat my food at quiet;
but, forsooth, when I was set at table at my meat, I must go hence
to pray; I must leave my food now, and just now, so counterfeit
holy also would this devil be. When I was thus tempted, I should
say in myself, Now I am at my meat, let me make an end. No, said
he, you must do it now, or you will displease God, and despised
Christ. Wherefore I was much afflicted with these things; and because
of the sinfulness of my nature, imagining that these things were
impulses from God, I should deny to do it, as if I denied God; and
then should I be as guilty, because I did not obey a temptation of
the devil, as if I had broken the law of God indeed.'

139. But to be brief, one morning, as I did lie in my bed, I was,
as at other times, most fiercely assaulted with this temptation,
to sell and part with Christ; the wicked suggestion still running
in my mind, sell him, sell him, sell him, sell him, 'sell him,' as
fast as a man could speak; against which also, in my mind, as and
other times, I answered, No, no, not for thousands, thousands,
thousands, at least twenty times together. But at last, after much
striving, even until I was almost out of breath, I felt this thought
pass through my heart, Let him go, if he will! and I thought also,
that I felt my heart 'freely' consent thereto. 'Oh, the diligence
of Satan! [34] Oh, the desperateness of man's heart!'

140. Now was the battle won, and down fell I, as a bird that is
shot from the top of a tree, into great guilt, and fearful despair.
Thus getting out of my bed, I went moping into the field; but God
knows, with as heavy a heart as mortal man, I think, could bear;
where, for the space of two hours, I was like a man bereft of life,
and as now past all recovery, and bound over to eternal punishment.

141. And withal, that scripture did seize upon my soul, "Or profane
person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright;
for ye know, how that afterward, when he would have inherited the
blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, so
he sought it carefully with tears" (Heb 12:16,17).

142. 'Now was I as one bound, I felt myself shut out unto the
judgment to come; nothing now for two years together would abide
with me, but damnation, and an expectation of damnation; I say,
nothing now would abide with me but this, save some few moments
for relief, as in the sequel you will see.'

143. These words were to my soul like fetters of brass to my legs,
in the continual sound of which I went for several months together.
But about ten or eleven o'clock one day, as I was walking under a
hedge, full of sorrow in guilt, God knows, and bemoaning myself for
this hard hap, that such a thought should arise within me; suddenly
this sentence bolted in upon me, The blood of Christ remits all
guilt. At this I made a stand in my spirit; with that, this word
took hold upon me, begin, "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son,
cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

144. Now I began to conceive peace in my soul, in methought I saw
as if the tempter did leer[35] and steal away from me, as being
ashamed of what he had done. At the same time also I had my sin,
and the blood of Christ thus represented to me, that my sin, when
compared to the blood of Christ, was no more to it, then this little
clot or stone before me, is to this vast and wide field that here
I see. This gave me good encouragement for the space of two or
three hours; in which time also, methought I saw, by faith, the
Son of God, as suffering for my sins; but because it tarried not,
I therefore sunk in my spirit, under exceeding guilt again.

145. 'But chiefly by the afore-mentioned scripture, concerning
Esau's selling of his birthright; for that scripture would lie all
day long, all the week long, yea, all the year long in my mind,
and hold me down, so that I could by no means lift up myself; for
when I would strive to turn me to this scripture, or that, for
relief, still that sentence would be sounding in me, "For ye know,
how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing-he
found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with
tears."'

146. Sometimes also, [36] I should have a touch from that in Luke
22:32, "I have prayed for the, that thy faith fail not"; but it
would not abide upon me; neither could I indeed, when I considered
my state, find ground to conceive in the least, that there should
be the root of that grace within me, having sinned as I had done.
Now was I tore and rent in heavy case, for many days together.

147. Then began I with sad and careful heart, to consider of the
nature and largeness of my sin, and to search in the Word of God,
if I could in any place espy a word of promise, or any encouraging
sentence by which I might take relief. Wherefore I began to consider
that third of Mark, All manner of sins and blasphemies shall be
forgiven unto the sons of men, wherewith soever they shall blaspheme.
Which place, methought, at a blush, did contain a large and glorious
promise, for the pardon of high offences; but considering the place
more fully, I thought it was rather to be understood as relating
more chiefly to those who had, while in a natural estate, committed
such things as there are mentioned; but not to me, who had not
only received light and mercy, but that had, both after, and also
contrary to that, so slighted Christ as I had done.

148. I feared therefore that this wicked sin of mine, might be that
sin unpardonable, of which he there thus speaketh. "But he they
shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but
is in danger of eternal damnation" (Mark 3:29). And I did the rather
give credit to this, because of that sentence in the Hebrews common
"For ye know, how that afterward, when he would have inherited the
blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance,
though he sought it carefully with tears." 'And this stuck always
with me.'

149. 'And now was I both the burden and a terror to myself, nor
did I ever so know, as now, what it was to be weary of my life,
and yet afraid to die. Oh, how gladly now would I have been anybody
but myself! Anything but a man! and in any condition but mine own!
for there was nothing did pass more frequently over my mind, than
that it was impossible for me to be forgiven my transgression, and
to be saved from wrath to come.'

150. And now began I to labour to call again time that was past;
wishing a thousand times twice told, that the day was yet to come,
when I should be tempted to such a sin! concluding with great
indignation, both against my heart, and all assaults, how I would
rather have been torn in pieces, than found a consenter thereto.
But, alas! these thoughts, and wishings, and resolvings, were now
too late to help me; the thought had passed my heart, God hath let
me go, and I am fallen. Oh! thought I, "that it was with me as in
months past, as in the days when God preserved me!" [Job 29:2]

151. Then again, being loath and unwilling to perish, I began to
compare my sin with others, to see if I could find that any of those
that were saved had done as I had done. So I considered David's
adultery and murder, and found them most heinous crimes; and those
too committed after light and grace received; but yet but considering,
I perceived that his transgressions were only such as were against
the law of Moses; from which the Lord Christ could, with the consent
of his Word, deliver him: but mine was against the gospel; yea,
against the Mediator thereof; 'I had sold my Saviour.'

152. Now again should I be as if racked upon the wheel,[37] when
I considered, that, besides the guilt that possessed me, I should
be so void of grace, so bewitched. What, thought I, must it be no
sin but this? Must it needs be the great transgression? (Psa 19:13)
Must that wicked one touch my soul? (1 John 5:18) Oh, what stings
did I find in all these sentences!

153. 'What, thought I, is there but one sin that is unpardonable?
But one sin that layeth the soul without the reach of God's mercy;
and must I be guilty of that? Must it needs be that? Is there
but one sin among so many millions of sins, for which there is no
forgiveness; and must I commit this? Oh, unhappy sin! Oh, unhappy
man! These things would so break and confound my spirit, that
I could not tell what to do; I thought, at times, they would have
broke my wits; and still, to aggravate my misery, that would run in
my mind, "Ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited
the blessing, he was rejected." Oh! none knows the terrors of those
days but myself.'

154. After this I came to consider of Peter's sin, which he committed
in denying his master; and indeed, this came nighest to mine, of
any that I could find; for he had denied his Saviour, as I, and that
after light and mercy received; yea, and that too, after warning
given him. I also considered, that he did both once and twice; and
that, after time to consider betwixt. But though I put all these
circumstances together, that, if possible, I might find help, yet
I considered again, that his was but a denial of his master, but
mine was a selling of my Saviour. Wherefore I thought with myself,
that I came nearer to Judas, than either to David or Peter.

155. Here again my torment would flame out and afflicte me; yea, it
would grind me, as it were, to powder, to discern the preservation
of God towards others, while I fell into the snare; for in my thus
considering of other men's sins, and comparing of them with my
own, I could evidently see how God preserved them, notwithstanding
their wickedness, and would not let them, as he had let me, to
become a son of perdition.

156. But oh, how did my soul, at this time, prize the preservation
that God did set about his people! Ah, how safely did I see them
walk, whom God had hedge in! They were within his care, protection,
and special providence; though they were full as bad as I by nature;
yet because he loved them, he would not suffer them to fall without
the range of mercy; but as for me, I was gone, I had done it; he
would not preserve me, nor keep me; but suffered me, because I was
a reprobate, to fall as I had done. Now, did those blessed places,
that spake of God's keeping his people, shine like the sun before
me, though not to comfort me, but to show me the blessed state and
heritage of those whom the Lord had blessed.

157. 'Now I saw, that as God had his hand in all providences and
dispensations that overtook his elect, so he had his hand in all
the temptations that they had to sin against him, not to animate
them unto wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles
for them; and also to leave them, for a time, to such sins only as
might not destroy, but humble them; as might not put them beyond,
but lay them in the way off the renewing of his mercy. But oh,
what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see, mixing
itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God's ways to his
people! He would let David, Hezekiah, Solomon, Peter, and others
fall, but he would not let them fall into sin unpardonable, nor
into hell for sin. Oh! thought I, these be the men that God hath
loved; these be the men that God, though he chastiseth them, keeps
them in safety by him, and them whom he makes to abide under the
shadow of the Almighty. But all these thoughts added sorrow, grief,
and horror to me, as whatever I now thought on, it was killing to
me. If I thought how God kept his own, that was killing to me. If
I thought of how I was falling myself, that was killing to me. As
all things wrought together for the best, and to do good to them
that were the called, according to his purpose; so I thought that
all things wrought for my damage, and for my eternal overthrow.'

158. Then, again, I began to compare my sin with the sin of Judas,
that, if possible, I might find that mine differed from that which,
in truth, is unpardonable. And, oh! thought I, if it 'should differ
from it,' though but the breadth of an hair, what a happy condition
is my soul in! And, by considering, I found that Judas did his
intentionally, but mine was against my 'prayer and' strivings;
besides, his was committed with much deliberation, but mine in a
fearful hurry, on a sudden; 'all this while' I was tossed to and
fro, like the locusts, and driven from trouble to sorrow; hearing
always the sound of Esau's fall in mine ears, and of the dreadful
consequences thereof.

159. Yet this consideration about Judas, his sin was, for a
while, some little relief unto me; for I saw I had not, as to the
circumstances, transgressed so foully as he. But this was quickly
gone again, for, I thought with myself, there might be more ways
than one to commit the unpardonable sin; 'also I thought' that
there might be degrees of that, as well as of other transgressions;
wherefore, for ought I yet could perceive, this iniquity of mine
might be such, as might never be passed by.

160. 'I was often now ashamed, that I should be like such an ugly
man as Judas; I thought, also, how loathsome I should be unto
all the saints at the day of judgment; insomuch, that now I could
scarce see a good man, that I believed had a good conscience, but
I should feel my heart tremble at him, while I was in his presence.
Oh! now I saw a glory in walking with God, and what a mercy it was
to have a good conscience before him.'

161. 'I was much about this time tempted to content myself, by
receiving some false opinion; as that there should be no such thing
as a day of judgment, that we should not rise again, and that sin
was no such grievous thing; the tempter suggesting thus, For if
these things should indeed be true, yet to believe otherwise, would
yield you ease for the present. If you must perish, never torment
yourself so much before hand; drive the thoughts of damning out of
your mind, by possessing your mind with some such conclusions that
Atheists and Ranters do use to help themselves withal.'

162. 'But, oh! when such thoughts have led through my heart, how,
as it were, within a step, hath death and judgment been in my view!
Methought the judge stood at the door, I was as if it was come
already; so that such things could have no entertainment. But,
methinks, I see by this, that Satan will use any means to keep
the soul from Christ; he loveth not an awakened frame of spirit;
security, blindness, darkness, and error is the very kingdom and
habitation of the wicked one.'

163. 'I found it hard work now to pray to God, because despair was
swallowing me up; I thought I was, as with a tempest, driven away
from God, for always when I cried to God for mercy, this would
come in, It is too late, I am lost, God hath let me fall; not to my
correction, but condemnation; my sin is unpardonable; and I know,
concerning Esau, how that, after he had sold his birthright,
he would have received the blessing, but was rejected. About this
time, I did light on that dreadful story of that miserable mortal,
Francis Spira;[38] a book that was to my troubled spirit as salt,
when rubbed into a fresh wound; every sentence in that book, every
groan of that man, with all the rest of his actions in his dolours,
as his tears, his prayers, his gnashing of teeth, his wringing of
hands, his twining and twisting, languishing and pining away under
that mighty hand of God that was upon him, was as knives and daggers
in my soul; especially that sentence of his was frightful to me,
Man knows the beginning of sin, but who bounds the issues thereof?
Then would the former sentence, as the conclusion of all, fall
like a hot thunderbolt again upon my conscience; "for you know how
that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was
rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears."'

164. Then was I struck into a very great trembling, insomuch that
at sometimes I could, for whole days together, feel my very body, as
well as my mind, to shake and totter under the sense of the dreadful
judgment of God, that should fall on those that have sinned that
most fearful and unpardonable sin. I felt also such a clogging
and heat at my stomach, by reason of this my terror, that I was,
especially at some times, as if my breast bone would have split
in sunder; then I thought of that concerning Judas, who, by his
falling headlong, burst asunder, and all his bowels gushed out
(Acts 1:18).

165. I feared also that this was the mark that the Lord did set on
Cain, even continual fear and trembling, under the heavy load of
guilt that he had charged on him for the blood of his brother Abel.
Thus did I wind, and twine, and shrink, under the burden that was
upon me; which burden also did so oppress me, that I could neither
stand, nor go, nor lie, either at rest or quiet.

166. Yet that saying would sometimes come to my mind, He hath
received gifts for the rebellious (Psa 68:18). "The rebellious,"
thought I; why, surely they are such as once were under subjection
to their prince, even those who, after they have sworn subjection
to his government, have taken up arms against him; 'and this, thought
I, is my very condition; once I loved him, feared him, served him;
but now I am a rebel; I have sold him, I have said, Let him go if
he will; but yet he has gifts for rebels, and then why not for me?'

167. This sometimes I thought on, and should labour to take
hold thereof, that some, though small, refreshment might have been
conceived by me; but in this also I missed of my desire, I was driven
with force beyond it, 'I was' like a man that is going to the place
of execution, even by that place where he would fain creep in and
hide himself, but may not.

168. Again, after I had thus considered the sins of the saints in
particular, and found mine went beyond them, then I began to think
thus with myself: Set the case I should put all theirs together, and
mine alone against them, might I not then find some encouragement?
For if mine, though bigger than any one, yet should but be equal
to all, then there is hopes; for that blood that hath virtue enough
'in it' to wash away all theirs, hath also virtue enough in it to
do away mine, though this one be full as big, if no bigger, than
all theirs. Here, again, I should consider the sin of David, of
Solomon, of Manasseh, of Peter, and the rest of the great offenders;
and should also labour, what I might with fairness, to aggravate
and heighten their sins by several circumstances: but, alas! It
was all in vain.[39]

169. 'I should think with myself that David shed blood to cover his
adultery, and that by the sword of the children of Ammon; a work
that could not be done but by continuance and deliberate contrivance,
which was a great aggravation to his sin. But then this would turn
upon me: Ah! but these were but sins against the law, from which
there was a Jesus sent to save them; but yours is a sin against
the Saviour, and who shall save you from that?'

170. 'Then I thought on Solomon, and how he sinned in loving strange
women, in falling away to their idols, in building them temples, in
doing this after light, in his old age, after great mercy received;
but the same conclusion that cut me off in the former consideration,
cut me off as to this; namely, that all those were but sins against
the law, for which God had provided a remedy; but I had sold my
Saviour, and there now remained no more sacrifice for sin.'

171. 'I would then add to those men's sins, the sins of Manasseh,
how that he built altars for idols in the house of the Lord; he
also observed times, used enchantment, had to do with wizards, was
a wizard, had his familiar spirits, burned his children in the fire
in sacrifice to devils, and made the streets of Jerusalem run down
with the blood of innocents. These, thought I, are great sins,
sins of a bloody colour; yea, it would turn again upon me: They are
none of them of the nature of yours; you have parted with Jesus,
you have sold your Saviour.'

172. This one consideration would always kill my heart, My sin was
point blank against my Saviour; and that too, at that height, that
I had in my heart said of him, Let him go if he will. Oh! methought,
this sin was bigger than the sins of a country, of a kingdom, or
of the whole world, no one pardonable, nor all of them together,
was able to equal mine; mine outwent them every one.

173. Now I should find my mind to flee from God, as from the face
of a dreadful judge; yet this was my torment, I could not escape his
hand: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
God" (Heb 10:31). But blessed be his grace, that scripture, in these
flying sins,[40] would call as running after me, "I have blotted
out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions; and, as a cloud, thy
sins: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee" (Isa 44:22). This,
I say, would come in upon my mind, when I was fleeing from the face
of God; for I did flee from his face, that is, my mind and spirit
fled before him; by reason of his highness, I could not endure;
then would the text cry, "Return unto me"; it would cry aloud with
a very great voice, "Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee."
Indeed, this would make me make a little stop, and, as it were,
look over my shoulder behind me, to see if I could discern that the
God of grace did follow me with a pardon in his hand, but I could
no sooner do that, but all would be clouded and darkened again by
that sentence, "For you know how that afterwards, when he would
have inherited the blessing, he found no place of repentance, though
he sought it carefully with tears." Wherefore I could not return,
but fled, though at sometimes it cried, "Return, return," as if
it did holloa after me. But I feared to close in therewith, lest
it should not come from God; for that other, as I said, was still
sounding in my conscience, "For you know how that afterwards, when
he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected," &c.

174. 'Once as I was walking to and fro in a good man's shop,
bemoaning of myself in my sad and doleful state, afflicting myself
with self-abhorrence for this wicked and ungodly thought; lamenting,
also, this hard hap of mine, for that I should commit so great a
sin, greatly fearing I should not be pardoned; praying, also, in
my heart, that if this sin of mine did differ from that against
the Holy Ghost, the Lord would show it me. And being now ready to
sink with fear, suddenly there was, as if there had rushed in at
the window, the noise of wind upon me, but very pleasant, and as
if I heard a voice speaking, Didst ever refuse to be justified by
the blood of Christ? And, withal my whole life and profession past
was, in a moment, opened to me, wherein I was made to see that
designedly I had not; so my heart answered groaningly, No. then
fell, with power, that word of God upon me, "See that ye refuse not
him that speaketh" (Heb 12:25). This made a strange seizure upon
my spirit; it brought light with it, and commanded a silence in my
heart of all those tumultuous thoughts that before did use, like
masterless hell-hounds, to roar and bellow, and make a hideous
noise within me. It showed me, also, that Jesus Christ had yet a
word of grace and mercy for me, that he had not, as I had feared,
quite forsaken and cast off my soul; yea, this was a kind of a
chide for my proneness to desperation; a kind of a threatening me
if I did not, notwithstanding my sins and the heinousness of them,
venture my salvation upon the Son of God. But as to my determining
about this strange dispensation, what it was I knew not; or from
whence it came I know not. I have not yet, in twenty years' time,
been able to make a judgment of it; I thought then what here I
shall be loath to speak. But verily, that sudden rushing wind was
as if an angel had come upon me; but both it and the salvation I
will leave until the day of judgment; only this I say, it commanded
a great calm in my soul, it persuaded me there might be hope; it
showed me, as I thought, what the sin unpardonable was, and that
my soul had yet the blessed privilege to flee to Jesus Christ for
mercy. But, I say, concerning this dispensation, I know not what
yet to say unto it; which was, also, in truth, the cause that, at
first, I did not speak of it in the book; I do now, also, leave it
to be thought on by men of sound judgment. I lay not the stress of
my salvation thereupon, but upon the Lord Jesus, in the promise;
yet, seeing I am here unfolding of my secret things, I thought it
might not be altogether inexpedient to let this also show itself,
though I cannot now relate the matter as there I did experience
it. This lasted, in the savour of it, for about three or four days,
and the I began to mistrust and to despair again.'[41]

175. 'Wherefore, still my life hung in doubt before me, not knowing
which way I should tip; only this I found my soul desire, even to
cast itself at the foot of grace, by prayer and supplication. But,
oh! it was hard for me now to bear the face to pray to this Christ
for mercy, against whom I had thus most vilely sinned; it was hard
work, I say, to offer to look him in the face against whom I had
so vilely sinned; and, indeed, I have found it as difficult to come
to God by prayer, after backsliding from him, as to do any other
thing. Oh, the shame that did now attend me! especially when I thought
I am now a-going to pray to him for mercy that I had so lightly
esteemed but a while before! I was ashamed, yea, even confounded,
because this villany had been committed by me; but I saw there was
but one way with me, I must go to him and humble myself unto him,
and beg that he, of his wonderful mercy, would show pity to me,
and have mercy upon my wretched sinful soul.'

176. 'Which, when the tempter perceived, he strongly suggested to
me, That I ought not to pray to God; for prayer was not for any in
my case, neither could it do me good, because I had rejected the
Mediator, by whom all prayer came with acceptance to God the Father,
and without whom no prayer could come into his presence. Wherefore,
now to pray is but to add sin to sin; yea, now to pray, seeing God
has cast you off, is the next way to anger and offend him more than
you ever did before.'

177. 'For God, saith he, hath been weary of you for these several
years already, because you are none of his; your bawlings in his
ears hath been no pleasant voice to him; and, therefore, he let you
sin this sin, that you might be quite cut off; and will you pray
still? This the devil urged, and set forth that, in Numbers, when
Moses said to the children of Israel, That because they would not
go up to posses the land when God would have them, therefore, for
ever after, God did bar them out from thence, though they prayed
they might, with tears (Num 14:36,37), &c.'

178. 'As it is said in another place (Exo 21:14), the man that sins
presumptuously shall be taken from God's altar, that he may die;
even as Joab was by King Solomon, when he thought to find shelter
there (1 Kings 2:28), &c. These places did pinch me very sore; yet,
my case being desperate, I thought with myself I can but die; and
if it must be so, it shall once be said, that such an one died
at the foot of Christ in prayer.[42] This I did, but with great
difficulty, God doth know; and that because, together with this,
still that saying about Esau would be set at my heart, even like a
flaming sword, to keep the way of the tree of life, lest I should
taste thereof and live. Oh! who knows how hard a thing I found it
to come to God in prayer.'

179. 'I did also desire the prayers of the people of God for
me, but I feared that God would give them no heart to do it; yea,
I trembled in my soul to think that some or other of them would
shortly tell me, that God had said those words to them that he once
did say to the prophet concerning the children of Israel, "Pray
not thou for this people," for I have rejected them (Jer 11:14).
So, pray not for him, for I have rejected him. Yea, I thought that
he had whispered this to some of them already, only they durst not
tell me so, neither durst I ask them of it, for fear, if it should
be so, it would make me quite besides myself. Man knows the beginning
of sin, said Spira, but who bounds the issues thereof?'

180. About this time I took an opportunity to break my mind to
an ancient Christian, and told him all my case; I told him, also,
that I was afraid that I had sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost;
and he told me he thought so too. Here, therefore, I had but cold
comfort; but, talking a little more with him, I found him, though
a good man, a stranger to much combat with the devil. Wherefore,
I went to God again, as well as I could, for mercy still.

181. Now, also, did the tempter begin to mock me in my misery,
saying, that, seeing I had thus parted with the Lord Jesus, and
provoked him to displeasure, who would have stood between my soul
and the flame of devouring fire, there was now but one way, and
that was, to pray that God the Father would be the Mediator betwixt
his Son and me, that we might be reconciled again, and that I might
have that blessed benefit in him that his blessed saints enjoyed.

182. Then did that scripture seize upon my soul, He is of one mind,
and who can turn him? Oh! I saw it was as easy to persuade him to
make a new world, a new covenant, or new Bible, besides that we
have already, as to pray for such a thing. This was to persuade him
that what he had done already was mere folly, and persuade with him
to alter, yea, to disannul, the whole way of salvation; and then
would that saying rend my soul asunder, "Neither is there salvation
in any other: for there is none other name under heaven, given
among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

183. 'Now, the most free, and full, and gracious words of the
gospel were the greatest torment to me; yea, nothing so afflicted
me as the thoughts of Jesus Christ, the remembrance of a Saviour;
because I had cast him off, brought forth the villany of my sin,
and my loss by it to mind; nothing did twinge my conscience like
this. Every time that I thought of the Lord Jesus, of his grace,
love, goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness, death, blood,
promises and blessed exhortations, comforts and consolations, it
went to my soul like a sword; for still, unto these my considerations
of the Lord Jesus, these thoughts would make place for themselves
in my heart; aye, this is the Jesus, the loving Saviour, the Son
of God, whom thou hast parted with, whom you slighted, despised,
and abused. This is the only Saviour, the only Redeemer, the only
one that could so love sinners as to wash them from their sins in
his own most precious blood; but you have no part nor lot in this
Jesus, you have put him from you, you have said in your heart, Let
him go if he will. Now, therefore, you are severed from him; you
have severed yourself from him. Behold, then, his goodness, but
yourself to be no partaker of it. Oh, thought I, what have I lost!
What have I parted with! What have I disinherited my poor soul of!
Oh! it is sad to be destroyed by the grace and mercy of God; to
have the Lamb, the Saviour, turn lion and destroyer (Rev 6).[43] I
also trembled, as I have said, at the sight of the saints of God,
especially at those that greatly loved him, and that made it their
business to walk continually with him in this world; for they did,
both in their words, their carriages, and all their expressions of
tenderness and fear to sin against their precious Saviour, condemn,
lay guilt upon, and also add continual affliction and shame unto
my soul. The dread of them was upon me, and I trembled at God's
Samuels (1 Sam 16:4).'

184. Now, also, the tempter began afresh to mock my soul another
way, saying that Christ, indeed, did pity my case, and was sorry
for my loss; but forasmuch as I had sinned and transgressed, as
I had done, he could by no means help me, nor save me from what I
feared; for my sin was not of the nature of theirs for whom he bled
and died, neither was it counted with those that were laid to his
charge when he hanged on the tree. Therefore, unless he should come
down from heaven and die anew for this sin, though, indeed, he did
greatly pity me, yet I could have no benefit of him. These things
may seem ridiculous to others, even as ridiculous as they were in
themselves, but to me they were most tormenting cogitations; every
of them augmented my misery, that Jesus Christ should have so much
love as to pity me when he could not help me; nor did I think that
the reason why he could not help me was because his merits were
weak, or his grace and salvation spent on them already, but because
his faithfulness to his threatening would not let him extend his
mercy to me. Besides, I thought, as I have already hinted, that my
sin was not within the bounds of that pardon that was wrapped up
in a promise; and if not, then I knew assuredly, that it was more
easy for heaven and earth to pass away than for me to have eternal
life. So that the ground of all these fears of mine did arise from
a steadfast belief that I had of the stability of the holy Word of
God, and also, from my being misinformed of the nature of my sin.

185. But, oh! how this would add to my affliction, to conceit that
I should be guilty of such a sin for which he did not die. These
thoughts would so confound me, and imprison me, and tie me up from
faith, that I knew not what to do; but, oh! thought I, that he
would come down again! Oh! that the work of man's redemption was
yet to be done by Christ! How would I pray him and entreat him to
count and reckon this sin amongst the rest for which he died! But
this scripture would strike me down as dead, "Christ being raised
from the death dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him"
(Rom 6:9).[44]

186. Thus, by the strange and unusual assaults of the tempter, was
my soul, like a broken vessel, driven as with the winds, and tossed
sometimes headlong into despair, sometimes upon the covenant of
works, and sometimes to wish that the new covenant, and the conditions
thereof, might, so far forth as I thought myself concerned, be turned
another way and changed. But in all these I was but as those that
justle against the rocks; more broken, scattered, and rent. Oh,
the unthought of imaginations, frights, fears, and terrors that are
affected by a thorough application of guilt, yielded to desperation!
This is the man that hath "his dwelling among the tombs" with the
dead; that is, always crying out and "cutting himself with stones"
(Mark 5:2-5). But I say, all in vain; desperation will not comfort
him, the old covenant will not save him; nay, heaven and earth
shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the Word and law of
grace shall fall or be removed. This I saw, this I felt, and under
this I groaned; yet this advantage I got thereby, namely, a farther
confirmation of the certainty of the way of salvation, and that
the Scriptures were the Word of God! Oh! I cannot now express what
then I saw and felt of the steadiness of Jesus Christ, the rock of
man's salvation; what was done could not be undone, added to, nor
altered. I saw, indeed, that sin might drive the soul beyond Christ,
even the sin which is unpardonable; but woe to him that was so
driven, for the Word would shut him out.

187. Thus was I always sinking, whatever I did think or do. So one
day I walked to a neighbouring town, and sat down upon a settle in
the street, and fell into a very deep pause about the most fearful
state my sin had brought me to; and, after long musing, I lifted
up my head, but methought I saw as if the sun that shineth in the
heavens did grudge to give light, and as if the very stones in the
street, and tiles upon the houses, did bend themselves against me;
methought that they all combined together to banish me out of the
world; I was abhorred of them, and unfit to dwell among them, or
be partaker of their benefits, because I had sinned against the
Saviour. O how happy, now, was every creature over [what] I was; for
they stood fast and kept their station, but I was gone and lost.

188. Then breaking out in the bitterness of my soul, I said 'to
myself,' with a grievous sigh, How can God comfort such a wretch as
I? I had no sooner said it but this returned upon me, as an echo
doth answer a voice, This sin is not unto death. At which I was
as if I had been raised out of a grave, and cried out again, Lord,
how couldest thou find out such a word as this? for I was filled
with admiration at the fitness, and, also, at the unexpectedness
of the sentence, 'the fitness of the Word, the rightness of the
timing of it, the power, and sweetness, and light, and glory that
came with it, also, was marvelous to me to find. I was now, for the
time, out of doubt as to that about which I so much was in doubt
before; my fears before were, that my sin was not pardonable, and
so that I had no right to pray, to repent, &c., or that if I did,
it would be of no advantage or profit to me. But now, thought I,
if this sin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore,
from this I have encouragement to come to God, by Christ, for mercy,
to consider the promise of forgiveness as that which stands with
open arms to receive me, as well as others. This, therefore, was
a great easement to my mind; to wit, that my sin was pardonable,
that it was not the sin unto death (1 John 5:16,17). None but those
that know what my trouble, by their own experience, was, can tell
what relief came to my soul by this consideration; it was a release
to me from my former bonds, and a shelter from my former storm. I
seemed now to stand upon the same ground with other sinners, and
to have as good right to the Word and prayer as any of them.'[45]

189. Now, 'I say,' I was in hopes that my sin was not unpardonable,
but that there might be hopes for me to obtain forgiveness. But,
oh, how Satan did now lay about him for to bring me down again!
But he could by no means do it, neither this day nor the most part
of the next, for this sentence stood like a mill post at my back;
yet, towards the evening of the next day, I felt this word begin
to leave me and to withdraw its supportation from me, and so I
returned to my old fears again, but with a great deal of grudging
and peevishness, for I feared the sorrow of despair; 'nor could my
faith now longer retain this word.'

190. But the next day, at evening, being under many fears, I went
to seek the Lord; and as I prayed, I cried, 'and my soul cried'
to him in these words, with strong cries:--O Lord, I beseech thee,
show me that thou hast loved me with everlasting love (Jer 31:3).
I had no sooner said it but, with sweetness, this returned upon me,
as an echo or sounding again, "I have loved thee with an everlasting
love." Now I went to bed at quiet; also, when I awaked the next
morning, it was fresh upon my soul--'and I believed it.'

191. But yet the tempter left me not; for it could not be so little
as an hundred times that he that day did labour to break my peace.
Oh! the combats and conflicts that I did then meet with as I strove
to hold by this word; that of Esau would fly in my face like to
lightning. I should be sometimes up and down twenty times in an
hour, yet God did bear me up and keep my heart upon this word, from
which I had also, for several days together, very much sweetness
and comfortable hopes of pardon; for thus it was made out to me,
I loved thee whilst thou wast committing this sin, I loved thee
before, I love thee still, and I will love thee for ever.

192. Yet I saw my sin most barbarous, and a filthy crime, and could
not but conclude, and that with great shame and astonishment, that
I had horribly abused the holy Son of God; wherefore I felt my soul
greatly to love and pity him, and my bowels to yearn towards him;
for I saw he was still my Friend, and did reward me good for evil;
yea, the love and affection that then did burn within to my Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ did work, at this time, such a strong
and hot desire of revengement upon myself for the abuse I had done
unto him, that, to speak as then I thought, had I had a thousand
gallons of blood within my veins, I could freely 'then' have spilt
it all at the command and feet of this my Lord and Saviour.

193. And as I was thus in musing and in my studies, 'considering'
how to love the Lord and to express my love to him, that saying
came in upon me, "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord,
who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou
mayest be feared" (Psa 130:3,4). These were good words to me,[46]
especially the latter part thereof; to wit, that there is forgiveness
with the Lord, that he might be feared; that is, as then I understood
it, that he might be loved and had in reverence; for it was thus
made out to me, that the great God did set so high an esteem upon
the love of his poor creatures, that rather than he would go without
their love he would pardon their transgressions.

194. And now was that word fulfilled on me, and I was also refreshed
by it, Then shall they be ashamed and confounded, "and never open
their mouth any more because of their shame, when I am pacified
toward them for all that they have done, saith the Lord God" (Eze
16:63). Thus was my soul at this time, and, as I then did think,
for ever, set at liberty from being again afflicted with my former
guilt and amazement.

195. But before many weeks were over I began to despond again,
fearing lest, notwithstanding all that I had enjoyed, that yet I
might be deceived and destroyed at the last; for this consideration
came strong into my mind, that whatever comfort and peace I thought
I might have from the Word of the promise of life, yet unless there
could be found in my refreshment a concurrence and agreement in the
Scriptures, let me think what I will thereof, and hold it never so
fast, I should find no such thing at the end; "for the Scripture
cannot be broken" (John 10:35).

196. Now began my heart again to ache and fear I might meet with
disappointment at the last; wherefore I began, with all seriousness,
to examine my former comfort, and to consider whether one that
had sinned as I have done, might with confidence trust upon the
faithfulness of God, laid down in those words by which I had been
comforted and on which I had leaned myself. But now were brought
those sayings to my mind, "For it is impossible for those who were
once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of
God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away,
to renew them again unto repentance" (Heb 6:4-6). "For if we sin
willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,
there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful
looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour
the adversaries" (Heb 10:26,27). Even "as Esau, who, for one morsel
of meat sold his birthright; for ye know how that afterward, when
he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found
no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears"
(Heb 12:16,17).

197. Now was the word of the gospel forced from my soul, so that no
promise or encouragement was to be found in the Bible for me; and
now would that saying work upon my spirit to afflict me, "Rejoice
not, O Israel, for joy as other people" (Hosea 9:1). For I saw
indeed there was cause of rejoicing for those that held to Jesus;
but as for me, I had cut myself off by my transgressions, and left
myself neither foot-hold, nor hand-hold, amongst all the stays and
props in the precious word of life.

198. And truly I did now feel myself to sink into a gulf, as an
house whose foundation is destroyed; I did liken myself, in this
condition, unto the case of a child that was fallen into a mill-pit,
who, though it could make some shift to scrabble and spraul in the
water, yet because it could find neither hold for hand nor foot,
therefore at last it must die in that condition. So soon as this
fresh assault had fastened on my soul, that scripture came into my
heart, "This is for many days" (Dan 10:14). And indeed I found it
was so; for I could not be delivered, nor brought to peace again,
until well nigh two years and an half were completely finished. Wherefore
these words, though in themselves they tended to discouragement,
yet to me, who feared this condition would be eternal, they were
at sometimes as an help and refreshment to me.

199. For, thought I, many days are not, not for ever, many days
will have an end, therefore seeing I was to be afflicted, not a
few, but many days, yet I was glad it was but for many days. Thus,
I say, I could recall myself sometimes, and give myself a help, for
as soon as ever the words came 'into my mind' at first, I knew my
trouble would be long; yet this would be but sometimes, for I could
not always think on this, nor ever be helped 'by it,' though I did.

200. Now, while these Scriptures lay before me, and laid sin
'anew' at my door, that saying in the 18th of Luke, with others,
did encourage me to prayer. Then the tempter again laid at me very
sore, suggesting, That neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood
of Christ, did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my
sin; 'therefore it was in 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 to no boot, said he.' Yet, said I, I will pray.
So I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer, 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 thou wilt and canst? or 'him,' by
believing thou neither wilt nor canst? Lord, I would fain honour
thee, by believing thou wilt and canst.

201. And as I was thus before the Lord, that scripture fastened on
my heart, "O [wo]man, great is thy faith" (Matt 15:28), even as if
one had clapped me on the back, as I was on my knees before God.
Yet I was not able to believe this, 'that this was a prayer of
faith,' till almost six months after; for I could not think that I
had faith, or that there should be a word for me to act faith on;
therefore I should still be as sticking in the jaws of desperation,
and went mourning up and down 'in a sad condition,' crying, Is his
mercy clean gone? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? And I thought
sometimes, even when I was groaning in these expressions, they did
seem to make a question whether it was or no; yet I greatly feared
it was.

202. 'There was nothing now that I longed for more than to be put
out of doubt, as to this thing in question; and, as I was vehemently
desiring to know if there was indeed hopes for me, these words came
rolling into my mind, "Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will
he be a favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth
his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?" (Psa 77:7-9). And
all the while they run in my mind, methought I had this still as
the answer, It is a question whether he had or no; it may be he hath
not. Yea, the interrogatory seemed to me to carry in it a sure
affirmation that indeed he had not, nor would so cast off, but
would be favourable; that his promise doth not fail, and that he
had not forgotten to be gracious, nor would in anger shut up his
tender mercy. Something, also, there was upon my heart at the same
time, which I now cannot call to mind; which, with this text, did
sweeten my heart, and made me conclude that his mercy might not be
quite gone, nor clean gone for ever.'[47]

203. At another time, I remember I was again much under the question,
Whether the blood of Christ was sufficient to save my soul? In which
doubt I continued from morning till about seven or eight at night;
and at last, when I was, as it were, quite worn out with fear,
lest it should not lay hold on me, these words did sound suddenly
within my heart, He is able. But methought this word ABLE was
spoke so loud unto me; it showed such a great word, 'it seemed to
be writ in great letters,' and gave such a justle to my fear and
doubt, I mean for the time it tarried with me, which was about a
day, as I never had from that all my life, either before or after
that (Heb 7:25).

204. But one morning, when I was again at prayer, and trembling
under the fear of this, that no word of God could help me, that
piece of a sentence darted in upon me, "My grace is sufficient." At
this methought I felt some stay, as if there might be hopes. But,
oh how good a thing it is for God to send his Word! For about
a fortnight before I was looking on this very place, and then I
thought it could not come near my soul with comfort, 'therefore'
I threw down my book in a pet. 'Then I thought it was not large
enough for me; no, not large enough'; but now, it was as if it had
arms of grace so wide that it could not only enclose me, but many
more besides.

205. By these words I was sustained, yet not without exceeding
conflicts, for the space of seven or eight weeks; for my peace
would be in and out, sometimes twenty times a day; comfort now,
and trouble presently; peace now, and before I could go a furlong
as full of fear and guilt as ever heart could hold; and this was
not only now and then, but my whole seven weeks' experience; for
this about the sufficiency of grace, and that of Esau's parting
with his birthright, would be like a pair of scales within my mind,
sometimes one end would be uppermost, and sometimes again the other;
according to which would be my peace or trouble.

206. Therefore I still did pray to God, that he would come in with
this Scripture more fully on my heart; to wit, that he would help
me to apply the whole sentence, 'for as yet I could not: that he
gave, I gathered; but further I could not go,' for as yet it only
helped me to hope 'there might be mercy for me,' "My grace is
sufficient"; and though it came no farther, it answered my former
question; to wit, that there was hope; yet, because "for thee" was
left out, I was not contented, but prayed to God for that also.
Wherefore, one day as I was in a meeting of God's people, full of
sadness and terror, for my fears again were strong upon me; and as
I was now thinking my soul was never the better, but my case most
sad and fearful, these words did, with great power, suddenly break
in upon me, "My grace is sufficient for thee, my grace is sufficient
for thee, my grace is sufficient for thee," three times together;
and, oh! methought that every word as a mighty word unto me; as
my, and grace, and sufficient, and for thee; they were then, and
sometimes are still, far bigger than others be.

207. At which time my understanding was so enlightened, that I was
as though I had seen the Lord Jesus look down from heaven through
the tiles upon me, and direct these words unto me. This sent me
mourning home, it broke my heart, and filled me full of joy, and
laid me low as the dust; only it stayed not long with me, I mean
in this glory and refreshing comfort, yet it continued with me for
several weeks, and did encourage me to hope. But so soon as that
powerful operation of it was taken off my heart, that other about
Esau returned upon me as before; so my soul did hang as in a pair
of scales again, sometimes up and sometimes down, now in peace,
and anon again in terror.

208. Thus I went on for many weeks, sometimes comforted, and sometimes
tormented; and, especially at some times, my torment would be very
sore, for all those scriptures forenamed in the Hebrews, would
be set before me, as the only sentences that would keep me out of
heaven. Then, again, I should begin to repent that ever that thought
went through me, I should also think thus with myself, Why, how
many scriptures are there against me? There are but three or four:
and cannot God miss them, and save me for all them? Sometimes,
again, I should think, Oh! if it were not for these three or four
words, now how might I be comforted? And I could hardly forbear,
at some times, but to wish them out of the book.

209. Then methought I should see as if both Peter, and Paul, and
John, and all the writers, did look with scorn upon me, and hold me
in derision; and as if they said unto me, All our words are truth,
one of as much force as another. It is not we that have cut you
off, but you have cast away yourself; there is none of our sentences
that you must take hold upon but these, and such as these: "It is
impossible; there remains no more sacrifice for sin" (Heb 6). And
"it had been better for them not to have known" the will of God,
"than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment
delivered unto them" (2 Peter 2:21). "For the Scriptures cannot
be broken."[48]

210. 'These, as the elders of the city of refuge, I saw were to be
the judges both of my case and me, while I stood, with the avenger
of blood at my heels, trembling at their gate for deliverance, also
with a thousand fears and mistrusts, I doubted that they would shut
me out for ever (Josh 20:3,4).'

211. Thus was I confounded, not knowing what to do, nor how to be
satisfied in this question, Whether the scriptures could agree in
the salvation of my soul? I quaked at the apostles, I knew their
words were true, and that they must stand for ever.

212. And I remember one day, as I was in diverse frames of spirit,
and considering that these frames were still according to the nature
of the several scriptures that came in upon my mind; if this of
grace, then was I quiet; but if that of Esau, then tormented; Lord,
thought I, if both these scriptures would meet in my heart at once,
I wonder which of them would get the better of me. So methought I
had a longing mind that they might come both together upon me; yea,
I desired of God they might.

213. Well, about two or three days after, so they did indeed; they
bolted both upon me at a time, and did work and struggle strangely
in me for a while; at last, that about Esau's birthright began to
wax weak, and withdraw, and vanish; and this about the sufficiency
of grace prevailed with peace and joy. And as I was in a muse about
this thing, that scripture came home upon me, "Mercy rejoiceth
against judgment" (James 2:13).

214. This was a wonderment to me; yet truly I am apt to think it
was of God; for the word of the law and wrath must give place to
the word of life and grace; because, though the word of condemnation
be glorious, yet the word of life and salvation doth far exceed in
glory (2 Cor 3:8-12; Mark 9:5-7). Also, that Moses and Elias must
both vanish, and leave Christ and his saints alone.

215. This scripture did also most sweetly visit my soul, "And him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Oh,
the comfort that I have had from this world, "in no wise"! as who
should say, by no means, for no thing, whatever he hath done. But
Satan would greatly labour to pull this promise from me, telling
of me that Christ did not mean me, and such as I, but sinners of
a lower rank, that had not done as I had done. But I should answer
him again, Satan, here is in this word no such exception; but "him
that comes," HIM, any him; "him that cometh to me I will in no wise
cast out." And this I well remember still, that of all the sleights
that Satan used to take this scripture from me, yet he never did
so much as put this question, But do you come aright? And I have
thought the reason was, because he thought I knew full well what
coming aright was; for I saw that to come aright was to come as I
was, a vile and ungodly sinner, and to cast myself at the feet of
mercy, condemning myself for sin. If ever Satan and I did strive
for any word 'of God in all my life, it was for this good word of
Christ; he at one end and I at the other. Oh, what work did we make!'
It was for this in John, 'I say, that we did so tug and strive';
he pulled and I pulled; but, God be praised, 'I got the better of
him,' I got some sweetness from it.

216. But, notwithstanding all these helps and blessed words of
grace, yet that of Esau's selling of his birthright would still at
times distress my conscience; for though I had been most sweetly
comforted, and that but just before, yet when that came into 'my'
mind, it would make me fear again, I could not be quite rid thereof,
it would every day be with me: wherefore now I went another way
to work, even to consider the nature of this blasphemous thought;
I mean, if I should take the words at the largest, and give them
their own natural force and scope, even every word therein. So when
I had thus considered, I found, that if they were fairly taken,
they would amount to this, that I had freely left the Lord Jesus
Christ to his choice, whether he would be my Saviour or no; for the
wicked words were these, Let him go if he will. Then that scripture
gave me hope, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:5).
O Lord, said I, but I have left thee. Then it answered again, "But
I will not leave thee." For this I thank God also.

217. Yet I was grievously afraid he should, and found it exceeding
hard to trust him, seeing I had so offended him. I could have been
exceeding glad that this thought had never befallen, for then I
thought I could, with more ease and freedom abundance, have leaned
upon his grace. I see it was with me, as it was with Joseph's
brethren; the guilt of their own wickedness did often fill them with
fears that their brother would at last despise them (Gen 50:15-17).

218. But above all the scriptures that I yet did meet with, that
in the twentieth of Joshua was the greatest comfort to me, which
speaks of the slayer that was to flee for refuge. And if the avenger
of blood pursue the slayer, then, saith Moses, they that are the
elders of the city of refuge shall not deliver him into his hand,
because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not
aforetime. Oh, blessed be God for this word; I was convinced that
I was the slayer; and that the avenger of blood pursued me, that I
felt with great terror; only now it remained that I inquire whether
I have right to enter the city of refuge.[49] So I found that he
must not, who lay in wait to shed blood: 'it was not the willful
murderer,' but he who unwittingly did it, he who did unawares
shed blood; 'not of spite, or grudge, or malice, he that shed
it unwittingly,' even he who did not hate his neighbour before.
Wherefore,

219. I thought verily I was the man that must enter, because I
had smitten my neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not aforetime.
I hated him not aforetime; no, I prayed unto him, was tender of
sinning against him; yea, and against this wicked temptation I had
strove for a twelvemonth before; yea, and also when it did pass
through my heart, it did it in spite of my teeth: wherefore I
thought I had right to enter this city, and the elders, which are
the apostles, were not to deliver me up. This, therefore, was great
comfort to me; and did give me much ground of hope.

220. Yet being very critical, for my smart had made me that I knew
not what ground was sure enough to bear me, I had one question
that my soul did much desire to be resolved about; and that was,
Whether it be possible for any soul that hath indeed sinned the
unpardonable sin, yet after that to receive though but the least
true spiritual comfort from God through Christ? The which, after
I had much considered, I found the answer was, No, they could not;
and that for these reasons:--

221. First, Because those that have sinned that sin, they are debarred
a share in the blood of Christ, and being shut out of that, they
must needs be void of the least ground of hope, and so of spiritual
comfort; for to such "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins"
(Heb 10:26). Secondly, Because they are denied a share in the
promise of life; they shall never be forgiven, "neither in this
world, neither in that which is to come" (Matt 12:32). Thirdly,
The Son of God excludes them also from a share in his blessed
intercession, being for ever ashamed to own them both before his
holy Father, and the blessed angels in heaven (Mark 8:38).

222. When I had, with much deliberation, considered of this matter,
and could not but conclude that the Lord had comforted me, and that
too after this my wicked sin; then, methought, I durst venture to
come nigh unto those most fearful and terrible scriptures, with
which all this while I had been so greatly affrighted, and on which,
indeed, before I durst scarce cast mine eye, yea, had much ado an
hundred times to forbear wishing of them out of the Bible; for I
thought they would destroy me; but now, I say, I began to take some
measure of encouragement to come close to them, to read them, and
consider them, and to weigh their scope and tendency.

223. The which, when I began to do, I found their visage changed;
for they looked not so grimly on me as before I thought they did.
And, first, I came to the sixth of the Hebrews, yet trembling for
fear it should strike me; which when I had considered, I found that
the falling there intended was a falling quite away; that is, as
I conceived, a falling from, and an absolute denial of the gospel
of remission of sins by Christ; for from them the apostle begins
his argument (vv 1-3). Secondly, I found that this falling away
must be openly, even in the view of the world, even so as "to put
Christ to an open shame." Thirdly, I found that those he there
intended were for ever shut up of God, both in blindness, hardness,
and impenitency: it is impossible they should be renewed again unto
repentance. By all these particulars, I found, to God's everlasting
praise, my sin was not the sin in this place intended.

'First, I confessed I was fallen, but not fallen away, that is,
from the profession of faith in Jesus unto eternal life. Secondly,
I confessed that I had put Jesus Christ to shame by my sin, but
not to open shame; I did not deny him before men, nor condemn him
as a fruitless one before the world. Thirdly, Nor did I find that
God had shut me up, or denied me to come, though I found it hard
work indeed to come to him by sorrow and repentance. Blessed be
God for unsearchable grace.'

224. Then I considered that in the tenth of the Hebrews, and found
that the willful sin there mentioned is not every willful sin,
but that which doth throw off Christ, and then his commandments
too. Secondly, That must also be done openly, before two or three
witnesses, to answer that of the law (v 28). Thirdly, This sin cannot
be committed, but with great despite done to the Spirit of grace;
despising both the dissuasions from that sin, and the persuasions
to the contrary. But the Lord knows, though this my sin was devilish,
yet it did not amount to these.

225. And as touching that in the twelfth of the Hebrews, about
Esau's selling his birthright, though this was that which killed me,
and stood like a spear against me; yet now I did consider, First,
That his was not a hasty thought against the continual labour of
his mind, but a thought consented to and put in practice likewise,
and that too after some deliberation (Gen 25). Secondly, It was a
public and open action, even before his brother, if not before many
more; this made his sin of a far more heinous nature than otherwise
it would have been. Thirdly, He continued to slight his birthright:
"He did eat and drink, and went his way; thus Esau despised
his birthright" (v 34). Yea, twenty years after, he was found to
despise it still. "And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep
that thou hast unto thyself" (Gen 33:9).

226. Now as touching this, that Esau sought a place of repentance;
thus I thought, first, This was not for the birthright, but for the
blessing; this is clear from the apostle, and is distinguished by
Esau himself; "he took away my birthright [that is, formerly]; and,
behold, now he hath taken away my blessing" (Gen 27:36). Secondly,
Now, this being thus considered, I came again to the apostle, to
see what might be the mind of God, in a New Testament style and
sense, concerning Esau's sin; and so far as I could conceive, this
was the mind of God, That the birthright signified regeneration,
and the blessing the eternal inheritance; for so the apostle seems
to hint, "Lest there be any profane person, as Esau, who for one
morsel of meat sold his birthright"; as if he should say, Lest there
be any person amongst you, that shall cast off all those blessed
beginnings of God that at present are upon him, in order to a new
birth, lest they become as Esau, even be rejected afterwards, when
they would inherit the blessing.

227. For many there are who, in the day of grace and mercy, despise
those things which are indeed the birthright to heaven, who yet,
when the deciding day appears, will cry as loud as Esau, "Lord,
Lord, open to us"; but then, as Isaac would not repent, no more will
God the Father, but will say, I have blessed these, yea, and they
shall be blessed; but as for you, depart from me, all ye workers
of iniquity (Gen 27:33; Luke 13:25-27).

228. When I had thus considered these scriptures, and found that
thus to understand them was not against, but according to other
scriptures; this still added further to my encouragement and
comfort, and also gave a great blow to that objection, to wit, that
the scripture could not agree in the salvation of my soul. And now
remained only the hinder part of the tempest, for the thunder was
gone beyond me, only some drops did still remain, that now and then
would fall upon me; but because my former frights and anguish were
very sore and deep, therefore it did oft befall me still, as it
befalleth those that have been scared with fire, I thought every
voice was Fire, fire; every little touch would hurt my tender
conscience.[50]

229. But one day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with
some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right,
suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is
in heaven; and methought withal, 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 adoing, God could not
say of me, He wants my righteousness, for that was just before him.
I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that
made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my
righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself,
the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever (Heb 13:8).

230. 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 also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God.
So when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence,
Thy righteousness is in heaven; but could not find such a saying,
wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my
remembrance, he "of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,
and sanctification, and redemption"; by this word I saw the other
sentence true (1 Cor 1:30).

231. For by this scripture, I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as
he is distinct from us, as touching his bodily presence, so he is
our righteousness and sanctification before God. Here, therefore,
I lived for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through
Christ; Oh methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ
that was before my eyes, I was not now only for looking upon this
and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or
resurrection, but considered him as a whole Christ! As he in whom
all these, and all other his virtues, relations, offices, and
operations met together, and that 'as he sat' on the right hand of
God in heaven.

232. It was glorious to me to see his exaltation, and the worth
and prevalency of all his benefits, and that because of this: now
I could look from myself to him, and should reckon that all those
graces of God that now were green in me, were yet but like those
cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies[51] that rich men carry
in their purses, when 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!
Now Christ was all; all my wisdom, all my righteousness, all my
sanctification, and all my redemption.

233. Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union
with the Son of God, that I was joined to him, that I was flesh
of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and now was that a sweet word
to me in Ephesians 5:30. By this also was my faith in him, as my
righteousness, the more confirmed to me; for if he and I were one,
then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also
mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once; in heaven
by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on
earth by my body or person.

234. Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked on of God, and should also
be looked upon by us, as that common or public person, [52] in
whom all the whole body of his elect are always to be considered
and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by him, died by him, rose
from the dead by him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil,
and hell, by him; when he died, we died; and so of his resurrection.
"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they
arise," saith he (Isa 26:19). And again, "After two days will he
revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live
in his sight" (Hosea 6:2); which is now fulfilled by the sitting
down of the Son of man on the right hand of the Majesty in the
heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, he "hath raised us
up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus" (Eph 2:6).

235. Ah, these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many
other of a like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine
eyes, 'so that I have cause to say,' "Praise ye the Lord. Praise
God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent
greatness" (Psa 150:1,2).

236. Having thus, in few words, given you a taste of the sorrow and
affliction that my soul went under, by the guilt and terror that
this my wicked thought did lay me under! and having given you also
a touch of my deliverance therefrom, and of the sweet and blessed
comfort that I met with afterwards, which comfort dwelt about a
twelve-month with my heart, to my unspeakable admiration; I will
now, God willing, before I proceed any further, give you in a word
or two, what, as I conceive, was the cause of this temptation; and
also after that, what advantage, at the last, it became unto my
soul.

237. For the causes, I conceived they were principally two: of which
two also I was deeply convinced all the time this trouble lay upon
me. The first was, for that I did not, when I was delivered from
the temptation that went before, still pray to God to keep me from
temptations that were to come; for though, as I can say in truth,
my soul was much in prayer before this trial seized me, yet then I
prayed only, or at the most, principally for the removal of present
troubles, and for fresh discoveries of 'his' love in Christ! which
I saw afterwards was not enough to do; I also should have prayed
that the great God would keep me from the evil that was to come.

238. Of this I was made deeply sensible by the prayer of holy
David, who, when he was under present mercy, yet prayed that God
would hold him back from sin and temptation to come; "Then," saith
he, "shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the GREAT
transgression" (Psa 19:13). By this very word was I galled and
condemned, quite through this long temptation.

239. That also was another word that did much condemn me for my
folly, in the neglect of this duty (Heb 4:16), "Let us therefore
come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need." This I had not done, and
therefore was suffered thus to sin and fall, according to what is
written, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." And truly this
very thing is to this day of such weight and awe upon me, that
I dare not, when I come before the Lord, go off my knees, until
I entreat him for help and mercy against the temptations that are
to come; and I do beseech thee, reader, that thou learn to beware
of my negligence, by the affliction that for this thing I did for
days, and months, and years, with sorrow undergo.

240. Another cause of this temptation was, that I had tempted God;
and on this manner did I do it. Upon a time my wife was great with
child, and before her full time was come, her pangs, as of a woman
in travail, were fierce and strong upon her, even as if she would
have immediately fallen in labour, and been delivered of an untimely
birth. Now, at this very time it was, that I had been so strongly
tempted to question the being of God; wherefore, as my wife lay
crying by me, I said, but with all secrecy imaginable, even thinking
in my heart, Lord, if thou wilt now remove this sad affliction
from my wife, and cause that she be troubled no more therewith this
night, and now were her pangs just upon her, then I shall know that
thou canst discern the most secret thoughts of the heart.

241. I had no sooner said it in my heart, but her pangs were taken
from her, and she was cast into a deep sleep, and so she continued
till morning; at this I greatly marveled, not knowing what to
think; but after I had been awake a good while, and heard her cry
no more, I fell to sleeping also. So when I waked in the morning,
it came upon me again, even what I had said in my heart the
last night, and how the Lord had showed me that he knew my secret
thoughts, which was a great astonishment unto me for several weeks
after.

242. Well, about a year and a half afterwards, that wicked sinful
thought, of which I have spoken before, went through my wicked
heart, even this thought, Let Christ go if he will; so when I was
fallen under guilt for this, the remembrance of my other thought,
and of the effect thereof, would also come upon me with this retort,
which also carried rebuke along with it, Now you may see that God
doth know the most secret thoughts of the heart.[53]

243. And with this, that of the passages that were betwixt the
Lord and his servant Gideon fell upon my spirit; how because that
Gideon tempted God with his fleece, both wet and dry, when he should
have believed and ventured upon his word, therefore the Lord did
afterwards so try him, as to send him against an innumerable company
of enemies; and that too, as to outward appearance, without any
strength or help (Judg 6, 7). Thus he served me, and that justly,
for I should have believed his word, and not have put an IF upon
the all-seeingness of God.

244. And now to show you something of the advantages that I also
gained by this temptation; and first, By this I was made continually
to possess in my soul a very wonderful sense both of the being
and glory of God, and of his beloved Son; in the temptation 'that
went' before, my soul was perplexed with 'unbelief, blasphemy,
hardness of heart, questions about the being of God, Christ, the
truth of the Word, and certainty of the world to come; I say, then
I was greatly assaulted and tormented with' atheism; but now the
case was otherwise, now was God and Christ continually before my
face, though not in a way of comfort, but in a way of exceeding
dread and terror. The glory of the holiness of God did at this
time break me to pieces; and the bowels and compassion of Christ
did break me as on the wheel;[54] for I could not consider him but
as a lost and rejected Christ, the remembrance of which was as the
continual breaking of my bones.

245. The Scriptures now also were wonderful things unto me; I saw
that the truth and verity of them were the keys of the kingdom of
heaven; those 'that' the Scriptures favour they must inherit bliss,
but those 'that' they oppose and condemn must perish evermore. Oh
this word, "For the Scripture cannot be broken": would rend the
caul of my heart; and so would that other, "Whose soever sins ye
remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain,
they are retained." Now I saw the apostles to be the elders of the
city of refuge (Josh 20:4), those 'that' they were to receive in,
were received to life; but those that they shut out were to be
slain by the avenger of blood.[55]

246. Oh! one sentence of the Scripture did more afflict and terrify
my mind, I mean those sentences that stood against me, as sometimes
I thought they every one did, more I say, than an army of forty
thousand men that might have come against me. Woe be to him against
whom the Scriptures bend themselves.

247. By this temptation I was made 'to' see more into the nature
of the promises than ever I was before; for I lying now trembling
under the mighty hand of God, continually torn and rent by the
thunderings of his justice; this made me, with careful heart and
watchful eye, with great seriousness, to turn over every leaf,
and with much diligence, mixed with trembling, to consider every
sentence, together with its natural force and latitude.

248. By this temptation, also, I was greatly beaten off my former
foolish practice, of putting by the word of promise when it came
into my mind; for now, though I could not suck that comfort and
sweetness from the promise as I had done at other times, yea, like
to a man a-sinking, I should catch at all I saw; formerly I thought
I might not meddle with the promise unless I felt its comfort, but
now it was no time thus to do, the avenger of blood too hardly did
pursue me.

249. Now therefore I was glad to catch at that word, which yet I
feared I had no ground or right to own; and even to leap into the
bosom of that promise, that yet I feared did shut its heart against
me. Now also I should labour to take the Word as God had laid it
down, without restraining the natural force of one syllable thereof.
O what did I now see in that blessed sixth of John, "And him that
cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out" (v 37). Now I began to
consider with myself, that God had a bigger mouth to speak with
than I had heart to conceive with. I thought also with myself that
he spake not his words in haste, or in unadvised heat, but with
infinite wisdom and judgment, and in very truth and faithfulness
(2 Sam 3:18).

250. I should in these days, often in my greatest agonies, even
flounce towards the promise, as the horses do towards sound ground
that yet stick in the mire, concluding, though as one almost bereft
of his wits through fear, on this I will rest and stay, and leave
the fulfilling of it to the God of heaven that made it. Oh! many a
pull hath my heart had with Satan for that blessed sixth of John.
I did not now, as at other times, look principally for comfort,
though, O how welcome would it have been unto me! But now a word,
a word to lean a weary soul upon, that I might not sink for ever!
'it was that I hunted for.'

251. Yea, often when I have been making to the promise, I have
seen as if the Lord would refuse my soul for ever. I was often as
if I had run upon the pikes, and as if the Lord had thrust at me
to keep me from him as with a flaming sword. Then I should think
of Esther, who went to petition the king contrary to the law (Esth
4:16). I thought also of Benhadad's servants, who went with ropes
upon their heads to their enemies for mercy (1 Kings 20:31). The
woman of Canaan also, that would not be daunted, though called dog
by Christ (Matt 15:20-28). And the man that went to borrow bread
at midnight (Luke 11:5-8), were great encouragements unto me.

251. I never saw those heights and depths in grace, and love, and
mercy, as I saw after this temptation. Great sins do draw out great
grace; and where guilt is most terrible and fierce there the mercy
of God in Christ, when showed to the soul, appears most high and
mighty. When Job had passed through his captivity, he had "twice
as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). Blessed be God for Jesus
Christ our Lord. Many other things I might here make observation
of, but I would be brief, and therefore shall at this time omit
them, and do pray God that my harms may make others fear to offend,
lest they also be made to bear the iron yoke as I 'did.'

'I had two or three times, at or about my deliverance from this
temptation, such strange apprehensions of the grace of God, that
I could hardly bear up under it, it was so out of measure amazing,
when I thought it could reach me, that I do think, if that sense
of it had abode long upon me, it would have made me incapable for
business.'

[ENTERS INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT BEDFORD, IN
WHICH HE AFTERWARDS BECAME A MINISTERING ELDER.]

253. Now I shall go forward to give you a relation of other of the
Lord's dealings with me, of his dealings with me at sundry other
seasons, and of the temptations I then did meet withal. I shall begin
with what I met with when I first did join in fellowship with the
people of God in Bedford.[56] After I had propounded to the church
that my desire was to walk in the order and ordinances of Christ
with them, and was also admitted by them; while I thought of that
blessed ordinance of Christ, which was his last supper with his
disciples before his death, that Scripture, "This do in remembrance
of me" (Luke 22:19), was made a very precious word unto me; for
by it the Lord did come down upon my conscience with the discovery
of his death for my sins; and as I then felt, did as if he plunged
me in the virtue of the same. But, behold, I had not been long
a partaker at that ordinance, but such fierce and sad temptations
did attend me at all times therein, both to blaspheme the ordinance,
and to wish some deadly thing to those that then did eat thereof;
that, lest I should at any time be guilty of consenting to these
wicked and fearful thoughts, I was forced to bend myself all the
while to pray to God to keep me from such blasphemies; and also
to cry to God to bless the bread and cup to them as it went from
mouth to mouth. The reason of this temptation I have thought since
was, because I did not, with that reverence 'as became me,' at
first approach to partake thereof.

254. Thus I continued for three quarters of a year, and could never
have rest nor ease; but at last the Lord came in upon my soul with
that same scripture by which my soul was visited before; and after
that I have been usually very well and comfortable in the partaking
of that blessed ordinance, and have, I trust, therein discerned
the Lord's body as broken for my sins, and that his precious blood
hath been shed for my transgressions.

255. Upon a time I was somewhat inclining to a consumption,
wherewith, about the spring, I was suddenly and violently seized
with much weakness in my outward man, insomuch that I thought I
could not live. Now began I afresh to give myself up to a serious
examination after my state and condition for the future, and of
my evidences for that blessed world to come; for it hath, I bless
the name of God, been my usual course, as always, so especially
in the day of affliction, to endeavour to keep my interest in the
life to come clear before my eye.

256. But I had no sooner began to recall to mind my former experience
of the goodness of God to my soul, but there came flocking into my
mind, an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions, amongst
which these were at this time most to my affliction, namely, my
deadness, dullness, and coldness in holy duties; my wanderings of
heart, 'of' my wearisomeness in all good things, my want of love to
God, his ways, and people, with this at the end of all, Are these
the fruits of Christianity? are these the tokens of a blessed man?

257. At the apprehension of these things my sickness was doubled
upon me, for now was I sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged
with guilt; now also was my former experience of God's goodness
to me quite taken out of my mind, and hid as if it had never
been, nor seen. Now was my soul greatly pinched between these two
considerations, Live I must not, Die I dare not; now I sunk and
fell in my spirit, and was giving up all for lost; but as I was
walking up and down in the house, as a man in a most woeful state,
that word of God took hold of my heart, Ye are "justified freely
by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom
3:24). 'But oh what a turn it made upon me!'

258. Now was I as one awakened out of some troublesome sleep and
dream, and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had
heard it thus expounded to me: Sinner, thou thinkest that because
of thy sins and infirmities I cannot save thy soul, but behold my
Son is by me, and upon him I look, and not on thee, and will deal
with thee according as I am pleased with him. At this I was greatly
lightened in my mind, and made to understand that God could justify
a sinner at any time; it was but 'his' looking upon Christ, and
imputing of his benefits to us, and the work was forthwith done.

259. And as I was thus in a muse that scripture also came with great
power upon my spirit, Not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, &c. (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim
1:9). Now was I got on high; I saw myself within the arms of grace
and mercy; and though I was before afraid to think of a dying hour,
yet now I cried, Let me die. Now death was lovely and beautiful
in my sight; for I saw we shall never live indeed till we be gone
to the other world. Oh, methought this life is but a slumber in
comparison of that above; at this time also I saw more in those
words, "Heirs of God" (Rom 8:17), than ever I shall be able to
express while I live in this world. "Heirs of God!" God himself is
the portion of the saints. This I saw and wondered at, but cannot
tell you what I saw.[57]

260. 'Again, as I was at another time very ill and weak, all that
time also the tempter did beset me strongly, for I find he is much
for assaulting the soul when it begins to approach towards the
grave, then is his opportunity, labouring to hide from me my former
experience of God's goodness; also setting before me the terrors of
death and the judgment of God, insomuch that at this time, through
my fear of miscarrying for ever, should I now die, I was as one
dead before death came, and was as if I had felt myself already
descending into the pit; methought, I said, there was no way, but
to hell I must; but behold, just as I was in the midst of those
fears, these words of the angels carrying Lazarus into Abraham's
bosom darted in upon me, as who should say, So it shall be with
thee when thou dost leave this world. This did sweetly revive my
spirit, and help me to hope in God; which, when I had with comfort
mused on a while, that word fell with great weight upon my mind,
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1
Cor 15:55). At this I became both well in body and mind at once,
for my sickness did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably in
my work for God again.'

261. At another time, though just before I was pretty well and
savoury in my spirit, yet suddenly there fell upon me a great cloud
of darkness, which did so hide from me the things of God and Christ,
that I was as if I had never seen or known them in my life; I was
also so overrun in my soul, with a senseless, heartless frame of
spirit, that I could not feel my soul to move or stir after grace
and life by Christ; I was as if my loins were broken, or as if my
hands and feet had been tied or bound with chains. At this time
also I felt some weakness to seize 'upon' my outward man, which
made still the other affliction the more heavy and uncomfortable
'to me.'

262. After I had been in this condition some three or four days,
as I was sitting by the fire, I suddenly felt this word to sound
in my heart, I must go to Jesus; at this my former darkness and
atheism fled away, and the blessed things of heaven were set within
my view. While I was on this sudden thus overtaken with surprise,
Wife, said I, is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?
she said she could not tell, therefore I sat musing still to see
if I could remember such a place; I had not sat above two or three
minutes but that came bolting in upon me, "And to an innumerable
company of angels," and withal, Hebrews the twelfth, about the
mount Sion was set before mine eyes (vv 22-24).

263. Then with joy I told my wife, O now I know, I know! But that
night was a good night to me, I never had but few better; I longed
for the company of some of God's people that I might have imparted
unto them what God had showed me. Christ was a precious Christ to
my soul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy, and peace,
and triumph, through Christ; this great glory did not continue upon
me until morning, yet that twelfth of the author to the Hebrews
(Heb 12:22,23) was a blessed scripture to me for many days together
after this.

264. The words are these, "Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto
the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church
of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge
of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus
the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling,
that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Through this blessed
sentence the Lord led me over and over, first to this word, and
then to that, and showed me wonderful glory in every one of them.
These words also have oft since this time been great refreshment
to my spirit. Blessed be God for having mercy on me.

[A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR'S CALL TO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY.]

265. And now I am speaking my experience, I will in this place
thrust in a word or two concerning my preaching the Word, and of
God's dealing with me in that particular also. For after I had been
about five or six years awakened, and helped 'myself' to see both
the want and worth of Jesus Christ our Lord, and 'also' enabled to
venture my soul upon him, some of the most able among the saints
with us, I say the most able for judgment and holiness of life,
as they conceived, did perceive that God had counted me worthy to
understand something of his will in his holy and blessed Word, and
had given me utterance, in some measure, to express what I saw to
others for edification; 'therefore' they desired me, and that with
much earnestness, that I would be willing, at sometimes, to take in
hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation unto
them.[58]

266. The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my
spirit, yet being still by them desired and intreated, I consented
to their request, and did twice at two several assemblies, but in
private, though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift
amongst them; at which they not only seemed to be, but did solemnly
protest, as in the sight of the great God, they were both affected
and comforted, and gave thanks to the Father of mercies for the
grace bestowed on me.

267. After this, sometimes when some of them did go into the country
to teach, they would also that I should go with them; where, though
as yet I did not, nor durst not, make use of my gift in an open
way, yet more privately still as I came amongst the good people in
those places, I did sometimes speak a word of admonition unto them
also; the which, they as the other received, with rejoicing, at the
mercy of God to me-ward, professing their souls were edified thereby.

268. Wherefore, to be brief, at last, being still desired by the
church, after some solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was
more particularly called forth, and appointed to a more ordinary
and public preaching the word, not only to, and amongst them that
believed, but also to offer the gospel to those who had not yet
received the faith thereof; about which time I did evidently find
in my mind a secret pricking forward thereto; though I bless God,
not for desire of vain glory, for at that time I was most sorely
afflicted with the fiery darts of the devil concerning my eternal
state.

269. But yet could not be content, unless I was found in the
exercise of my gift, unto which also I was greatly animated, not
only by the continual desires of the godly, but also by that saying
of Paul to the Corinthians, "I beseech you, brethren (ye know the
household of Stephanus, that it is the first fruits of Achaian, and
that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)
that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth
with us, and laboureth" (1 Cor 16:15,16).

270. By this text I was made to see that the Holy Ghost never
intended that men who have gifts and abilities should bury them in
the earth, but rather did command and stir up such to the exercise
of their gift, and also did commend those that were apt and ready
so to do, "They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the
saints." This scripture, in these days, did continually run in my
mind, to encourage me and strengthen me in this my work for God;
I have also been encouraged from several other scriptures and
examples of the godly, both specified in the Word and other ancient
histories (Acts 8:4, 18:24,25; 1 Peter 4:10; Rom 12:6; Foxe's Acts
and Monuments).

271. Wherefore, though of myself, of all the saints the most
unworthy, yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight
of my own weakness, did set upon the work, and did according to my
gift, and the proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel
that God had showed me in the holy Word of truth; which, when the
country understood, they came in to hear the Word by hundreds, and
that from all parts, though upon sundry and divers accounts.

272. And I thank God he gave unto me some measure of bowels and
pity for their souls, which also did put me forward to labour with
great diligence and earnestness, to find out such a word as might,
if God would bless it, lay hold of, and awaken the conscience, in
which also the good Lord had respect to the desire of his servant;
for I had not preached long before some began to be touched by the
Word, and to be greatly afflicted in their minds at the apprehension
of the greatness of their sin, and of their need of Jesus Christ.

273. But I at first could not believe that God should speak by me
to the heart of any man, still counting myself unworthy; yet those
who thus were touched would love me and have a peculiar respect for
me; and though I did put it from me, that they should be awakened
by me, still they would confess it and affirm it before the saints
of God; they would also bless God for me, unworthy wretch that I
am! and count me God's instrument that showed to them the way of
salvation.

274. Wherefore, seeing them in both their words and deeds to be
so constant, and also in their hearts so earnestly pressing after
the knowledge of Jesus Christ, rejoicing that ever God did send
me where they were; then I began to conclude it might be so, that
God had owned in his work such a foolish one as I, and then came
that word of God to my heart with much sweet refreshment, "The
blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused
the widow's heart to sing for joy" (Job 29:13).

275. At this therefore I rejoiced, yea, the tears of those whom God
did awaken by my preaching would be both solace and encouragement
to me; for I thought on those sayings, "Who is he that maketh
me glad but the same which is made sorry by me?" (2 Cor 2;2); and
again, Though "I be not an apostle to others, yet, doubtless, I
am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord" (1
Cor 9:2). These things, therefore, were as another argument unto
me that God had called me to, and stood by me in this work.

276. In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one
thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to being where his Word
begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open
and allege that the curse of God, by the law, doth belong to, and
lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.
Now this part of my work I fulfilled with great sense;[59] for
the terrors of the law, and guilt for my transgressions, lay heavy
on my conscience. I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did
feel, even that under which my pour soul did groan and tremble to
astonishment.

277. Indeed I have been as one sent to them from the dead; I went
myself in chains to preach to them in chains; and carried that
fire in my own conscience that I persuaded them to beware of. I can
truly say, and that without dissembling, that when I have been to
preach, I have gone full of guilt and terror even to the pulpit
door, and there it hath been taken off, and I have been at liberty
in my mind until I have done my work, and then immediately, even
before I could get down the pulpit stairs, I have been as bad as I
was before; yet God carried me on, but surely with a strong hand,
for neither guilt or hell could take me off my work.

278. Thus I went for the space of two years, crying out against
men's sins, and their fearful state because of them. After which
the Lord came in upon my own soul with some staid peace and comfort
through Christ; for he did give me many sweet discoveries of his
blessed grace through him. Wherefore now I altered in my preaching,
for still I preached what I saw and felt; now therefore I did much
labour to hold forth Jesus Christ in all his offices, relations,
and benefits unto the world; and did strive also to discover, to
condemn, and remove those false supports and props on which the
world doth both lean, and by them fall and perish. On these things
also I staid as long as on the other.

279. After this, God led me into something of the mystery of union
with Christ; wherefore that I discovered and showed to them also.
And when I had traveled through these three chief points of the
Word of God, about the space of five years or more, I was caught
in my present practice and cast into prison, where I have lain[60]
above as long again, to confirm the truth by way of suffering, as
I was before in testifying of it according to the Scriptures in a
way of preaching.

280. When I have been preaching, I thank God, my heart hath often
all the time of this and the other exercise, with great earnestness,
cried to God that he would make the Word effectual to the salvation
of the soul; still being grieved lest the enemy should take the
Word away from the conscience, and so it should become unfruitful.
Wherefore I did labour so to speak the Word, as that thereby, if it
were possible, the sins and person guilty might be particularized
by it.

281. Also, when I have done the exercise, it hath gone to my heart
to think the Word should now fall as rain on stony places, still
wishing from my heart, O that they who have heard me speak this
day did but see as I do what sin, death, hell, and the curse of
God is; and also what the grace, and love, and mercy of God is,
through Christ, to men in such a case as they are, who are yet
estranged from him. And, indeed, I did often say in my heart before
the Lord, That if to be hanged up presently before their eyes would
be a means to awaken them, and confirm them in the truth, I gladly
should be contented.

282. For I have been in my preaching, especially when I have been
engaged in the doctrine of life by Christ, without works, as if an
angel of God had stood by at my back to encourage me. Oh, it hath
been with such power and heavenly evidence upon my own soul, while
I have been labouring to unfold it, to demonstrate it, and to fasten
it upon the consciences of others, that I could not be contented
with saying, I believe, and am sure; methought I was more than sure,
if it be lawful so to express myself, that those things which then
I asserted were true.

283. When I went first to preach the Word abroad, the doctors
and priests of the country did open wide against me.[61] But I
was persuaded of this, not to render railing for railing, but to
see how many of their carnal professors I could convince of their
miserable state by the law, and of the want and worth of Christ;
for, thought I, This shall answer for me in time to come, when they
shall be for my hire before their faces (Gen 30:33).

284. I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted,
and in dispute amongst the saints, especially things of the lowest
nature; yet it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness
for the word of faith and the remission of sins by the death and
sufferings of Jesus; but I say, as to other things, I should let
them alone, because I saw they engendered strife, and because that
they neither, in doing nor in leaving undone, did commend us to
God to be his. Besides, I saw my work before me did run in another
channel, even to carry an awakening word; to that therefore did I
stick and adhere.[62]

285. I never endeavoured to, nor durst make use of other men's lines
(Rom 15:18)[63], though I condemn not all that do, for I verily
thought, and found by experience, that what was taught me by the
Word and Spirit of Christ, could be spoken, maintained, and stood
to by the soundest and best established conscience; and though I
will not now speak all that I know in this matter, yet my experience
hath more interest in that text of Scripture than many amongst men
are aware (Gal 1:11,12).

286. If any of those who were awakened by my ministry did after
that fall back, as sometimes too many did, I can truly say their
loss hath been more to me than if one of my own children, begotten
of my body, had been going to its grave; I think, verily, I may
speak it without an offence to the Lord, nothing hath gone so near
me as that, unless it was the fear of the loss of the salvation
of my own soul. I have counted as if I had goodly buildings and
lordships in those places where my children were born; my heart
hath been so wrapped up in the glory of this excellent work, that
I counted myself more blessed and honoured of God by this than if
he had made me the emperor of the Christian world, or the lord of
all the glory of 'the' earth without it! O these words, "He which
converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul
from death" (James 5:20). '"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of
life; and he that winneth souls is wise" (Prov 11:30). "They that
be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they
that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever"
(Dan 12:3). "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his
coming? For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess 2:19,20). These, I
say, with many others of a like nature, have been great refreshments
to me.'

287. I have observed, that where I have had a work to do for God,
I have had first, as it were, the going of God upon my spirit to
desire I might preach there. I have also observed that such and
such souls in particular have been strongly set upon my heart,
and I stirred up to wish for their salvation; and that these very
souls have, after this, been given in as the fruits of my ministry.
I have also observed, that a word cast in by the by hath done more
execution in a sermon than all that was spoken besides; sometimes
also when I have thought I did no good, then I did the most of
all; and at other times when I thought I should catch them I have
fished for nothing.

288. 'I have also observed, that where there hath been a work to
do upon sinners, there the devil hath begun to roar in the hearts,
and by the mouths of his servants. Yea, oftentimes when the wicked
world hath raged most, there hath been souls awaked by the Word.
I could instance particulars, but I forbear.'

289. My great desire in my fulfilling my ministry was to get into
the darkest places of the country, even amongst those people that
were furthest off of profession; yet not because I could not endure
the light, for I feared not to show my gospel to any, but because
I found my spirit leaned most after awakening and converting work,
and the Word that I carried did lead itself most that way 'also';
"yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ
was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation" (Rom
15:20).

290. In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have, as it
were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I
be satisfied unless some fruits did appear in my work. If I were
fruitless it mattered not who commended me; but if I were fruitful,
I cared not who did condemn. I have thought of that, "He that
winneth souls is wise" (Prov 11:30); and again, "Lo, children are
an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As
arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath filled his quiver full of them; they
shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the
gate" (Psa 127:3-5).

291. 'It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions if
they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ, and the worth of their own
salvation, sound conviction for sin, especially for unbelief, and
an heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with strong breathing
after a truly sanctified soul; that it was that delighted me; those
were the souls I counted blessed.'

292. But in this work, as in all other, I had my temptations
attending me, and that of diverse kinds, as sometimes I should be
assaulted with great discouragement therein, fearing that I should
not be able to speak the word at all to edification; nay, that I
should not be able to speak sense unto the people; at which times
I should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize
upon my body that my legs have scarce been able to carry me to the
place of exercise.

293. Sometimes, again, when I have been preaching, I have been
violently assaulted with thoughts of blasphemy, and strongly tempted
to speak the words with my mouth before the congregation. I have
also at some times, even when I have begun to speak the Word with
much clearness, evidence, and liberty of speech, yet been before
the ending of that opportunity so blinded, and so estranged from
the things I have been speaking, and have also been so straitened
in my speech, as to utterance before the people, that I have been
as if I had not known or remembered what I have been about, or as
if my head had been in a bag all the time of the exercise.

294. Again, when as sometimes I have been about to preach upon
some smart and scorching[64] portion of the Word, I have found the
tempter suggest, What, will you preach this? this condemns yourself;
of this your own soul is guilty; wherefore preach not of it at all;
or if you do, yet so mince it as to make way for your own escape;
lest instead of awakening others, you lay that guilt upon your own
soul, as you will never get from under.

295. 'But, I thank the Lord, I have been kept from consenting
to these so horrid suggestions, and have rather, as Samson, bowed
myself with all my might, to condemn sin and transgression wherever
I found it, yea, though therein also I did bring guilt upon my own
conscience! "Let me die," thought I, "with the Philistines" (Judg
16:29,30), rather than deal corruptly with the blessed Word of
God, "Thou that teachest another, teachest not thou thyself?" It
is far better that thou do judge thyself, even by preaching plainly
to others, than that thou, to save thyself, imprison the truth in
unrighteousness; blessed be God for his help also in this.'

296. I have also, while found in this blessed work of Christ, been
often tempted to pride and liftings up of heart; and though I dare
not say I have not been infected with this, yet truly the Lord, of
his precious mercy, hath so carried it towards me, that, for the
most part, I have had but small joy to give way to such a thing;
for it hath been my every day's portion to be let into the evil of
my own heart, and still made to see such a multitude of corruptions
and infirmities therein, that it hath caused hanging down of the
head under all my gifts and attainments; I have felt this thorn in
the flesh, the very mercy of God to me (2 Cor 12:7-9).

297. I have had also, together with this, some notable place or
other of the Word presented before me, which word hath contained
in it some sharp and piercing sentence concerning the perishing of
the soul, notwithstanding gifts and parts; as, for instance, that
hath been of great use unto me, "Though I speak with the tongues
of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding
brass, and a tinkling cymbal" (1 Cor 13:1,2).

298. A tinkling cymbal is an instrument of music, with which a
skillful player can make such melodious and heart-inflaming music,
that all who hear him play can scarcely hold from dancing; and yet
behold the cymbal hath not life, neither comes the music from it,
but because of the art of him that plays therewith; so then the
instrument at last may come to nought and perish, though, in times
past, such music hath been made upon it.

299. Just thus I saw it was and will be with them who have gifts,
but want saving grace, they are in the hand of Christ, as the
cymbal in the hand of David; and as David could, with the cymbal,
make that mirth in the service of God, as to elevate the hearts of
the worshippers, so Christ can use these gifted men, as with them
to affect the souls of his people in his church; yet when he hath
done all, hang them by as lifeless, though sounding cymbals.[65]

300. This consideration, therefore, together with some others, were,
for the most part, as a maul on the head of pride, and desire of
vain glory; what, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a sounding
brass? Is it so much to be a fiddle? Hath not the least creature
that hath life, more of God in it than these? Besides, I knew
it was love should never die, but these must cease and vanish; so
I concluded, a little grace, a little love, a little of the true
fear of God, is better than all these gifts; yea, and I am fully
convinced of it, that it is possible for a soul that can scarce
give a man an answer, but with great confusion as to method, I say
it is possible for them to have a thousand times more grace, and
so to be more in the love and favour of the Lord than some who,
by virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver themselves like
angels.[66]

301. 'Thus, therefore, I came to perceive, that though gifts
in themselves were good to the thing for which they are designed,
to wit, the edification of others; yet empty and without power to
save the soul of him that hath them, if they be alone; neither are
they, as so, any sign of a man's state to be happy, being only a
dispensation of God to some, of whose improvement, or non-improvement,
they must, when a little love more is over, give an account to him
that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.'

302. 'This showed me too, that gifts being alone, were dangerous,
not in themselves, but because of those evils that attend them that
have them, to wit, pride, desire of vain glory, self-conceit, &c.,
all which were easily blown up at the applause and commendation of
every unadvised Christian, to the endangering of a poor creature
to fall into the condemnation of the devil.'

303. 'I saw therefore that he that hath gifts had need be let into
a sight of the nature of them, to wit, that they come short of
making of him to be in a truly saved condition, lest he rest in
them, and so fall short of the grace of God.'

304. 'He hath also cause to walk humbly with God, and be little in
his own eyes, and to remember withal, that his gifts are not his
own, but the church's; and that by them he is made a servant to
the church; and he must give at last an account of his stewardship
unto the Lord Jesus; and to give a good account, will be a blessed
thing.'

305. 'Let all men therefore prize a little with the fear of the
Lord; gifts indeed are desirable, but yet great grace and small
gifts are better than great gifts and no grace. It doth not say,
the Lord gives gifts and glory, but the Lord gives grace and glory;
and blessed is such an one, to whom the Lord gives grace, true
grace, for that is a certain forerunner of glory.'

306. 'But when Satan perceived that his thus tempting and assaulting of
me would not answer his design, to wit, to overthrown my ministry,
and make it ineffectual, as to the ends thereof; then he tried
another way, which was to stir up the minds of the ignorant and
malicious, to load me with slanders and reproaches; now therefore
I may say, That what the devil could devise, and his instruments
invent, was whirled up and down the country against me, thinking,
as I said, that by that means they should make my ministry to be
abandoned.'

307. 'It began therefore to be rumoured up and down among the
people, that I was a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman, and the like.'

308. 'To all which, I shall only say, God knows that I am innocent.
But as for mine accusers, let them provide themselves to meet
me before the tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for all
these things, with all the rest of their iniquities, unless God
shall give them repentance for them, for the which I pray with all
my heart.'

309. 'But that which was reported with the boldest confidence,
was, that I had my misses, my whores, my bastards, yea, two wives
at once, and the like. Now these slanders, with the other, I glory
in, because but slanders, foolish, or knavish lies, and falsehoods
cast upon me by the devil and his seed; and should I not be dealt
with thus wickedly by the world, I should want one sign of a saint,
and a child of God. "Blessed are ye [said the Lord Jesus] when men
shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice, and be exceeding
glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you" (Matt 4:11).'

310. 'These things, therefore, upon mine own account, trouble me
not; no, though they were twenty times more than they are. I have
a good conscience, and whereas they speak evil of me, as an evil
doer, they shall be ashamed that falsely accuse my good conversation
in Christ.[67]'

311. 'So then, what shall I say to those that have thus bespattered
me? shall I threaten them? Shall I chide them? Shall I flatter
them? Shall I intreat them to hold their tongues? No, not I, were
it not for that these things make them ripe for damnation, that
are the authors and abettors, I would say unto them, Report it,
because it will increase my glory.'

312. 'Therefore I bind these lies and slanders to me as an ornament,
it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered,
reproached and reviled; and since all this is nothing else, as my
God and my conscience do bear me witness; I rejoice in reproaches
for Christ's sake.'

313. 'I also calling all those fools, or knaves, that have thus
made it anything of their business, to affirm any of the things
afore-named of me, namely, that I have been naught with other women,
or the like. When they have used to the utmost of their endeavours,
and made the fullest inquiry that they can, to prove against me
truly, that there is any woman in heaven, or earth, or hell, that
can say, I have at any time, in any place, by day or night, so much
as attempted to be naught with them; and speak I thus, to beg mine
enemies into a good esteem of me; no, not I: I will in this beg
relief of no man; believe or disbelieve me in this, all is a case
to me.[68]'

314. 'My foes have missed their mark in this their shooting at me.
I am not the man. I wish that they themselves be guiltless. If all
the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged by the neck
till they be dead, 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 copes of the whole heaven, but by their
apparel, their children, or by common fame, except my wife.'

315. 'And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that he made me shy
of women from my first conversion until now. Those know, and can also
bear me witness, with whom I have been most intimately concerned,
that it is a rare thing to see me carry it pleasant towards a
woman; the common salutation of a woman I abhor, it is odious to
me in whomsoever I see it. Their company alone, I cannot away with.
I seldom so much as touch a woman's hand, for I think these things
are not so becoming me. When I have seen good men salute those
women that they have visited, or that have visited them, I have at
times made my objection against it, and when they have answered,
that it was but a piece of civility, I have told them, it is not
a comely sight; some indeed have urged the holy kiss; but then I
have asked why they made baulks,[69] why they did salute the most
handsome, and let the ill-favoured go; thus, how laudable soever
such things have been in the eyes of others, they have been unseemly
in my sight.'

316. 'And now for a wind up in this matter, I calling not only
men, but angels, to prove me guilty of having carnally to do with
any woman save my wife, nor am I afraid to do it a second time,
knowing that I cannot offend the Lord in such a case, to call God
for a record upon my soul, that in these things I am innocent.
Not that I have been thus kept, because of any goodness in me more
than any other, but God has been merciful to me, and has kept me;
to whom I pray that he will keep me still, not only from this,
but from every evil way and work, and preserve me to his heavenly
kingdom. Amen.'

317. 'Now as Satan laboured by reproaches and slanders, to make me
vile among my countrymen, that if possible, my preaching might be
made of none effect, so there was added hereto a long and tedious
imprisonment, that thereby I might be frighted from my service for
Christ, and the world terrified, and made afraid to hear me preach,
of which I shall in the next place give you a brief account.'

[A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR'S IMPRISONMENT]

318. Having made profession of the glorious gospel of Christ a long
time, and preached the same about five years, I was apprehended at
a meeting of good people in the country, among whom, had they let
me alone, I should have preached that day, but they took me away
from amongst them, and had me before a justice; who, after I had
offered security for my appearing at the next sessions, yet committed
me, because my sureties would not consent to be bound that I should
preach no more to the people.

319. At the sessions after, I was indicted for an upholder and
maintainer of unlawful assemblies and conventicles, and for not
conforming to the national worship of the Church of England; and
after some conference there with the justices, 'they taking my
plain dealing with them for a confession, as they termed it, of
the indictment,' did sentence me to perpetual banishment, because
I refused to conform. So being again delivered up to the jailer's
hands, I was had home to prison again, and there have lain now[70]
'complete twelve years,' waiting to see what God would suffer these
men to do with me.

320. In which condition I have continued with much content, through
grace, but have met with many turnings and goings upon my heart,
both from the Lord, Satan, and my own corruptions; by all which,
glory be to Jesus Christ, I have also received among many things,
much conviction, instruction, and understanding, of which at large
I shall not here discourse; only give you in a hint or two, a word
that may stir up the godly to bless God, and to pray for me; and
also to take encouragement, should the case be their own, not to
fear what man can do unto them.

321. I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word
of God as now; those Scriptures that I saw nothing in before, are
made in this place and state to shine upon me; Jesus Christ also
was never more real and apparent than now; here I have seen him
and felt him indeed: O that word, We have not preached unto you
cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16); and that, God raised Christ
from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might
be in God (1 Peter 1:2), were blessed words unto me in this my
imprisoned condition.

322. These three or four scriptures also have been great refreshment
in this condition to me (John 14:1-4, 16:33; Col 3:3,4; Heb 12:22-24).
So that sometimes when I have been in the savour of them, I have
been able to laugh at destruction, and to fear neither the horse nor
his rider (Job 39:18). I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness
of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another
world: O, "the mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable
company of angels, and God the judge of all, and the spirits
of just men made perfect, and to Jesus" (Heb 12:22-24), have been
sweet unto me in this place: I have seen THAT here, that I am
persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to express;
I have seen a truth in that scripture, "Whom having not seen, ye
love; in whom, though now ye se him not, yet believing, ye rejoice
with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).[71]

323. I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns,
and at every offer of Satan 'to afflict me,' &c., as I have found
him since I came in hither; for look how fears have presented
themselves, so have supports and encouragements, yea, when I have
started, even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God,
as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested,
but would with one scripture and another strengthen me against all;
insomuch that I have often said, Were it lawful, I could pray for
greater trouble, for the greater comfort's sake (Eccl 7:14; 2 Cor
1:5).

324. Before I came to prison, I saw what was a-coming, and had
especially two considerations warm upon my heart; the first was how
to be able to endure, should my imprisonment be long and tedious;
the second was how to be able to encounter death, should that be here
my portion; for the first of these, that scripture (Col 1:11) was
great information to me, namely, to pray to God to be "strengthened
with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience
and long-suffering with joyfulness." I could seldom go to prayer
before I was imprisoned, but not for so little as a year together,
this sentence, or sweet petition, would, as it were, thrust itself
into my mind, and persuade me, that if ever I would go through
long-suffering, I must have all patience, especially if I would
endure it joyfully.

325. As to the second consideration, that saying (2 Cor 1:9), was
of great use to me, But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the
dead. By this scripture I was made to see, that if ever I would
suffer rightly, I must first pass a 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, and all,
as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. "He that loveth father
or mother, son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me"
(Matt 10:37).

326. The second was, to live upon God that is invisible; as Paul
said in another place, the way not to faint, is to "look not at
the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:
for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which
are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor 4:18). And thus I reasoned with
myself; if I provide only for a prison, then the whip comes at
unawares; and so does also the pillory; again, if I provide only
for these, then I am not fit for banishment; further, if I conclude
that banishment is the worst, then if death come I am surprised.
So that I see the best way to go through sufferings is to trust in
God through Christ, as touching the world to come; and as touching
this world, to count "the grave my house, to make my bed in darkness,
and to say to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou
art my mother and my sister." That is, to familiarize these things
to me.[72]

327. But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man,
and compassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor
children hath oft been to me in this place as the pulling the
flesh from my bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too
too fond of those great mercies, but also because I should have
often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants
that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from
them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than
all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my
blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.

328. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for
thy portion in this world? Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer
hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot
now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet recalling myself,
thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the
quick to leave you. O, I saw in this condition 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. And now I thought on
those two milch kine that were to carry the ark of God into another
country, and to leave their calves behind them (1 Sam 6:10-12).

329. But that which helped me in this temptation was divers
considerations, of which three in special here I will name; the
first was the consideration of those two scriptures, "Leave thy
fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows
trust in me." And again, "The Lord said, Verily it shall be well
with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee
well in the time of evil," &c. (Jer 49:11, 15:11).

330. I had also this consideration, that if I should now venture
all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concernments; but
if I forsook him and his ways, for fear of any trouble that should
come to me or mine, then I should not only falsify my profession,
but should count also that my concernments were not so sure,
if left at God's feet, while I stood to and for his name, as they
would be, if they were under my own tuition,[73] though with the
denial of the way of God. This was a smarting consideration, and
was as spurs unto my flesh. That scripture also greatly helped it
to fasten the more upon me, where Christ prays against Judas, that
God would disappoint him in all his selfish thoughts, which moved
him to sell his master: pray read it soberly (Psa 109:6-20).

331. I had also another consideration, and that was, the 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 of Christ,
his words, and laws, before the sons of men; I thought also of the
glory that he had prepared for those that, in faith, and love, and
patience, stood to his ways before them. These things, I say, have
helped me, when the thoughts of the misery that both myself and
mine, might for the sake of my profession be exposed to, hath lain
pinching on my mine.

332. When I have indeed conceited that I might be banished for
my profession, then I have thought of that scripture, "They were
stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the
sword; they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins; being
destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy"
(Heb 11:37), for all they thought they were too bad to dwell and
abide amongst them. I have also thought of that saying, "The Holy
Ghost witnesseth in every city, that bonds and afflictions abide
me." I have verily thought that my soul and it[74] have sometimes
reasoned about the sore and sad estate of a banished and exiled
condition, how they are exposed to hunger, to cold, to perils, to
nakedness, to enemies, and a thousand calamities; and at last, it
may be, to die in a ditch, like a poor forlorn and desolate sheep.
But I thank God, hitherto I have not been moved by these most
delicate reasonings, but have rather, by them, more approved my
heart to God.

333. I will tell you a pretty business; I was once above all the
rest in a very sad and low condition for many weeks; at which time
also I being but a young prisoner, and not acquainted with the
laws, had this lay much upon my spirit, That my imprisonment might
end at the gallows for aught that I could tell. Now, therefore,
Satan laid hard at me to beat me out of heart, by suggesting thus
unto me, But how if when you come indeed to die, you should be in
this condition; that is, as not to savour the things of God, nor
to have any evidence upon your soul for a better state hereafter?
For indeed at that time all the things of God were hid from my
soul.

334. Wherefore, when I at first began to think of this, it was a great
trouble to me; for I thought with myself, that in the condition I
now was in, I was not fit to die, neither indeed did think I could,
if I should be called to it: besides, I thought with myself, if I
should make a scrabbling[75] shift to clamber up the ladder, yet
I should either with quaking, or other symptoms of faintings, give
occasion to the enemy to reproach the way of God and his people, for
their timorousness. This therefore lay with great trouble upon me,
for methought I was ashamed to die with a pale face, and tottering
knees, for such a cause as this.

335. Wherefore, I prayed to God that he would comfort me, and give
me strength to do and suffer what he should call me to; yet no
comfort appeared, but all continued hid: I was also at this time
so really possessed with the thought of death, that oft I was as if
I was on the ladder with a rope about my neck; only this was some
encouragement to me, I thought I might now have an opportunity
to speak my last words to a multitude, which I thought would come
to see me die; and, thought I, if it must be so, if God will but
convert one soul by my very last words, I shall not count my life
thrown away, nor lost.

336. But yet all the things of God were kept out of my sight, and
still the tempter followed me with, But whither must you go when you
die? What will become of you? Where will you be found in another
world? What evidence have you for heaven and glory, and an inheritance
among them that are sanctified? Thus was I tossed for many weeks,
and knew not what to do; at last this consideration fell with
weight upon me, That it was for the Word and way of God, that I was
in this condition, wherefore I was engaged not to flinch a hair's
breadth from it.

337. I thought also, that God might choose, whether he would give
me comfort now or at the hour of death, but I might not therefore
choose whether I would hold my profession or no: 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 doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even
blindfold into eternity, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell, Lord
Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; 'if not,' I will venture for thy
name.

338. I was no sooner fixed upon this resolution, but that word dropped
upon me, "Doth Job serve God for nought?" As if the accuser had
said, Lord, Job is no upright man, he serves thee for by-respects:
hast thou not made a hedge about him, &c. "But put forth thine
hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to
thy face." How now, thought I, is this the sign of an upright soul,
to desire to serve God, when all is taken from him? Is he a godly
man, that will serve God for nothing rather than give out? blessed
be God, then, I hope I have an upright heart, for I am resolved,
God giving me strength, never to deny my profession, though I have
nothing at all for my pains; and as I was thus considering, that
scripture was set before me (Psa 44:12-26).[76]

339. Now was my heart full of comfort, for I hoped it was sincere:
I would not have been without this trial for much; I am comforted
every time I think of it, and I hope I shall bless God for ever
for the teaching I have had by it. Many more of the dealings of
God towards me I might relate, but these, "Out of the spoils won
in battles have I dedicated to maintain the house of the LORD" (1
Chron 26:27).

THE CONCLUSION.

1. Of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to
question the being 'of God,' and truth of his gospel, is the worst,
and the worst to be borne; when this temptation comes, it takes
away my girdle from me, and removeth the foundation from under me:
O, I have often thought of that word, "have your loins girt about
with truth"; and of that, "When the foundations are destroyed, what
can the righteous do?"

2. 'Sometimes, when, after sin committed, I have looked for sore
chastisement from the hand of God, the very next that I have had
from him hath been the discovery of his grace. Sometimes, when I
have been comforted, I have called myself a fool for my so sinking
under trouble. And then, again, when I have been cast down,
I thought I was not wise, to give such way to comfort. With such
strength and weight have both these been upon me.'

3. I have wondered much at this one thing, that though God doth
visit my soul with never so blessed a discovery of himself, yet I
have found again, that such hours have attended me afterwards, that
I have been in my spirits so filled with darkness, that I could not
so much as once conceive what that God and that comfort was with
which I have been refreshed.

4. I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could
well tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole
Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, my heart hath
been so dead and dry unto it, that I could not conceive the least
drachm of refreshment, though I have looked it 'all' over.

5. Of all tears, they are the best that are made by the blood of
Christ; and of all joy, that is the sweetest that is mixed with
mourning over Christ. Oh! it is a goodly thing to be on our knees,
with Christ in our arms, before God. I hope I know something of
these things.

6. I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: 1. Inclinings
to unbelief. 2. Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ
manifesteth. 3. A leaning to the works of the law. 4. Wanderings
and coldness in prayer. 5. To forget to watch for that I pray for.
6. Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse
what I have. 7. I can do none of those things which God commands
me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves, "when I would do
good, evil is present with me."

7. These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and
oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good.
1. They make me abhor myself. 2. They keep me from trusting my
heart. 3. They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent
righteousness. 4. They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus.
5. They press me to pray unto God. 6. They show me the need I have
to watch and be sober. 7. And provoke me to look to God, through
Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world. Amen.


FOOTNOTES:

1. Dr. Cheever.

2. Leicester was only besieged by the royal army, who took it, and
cruelly treated the inhabitants; upon the republicans appearing
before it, the city surrendered at once without a siege.--Ed.

3. This should be the prayer and effort of every Christian for his
brethren and sisters in Christ, and more especially of those who
are called to the public ministry.--Ed.

4. The people of God look back on the day of their espousals with
holy joy and thanksgiving to the God of their mercies; and they
delight in telling his goodness to others. "Come and hear, all ye
that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul"
(Psa 66:16).--Mason.

5. How unspeakable the mercy that our omnipresent God will hear
the prayer of the heart under all circumstances, at all times, in
all places. Had he limited it to certain forms, in certain buildings,
read by certain men, what fearful merchandise of souls they would
have made.--Ed.

6. Bunyan says very little about his parents in his treatise on
'Christian Behaviour'; he concludes his observations on the duties
of a pious son to ungodly parents with this remarkable prayer, 'The
Lord, if it be his will, convert OUR poor parents, that they, with
us, may be the children of God.' Although this does not demonstrate
that his own parents were ungodly, yet his silence as to their piety
upon all occasions when speaking of them, and the fervent feeling
expressed in this short prayer, inclines me to conclude that they
were not pious persons in his judgment.--Ed.

7. Mr. Bunyan alludes to the poverty of his education in several
of his works. Thus, in his Scriptural poems--


   'I am no poet, nor a poet's son
    But a mechanic, guided by no rule
    But what I gained in a grammar school,
    In my minority.'


And in the preface to 'The Law and Grace': 'Reader, if thou do find
this book empty of fantastical expressions, and without light, vain,
whimsical, scholar-like terms; thou must understand, it is because
I never went to school to Aristotle or Plato, but was brought up
at my father's house, in a very mean condition, among a company of
poor countrymen.'--Ed.

8. 'I have been vile myself, but have obtained mercy; and I would
have my companions in sin partake of mercy too.'--Preface to
Jerusalem Sinner Saved.--Ed.

9. Every careless sinner, or wicked professor, carries upon his
forehead the name of Infidel and Atheist, a practical unbeliever in
the Bible, in the day of judgment, and in the existence of a holy
God.--Ed.

10. Bunyan served in the wars between Charles I and his country,
but it is not known on which side. Judging from his 'delight in all
transgressions against the law of God,' as he describes his conduct
to have been at that time, he must have served on the king's side,
as one of his drunken cavaliers. Probably this event took place
when Leicester was besieged by the king's troops.--Ed.

11. The notice of his wife's father being a godly man, and not
mentioning anything of the kind with regard to his own parents,
strengthens my conclusion that they were not professors of religion.
This very copy of the Pathway to Heaven here noticed, with the name
of Bunyan on the title, is in the Editor's possession.--Ed.

12. Asking his father this question, looks a little as if the family
had been connected with the gipsy tribe.--Ed.

13. 'The king (James, 1618) put forth an order to permit everybody,
as he had before given leave in the county of Lancaster, who should
go to evening prayer on the Lord's day, to divertise themselves
with lawful exercises, with leaping, dancing, playing at bowls,
shooting with bows and arrows, as likewise to rear May poles, and
to use May games and Morris dancing; but those who refused coming
to prayers were forbidden to use these sports.'--(Camden's Annals).
The head of the Church of England had wondrous power thus to dispense
with God's laws.--Ed.

14. 'Did cut the sinews,' first edition; properly altered by Bunyan
afterwards to 'did benumb.'

15. Tip cat, or cat, is an ancient English game, thus described
in Strutt's Sports and Pastimes:--The game of cat is played with
a cudgel. Its denomination is derived from a piece of wood, about
six inches long and two thick, diminished from the middle to form
a double cone. When the cat is placed on the ground, the player
strikes it smartly--it matters not at which end--and it will rise
with a rotatory motion high enough for him to strike it; if he
misses, another player takes his place; if he hits, he calls for
a number to be scored to his game; if that number is more than as
many lengths of his cudgel, he is out; if not, they are scored,
and he plays again.--Ed.

16. This wish looks as if Bunyan's father had not checked him for
this wicked propensity; if so, he could not have pretended to piety
or religion.--Ed.

17. 'Tom of Bedlam'; a byword for an inveterate drunkard, alluding
to an old interesting song describing the feelings of a poor maniac
whose frenzy had been induced by intoxication, and who escaped from
Bedlam.


   'Poore naked Tom is very drye
    A little drinke for charitye!'


It ends with this verse--


   'The man in the moone drinkes claret,
    Eates powder'd beef, turnip, and carret,
    But a cup of old Malaga sacke
    Will fire the bushe at his backe.'


Probably the tale is connected with the drummer's tune, 'Drunk or
sober, go to bed Tom.'--Ed.

18. When the Lord, in his blessed work upon the soul, illuminated
the mind, he opens to it a new world; he leads the blind by a way
that they know not, crooked things become straight, rough places
plain, and he never forsakes his charge.--Mason.

19. 'Their talk went with me; my heart would tarry with them';
nothing is so powerfully attractive as a community of feeling
under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Bunyan's wish to be 'tried
and searched,' reminds me of one who, when alarmed for his soul's
safety, earnestly prayed that he might be made increasingly wretched,
until he had found safety in Jesus, and knew him, whom to know is
joy unspeakable in this life, and felicity in the eternal world.--Ed.

20. That bitter fanatic, Ross, calls the ranters 'a sort of beasts,'
who practiced sin that grace might abound. Many under that name were
openly profligate; they denied the sacraments, but were disowned
by the Quakers. It seems, from Bunyan, that they were infatuated
with some idea that the grossest sins of the flesh did not injure
the sanctity of the spirit!--Ed.

21. Faith comes by venturing wholly on Christ, as he is freely
offered in the Word--mercy to the miserable--salvation to the lost
and self-condemned. If we honour God's veracity by giving credit
to his Word, he will honour that faith by giving us joy and peace
in believing.--Mason.

22. 'In downright earnest'; as one who is in imminent danger of
drowning, or in a house on fire, eager to escape. Reader, have you
ever felt thus 'in downright earnest' for salvation? Blessed are
they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they SHALL be
filled.--Ed.

23. This is an interesting view of church fellowship; and the
admission of a convert to Christian communion. See also Christiana
at the Interpreter's House, and the preface to Bunyan's 'Christian
Behaviour.'--Ed.

24. The Christian who is found waiting upon God, is the thriving
one; the best way to be assured of our election is to examine our
state with the touchstone of truth, the Scriptures. The elect of God
know Christ savingly, esteem him precious, and obey him cheerfully
from love and gratitude.--Mason.

25. 'Gingerly'; cautiously.

'Has it a corn? or do's it walk on conscience, It treads so gingerly.'
Love's Cure, Act ii., Scene 1.--Ed.

26. Manifestations of love and grace are not to be rested in, or
made a saviour of; they are given to strengthen and prepare us for
future trials.--Mason.

27. Here we have Christian in the valley of the shadow of death. 'One
thing I would not let slip, I took notice that now poor Christian
was so confounded, that he did not know his own voice; and thus I
perceived it, just when he was come over against the mouth of the
burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up
softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies
to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own
mind.'--Pilgrim's Progress.--Ed.

28. 'Under her apron,' was altered in subsequent editions to 'in
her arms.'--Ed.

29. 'Poor fool'; altered, in later editions, to 'poor soul.'--Ed.

30. John Gifford, Bunyan's pastor, was a Kentish man, and had been
a major in the King's army, a roistering cavalier. For some crimes,
he, with eleven others, was condemned to be hung, but made his
escape to London, and thence to Bedford, where, being unknown, he
practiced physic. Addicted to swearing, drinking, and gambling,
he, in distress at a serious loss, vowed repentance; he became
greatly distressed under conviction of sin; at length his mind was
enlightened, the Holy Spirit led him to forgiveness by the atonement
of Christ, and his heart was filled with a hitherto unknown source
of blessedness. This he imparted to others, and at length, in 1650,
formed a church, with which the soul-harassed pilgrim Bunyan cast
in his lot as a member in 1653. There appears to have been a strong
mutual affection between him and his pastor. In 1658, Mr. Gifford
published a preface to Bunyan's 'Few Sighs from Hell,' in which
he speaks of him with the warmest affection, as one 'that I verily
believe God hath counted faithful, and put him into the ministry--one
that hath acquaintance with God, and taught by his Spirit, and hath
been used to do souls good. Divers have felt the power of the word
delivered by him, and I doubt not but that many more may, if God
continue him in his work.' Judging from Gifford's preface, he must
have been an excellent teacher to train Bunyan for his important
labours as a Christian minister. He uses the same fervid striking
language. Thus, on the value of the soul: 'Consider what an
ill bargain thou will make to sell thy precious soul for a short
continuance in sin and pleasure. If that man drives an ill trade,
who to gain the whole world should lose his own soul, then certainly
thou art far worse that sells thy soul for a very trifle. Oh, 'tis
pity that so precious a thing should be parted withal to be made a
prey for the devouring lion, for that which is worse than nothing.
If they were branded for desperate wretches that caused their
children to pass through the fire to Moloch, surely thou much more
that gives thy soul to devouring flames. What meanest thou, O man!
to truck+ with the devil?'--See Sighs, 1st Edition, and Brooks'
Puritans.--Ed.

+ 'To truck'; to barter or exchange.

31. That persons called Quakers held these heresies, there can be
no doubt; but they were never held by that respectable and useful
body of Christians, the Society of Friends, is equally clear.
Barclay, in his Theses, 1675, says of the Scriptures:--'They are
the doctrine of Christ, held forth in precious declarations, spoken
and written by the movings of God's Spirit.' He goes on to say,
that the same Spirit can alone guide man into these sacred truths.
In all important doctrines, the difference between the Quakers
and evangelical professors is in terms and not in things. Their
distinguishing difference relates to the work of the ministry.--Ed.

32. How natural is it for man to build up vain hopes of long life!
Bunyan's vigorous constitution, had he enjoyed the free air of
liberty, might have prolonged his pilgrimage to extreme old age.
But his long imprisonment shortened his valuable life: it almost
amounted to legal murder.--Ed.

33. Bunyan, in his treatise on 'Jesus Christ the Advocate,' admirably
shows the analogy between the year of jubilee and the Christian's
reversion to his inheritance, although deprived for a time of the
comfort of it during his pilgrimage, by reason of sin.--Ed.

34. He is a restless, powerful, and malicious enemy; ever striving
to drive the sinner to desperation. Let the tempted look to Jesus
the serpent-bruiser to shield him, so that the fiery darts of the
wicked one may be quenched.--Mason.

35. Printed 'did hear' in first edition.--Ed.

36. Altered to 'indeed' in later editions.--Ed.

37. 'Racked or broken upon the wheel,' was a horrid mode of torturing
a criminal to death, formerly used in France. The sufferer was
stretched and made fast upon a large wheel, when the executioner,
with a heavy iron bar, proceeded to break every bone in his body;
beginning with the toes and fingers, and proceeding to crush those
bones that the least affected life, and ending by crushing the
skull into the brains. How piercing must have been the convictions
of sin upon Bunyan's soul, to have led him to such a simile!--Ed.

38. 'A Relation of the Fearful Estate of Francis Spira.'


   'Here see a soul that's all despair; a man
    All hell; a spirit all wounds.
    Reader, would'st see what may you never feel,
    Despair, racks, torments, whips of burning steel?
    Behold this man, this furnace, in whose heart,
    Sin hath created hell.'


From the address to the reader, in a copy of this awful narrative
in possession of the Editor. Spira was filled with remorse and
despair for having been induced, by improper motives, to become a
papist.--Ed.

39. No Christian minister ever dwelt more richly on the 'Saint's
Knowledge of Christ's Love' than Bunyan. See vol. ii. p. 1. It was
the result of this soul-harrowing experience. He there shows its
heights exceeding the highest heavens, depths below the deepest hell,
lengths and breadths beyond comprehension. That treatise ought to
be read and cherished by every trembling believer.--Ed.

40. Alter, in later editions, to 'flying fits.'--Ed.

41. Internal conflicts, dreams, or visions ought not to be the source
of peace or of bitterness to the soul. If they drive us to Christ,
we may hope that they are from heaven for our relief; but if their
tendency is to despair, by undervaluing the blood of atonement, or
to lasciviousness, they are from Satan. Our real dependence must
be upon 'a more sure word of prophecy': if we are well-grounded in
the promises, it will save us from many harassing doubts and fears
which arise from a reliance upon our feelings.--Ed.

42. That a poor penitent should perish at the feet of Jesus is an
utter impossibility. God, when manifest in the flesh, decreed, that
'Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.' 'I will
give him rest.' His Word must stand fast for ever.--Ed.

43. How soul-rending a thought! but it can only be the case with
those who continue to their death despising the Saviour. Those
who love him are kept by almighty power, everlasting love, and
irresistible grace.--Ed.

44. Happy would it be for tempted souls, in their distress, to
look simply to the declarations and promises of God in the Word;
we there find salvation completed by Christ. Our duty is to look
in faith and prayer to the Spirit of God for the application and
comfort of it.--Mason.

45. However humbling, this is a truth not to be disputed. The wisest
philosopher and most illiterate peasant are upon a level, fallen
from God. None will be excluded who come to Christ, whose gracious
invitation is general, 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of
life freely' (Rev 22:17).--Mason.

46. This is the proper source of comfort--the records of infallible
truth. There is found mercy for the miserable, redemption for the
captive, salvation for the lost, heaven for the hell-deserving
sinner.--Mason.

47. Though we may wait long for mercy, yet the hand of faith never
knocked in vain at the door of heaven. Mercy is as surely ours as
if we had it, if it be given us in faith and patience to wait for
it.--Mason.

48. To sin against light and knowledge, received in and by the
gospel, is a very heinous aggravation of sin. The condition of
persons simply ignorant is not so sad by far, as theirs who have
been enlightened and yet afterwards apostatized. Let the formalist
and lukewarm professors read this and tremble.--Mason.

49. The Holy Spirit is the candle of the Lord, by whose light the
awakened conscience is brought to see something of the mystery
of iniquity lurking in the heart. He first convinces of sin,
righteousness, and judgment; and then points to Jesus as the only
security: 'Behold the Lamb of God.'--Mason.

50. This is very beautifully expressed; nothing can be more descriptive
of a poor pilgrim who has been toiling through the valley of the
shadow of death, and upon whose soul the day-spring from on high
has arisen.--Ed.

51. 'Cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies.' The humility of our
author is here most unobtrusively apparent. He had some treasure in
his 'earthen vessel'; but, in comparison with his store in Christ,
it was like a few cracked groats by the side of massive pure gold.
What he meant by 'fourpence-halfpennies' somewhat puzzled me, there
never having been any piece of English money coined of that value.
I found that a proclamation was issued shortly before Mr. Bunyan's
time (April 8, 1603), to save the people from being deceived with
the silver harp money of Ireland, purporting to be twelve and
sixpenny pieces. It fixed the value of the Irish twelvepence to be
ninepence English; so that the Irish sixpence was to pass current
for fourpence-halfpenny in England. That accomplished antiquary,
Mr. Hawkins, the curator of the coins in the British Museum, shewed
me this Irish silver money; and agreed with me in believing that
Bunyan alludes to these Irish sixpences, placing them in company
with cracked groats, depreciated in value. Mr. Hawkins was not
aware that they had been in common circulation in England.--Ed.

52. 'Common or public,' belonging equally to many. Christ is the
federal or covenant head of his church, each member claiming an
equal or common right to all his merits as a Saviour, Mediator,
and Advocate.--Ed.

53. This retort, or rebuke, is inserted twice in the first edition,
probably a typographical error.--Ed.

54. See note on No. 152. The feelings of Bunyan must have been
exceedingly pungent.--Ed.

55. This is a view of the power given to the apostles to forgive
or retain sins worthy of our serious consideration. That mysterious
power, under the pretence of possessing which merchandise is
made of souls, if it was not limited to the apostles personally,
was intended to be used by all those whom God sends to preach the
gospel; an authority to proclaim salvation or condemnation to those
who receive or reject the Saviour. Bunyan considers it a similar
power to that given to the governors of the city of refuge; to
admit the terror-stricken soul that 'shall declare his cause'--or
confess his guilt--into the city, there to abide the judgment upon
him, as in Christ the Refuge. This is very different to turning
God out of his judgment-seat; as is the case when a poor worm says
to his fellow-worm, 'I absolve thee from all thy sins.' See the
visitation of the sick, in the Book of Common Prayer.--Ed.

56. The mode of admitting members into the church, among the
Baptists, appears to have been the same in Bunyan's days as it is
now practiced. It is, first to be introduced to the minister, who
endeavours to ascertain whether there is an earnest desire to flee
from the wrath to come, sincere repentance, and faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ. If so, he mentions it to the church; and visitors are
appointed, to encourage the young convert, and to scrutinize into
moral character. If they are satisfied, he is invited to attend a
private church meeting; and if the members have a good hope that
he is a decided believer in Jesus, they receive him into their
fellowship; and if he requests it, he is publicly baptized in
water, and communicates with the church at the Lord's table. This
appears to have been the mode in which Bunyan was admitted into
the church at Bedford. Most of the Baptist churches now agree with
Bunyan, that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or inward spiritual
regeneration, is, alone, the essential pre-requisite to the Lord's
table; and they leave members to their own conclusions as to the
validity of their having been sprinkled in infancy, or the necessity
of immersion in water upon a profession of faith.--Ed.

57. Many will be surprised that Bunyan, who was so ready a writer,
should be unable to tell what he saw and felt when in these holy
enjoyments; but all who have had similar feelings will unite with
him in saying, they are inexpressible, great, and full of glory.--Ed.

58. This is a very correct view of the excellent mode in which
dissenting ministers are generally called to their important work.
First, their gifts in prayer and conversation upon Divine things,
and aptness in illustrating and confirming what they advance from
the Scriptures, is noticed; and, secondly, they are encouraged to
pray with and address the poor children in a Sunday school. If they
manifest an aptness to teach, they are, thirdly, invited to give
an exhortation to the church privately; and then, fourthly, they
are encouraged to pray and preach among the poor in country villages
and in work-houses. The God who gave the wish and the talent, soon
opens a way to still more public usefulness. In most cases, they
enter upon a course of study, to fit them for their momentous labours;
but many of our most valuable ministers have, like Bunyan, relied
entirely upon their prayerful investigation of the Scriptures. his
college was a dungeon, his library the Bible; and he came forth
with gigantic power to grapple with the prince of darkness. No human
learning could have so fitted him for this terrible and mysterious
warfare.--Ed.

59. 'With great sense,' means with great feeling, arising from his
own acute experience.--Ed.

60. In the first edition Bunyan says, 'I have lain as long,' (five
years). This was in 1666.--Ed.

61. When God sends forth a zealous ambassador to publish the glad
tidings of salvation to perishing sinners, he will be sure to meet
with the fiercest opposition from proud pharisaical professors:
so it was from the beginning, and will be to the end of time; but
the Lord will work, and none shall hinder. Experimental preaching
will always be offensive to the carnal and profane.--Mason.

62. It is impossible to identify the sect to which Bunyan belonged by
reading his works. He rises above all sectarian bias in his earnest
efforts to win souls to Christ, and to keep them in a heavenly
frame of mine.--Ed.

63. 'Other men's lines,' other men's compositions. Bunyan went
himself to the fountain head of Divine truth, and was not taught
by the wisdom of his fellow-men in the things that pertained to
salvation. He spoke as he felt; and, while he copied no sentence from
others, no man that ever wrote has been so copied from by others.
Application was once made to the Editor, to publish an admirable
sermon which had been taken in short hand from the lips of a D.D.;
when, to the surprise of the applicant, he was shown the whole
sermon in Bunyan's Heavenly Footman.--Ed.

64. Altered, in later editions, to 'searching.'--Ed.

65. Gifts are no evidence of God's favour; they are like the gold
which adorned the temple, but grace, the saving grace of the Spirit,
is like the altar which sanctifies the gold.--Mason..

66. In this paragraph is displayed that modest genuine humility
which shone so conspicuously in Bunyan. He possessed that popular
natural eloquence, by which he could deliver himself like an angel;
but when pride began to rise, he knocked it on the head with that
severe maul, 'Is it so much to be a fiddle' that Satan once so
played upon?--Ed.

67. One circumstance from which these vile slanders were raised,
is narrated in the thrilling narrative of God's gracious dealings
with Mrs. Agnes Beaumont. She was waiting in hopes of attending
a meeting, when 'at last, quite unexpectedly, came Mr. Bunyan. The
sight of him caused a mixture of joy and grief. I was glad to see
him, but afraid he would not be willing to take me up behind him,
and how to ask him I knew not. At length my brother did; but Mr.
Bunyan answered, with some degree of roughness, "No, I will not carry
her." These words were cutting indeed, and made me weep bitterly.
My brother, perceiving my trouble, said, "Sir, if you do not carry
her, you will break her heart"; but he made the same reply, adding,
"Your father would be grievously angry if I should." "I will venture
that," said I. And thus, with much entreaty, he was prevailed on;
and O how glad was I to think I was going. Soon after we set out,
my father came to my brother's, and asked his men whom his daughter
rode behind? They said, Mr. Bunyan. Upon hearing this, his anger
was greatly inflamed; he ran down the close, thinking to overtake
me, and pull me off the horse, but we were gone out of his reach.

'I had not ridden far, before my heart began to be lifted up with
pride at the thoughts of riding behind this servant of the Lord;
and was pleased if any looked after us, as we rode along. Indeed,
I thought myself very happy that day: first, that it pleased God
to make way for my going; and then, that I should have the honour
to ride behind Mr. Bunyan, who would sometimes be speaking to me
about the things of God. My pride soon had a fall; for, in entering
Gam'gay, we were met by one Mr. Lane, a clergyman who lived at
Bedford, and knew us both, and spoke to us, but looked very hard
at us as we rode along; and soon after raised a vile scandal upon
us, though, blessed be God, it was false.'

No Christian should be without that deeply interesting volume of
Christian experience, James' Abstract of the Gracious Dealings of
God with several Eminent Christians. The persecutions that Mrs.
Beaumont went through were like a dreadful tempest, yet was she
joyfully delivered out of them all.--Ed.

68. 'All is a case,' all the same. A case--that which falls, comes,
or happens; an event. See Blackie's Imperial Dictionary.--Ed.

69. 'Baulks,' missing, omitting, leaving untouched. 'This was
looked for at your hand, and this was baulked; the double gill of
this opportunity you let time wash off, and you are now sailed into
the north of my lady's opinion; where you will hang like an icicle
on a Dutchman's beard.'--Twelfth Night, Act iii. Scene 2; and
Imperial Dictionary.--Ed.

70. 'Above five year and a quarter' are the words in the first
edition, 1666. His imprisonment commenced November 1660; the order
for his release bears date September 13, 1672, but it was some
months before he was discharged.--Ed.

71. Angel visits may be expected when Antichrist persecutes the
Christian to bonds and imprisonment. An angel released Peter from
prison; angels revealed to John, when exiled to Patmos, the wonders
of his book of Revelation. The Lord of angels, the angel of the
covenant, communes with Bunyan in his dungeon, and converts it into
a Bethel to his soul; and this, for refusing obedience to the laws
of his country, because those laws violated God's prerogative, and
impiously dared to assume authority which belongs exclusively to
the Almighty. They remain to this day a disgrace to our statutes,
but are never enforced.--Ed.

72. Bunyan did well to prepare for the worst. He must have been
familiar with the horrid cruelties practiced upon Dr. Leighton by
that fiend in human shape, Archbishop Laud. The pious and learned
doctor was caught in Bedfordshire; and the story of his unparalleled
sufferings strengthened the Roundheads to deeds of valour,
in putting an end to such diabolical cruelties. The spirit of the
charges against him were his saying that no king may make laws
in the house of God; and that the bishops were ravens and magpies
that prey upon the state. His sufferings are narrated in Brooke's
Puritans, vol. ii. p. 478.--Ed.

73. 'Tuition' was altered to 'care' in later editions.--Ed.

74. i.e., My profession--the soul, shrinking from pain, moving him
one way, and his profession another.--Ed.

75. 'To scrabble,' to go on all fours--'to move along on the hands and
knees, by clawing with the hands.'--Blackie's Imperial Dictionary.--Ed.

76. This is the language of a heaven-born soul, which sees such
beauty and excellency in Christ, that it would not part with him for
a thousand worlds; if there were no heaven hereafter, his delight
in the ways of God renders his service preferable to all the wealth,
grandeur, and vain pleasures of the ungodly.--Mason.

***

A RELATON OF THE IMPRISONMENT OF MR. JOHN BUNYAN, MINISTER OF THE
GOSPEL AT BEDFORD, IN NOVEMBER 1660. HIS EXAMINATION BEFORE THE
JUSTICES; HIS CONFERENCE WITH THE CLERK OF THE PEACE; WHAT PASSED
BETWEEN THE JUDGES AND HIS WIFE WHEN SHE PRESENTED A PETITION FOR
HIS DELIVERANCE, ETC.

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF, AND NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall
revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil
against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:
for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the
prophets which were before you." Matthew 5:10-12

London: Printed for James Buckland, at the Buck, in Paternoster
Row, MDCCLXV.

The relation of my imprisonment in the month of November 1660.

When, by the good hand of my God, I had for five or six years
together, without any interruption, freely preached the blessed
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and had also, through his blessed
grace, some encouragement by his blessing thereupon; the devil,
that old enemy of man's salvation, took his opportunity to inflame
the hearts of his vassals against me, insomuch that at the last
I was laid out for by the warrant of a justice, and was taken and
committed to prison. The relation thereof is as followeth:

Upon the 12th of this instant November 1660, I was desired by
some of the friends in the country to come to teach at Samsell,
by Harlington, in Bedfordshire. To whom I made a promise, if the
Lord permitted, to be with them on the time aforesaid. The justice
hearing thereof, whose name is Mr. Francis Wingate, forthwith issued
out his warrant to take me, and bring me before him, and in the
meantime to keep a very strong watch about the house where the
meeting should be kept, as if we that were to meet together in that
place did intend to do some fearful business, to the destruction
of the country; when, alas, the constable, when he came in, found
us only with our Bibles in our hands, ready to speak and hear the
Word of God; for we were just about to begin our exercise. Nay, we
had begun in prayer for the blessing of God upon our opportunity,
intending to have preached the Word of the Lord unto them there
present;[1] but the constable coming in prevented us; so that I
was taken and forced to depart the room. But had I been minded to
have played the coward, I could have escaped, and kept out of his
hands. For when I was come to my friend's house, there was whispering
that that day I should be taken, for there was a warrant out to
take me; which when my friend heard, he being somewhat timorous,
questioned whether we had best have our meeting or not; and whether
it might not be better for me to depart, lest they should take me
and have me before the justice, and after that send me to prison,
for he knew better than I what spirit they were of, living by them;
to whom I said, No, by no means, I will not stir, neither will I
have the meeting dismissed for this. Come, be of good cheer, let
us not be daunted; our cause is good, we need not be ashamed of
it; to preach God's Word is so good a work, that we shall be well
rewarded, if we suffer for that; or to this purpose; but as for my
friend, I think he was more afraid of [for] me, than of himself.
After this I walked into the close, where, I somewhat seriously
considering the matter, this came into my mind, That I had showed
myself hearty and courageous in my preaching, and had, blessed be
grace, made it my business to encourage others; therefore, thought
I, if I should now run, and make an escape, it will be of a very
ill savour in the country. For what will my weak and newly converted
brethren think of it, but that I was not so strong indeed as I was
in word? Also I feared that if I should run, now there was a warrant
out for me, I might by so doing make them afraid to stand, when
great words only should be spoken to them. Besides, I thought,
that seeing God of his mercy should choose me to go upon the forlorn
hope in this country; that is, to be the first, that should be
opposed, for the gospel; if I should fly, it might be a discouragement
to the whole body that might follow after. And further, I thought
the world thereby would take occasion at my cowardliness, to have
blasphemed the gospel, and to have had some ground to suspect worse
of me and my profession than I deserved. These things with others
considered by me, I came in again to the house, with a full resolution
to keep the meeting, and not to go away, though I could have been
gone about an hour before the officer apprehended me; but I would
not; for I was resolved to see the utmost of what they could say
or do unto me. For blessed be the Lord, I knew of no evil that I
had said or done. And so, as aforesaid, I began the meeting. But
being prevented by the constable's coming in with his warrant to
take me, I could not proceed. But before I went away, I spake some
few words of counsel and encouragement to the people, declaring to
them, that they saw we were prevented of our opportunity to speak
and hear the Word of God, and were like to suffer for the same:
desiring them that they should not be discouraged, for it was a mercy
to suffer upon so good account. For we might have been apprehended
as thieves or murderers, or for other wickedness; but blessed be
God it was not so, but we suffer as Christians for well doing: and
we had better be the persecuted than the persecutors, &c. But the
constable and the justice's man waiting on us, would not be at
quiet till they had me away, and that we departed the house. But
because the justice was not at home that day, there was a friend
of mine engaged for me to bring me to the constable on the morrow
morning. Otherwise the constable must have charged a watch with
me, or have secured me some other ways, my crime was so great. So
on the next morning we went to the constable, and so the justice.[2]
He asked the constable what we did, where we were met together,
and what we had with us? I trow, he meant whether we had armour
or not; but when the constable told him, that there were only met
a few of us together to preach and hear the Word, and no sign of
anything else, he could not well tell what to say: yet because he
had sent for me, he did adventure to put out a few proposals to
me, which were to this effect, namely, What I did there? and why
I did not content myself with following my calling? for it was
against the law, that such as I should be admitted to do as I did.

John Bunyan. To which I answered, that the intent of my coming
thither, and to other places, was to instruct, and counsel people
to forsake their sins, and close in with Christ, lest they did miserably
perish; and that I could do both these without confusion, to wit,
follow my calling, and preach the Word also. At which words, he
was in a chafe,[3] as it appeared; for he said that he would break
the neck of our meetings.

Bun. I said, it may be so. Then he wished me to get sureties to be
bound for me, or else he would send me to the jail.

My sureties being ready, I called them in, and when the bond for
my appearance was made, he told them, that they were bound to keep
me from preaching; and that if I did preach, their bonds would
be forfeited. To which I answered, that then I should break them;
for I should not leave speaking the Word of God: even to counsel,
comfort, exhort, and teach the people among whom I came; and I
thought this to be a work that had no hurt in it: but was rather
worthy of commendation than blame.

Wingate. Whereat he told me, that if they would not be so bound,
my mittimus must be made, and I sent to the jail, there to lie to
the quarter-sessions.

Now while my mittimus was making, the justice was withdrawn; and
in comes an old enemy to the truth, Dr. Lindale, who, when he was
come in, fell to taunting at me with many reviling terms.

Bun. To whom I answered, that I did not come thither to talk with
him, but with the justice. Whereat he supposed that I had nothing
to say for myself, and triumphed as if he had got the victory;
charging and condemning me for meddling with that for which I could
show no warrant; and asked me, if I had taken the oaths? and if I
had not, it was pity but that I should be sent to prison, &c.

I told him, that if I was minded, I could answer to any sober question
that he should put to me. He then urged me again, how I could prove
it lawful for me to preach, with a great deal of confidence of the
victory.

But at last, because he should see that I could answer him if I
listed, I cited to him that verse in Peter, which saith, "As every
man hath received the gift, even so let him minister the same,"
&c.

Lind. Aye, saith he, to whom is that spoken?

Bun. To whom, said I, why, to every man that hath received a gift
from God. Mark, saith the apostle, "As every man that hath received
a gift from God," &c. And again, "You may all prophesy one by one."
Whereat the man was a little stopt, and went a softlier pace: but
not being willing to lose the day, he began again, and said:

Lind. Indeed I do remember that I have read of one Alexander a
coppersmith, who did much oppose and disturb the apostles;--aiming,
it is like, at me, because I was a tinker.

Bun. To which I answered, that I also had read of very many priests
and Pharisees that had their hands in the blood of our Lord Jesus
Christ.

Lind. Aye, saith he, and you are one of those scribes and Pharisees:
for you, with a pretence, make long prayers to devour widows'
houses.

Bun. I answered, that if he had got no more by preaching and praying
than I had done, he would not be so rich as he now was. But that
scripture coming into my mind, "Answer not a fool according to his
folly," I was as sparing of my speech as I could, without prejudice
to truth.

Now by this time my mittimus was made, and I committed to the
constable to be sent to the jail in Bedford, &c.

But as I was going, two of my brethren met with me by the way, and
desired the constable to stay, supposing that they should prevail
with the justice, through the favour of a pretended friend, to let
me go at liberty. So we did stay, while they went to the justice;
and after much discourse with him, it came to this; that if I would
come to him again, and say some certain words to him, I should be
released. Which when they told me, I said if the words were such
that might be said with a good conscience, I should, or, else,
I should not. So through their importunity I went back again, but
not believing that I should be delivered: for I feared their spirit
was too full of opposition to the truth to let me go, unless I should
in something or other dishonour my God, and wound my conscience.
Wherefore, as I went, I lifted up my heart to God for light and
strength to be kept, that I might not do anything that might either
dishonour him, or wrong my own soul, or be a grief or discouragement
to any that was inclining after the Lord Jseus Christ.

Well, when I came to the justice again, there was Mr. Foster of
Bedford, who coming out of another room, and seeing of me by the
light of the candle, for it was dark night when I came thither, he
said unto me, Who is there? John Bunyan? with such seeming affection,
as if he would have leaped in my neck and kissed[4] me, which made
me somewhat wonder, that such a man as he, with whom I had so little
acquaintance, and, besides, that had ever been a close opposer of
the ways of God, should carry himself so full of love to me; but,
afterwards, when I saw what he did, it caused me to remember those
sayings, "Their tongues are smoother than oil, but their words are
drawn swords." And again, "Beware of men," &c. when I had answered
him, that blessed be God I was well, he said, What is the occasion
of your being here? or to that purpose. To whom I answered, that
I was at a meeting of people a little way off, intending to speak
a word of exhortation to them; but the justice hearing thereof, said
I, was pleased to send his warrant to fetch me before him, &c.

Foster. So, said he, I understand; but well, if you will promise
to call the people no more together, you shall have your liberty
to go home; for my brother is very loath to send you to prison, if
you will be but ruled.

Bun. Sir, said I, pray what do you mean by calling the people
together? My business is not anything among them, when they are
come together, but to exhort them to look after the salvation of
their souls, that they may be saved, &c.

Fost. Saith he, We must not enter into explication or dispute now;
but if you will say you will call the people no more together, you
may have your liberty; if not, you must be sent away to prison.

Bun. Sir, said I, I shall not force or compel any man to hear
me; but yet, if I come into any place where there is a people met
together, I should, according to the best of my skill and wisdom,
exhort and counsel them to seek out after the Lord Jesus Christ,
for the salvation of their souls.

Fost. He said, that was none of my work; I must follow my calling;
and if I would but leave off preaching, and follow my calling, I
should have the justice's favour, and be acquitted presently.

Bun. To whom I said, that I could follow my calling and that too,
namely, preaching the Word; and I did look upon it as my duty to
do them both, as I had an opportunity.

Fost. He said, to have any such meetings was against the law; and,
therefore, he would have me leave off, and say I would call the
people no more together.

Bun. To whom I said, that I durst not make any further promise; for
my conscience would not suffer me to do it. And again, I did look
upon it as my duty to do as much good as I could, not only in my
trade, but also in communicating to all people, wheresoever I came,
the best knowledge I had in the Word.

Fost. He told me that I was the nearest the Papists of any, and
that he would convince me of immediately.

Bun. I asked him wherein?

Fost. He said, in that we understood the Scriptures literally.

Bun. I told him that those that were to be understood literally,
we understood them so; but for those that were to be understood
otherwise, we endeavoured so to understand them.

Fost. He said, which of the Scriptures do you understand literally?

Bun. I said this, "he that believeth shall be saved." This was to
be understood just as it is spoken; that whosoever believeth in
Christ shall, according to the plain and simple words of the text,
be saved.

Fost. He said that I was ignorant, and did not understand the
Scriptures; for how, said he, can you understand them when you know
not the original Greek? &c.

Bun. To whom I said, that if that was his opinion, that none could
understand the Scriptures but those that had the original Greek,
&c., then but a very few of the poorest sort should be saved; this
is harsh; yet the Scripture saith, "That God hides these things
from the wise and prudent," that is, from the learned of the world,
"and reveals them to babes and sucklings."

Fost. He said there were none that heard me but a company of foolish
people.

Bun. I told him that there were the wise as well as the foolish
that do hear me; and again, those that are most commonly counted
foolish by the world are the wisest before God; also, that God had
rejected the wise, and mighty, and noble, and chosen the foolish
and the base.

Fost. He told me that I made people neglect their calling; and
that God had commanded people to work six days, and serve him on
the seventh.

Bun. I told him that it was the duty of people, both rich and poor,
to look out for their souls on those days as well as for their
bodies; and that God would have his people "exhort one another
daily, while it is called to-day."

Fost. He said again that there was none but a company of poor,
simple, ignorant people that came to hear me.

Bun. I told him that the foolish and ignorant had most need of
teaching and information; and, therefore, it would be profitable
for me to go on in that work.

Fost. Well, said he, to conclude, but will you promise that you
will not call the people together any more? and then you may be
released and go home.

Bun. I told him that I durst say no more than I had said; for I
durst not leave off that work which God had called me to.

So he withdrew from me, and then came several of the justice's
servants to me, and told me that I stood so much upon a nicety.
Their master, they said, was willing to let me go; and if I would
but say I would call the people no more together, I might have my
liberty, &c.

Bun. I told them there were more ways than one in which a man
might be said to call the people together. As, for instance, if a
man get upon the market place, and there read a book, or the like,
though he do not say to the people, Sirs, come hither and hear;
yet if they come to him because he reads, he, by his very reading,
may be said to call them together; because they would not have been
there to hear if he had not been there to read. And seeing this
might be termed a calling the people together, I durst not say I
would not call them together; for then, by the same argument, my
preaching might be said to call them together.

Wing. and Fost. Then came the justice and Mr. Foster to me again;
we had a little more discourse about preaching, but because the
method of it is out of my mind, I pass it; and when they saw that
I was at a point, and would not be moved nor persuaded,

Mr. Foster, the man that did at the first express so much love to
me, told the justice that then he must send me away to prison. And
that he would do well, also, if he would present all those that
were the cause of my coming among them to meetings. Thus we parted.

And, verily, as I was going forth of the doors, I had much ado to
forbear saying to them that I carried the peace of God along with
me; but I held my peace, and, blessed be the Lord, went away to
prison, with God's comfort in my poor soul.

After I had lain in the jail five or six days, the brethren sought
means, again, to get me out by bondsmen; for so ran my mittimus,
that I should lie there till I could find sureties. They went to
a justice at Elstow, one Mr. Crumpton, to desire him to take bond
for my appearing at the quarter-sessions. At the first he told
them he would; but afterwards he made a demur at the business, and
desired first to see my mittimus, which run to this purpose: That
I went about to several conventicles in this county, to the great
disparagement of the government of the church of England, &c. When
he had seen it, he said that there might be something more against
me than was expressed in my mittimus; and that he was but a young
man, and, therefore, he durst not do it. This my jailer told me;
whereat I was not at all daunted, but rather glad, and saw evidently
that the Lord had heard me; for before I went down to the justice,
I begged of God that if I might do more good by being at liberty
than in prison, that then I might be set at liberty; but if not,
his will be done; for I was not altogether without hopes but that
my imprisonment might be an awakening to the saints in the country,
therefore I could not tell well which to choose; only I, in that
manner, did commit the thing to God. And verily, at my return, I
did meet my God sweetly in the prison again, comforting of me and
satisfying of me that it was his will and mind that I should be
there.[5]

When I came back again to prison, as I was musing at the slender
answer of the justice, this word dropt in upon my heart with some
life, "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him."

Thus have I, in short, declared the manner and occasion of my being
in prison; where I lie waiting the good will of God, to do with me
as he pleaseth; knowing that not one hair of my head can fall to
the ground without the will of my Father which is in heaven. Let
the rage and malice of men be never so great, they can do no more,
nor go no further, than God permits them; but when they have done
their worst, "We know that all things work together for good to
them that love God" (Rom 8:28). Farewell.

Here is the sum of my Examination before Justice Keelin, Justice
Chester, Justice Blundale, Justice Beecher, and Justice Snagg, &c.

After I had lain in prison above seven weeks, the quarter-sessions
was to be kept in Bedford, for the county thereof, unto which I was
to be brought; and when my jailer had set me before those justices,
there was a bill of indictment preferred against me. The extent
thereof was as followeth: 'That John Bunyan, of the town of
Bedford, labourer, being a person of such and such conditions, he
hath, since such a time, devilishly and perniciously abstained from
coming to church to hear Divine service, and is a common upholder
of several 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,' &c.

The Clerk. When this was read, the clerk of the sessions said unto
me, What say you to this?

Bun. I said, that as to the first part of it, I was a common
frequenter of the church of God. And was also, by grace, a member
with the people over whom Christ is the Head.

Keelin. But, saith Justice Keelin, who was the judge in that court?
Do you come to church, you know what I mean; to the parish church,
to hear Divine service?

Bun. I answered, No, I did not.

Keel. He asked me why?

Bun. I said, Because I did not find it commanded in the Word of
God.

Keel. He said, We were commanded to pray.

Bun. I said, But not by the Common Prayer Book.

Keel. He said, How then?

Bun. I said, With the Spirit. As the apostle saith, "I will pray
with the Spirit, and--with the understanding" (1 Cor 14:15).

Keel. He said, We might pray with the Spirit, and with the
understanding, and with the Common Prayer Book also.

Bun. I said that the prayers in the Common Prayer Book were such as
were made by other men, and not by the motions of the Holy Ghost,
within our hearts; and as I said, the apostle saith, he will pray
with the Spirit, and with the understanding; not with the Spirit
and the Common Prayer Book.

Another Justice. What do you count prayer? Do you think it is to
say a few words over before or among a people?

Bun. I said, No, not so; for men might have many elegant, or
excellent words, and yet not pray at all; but when a man prayeth,
he doth, through a sense of those things which he wants, which sense
is begotten by the Spirit, pour out his heart before God through
Christ; though his words be not so many and so excellent as others
are.

Justices. They said, That was true.

Bun. I said, This might be done without the Common Prayer Book.

Another. One of them said (I think it was Justice Blundale, or
Justice Snagg), How should we know that you do not write out your
prayers first, and then read them afterwards to the people? This
he spake in a laughing way.

Bun. I said, It is not our use, to take a pen and paper, and write
a few words thereon, and then go and read it over to a company of
people.

But how should we know it, said he?

Bun. Sir, it is none of our custom, said I.

Keel. But, said Justice Keelin, it is lawful to use Common Prayer,
and such like forms: for Christ taught his disciples to pray, as
John also taught his disciples. And further, said he, cannot one
man teach another to pray? "Faith comes by hearing"; and one man
may convince another of sin, and therefore prayers made by men,
and read over, are good to teach, and help men to pray.

While he was speaking these words, God brought that word into my
mind, in the eighth of the Romans, at the 26th verse. I say, God
brought it, for I thought not on it before: but as he was speaking,
it came so fresh into my mind, and was set so evidently before me,
as if the scripture had said, Take me, take me; so when he had done
speaking,

Bun. I said, Sir, the Scripture saith, that it is the Spirit that
helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as
we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with
[sighs and] groanings which cannot be uttered. Mark, said I, it
doth not say the Common Prayer Book teacheth us how to pray, but
the Spirit. And it is "the Spirit that helpeth our infirmities,"
saith the apostle; he doth not say it is the Common Prayer Book.

And as to the Lord's prayer, although it be an easy thing to say,
"Our Father," &c., with the mouth; yet there are very few that
can, in the Spirit, say the two first words in that prayer; that
is, that can call God their Father, as knowing what it is to be
born again, and a having experience, that they are begotten of the
Spirit of God; which if they do not, all is but babbling, &c.[6]

Keel. Justice Keelin said, that that was a truth.

Bun. And I say further, as to your saying that one man may convince
another of sin, and that faith comes by hearing, and that one man
may tell another how he should pray, &c., I say men may tell each
other of their sins, but it is the Spirit that must convince them.

And though it be said that "faith comes by hearing," yet it is the
Spirit that worketh faith in the heart through hearing, or else
they are not profited by hearing (Heb 4:12).

And that though one man may tell another how he should pray; yet,
as I said before, he cannot pray, nor make his condition known to
God, except the Spirit help. It is not the Common Prayer Book that
can do this. It is the Spirit that showeth us our sins, and the
Spirit that showeth us a Saviour (John 16:16); and the Spirit that
stirreth up in our hearts desires to come to God, for such things
as we stand in need of (Matt 11:27), even sighing out our souls
unto him for them with "groans which cannot be uttered." With other
words to the same purpose. At this they were set.

Keel. But, says Justice Keelin, what have you against the Common
Prayer Book?

Bun. I said, Sir, if you will hear me, I shall lay down my reasons
against it.

Keel. He said, I should have liberty; but first, said he, let me
give you one caution; take heed of speaking irreverently of the
Common Prayer Book; for if you do so, you will bring great damage
upon yourself.

Bun. So I proceeded, and said, My first reason was, because it was
not commanded in the Word of God, and therefore I could not use
it.

Another. One of them said, Where do you find it commanded in the
Scripture, that you should go to Elstow, or Bedford, and yet it is
lawful to go to either of them, is it not?

Bun. I said, To go to Elstow, or Bedford, was a civil thing, and
not material, though not commanded, and yet God's Word allowed me
to go about my calling, and therefore if it lay there, then to go
thither, &c. But to pray, was a great part of the Divine worship
of God, and therefore it ought to be done according to the rule of
God's Word.

Another. One of them said, He will do harm; let him speak no further.

Keel. Justice Keelin said, No, no, never fear him, we are better
established than so; he can do no harm; we know the Common Prayer
Book hath been ever since the apostles' time, and is lawful for it
to be used in the church.

Bun. I said, Show me the place in the epistles where the Common
Prayer Book is written, or one text of Scripture that commands me
to read it, and I will use it. But yet, notwithstanding, said I,
they that have a mind to use it, they have their liberty;[7] that
is, I would not keep them from it; but for our parts, we can pray
to God without it. Blessed be his name.

With that, one of them said, Who is your God? Beelzebub? Moreover,
they often said that I was possessed with the spirit of delusion,
and of the devil. All which sayings I passed over; the Lord
forgive them! And further, I said, blessed be the Lord for it, we
are encouraged to meet together, and to pray, and exhort one another;
for we have had the comfortable presence of God among us. For ever
blessed be his holy name!

Keel. Justice Keelin called this pedlar's French, saying, that I
must leave off my canting. The Lord open his eyes!

Bun. I said, that we ought to "exhort one another daily, while it
is called to-day," &c. (Heb 3:13).

Keel. Justice Keelin said, that I ought not to preach; and asked
me where I had my authority? with other such like words.

Bun. I said, that I would prove that it was lawful for me, and such
as I am, to preach the Word of God.

Keel. He said unto me, By what scripture?

I said, By that in the first epistle of Peter, chapter 4, the 10th
verse, and Acts 18 with other scriptures, which he would not suffer
me to mention. But said, Hold; not so many, which is the first?

Bun. I said, this: "As every man hath received the gift, even so
minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold
grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of
God," &c.

Keel. He said, Let me a little open that scripture to you: 'As every
man hath received the gift'; that is, said he, as every one hath
received a trade, so let him follow it. If any man have received a
gift of tinkering, as thou hast done, let him follow his tinkering.
And so other men their trades; and the divine his calling, &c.

Bun. Nay, Sir, said I, but it is most clear, that the apostle speaks
here of preaching the Word; if you do but compare both the verses
together, the next verse explains this gift what it is, saying, 'If
any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God.' So that it is
plain, that the Holy Ghost doth not so much in this place exhort
to civil callings, as to the exercising of those gifts that we have
received from God. I would have gone on, but he would not give me
leave.

Keel. He said, We might do it in our families, but not otherwise.

Bun. I said, If it was lawful to do good to some, it was lawful to
do good to more. If it was a good duty to exhort our families, it
is good to exhort others; but if they held it a sin to meet together
to seek the face of God, and exhort one another to follow Christ,
I should sin still; for so we should do.

Keel. He said he was not so well versed in Scripture as to dispute,
or words to that purpose. And said, moreover, that they could
not wait upon me any longer; but said to me, Then you confess the
indictment, do you not? Now, and not till now, I saw I was indicted.

Bun. I said, This I confess, we have had many meetings together,
both to pray to God, and to exhort one another, and that we had the
sweet comforting presence of the Lord among us for our encouragement;
blessed be his name therefore. I confessed myself guilty no otherwise.

Keel. Then, said he, hear your judgment. You must be had back again
to prison, and there lie for three months following; and at three
months' end, if you do not submit to go to church to hear Divine
service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished the realm:
and if, after such a day as shall be appointed you to be gone, you
shall be found in this realm, &c., or be found to come over again
without special license from the king, &c.,[8] you must stretch by
the neck for it, I tell you plainly; and so bid my jailer have me
away.

Bun. I told him, as to this matter, I was at a point with him;
for if I was out of prison to-day I would preach the gospel again
to-morrow, by the help of God.

Another. To which one made me some answer; but my jailer pulling
me away to be gone, I could not tell what he said.

Thus I departed from them; and I can truly say, I bless the Lord
Jesus Christ for it, that my heart was sweetly refreshed in the
time of my examination; and also afterwards, at my returning to
the prison. So that I found Christ's words more than bare trifles,
where he saith, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your
adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (Luke 21:15).
And that his peace no man can take from us.

Thus have I given you the substance of my examination. The Lord
make these profitable to all that shall read or hear them. Farewell.

The Substance of some Discourse had between the Clerk of the Peace
and myself, when he came to admonish me, according to the tenor of
that Law by which I was in Prison.

When I had lain in prison other twelve weeks, and now not knowing
what they intended to do with me, upon the 3rd of April 1661,
comes Mr. Cobb unto me, as he told me, being sent by the justices
to admonish me; and demanded of me submittance to the Church of
England, &c. The extent of our discourse was as followeth:--

Cobb. When he was come into the house he sent for me out of my
chamber; who, when I was come unto him, he said, Neighbour Bunyan,
how do you do?

Bun. I thank you, Sir, said I, very well, blessed be the Lord.

Cobb. Saith he, I come to tell you that it is desired you would submit
yourself to the laws of the land, or else at the next sessions it
will go worse with you, even to be sent away out of the nation, or
else worse than that.

Bun. I said that I did desire to demean myself in the world, both
as becometh a man and a Christian.

Cobb. But, saith he, you must submit to the laws of the land, and
leave off those meetings which you was wont to have; for the statute
law is directly against it; and I am sent to you by the justices
to tell you that they do intend to prosecute the law against you
if you submit not.

Bun. I said, Sir, I conceive that that law by which I am in prison
at this time doth not reach or condemn either me or the meetings
which I do frequent; that law was made against those that, being
designed to do evil in their meetings, making the exercise of religion
their pretence, to cover their wickedness. It doth not forbid the
private meetings of those that plainly and simply make it their only
end to worship the Lord, and to exhort one another to edification.
My end in meeting with others is simply to do as much good as I
can, by exhortation and counsel, according to that small measure
of light which God hath given me, and not to disturb the peace of
the nation.

Cobb. Every one will say the same, said he; you see the late
insurrection at London, under what glorious pretences they went;
and yet, indeed, they intended no less than the ruin of the kingdom
and commonwealth.[9]

Bun. That practice of theirs I abhor, said I; yet it doth not follow
that, because they did so, therefore all others will do so. I look
upon it as my duty to behave myself under the King's government,
both as becomes a man and a Christian, and if an occasion were
offered me, I should willingly manifest my loyalty to my Prince,
both by word and deed.

Cobb. Well, said he, I do not profess myself to be a man that can
dispute; but this I say, truly, neighbour Bunyan, I would have you
consider this matter seriously, and submit yourself; you may have
your liberty to exhort your neighbour in private discourse, so be
you do not call together an assembly of people; and, truly, you
may do much good to the church of Christ, if you would go this way;
and this you may do, and the law not abridge you of it. It is your
private meetings that the law is against.

Bun. Sir, said I, if I may do good to one by my discourse, why may
I not do good to two? and if to two, why not to four, and so to
eight? &c.

Cobb. Ay, saith he, and to a hundred, I warrant you.

Bun. Yes, Sir, said I, I think I should not be forbid to do as much
good as I can.

Cobb. But, saith he, you may but pretend to do good, and indeed,
notwithstanding, do harm, by seducing the people; you are, therefore,
denied your meeting so many together, lest you should do harm.

Bun. And yet, said I, you say the law tolerates me to discourse
with my neighbour; surely there is no law tolerates me to seduce any
one; therefore, if I may, by the law, discourse with one, surely
it is to do him good; and if I, by discoursing, may do good to one,
surely, by the same law, I may do good to many.

Cobb. The law, saith he, doth expressly forbid your private meetings;
therefore they are not to be tolerated.

Bun. I told him that I would not entertain so much uncharitableness of
that Parliament in the 35th of Elizabeth, or of the Queen herself,
as to think they did, by that law, intend the oppressing of any of
God's ordinances, or the interrupting any in the way of God; but
men may, in the wresting of it, turn it against the way of God;
but take the law in itself, and it only fighteth against those that
drive at mischief in their hearts and meetings, making religion
only their cloak, colour, or pretence; for so are the words of the
statute: 'If any meetings, under colour or pretence of religion,'
&c.[10]

Cobb. Very good; therefore the king, seeing that pretences are
usually in and among people, as to make religion their pretence
only, therefore he, and the law before him, doth forbid such private
meetings, and tolerates only public; you may meet in public.

Bun. Sir, said I, let me answer you in a similitude: Set the case
that, at such a wood corner, there did usually come forth thieves,
to do mischief; must there therefore a law be made that every one
that cometh out there shall be killed? May there not come out true
men as well as thieves out from thence? Just thus it is in this
case; I do think there may be many that may design the destruction
of the commonwealth; but it does not follow therefore that all
private meetings are unlawful; those that transgress, let them
be punished. And if at any time I myself should do any act in my
conversation as doth not become a man and Christian, let me bear
the punishment. And as for your saying I may meet in public, if
I may be suffered, I would gladly do it. Let me have but meeting
enough in public, and I shall care the less to have them in private.
I do not meet in private because I am afraid to have meetings in
public. I bless the Lord that my heart is at that point, that if any
man can lay anything to my charge, either in doctrine or practice,
in this particular, that can be proved error or heresy, I am willing
to disown it, even in the very market place; but if it be truth,
then to stand to it to the last drop of my blood. And, Sir, said I,
you ought to commend me for so doing. To err and to be a heretic are
two things; I am no heretic, because I will not stand refractorily
to defend any one thing that is contrary to the Word. Prove anything
which I hold to be an error, and I will recant it.

Cobb. But, Goodman Bunyan, said he, methinks you need not stand so
strictly upon this one thing, as to have meetings of such public
assemblies. Cannot you submit, and, notwithstanding, do as much
good as you can, in a neighbourly way, without having such meetings?

Bun. Truly, Sir, said I, I do not desire to commend myself, but to
think meanly of myself; yet when I do most despise myself, taking
notice of that small measure of light which God hath given me,
also that the people of the Lord, by their own saying, are edified
thereby. Besides, when I see that the Lord, through grace, hath in
some measure blessed my labour, I dare not but exercise that gift
which God hath given me for the good of the people. And I said
further, that I would willingly speak in public, if I might.

Cobb. He said, that I might come to the public assemblies and hear.
What though you do not preach? you may hear. Do not think yourself
so well enlightened, and that you have received a gift so far above
others, but that you may hear other men preach. Or to that purpose.

Bun. I told him, I was as willing to be taught as to give instruction,
and looked upon it as my duty to do both; for, saith I, a man that
is a teacher, he himself may learn also from another that teacheth,
as the apostle saith: "Ye may all prophesy, one by one, that all
may learn" (1 Cor 14:31). That is, every man that hath received a
gift from God, he may dispense it, that others may be comforted;
and when he hath done, he may hear and learn, and be comforted
himself of others.

Cobb. But, said he, what if you should forbear awhile, and sit
still, till you see further how things will go?

Bun. Sir, said I, Wicliffe saith, that he which leaveth off preaching
and hearing of the Word of God for fear of excommunication of
men, he is already excommunicated of God, and shall in the day of
judgment be counted a traitor to Christ.[11]

Cobb. Ay, saith he, they that do not hear shall be so counted
indeed; do you, therefore, hear.

Bun. But, Sir, said I, he saith, he that shall leave off either
preaching or hearing, &c. That is, if he hath received a gift for
edification, it is his sin, if he doth not lay it out in a way of
exhortation and counsel, according to the proportion of his gift;
as well as to spend his time altogether in hearing others preach.

Cobb. But, said he, how shall we know that you have received a
gift?

Bun. Said I, Let any man hear and search, and prove the doctrine
by the Bible.

Cobb. But will you be willing, said he, that two indifferent persons
shall determine the case, and will you stand by their judgment?

Bun. I said, Are they infallible?

Cobb. He said, No.

Bun. Then, said I, it is possible my judgment may be as good as
theirs. But yet I will pass by either, and in this matter be judged
by the Scriptures; I am sure that is infallible, and cannot err.

Cobb. But, said he, who shall be judge between you, for you take
the Scriptures one way, and they another?

Bun. I said, The Scripture should, and that by comparing one
scripture with another; for that will open itself, if it be rightly
compared. As, for instance, if under the different apprehensions of
the word Mediator, you would know the truth of it, the Scriptures
open it, and tell us that he that is a mediator must take up the
business between two, and "a mediator is not a mediator of one,
but God is one," and "there is one mediator between God and men,
[even] the man Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:20; 1 Tim 2:5). So likewise
the Scripture calleth Christ a complete, or perfect, or able high
priest. That is opened in that he is called man, and also God.
His blood also is discovered to be effectually efficacious by the
same things. So the Scripture, as touching the matter of meeting
together, &c., doth likewise sufficiently open itself and discover
its meaning.

Cobb. But are you willing, said he, to stand to the judgment of
the church?

Bun. Yes, Sir, said I, to the approbation of the church of God;
the church's judgment is best expressed in Scripture. We had much
other discourse which I cannot well remember, about the laws of
the nation, and submission to government; to which I did tell him,
that I did look upon myself as bound in conscience to walk according
to all righteous laws, and that whether there was a king or no;
and if I did anything that was contrary, I did hold it my duty to
bear patiently the penalty of the law, that was provided against
such offenders; with many more words to the like effect. And said,
moreover, that to cut off all occasions of suspicion from any,
as touching the harmlessness of my doctrine in private, I would
willingly take the pains to give any one the notes of all my
sermons; for I do sincerely desire to live quietly in my country,
and to submit to the present authority.

Cobb. Well, neighbour Bunyan, said he, but indeed I would wish
you seriously to consider of these things, between this and the
quarter-sessions, and to submit yourself. You may do much good if
you continue still in the land; but alas, what benefit will it be
to your friends, or what good can you do to them, if you should be
sent away beyond the seas into Spain, or Constantinople, or some
other remote part of the world? Pray be ruled.

Jailer. Indeed, Sir, I hope he will be ruled.

Bun. I shall desire, said I, in all godliness and honesty to behave
myself in the nation, whilst I am in it. And if I must be so dealt
withal, as you say, I hope God will help me to bear what they shall
lay upon me. I know no evil that I have done in this matter, to be
so used. I speak as in the presence of God.

Cobb. You know, saith he, that the Scripture saith, "the powers
that be are ordained of God."

Bun. I said, yes, and that I was to submit to the king as supreme,
also to the governors, as to them that are sent by him.

Cobb. Well then, said he, the King then commands you, that you should
not have any private meetings; because it is against his law, and
he is ordained of God, therefore you should not have any.

Bun. I told him that Paul did own the powers that were in his day,
as to be of God; and yet he was often in prison under them for all
that. And also, though Jesus Christ told Pilate, that he had no
power against him, but of God, yet he died under the same Pilate;
and yet, said I, I hope you will not say that either Paul, or
Christ, were such as did deny magistracy, and so sinned against
God in slighting the ordinance. Sir, said I, the law hath provided
two ways of obeying: The one to do that which I, in my conscience,
do believe that I am bound to do, actively; and where I cannot obey
actively, there I am willing to lie down, and to suffer what they
shall do unto me. At this he sat still, and said no more; which,
when he had done, I did thank him for his civil and meek discoursing
with me; and so we parted.

O that we might meet in heaven!

Farewell. J.B.

Here followeth a discourse between my Wife and the Judges, with
others, touching my Deliverance at the Assizes following; the which
I took from her own Mouth.

After that I had received this sentence of banishing, or hanging,
from them, and after the former admonition, touching the determination
of the justices, if I did not recant; just when the time drew nigh,
in which I should have abjured, or have done worse, as Mr. Cobb
told me, came the time in which the King was to be crowned.[12]
Now, at the coronation of kings, there is usually a releasement of
divers prisoners, by virtue of his coronation; in which privilege
also I should have had my share; but that they took me for a convicted
person, and therefore, unless I sued out a pardon, as they called
it, I could have no benefit thereby; notwithstanding, yet, forasmuch
as the coronation proclamation did give liberty, from the day the king
was crowned to that day twelvemonth, to sue them out; therefore,
though they would not let me out of prison, as they let out thousands,
yet they could not meddle with me, as touching the execution of
their sentence; because of the liberty offered for the suing out
of pardons. Whereupon I continued in prison till the next assizes,
which are called Midsummer assizes, being then kept in August 1661.

Now, at that assizes, because I would not leave any possible means
unattempted that might be lawful, I did, by my wife, present a
petition to the judges three times, that I might be heard, and that
they would impartially take my case into consideration.

The first time my wife went, she presented it to Judge Hale, who
very mildly received it at her hand, telling her that he would
do her and me the best good he could; but he feared, he said, he
could do none. The next day, again, lest they should, through the
multitude of business, forget me, we did throw another petition
into the coach to Judge Twisdon; who, when he had seen it, snapt
her up, and angrily told her that I was a convicted person, and
could not be released, unless I would promise to preach no more,
&c.

Well, after this, she yet again presented another to Judge Hale,
as he sat on the bench, who, as it seemed, was willing to give her
audience. Only Justice Chester being present, stept up and said,
that I was convicted in the court and that I was a hot-spirited
fellow, or words to that purpose, whereat he waived it, and did
not meddle therewith. But yet, my wife being encouraged by the high
sheriff, did venture once more into their presence, as the poor
widow did to the unjust judge, to try what she could do with them
for my liberty, before they went forth of the town. The place where
she went to them was to the Swan Chamber, where the two judges, and
many justices and gentry of the country, were in company together.
She then, coming into the chamber with abashed face, and a trembling
heart, began her errand to them in this manner:--

Woman. My Lord (directing herself to Judge Hale), I make bold to
come once again to your Lordship, to know what may be done with my
husband.

Judge Hale. To whom he said, Woman, I told thee before, I could do
thee no good; because they have taken that for a conviction which
thy husband spoke at the sessions; and unless there be something
done to undo that, I can do thee no good.

Wom. My Lord, said she, he is kept unlawfully in prison; they clapped
him up before there was any proclamation against the meetings; the
indictment also is false. Besides, they never asked him whether he
was guilty or no; neither did he confess the indictment.

One of the Justices. Then one of the justices that stood by, whom
she knew not, said, My Lord, he was lawfully convicted.

Wom. It is false, said she; for when they said to him, Do you confess
the indictment? he said only this, that he had been at several
meetings, both where there was preaching the Word, and prayer, and
that they had God's presence among them.

Judge Twisdon. Whereat Judge Twisdon answered very angrily, saying,
'What! you think we can do what we list; your husband is a breaker
of the peace, and is convicted by the law,' &c. Whereupon Judge
Hale called for the Statute Book.

Wom. But, said she, my Lord, he was not lawfully convicted.

Chester. Then Justice Chester said, 'My Lord, he was lawfully
convicted.'

Wom. It is false, said she; it was but a word of discourse that
they took for a conviction, as you heard before.

Chest. 'But it is recorded, woman, it is recorded,' said Justice
Chester; as if it must be of necessity true, because it was recorded.
With which words he often endeavoured to stop her mouth, having
no other argument to convince her, but 'it is recorded, it is
recorded.'[13]

Wom. My Lord, said she, I was a while since at London, to see if
I could get my husband's liberty; and there I spoke with my Lord
Barkwood, one of the House of Lords, to whom I delivered a petition,
who took it of me and presented it to some of the rest of the House
of Lords, for my husband's releasement: who, when they had seen
it, they said that they could not release him, but had committed
his releasement to the judges, at the next assizes. This he told
me; and now I come to you to see if anything may be done in this
business, and you give neither releasement nor relief. To which
they gave her no answer, but made as if they heard her not.[14]

Chest. Only Justice Chester was often up with this, 'He is convicted,'
and 'It is recorded.'

Wom. If it be, it is false, said she.

Chest. My Lord, said Justice Chester, he is a pestilent fellow,
there is not such a fellow in the country again.

Twis. What, will your husband leave preaching? If he will do so,
then send for him.

Wom. My Lord, said she, he dares not leave preaching, as long as
he can speak.

Twis. See here, what should we talk any more about such a fellow?
Must he do what he lists? He is a breaker of the peace.

Wom. She told him again, that he desired to live peaceably, and
to follow his calling, that his family might be maintained; and,
moreover, said, My Lord, I have four small children that cannot
help themselves, of which one is blind, and have nothing to live
upon, but the charity of good people.

Hale. Hast thou four children? said Judge Hale; thou art but a
young woman to have four children.

Wom. My Lord, said she, I am but mother-in-law to them, having not
been married to him yet full two years. Indeed, I was with child when
my husband was first apprehended; but being young, and unaccustomed
to such things, said she, I being smayed[15] at the news, fell into
labour, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered,
but my child died.[16]

Hale. Whereat, he looking very soberly on the matter, said, 'Alas,
poor woman!'

Twis. But Judge Twisdon told her, that she made poverty her cloak;
and said, moreover, that he understood I was maintained better by
running up and down a preaching, than by following my calling.

Hale. What is his calling? said Judge Hale.

Answer. Then some of the company that stood by said, 'A tinker, my
Lord.'

Wom. Yes, said she, and because he is a tinker, and a poor man,
therefore he is despised, and cannot have justice.

Hale. Then Judge Hale answered, very mildly, saying, 'I tell thee,
woman, seeing it is so, that they have taken what thy husband spake
for a conviction; thou must either apply thyself to the King, or
sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error.'

Chest. But when Justice Chester heard him give her this counsel; and
especially, as she supposed, because he spoke of a writ of error,
he chafed,[17] and seemed to be very much offended; saying, 'My
Lord, he will preach and do what he lists.'

Wom. He preacheth nothing but the Word of God, said she.

Twis. He preach the Word of God! said Twisdon; and withal she thought
he would have struck her; he runneth up and down, and doth harm.

Wom. No, my Lord, said she, it is not so; God hath owned him, and
done much good by him.

Twis. God! said he; his doctrine is the doctrine of the devil.

Wom. My Lord, said she, when the righteous Judge shall appear, it
will be known that his doctrine is not the doctrine of the devil.

Twis. My Lord, said he, to Judge Hale, do not mind her, but send
her away.

Hale. Then said Judge Hale, 'I am sorry, woman, that I can do thee
no good; thou must do one of those three things aforesaid; namely,
either to apply thyself to the King, or sue out his pardon, or get
a writ of error; but a writ of error will be cheapest.'

Wom. At which Chester again seemed to be in a chafe, and put off
his hat, and as she thought, scratched his head for anger: but when
I saw, said she, that there was no prevailing to have my husband
sent for, though I often desired them that they would send for him,
that he might speak for himself, telling them, that he could give
them better satisfaction than I could in what they demanded of
him, with several other things, which now I forget; only this I
remember, that though I was somewhat timorous at my first entrance
into the chamber, yet before I went out, I could not but break forth
into tears, not so much because they were so hard-hearted against
me and my husband, but to think what a sad account such poor
creatures will have to give at the coming of the Lord, when they
shall there answer for al things whatsoever they have done in the
body, whether it be good or whether it be bad.[18]

So, when I departed from them, the Book of Statute was brought,
but what they said of it I know nothing at all, neither did I hear
any more from them.

Some Carriages of the Adversaries of God's Truth with me at the
next Assizes, which was on the 19th of the First Month, 1662.

I shall pass by what befell between these two assizes, how I had,
by my jailer, some liberty granted me, more than at the first, and
how I followed my wonted course of preaching, taking all occasions
that were put into my hand to visit the people of God; exhorting
them to be steadfast in the faith of Jesus Christ, and to take heed
that they touched not the Common Prayer, &c., but to mind the Word
of God, which giveth direction to Christians in every point, being
able to make the man of God perfect in all things through faith in
Jesus Christ, and thoroughly to furnish him unto all good works (2
Tim 3:17).[19] Also, how I, having, I say, somewhat more liberty,
did go to see Christians at London; which my enemies hearing of,
were so angry, that they had almost cast my jailer out of his place,
threatening to indict him, and to do what they could against him.
They charged me also, that I went thither to plot and raise division,
and make insurrection, which, God knows, was a slander; whereupon
my liberty was more straitened than it was before: so that I must
not look out of the door. Well, when the next sessions came, which
was about the 10th of the eleventh month, I did expect to have
been very roundly dealt withal; but they passed me by, and would
not call me, so that I rested till the assizes, which was the 19th
of the first month following; and when they came, because I had a
desire to come before the judge, I desired my jailer to put my name
into the calendar among the felons, and made friends of the judge
and high sheriff, who promised that I should be called; so that I
thought what I had done might have been effectual for the obtaining of
my desire; but all was in vain: for when the assizes came, though
my name was in the calendar, and also though both the judge and
sheriff had promised that I should appear before them, yet the
justices and the clerk of the peace did so work it about, that I,
notwithstanding, was deferred, and might not appear; and although,
I say, I do not know of all their carriages towards me, yet this
I know, that the clerk of the peace did discover himself to be one
of my greatest opposers: for, first, he came to my jailer, and told
him that I must not go down before the judge, and therefore must
not be put into the calendar; to whom my jailer said, that my name
was in already. He bid him put me out again; my jailer told him that
he could not, for he had given the judge a calendar with my name
in it, and also the sheriff another. At which he was very much
displeased, and desired to see that calendar that was yet in my
jailer's hand; who, when he had given it him, he looked on it, and
said it was a false calendar; he also took the calendar and blotted
out my accusation, as my jailer had writ it. Which accusation I
cannot tell what it was, because it was so blotted out; and he himself
put in words to this purpose: 'That John Bunyan was committed to
prison, being lawfully convicted for upholding of unlawful meetings
and conventicles,' &c. But yet, for all this, fearing that what he
had done, unless he added thereto, it would not do; he first run
to the clerk of the assizes, then to the justices, and afterwards,
because he would not leave any means unattempted to hinder me,
he comes again to my jailer, and tells him, that if I did go down
before the judge, and was released, he would make him pay my fees,
which, he said, was due to him; and further told him, that he would
complain of him at the next quarter sessions for making of false
calendars; though my jailer himself, as I afterwards learned, had
put in my accusation worse than in itself it was by far. And thus
was I hindered and prevented, at that time also, from appearing
before the judge, and left in prison. Farewell.

John Bunyan.

***

A CONTINUATION OF MR. BUNYAN'S LIFE, BEGINNING WHERE HE LEFT OFF,
AND CONCLUDING WITH THE TIME AND MANNER OF HIS DEATH AND BURIAL,
TOGETHER WITH HIS TRUE CHARACTER.

Reader, the painful and industrious author of this book has already
given you a faithful and very moving relation of the beginning and
middle of the days of his pilgrimage on earth; and since there yet
remains somewhat worthy of notice and regard, which occurred in the
last scene of his life; the which, for want of time, or fear that
some over-censorious people should impute it to him, as an earnest
coveting of praise from men, he has not left behind him in writing.
Wherefore, as a true friend and long acquaintance of Mr. Bunyan's,
that his good end may be known as well as his evil beginning, I
have taken upon me, from my knowledge, and the best account given
by other of his friends, to piece this to the thread, too soon
broke off, and so lengthen it out to his entering upon eternity.

He has told you at large of his birth and education; the evil
habits and corruptions of his youth; the temptations he struggled
and conflicted so frequently with; the mercies, comforts, and
deliverances he found; how he came to take upon him the preaching
of the gospel; the slanders, reproaches, and imprisonments that
attended him; and the progress he notwithstanding made, by the
assistance of God's grace, no doubt to the saving of many souls.
Therefore take these things as he himself has methodically laid them
down in the words of verity; and so I pass on as to what remains.

After his being freed from his twelve years' imprisonment and upwards,
for nonconformity, wherein he had time to furnish the world with
sundry good books, &c.; and, by his patience, to move Dr. Barlow,
the then Bishop of Lincoln,[20] and other churchmen, to pity his
hard and unreasonable sufferings, so far as to stand very much
his friends in procuring his enlargement, or there perhaps he had
died by the noisesomeness and ill usage of the place; being now,
I say, again at liberty, and having, through mercy, shaken off his
bodily fetters, for those upon his soul were broken before, by the
abounding grace that filled his heart, he went to visit those that
had been a comfort to him in his tribulation, with a Christian-like
acknowledgment of their kindness and enlargement of charity; giving
encouragement by his example if it happened to be their hard haps
to fall into affliction or trouble, then to suffer patiently for
the sake of a good conscience, and for the love of God in Jesus
Christ towards their souls; and, by many cordial persuasions,
supported some whose spirits began to sink low through the fear
of danger that threatened their worldly concernment, so that the
people found a wonderful consolation in his discourse and admonitions.

As often as opportunity would admit, he gathered them together in
convenient places, though the law was then in force against meetings,
and fed them with the sincere milk of the Word, that they might grow
up in grace thereby. To such as were anywhere taken and imprisoned
upon these accounts, he made it another part of his business to
extend his charity, and gather relief for such of them as wanted.

He took great care to visit the sick, and strengthen them against
the suggestions of the tempter, which at such times are very
prevalent; so that they had cause for ever to bless God, who had
put into his heart, at such a time, to rescue them from the power
of the roaring lion, who sought to devour them; nor did he spare any
pains or labour in travel, though to the remote counties, where he
knew, or imagined, any people might stand in need of his assistance,
insomuch that some of these visitations that he made, which was
two or three every year, some, though in jeering manner, no doubt,
gave him the epithet of Bishop Bunyan, whilst others envied him
for his so earnestly labouring in Christ's vineyard, yet the seed of
the Word he, all this while, sowed in the hearts of his congregation,
watered with the grace of God, brought forth in abundance, in
bringing in disciples to the church of Christ.

Another part of his time he spent in reconciling differences,
by which he hindered many mischiefs, and saved some families from
ruin; and, in such fallings out, he was uneasy, till he found a
means to labour a reconciliation, and become a peace maker, on whom
a blessing is promised in Holy Writ: and, indeed, in doing this
good office, he may be said to sum up his days, it being the last
undertaking of his life, as will appear in the close of this paper.

When, in the late reign, liberty of conscience was unexpectedly
given and indulged to Dissenters of all persuasions,[21] his
piercing with penetrated the veil, and found that it was not for the
Dissenters' sake they were so suddenly freed from the prosecutions
that had long lain heavy upon them, and set, in a manner, on
an equal foot with the Church of England, which the Papists were
undermining, and about to subvert. He foresaw all the advantages
that could have redounded to the Dissenters, would have been no
more than what Poliphemus, the monstrous giant of Sicily, would
have allowed Ulysses, viz., That he would eat his men first, and
do him the favour of being eaten last. For, although Mr. Bunyan,
following the examples of others, did lay hold of this liberty, as
an acceptable thing in itself, knowing that God is the only lord
of conscience, and that it is good at all times to do according to
the dictates of a good conscience, and that the preaching the glad
tidings of the gospel is beautiful in the preacher; yet, in all
this, he moved with caution and a holy fear, earnestly praying
for averting the impendent judgments, which he saw, like a black
tempest hanging over our heads, for our sins, and ready to break
upon us, and that the Ninevites' remedy was now highly necessary.
Hereupon, he gathered his congregation at Bedford, where he mostly
lived, and had lived, and had spent the greatest part of his life;
and there being no convenient place to be had, for the entertainment of
so great a confluence of people as followed him, upon the account
of his teaching, he consulted with them, for the building of a
meeting house; to which they made their voluntary contributions,
with all cheerfulness and alacrity; and the first time he appeared
there to edify, the place was so thronged, that many were constrained
to stay without, though the house was very spacious, every one
striving to partake of his instructions, that were of his persuasion;
and show their good will towards him, by being present at the opening
of the place; and here he lived in much peace and quiet of mind,
contenting himself with that little God had bestowed upon him, and
sequestering himself from all secular employments, to follow that
of his call to the ministry; for, as God said to Moses, he that
made the lips and heart, can give eloquence and wisdom, without
extraordinary acquirements in a university.

During these things, there were regulators sent into all cities
and towns corporate, to new-model the government in the magistracy,
&c., by turning out some, and putting in others. Against this,
Mr. Bunyan expressed his zeal with some weariness, as foreseeing
the bad consequence that would attend it, and laboured with his
congregation to prevent their being imposed on in this kind; and
when a great man in those days, coming to Bedford upon some such
errand, sent for him, as it is supposed, to give him a place of
public trust, he would by no means come at him, but sent his excuse.

When he was at leisure from writing and teaching, he often
came up to London, and there went among the congregations of the
nonconformists, and used his talent to the great good liking of the
hearers; and even some, to whom he had been misrepresented, upon
the account of his education, were convinced of his worth and
knowledge in sacred things, as perceiving him to be a man of sound
judgment, delivering himself plainly and powerfully; insomuch that
many who came as mere spectators, for novelty's sake, rather than
to be edified and improved, went away well satisfied with what they
heard, and wondered, as the Jews did at the apostles, viz., whence
this man should have these things; perhaps not considering that
God more immediately assists those that make it their business
industriously and cheerfully to labour in his vineyard.

Thus he spent his latter years, in imitation of his great Lord and
Master, the ever-blessed Jesus; he went about doing good, so that
the most prying critic, or even malice herself, is defied to find,
even upon the narrowest search or observation, any sully or stain
upon his reputation with which he may be justly charged; and this
we note as a challenge to those that have had the least regard for
him, or them of his persuasion, and have, one way or other, appeared
in the front of those that oppressed him, and for the turning whose
hearts, in obedience to the commission and commandment given him
of God, he frequently prayed, and sometimes sought a blessing for
them, even with tears, the effects of which they may, peradventure,
though undeservedly, have found in their persons, friends, relations,
or estates; for God will hear the prayers of the faithful, and
answer them, even for those that vex them, as it happened in the
case of Job's praying for the three persons that had been grievous
in their reproach against him, even in the day of his sorrow.

But yet let me come a little nearer to particulars and periods of
time for the better refreshing the memories of those that knew his
labour and suffering, and for the satisfaction of all that shall
read this book.

After he was sensibly convicted of the wicked state of his life,
and converted, he was baptized into the congregation and admitted a
member thereof, viz., in the year 1655, and became speedily a very
zealous professor; but, upon the return of King Charles to the
crown, in 1660, he was, on the 12th of November, taken, as he was
edifying some good people that were got together to hear the Word,
and confined in Bedford jail for the space of six years, till the
Act of Indulgence to Dissenters being allowed, he obtained his
freedom by the intercession of some in trust and power that took
pity of his sufferings; but within six years afterwards [from his
first imprisonment] he was again taken up, viz., in the year 1666,
and was then confined for six years more, when even the jailer took
such pity of his rigorous sufferings that he did as the Egyptian
jailer did to Joseph, put all the care and trust into his hands.
When he was taken this last time, he was preaching on these words,
viz., "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" and this imprisonment
continued six years; and when this was over, another short
affliction, which was an imprisonment of half a year, fell to his
share. During these confinements he wrote these following books,
viz.: Of Prayer by the Spirit, The Holy City, Resurrection, Grace
Abounding, Pilgrim's Progress, the first part.

[Defence of Justification by Jesus Christ.]

In the last year of his twelve years' imprisonment, the pastor of
the congregation at Bedford died, and he was chosen to that care
of souls on the 12th of December 1671. And in this his charge,
he often had disputes with scholars, that came to oppose him, as
supposing him an ignorant person, and though he argued plainly and
by Scripture without phrases and logical expressions; yet he nonplussed
one who came to oppose him in his congregation, by demanding
whether or no we had the true copies of the original Scriptures;
and another, when he was preaching, accused him of uncharitableness,
for saying, It was very hard for most to be saved; saying, by that,
he went about to exclude most of his congregation; but he confuted
him and put him to silence with the parable of the stony ground
and other texts out of the 13th of Matthew, in our Saviour's sermon
out of a ship, all his method being to keep close to the Scriptures;
and what he found not warranted there, himself would not warrant
nor determine, unless in such cases as were plain, wherein no doubts
or scruples did arise.

But not to make any further mention of this kind, it is well known
that this person managed all his affairs with such exactness as
if he had made it his study, above all other things, not to give
occasion of offence, but rather suffer many inconvencies to avoid;
being never heard to reproach or revile any, what injury soever
he received, but rather to rebuke those that did; and as it was in
his conversation, so it is manifested on those books he has caused
to be published to the world; where, like the archangel disputing
with Satan about the body of Moses, as we find it in the epistle
of Jude, he brings no railing accusation, but leaves the rebukers,
those that persecuted him, to the Lord.

In his family he kept up a very strict discipline in prayer and
exhortations; being in this like Joshua, as that good man expresses
it, viz., Whatsoever others did, as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord; and, indeed, a blessing waited on his labours and
endeavours, so that his wife, as the Psalmist says, was like a
pleasant vine upon the walls of his house, and his children like
olive branches round his table; for so shall it be with the man
that fears the Lord; and though by reason of the many losses he
sustained by imprisonment and spoil, of his chargeable sickness,
&c., his earthly treasures swelled not to excess, he always had
sufficient to live decently and creditably, and with that he had
the greatest of all treasures, which is content; for, as the wise
man says, that is a continual feast.

But where content dwells, even a poor cottage is a kingly palace;
and this happiness he had all his life long, not so much minding
this world as knowing he was here as a pilgrim and stranger, and had
no tarrying city, but looking for one not made with hands, eternal
in the highest heavens; but at length, worn out with sufferings,
age, and often teaching, the day of his dissolution drew near,
and death, that unlocks the prison of the soul, to enlarge it for
a more glorious mansion, put a stop to his acting his part on the
stage of mortality; heaven, like earthly princes when it threatens
war, being always so kind as to call home its ambassadors before
it be denounced; and even the last act or undertaking of his was
a labour of love and charity; for it so falling out, that a young
gentleman, a neighbour of Mr. Bunyan, happening into the displeasure
of his father, and being much troubled in mind upon that account,
as also for that he had heard his father purposed to disinherit
him, or otherwise deprive him of what he had to leave, he pitched
upon Mr. Bunyan as a fit man to make way for his submission, and
prepare his father's mind to receive him; and he, as willing to
do any good office as it could be requested, as readily undertook
it; and so, riding to Reading, in Berkshire, he then there used
such pressing arguments and reasons against anger and passion, as
also for love and reconciliation, that the father was mollified,
and his bowels yearned towards his returning son.

But Mr. Bunyan, after he had disposed all things to the best
for accommodation, returning to London, and being overtaken with
excessive rains, coming to his lodging extreme wet, fell sick of
a violent fever, which he bore with much constancy and patience;
and expressed himself as if he desired nothing more than to
be dissolved, and to be with Christ, in that case esteeming death
as gain, and life only a tedious delaying of felicity expected;
and finding his vital strength decay, having settled his mind and
affairs, as well as the shortness of his time and the violence of
his disease would admit, with a constant and Christian patience,
he resigned his soul into the hands of his most merciful Redeemer,
following his pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the New
Jerusalem; his better part having been all along there, in holy
contemplation, pantings, and breathings after the hidden manna, and
water of life; as by many holy and humble consolations expressed
in his letters to several persons, in prison and out of prison,
too many to be here inserted at present.[22] He died at the house
of one Mr. Straddocks, a grocer, at the Star on Snowhill, in the
parish of St. Sepulchre, London, on the 12th of August 1688, and
in the sixtieth year of his age, after ten days' sickness; and was
buried in the new burying place near the Artillery Ground; where he
sleeps to the morning of the resurrection, in hopes of a glorious
rising to an incorruptible immortality of joy and happiness; where
no more trouble and sorrow shall afflict him, but all tears be
wiped away; when the just shall be incorrupted, as members of Christ
their head, and reign with him as kings and priests for ever.[23]

A BRIEF CHARACTER OF MR. JOHN BUNYAN.

He appeared in countenance to be of a stern and rough temper; but
in his conversation mild and affable, not given to loquacity or
much discourse in company, unless some urgent occasion required
it; observing never to boast of himself, or his parts, but rather
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 friendship with all; he had
a sharp quick eye, accomplished with an excellent discerning of
persons, being of good judgment and quick wit. As for his person,
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, after the old British fashion; his hair reddish, but in his
latter days, time had sprinkled it with grey; his nose well-set,
but not declining or bending, and his mouth moderate large; his
forehead something high, and his habit always plain and modest. And
thus have we impartially described the internal and external parts
of a person, whose death hath been much regretted; a person who had
tried the smiles and frowns of time; not puffed up in prosperity,
nor shaken in adversity, always holding the golden mean.


    In him at once did three great worthies shine,
    Historian, poet, and a choice divine;
    Then let him rest in undisturbed dust,
    Until the resurrection of the just.


POSTSCRIPT.

In this his pilgrimage, God blessed him with four children, one
of which, names Mary, was blind, and died some years before; his
other children are Thomas, Joseph, and Sarah; and his wife Elizabeth,
having lived to see him overcome his labour and sorrow, and pass
from this life to receive the reward of his works, long survived
him not, but in 1692 she died; to follow her faithful pilgrim from
this world to the other, whither he was gone before her; while his
works, which consist of sixty books, remain for the edifying of
the reader, and the praise of the author. Vale.

***

MR. JOHN BUNYAN'S DYING SAYINGS.

OF SIN.

Sin is the great block and bar to our happiness, the procurer of
all miseries to man, both here and hereafter: take away sin and
nothing can hurt us: for death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal,
is the wages of it.

Sin, and man for sin, is the object of the wrath of God. How dreadful,
therefore, must his case be who continues in sin! For who can bear
or grapple with the wrath of God?

No sin against God can be little, because it is against the great
God of heaven and earth; but if the sinner can find out a little
God, it may be easy to find out little sins.

Sin turns all God's grace into wantonness; it is the dare of his
justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight
of his power, and the contempt of his love.[24]

Take heed of giving thyself liberty of committing one sin, for that
will lead thee to another; till, by an ill custom, it become natural.

To begin a sin, is to lay a foundation for a continuance; this
continuance is the mother of custom, and impudence at last the
issue.

The death of Christ giveth us the best discovery of ourselves, in
what condition we were, in that nothing could help us but that;
and the most clear discovery of the dreadful nature of our sins.
For if sin be so dreadful a thing as to wring the heart of the Son
of God, how shall a poor wretched sinner be able to bear it?

OF AFFLICTION.

Nothing can render affliction so insupportable as the load of sin:
would you, therefore, be fitted for afflictions, be sure to get the
burden of your sins laid aside, and then what afflictions soever
you may meet with will be very easy to you.

If thou canst hear and bear the rod of affliction which God shall
lay upon thee, remember this lesson--thou art beaten that thou
mayest be better.

The Lord useth his flail of tribulation to separate the chaff from
the wheat.

The school of the cross is the school of light; it discovers the
world's vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of
God's mind. Out of dark affliction comes a spiritual light.

In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences
of the love of God.

Did we heartily renounce the pleasures of this world, we should
be very little troubled for our afflictions; that which renders an
afflicted state so insupportable to many is because they are too
much addicted to the pleasures of this life, and so cannot endure
that which makes a separation between them.

OF REPENTANCE AND COMING TO CHRIST.

The end of affliction is the discovery of sin, and of that to bring
us to a Saviour. Let us therefore, with the prodigal, return unto
him, and we shall find ease and rest.

A repenting penitent, though formerly as bad as the worst of men,
may, by grace, become as good as the best.

To be truly sensible of sin is to sorrow for displeasing of God;
to be afflicted that he is displeased by us more than that he is
displeased with us.

Your intentions to repentance, and the neglect of that soul-saving
duty, will rise up in judgment against you.

Repentance carries with it a Divine rhetoric, and persuades Christ
to forgive multitudes of sins committed against him.

Say not with thyself, To-morrow I will repent; for it is thy duty
to do it daily.

The gospel of grace and salvation is above all doctrines the most
dangerous, if it be received in word only by graceless men; if it
be not attended with a sensible need of a Saviour, and bring them
to him. For such men as have only the notion of it, are of all men
most miserable; for by reason of their knowing more than heathens,
this shall only be their final portion, that they shall have greater
stripes.

OF PRAYER.

Before you enter into prayer, ask thy soul these questions--1. To
what end, O my soul, art thou retired into this place? Art thou not
come to discourse the Lord in prayer? Is he present; will he hear
thee? Is he merciful; will he help thee? Is thy business slight;
is it not concerning the welfare of thy soul? What words wilt thou
use to move him to compassion?

To make thy preparation complete, consider that thou art but dust
and ashes, and he the great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that clothes himself with light as with a garment; that thou art
a vile sinner, he a holy God; that thou art but a poor crawling
worm, he the omnipotent Creator.

In all your prayers forget not to thank the Lord for his mercies.

When thou prayest, rather let thy hearts be without words, than
thy words without a heart.

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to
cease from prayer.

The spirit of prayer is more precious than treasures of gold and
silver.

Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God,
and a scourge for Satan.

OF THE LORD'S DAY, SERMONS, AND WEEK DAYS.

Have a special care to sanctify the Lord's day; for as thou keepest
it, so it will be with thee all the week long.

Make the Lord's day the market for thy soul; let the whole day be
spent in prayer, repetitions, or meditations; lay aside the affairs
of the other part of the week; let thy sermon thou hast heard be
converted into prayer: Shall God allow thee six days, and wilt not
thou afford him one?

In the church, be careful to serve God; for thou art in his eyes,
and not in man's.

Thou mayest hear sermons often, and do well in practicing what thou
hearest; but thou must not expect to be told thee in a pulpit all
that thou oughtest to do, but be studious in searching the Scriptures,
and reading good books; what thou hearest may be forgotten, but
what thou readest may better be retained.

Forsake not the public worship of God, lest God forsake thee, not
only in public, but in private.

In the week days, when thou risest in the morning, consider, 1.
Thou must die. 2. Thou mayest die that minute. 3. What will become
of thy soul. Pray often. At night consider, 1. What sins thou
hast committed. 2. How often thou hast prayed. 3. What hath thy
mind been bent upon. 4. What hath been thy dealing. 5. What thy
conversation. 6. If thou callest to mind the errors of the day,
sleep not without a confession to God, and a hope of pardon. Thus
every morning and evening make up thy accounts with Almighty God,
and thy reckoning will be the less at last.

OF THE LOVE OF THE WORLD.

Nothing more hinders a soul from coming to Christ, than a vain love
of the world; and till a soul is freed from it, it can never have
a true love for God.

What are the honours and riches of this world, when compared to
the glories of a crown of life?

Love not the world; for it [the love of the world] is a moth in a
Christian's life.

To despise the world is the way to enjoy heaven; and blessed are
they who delight to converse with God by prayer.

What folly can be greater than to labour for the meat that perisheth,
and neglect the food of eternal life?

God or the world must be neglected at parting time, for then is
the time of trial.

To seek yourself in this world is to be lost; and to be humble is
to be exalted.

The epicure that delighteth in the dainties of this world, little
thinketh that those very creatures will one day witness against
him.

OF SUFFERING.

It is not every suffering that makes a martyr, but suffering
for the Word of God after a right manner; that is, not only for
righteousness, but for righteousness' sake; not only for truth,
but out of love to truth; not only for God's Word, but according
to it: to wit, in that holy, humble, meek manner, as the Word of
God requireth.

It is a rare thing to suffer aright, and to have my spirit in
suffering bent only against God's enemy, sin; sin in doctrine, sin
in worship, sin in life, and sin in conversation.

The devil, nor men of the world, can kill thy righteousness, or
love to it but by thy own hand; or separate that and thee asunder
without thy own act. Nor will he that doth indeed suffer for the
sake of it, or out of love he bears thereto, be tempted to exchange
it, for the good will of all the world.

I have often thought that the best of Christians are found in the
worst of times. And I have thought again that one reason why we are
no better, is because God purges us no more. Noah and Lot, who so
holy as they in the time of their afflictions? And yet who so idle
as they in the time of their prosperity?

OF DEATH AND JUDGMENT.

As the devil labours by all means to keep out other things that
are good, so to keep out of the heart as much as in him lies,
the thoughts of passing from this life into another world; for he
knows if he can but keep them from the serious thoughts of death,
he shall the more easily keep them in their sins.

Nothing will make us more earnest in working out the work of our
salvation, than a frequent meditation of mortality; nothing hath
greater influence for the taking off our hearts from vanities, and
for the begetting in us desires after holiness.

O sinner, what a condition wilt thou fall into when thou departest
this world; if thou depart unconverted, thou hadst better have
been smothered the first hour thou wast born; thou hadst better
have been plucked one limb from another; thou hadst better have
been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, than to die unconverted, and
this thou wilt find true if thou repent not.

A man would be counted a fool to slight a judge, before whom he is
to have a trial of his whole estate.[25] The trial we have before
God is of otherguise importance,[26] it concerns our eternal
happiness or misery; and yet dare we affront him?

The only way for us to escape that terrible judgment, is to be
often passing a sentence of condemnation upon ourselves here. When
the sound of the trumpet shall be heard, which shall summon the dead
to appear before the tribunal of God, the righteous shall hasten
out of their graves with joy to meet their Redeemer in the clouds;
others shall call to the hills and mountains to fall upon them, to
cover them from the sight of their Judge; let us therefore in time
be posing[27] ourselves which of the two we shall be.

OF THE JOYS OF HEAVEN.

There is no good in this life but what is mingled with some evil;
honours perplex, riches disquiet, and pleasures ruin health. But
in heaven we shall find blessings in their purity, without any
ingredient to embitter, with everything to sweeten them.

O! who is able to conceive the inexpressible, inconceivable joys
that are there? None but they who have tasted of them. Lord, help
us to put such a value upon them here, that in order to prepare
ourselves for them, we may be willing to forego the loss of all
those deluding pleasures here.

How will the heavens echo of joy, when the Bride, the Lamb's wife,
shall come to dwell with her husband for ever?

Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of
the Father; what solace then must that soul be filled with, that
hath the possession of him to all eternity?

O! what acclamations of joy will there be, when all the children
of God shall meet together, without fear of being disturbed by the
antichristian and Cainish brood!

Is there not a time coming when the godly may ask the wicked what
profit they have in their pleasure? what comfort in their greatness?
and what fruits in all their labour?

If you would be better satisfied what the beatifical vision means,
my request is that you would live holily, and go and see.

OF THE TORMENTS OF HELL.

Heaven and salvation is not surely more promised to the godly than
hell and damnation is threatened to, and shall be executed on, the
wicked.

When once a man is damned, he may bid adieu to all pleasures.

Oh! who knows the power of God's wrath? none but damned ones.

Sinners' company are the devil and his angels, tormented in
everlasting fire with a curse.

Hell would be a kind of paradise if it were not worse than the
worst of this world.

As different as grief is from joy, as torment from rest, as terror
from peace; so different is the state of sinners from that of saints
in the world to come.

[Licensed, September 10, 1688.]

FOOTNOTES:

1. The text from which he intended to preach was 'Dost thou believe
on the Son of God?' (John 9:35). From this he intended to show
the absolute need of faith in Jesus Christ; and that it was also
a thing of the highest concern for men to inquire into, and to ask
their own hearts, whether they had it or no. See Preface to his
Confession of Faith.--Ed.

2. Justice Wingate.

3. 'Chafe.' See 2 Sam 17:8.--Ed.

4. A right Judas.--Ed.

5. 'How little could Bunyan dream, that from the narrow cell in which
he was incarcerated, and cut off apparently from all usefulness,
a glory would shine out, illustrating the government and grace
of God, and doing more good to man, than all the prelates of the
kingdom put together had accomplished.'--Dr. Cheever.

6. It is easy to say a prayer, but difficult truly to pray. It is
not length, not eloquence, that makes prayer. Though there be no
more than 'My Father!' if the heart rise with it, that is prayer.
'Prayer is an offering up of our DESIRES unto God.'--Ed.

7. It is not the spirit of a Christian to persecute any for their
religion, but to pity them; and if they will turn, to instruct
them.--Ed.

8. The statute under which Bunyan suffered is the 35th Eliz., cap.
1, re-enacted with all its rigour in the 16th Charles II, cap. 4,
1662; 'That if any person, above sixteen years of age, shall forbear
coming to church for one month, or persuade any other person to
abstain from hearing Divine service, or receiving the communion
according to law, or come to any unlawful assembly, conventicle,
or meeting--every such person shall be imprisoned, without bail,
until he conform, and do in some church make this open submission
following:--I do humbly confess and acknowledge that I have grievously
offended God in contemning his Majesty's godly and lawful government
and authority, by absenting myself from church, and from hearing
Divine service, contrary to the godly laws and statutes of this realm.
And in using and frequenting disordered and unlawful conventicles
and assemblies, under pretence and colour of exercise of religion;
and I am heartily sorry for the same. And I do promise and protest,
that from henceforth I will, from time to time, obey and perform
his Majesty's laws and statutes, in repairing to the church and
Divine services, and do my uttermost endeavour to maintain and defend
the same. And for the third offence he shall be sent to the jail
or house of correction, there to remain until the next sessions or
assizes, and then to be indicted; and being thereupon found guilty,
the court shall enter judgment of transportation against such
offenders, to some of the foreign plantations (Virginia and New
England only excepted), there to remain seven years; and warrants
shall issue to sequester the profits of their lands, and to distrain
and sell their goods to defray the charges of their transportation;
and for want of such charges being paid, the sheriff may contract
with any master of a ship, or merchant, to transport them; and then
such prisoner shall be a servant to the transporter or his assigns;
that is, whoever he will sell him or her to, for five years. And
if any under such judgment of transportation shall escape, or being
transported, return into any part of England, shall SUFFER DEATH
as felons, without benefit of clergy.' Notwithstanding this edict,
mark well his words on the next leaf, 'Exhorting the people of God
to take heed, and touch not the Common Prayer.' Englishmen, blush!
This is now the law of the land we live in. Roman Catholics alone
are legally exempted from its cruel operations, by an Act passed
in 1844. The overruling hand of God alone saved the pious and holy
Bunyan from having been legally murdered.--Ed.

9. The contemptible and mad insurrection to which Mr. Cobb refers,
was the pretext for fearful sufferings to the Dissenters throughout
the kingdom. It is thus narrated by Bishop Burnet, 1660:--'The king
had not been many days at Whitehall, when one Venner, a violent
fifth-monarchy man, who thought it was not enough to believe that
Christ was to reign on earth, and to put the saints in possession
of the kingdom, but added to this that the saints were to take the
kingdom themselves. He gathered some of the most furious of the
party to a meeting in Coleman Street. There they concerted the
day and the manner of their rising, to set Christ on his throne,
as they called it. But withal they meant to manage the government
in his name, and were so formal that they had prepared standards
and colours, with their devices on them, and furnished themselves
with very good arms. But when the day came, there was but a small
appearance, not exceeding twenty. However, they resolved to venture
out into the streets, and cry out, No king but Christ. Some of them
seemed persuaded that Christ would come down and head them. They
scoured the streets before them, and made a great progress. Some
were afraid, and all were amazed at this piece of extravagance.
They killed a great many, but were at last mastered by numbers;
and were all either killed or taken and executed.--(Burnet's Own
Times, 1660, vol. i. p. 160).--Ed.

10. The third section of 16th Charles II, cap. 4, also enacts,
'That any person above sixteen years old, present at any meeting
under pretence of exercise of religion, in other manner than is
allowed by the liturgy or practice of the Church of England, where
there shall be present five persons or more above those of the
household, upon proof thereof made, either by confession of the
party, or oath of witness, or notorious evidence of the fact; the
offence shall be recorded under the hands of two justices, or the
chief magistrate of the place, which shall be a perfect conviction.'--Ed.

11. As Wicliffe wrote in Latin, and his words were of great rarity,
it may excite inquiry how poor Bunyan was conversant with is opinions.
This is easily solved. Foxe gives a translation of Wicliffe's
doctrines in his Martyrology, the favourite book of Bunyan.--Ed.

12. April 23, 1661.

13. See page 56, and note there.

14. It is very probable that his persecutors knew the heroic spirit
of this young woman, and were afraid to proceed to extremities,
lest their blood-guiltiness should be known throughout the kingdom,
and public execration be excited against them. Such a martyr's
blood would indelibly and most foully have stained both them and
their families to the latest generation.--Ed.

15. 'Smayed,' an obsolete contraction of 'dismayed.'--Ed.

16. Bunyan is silent upon the death of his first wife and marriage
to the second; in fact he forgets his own domestic affairs in his
desire to record the Lord's gracious dealings with his soul. It is
not his autobiography, but his religious feelings and experience,
that he records.--Ed.

17. 'Chafed,' excited, inflamed, angry.--Ed.

18. This is a beautiful specimen of real Christian feeling; nothing
vindictive, although such cruel wrongs had been perpetrated against
her beloved husband.--Ed.

19. Nothing daunted by the cruel Statute which was then in force,
Bunyan acted exactly as Peter and John did under similar circumstances,
"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts
4:20). If I suffer death for it, I am bound to speak the warning
words of truth, "Touch not the unclean thing."--Ed.

20. Application was made to Bishop Barlow, through Dr. Owen, to
use his powerful influence in obtaining liberty for this Christian
captive; but he absolutely refused to interfere. See Preface
to Owen's Sermons, 1721. Bunyan, upon his petition, heard by the
king in council, was included in the pardon to the imprisoned and
cruelly-treated Quakers. Whitehead, the Quaker, was the honoured
instrument in releasing him.--Introduction to Pilgrim's Progress,
Hanserd Knollys Edition.--Ed.

21. See an authentic copy of this Royal Declaration, and observations
upon it, in the Introduction to the Pilgrim's Progress, published
by the Hanserd Knollys Society, 1847.--Ed.

22. All these letters, and nearly all his autographs, have disappeared.
Of his numerous manuscripts, books, and letters, not a line is now
known to exist. If discovered, they would be invaluable.--Ed.

23. Strongly does the departure of Bunyan, on his ascent to the
celestial city, remind us of Rev 14:13, 'And I heard a voice from
heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in
the Lord, from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may
rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.' What an
exchange! From incessant anxious labour; from sighing and sorrow;
from corruption and temptation; to commence an endless life of
holiness and purity, rest and peace. To be with and like his Lord!
His works have followed, and will follow him, till time shall be
no more.--Ed.

24. Among these truly remarkable sayings, so characteristic of
our great author, this of the fearful nature of sin is peculiarly
striking; it is worthy of being imprinted on every Christian's
heart, to keep alive a daily sense of the exceeding sinfulness of
sin.--Ed.

25. Judges in those days were often biased by personal feelings,
and in some cases even by bribes.--Ed.

26. 'Otherguise importance'; another manner of importance.--Ed.

27. 'Posing,' questioning closely, putting to a stand.--Imperial
Dictionary.--Ed.

***

PRISON MEDITATIONS DIRECTED TO THE HEART OF SUFFERING SAINTS AND
REIGNING SINNERS

By John Bunyan, in Prison, 1665

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR

These verses, like those called "A Caution to watch against Sin,"
were first printed on a half sheet, and passed through several
editions. The Editor possesses a copy published by the author, a
short time before his decease; it is in an exceedingly rare little
volume, including his poems of "One thing needful" and his "Ebal
and Gerizzim"; with "a catlogue of all his other books." London:
printed for Nath, Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1688. On
the reverse of the title is a singular advertisement; "This author
having published many books, which have gone off very well, there
are certain ballad sellers about Newgate, and on London Bridge,
who have put the two first letters of this author's name, and his
effigies, to their rhymes and ridiculous books, suggesting to the
world as if they were his. Now know that this author publisheth his
name at large to all his books, and what you shall see otherwise
he disowns."

Bunyan was imprisoned for teaching the gospel in its purity to the
poor, and for refusing conformity to national creeds and ceremonies.
This was as absurd as it would be, to imprison such of the inhabitants
of a country who refused to swear that all mankind were of one
standard in height; sending those who had consciences to prison,
until they pretended that they had grown taller or shorter, and
were willing to take the oath. Mental decision must be formed on
evidence. God can enlighten the mind to see that he alone can guide
us to spiritual worship--that his will must be personally consulted,
and unreservedly obeyed. Such a man feels that his soul's salvation
depends upon obedience to God, and not to man. If human laws send
him to jail for refusing to disobey God, he will write upon the
prison wall as William Prynne did upon that in the Tower, "The Lord
heareth the poor, and despiseth not HIS prisoners."


   'Christ's presence hath my prison turn'd into
    A blessed heaven; what then will it do
    In heaven hereafter, when it now creates
    Heav'n in a dungeon; goals to courts translates?'

   'He is not bound whom Christ makes free; he,
    Though shut close prisoner, chained, remains still free:
    A godly man's at large in every place,
    Still cheerful, well content, in blessed case,
    Unconquered; he a sacred heaven still bears
    About within his breast.'...


These were the feelings of all Christ's prisoners. Indomitable was
the heroic spirit of Bunyan. He tells his persecutors their folly
and their sin, even while suffering under their lash; and after
more than twelve years' incarceration, his free spirit is unsubdued.
Again for sixteen years he enjoyed the sweets of liberty, and then
re-published at all risks his proofs of the wickedness of persecution
for conscience' sake. There was no craft, nor guile, nor hypocrisy
about his character, but a fearless devotion to the will of his
God; and he became one of the most honoured of his saints.

GEO. OFFOR.

PRISON MEDIATIONS


    1. Friend, I salute thee in the Lord,
    And wish thou may'st abound
    In faith, and have a good regard
    To keep on holy ground.

    2. Thou dost encourage me to hold
    My head above the flood,
    Thy counsel better is than gold,
    In need thereof I stood.

    3. Good counsel's good at any time,
    The wise will it receive,
    Though fools count he commits a crime
    Who doth good counsel give.

    4. I take it kindly at thy hand
    Thou didst unto me write,
    My feet upon Mount Zion stand,
    In that take thou delight.

    5. I am, indeed, in prison now
    In body, but my mind
    Is free to study Christ, and how
    Unto me he is kind.

    6. For though men keep my outward man
    Within their locks and bars,
    Yet by the faith of Christ I can
    Mount higher than the stars.

    7. Their fetters cannot spirits tame,
    Nor tie up God from me;
    My faith and hope they cannot lame,
    Above them I shall be.

    8. I here am very much refreshed
    To think when I was out,
    I preached life, and peace, and rest
    To sinners round about.

    9. My business then was souls to save,
    By preaching grace and faith;
    Of which the comfort now I have,
    And have it shall till death.

    10. They were no fables that I taught,
    Devised by cunning men,
    But God's own Word, by which were caught
    Some sinners now and then.

    11. Whose souls by it were made to see
    The evil of their sin;
    And need of Christ to make them free
    From death which they were in.

    12. And now those very hearts that then
    Were foes unto the Lord,
    Embrace his Christ and truth, like men
    Conquered by his word.

    13. I hear them sigh and groan, and cry
    For grace, to God above;
    They loathe their sin, and to it die,
    'Tis holiness they love.

    14. This was the work I was about
    When hands on me they laid,
    'Twas this from which they pluck'd me out,
    And vilely to me said,

    15. You heretic, deceiver, come,
    To prison you must go;
    You preach abroad, and keep not home,
    You are the church's foe.

    16. But having peace within my soul,
    And truth on every side,
    I could with comfort them control,
    And at their charge deride.

    17. Wherefore to prison they me sent,
    Where to this day I lie,
    And can with very much content
    For my profession die.

    18. The prison very sweet to me
    Hath been since I came here,
    And so would also hanging be,
    If God would there appear.

    19. Here dwells good conscience, also peace
    Here be my garments white;
    Here, though in bonds, I have release
    From guilt, which else would bite.

    20. When they do talk of banishment,
    Of death, or such-like things;
    Then to me God sends heart's content,
    That like a fountain springs.

    21. Alas! they little think what peace
    They help me to, for by
    Their rage my comforts do increase;
    Bless God therefore do I.

    22. If they do give me gall to drink,
    Then God doth sweetn'ning cast
    So much thereto, that they can't think
    How bravely it doth taste.

    23. For, as the devil sets before
    Me heaviness and grief,
    So God sets Christ and grace much more,
    Whereby I take relief.

    24. Though they say then that we are fools
    Because we here do lie,
    I answer, goals are Christ his schools,
    In them we learn to die.

    25. 'Tis not the baseness of this state
    Doth hide us from God's face,
    He frequently, both soon and late,
    Doth visit us with grace.

    26. Here come the angels, here come saints,
    Here comes the Spirit of God,
    To comfort us in our restraints
    Under the wicked's rod.

    27. God sometimes visits prisons more
    Than lordly palaces,
    He often knocketh at our door,
    When he their houses miss.

    28. The truth and life of heavenly things
    Lift up our hearts on high,
    And carry us on eagles' wings,
    Beyond carnality.

    29. It take away those clogs that hold
    The hearts of other men,
    And makes us lively, strong and bold
    Thus to oppose their sin.

    30. By which means God doth frustrate
    That which our foes expect;
    Namely, our turning th' Apostate,
    Like those of Judas' sect.

    31. Here comes to our rememberance
    The troubles good men had
    Of old, and for our furtherance,
    Their joys when they were sad.

    32. To them that here for evil lie
    The place is comfortless,
    But not to me, because that I
    Lie here for righteousness.

    33. The truth and I were both here cast
    Together, and we do
    Lie arm in arm, and so hold fast
    Each other; this is true.

    34. This goal to us is as a hill,
    From whence we plainly see
    Beyond this world, and take our fill
    Of things that lasting be.

    35. From hence we see the emptiness
    Of all this world contains;
    And here we feel the blessedness
    That for us yet remains.

    36. Here we can see how all men play
    Their parts, as on a stage,
    How good men suffer for God's way,
    And bad men at them rage.

    37. Here we can see who holds that ground
    Which they in Scripture find;
    Here we see also who turns round
    Like weathercocks with wind.

    38. We can also from hence behold
    How seeming friends appear
    But hypocrites, as we are told
    In Scripture every where.

    39. When we did walk at liberty,
    We were deceiv'd by them,
    Who we from hence do clearly see
    Are vile deceitful men.

    40. These politicians that profest
    For base and worldly ends,
    Do now appear to us at best
    But Machiavellian friends.

    41. Though men do say, we do disgrace
    Ourselves by lying here
    Among the rogues, yet Christ our face
    From all such filth will clear.

    42. We know there's neither flout nor frown
    That we now for him bear,
    But will add to our heavenly crown,
    When he comes in the air.

    43. When he our righteousness forth brings
    Bright shining as the day,
    And wipeth off those sland'rous things
    That scorners on us lay.

    44. We sell our earthly happiness
    For heavenly house and home;
    We leave this world because 'tis less,
    And worse than that to come.

    45. We change our drossy dust for gold,
    From death to life we fly:
    We let go shadows, and take hold
    Of immortality.

    46. We trade for that which lasting is,
    And nothing for it give,
    But that which is already his
    By whom we breath and live.

    47. That liberty we lose for him,
    Sickness might take away:
    Our goods might also for our sin
    By fire or thieves decay.

    48. Again, we see what glory 'tis
    Freely to bear our cross
    For him, who for us took up his,
    When he our servant was.

    49. I am most free that men should see
    A hole cut thro' mine ear;
    If others will ascertain me,
    They'll hang a jewel there.

    50. Just thus it is we suffer here
    For him a little pain,
    Who, when he doth again appear,
    Will with him let us reign.

    51. If all must either die for sin
    A death that's natural;
    Or else for Christ, 'tis beset with him
    Who for the last doth fall.

    52. Who now dare say we throw away
    Our goods or liberty,
    When God's most holy Word doth say
    We gain thus much thereby?

    53. Hark yet again, you carnal men,
    And hear what I shall say
    In your own dialect, and then
    I'll you no longer stay.

    54. You talk sometimes of valour much,
    And count such bravely mann'd,
    That will not stick to have a touch
    With any in the land.

    55. If these be worth commending then,
    That vainly show their might,
    How dare you blame those holy men
    That in God's quarrel fight?

    56. Though you dare crack a coward's crown,
    Or quarrel for a pin,
    You dare not on the wicked frown,
    Nor speak against their sin.

    57. For all your spirits are so stout,
    For matters that are vain;
    Yet sin besets you round about,
    You are in Satan's chain.

    58. You dare not for the truth engage,
    You quake at prisonment;
    You dare not make the tree your stage
    For Christ, that King, potent.

    59. Know then, true valour there doth dwell
    Where men engage for God,
    Against the devil, death, and hell,
    And bear the wicked's rod.

    60. These be the men that God doth count
    Of high and noble mind;
    These be the men that do surmount
    What you in nature find.

    61. First they do conquer their own hearts,
    All worldly fears, and then
    Also the devil's fiery darts,
    And persecuting men.

    62. They conquer when they thus do fall,
    They kill when they do die:
    They overcome then most of all,
    And get the victory.

    63. The worldling understands not this,
    'Tis clear out of his sight;
    Therefore he counts this world his bliss,
    And doth our glory slight.

    64. The lubber knows not how to spring
    The nimble footman's stage;
    Neither can owls or jackdaws sing
    If they were in the cage.

    65. The swine doth not the pearls regard,
    But them doth slight for grains,
    Though the wise merchant labours hard
    For them with greatest pains.

    66. Consdier man what I have said,
    And judge of things aright;
    When all men's cards are fully played,
    Whose will abide the light?

    67. Will those, who have us hither cast?
    Or they who do us scorn?
    Or those who do our houses waste?
    Or us, who this have borne?

    68. And let us count those things the best
    That best will prove at last;
    And count such men the only blest,
    That do such things hold fast.

    69. And what though they us dear do cost,
    Yet let us buy them so;
    We shall not count our labour lost
    When we see others' woe.

    70. And let saints be no longer blam'd
    By carnal policy;
    But let the wicked be asham'd
    Of their malignity.


***

THE JERUSALEM SINNER SAVED;

OR,

GOOD NEWS FOR THE VILEST OF MEN;

BEING A HELP FOR DESPAIRING SOULS, SHOWING THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD
HAVE MERCY IN THE FIRST PLACE OFFERED TO THE BIGGEST SINNERS.

THE THIRD EDITION,

IN WHICH IS ADDED, AN ANSWER TO THOSE GRAND OBJECTIONS THAT LIE
IN THE WAY OF THE THEM THAT WOULD BELIEVE: FOR THE COMFORT OF THEM
THAT FEAR THEY HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.

BY JOHN BUNYAN, OF BEDFORD.

London: Printed for Elizabeth Smith, at the Hand and Bible, on
London Bridge, 1691.

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.

THAT Bunyan, who considered himself one of the most notorious of
Jerusalem sinners, should write with the deepest earnestness upon
this subject, is not surprising. He had preached upon it with very
peculiar pleasure, and, doubtless, from many texts; and, as he
says, 'through God's grace, with great success.' It is not probable
that, with his characteristic intensity of feeling, and holy fervour
in preaching, he ever delivered the same sermon twice; but this
was a subject so in unison with his own feelings and experience,
that he must have dilated upon it with even unusual interest and
earnestness. The marrow of all these exercises he concentrated
in this treatise; and when his judgment was, by severe internal
conflicts, fully matured--upon the eve of the close of his earthly
pilgrimage, in the last year of his life, 1688--he published it
in a pocket volume of eight sheets. It was soon translated into
several languages, and became so popular as to pass through ten
editions in English by 1728. Like other favourite books, it was
ornamented with some very inferior wood-cuts.

The object of the author is fully explained in the title to his
book. It is to display the riches of Divine grace and mercy to the
greatest sinners--even to those whose conduct entitled them to be
called 'Satan's colonels, and captains, the leaders of his people;
and to such as most stoutly make head against the Son of God.' It
is to those who feel themselves to be such, and who make a proper
estimate of their own characters, as in the sight of God, that the
gracious proclamations of the gospel are peculiarly directed. They
to whom much is forgiven, love much; and the same native energies
which had been misdirected to promote evil, when sanctified and
divinely guided, become a great blessing to the church, and to
society at large.

Bunyan does not stoop to any attempt to reconcile the humbling
doctrines of grace to the self-righteous pride of those who,
considering themselves but little sinners, would feel contaminated
by the company of those who had been such great sinners, although
they were pardoned and sanctified by God. His great effort was
directed to relieve the distress and despair of those who were
suffering under deep convictions; still, his whole treatise shows
that the doctrine of salvation by grace, of free gift, is no
encouragement to sin that grace may abound, as some have blasphemously
asserted. It is degrading to the pride of those who have not drunk
so deeply of sin, to be placed upon a level with great sinners.
But the disease is the same--in breaking one commandment, the whole
law is violated; and, however in some the moral leprosy does not
make such fearful ravages as in others, the slightest taint conveys
moral, spiritual, and eternal death. ALL, whether young or old,
great or small, must be saved by grace, or fall into perdition.
The difference between the taint of sin, and its awfully developed
leprosy, is given. Who so ready to fly to the physician as those
who feel their case to be desperate? and, when cured, they must
love the Saviour most.

Comparatively little sins before conviction, when seen in the glass
of God's law, and in his holy presence, become great ones. Those
who feel themselves to be great sinners, are peculiarly invited to
the arms of the Saviour, who saves to the uttermost ALL that come
unto him; and it is thus that peculiar consolation is poured in,
and the broken heart is bound up. We are then called by name, as
Bunyan forcibly describes it, as men called by name before a court.
'Who first cry out, "Here, Sir"; and then shoulder and crowd, and
say, "Pray give way, I am called into the court." This is thy case,
wherefore say, "Stand away, devil, Christ calls me; stand away,
unbelief, Christ calls me; stand away, all ye my discouraging
apprehensions, for my Saviour calls me to him to receive of his
mercy."' 'Wherefore, since Christ says come, let the angels make
a lane, and let all men give place, that the Jerusalem sinner may
come to Jesus Christ for mercy.' How characteristic is this of the
peculiarly striking style of Bunyan! How solemn his warnings! 'The
invitations of the gospel will be, to those who refuse them, the
hottest coals in hell.' His reasonings against despair are equally
forcible: ''Tis a sin to begin to despair before one sets his foot
over the threshold of hell gate. What! despair of bread in a land
that is full of corn! despair of mercy, when our God is full of
mercy! when he goes about by his ministers, beseeching of sinners
to be reconciled unto him! Thou scrupulous fool, where canst thou
find that God was ever false to his promise, or that he ever deceived
the soul that ventured itself upon him?' This whole treatise abounds
with strong consolation to those who are beset with fears, and
who, because of these, are ready to give way to despair; it ought
to be put into the hands of all such, let them belong to what party
they may; for, like our author's other books, nothing of a sectarian
nature can be traced in it, except we so call the distinguishing
truths of evangelical religion. There are some very interesting
references to Bunyan's experience and life, and one rather singular
idea, in which I heartily concur; it is, that the glorified saints
will become part of the heavenly hierarchy of angels, and take the
places of those who fell from that exalted state (Rev 22:8,9).

To those whose souls are invaded by despair, or who fear that they
have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost--to all who pant to
have their faith strengthened, and hopes brightened, this little
work is most earnestly and affectionately commended.

GEORGE OFFOR.

TO THE READER.

COURTEOUS READER,

ONE reason which moved me to write and print this little book was,
because, though there are many excellent heart-affecting discourses
in the world that tend to convert the sinner, yet I had a desire
to try this simple method of mine; wherefore I make bold thus to
invite and encourage the worst to come to Christ for life.

I have been vile myself, but have obtained mercy; and I would have
my companions in sin partake of mercy too: and, therefore, I have
writ this little book.

The nation doth swarm with vile ones now, as ever it did since it
was a nation. My little book, in some places, can scarce go from
house to house, but it will find a suitable subject to spend itself
upon. Now, since Christ Jesus is willing to save the vilest, why
should they not, by name, be somewhat acquainted with it, and bid
come to him under that name?

A great sinner, when converted, seems a booty to Jesus Christ; he
gets by saving such an one; why then should both Jesus lose his
glory and the sinner lose his soul at once, and that for want of
an invitation?

I have found, through God's grace, good success in preaching upon
this subject, and perhaps, so I may by my writing upon it too.1 I
have, as you see, let down this net for a draught. The Lord catch
some great fishes by it, for the magnifying of his truth. There
are some most vile in all men's eyes, and some are so in their own
eyes too; but some have their paintings, to shroud their vileness
under; yet they are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom
we have to do; and for all these, God hath sent a Saviour, Jesus;
and to all these the door is opened.

Wherefore, prithee, profane man, give this little book the reading.
Come; pardon, and a part in heaven and glory, cannot be hurtful to
thee. Let not thy lusts and folly drive thee beyond the door of
mercy, since it is not locked nor bolted up against thee. Manasseh
was a bad man, and Magdalene a bad woman, to say nothing of the thief
upon the cross, or of the murderers of Christ; yet they obtained
mercy; Christ willingly received them.

And dost thou think that those, once so bad, now they are in
heaven, repent them there because they left their sins for Christ
when they were in the world? I cannot believe, but that thou
thinkest they have verily got the best on't. Why, sinner, do thou
likewise. Christ, at heaven gates, says to thee, Come hither; and
the devil, at the gates of hell, does call thee to come to him.
Sinner, what sayest thou? Whither wilt thou go? Don't go into the
fire; there thou wilt be burned! Don't let Jesus lose his longing,
since it is for thy salvation, but come to him and live.

One word more, and so I have done. Sinner, here thou dost hear of
love; prithee, do not provoke it, by turning it into wantonness.
He that dies for slighting love, sinks deepest into hell, and will
there be tormented by the remembrance of that evil, more than by
the deepest cogitation of all his other sins. Take heed, therefore;
do not make love thy tormentor, sinner. Farewell.

GOOD NEWS FOR THE VILEST OF MEN;

OR,

A HELP FOR DESPAIRING SOULS.

'BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM.'--LUKE 24:47.

THE whole verse runs thus: 'And that repentance and remission of
sins should be preached in his name among all nations, 'beginning
at Jerusalem.' The words were spoken by Christ, after he rose from
the dead, and they are here rehearsed after an historical manner,
but do contain in them a formal commission, with a special clause
therein. The commission is, as you see, for the preaching of
the gospel, and is very distinctly inserted in the holy record by
Matthew and Mark. 'Go-teach all nations,' &c. (Matt 28:19) 'Go ye
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature' (Mark
16:15). Only this clause is in special mentioned by Luke, who saith,
that as Christ would have the doctrine of repentance and remission
of sins preached in his name among all nations, so he would have
the people of Jerusalem to have the first proffer thereof. Preach
it, saith Christ, in all nations, but begin at Jerusalem.

The apostles, then, though they had a commission so large as to give
them warrant to go and preach the gospel in all the world, yet by
this clause they were limited as to the beginning of their ministry;
they were to begin this work at Jerusalem. "Beginning at Jerusalem."

Before I proceed to an observation upon the words, I must, but briefly,
touch upon two things: namely, FIRST, Show you what Jerusalem now
was. SECOND, Show you what it was to preach the gospel to them.

FIRST, Jerusalem is to be considered either, First, With respect
to the descent of her people; or, Second, With respect to her
preference and exaltation; or, Third, With respect to her present
state, as to her decays.

First, As to her descent, she was from Abraham, [by] the sons of
Jacob, a people that God singled out from the rest of the nations,
to set his love upon them.

Secondly, As to her preference or exaltation, she was the place
of God's worship, and that which had in and with her the special
tokens and signs of God's favour and presence, above any other people
in the world. Hence, the tribes went up to Jerusalem to worship;
there was God's house, God's high-priest, God's sacrifices accepted,
and God's eye, and God's heart perpetually (Psa 76:1,2, 122; 1
Kings 9:3). But,

Thirdly, We are to consider Jerusalem also in her decays; for, as
she is so considered, she is the proper object of our text, as will
be further showed by and by.

Jerusalem, as I told you, was the place and seat of God's worship,
but now decayed, degenerated, and apostatized.2 The Word, the rule
of worship, was rejected of them, and in its place they had put
and set up their own traditions: they had rejected, also, the most
weighty ordinances, and put in the room thereof their own little
things (Matt 15; Mark 7). Jerusalem was therefore now greatly
backslidden, and become the place where the truth and true religion
were much defaced.

It was also now become the very sink of sin and seat of hypocrisy,
and gulf where true religion was drowned. Here also now reigned
presumption, and groundless confidence in God, which is the bane
of souls. Amongst its rulers, doctors, and leaders, envy, malice,
and blasphemy vented itself against the power of godliness, in all
places where it was espied; as also against the promoters of it;
yea, their Lord and Maker could not escape them.

In a word, Jerusalem was now become the shambles, the very slaughter-shop
for saints. This was the place wherein the prophets, Christ,
and his people, were most horribly persecuted and murdered. Yea,
so hardened at this time was this Jerusalem in her sins, that she
feared not to commit the biggest, and to bind herself, by wish,
under the guilt and damning evil of it; saying, when she had murdered
the Son of God, 'His blood be on us, and on our children.' And
though Jesus Christ did, both by doctrine, miracles, and holiness
of life, seek to put a stop to their villanies, yet they shut
their eyes, stopped their ears, and rested not, till, as was hinted
before, they had driven him out of the world. Yea, that they might,
if possible, have extinguished his name, and exploded his doctrine
out of the world, they, against all argument, and in despite of
heaven, its mighty hand, and undeniable proof of his resurrection,
did hire soldiers to invent a lie, saying, his disciples stole him
away from the grave; on purpose that men might not count him the
Saviour of the world, nor trust in him for the remission of sins.

They were, saith Paul, contrary to all men: for they did not only
shut up the door of life against themselves, but forbade that it
should be opened to any else. 'Forbidding us,' saith he, 'to speak
to the Gentiles, that they might be saved, to fill up their sins
alway' (1 Thess 2:14-16; Matt 23:35; 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-8; Matt 3:7-9;
John 8:33,41; Matt 27:18; Mark 3:30; Matt 23:37; Luke 13:33,34;
Matt 27:25; 20:11-16).

This is the city, and these are the people; this is their character,
and these are their sins: nor can there be produced their parallel
in all this world. Nay, what world, what people, what nation,
for sin and transgression, could or can be compared to Jerusalem?
especially if you join to the matter of fact the light they sinned
against, and the patience which they abused. Infinite was the
wickedness upon this account which they committed.

After all their abusings of wise men, and prophets, God sent unto
them John Baptist, to reduce them, and then his Son, to redeem
them; but they would be neither reduced nor redeemed, but persecuted
both to the death. Nor did they, as I said, stop here; the holy
apostles they afterwards persecuted also to death, even so many as
they could; the rest they drove from them unto the utmost corners.

SECOND, I come not to show you what it was to preach the gospel
to them. It was, saith Luke, to preach to them 'repentance and
remission of sins' in Christ's name; or, as Mark has it, to bid them
'repent and believe the gospel' (Mark 1:15). Not that repentance is
a cause of remission, but a sign of our hearty reception thereof.
Repentance is therefore here put to intimate, that no pretended
faith of the gospel is good that is not accompanied with it; and
this he doth on purpose, because he would not have them deceive
themselves: for with what faith can he expect remission of sins
in the name of Christ, that is not heartily sorry for them? Or how
shall a man be able to give to others a satisfactory account of his
unfeigned subjection to the gospel, that yet abides in his impenitency?

Wherefore repentance is here joined with faith, in the way
of receiving the gospel. Faith is that without which it cannot be
received at all; and repentance that without which it cannot be
received unfeignedly. When, therefore, Christ says, he would have
a repentance and remission of sins preached in his name among all
nations, it is as much as to say, I will that all men everywhere
be sorry for their sins, and accept of mercy at God's hand through
me, lest they fall under his wrath in the judgment; for, as
I have said, without repentance, what pretence soever men have of
faith, they cannot escape the wrath to come. Wherefore Paul said,
God commands 'all men everywhere to repent,' (in order to their
salvation): 'because he hath appointed a day, in the which he shall
judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained'
(Acts 17:31).

And now, to come to this clause, 'Beginning at Jerusalem'; that
is, that Christ would have Jerusalem have the first offer of the
gospel. 1. This cannot be so commanded because they had now any
more right, of themselves, thereto, than had any of the nations of
the world; for their sins had divested them of all self-deservings.
2. Nor yet because they stood upon the advance-ground with the
worst of the sinners of the nations; nay, rather, the sinners of
the nations had the advance-ground of them: for Jerusalem was, long
before she had added this iniquity to her sin, worse than the very
nations that God cast out before the children of Israel (2 Chron
33). 3. It must, therefore, follow, that this cause, 'Beginning
at Jerusalem,' was put into this commission of mere grace and
compassion, even from the overflowings of the bowels of mercy; for
indeed they were the worst, and so in the most deplorable condition
of any people under the heavens.3

Whatever, therefore, their relation was to Abraham, Isaac, or
Jacob--however they formerly had been the people among whom God had
placed his name and worship, they were now degenerated from God,
more than the nations were from their idols, and were become guilty
of the highest sins which the people of the world were capable of
committing. Nay, none can be capable of committing of such pardonable
sins as they committed against their God, when they slew his Son,
and persecuted his name and Word.

[DOCTRINE.]

From these words, therefore, thus explained, we gain this
observation:--That Jesus Christ. would have mercy offered, in the
first place, to the biggest sinners

That these Jerusalem sinners were the biggest sinners that ever were
in the world, I think none will deny, that believes that Christ was
the best man that ever was in the world, and also was their Lord
God. And that they were to have the first offer of his grace, the
text is as clear as the sun; for it saith, 'Beginning at Jerusalem.'
'Preach,' saith he, 'repentance and remission of sins' to the
Jerusalem sinners: to the Jerusalem sinners in the first place.
One would a-thought, since the Jerusalem sinners were the worst
and greatest sinners, Christ's greatest enemies, and those that
not only despised his person, doctrine, and miracles, but that, a
little before, had had their hands up to the elbows in his heart's
blood, that he should rather have said, Go into all the world, and
preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations; and,
after that, offer the same to Jerusalem; yea, it had been infinite
grace if he had said so. But what grace is this, or what name shall
we give it, when he commands that this repentance and remission
of sins, which is designed to be preached in all nations, should
first be offered to Jerusalem; in the first place to the worst of
sinners!

Nor was this the first time that the grace, which was in the heart
of Christ, thus showed itself to the world. For while he was yet
alive, even while he was yet in Jerusalem, and perceived, even
among these Jerusalem sinners, which was the most vile among them,
he still, in his preaching, did signify that he had a desire that
the worst of these worst should, in the first place, come unto him.
The which he showeth, where he saith to the better sort of them,
'The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before
you' (Matt 21:31). Also when he compared Jerusalem with the sinners
of the nations, then he commands that the Jerusalem sinners should
have the gospel at present confined to them. 'Go not,' saith he,
'into the way of the Gentiles, and into any of the cities of the
Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the
house of Israel' (Matt 10:5,6; 23:37). But go rather to them, for
they were in the most fearful plight. These, therefore, must have
the cream of the gospel, namely, the first offer thereof, in his
lifetime; yea, when he departed out of the world, he left this as
part of his last will with his preachers, that they also should
offer it first to Jerusalem. He had a mind, a careful mind, as it
seems, to privilege the worst of sinners with the fist offer of
mercy, and to take from among them a people, to be the first fruits
unto God and to the Lamb.

The 15th of Luke also is famous for this, where the Lord Jesus
takes more care, as appears there by three parables, for the lost
sheep, lost groat, and the prodigal son, than for the other sheep,
the other pence, or for the son that said he had never transgressed;
yea, he shows that there is joy in heaven, among the angels of God,
at the repentance of one sinner, more than over ninety and nine
just persons which need no repentance. After this manner, therefore,
the mind of Christ was set on the salvation of the biggest sinners
in his lifetime. But join to this, this clause, which he carefully
put into the apostles' commission to preach, when he departed hence
to the Father, and then you shall see that his heart was vehemently
set upon it; for these were part of his last words with them, Preach
my gospel to all nations, but that you begin at Jerusalem.

Nor did the apostles overlook this clause when their Lord was gone
into heaven; they went first to them of Jerusalem, and preached
Christ's gospel to them; they abode also there for a season and
time, and preached it to nobody else, for they had regard to the
commandment of their Lord. And it is to be observed, namely, that
the first sermon which they preached after the ascension of Christ,
it was preached to the very worst of these Jerusalem sinners, even
to those that were the murderers of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:23), for
these are part of the sermon: 'Ye took him, and by wicked hands
have crucified and slain him.' Yea, the next sermon, and the next,
and also the next to that, was preached to the self-same murderers,
to the end they might be saved (Acts 3:14-16; 4:10,11; 5:30; 7:52).

But we will return to the first sermon that was preached to these
Jerusalem sinners, by which will be manifest more than great grace,
if it be duly considered. For after that Peter, and the rest of
the apostles, had, in their exhortation, persuaded these wretches
to believe that they had killed the Prince of life; and after they
had duly fallen under the guilt of their murder, saying, 'Men and
brethren, what shall we do?' he replies, by an universal tender to
them all in general, considering them as Christ's killers, that if
they were sorry for what they had done, and would be baptized for
the remission of their sins in his name, they should receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37,38).

This he said to them all, though he knew that they were such
sinners. Yea, he said it without the least stick or stop, or pause
of spirit, as to whether he had best to say so or no. Nay, so far
off was Peter from making an objection against one of them, that,
by a particular clause in his exhortation, he endeavours, that not
one of them may escape the salvation offered. 'Repent,' saith he,
'and be baptized every one of you.' I shut out never an one of you;
for I am commanded by my Lord to deal with you, as it were, one by
one, by the word of his salvation. But why speaks he so particularly?
Oh! there were reasons for it. The people with whom the apostles
were now to deal, as they were murderers of our Lord, and to be
charged in the general with his blood, so they had their various
and particular acts of villany in the guilt thereof, now lying
upon their consciences. And the guilt of these, their various and
particular acts of wickedness, could not, perhaps, be reached to a
removal thereof but by this particular application. Repent, every
one of you; be baptized, every one of you, in his name, for the
remission of sins, and you shall, every one of you, receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost.

Objector. 'But I was one of them that plotted to take away his
life. May I be saved by him?'

Peter. Every one of you.

Objector. 'But I was one of them that bare false witness against
him. Is there grace for me?'

Peter. For every one of you.

Objector. 'But I was one of them that cried out, Crucify him,
crucify him; and desired that Barabbas, the murderer, might live,
rather than him. What will become of me, think you?'

Peter. I am to preach repentance and remission of sins to every
one of you, says Peter.

Objector. 'But I was one of them that did spit in his face when he
stood before his accusers. I also was one that mocked him, when in
anguish he hanged bleeding on the tree. Is there room for me?'

Peter. For every one of you, says Peter.

Objector. 'But I was one of them that, in his extremity, said, Give
him gall and vinegar to drink. Why may not I expect the same when
anguish and guilt is upon me?'

Peter. Repent of these your wickednesses, and here is remission of
sins for every one of you.

Objector. 'But I railed on him, I reviled him, I hated him, I
rejoiced to see him mocked at by others. Can there be hope for me?'

Peter. There is, for every one of you. 'Repent, and be baptized
every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of
sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' Oh! what
a blessed 'Every one of you,' is here! How willing was Peter, and
the Lord Jesus, by his ministry, to catch these murderers with the
word of the gospel, that they might be made monuments of the grace
of God! How unwilling, I say, was he, that any of these should
escape the hand of mercy! Yea, what an amazing wonder is it to
think, that above all the world, and above everybody in it, these
should have the first offer of mercy! 'Beginning at Jerusalem.'

But was there not something of moment in this clause of the commission?
Did not Peter, think you, see a great deal in it, that he should
thus begin with these men, and thus offer, so particularly, this
grace to each particular man of them?

But, as I told you, this is not all; these Jerusalem sinners must
have this offer again and again; every one of them must be offered
it over and over. Christ would not take their first rejection for
a denial, nor their second repulse for a denial; but he will have
grace offered once, and twice, and thrice, to these Jerusalem
sinners. Is not this amazing grace? Christ will not be put off.
These are the sinners that are sinners indeed. They are sinners of
the biggest sort; consequently, such as Christ can, if they convert
and be saved, best serve his ends and designs upon. Of which more
anon.

But what a pitch of grace is this! Christ is minded to amaze the
world, and to show that he acteth not like the children of men. This
is that which he said of old, 'I will not execute the fierceness
of my wrath, I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God
and not man' (Hosea 11:9).5 This is not the manner of men; men are
shorter winded; men are soon moved to take vengeance, and to right
themselves in a way of wrath and indignation. But God is full of
grace, full of patience, ready to forgive, and one that delights
in mercy. All this is seen in our text. The biggest sinners must
first be offered mercy; they must, I say, have the cream of the
gospel offered unto them.

But we will a little proceed. In the third chapter we find, that
they who escaped converting by the first sermon, are called upon
again to accept of grace and forgiveness, for their murder committed
upon the Son of God. You have killed, yea, 'ye denied the Holy One
and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and
killed the Prince of life.' Mark, he falls again upon the very men
that actually were, as you have it in the chapters following, his
very betrayers and murderers (Acts 3:14,15), as being loath that
they should escape the mercy of forgiveness: and exhorts them again
to repent, that their sins might 'be blotted out'(verse 19,20).

Again, in the fourth chapter, he charges them afresh with this
murder (verse 10), but withal tells them salvation is in no other.
Then, like a heavenly decoy, he puts himself also among them, to
draw them the better under the net of the gospel; saying, 'There
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must
be saved' (verse 12).

In the fifth chapter, you find them railing at him, because he
continued preaching among them salvation in the name of Jesus. But
he tells them, that that very Jesus whom they had slain and hanged
on a tree, him God had raised up, and exalted 'to be a Prince and
a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins'
(verse 29-31). Still insinuating, that though they had killed him,
and to this day rejected him, yet his business was to bestow upon
them repentance and forgiveness of sins.

'Tis true, after they began to kill again, and when nothing
but killing would serve their turn, then they that were scattered
abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Yet even some of them
so hankered after the conversion of the Jews, that they preached
the gospel only to them. Also the apostles still made their abode
at Jerusalem, in hopes that they might let down their net for
another draught of these Jerusalem sinners. Neither did Paul and
Barnabas, who were the ministers of God to the Gentiles, but offer
the gospel, in the first place, to those of them that, for their
wickedness, were scattered, like vagabonds, among the nations; yea,
and when they rendered rebellion and blasphemy for their service
and love, they replied it was necessary that the word of God should
first have been spoken to them (Acts 1:8; 13:46,47).

Nor was this their preaching unsuccessful among these people: but
the Lord Jesus so wrought with the word thus spoken, that thousands
of them came flocking to him for mercy. Three thousand of them
closed with him at the first; and, afterwards, two thousand more;
for now they were in number about five thousand; whereas, before
sermons were preached to these murderers, the number of the disciples
was not above 'a hundred and twenty' (Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4).

Also among these people that thus flocked to him for mercy, there
was a 'great company of the priests' (Acts 6:7). Now, the priests
were they that were the greatest of these biggest sinners; they
were the ringleaders, they were the inventors and ringleaders in the
mischief. It was they that set the people against the Lord Jesus,
and that were the cause why the uproar increased, until Pilate had
given sentence upon him. 'The chief priests and elders,' says the
text, 'persuaded (the people) the multitude, that they should ask
Barabbas, and destroy Jesus' (Matt 27:20). And yet, behold the
priests, yea, a great company of the priests, became obedient to
the faith.6

Oh, the greatness of the grace of Christ, that he should be thus in
love with the souls of Jerusalem sinners! that he should be thus
delighted with the salvation of the Jerusalem sinners! that he
should not only will that his gospel should be offered them, but
that it should be offered unto them first, and before other sinners
were admitted to a hearing of it. 'Begin at Jerusalem.'

Was this doctrine well believed, where would there be a place for
a doubt, or a fear of the damnation of the soul, if the sinner be
penitent, how bad a life soever he has lived, how many soever in
number are his sins? But this grace is hid from the eyes of men;
the devil hides it from them; for he knows it is alluring, he knows
it has an attracting virtue in it; for this is it that, above all
arguments, can draw the soul to God. I cannot help it, but must let
drop another word. The first church, the Jerusalem church, from
whence the gospel was to be sent into all the world, was a church
made up of Jerusalem sinners. These great sinners were here the
most shining monuments of the exceeding grace of God.

Thus, you see, I have proved the doctrine; and that not only by
showing you that this was the practice of the Lord Jesus Christ
in his lifetime, but his last will when he went up to God; saying,
Begin to preach at Jerusalem. Yea, it is yet further manifested,
in that when his ministers first began to preach there, he joined
his power to the word, to the converting of thousands of his
betrayers and murderers, and also many of the ringleading priests,
to the faith.

I shall now proceed, and shall show you, FIRST, The reasons of the
point. SECOND, And then make some application of the whole.

[THE REASONS OF THE POINT.]

The observation, you know, is this: Jesus Christ would have mercy
offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners, to the Jerusalem
sinners: 'Preach repentance, and remission of sins, in my name,
among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'

The reasons of the point are:--

First, Because the biggest sinners have most need thereof.

He that has most need, reason says, should be helped first. I
mean, when a helping hand is offered, and now it is; for the gospel
of the grace of God is sent to help the world (Act 16:9). But the
biggest sinner has most need. Therefore, in reason, when mercy
is sent down from heaven to men, the worst of men should have the
first offer of it. 'Begin at Jerusalem.' This is the reason which
the Lord Christ himself renders, why, in his lifetime, he left the
best, and turned him to the worst; why he sat so loose from the
righteous, and stuck so close to the wicked. 'The whole,' saith
he, 'have no need of the physician, but the sick. I came not to
call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance' (Mark 2:15-17).7

Above, you read that the scribes and Pharisees said to his disciples,
'How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?'
Alas! they did not know the reason; but the Lord renders them one,
and such an one as is both natural and cogent, saying, These have
need, most need. Their great necessity requires that I should be
most friendly, and show my grace first to them.

Not that the other were sinless, and so had no need of a Saviour;
but the publicans and their companions were the biggest sinners;
they were, as to view, worse than the scribes; and, therefore, in
reason, should be helped first, because they had most need of a
Saviour.

Men that are at the point to die, have more need of the physician
than they that are but now and then troubled with a heart-fainting
qualm. The publicans and sinners were, as it were, in the mouth
of death; death was swallowing of them down:8 and, therefore, the
Lord Jesus receives them first; offers them mercy first. 'The whole
have no need of the physician, but the sick. I came not to call
the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.' The sick, as I said,
is the biggest sinner, whether he sees his disease or not. He is
stained from head to foot, from heart to life and conversation.
This man, in every man's judgment, has the most need of mercy.
There is nothing attends him from bed to board, and from board to
bed again, but the visible characters, and obvious symptoms, of
eternal damnation. This, therefore, is the man that has need, most
need; and, therefore, in reason, should be helped in the first
place. Thus it was with the people concerned in the text; they were
the worst of sinners, Jerusalem sinners, sinners of the biggest
size; and, therefore, such as had the greatest need; wherefore they
must have mercy offered to them, before it be offered to anywhere
else in the world. 'Begin at Jerusalem,' offer mercy first to a
Jerusalem sinner. This man has most need, he is furthest from God,
nearest to hell, and so one that has most need. This man's sins
are in number the most, in cry the loudest, in weight the heaviest,
and, consequently, will sink him soonest; wherefore he has most
need of mercy. This man is shut up in Satan's hand, fastest bound
in the cords of his sins: one that justice is whetting his sword
to cut off; and, therefore, has most need, not only of mercy, but
that it should be extended to him in the first place.

But a little further to show you the true nature of this reason,
to wit, That Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first
place, to the biggest sinners.

First, Mercy ariseth from the bowels and compassion, from pity, and
from a feeling of the condition of those in misery. 'In his love,
and in his pity, he redeemed them.' And again, 'The Lord is pitiful,
very pitiful, and of tender mercy' (Isa 63:9; James 5:11).

Now, where pity and compassion is, there is yearning of bowels;
and where there is that, there is a readiness to help. And, I say
again, the more deplorable and dreadful the condition is, the more
directly doth bowels and compassion turn themselves to such, and
offer help and deliverance. All this flows from our first scripture
proof, I came to call them that have need; to call them first,
while the rest look on and murmur.

'How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?' Ephraim was a revolter from
God, a man that had given himself up to devilism; a company of men,
the ten tribes that worshipped devils, while Judah kept with his
God. But 'how shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver
thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set
thee as Zeboim? [and yet thou art worse than they, nor has Samaria
committed half thy sins (Eze 16:46-51)] Mine heart is turned within
me, my repentings are kindled together' (Hosea 11:8).

But where do you find that ever the Lord did thus rowl9 in his
bowels for and after any self-righteous man? No, no; they are the
publicans and harlots, idolaters and Jerusalem sinners, for whom
his bowels thus yearn and tumble about within him: for, alas! poor
worms, they have most need of mercy.

Had not the good Samaritan more compassion for that man that fell
among thieves (though that fall was occasioned by his going from
the place where they worshipped God, to Jericho, the cursed city),
than we read he had for any other besides? His wine was for him,
his oil was for him, his beast for him; his penny, his care, and
his swaddling bands for him; for, alas! wretch, he had most need
(Luke 10:30-35).

Zaccheus the publican, the chief of the publicans, one that had
made himself the richer by wronging of others; the Lord at that
time singled him out from all the rest of his brother publicans, and
that in the face of many Pharisees, and proclaimed in the audience
of them all, that that day salvation was come to his house (Luke
19:1-8).

The woman, also, that had been bound down by Satan for eighteen
years together, his compassions putting him upon it, he loosed
her, though those that stood by snarled at him for so doing (Luke
13:11-13).

And why the woman of Sarepta, and why Naaman the Syrian, rather
than widows and lepers of Israel, but because their conditions were
more deplorable; for that they were most forlorn, and furthest from
help (Luke 4:25,27).

But I say, why all these, thus named? Why have we not a catalogue
of some holy men that were so in their own eyes, and in the judgment
of the world? Alas! if, at any time, any of them are mentioned,
how seemingly coldly doth the record of scripture present them to
us? Nicodemus, a night professor, and Simon the Pharisee, with his
fifty pence, and their great ignorance of the methods of grace, we
have now and then touched upon.

Mercy seems to be out of its proper channel when it deals
with self-righteous men; but then it runs with a full stream when
it extends itself to the biggest sinners. As God's mercy is not
regulated by man's goodness, nor obtained by man's worthiness, so
not much set out by saving of any such. But more of this anon.

And here let me ask my reader a question: Suppose that, as thou art
walking by some pond side, thou shouldst espy in it four or five
children, all in danger of drowning, and one in more danger than
all the rest; judge which has most need to be helped out first? I
know thou wilt say, he that is nearest drowning. Why, this is the
case; the bigger sinner, the nearer drowning; therefore, the bigger
sinner, the more need of mercy; yea, of help, by mercy, in the first
place. And to this our text agrees, when it saith, 'Beginning at
Jerusalem.' Let the Jerusalem sinner, says Christ, have the first
offer, the first invitation, the first tender of my grace and mercy;
for he is the biggest sinner, and so has most need thereof.

Second, Christ Jesus would have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners, because when they, any of them, receive
it, it redounds most to the fame of his name.

Christ Jesus, as you may perceive, has put himself under the term
of a physician, a doctor for curing of diseases; and you know that
applause and fame are things that physicians much desire. That
is it that helps them to patients; and that, also, that will help
their patients to commit themselves to their skill, for cure, with
the more confidence and repose of spirit. And the best way for a
doctor or physician to get himself a name, is, in the first place,
to take in hand, and cure, some such as all others have given up
for lost and dead. Physicians get neither name nor fame by pricking
of wheals,10 or picking out thistles, or by laying of plasters
to the scratch of a pin; every old woman can do this. But if they
would have a name and a fame, if they will have it quickly, they
must, as I said, do some great and desperate cures. Let them fetch
one to life that was dead; let them recover one to his wits that
was mad; let them make one that was born blind to see; or let them
give ripe wits to a fool: these are notable cures, and he that can
do thus, and if he doth thus first, he shall have the name and fame
he desires; he may lie a-bed till noon.

Why, Christ Jesus forgiveth sins for a name, and so begets for
himself a good report in the hearts of the children of men. And,
therefore, in reason he must be willing, as, also, he did command,
that his mercy should be offered first to the biggest sinners. I
will forgive their sins, iniquities, and transgressions, says he,
'And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour, before
all the nations of the earth' (Jer 33:8,9).

And hence it is, that, at his first appearing, he took upon him to
do such mighty works; he got a fame thereby, he got a name thereby
(Matt 4:23,24).

When Christ had cast the legion of devils out of the man of whom
you read (Mark 5), he bid him go home to his friends, and tell
it. 'Go home,' saith he, 'to thy friends, and tell them how great
things God hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee'
(Mark 5:19). Christ Jesus seeks a name, and desireth a fame in the
world; and, therefore, or the better to obtain that, he commands
that mercy should first be proffered to the biggest sinners;
because, by the saving of one of them, he makes all men marvel.
As it is said of the man last mentioned, whom Christ cured towards
the beginning of his ministry. 'And he departed,' says the text,
'and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done
for him; and all men did marvel' (Mark 5:20).

When John told Christ, that they saw one casting out devils in
his name, and they forbade him, because he followed not with them,
what is the answer of Christ? 'Forbid him not; for there is no man
which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil
of me' (Mark 9:39). No; they will rather cause his praise to be
heard, and his name to be magnified, and so put glory on the head
of Christ.

But we will follow, a little, our metaphor. Christ, as I said, has
put himself under the term of a physician; consequently, he desireth
that his fame, as to the salvation of sinners, may spread abroad,
that the world may see what he can do. And to this end, has not
only commanded that the biggest sinners should have the first offer
of his mercy, but has, as physicians do,11 put out his bills, and
published his doings, that things may be read and talked of. Yea,
he has, moreover, in these, his blessed bills, the holy scriptures
I mean, inserted the very names of persons, the places of their
abode, and the great cures that, by the means of his salvation, he
has wrought upon them to this very end. Here is, Item, such an one,
by my grace and redeeming blood, was made a monument of everlasting
life; and such an one, by my perfect obedience, became an heir of
glory. And then he produceth their names. Item, I saved Lot from
the guilt and damnation that he had procured for himself by his
incest. Item, I saved David from the vengeance that belonged to
him for committing of adultery and murder. Here is, also, Solomon,
Manasseh, Peter, Magdalene, and many others, made mention of in this
book. Yea, here are their names, their sins, and their salvations
recorded together, that you may read and know what a Saviour he
is, and do him honour in the world. For why are these things thus
recorded, but to show to sinners what he can do, to the praise and
glory of his grace? And it is observable, as I said before, we
have but very little of the salvation of little sinners mentioned
in God's book, because that would not have answered the design, to
wit, to bring glory and fame to the name of the Son of God.

What should be the reason, think you, why Christ should so easily
take a denial of the great ones that were the grandeur of the world,
and struggle so hard for hedge-creepers12 and highwaymen, as that
parable seems to import he doth, but to show forth the riches of
the glory of his grace, to his praise? (Luke 14). This, I say, is
one reason, to be sure. They that had their grounds, their yoke of
oxen, and their marriage joys, were invited to come; but they made
the excuse, and that served the turn. But when he comes to deal with
the worst, he saith to his servants, Go ye out and bring them in
hither. 'Go out quickly-and bring in hither the poor, the maimed,
the halt, and the blind.' And they did so. And he said again, 'Go
out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that
my house may be filled' (Luke 14:18,19,23). These poor, lame,
maimed, blind, hedge-creepers, and highwaymen, must come in, must
be forced in. These, if saved, will make his merit shine.

When Christ was crucified, and hanged up between the earth and
heavens, there were two thieves crucified with him; and, behold,
he lays hold of one of them, and will have him away with him to
glory. Was not this a strange act, and a display of unthought-of
grace? Were there none but thieves there, or were the rest of that
company out of his reach? Could he not, think you, have stooped
from the cross to the ground, and have laid hold on some honester
man, if he would? Yes, doubtless. Oh! but then he would not have
displayed his grace, nor so have pursued his own designs, namely,
to get to himself a praise and a name; but now he has done it to
purpose. For who that shall read this story, but must confess, that
the Son of God is full of grace; for a proof of the riches thereof,
he left behind him, when, upon the cross, he took the thief away
with him to glory. Nor can this one act of his be buried; it will
be talked of, to the end of the world, to his praise. 'Men shall
speak of the might of thy terrible acts; and I will declare thy
greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great
goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness-They shall speak of
the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to
the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his
kingdom' (Psa 145:6-12).

When the Word of God came among the conjurors and those soothsayers,
that you read of (Acts 19), and had prevailed with some of them
to accept of the grace of Christ, the Holy Ghost records it with a
boast, for that it would redound to his praise, saying, 'Many of
them also which used curious arts brought their books together,
and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of them,
and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the
Word of God, and prevailed' (Acts 19:19,20). It wrenched out of the
clutches of Satan some of those of whom he thought himself most
sure. 'So mightily grew the Word of God.' It grew mightily, it
encroached upon the kingdom of the devil. It pursued him, and took
the prey; it forced him to let go his hold! It brought away captive,
as prisoners taken by force of arms, some of the most valiant of
his army. It fetched back from, as it were, the confines of hell,
some of those that were his most trusty, and that, with hell, had
been at an agreement. It made them come and confess their deeds,
and burn their books before all men. 'So mightily grew the Word of
God, and prevailed.' Thus, therefore, you see why Christ will have
offered mercy, in the first place, to the biggest sinners; they
have most need thereof; and this is the most ready way to extol
his name 'that rideth upon the heavens' to our help. But,

Third, Christ Jesus would have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners, because, by their forgiveness and salvation,
others, hearing of it, will be encouraged the more to come to him
for life.

For the physician, by curing the most desperate at the first, doth
not only get himself a name, but begets encouragement in the minds
of other diseased folk to come to him for help. Hence you read of
our Lord, that after, through his tender mercy, he had cured many of
great diseases, his fame was spread abroad: 'They brought unto him
all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments,
and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were
lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. And
there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and
Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond Jordan' (Matt
4:24,25). See here, he first, by working, gets himself a fame, a
name, and renown; and now men take encouragement, and bring, from
all quarters, their diseased to him, being helped, by what they
had heard, to believe that their diseased should be healed.

Now, as he did with those outward cures, so he does in the proffers
of his grace and mercy; he proffers that, in the first place, to
the biggest sinners, that others may take heart to come to him to
be saved. I will give you a scripture or two. I mean to show you
that Christ, by commanding that his mercy should, in the first
place, be offered to the biggest of sinners, has a design thereby
to encourage and provoke others to come also to him for mercy. 'God,'
said Paul, 'who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he
loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together
with Christ (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.' But
why did he do all this? 'That in the ages to come he might show the
exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through
Christ Jesus' (Eph 2:4-7). See, here is a design; God lets out his
mercy to Ephesus of design, even to show to the ages to come the
exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness to them through
Christ Jesus. And why, to show, by these, the exceeding riches of
his grace to the ages to come, through Christ Jesus? But to allure
them, and their children also to come to him, and to partake the
same grace through Christ Jesus?13

But what was Paul, and the Ephesian sinners? (of Paul we will speak
anon.) These Ephesian sinners, they were men dead in sins; men
that walked according to the dictates and motions of the devil;
worshippers of Diana, that effeminate goddess; men far off from God,
aliens and strangers to all good things; such as were far off from
that, as I said, and, consequently, in a most deplorable condition.
As the Jerusalem sinners were of the highest sort among the Jews,
so these Ephesian sinners were of the highest sort among the Gentiles
(Eph 2:1-3,11,12; Acts 19:35). Wherefore, as by the Jerusalem
sinners, in saving them first, he had a design to provoke others
to come to him for mercy, so the same design is here set on foot
again, in his calling and converting the Ephesian sinners, 'That in
the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace,'
says he, 'in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.' There
is yet one hint behind. It is said that God saved these 'for his
great love'; that is, as I think, for the setting forth, for the
commendation of his love, for the advance of his love, in the hearts
and minds of them that should come after. As who should say, God
has had mercy upon, and been gracious to you, that he might show
to others, for their encouragement, that they have ground to come
to him to be saved. When God saves one great sinner, it is to
encourage another great sinner to come to him for mercy.

He saved the thief, to encourage thieves to come to him for mercy;
he saved Magdalene, to encourage other Magdalenes to come to him
for mercy; he saved Saul, to encourage Sauls to come to him for
mercy; and this Paul himself doth say, 'For this cause,' saith he,
'I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth
all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter
believe on him to life everlasting' (1 Tim 1:16). How plain are the
words! Christ, in saving of me, has given to the world a pattern
of his grace, that they might see, and believe, and come, and be
saved; that they that are to be born hereafter might believe on
Jesus Christ to life everlasting.

But what was Paul? Why, he tells you himself; I am, says he, the
chief of sinners. I was, says he, a blasphemer, a persecutor, an
injurious person; but I obtained mercy (1 Tim 1:13,14). Ay, that
is well for you, Paul; but what advantage have we thereby? Oh, very
much, saith he; for, 'for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me
first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern
to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting'
(verse 16). Thus, therefore, you see that this third reason is of
strength; namely, that Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the
first place, to the biggest sinners, because, by their forgiveness
and salvation, others, hearing of it, will be encouraged the more
to come to him for mercy. It may well, therefore, be said to God,
Thou delightest in mercy, and mercy pleases thee (Micah 7:18).

But who believes that this was God's design in showing mercy of
old--namely, that we that come after might take courage to come to
him for mercy; or that Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in
the first place, to the biggest sinners, to stir up others to come
to him for life? This is not the manner of men, O God! But David
saw this betimes; therefore he makes this one argument with God,
that he would blot out his transgressions, that he would forgive
his adultery, his murders, and horrible hypocrisy. Do it, O Lord,
saith he, do it, and 'then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and
sinners shall be converted unto thee' (Psa 2:7-13). He knew that
the conversion of sinners would be a work highly pleasing to God,
as being that which he had designed before he made mountain or
hill: wherefore he comes, and he saith, Save me, O Lord; if thou
wilt but save me, I will fall in with thy design; I will help to
bring what sinners to thee I can. And, Lord, I am willing to be
made a preacher myself, for that I have been a horrible sinner;
wherefore, if thou shalt forgive my great transgressions, I shall
be a fit man to tell of thy wondrous grace to others. Yea, Lord, I
dare promise, that if thou wilt have mercy upon me, it shall tend
to the glory of thy grace, and also to the increase of thy kingdom;
for I will tell it, and sinners will hear on't. And there is nothing
so suiteth with the hearing sinner as mercy; and to be informed that
God is willing to bestow it upon him. 'I will teach transgressors
thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.'

Nor will Christ Jesus miss of his design in proffering of mercy,
in the first place, to the biggest sinners. You know what work the
Lord, by laying hold of the woman of Samaria, made among the people
there. They knew that she was a town sinner, an adulteress; yea,
one that, after the most audacious manner, lived in uncleanness
with a man that was not her husband. But when she, from a turn upon
her heart, went into the city, and said to her neighbours, 'Come,'
Oh, how they came! how they flocked out of the city to Jesus Christ!
'Then they went out of the city, and came to him.' 'And many of
the Samaritans of that city (people, perhaps, as bad as herself)
believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He
told me all that ever I did' (John 4:39). That word, 'He told me
all that ever I did,' was a great argument with them; for by that
they gathered, that though he knew her to be vile, yet he did not
despise her, nor refuse to show how willing he was to communicate
his grace unto her; and this fetched over, first her, then them.

This woman, as I said, was a Samaritan sinner, a sinner of the
worst complexion; for the Jews abhorred to have ought to do with
them (verse 9), wherefore none more fit than she to be made one of
the decoys of heaven, to bring others of these Samaritan wild-fowls
under the net of the grace of Christ; and she did the work
to purpose. Many, and many more of the Samaritans believed on him
(verse 40-42). The heart of man, though set on sin, will, when
it comes once to a persuasion that God is willing to have mercy
upon us, incline to come to Jesus Christ for life. Witness those
turn-aways from God that you also read of in Jeremiah; for after
they had heard, three or four times over, that God had mercy for
backsliders, they broke out, and said, 'Behold, we come unto thee;
for thou art the Lord our God.' (Jer 3:22); or, as those in Hosea
did, 'For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy' (Hosea 14:1-3).

Mercy, and the revelation thereof, is the only antidote against
sin. 'Tis of a thawing nature; 'twill loose the heart that is
frozen up in sin; yea, 'twill make the unwilling willing to come to
Jesus Christ for life. Wherefore, do you think, was it that Jesus
Christ told the adulterous woman, and that before so many sinners,
that he had not condemned her, but to allure her, with them there
present, to hope to find favour at his hands? As he also saith, in
another place, 'I came not to judge, but to save the world.' For
might they not thence most rationally conclude, that if Jesus Christ
had rather save than damn an harlot, there was encouragement for
them [although great sinners] to come to him for mercy.

I heard once a story from a soldier, who, with his company, had laid
siege against a fort, that so long as the besieged were persuaded
their foes would show them no favour, they fought like madmen; but
when they saw one of their fellows taken, and received to favour,
they all came tumbling down from their fortress, and delivered
themselves into their enemies' hands. I am persuaded, did men
believe that there is that grace and willingness in the heart of
Christ to save sinners, as the Word imports there is, they would
come tumbling into his arms: but Satan has blinded their minds
that they cannot see this thing. Howbeit, the Lord Jesus has, as
I said, that others might take heart and come to him, given out a
commandment, that mercy should, in the first place, be offered to
the biggest sinners. 'Begin,' saith he, 'at Jerusalem'; and thus
I end the third reason.

Fourth, Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first place,
to biggest sinners, because that is the way, if they receive it,
most to weaken the kingdom of Satan, and to keep it lowest in every
age of the world.

The biggest sinners, they are Satan's colonels and captains,
the leaders of his people, and they that most stoutly make head
against the Son of God. Wherefore, let these first be conquered,
and his kingdom will be weak. When Ishbosheth had lost his Abner,
the kingdom was made weak, nor did he sit but tottering then upon
his throne. So, when Satan loseth his strong men, them that are
mighty to work iniquity, and dexterous to manage others in the same,
then is his kingdom weak (2 Sam 3). Therefore, I say, Christ, and
doth offer mercy, in the first place, to such, the more to weaken
his kingdom. Christ Jesus was glad to see Satan fall like lightning
from heaven; that is, suddenly, or head-long; and it was, surely,
by casting of him out of strong possession, and by recovering of
some notorious sinners out of his clutches (Luke 10:17-19).

Samson, when he would pull down the Philistines' temple, took
hold of the two main pillars of it, and, breaking them, down came
the house. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, and to
destroy by converting grace, as well as by redeeming blood. Now,
sin swarms, and lieth by legions, and whole armies, in the souls
of the biggest sinners, as in garrisons;14 wherefore, the way, the
most direct way, to destroy it, is first to deal with such sinners
by the word of his gospel, and by the merits of his passion.

For example, though I shall give you but a homely one; suppose
a family to be very lousy, and one or two of the family to be in
chief the breeders, the way, the quickest way, to clean that family,
or at least to weaken the so swarming of those vermin, is, in the
first place, to sweeten the skin, head, and clothes of the chief
breeders; and then, though all the family should be apt to breed
them, the number of them, and so the greatness of that plague there,
will be the more impaired. Why, there are some people that are in
chief the devil's sin-breeders in the towns and places where they
live. The place, town, or family where they live, must needs be
horribly lousy, and, as it were, eaten up with vermin. Now, let
the Lord Jesus, in the first place, cleanse these great breeders,
and there will be given a nip to those swarms of sins that used to
be committed in such places throughout the town, house, or family,
where such sin-breeding persons used to be.

I speak by experience. I was one of these lousy ones, one of these
great sin-breeders; I infected all the youth of the town where
I was born, with all manner of youthful vanities. The neighbours
counted me so; my practice proved me so: wherefore Christ Jesus
took me first; and taking me first, the contagion was much allayed
all the town over. When God made me sigh, they would hearken, and
inquiringly say, What's the matter with John? They also gave their
various opinions of me; but, as I said, sin cooled, and failed,
as to his full career. When I went out to seek the bread of life,
some of them would follow, and the rest be put into a muse 15 at
home. Yea, almost the town, at first, at times would go out to hear
at the place where I found good; yea, young and old for a while
had some reformation on them; also some of them, perceiving that
God had mercy upon me, came crying to him for mercy too.

But what need I give you an instance of poor I; I will come
to Manasseh the king. So long as he was a ringleading sinner, the
great idolater, and chief for devilism, the whole land flowed with
wickedness; for he made them to sin (2 Chron 33), and do worse
than the heathen that dwelt round about them, or that was cast out
from before them: but when God converted him, the whole land was
reformed. Down went the groves, the idols, and altars of Baal, and
up went true religion in much of the power and purity of it. You
will say, The king reformed by power. I answer, doubtless, and by
example too; for people observe their leaders; as their fathers did,
so did they (2 Kings 17:41). This, therefore, is another reason why
Jesus would have mercy offered, in the first place, to the biggest
sinners, because that is the best way, if they receive it, most to
weaken the kingdom of Satan, and to keep it poor and low.

And do you not think now, that if God would but take hold of the
hearts of some of the most notorious in your town, in your family,
or country, that this thing would be verified before your faces?
It would, it would, to the joy of you that are godly, to the making
of hell to sigh, to the great suppressing of sin, the glory of
Christ, and the joy of the angels of God.16 And ministers, should,
therefore, that this work might go on, take advantages to persuade
with the biggest sinners to come into Christ, according to my text,
and their commission, 'Beginning at Jerusalem.'

Fifth, Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners, because such, when converted, are usually
the best helps in the church against temptations, and fittest for
the support of the feeble-minded there.

Hence, usually, you have some such in the first plantation of
churches, or quickly upon it. Churches would do but sorrily, if
Christ Jesus did not put such converts among them; they are the
monuments and mirrors of mercy. The very sight of such a sinner in
God's house, yea, the very thought of him, where the sight of him
cannot be had, is ofttimes greatly for the help of the faith of
the feeble.

When the churches, saith Paul, that were in Judea, heard this
concerning me, that he which persecuted them in time past, now
preached the faith which once he destroyed, 'they glorified God in
me' (Gal 1:20-24). 'Glorified God.' How is that? Why, they praised
him, and took courage to believe the more in the mercy of God; for
that he had had mercy on such a great sinner as he. They glorified
God 'in me'; they wondered that grace should be so rich, as to take
hold of such a wretch as I was; and for my sake believed in Christ
the more.

There are two things that great sinners are acquainted with, when
they come to divulge them to the saints, that are a great relief
to their faith. 1. The contests that they usually have with the
devil at their parting with him. 2. Their knowledge of his secrets
in his workings.

1. For first, The biggest sinners17 have usually great contests
with the devil at their partings; and this is an help to saints: for
ordinary saints find afterwards what the vile ones find at first,
but when, at the opening of hearts, the one finds himself to be as
the other--the one is a comfort to the other. The lesser sort of
sinners find but little of this, till after they have been some time
in profession; but the vile man meets with his at the beginning.
Wherefore he, when the other is down, is ready to tell that he has
met with the same before; for, I say, he has had it before. Satan
is loath to part with a great sinner. 'What, my true servant,' quoth
he, 'my old servant, wilt thou forsake me now? Having so often
sold thyself to me to work wickedness, wilt thou forsake me now?
Thou horrible wretch, dost not know, that thou has sinned thyself
beyond the reach of grace, and dost thou think to find mercy now?
Art not thou a murderer, a thief, a harlot, a witch, a sinner
of the greatest size, and dost thou look for mercy now? Dost thou
think that Christ will foul his fingers with thee? It is enough
to make angels blush, saith Satan, to see so vile an one knock
at heaven-gates for mercy, and wilt thou be so abominably bold to
do it?' 18 Thus Satan dealt with me, says the great sinner, when
at first I came to Jesus Christ. And what did you reply? saith
the tempted. Why, I granted the while charge to be true, says the
other. And what, did you despair, or how? No, saith he, I said, I
am Magdalene, I am Zaccheus, I am the thief, I am the harlot, I am
the publican, I am the prodigal, and one of Christ's murderers; yea,
worse than any of these; and yet God was so far off from rejecting
of me, as I found afterwards, that there was music and dancing
in his house for me, and for joy that I was come home unto him. O
blessed be God for grace (says the other), for then, I hope, there
is favour for me. Yea, as I told you, such an one is a continual
spectacle in the church, for every one by to behold God's grace
and wonder by.

2. And as for the secrets of Satan, such as are suggestions to
question the being of God, the truth of his Word, and to be annoyed
with devilish blasphemies; none more acquainted with these than
the biggest sinners at their conversion; wherefore thus also they
are prepared to be helps in the church to relieve and comfort the
other.

I might also here tell you of the contests and battles that such
are engaged in, wherein they find the buffetings of Satan, above
any other of the saints. At which time Satan assaults the soul
with darkness, fears, frightful thoughts of apparitions; now they
sweat, pant, cry out, and struggle for life. The angels now come
down to behold the sight, and rejoice to see a bit of dust and ashes
to overcome principalities and powers, and might, and dominions.
But, as I said, when these come a little to be settled, they are
prepared for helps for others, and are great comforts unto them.
Their great sins give encouragement to the devil to assault them;
and by these temptations Christ takes advantage to make them the
more helpful to the churches.

The biggest sinner, when he is converted, and comes into the church,
says to them all, by his very coming in, Behold me, all you that
are men and women of a low and timorous spirit, you whose hearts
are narrow, for that you never had the advantage to know, because
your sins are few, the largeness of the grace of God. Behold, I
say, in me, the exceeding riches of his grace! I am a pattern set
forth before your faces, on whom you may look and take heart. This,
I say, the great sinner can say, to the exceeding comfort of all
the rest. Wherefore, as I have hinted before, when God intends to
stock a place with saints, and to make that place excellently to
flourish with the riches of his grace, he usually begins with the
conversion of some of the most notorious thereabouts, and lays
them, as an example, to allure others, and to build up when they
are converted. It was Paul that must go to the Gentiles, because
Paul was the most outrageous of all the apostles, in the time of
his unregeneracy. Yea, Peter must be he, that after his horrible
fall, was thought fittest, when recovered again, to comfort and
strengthen his brethren (See Luke 22:31,32).

Some must be pillars in God's house; and if they be pillars of
cedar, they must stand while they are stout and sturdy sticks in
the forest, before they are cut down, and planted or placed there.
No man, when he buildeth his house, makes the principal parts
thereof of weak or feeble timber; for how could such bear up the
rest? but of great and able wood. Christ Jesus also goeth this
way to work; he makes of the biggest sinners bearers and supporters
to the rest. This, then, may serve for another reason, why Jesus
Christ gives out in commandment, that mercy should, in the first
place, be offered to the biggest sinners, because such, when converted,
are usually the best helps in the church against temptations, and
fittest for the support of the feeble-minded there.

Sixth, Another reason why Jesus Christ would have mercy offered,
in the first place, to the biggest sinners, is, because they, when
converted, are apt to love him most.

This agrees both with scripture and reason. Scripture says so.
To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much. 'To whom little
is forgiven, the same loveth little' (Luke 7:47). Reason says so:
for as it would be the unreasonablest thing in the world to render
hatred for love, and contempt for forgiveness; so it would be as
ridiculous to think, that the reception of a little kindness should
lay the same obligations upon the heart to love as the reception
of a great deal. I would not disparage the love of Christ; I know
the least drachm of it, when it reaches to forgiveness, is great
above all the world; but comparatively, there are greater extensions
of the love of Christ to one than to another. He that has most sin,
if. forgiven, is partaker of the greatest love, of the greatest
forgiveness.

I know also, that there are some, that from this very doctrine
say, 'Let us do evil that good may come'; and that turn the grace
of our God into lasciviousness. But I speak not of these; these
will neither be ruled by grace nor reason. Grace would teach them,
if they knew it, to deny ungodly courses; and so would reason too,
if it could truly sense the love of God (Titus 2:11,12; Rom 12:1).

Doth it look like what hath any coherence with reason or mercy,
for a man to abuse his friend? Because Christ died for me, shall I
therefore spit in his face? The bread and water that was given by
Elisha to his enemies, that came into the land of Israel to take
him, had so much influence upon their minds, though heathens, that
they returned to their homes without hurting him; yea, it kept them
from coming again in a hostile manner into the coasts of Israel (2
Kings 6:19-23).

But to forbear to illustrate, till anon. One reason why Christ Jesus
shows mercy to sinners, is, that he might obtain their love, that
he may remove their base affections from base objects to himself.
Now, if he loves to be loved a little, he loves to be loved much;
but there is not any that are capable of loving much, save those that
have much forgiven them. Hence it is said of Paul, that he laboured
more than them all; to wit, with a labour of love, because he had
been by sin more vile against Christ than they all (1 Cor 15).
He it was that 'persecuted the church of God, and wasted it' (Gal
1:13). He of them all was the only raving bedlam against the saints.
'And being exceeding mad,' says he, 'against them, I persecuted
them even unto strange cities' (Acts 26:11). This raving bedlam,
that once was so, is he that now says, I laboured more than them
all, more for Christ than them all. But Paul, what moved thee thus
to do? The love of Christ, says he. It was not I, but the grace
of God that was with me. As who should say, O grace! It was such
grace to save me! It was such marvellous grace for God to look down
from heaven upon me, and that secured me from the wrath to come,
that I am captivated with the sense of the riches of it. Hence
I act, hence I labour; for how can I otherwise do, since God not
only separated me from my sins and companions, but separated all
the powers of my soul and body to his service? I am, therefore,
prompted on by this exceeding love to labour as I have done;
yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Oh! I shall never forget
his love, nor the circumstances under which I was, when his love
laid hold upon me. I was going to Damascus with letters from the
high-priest, to make havoc of God's people there, as I had made
havoc of them in other places. These bloody letters were not imposed
upon me. I went to the high-priest and desired them of him, and
yet he saved me! (Acts 9:1,2). I was one of the men, of the chief
men, that had a hand in the blood of his martyr Stephen; yet he
had mercy upon me! When I was at Damascus, I stunk19 so horribly
like a blood-sucker, that I became a terror to all thereabout.
Yea, Ananias, good man, made intercession to my Lord against me;
yet he would have mercy upon me, yea, joined mercy to mercy, until
he had made me a monument of grace. He made a saint of me, and
persuaded me that my transgressions were forgiven me.

When I began to preach, those that heard me were amazed, and said,
'Is not this he that destroyed them that called on this name in
Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring
them bound to the high-priest?' Hell doth know that I was a sinner;
heaven doth know that I was a sinner; the world also knows that I
was a sinner, a sinner of the greatest size; but I obtained mercy
(Acts 9:20,21). Shall not this lay obligation upon me? Is not love
of the greatest force to oblige? Is it not strong as death, cruel
as the grave, and hotter than the coals of juniper? Hath it not
a most vehement flame? Can the waters quench it? can the floods
drown it? I a m under the force of it, and this is my continual
cry, What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits which he
has bestowed upon me?

Aye, Paul! this is something; thou speakest like a man, like a man
affected, and carried away with the love and grace of God. Now,
this sense, and this affection, and this labour, giveth to Christ
the love that he looks for. But he might have converted twenty
little sinners, and yet not found, for grace bestowed, so much love
in them all. I wonder how far a man might go among the converted
sinners of the smaller size, before he could find one that so much
as looked anything this way ward. Where is he that is thus under
pangs of love for the grace bestowed upon him by Jesus Christ?
Excepting only some few, you may walk to the world's end, and find
none. But, as I said, some there are, and so there have been in
every age of the church, great sinners, that have had much forgiven
them; and they love much upon this account. Jesus Christ, therefore,
knows what he doth, when he lays hold on the hearts of sinners of
the biggest size. He knows that such an one will love more than
many that have not sinned half their sins.

I will tell you a story that I have read of Martha and Mary; the
name of the book I have forgot; I mean of the book in which I found
the relation; but the thing was thus:--

Martha, saith my author, was a very holy woman, much like Lazarus,
her brother; but Mary was a loose and wanton creature; Martha did
seldom miss good sermons and lectures, when she could come at them
in Jerusalem; but Mary would frequent the house of sports, and the
company of the vilest of men for lust. And though Martha had often
desired that her sister would go with her to hear her preachers,
yea, had often entreated her with tears to do it, yet could she
never prevail; for still Mary would make her excuse, or reject her
with disdain, for her zeal and preciseness in religion.

After Martha had waited long, tried many ways to bring her sister
to good, and all proved ineffectual, at last she comes upon her
thus: 'Sister,' quoth she, 'I pray thee go with me to the temple
today, to hear one preach a sermon.' 'What kind of preacher is he?'
said she. Martha replied, 'It is one Jesus of Nazareth; he is the
handsomest man that ever you saw with your eyes. Oh! he shines in
beauty, and is a most excellent preacher.'

Now, what does Mary, after a little pause, but goes up into her
chamber, and, with her pins and her clouts,20 decks up herself as
fine as her fingers could make her. This done, away she goes, not
with her sister Martha, but as much unobserved as she could, to
the sermon, or rather to see the preacher.

The hour and preacher being come, and she having observed whereabout
the preacher would stand, goes and sets herself so in the temple,
that she might be sure to have the full view of this excellent
person. So he comes in, and she looks, and the first glimpse of his
person pleased her. Well, Jesus addresseth himself to his sermon,
and she looks earnestly on him.

Now, at that time, saith my author, Jesus preached about the lost
sheep, the lost groat, and the prodigal child. And when he came to
show what care the shepherd took for one lost sheep, and how the
woman swept to find her piece which was lost, and what joy there
was at their finding, she began to be taken by the ears, and forgot
what she came about, musing what the preacher would make of it.
But when he came to the application, and showed, that by the lost
sheep, was meant a great sinner; by the shepherd's care, was meant
God's love for great sinners; and that by the joy of the neighbours,
was showed what joy there was among the angels in heaven over one
great sinner that repenteth; she began to be taken by the heart. And
as he spake these last words, she thought he pitched his innocent
eyes just upon her, and looked as if he spake what was now said to
her: wherefore her heart began to tremble, being shaken with affection
and fear; then her eyes ran down with tears apace; wherefore she was
forced to hide her face with her handkerchief, and so sat sobbing
and crying all the rest of the sermon.

Sermon being done, up she gets, and away she goes, and withal
inquired where this Jesus the preacher dined that day? and one told
her, At the house of Simon the Pharisee. So away goes she, first to
her chamber, and there strips herself of her wanton attire; then
falls upon her knees to ask God forgiveness for all her wicked life.
This done, in a modest dress she goes to Simon's house, where she
finds Jesus sat at dinner. So she gets behind him, and weeps, and
drops her tears upon his feet like rain, and washes them, and wipes
them with the hair of her head. She also kissed his feet with her
lips, and anointed them with ointment. When Simon the Pharisee
perceived what the woman did, and being ignorant of what it was to
be forgiven much (for he never was forgiven more than fifty pence),
he began to think within himself, that he had been mistaken about
Jesus Christ, because he suffered such a sinner as this woman was,
to touch him. Surely, quoth he, this man, if he were a prophet,
would not let this woman come near him, for she is a town-sinner;
so ignorant are all self-righteous men of the way of Christ with
sinners. But, lest Mary should be discouraged with some clownish
carriage of this Pharisee, and so desert her good beginnings, and
her new steps which she now had begun to take towards eternal life,
Jesus began thus with Simon: 'Simon,' saith he, 'I have somewhat
to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was,' said
Jesus, 'a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed five
hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to
pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of
them will love him most? Simon answered, and said, I suppose that
he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly
judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou
this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water
for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped
them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this
woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
My head with oil thou didst not anoint, but this woman hath anointed
my feet with ointment. Wherefore, I say unto her, Her sins, which
are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is
forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins
are forgiven'(Luke 7:36-48).

Thus you have the story. If I come short in any circumstance, I
beg pardon of those that can correct me. It is three or four and
twenty years since I saw the book; yet I have, as far as my memory
will admit, given you the relation of the matter. However, Luke,
as you see, doth here present you with the substance of the whole.21

Alas! Christ Jesus has but little thanks for the saving of little
sinners. 'To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.' He
gets not water for his feet, by his saving of such sinners. There
are abundance of dry-eyed Christians in the world, and abundance of
dry-eyed duties too; duties that never were wetted with the tears
of contrition and repentance, nor ever sweetened with the great
sinner's box of ointment. And the reason is, such sinners have not
great sins to be saved from; or, if they have, they look upon them
in the diminishing glass of the holy law of God.22 But, I rather
believe, that the professors of our days want a due sense of what
they are; for, verily, for the generality of them, both before
and since conversion, they have been sinners of a lusty size. But
if their eyes be holden, if convictions are not shown, if their
knowledge of their sins is but like to the eye-sight in twilight;
the heart cannot be affected with that grace that has laid hold on
the man; and so Christ Jesus sows much, and has little coming in.
Wherefore his way is ofttimes to step out of the way, to Jericho,
to Samaria, to the country of the Gadarenes, to the coasts of Tyre
and Sidon, and also to Mount Calvary, that he may lay hold of such
kind of sinners as will love him to his liking (Luke 19:1-11; John
4:3-11; Mark 5:1-20; Matt 15:21-29; Luke 23:33-43).

But thus much for the sixth reason, why Christ Jesus would have
mercy offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners, to wit,
because such sinners, when converted, are apt to love him most.
The Jerusalem sinners were they that outstripped, when they were
converted, in some things, all the churches of the Gentiles. They
'were of one heart, and of one soul: neither said any of them that
aught of the things which he possessed was his own.' 'Neither was
there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors
of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things
that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet,' &c.
(Acts 4:32,35). Now, show me such another pattern, if you can. But
why did these do thus? Oh! they were Jerusalem sinners. These were
the men that, but a little before, had killed the Prince of life;
and those to whom he did, that notwithstanding, send the first offer
of grace and mercy. And the sense of this took them up betwixt the
earth and the heaven, and carried them on in such ways and methods
as could never be trodden by any since. They talk of the church of
Rome, and set her, in her primitive state, as a pattern and mother
of churches; when the truth is, they were the Jerusalem sinners,
when converts, that out-did all the churches that ever were.

Seventh, Christ Jesus would have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners, because grace, when it is received by such,
finds matter to kindle upon more freely than it finds in other
sinners.

Great sinners are like the dry wood, or like great candles, which
burn best and shine with biggest light. I lay not this down, as
I did those reasons before, to show, that when great sinners are
converted, they will be encouragement to others, though that is true;
but to show, that Christ has a delight to see grace, the grace we
receive, to shine. We love to see things that bear a good gloss;
yea, we choose to buy such kind of matter to work upon, as will,
if wrought up to what we intend, cast that lustre that we desire.
Candles that burn not bright, we like not; wood that is green will
rather smother, and sputter, and smoke, and crack, and flounce,
than cast a brave light and a pleasant heat; wherefore great folks
care not much, not so much, for such kind of things, as for them
that will better answer their ends.

Hence Christ desires the biggest sinner; in him there is matter to
work by, to wit, a great deal of sin; for as by the tallow of the
candle, the first takes occasion to burn the brighter; so, by the
sin of the soul, grace takes occasion to shine the clearer. Little
candles shine but little, for there wanteth matter for the fire to
work upon; but in the great sinner, here is more matter for grace
to work by. Faith shines, when it worketh towards Christ, through
the sides of many and great transgressions, and so does love, for
that much is forgiven. And what matter can be found in the soul
for humility to work by so well, as by a sight that I have been and
am an abominable sinner? And the same is to be said of patience,
meekness, gentleness, self-denial, or of any other grace. Grace
takes occasion, by the vileness of the man, to shine the more; even
as by the ruggedness of a very strong distemper or disease, the
virtue of the medicine is best made manifest. 'Where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound' (Rom 5:20). A black string makes
the neck look whiter; great sins make grace burn clear. Some say,
when grace and a good nature meet together, they do make shining
Christians; but I say, when grace and a great sinner meet, and when
grace shall subdue that great sinner to itself, and shall operate
after its kind in the soul of that great sinner, then we have
a shining Christian; witness all those of whom mention was made
before.

Abraham was among the idolaters when in the land of Assyria, and
served idols, with his kindred, on the other side of the flood (Josh
24:2; Gen 11:31). But who, when called, was there in the world, in
whom grace shone so bright as in him? The Thessalonians were idolaters
before the Word of God came to them; but when they had received
it, they became examples to all that did believe in Macedonia and
Achaia (1 Thess 1:6-10).

God the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son, are for having things
seen; for having the Word of life held forth. They light not a
candle that it might be put under a bushel, or under a bed, but on
a candlestick, that all that come in may see the light (Matt 5:15;
Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33). and, I say, as I said before, in whom
is it, light, like so to shine, as in the souls of great sinners?

When the Jewish Pharisees dallied with the gospel, Christ threatened
to take it from them, and to give it to the barbarous heathens and
idolaters. Why so? For they, saith he, will bring forth the fruits
thereof in their season. 23 'Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom
of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing
forth the fruits thereof' (Matt 21:43).

I have often marvelled at our youth, and said in my heart, What
should be the reason that they should be so generally at this day
debauched as they are? For they are now profane to amazement; and
sometimes I have thought one thing, and sometimes another; that is,
why God should suffer it so to be? At last I have thought of this:
How if the God, whose ways are past finding out, should suffer it
so to be now, that he might make of some of them the more glorious
saints hereafter. I know sin is of the devil, but it cannot work
in the world without permission: and if it happens to be as I have
thought, it will not be the first time that God the Lord hath caught
Satan in his own design. For my part, I believe that the time is
at hand, that we shall see better saints in the world than has been
seen in it this many a day. And this vileness, that at present does
so much swallow up our youth, is one cause of my thinking so; for
out of them, for from among them, when God sets to his hand, as
of old, you shall see what penitent ones, what trembling ones, and
what admirers of grace, will be found to profess the gospel to the
glory of God by Christ.

Alas! we are a company of worn-out Christians; our moon is in the
wane; we are much more black than white, more dark than light; we
shine but a little; grace in the most of us is decayed. But I say,
when they of these debauched ones that are to be saved shall be
brought in--when these that look more like devils than men shall
be converted to Christ (and I believe several of them will), then
will Christ be exalted, grace adored, the Word prized, Zion's path
better trodden, and men in the pursuit of their own salvation, to
the amazement of them that are left behind.

Just before Christ came into the flesh, the world was degenerated
as it is now: the generality of the men in Jerusalem were become
either high and famous for hypocrisy, or filthy, base in their
lives. The devil also was broke loose in hideous manner, and had
taken possession of many: yea, I believe, that there was never
generation before nor since, that could produce so many possessed
with devils, deformed, lame, blind, and infected with monstrous
diseases, as that generation could. But what was the reason thereof,
I mean the reason from God? Why, one--and we may sum up more in
that answer that Christ gave to his disciples concerning him that
was born blind--was, that 'the works of God should be made manifest'
in them, and 'that the Son of God might be glorified thereby' (John
9:2,3; 11:4).

Now, if these devils and diseases, as they possessed men then,
were to make way and work for an approaching to Christ in person,
and for the declaring of his power, why may we not think that now,
even now also, he is ready to come, by his Spirit in the gospel,
to heal many of the debaucheries of our age? I cannot believe that
grace will take them all, for there are but few that are saved;
but yet it will take some, even some of the worst of men, and make
blessed ones of them. But, O how these ringleaders in vice will
then shine in virtue! They will be the very pillars in churches,
they will be as an ensign in the land. 'The Lord their God shall
save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall
be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his
land' (Zech 9:16). But who are these? Even idolatrous Ephraim, and
backsliding Judah (verse 13).

I know there is ground to fear, that the iniquity of this generation
will be pursued with heavy judgments; but that will not hinder
that we have supposed. God took him a glorious church out of bloody
Jerusalem, yea, out of the chief of the sinners there, and left
the rest to be taken and spoiled, and sold, thirty for a penny, in
the nations where they were captives. The gospel working gloriously
in a place, to the seizing upon many of the ringleading sinners
thereof, promiseth no security to the rest, but rather threateneth
them with the heaviest and smartest judgments; as in the instance
now given, we have a full demonstration; but in defending, the Lord
will defend his people; and in saving, he will save his inheritance.

Nor does this speak any great comfort to a decayed and backsliding
sort of Christian; for the next time God rides post with his gospel,
he will leave such Christians behind him. But, I say, Christ is
resolved to set up his light in the world; yea, he is delighted
to see his graces shine; and therefore he commands that his gospel
should, to that end, be offered, in the first place, to the biggest
sinners; for by great sins it shineth most; therefore he saith,
'Begin at Jerusalem.'

Eighth, and lastly, Christ Jesus will have mercy to be offered,
in the first place, to the biggest sinners, for that by that means
the impenitent that are left behind will be, at the judgment, the
more left withoutexcuse.

God's Word has two edges; it can cut back-stroke and fore-stroke.
If it doth thee no good, it will do thee hurt; it is 'the savour
of life unto life' to those that receive it, but of 'death unto
death' to them that refuse it (2 Cor 2:15,16). But this is not all;
the tender of grace to the biggest sinners, in the first place, will
not only leave the rest, or those that refuse it, in a deplorable
condition, but will also stop their mouths, and cut off all pretence
to excuse at that day. 'If I had not come and spoken unto them,'
saith Christ,' saith Christ, 'they had not had sin; but now they have
no cloke for their sin'--for their sin of persevering in impenitence
(John 15:22). But what did he speak to them? Why, even that which
I have told you; to wit, That he has in special a delight in saving
the biggest sinners. He spake this in the way of his doctrine; he
spake this in the way of his practice, even to the pouring out of
his last breath before them (Luke 23:34).

Now, since this is so, what can the condemned at the judgment say
for themselves, why sentence of death should not be passed upon
them? I say, what excuse can they make for themselves, when they
shall be asked why they did not in the day of salvation come to
Christ to be saved? Will they have ground to say to the Lord, Thou
wast only for saving of little sinners; and, therefore, because
they were great ones, they durst not come unto him; or that thou
hadst not compassion for the biggest sinners, therefore I died in
despair? Will these be excuses for them, as the case now standeth
with them? Is there not everywhere in God's Book a flat contradiction
to this, in multitudes of promises, of invitations, of examples,
and the like? Alas! alas! there will then be there millions of
souls to confute this plea; ready, I say, to stand up, and say,
'O! deceived world, heaven swarms with such as were, when they
were in the world, to the full as bad as you!' Now, this will kill
all plea or excuse, why they should not perish in their sins; yea,
the text says they shall see them there. 'There shall be weeping-when
ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,
in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out. And they
shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north,
and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God'
(Luke 13:28,29). Out of which company, it is easy to pick such as
sometimes were as bad people as any [that] now breathe on the face
of [the] earth. What think you of the first man, by whose sins there
are millions now in hell? And so I may say, What think you of ten
thousand more besides?

But if the Word will not stifle and gag them up--I speak now
for amplification's sake--the view of those who are saved shall.
There comes an incestuous person to the bar, and pleads, That the
bigness of his sins was a bar to his receiving the promise. But will
not his mouth be stopped as to that, when Lot, and the incestuous
Corinthians, shall be set before him (Gen 19:33-37; 1 Cor 5:1,2).

There comes a thief, and says, Lord, my sin of thefts, I thought,
was such as could not be pardoned by thee! But when he shall see
the thief that was saved on the cross stand by, as clothed with
beauteous glory, what further can he be able to object? Yea, the
Lord will produce ten thousand of his saints at his coming, who
shall after this manner 'execute judgment upon all, and so convince
all that are ungodly among them--of all their hard speeches which
ungodly sinners have spoken against him' (Jude 15). And these are
hard speeches against him, to say that he was not able or willing
to save men, because of the greatness of their sins, or to say that
they were discouraged by his Word from repentance, because of the
heinousness of their offences. These things, I say, shall then be
confuted. He comes with ten thousand of his saints to confute them,
and to stop their mouths from making objections against their own
eternal damnation.

Here is Adam, the destroyer of the world; here is Lot, that lay
with both his daughters; here is Abraham, that was sometime an
idolater; and Jacob, that was a supplanter; and Reuben, that lay with
his father's concubine; and Judah, that lay with his daughter-in-law;
and Levi and Simeon, that wickedly slew the Shechemites; and Aaron,
that made an idol to be worshipped, and that proclaimed a religious
feast unto it. Here is also Rahab the harlot, and Bathsheba, that
bare a bastard to David. Here is Solomon, that great backslider;
and Manasseh, that man of blood and a witch. Time would fail to
tell you of the woman of Canaan's daughter, of Mary Magdalene, of
Matthew the publican, and of Gideon and Samson, and many thousands
more.

Alas! alas! I say, what will these sinners do, that have, through
their unbelief, eclipsed the glorious largeness of the mercy of
God, and gave way to despair of salvation, because of the bigness
of their sins? For all these, though now glorious saints in light,
were sometimes sinners of the biggest size, who had sins that were
of a notorious hue; yet now, I say, they are in their shining and
heavenly robes before the throne of God and of the Lamb, blessing
for ever and ever that Son of God for their salvation, who died for
them upon the tree; admiring that ever it should come into their
hearts once to think of coming to God by Christ; but above all,
blessing God for granting of them light to see those encouragements
in his Testament; without which, without doubt, they had been
daunted, and sunk down under guilt of sin and despair, as their
fellow-sinners have done. But now they also are witnesses for God,
and for his grace, against an unbelieving world; for, as I said,
they shall come to convince the world of their speeches, their hard
and unbelieving words, that they have spoken concerning the mercy
of God, and the merits of the passion of his blessed Son, Jesus
Christ.

But will it not, think you, strangely put to silence all such
thoughts, and words, and reasons of the ungodly before the bar
of God? Doubtless it will; yea, and will send them away from his
presence also, with the greatest guilt that possibly can fasten
upon the consciences of men.

For what will sting like this?--'I have, through mine own foolish,
narrow, unworthy, undervaluing thoughts, of the love and ability
of Christ to save me, brought myself to everlasting ruin. It is
true, I was a horrible sinner; not one in a hundred did live so
vile a life as I. But this should not have kept me from closing
with Jesus Christ. I see now that there are abundance in glory
that once were as bad as I have been; but they were saved by faith,
and I am damned by unbelief. Wretch that I am! why did not I give
glory to the redeeming blood of Jesus? Why did I not humbly cast
my soul at his blessed footstool for mercy? Why did I judge of
his ability to save me by the voice of my shallow reason, and the
voice of a guilty conscience? Why betook not I myself to the holy
Word of God? Why did I not read and pray that I might understand,
since now I perceive that God said then, He giveth liberally to
them that pray, and upbraideth not' (James 1:5).

It is rational to think, that by such cogitations as these, the
unbelieving world will be torn in pieces before the judgment of
Christ; especially those that have lived where they did or might
have heard the gospel of the grace of God. Oh! that saying, 'It
shall be more tolerable for Sodom at the judgment than for them,'
will be better understood (Luke 10:8-12). This reason, therefore,
standeth fast; namely, that Christ, by offering mercy, in the
first place, to the biggest sinners now, will stop all the mouths
of the impenitent at the day of judgment, and cut off all excuse that
shall be attempted to be made, from the thoughts of the greatness
of their sins, why they came not to him.

I have often thought of the day of judgment, and how God will
deal with sinners at that day; and I believe it will be managed
with that sweetness, with that equitableness, with that excellent
righteousness, as to every sin, and circumstance and aggravation
thereof, that men that are damned, shall, before the judgment is over,
receive such conviction of the righteous judgment of God upon them,
and of their deserts of hell-fire, that they shall in themselves
conclude, that there is all the reason in the world that they should
be shut out of heaven, and go to hell-fire: 'These shall go away
into everlasting punishment' (Matt 25:46).24

Only this will tear [them,] that they have missed of mercy and
glory, and obtained everlasting damnation, through their unbelief;
but it will tear but themselves, but their own souls; they will
gnash upon themselves, for that mercy was offered to the chief of
them in the first place, and yet they were damned for rejecting of
it; they were damned for forsaking what they had a propriety in;
for forsaking their own mercy.

And thus much for the reasons. Second, I will conclude with a word
of application.

THE APPLICATION.

First, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Then this shows us how to make a right
judgment of the heart of Christ to men. Indeed, we have advantage
to guess at the goodness of his heart by many things; as by his
taking our nature upon him, his dying for us, his sending his Word
and ministers to us, and all that we might be saved. But this of
beginning to offer mercy to Jerusalem, is that which heightens all
the rest; for this doth not only confirm to us, that love was the
use of his dying for us, but it shows us yet more the depth of that
love. He might have died for us, and yet have extended the benefit
of his death to a few, as one might call them, of the best-conditioned
sinners, to those who, though they were weak, and so could not but
sin, yet made not a trade of sinning; to those that sinned not
lavishingly. There are in the world, as one may call them, the
moderate sinners; the sinners that mix righteousness with their
pollutions; the sinners that, though they be sinners, do what
on their part lies--some that are blind would think so--that they
might be saved. I say, it had been love, great love, if he had died
for none but such, and sent his love to such; but that he should
send out conditions of peace to the biggest of sinners; yea, that
they should be offered to them first of all; (for so he means when
he says, 'Begin at Jerusalem';) this is wonderful! this shows his
heart to purpose, as also the heart of God his Father, who sent
him to do thus.

There is nothing more incident to men that are awake in their souls,
than to have wrong thoughts of God--thoughts that are narrow, and
that pinch and pen up his mercy to scanty and beggarly conclusions,
and rigid legal conditions; supposing that it is rude, and an
intrenching upon his majesty to come ourselves, or to invite others,
until we have scraped and washed, and rubbed off as much of our
dirt from us as we think is convenient, to make us somewhat orderly
and handsome in his sight.25 Such never knew what these words meant,
'Begin at Jerusalem.' Yea, such in their hearts have compared the
Father and his Son to niggardly rich men, whose money comes from
them like drops of blood. True, say such, God has mercy, but he
is loath to part with it; you must please him well, if you get any
from him; he is not so free as many suppose, nor is he so willing
to save as some pretended gospellers imagine. But I ask such, if
the Father and Son be not unspeakably free to show mercy, why was
this clause put into our commission to preach the gospel? Yea, why
did he say, 'Begin at Jerusalem': for when men, through the weakness
of their wits, have attempted to show other reasons why they would
have the first proffer of mercy; yet I can prove, by many undeniable
reasons, that they of Jerusalem, to whom the apostles made the first
offer, according as they were commanded, were the biggest sinners
that ever did breathe upon the face of God's earth (set the
unpardonable sin aside); upon which [fact] my doctrine stands like
a rock, that Jesus the Son of God would have mercy, in the first
place, offered to the biggest sinners. And if this doth not show the
heart of the Father and the Son to be infinitely free in bestowing
forgiveness of sins, I confess myself mistaken.

Neither is there, set this aside, another argument like it, to
show us the willingness of Christ to save sinners; for, as was said
before, all the rest of the signs of Christ's mercifulness might
have been limited to sinners that are so and so qualified; but when
he says, 'Begin at Jerusalem,' the line is stretched out to the
utmost; no man can imagine beyond it; and it is folly here to pinch
and spare, to narrow, and seek to bring it within scanty bounds;
for he plainly saith, 'Begin at Jerusalem,' the biggest sinner is
the biggest sinner; the biggest is the Jerusalem sinner.

It is true, he saith, that repentance and remission of sins must
go together, but yet remission is sent to the chief, the Jerusalem
sinner; nor doth repentance lessen at all the Jerusalem sinner's
crimes; it diminisheth none of his sins, nor causes that there
should be so much as half an one the fewer; it only puts a stop to
the Jerusalem sinner's course, and makes him willing to be saved
freely by grace; and for time to come to be governed by that blessed
word that has brought the tidings of good things to him. Besides,
no man shows himself willing to be saved that repenteth not of his
deeds; for he that goes on still in his trespasses, declares that
he is resolved to pursue his own damnation further.

Learn then to judge of the largeness of God's heart, and of
the heart of his Son Jesus Christ, by the Word; judge not thereof
by feeling, nor by the reports of thy conscience; conscience is
ofttimes here befooled, and made to go quite beside the Word. It
was judging without the Word that made David say, I am cast off
from God's eyes, and 'shall perish one day by the hand of Saul' (Psa
31:22; 1 Sam 27:1). The Word had told him another thing; namely,
that he should be king in his stead. Our text says also, that Jesus
Christ bids preachers, in their preaching repentance and remission
of sins, begin first at Jerusalem; thereby declaring most truly
the infinite largeness of the merciful heart of God and his Son,
to the sinful children of men. Judge thou, I say, therefore, of
the goodness of the heart of God and his Son, by this text, and by
others of the same import; so shalt thou not dishonour the grace
of God, nor needlessly fright thyself, nor give away thy faith,
nor gratify the devil, nor lose the benefit of God's Word. I speak
now to weak believers.

Second, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners, to the Jerusalem sinners? Then, by this
also, you must learn to judge of the sufficiency of the merits of
Christ; not that the merits of Christ can be comprehended, for that
they are beyond the conceptions of the whole world, being called
'the unsearchable riches of Christ'; but yet they may be apprehended
to a considerable degree. Now, the way to apprehend them most, is,
to consider what offers, after his resurrection, he makes of his
grace to sinners; for to be sure he will not offer beyond the virtue
of his merits; because, as grace is the cause of his merits, so his
merits are the basis and bounds upon and by which his grace stands
good, and is let out to sinners. Doth he then command that his
mercy should be offered, in the first place, to the biggest sinners?
It declares, that there is a sufficiency in his blood to save the
biggest sinners. 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all
sin.' And again, 'Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren,
that through this man [this man's merits] is preached unto you
the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified
from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law
of Moses' (Acts 13:38).

Observe, then, thy rule to make judgment of the sufficiency of
the blessed merits of thy Saviour. If he had not been able to have
reconciled the biggest sinners to his Father by his blood, he would
not have sent to them, have sent to them in the first place, the
doctrine of remission of sins; for remission of sins is through
faith in his blood. We are justified freely by the grace of God,
through the redemption that is in the blood of Christ. Upon the
square, as I may call it, of the worthiness of the blood of Christ,
grace acts, and offers forgiveness of sin to men (Eph 1:7; 2:13,14;
Col 1:20-22). Hence, therefore, we must gather, that the blood
of Christ is of infinite value, for that he offereth mercy to the
biggest of sinners. Nay, further, since he offereth mercy, in the
first place, to the biggest sinners, considering also, that this
first act of his is that which the world will take notice of, and
expect it should be continued unto the end. Also it is a disparagement
to a man that seeks his own glory in what he undertakes, to do that
for a spurt, which he cannot continue and hold out in. This is our
Lord's own argument, He began to build, saith he, but was not able
to finish (Luke 14:30).

Shouldst thou hear a man say, I am resolved to be kind to the
poor, and should begin with giving handfuls of guineas, you would
conclude, that either he is wonderful rich, or must straiten his
hand, or will soon be at the bottom of his riches. Why, this is
the case: Christ, at his resurrection, gave it out that he would
be good to the world; and first sends to the biggest sinners, with
an intent to have mercy on them. Now, the biggest sinners cannot
be saved but by abundance of grace; it is not a little that will
save great sinners (Rom 5:17). And I say again, since the Lord Jesus
mounts thus high at the first, and sends to the Jerusalem sinners,
that they may come first to partake of his mercy, it follows, that
either he has unsearchable riches of grace and worth in himself,
or else he must straiten his hand, or his grace and merits will
be spent before the world is at an end. But let it be believed,
as surely as spoken, he is still as full as ever. He is not a jot
the poorer for all the forgiveness tha the has given away to great
sinners. Also he is still as free as at first; for he never yet
called back this word, Begin at the Jerusalem sinners. And, as
I said, since his grace is extended according to the worth of his
merits. I conclude, that there is the same virtue in his merits
to save now, as there was at the very beginning, Oh! the riches of
the grace of Christ! Oh! the riches of the blood of Christ!

Third, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered in the first place to
the biggest sinners? Then here is encouragement for you that think,
for wicked hearts and lives, you have not your fellows in the world,
yet to come to him.

There is a people that therefore fear lest they should be rejected
of Jesus Christ, because of the greatness of their sins; when, as
you see here, such are sent to, sent to by Jesus Christ, to come
to him for mercy: 'Begin at Jerusalem.' Never did one thing answer
another more fitly in this world, than this text fitteth such a
kind of sinners. As face answereth face in a glass, so this text
answereth the necessities of such sinners. What can a man say more,
but that he stands in the rank of the biggest sinners? let him
stretch himself whither he can, and think of himself to the utmost,
he can but conclude himself to be one of the biggest sinners. And
what then? Why, the text meets him in the very face, and saith,
Christ offereth mercy to the biggest sinners, to the very Jerusalem
sinners. What more can be objected? Nay, he doth not only offer to
such his mercy, but to them it is commanded to be offered in the
first place: 'Begin at Jerusalem.' 'Preach repentance and remission
of sins among all nations: beginning at Jerusalem.' Is not here
encouragement for those that think, for wicked hearts and lives,
they have not their fellows in the world?

Objection. But I have a heart as hard as a rock.

Answer. Well, but this doth but prove thee a biggest sinner.

Objection. But my heart continually frets against the Lord.

Answer. Well, this doth but prove thee a biggest sinner.

Objection. But I have been desperate in sinful courses.

Answer. Well, stand thou with the number of the biggest sinners.

Objection. But my gray head is found in the way of wickedness.

Answer. Well, thou art in the rank of the biggest sinners.

Objection. But I have not only a base heart, but I have lived a
debauched life.

Answer. Stand thou also among those that are called the biggest
sinners. And what then? Why, the text swoops you all; you cannot
object yourselves beyond the text. It has a particular message to
the biggest sinners. I say, it swoops you all.26

Objection. But I am a reprobate.

Answer. Now thou talkest like a fool, and meddlest with what thou
understandest not: no sin, but the sin of final impenitence, can
prove a man a reprobate; and I am sure thou hast not arrived as
yet unto that; therefore thou understandest not what thou sayest,
and makest groundless conclusions against thyself. Say thou art
a sinner, and I will hold with thee; say thou art a great sinner,
and I will say so too; yea, say thou art one of the biggest sinners,
and spare not; for the text yet is beyond thee, is yet betwixt hell
and thee; 'Begin at Jerusalem' has yet a smile upon thee; and thou
talkest as if thou wast a reprobate, and that the greatness of
thy sins do prove thee so to be, when yet they of Jerusalem were
not such, whose sins, I dare say, were such, both for bigness and
heinousness, as thou art not capable of committing beyond them;
unless now, after thou hast received conviction that the Lord
Jesus is the only Saviour of the world, thou shouldst wickedly and
despitefully turn thyself from him, and conclude he is not to be
trusted to for life, and so crucify him for a cheat afresh. This,
I must confess, will bring a man under the black rod, and set him
in danger of eternal damnation (Heb 6:7,8; 10:8,9). This is trampling
under foot the Son of God, and counting his blood an unholy thing.
This did they of Jerusalem; but they did it ignorantly in unbelief,
and so were yet capable of mercy; but to do this against professed
light, and to stand to it, puts a man beyond the text indeed (Acts
3:14-17; 1 Tim 1:13).

But I say, what is this to him that would fain be saved by Christ?
His sins did, as to greatness, never yet reach to the nature of
the sins that the sinners intended by the text had made themselves
guilty of. He that would be saved by Christ, has an honourable
esteem of him; but they of Jerusalem preferred a murderer before
him; and as for him, they cried, Away, away with him, it is not fit
that he should live. Perhaps thou wilt object, That thyself hast a
thousand times preferred a stinking lust before him: I answer, Be
it so; it is but what is common to men to do; nor doth the Lord
Jesus make such a foolish life a bar to thee, to forbid thy coming
to him, or a bond to his grace, that it might be kept from thee;
but admits of thy repentance, and offereth himself unto thee freely,
as thou standest among the Jerusalem sinners.

Take therefore encouragement, man; mercy is, by the text, held
forth to the biggest sinners; yea, put thyself into the number of
the worst, by reckoning that thou mayest be one of the first, and
mayest not be put off till the biggest sinners are served; for
the biggest sinners are first invited; consequently, if they come,
they are like to be the first that shall be served. It was so with
Jerusalem; Jerusalem sinners were they that were first invited,
and those of them that came first--and there came three thousand
of them the first day they were invited; how many came afterwards
none can tell--they were first served.

Put in thy name, man, among the biggest, lest thou art made to wait
till they are served. You have some men that think themselves very
cunning, because they put up their names in their prayers among
them that feign it, saying, God, I thank thee I am not so bad as
the worst. But believe it, if they be saved at all, they shall be
saved in the last place. The first in their own eyes shall be served
last; and the last or worst shall be first. The text insinuates
it, 'Begin at Jerusalem'; and reason backs it, for they have most
need. Behold ye, therefore, how God's ways are above ours; we are
for serving the worst last, God is for serving the worst first. The
man at the pool, that to my thinking was longest in his disease,
and most helpless as to his cure, was first healed; yea, he only
was healed; for we read that Christ healed him, but we read not then
that he healed one more there! (John 5:1-10). Wherefore, if thou
wouldst soonest be served, put in thy name among the very worst
of sinners. Say, when thou art upon thy knees, Lord, here is a
Jerusalem sinner! a sinner of the biggest size! one whose burden
is of the greatest bulk and heaviest weight! one that cannot stand
long without sinking into hell, without thy supporting hand! 'Be
not thou far from me, O Lord! O my strength, haste thee to help
me!' (Psa 22:19).

I say, put in thy name with Magdalene, with Manasseh, that thou
mayest fare as the Magdalene and the Manasseh sinners do. The man
in the gospel made the desperate condition of his child an argument
with Christ to haste his cure: 'Sire, come down,' saith he, 'ere
my child die' (John 4:49), and Christ regarded his haste, saying,
'Go thy way; thy son liveth' (verse 50). Haste requires haste. David
was for speed; 'Deliver me speedily'; 'Hear me speedily'; 'Answer
me speedily' (Psa 31:2; 69:17; 102:2). But why speedily? I am in
'the net'; 'I am in trouble'; 'My days are consumed like smoke'
(Psa 31:4; 69:17; 102:3). Deep calleth unto deep, necessity calls
for help; great necessity for present help. Wherefore, I say, be
ruled by me in this matter; feign not thyself another man, if thou
hast been a filthy sinner, but go in thy colours to Jesus Christ,
and put thyself among the most vile, and let him alone to 'put thee
among the children' (Jer 3:19). Confess all that thou knowest of
thyself; I know thou wilt find it hard work to do thus: especially
if thy mind be legal; but do it, lest thou stay and be deferred
with the little sinners, until the great ones have had their alms.
What do you think David intended when he said, his wounds stunk and
were corrupted, but to hasten God to have mercy upon him, and not
to defer his cure? 'Lord,' says he, 'I am troubled; I am bowed
down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.' 'I am feeble and sore
broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart'
(Psa 38:3-8). David knew what he did by all this; he knew that his
making the worst of his case, was the way to speedy help, and that
a feigning and dissembling the matter with God, was the next way
to a demur as to his forgiveness.

I have one thing more to offer for thy encouragement, who deemest
thyself one of the biggest sinners; and that is, thou art as it
were called by thy name, in the first place, to come in for mercy.
Thou man of Jerusalem, hearken to thy call; men do so in courts
of judicature, and presently cry out, 'Here, Sire'; and then they
shoulder and crowd, and say, 'Pray give way, I am called into the
court.' Why, this is thy case, thou great, thou Jerusalem sinner;
be of good cheer, he calleth thee (Mark 10:46-49). Why sittest thou
still? arise: why standest thou still? come, man, thy call should
give thee authority to come. 'Begin at Jerusalem,' is thy call and
authority to come; wherefore up and shoulder it, man; say, 'Stand
away, devil, Christ calls me; stand away unbelief, Christ calls me;
stand away, all ye my discouraging apprehensions, for my Saviour
calls me to him to receive of his mercy.' Men will do thus, as I
said, in courts below; and why shouldst not thou approach thus to
the court above? The Jerusalem sinner is first in thought, first
in commission, first in the record of names; and therefore should
give attendance, with the expectation that he is first to receive
mercy of God.

Is not this an encouragement to the biggest sinners to make their
application to Christ for mercy? 'Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden,' doth also confirm this thing; that is, that
the biggest sinner, and he that has the biggest burden, is he who
is first invited. Christ pointeth over the heads of thousands, as
he sits on the throne of grace, directly to such a man; and says,
'Bring in hither the maimed, the halt, and the blind; let the
Jerusalem sinner that stands there behind come to me.' Wherefore,
since Christ says, 'Come,' to thee, let the angels make a lane,
and let all men give place, that the Jerusalem sinner may come to
Jesus Christ for mercy.

Fourth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Then come, thou profane wretch, and let me
a little enter into an argument with thee. Why wilt thou not come
to Jesus Christ, since thou art a Jerusalem sinner? How canst thou
find in thy heart to set thyself against grace, against such grace
as offereth mercy to thee? What spirit possesseth thee, and holds
thee back from a sincere closure with thy Saviour? Behold, God
groaningly complains of thee, saying, 'But Israel would none of
me.' 'When I called, none did answer' (Psa 81:11; Isa 66:4).

Shall God enter this complaint against thee? Why dost thou put
him off? Why dost thou stop thine ear? Canst thou defend thyself?
When thou art called to an account for thy neglects of so great
salvation, what canst thou answer? or dost thou think that thou
shalt escape the judgment? (Heb 2:3). No more such Christs! There
will be no more such Christs, sinner! Oh, put not the day, the day
of grace, away from thee! if it be once gone, it will never come
again, sinner.

But what is it that has got thy heart, and that keeps it from thy
Saviour? 'Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among
the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?' (Psa 89:6).
Hast thou, thinkest thou, found anything so good as Jesus Christ?
Is there any among thy sins, thy companions, and foolish delights,
that, like Christ, can help thee in the day of thy distress? Behold,
the greatness of thy sins cannot hinder; let not the stubbornness
of thy heart hinder thee, sinner.

Objection. I am ashamed.

Answer. Oh! don't be ashamed to be saved, sinner.

Objection. But my old companions will mock me.

Answer. Oh! don't be mocked out of eternal life, sinner.

Thy stubbornness affects, afflicts the heart of thy Saviour. Carest
thou not for this? Of old, 'he beheld the city, and wept over it.'
Canst thou hear this, and not be concerned? (Luke 19:41,42). Shall
Christ weep to see thy soul going on to destruction, and will
though sport thyself in that way? Yea, shall Christ, that can be
eternally happy without thee, be more afflicted at the thoughts
of the loss of thy soul, than thyself, who art certainly eternally
miserable if thou neglectest to come to him. Those things that
keep thee and thy Saviour, on thy part, asunder, are but bubbles;
the least prick of an affliction will let out, as to thee, what
now thou thinkest is worth the venture of heaven to enjoy.

Hast thou not reason? Canst thou not so much as once soberly think
of thy dying hour, or of whither thy sinful life will drive thee
then? Hast thou no conscience? or having one, is it rocked so fast
asleep by sin, or made so weary with an unsuccessful calling upon
thee, that it is laid down, and cares for thee no more? Poor man!
thy state is to be lamented. Hast no judgment? Art not able to
conclude, that to be saved is better than to burn in hell? and that
eternal life with God's favour, is better than a temporal life in
God's displeasure? Hast no affection but what is brutish? what,
none at all? No affection for the God that made thee? What! none
for his loving Son that has showed his love, and died for thee?
Is not heaven worth thy affection? O poor man! which is strongest,
thinkest thou, God or thee? If thou art not able to overcome him,
thou art a fool for standing out against him (Matt 5:25,26). 'It
is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God' (Heb
10:29-31). He will gripe hard; his fist is stronger than a lion's
paw; take heed of him, he will be angry if you despise his Son;
and will you stand guilty in your trespasses, when he offereth you
his grace and favour? (Exo 34:6,7).

Now we come to the text, 'Beginning at Jerusalem.' This text, though
it be now one of the brightest stars that shineth in the Bible,
because there is in it, as full, if not the fullest offer of grace
that can be imagined, to the sons of men; yet, to them that shall
perish from under this word, even this text will be to such one of
the hottest coals in hell. This text, therefore, will save thee or
sink thee: there is no shifting of it; if it saves thee, it will
set thee high; if it sinks thee, it will set thee low.

But, I say, why so unconcerned? Hast no soul? or dost think thou
mayest lose thy soul, and save thyself? Is it not pity, had it
otherwise been the will of God, that ever thou wast made a man,
for that thou settest so little by thy soul? Sinner, take the
invitation; thou art called upon to come to Christ: nor art thou
called upon but by order from the Son of God, though thou shouldst
happen to come of the biggest sinners; for he has bid us offer
mercy, as to all the world in general, so, in the first place, to
the sinners of Jerusalem, or to the biggest sinners.

Fifth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Then, this shows how unreasonable a thing
it is for men to despair of mercy; for those that presume, I shall
say something to them afterward.

I now speak to them that despair. There are four sorts of despair.
There is the despair of devils; there is the despair of souls in
hell; there is the despair that is grounded upon men's deficiency;
and there is the despair that they are perplexed with that are
willing to be saved, but are too strongly borne down with the burden
of their sins.

The despair of devils, the damned's despair, and that despair that
a man has of attaining of life because of his own deficiency, are
all reasonable. Why should not devils and damned souls despair?
yea, why should not man despair of getting to heaven by his own
abilities? I, therefore, am concerned only with the fourth sort
of despair, to wit, with the despair of those that would be saved,
but are too strongly borne down with the burden of their sins. I
say, therefore, to thee that art thus, And why despair? Thy despair,
if it was reasonable, should flow from thee, because found in the
land that is beyond the grave; or because thou certainly knowest
that Christ will not, or cannot save thee.

But, for the first, thou art yet in the land of the living; and,
for the second, thou hast ground to believe the quite contrary;
Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God
by him; and if he were not willing, he would not have commanded
that mercy, in the first place, should be offered to the biggest
sinners. Besides, he hath said, 'And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely'; that
is, with all my heart. What ground now is here for despair? If thou
sayest, The number and burden of my sins; I answer, Nay; that is
rather a ground for faith; because such an one, above all others,
is invited by Christ to come unto him, yea, promised rest and
forgiveness if they come (Matt 11:28). What ground then to despair?
Verily, none at all. Thy despair, then, is a thing unreasonable,
and without footing in the Word.

But I have no experience of God's love; God hath given me no
comfort, or ground of hope, though I have waited upon him for it
many a day. Thou hast e xperience of God's love, for that he has
opened thine eyes to see thy sins: and for that he has given thee
desires to be saved by Jesus Christ. For by thy sense of sin thou
art made to see thy poverty of spirit, and that has laid under thee
a sure ground to hope that heaven shall be thine hereafter.

Also thy desires to be saved by Christ, has put thee under another
promise, so there is two to hold thee up in hope, though thy present
burden be never so heavy (Matt 5:3,6). As for what thou sayest as
to God's silence to thee, perhaps he has spoken to thee once or twice
already, but thou hast not perceived it (Job 33:14,15). However,
thou hast Christ crucified set forth before thine eyes in the Bible,
and an invitation to come unto him, though thou be a Jerusalem sinner,
though thou be a biggest sinner; and so no ground to despair. What
if God will be silent to thee, is that ground of despair? Not at
all, so long as there is a promise in the Bible, that God will in
no wise cast away the coming sinner, and so long as he invites the
Jerusalem sinner to come unto him (John 6:37).

Build not, therefore, despair upon these things; they are no
sufficient foundation for it, such plenty of promises being in the
Bible, and such a discovery of his mercy to great sinners of old;
especially since we have withal a clause in the commission given
to ministers to preach, that they should begin with the Jerusalem
sinners in their offering of mercy to the world. Besides, God says,
'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they
shall mount up with wings like eagles'; but, perhaps, it may be long
first. I waited long, saith David, and did seek the Lord; and, at
length, his cry was heard: wherefore he bids his soul wait on God,
and says, For it is good so to do before thy saints (Psa 40:1;
62:5; 52:9).

And what if thou waitest upon God all thy days? Is it below thee?
And what if God will cross his book, and blot out the handwriting
that is against thee, and not let thee know it as yet? Is it fit
to say unto God, Thou art hard-hearted? Despair not; thou hast no
ground to despair, so long as thou livest in this world. 'Tis a
sin to begin to despair before one sets his foot over the threshold
of hell-gates. For them that are there, let them despair and spare
not; but as for thee, thou hast no ground to do it. What! despair
of bread in a land that is full of corn! despair of mercy when
our God is full of mercy! despair of mercy, when God goes about,
by his ministers, beseeching of sinners to be reconciled unto him!
(2 Cor 5:18-20). Thou scrupulous fool, where canst thou find that
God was ever false to his promise, or that he ever deceived the
soul that ventured itself upon him? He often calls upon sinners
to trust him, though they walk in darkness, and have no light (Isa
50:10). They have his promise and oath for their salvation, that
flee for refuge to the hope set before them (Heb 6:17,18).

Despair! when we have a God of mercy, and a redeeming Christ alive!
For shame, forbear; let them despair that dwell where there is no
God, and that are confined to those chambers of death which can be
reached by no redemption. A living man despair when he is chid for
murmuring and complaining! (Lam 3:39). Oh! so long as we are where
promises swarm, where mercy is proclaimed, where grace reigns,
and where Jerusalem sinners are privileged with the first offer
of mercy, it is a base thing to despair. Despair undervalues
the promise, undervalues the invitation, undervalues the proffer
of grace. Despair undervalues the ability of God the Father, and
the redeeming blood of Christ his Son. Oh unreasonable despair!
Despair makes man God's judge; it is a controller of the promise, a
contradictor of Christ in his large offers of mercy: and one that
undertakes to make unbelief the great manager of our reason and
judgment, in determining about what God can and will do for sinners.
Despair! It is the devil's fellow, the devil's master; yea, the
chains with which he is captivated and held under darkness for
ever: and to give way thereto in a land, in a state and time that
flows with milk and honey, is an uncomely thing.

I would say to my soul, 'O my soul! this is not the place of despair;
this is not the time to despair in; as long as mine eyes can find
a promise in the Bible, as long as there is the least mention of
grace, as long as there is a moment left me of breath or life in
this world, so long will I wait or look for mercy, so long will I
fight against unbelief and despair.' This is the way to honour God
and Christ; this is the way to set the crown on the promise; this
is the way to welcome the invitation and inviter; and this is the
way to thrust thyself under the shelter and protection of the word
of grace. Never despair so long as our text is alive, for that doth
sound it out--that mercy by Christ is offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinner.

Despair is an unprofitable thing; it will make a man weary of waiting
upon God (2 Kings 6:33). It will make a man forsake God, and seek
his heaven in the good things of this world (Gen 4:13-18). It will
make a man his own tormentor, and flounce and fling like 'a wild
bull in a net' (Isa 51:20). Despair! it drives a man to the study
of his own ruin, and brings him at last to be his own executioner
(2 Sam 17:23; Matt 27:3-5).

Besides, I am persuaded also, that despair is the cause that there
are so many that would fain be Atheists in the world. For, because,
they have entertained a conceit that God will never be merciful to
them, therefore they labour to persuade themselves that there is
no God at all, as if their misbelief would kill God, or cause him
to cease to be. A poor shift for an immortal soul, for a soul
who liketh not to retain God in its knowledge! If this be the best
that despair can do, let it go, man, and betake thyself to faith,
to prayer, to wait for God, and to hope, in despite of ten thousand
doubts. And for thy encouragement, take yet, as an addition to what
has already been said, the following Scripture: 'The Lord taketh
pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy'
(Psa 147:11). Whence note, They fear not God, that hope not in his
mercy; also, God is angry with them that hope not in his mercy;
for he only taketh pleasure in them that hope. 'He that believeth,'
or 'hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is
true' (John 3:33). But he that receiveth it not, 'hath made him
a liar,' and that is a very unworthy thing (1 John 5:10,11). 'Let
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for he will abundantly' multiply 'pardon' (Isa
55:7). Perhaps thou art weary of thy ways, but art not weary of
thy thoughts; of thy unbelieving and despairing thoughts; now, God
also would have thee cast away these thoughts, as such which he
deserveth not at thy hands; for 'he will have mercy upon thee, and
he will abundantly pardon.'

'O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have
spoken!' (Luke 24:25). Mark you, here, slowness to believe is
a piece of folly. Ay! but sayest thou, I do believe some, and I
believe what can make against me. Ay, but sinner, Christ Jesus here
calls thee fool for not believing all. Believe all, and despair if
thou canst! He that believes all, believes that text that saith,
Christ would have mercy preached first to the Jerusalem sinners.
He that believeth all, believeth all the promises and consolations
of the Word; and the promises and consolations of the Word weigh
heavier than do all the curses and threatenings of the law; and
mercy rejoiceth against judgment. Wherefore believe all, and mercy
will, to thy conscience, weigh judgment down, and so minister comfort
to thy soul. The Lord take the yoke from off thy jaws, since he has
set meat before thee (Hosea 11:4). And help thee to remember that
he is pleased, in the first place, to offer mercy to the biggest
sinners.

Sixth, Since Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first
place, to the biggest sinners, let souls see that they lay right
hold thereof, lest they, notwithstanding, indeed, come short thereof.
Faith only knows how to deal with mercy; wherefore, put not in
the place thereof presumption. I have observed, that, as there are
herbs and flowers in our gardens, so there are their counterfeits
in the field; only they are distinguished from the other by the
name of wild ones. Why, there is faith, and wild faith; and wild
faith is this presumption. I call it wild faith, because God never
placed it in his garden--his church; 'tis only to be found in the
field--the world. I also call it wild faith, because it only grows
up and is nourished where other wild notions abound. Wherefore,
take heed of this, and all may be well; for this presumptuousness
is a very heinous thing in the eyes of God. 'The soul,' saith he,
'that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land,
or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall
be cut off from among his people' (Num 15:30).

The thoughts of this made David tremble, and pray that God would
hold him back from presumptuous sins, and not suffer them to have
dominion over him (Psa 19:13). Now, this presumption, then, puts
itself in the place of faith, when it tampereth with the promise
for life, while the soul is a stranger to repentance. Wherefore,
you have in the text, to prevent doing thus, both repentance and
remission of sins to be offered to Jerusalem; not remission without
repentance, for all that repent not shall perish, let them presume
on grace and the promise while they will (Luke 13:1-3).

Presumption, then, is that which severeth faith and repentance;
concluding that the soul shall be saved by grace, though the man
was never made sorry for his sins, nor the love of the heart turned
therefrom. This is to be self-willed, as Peter has it; and this
is a despising the Word of the Lord, for that has put repentance
and faith together (Mark 1:15). And 'because he hath despised the
Word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall
utterly be cut off: his iniquity shall be upon him' (Num 15:31).
Let such, therefore, look to it who yet are, and abide, in their
sins; for such, if they hope, as they are, to be saved, presume
upon the grace of God.27 Wherefore, presumption and not hearkening
to God's Word are put together (Deu 17:12).

Again, THEN men presume, when they are resolved to abide in their
sins, and yet expect to be saved by God's grace through Christ.
This is as much as to say, God liketh of sin as well as I do, and
careth not how men live, if so be they lean upon his Son. Of this
sort are they 'that build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with
iniquity'; that 'judge for reward, and--teach for hire, and--divine
for money, and lean upon the Lord' (Micah 3:10,11). This is doing
things, with an high hand, against the Lord our God, and a taking
him, as it were, at the catch.28 This is, as we say among men, to
seek to put a trick upon God; as if he had not sufficiently fortified
his proposals of grace, by his holy Word, against all such kind of
fools as these. But look to it! Such will be found at the day of
God, not among that great company of Jerusalem sinners that shall
be saved by grace, but among those that have been the great abusers
of the grace of God in the world. Those that say, Let us sin that
grace may abound, and let us do evil that good may come, their
damnation is just. And if so, they are a great way off of that
salvation that is, by Jesus Christ, presented to the Jerusalem
sinners.

I have, therefore, these things to propound to that Jerusalem sinner
that would know, if he may be so bold [as] to venture himself upon
this grace. 1. Dost thou see thy sins? 2. Art thou weary of them?
3. Wouldst thou, with all thy heart, be saved by Jesus Christ? I
dare say no less; I dare say no more. But if it be truly thus with
thee, how great soever thy sins have been, how bad soever thou
feelest thy heart, how far soever thou art from thinking that God
has mercy for thee, thou art the man, the Jerusalem sinner, that the
Word of God has conquered, and to whom it offereth free remission
of sins, by the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

When the jailor cried out, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' the
answer was, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be
saved.' He that sees his sins aright, is brought to his wit's end
by them; and he that is so, is willing to part from them, and to
be saved by the grace of God. If this be thy case, fear not, give
no way to despair; thou presumest not, if thou believest to life
everlasting in Jesus Christ; yea, Christ is prepared for such as
thou art. Therefore, take good courage, and believe. The design of
Satan is, to tell the presumptuous that their presuming on mercy is
good; but to persuade the believer, that his believing is impudent,
bold dealing with God. I never heard a presumptuous man, in my life,
say that he was afraid that he presumed; but I have heard many an
honest humble soul say, that they have been afraid that their faith
has been presumption. Why should Satan molest those whose ways he
knows will bring them to him? And who can think that he should be
quiet, when men take the right course to escape his hellish snares?
This, therefore, is the reason why the truly humbled is opposed,
while the presumptuous goes on by wind and tide. The truly humble,
Satan hates; but he laughs to see the foolery of the other.

Does thy hand and heart tremble? Upon thee the promise smiles.
'To this man will I look,' says God, 'even to him that is poor and
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word' (Isa 66:2). What,
therefore, I have said of presumption, concerns not the humble in
spirit at all. I therefore am for gathering up the stones, and for
taking the stumbling-blocks out of the way of God's people; and
forewarning of them, that they lay the stumbling-block of their
iniquity before their faces; and [of those] that are for presuming
upon God's mercy; and let them look to themselves (Eze 14:6-8).

Also, our text stands firm as ever it did, and our observation is
still of force, that Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the
first place, to the biggest sinners. So them, let none despair,
let none presume; let none despair that are sorry for their sins,
and would be saved by Jesus Christ; let none presume that abide
in the liking of their sins, though they seem to know the exceeding
grace of Christ; for though the door stands wide open for the reception
of the penitent, yet it is fast29 enough barred and bolted against
the presumptuous sinner. Be not deceived, God is not mocked;
whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap. It cannot be that God
should be wheedled out of his mercy, or prevailed upon by lips of
dissimulation; he knows them that trust on him, and that sincerely
come to him, by Christ, for mercy (Nahum 1:7).

It is, then, not the abundance of sins committed, but the not
coming heartily to God, by Christ, for mercy, that shuts men out
of doors. And though their not coming heartily may be said to be
but a sin, yet it is such a sin as causeth that all thy other sins
abide upon thee unforgiven. God complains of this. 'They have not
cried unto me with their heart--they return, but not to the most
High.' They turned 'feignedly' (Jer 3:10; Hosea 7:14,16). Thus doing,
his soul hates [them]; but the penitent, humble, broken-hearted
sinner, be his transgressions red as scarlet, red like crimson, in
number as the sand; though his transgressions cry to heaven against
him for vengeance, and seem there to cry louder than do his prayers,
or tears, or groans for mercy; yet he is safe. To this man God will
look (Isa 1:18; 66:2).

Seventh, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Then here is ground for those that, as to
practice, have not been such, to come to him for mercy.

Although there is no sin little of itself, because it is a
contradiction of the nature and majesty of God, yet we must admit
of divers numbers, and, also, of aggravations. Two sins are not so
many as three; nor are three that are done in ignorance so big as
one that is done against light, against knowledge and conscience.
Also, there is the child in sin, and a man in sin that has his
hairs gray and his skin wrinkled for very age. And we must put a
difference betwixt these sinners also; for can it be that a child
of seven, or ten, or sixteen years old, should be such a sinner--a
sinner so vile in the eyes of the law as he is who has walked
according to the course of this world, forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy
years? Now, the youth, this stripling, though he is a sinner, is
but a little sinner, when compared with such. Now, I say, if there
be room for the first sort, for those of the biggest size, certainly
there is room for the lesser size. If there be a door wide enough
for a giant to go in at, there is certainly room for a dwarf. If
Christ Jesus has grace enough to save great sinners, he has surely
grace enough to save little ones. If he can forgive five hundred
pence, for certain he can forgive fifty (Luke 7:41,42).

But you said before, that the little sinners must stand by until
the great ones have received their grace, and that is discouraging!
I answer, there are two sorts of little sinners--such as are so, and
such as feign themselves so. There are those that feign themselves
so, that I intended there, and not those that are, indeed, comparatively
so. Such as feign themselves so, may wait long enough before they
obtain forgiveness.

But again, a sinner may be comparatively a little sinner,
and sensibly a great one. There are, then, two sorts of greatness
in sin--greatness by reason of number; greatness by reason of
thoroughness of conviction of the horrible nature of sin. In this
last sense, he that has but one sin, if such an one could be found,
may, in his own eyes, find himself the biggest sinner in the world.
Let this man or this child, therefore, put himself among the great
sinners, and plead with God as great sinners do, and expect to be
saved with the great sinners, and as soon and as heartily as they.
Yea, a little sinner, that, comparatively, is truly so, if he
shall graciously give way to conviction, and shall, in God's light,
diligently weigh the horrible nature of his own sin, may yet sooner
obtain forgiveness for them at the hands of the heavenly Father,
than he that has ten times his sins, and so cause to cry ten times
harder to God for mercy.

For the grievousness of the cry is a great thing with God; for if
he will hear the widow, if she cries at all, how much more if she
cries most grievously? (Exo 22:22,23). It is not the number, but
the true sense of the abominable nature of sin, that makes the cry
for pardon lamentable. 30 He, as I said, that has many sins, may
not cry so loud in the ears of God as he that has far fewer; he,
in our present sense, that is in his own eyes the biggest sinner,
is he that soonest findeth mercy. The offer, then, is to the
biggest sinner; to the biggest sinner first, and the mercy is first
obtained by him that first confesseth himself to be such an one.

There are men that strive at the throne of grace for mercy, by
pleading the greatness of their necessity. Now their plea, as to
the prevalency of it, lieth not in their counting up of the number,
but in the sense of the greatness of their sins, and in the vehemency
of their cry for pardon. And it is observable, that though the
birthright was Reuben's, and, for his foolishness, given to the
sons of Joseph, yet Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him
came the Messiah (1 Chron 5:1,2). There is a heavenly subtilty to
be managed in this matter. 'Thy brother came with subtilty, and
hath taken away thy blessing.' The blessing belonged to Esau, but
Jacob by his diligence made it his own (Gen 27:35). The offer is to
the biggest sinner, to the biggest sinner first; but if he forbear
to cry, the sinner that is a sinner less by far than he, both as
to number and the nature of transgression, may get the blessing
first, if he shall have grace to bestir himself well; for the loudest
cry is heard furthest, and the most lamentable pierces soonest.

I therefore urge this head, not because I would have little sinners
go and tell God that they are little sinners, thereby to think to
obtain his mercy; for, verily, so they are never like to have it;
for such words declare, that such an one hath no true sense at all
of the nature of his sins. Sin, as I said, in the nature of it, is
horrible, though it be but one single sin as to act; yea, though
it be but a sinful thought; and so worthily calls for the damnation
of the soul. The comparison, then, of little and great sinners, is
to go for good sense among men. But to plead the fewness of thy
sins, or the comparative harmlessness of their quantity before
God, argueth no sound knowledge of the nature of thy sin, and so
no true sense of the nature or need of mercy.

Little sinner! when therefore thou goest to God, though thou
knowest in thy conscience that thou, as to acts, art no thief, no
murderer, no whore, no liar, no false swearer, or the like, and in
reason must needs understand that thus thou art not so profanely
vile as others; yet when thou goest to God for mercy, know no man's
sins but thine own, make mention of no man's sins but thine own.
Also labour not to lessen thy own, but magnify and greaten them by
all just circumstances, and be as if there was never a sinner in
the world but thyself. Also cry out, as if thou wast but the only
undone man; and that is the way to obtain God's mercy.

It is one of the comeliest sights in the world to see a little
sinner commenting upon the greatness of his sins, multiplying and
multiplying them to himself, till he makes them in his own eyes
bigger and higher than he seeth any other man's sins to be in the
world; and as base a thing it is to see a man do otherwise, and as
basely will come on it (Luke 18:10-14). As, therefore, I said to
the great sinner before, let him take heed lest he presume; I say
now to the little sinner, let him take heed that he do not dissemble;
for there is as great an aptness in the little sinner to dissemble,
as there is in the great one. 'He that hideth his sins shall not
prosper,'31 be he a sinner little or great (Prov 28:13).

Eighth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Then this shows the true cause why Satan
makes such head as he doth against him.

The Father and the Holy Spirit are well spoken of by all deluders
and deceived persons; Christ only is the rock of offence. 'Behold,
I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence' (Rom 9:33).
Not that Satan careth for the Father or the Spirit more than he
careth for the Son; but he can let men alone with their notions
of the Father and the Spirit, for he knows they shall never enjoy
the Father or the Spirit, if indeed they receive not the merits
of the Son. 'He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the
Son of God hath not life,' however they may boast themselves of the
Father and the Spirit (1 John 5:12). Again, 'Whosoever transgresseth,
and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that
abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the
Son' (2 John 9). Christ, and Christ only, is he that can make us
capable to enjoy God with life and joy to all eternity. Hence he
calls himself the way to the Father, the true and living way (John
14:6). For we cannot come to the Father but by him (Heb 10:19,20).
Satan knows this, therefore he hates him. Deluded persons are
ignorant of this, and therefore, they are so led up and down by
Satan by the nose as they are.

There are many things by which Satan has taken occasion to greaten
his rage against Jesus Christ. As, first, His love to man, and
then, the many expressions of that love. He hath taken man's nature
upon him; he hath in that nature fulfilled the law to bring in
righteousness for man; and hath spilt his blood for the reconciling
of man to God; he hath broke the neck of death, put away sin,
destroyed the works of the devil, and got into his own hands the
keys of death; and all these are heinous things to Satan. He cannot
abide Christ for this. Besides, He hath eternal life in himself,
and that to bestow upon us; and we in all likelihood are to possess
the very places from which the Satans by transgression fell, if not
places more glorious. Wherefore he must needs be angry. And is it
not a vexatious thing to him, that we should be admitted to the
throne of grace by Christ, while he stands bound over in chains
of darkness, to answer for his rebellions against God and his Son,
at the terrible day of judgment. Yea, we poor dust and ashes must
become his judges, and triumph over him for ever: and all this long32
of Jesus Christ; for he is the meritorious cause of all this.

Now though Satan seeks to be revenged for this, yet he knows it is
in vain to attack the person of Christ; He [Christ] has overcome
him; therefore he [Satan] tampers with a company of silly men; that
he may vilify him by them. And they, bold fools as they are, will
not spare to spit in his face. They will rail at his person, and
deny the very being of it; they will rail at his blood, and deny
the merit and worth of it. They will deny the very end why he
accomplished the law, and by jiggs, and tricks, and quirks, which
he helpeth them to, they set up fond names and images in his place,
and give the glory of a Saviour to them. Thus Satan worketh under
the name of Christ; and his ministers under the name of the ministers
of righteousness.

And by his wiles and stratagems he undoes a world of men; but there
is a seed, and they shall serve him, and it shall be counted to the
Lord for a generation. These shall see their sins, and that Christ
is the way to happiness. These shall venture themselves, both body
and soul, upon his worthiness. All this Satan knows, and therefore
his rage is kindled the more. Wherefore, according to his ability
and allowance, he assaulteth, tempteth, abuseth, and stirs up
what he can to be hurtful to these poor people, that he may, while
his time shall last, make it as hard and difficult for them to
go to eternal glory as he can. Ofttimes he abuses them with wrong
apprehensions of God, and with wrong apprehensions of Christ. He
also casts them into the mire, to the reproach of religion, the
shame of their brethren, the derision of the world, and dishonour
of God. He holds our hands while the world buffets us; he puts
bear-skins upon us, and then sets the dogs at us. He bedaubeth us
with his own foam, and then tempts us to believe that that bedaubing
comes from ourselves.33

Oh! the rage and the roaring of this lion, and the hatred that he
manifests against the Lord Jesus, and against them that are purchased
with his blood! But yet, in the midst of all this, the Lord Jesus
sends forth his herald to proclaim in the nations his love to the
world, and to invite them to come in to him for life. Yea, his
invitation is so large, that it offereth his mercy in the first
place to the biggest sinners of every age, which augments the
devil's rage the more. Wherefore, as I said before, fret he, fume
he, the Lord Jesus will 'divide the spoil' with this great one; yea,
he shall divide the spoil with the strong, 'because he hath poured
out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the
transgressors' (Isa 53:12).

Ninth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Let the tempted harp upon this string for
their help and consolation.

The tempted, wherever he dwells, always thinks himself the biggest
sinner, one most unworthy of eternal life. This is Satan's master
argument; thou art a horrible sinner, a hypocrite, one that has
a profane heart, and one that is an utter stranger to a work of
grace. I say this is his maul, his club, 34 his masterpiece; he
doth with this as some do with their most enchanting songs, sings
them everywhere. I believe there are but few saints in the world
that have not had this temptation sounding in their ears. But
were they but aware, Satan by all this does but drive them to the
gap out at which they should go, and so escape his roaring. Saith
he, thou art a great sinner, a horrible sinner, a profane-hearted
wretch, one that cannot be matched for a vile one in the country.
And all this while Christ says to his ministers, offer mercy, in
the first place, to the biggest sinners. So that this temptation
drives thee directly into the arms of Jesus Christ.

Were therefore the tempted but aware, he might say, 'Ay, Satan, so
I am, I am a sinner of the biggest size, and therefore have most
need of Jesus Christ; yea, because I am such a wretch, therefore
Jesus Christ calls me; yea, he calls me first; the first proffer
of the gospel is to be made to the Jerusalem sinner; I am he,
wherefore stand back, Satan; make a lane, my right is first to come
to Jesus Christ.' This now would be like for like. This would foil
the devil; this would make him say, I must not deal with this man
thus; for then I put a sword into his hand to cut off my head.

And this is the meaning of Peter, when he saith, 'Resist him
steadfast in the faith' (1 Peter 5:9). And of Paul, when he saith,
'Take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all
the fiery darts of the wicked' (Eph 6:16). Wherefore is it said,
Begin at Jerusalem, if the Jerusalem sinner is not to have the
benefit of it? And if I am to have the benefit of it, let me call
it to mind when Satan haunts me with continual remembrance of my
sins, of my Jerusalem sins. Satan and my conscience say I am the
biggest sinner:--Christ offereth mercy, in the first place, to the
biggest sinners! Nor is the manner of the offer other but such as
suiteth with my mind. I am sorry for my sin; yea, sorry at my heart
that ever sinful thought did enter, or find the least entertainment
in my wicked mind: and might I obtain my wish, I would never
more that my heart should be a place for ought but the grace, and
spirit, and faith of the Lord Jesus. I speak not this to lessen
my wickedness; I would not for all the world but be placed by mine
own conscience in the very front of the biggest sinners, that I
might be one of the first that are beckoned, by the gracious hand
of Jesus the Saviour, to come to him for mercy.

Well, sinner, thou now speakest like a Christian; but say thus,
in a strong spirit, in the hour of temptation, and then thou wilt,
to thy commendation and comfort, quit thyself well. This improving
of Christ, in dark hours, is the life, though the hardest part of
our Christianity. We should neither stop at darkness nor at the
raging of our lusts, but go on in a way of venturing, and casting
the whole of our affairs for the next world at the foot of Jesus
Christ. This is the way to make the darkness light, and also to
allay the raging of corruption.

The first time the Passover was eaten was in the night; and when
Israel took courage to go forward, though the sea stood in their
way like a devouring gulf, and the host of the Egyptians follow
them at the heels; yet the sea gives place, and their enemies were
as still as a stone till they were gone over (Exo 12:8; 14:13,14,21,22;
15:16).

There is nothing like faith to help at a pinch; faith dissolves
doubts as the sun drives away the mists. And that you may not be
put out, know your time, as I said, of believing is always. There
are times when some graces may be out of use, but there is no time
wherein faith can be said to be so. Wherefore, faith must be always
in exercise. Faith is the eye, is the mouth, is the hand, and one
of these is of use all day long. Faith is to see, to receive, to
work, or to eat; and a Christian should be seeing, or receiving,
or working, or feeding all day long. Let it rain, let it blow, let
it thunder, let it lighten, a Christian must still believe. At 'what
time,' said the good man, 'I am afraid, I will trust in thee' (Psa
56:2,3).

Nor can we have a better encouragement to do this than is, by the
text, set before us; even an open heart for a Jerusalem sinner.
And if for a Jerusalem sinner to come, then for such an one when
come. If for such an one to be saved, then for such an one that is
saved. If for such an one to be pardoned his great transgressions,
then for such an one who is pardoned these to come daily to Jesus
Christ too, to be cleansed and set free from his common infirmities,
and from the iniquities of his holy things. Therefore, let the
poor sinner that would be saved labour for skill to make the best
improvement of the grace of Christ to help him against the temptations
of the devil and his sins.

Tenth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place,
to the biggest sinners? Let those men consider this that have, or
may, in a day of trial, spoken or done what their profession or
conscience told them they should not, and that have the guilt and
burden thereof upon their consciences.

Whether a thing be wrong or right, guilt may pursue him that doth
contrary to his conscience. But suppose a man should deny his God,
or his Christ, or relinquish a good profession, and be under the
real guilt thereof, shall he, therefore, conclude he is gone for
ever? Let him come again with Peter's tears, and no doubt but he
shall obtain Peter's forgiveness; for the text includes the biggest
sinners. And it is observable, that before this clause was put
into this commission, Peter was pardoned his horrible revolt from
his Master. He that revolteth in the day of trial, if he is not
shot quite dead upon the place, but is sensible of his wound, and
calls out for a chirurgeon, shall find his Lord at hand to pour
wine and oil into his wounds, that he may again be healed, and to
encourage him to think that there may be mercy for him; besides
what we find recorded of Peter, you read in the Acts, some were,
through the violence of their trials, compelled to blaspheme, and
yet are called saints (Acts 26:9-11).

Hence you have a promise or two that speak concerning such kind of
men, to encourage us to think that, at least, some of them shall
come back to the Lord their God. 'Shall they fall,' saith he, 'and
not arise? Shall he turn away, and not return?' (Jer 8:4). 'and in
that day will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her
that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted. And I will make
her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong
nation; and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion--for ever.'
What we are to understand by her that halteth, is best expressed
by the prophet Elijah (Micah 4:6,7; Zeph 3:19; 1 Kings 18:21).

I will conclude, then, that for them that have halted, or may halt,
the Lord has mercy in the bank,35 and is willing to accept them if
they return to him again. Perhaps they may never be after that of
any great esteem in the house of God, but if the Lord will admit
them to favour and forgiveness--O exceeding and undeserved mercy!
(See Ezekiel 44:10-14). Thou, then, that mayest be the man, remember
this, that there is mercy also for thee. Return, therefore, to
God, and to his Son, who hath yet in store for thee, and who will
do thee good.

But, perhaps, thou wilt say, He doth not save all revolters, and,
therefore, perhaps not me. Answer. Art thou returning to God?
If thou art returning, thou art the man; 'Return, ye backsliding
children, and I will heal your backslidings' (Jer 3:22).

Some, as I said, that revolt, are shot dead upon the place; and for
them, who can help them? But for them that cry out of their wounds
it is a sign that they are yet alive, and, if they use the means
in time, doubtless they may be healed.

Christ Jesus has bags of mercy that were never yet broken up or
unsealed. Hence it is said, he has goodness laid up; things reserved
in heaven for his. And if he breaks up one of these bags, who can
tell what he can do? Hence his love is said to be such as passeth
knowledge, and that his riches are unsearchable. He has, nobody
knows what; for nobody knows who! He has by him, in store, for
such as seem, in the view of all men, to be gone beyond recovery.
For this, the text is plain. What man or angel could have thought
that the Jerusalem sinners had been yet on this side of an
impossibility of enjoying life and mercy? Hadst thou seen their
actions, and what horrible things they did to the Son of God; yea,
how stoutly they backed what they did with resolves and endeavours
to persevere, when they had killed his person, against his name and
doctrine; and that there was not found among them all that while,
as we read of, the least remorse or regret for these their doings;
couldest though have imagined that mercy would ever have took hold
of them, at least so soon! Nay, that they should, of all the world,
be counted those only meet to have it offered to them in the very
first place! For so my text commands, saying, Preach repentance
and remission of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

I tell you the thing is a wonder, and must for ever stand for a
wonder among the sons of men. It stands, also, for an everlasting
invitation and allurement to the biggest sinners to come to Christ
for mercy. Now since, in the opinion of all men, the revolter is
such an one; if he has, as I said before, any life in him, let him
take encouragement to come again, that he may live by Christ.

Eleventh, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first
place, to the biggest sinners? Then let God's ministers tell them
so. There is an incidence36 in us, I know not how it doth come about,
when we are converted, to contemn them that are left behind. Poor
fools as we are, we forget that we ourselves were so (Titus 3:2,3).

But would it not become us better, since we have tasted that the
Lord is gracious, to carry it towards them so, that we may give
them convincing ground to believe that we have found that mercy
which also sets open the door for them to come and partake with
us. Ministers, I say, should do thus, both by their doctrine, and
in all other respects. Austerity doth not become us, neither in
doctrine nor in conversation.37 We ourselves live by grace; let
us give as we receive, and labour to persuade our fellow-sinners,
which God has left behind us, to follow after, that they may
partake with us of grace. We are saved by grace; let us live like
them that are gracious. Let all our things, to the world, be done
in charity towards them; pity them, pray for them, be familiar
with them, for their good. Let us lay aside our foolish, worldly,
carnal grandeur; let us not walk the streets, and have such
behaviours as signify we are scarce for touching of the poor ones
that are left behind; no, not with a pair of tongs. It becomes not
ministers thus to do.

[A gentle reproof.]

Remember your Lord, he was familiar with publicans and sinners to
a proverb: 'Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend
of publicans and sinners' (Matt 11:19). The first part, concerning
his gluttonous eating and drinking, to be sure, was an horrible
slander; but for the other, nothing was ever spoke truer of him by
the world. Now, why should we lay hands cross on this text; that
is, choose good victuals, and love the sweet wine better than the
salvation of the poor publican? Why not familiar with sinners,
provided we hate their spots and blemishes, and seek that they may
be healed of them? Why not fellowly with our carnal neighbours? If
we do take occasion to do so, that we may drop, and be yet distilling
some good doctrine upon their souls? Why not go to the poor man's
house, and give him a penny, and a Scripture to think upon? Why
not send for the poor to fetch away, at least, the fragments of
thy table, that the bowels of thy fellow-sinner may be refreshed
as well as thine?

Ministers should be exemplary; but I am an inferior man, and must
take heed of too much meddling. But might I, I would meddle with
them, with their wives, and with their children too. I mean not
this of all, but of them that deserve it, though I may not name
them. But, I say, let ministers follow the steps of their blessed
Lord, who, by word and deed, showed his love to the salvation
of the world, in such a carriage as declared him to prefer their
salvation before his own private concern. For we are commanded to
follow his steps, 'who did no sin, neither was guile found in his
mouth.'

And as I have said concerning ministers, so I say to all the
brethren, Carry it so, that all the world may see, that indeed you
are the sons of love. Love your Saviour; yea, show one to another
that you love him, not only by a seeming love of affection, but
with the love of duty. Practical love is best.38 Many love Christ
with nothing but the lick of the tongue. Alas! Christ Jesus the
Lord must not be put off thus; 'He that hath my commandments, and
keepeth them,' saith he, 'he it is that loveth me' (John 14:21).
Practical love, which stands in self-denial, in charity to my
neighbour, and a patient enduring of affliction for his name; this
is counted love. Right love to Christ is that which carries in it
a provoking argument to others of the brethren (Heb 10:24). Should a
man ask me how he should know that he loveth the children of God?
the best answer I could give him, would be in the words of the apostle
John; 'By this,' saith he, 'we know that we love the children of
God, when we love God, and keep his commandments' (1 John 5:2).
Love to God and Christ is then shown, when we are tender of his
name; and then we show ourselves tender of his name, when we are
afraid to break any, the least of his commandments. And when we
are here, then do we show our love to our brother also.

[The Conclusion.]

Now, we have obligation sufficient thus to do, for that our Lord
loved us, and gave himself for us, to deliver us from death, that
we might live through him. The world, when they hear the doctrine
that I have asserted and handled in this little book; to wit, that
Jesus Christ would have mercy offered, in the first place, to the
biggest sinners, will be apt, because themselves are unbelievers,
to think that this is a doctrine that leads to looseness, and
that gives liberty to the flesh; but if you that believe love your
brethren and your neighbours truly, and as you should, you will
put to silence the ignorance of such foolish men, and stop their
mouths from speaking evil of you. And, I say, let the love of
Christ constrain us to this. Who deserveth our heart, our mouth,
our life, our goods, so much as Jesus Christ, who has bought us to
himself by his blood, to this very end, that we should be a peculiar
people, zealous of good works?

There is nothing more seemly in the world than to see a Christian
walk as becomes the gospel; nor anything more unbecoming a reasonable
creature, than to hear a man say, 'I believe in Christ,' and yet
see in his life debauchery and profaneness. Might I, such men should
be counted the basest of men; such men should be counted by all
unworthy of the name of a Christian, and should be shunned by every
good man, as such who are the very plague of profession. For so it
is written, we should carry it towards them. Whoso have a form of
godliness, and deny the power thereof, from such we must turn away.

It has ofttimes come into my mind to ask, By what means it is that
the gospel profession should be so tainted39 with loose and carnal
gospellers? and I could never arrive to better satisfaction in
the matter than this--such men are made professors by the devil,
and so by him put among the rest of the godly. A certain man had
a fruitless fig tree planted in his vineyard; but by whom was it
planted there? even by him that sowed the tares, his own children,
among the wheat (Luke 13:6; Matt 13:37-40). And that was the devil.
But why doth the devil do thus? Not of love to them, but to make
of them offences and stumbling-blocks to others. For he knows that
a loose professor in the church does more mischief to religion than
ten can do to it that are in the world. Was it not, think you, the
devil that stirred up the damsel that you read of in Acts 16 to cry
out, 'These men are the servants of the most high God, which show
unto us the way of salvation?' Yes it was, as is evident, for Paul
was grieved to hear it. But why did the devil stir up her to cry
so, but because that was the way to blemish the gospel, and to
make the world think that it came from the same hand as did her
soothsaying and witchery? (verse 16-18). 'Holiness, O Lord, becomes
thy house for ever.' Let, therefore, whoever they be that profess
the name of Christ, take heed that they scandal not that profession
which they make of him, since he has so graciously offered us, as
we are sinners of the biggest size, in the first place, his grace
to save us.

[Answers to Objections.]

Having thus far spoken of the riches of the grace of Christ, and
of the freeness of his heart to embrace the Jerusalem sinners, it
may not be amiss to give you yet, as a caution, an intimation of
one thing, namely, that this grace and freeness of his heart, is
limited to time and day; the which, whoso overstandeth, shall perish
notwithstanding. For, as a king, who, of grace, sendeth out to his
rebellious people an offer of pardon, if they accept thereof by
such a day, yet beheadeth or hangeth those that come not in for
mercy until the day or time be past; so Christ Jesus has set the
sinner a day, a day of salvation, an acceptable time; but he who
standeth out, or goeth on in rebellion beyond that time, is like
to come off with the loss of his soul (2 Cor 6:2; Heb 3:13-19;
4:7; Luke 19:41,42). Since, therefore, things are thus, it may be
convenient here to touch a little upon these particulars.

First, That this day, or time thus limited, when it is considered
with reference to this or that man, is ofttimes undiscerned by
the person concerned therein, and always is kept secret as to the
shutting up thereof.

And this, in the wisdom of God is thus, to the end no man, when
called upon, should put off turning to God to another time. Now,
and TODAY, is that and only that which is revealed in holy Writ
(Psa 50:22; Eccl 12:1; Heb 3:13,15). And this shows us the desperate
hazards which those men run, who, when invitation or conviction
attends them, put off turning to God to be saved till another, and,
as they think, a more fit season and time. For many, by so doing,
defer this to do till the day of God's patience and long-suffering
is ended; and then, for their prayers and cries after mercy, they
receive nothing but mocks, and are laughed at by the God of heaven
(Prov 1:20-30; Isa 65:12-16; 66:4; Zech 7:11-13).

Secondly, Another thing to be considered is this, namely, That the
day of God's grace with some men begins sooner, and also sooner ends,
than it doth with others. Those at the first hour of the day, had
their call sooner than they who were called upon to turn to God
at the sixth hour of the day; yea, and they who were hired at the
third hour, had their call sooner than they who were called at the
eleventh (Matt 20:1-6).

1. The day of God's patience began with Ishmael, and also ended
before he was twenty years old. At thirteen years of age he was
circumcised; the next year after, Isaac was born; and then Ishmael
was fourteen years old. Now, that day that Isaac was weaned, that
day was Ishmael rejected; and suppose that Isaac was three years
old before he was weaned, that was but the seventeenth year of
Ishmael; wherefore the day of God's grace was ended with him betimes
(Gen 17:25; 21:2-11; Gal 4:30).

2. Cain's day ended with him betimes; for, after God had rejected
him, he lived to beget many children, and build a city, and to do
many other things. But, alas! all that while he was a fugitive and
a vagabond. Nor carried he anything with him after the day of his
rejection was come, but this doleful language in his conscience.
'From God's face shall I be hid' (Gen 4:10-15).

3. Esau, through his extravagancies, would needs go sell his
birthright, not fearing, as other confident fools, but that yet
the blessing would still be his. After which, he lived many years;
but all of them under the wrath of God, as was, when time came, made
to appear to his destruction; for, 'when he would have inherited
the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance,
though he sought it carefully with tears' (Heb 12:16,17).

Many instances might be given as to such tokens of the displeasure
of God against such as fool away, as the wise man has it, the prize
which is put into their hand (Prov 17:16).

Let these things, therefore, be a further caution to those that sit
under the glorious sound of the gospel, and hear of the riches of
the grace of God in Christ to poor sinners. To slight grace, to
despise mercy, and to stop the ear when God speaks, when he speaks
such great things, so much to our profit, is a great provocation.
He offereth, he calls, he woos, he invites, he prays, he beseeches
us in this day of his grace to be reconciled to him; yea, and has
provided for us the means of reconciliation himself. Now, this
despised must needs be provoking; and it is a fearful thing to fall
into the hands of the living God.

Objection. But some man may say unto me, 'Fain I would be saved,
fain I would be saved by Christ; but I fear this day of grace is
past, and that I shall perish, notwithstanding the exceeding riches
of the grace of God.'

Answer. To this doubt I would answer several things. 1. With respect
to this day. 2. With respect to thy desires. 3. With respect to
thy fears.

1. With respect to this day; that is, whether it be ended with a
man or no.

(1.) Art thou jogged, and shaken, and molested at the hearing of
the Word? Is thy conscience awakened and convinced then, that thou
art at present in a perishing state, and that thou hast need to cry
to God for mercy? This is a hopeful sign that this day of grace is
not past with thee. For, usually, they that are past grace, are
also, in their conscience, 'past feeling,' b eing 'seared with
a hot iron' (Eph 4:18,19; 1 Tim 4:1,2). Consequently, those past
grace must be such as are denied the awakening fruits of the Word
preached. The dead that hear, says Christ, shall live; at least
wise,40 Christ has not quite done with them; the day of God's
patience is not at an end with them (John 5:25).

(2.) Is there, in thy more retired condition, arguings, strugglings,
and strivings with thy spirit to persuade thee of the vanity of what
vain things thou lovest, and to win thee in thy soul to a choice
of Christ Jesus and his heavenly things? Take heed and rebel not,
for the day of God's grace and patience will not be past with thee
till he saith, his 'Spirit shall strive no more' with thee; for
then the woe comes, when he shall depart from them; and when he
says to the means of grace, Let them alone (Hosea 4:17; 9:12).

(3.) Art thou visited in the night seasons with dreams about thy state,
and that thou art in danger of being lost? Hast thou heart-shaken
apprehensions when deep sleep is upon thee, of hell, death, and
judgment to come? These are signs that God has not wholly left thee,
or cast thee behind his back for ever. 'For God speaketh once, yea
twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the
night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the
bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
that he may withdraw man from his purpose,' his sinful purposes,
'and hide pride from man' (Job 33:14-17). All this while God has
not left the sinner, nor is come to the end of his patience towards
him, but stands, at least, with the door of grace ajar in his hand,
as being loath, as yet, to bolt it against him.

(4.) Art thou followed with affliction, and dost thou hear God's
angry voice in thy afflictions? Doth he send with the affliction
an interpreter, to show thee thy vileness; and why, or wherefore,
that hand of God is upon thee, and upon what thou hast; to wit,
that it is for thy sinning against him, and that thou mightest be
turned to him? If so, thy summer is not quite ended; thy harvest
is not yet quite over and gone. Take heed, stand out no longer,
lest he cause darkness, and lest thy feet stumble upon the dark
mountains; and lest, while you look for light, he turn it into the
shadow of death, and make it gross darkness (Jer 8:20; 13:15-17).

(5.) Art thou crossed, disappointed, and waylaid, and overthrown in
all thy foolish ways and doings? This is a sign God has not quite
left thee, but that he still waits upon thee to turn thee. Consider,
I say, has he made a hedge and a wall to stop thee? Has he crossed
thee in all thou puttest thy hand unto? Take it as a call to turn
to him; for, by his thus doing, he shows he has a mind to give thee
a better portion. For usually, when God gives up men, and resolves
to let them alone in the broad way, he gives them rope, and lets
them have their desires in all hurtful things (Hosea 2:6-15; Psa
73:3-13; Rom 11:9). Therefore take heed to this also, that thou
strive not against this hand of God; but betake thyself to a serious
inquiry into the causes of this hand of God upon thee, and incline
to think, it is because the Lord would have thee look to that, which
is better than what thou wouldst satisfy thyself withal. When God
had a mind to make the prodigal go home to his father, he sent a
famine upon him, and denied him a bellyful of the husks which the
swine did eat. And observe it, now he was in a strait, he betook
him to consideration of the good that there was in his father's
house; yea, he resolved to go home to his father, and his father
dealt well with him; he received him with music and dancing, because
he had received him safe and sound (Luke 15:14-32).

(6.) Hast thou any enticing touches of the Word of God upon thy
mind? Doth, as it were, some holy word of God give a glance upon
thee, cast a smile upon thee, let fall, though it be but one drop
of its savour upon thy spirit; yea, though it stays but one moment
with thee? O then the day of grace is not past! The gate of heaven
is not shut! nor God's heart and bowels withdrawn from thee as
yet. Take heed, therefore, and beware that thou make much of the
heavenly gift, and of that good word of God of the which he has made
thee taste. Beware, I say, and take heed; there may be a falling
away for all this; but, I say, as yet God has not left thee, as
yet he has not cast thee off (Heb 6:1-9).

2. With respect to thy desires, what are they? Wouldst thou be
saved? Wouldst thou be saved with a thorough salvation? Wouldst
thou be saved from guilt and filth too? Wouldst thou be the servant
of thy Saviour? Art thou indeed weary of the service of thy old
master the devil, sin, and the world? And have these desires put
thy soul to the flight? Hast thou, through desires, betaken thyself
to thy heels? Dost fly to him that is a Saviour from the wrath to
come, for life? If these be thy desires, and if they be unfeigned,
fear not! Thou are one of those runaways which God has commanded
our Lord to receive, and not to send thee back to the devil thy
master again, but to give thee a place in his house, even the place
which liketh thee best. 'Thou shalt not deliver unto his master,'
says he, 'the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.
He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he
shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou
shalt not oppress him' (Deu 23:15,16).

This is a command to the church, consequently to the Head of the
church; for all commands from God come to her through her Head.
Whence I conclude, that as Israel of old was to receive the runaway
servant who escaped from a heathen master to them, and should not
dare to send him back to his master again; so Christ's church now,
and consequently Christ himself, may not, will not, refuse that
soul that has made his escape from sin, Satan, the world, and hell,
unto him, but will certainly let him dwell in his house, among his
saints, in that place which he shall choose, even where it liketh
him best. For he says, in another place, 'And him that cometh
to me, I will in no wise cast out.' In no wise, let his crimes be
what they will, either for nature, multitude, or the attendance
of aggravating circumstances. Wherefore, if thy desires be firm,
sound, and unfeigned to become the saved of Christ, and his servant,
fear not, he will not, he will in no wise put thee away, or turn
thee over to thy old master again.

3. As to thy fears, whatever they are, let that be supposed which
is supposed before, and they are groundless, and so of no weight.

Objection. But I am afraid I am not [of the] elect, or chosen to
salvation, though you called me fool a little before for so fearing.

Answer. Though election is, in order, before calling, as to God, yet
the knowledge of calling must go before the belief of my election,
as to myself. Wherefore, souls that doubt of the truth of their
effectual calling, do but plunge themselves into a deeper labyrinth
of confusion that concern themselves with their election; I mean,
while they labour to know it before they prove their calling. 'Make
your calling, and so your election sure' (2 Peter 1:4-10).

Wherefore, at present, lay the thoughts of thy election by, and
ask thyself these questions: Do I see my lost condition? Do I see
salvation is nowhere but in Christ? Would I share in this salvation
by faith in him? And would I, as was said before, be thoroughly
saved, to wit, from the filth as from the guilt? Do I love Christ,
his Father, his saints, his words, and ways? This is the way to
prove we are elect. Wherefore, sinner, when Satan, or thine own
heart, seeks to puzzle thee with election, say thou, I cannot attend
to talk of this point now, but stay till I know that I am called
of God to the fellowship of his Son, and then I will show you that
I am elect, and that my name is written in the book of life.

If poor distressed souls would observe this order, they might
save themselves the trouble of an unprofitable labour under these
unseasonable and soul-sinking doubts. 41

Let us, therefore, upon the sight of our wretchedness, fly and
venturously leap into the arms of Christ, which are now as open to
receive us into his bosom as they were when nailed to the cross.
This is coming to Christ for life aright; this is right running away
from thy [old] master to him, as was said before. And for this we
have multitudes of Scriptures to support, encourage, and comfort
us in our so doing.

But now, let him that doth thus be sure to look for it, for Satan
will be with him tomorrow, to see if he can get him again to his
old service; and if he cannot do that, then will he enter into
dispute with him, to wit, about whether he be elect to life, and
called indeed to partake of this Christ, to whom he is fled for
succour, or whether he comes to him of his own presumptuous mind.
Therefore we are bid, as to come, so to arm ourselves with that
armour which God has provided; that we may resist, quench, stand
against, and withstand all the fiery darts of the devil (Eph
6:11-18). If, therefore, thou findest Satan in this order to march
against thee, remember that thou hadst this item about it; and
betake thyself to faith and good courage, and be sober, and hope
to the end.

Objection. But how if I should have sinned the sin unpardonable,
or that called the sin against the Holy Ghost?

Answer. If thou hast, thou art lost for ever; but yet before it
is concluded by thee that thou hast so sinned, know that they that
would be saved by Jesus Christ, through faith in his blood, cannot
be counted for such.

1. Because of the promise, for that must not be frustrate: and
that says, 'And him that cometh to Christ, he will in no wise cast
out.' And again, 'Whoso will, let him take of the water of life
freely' (John 6:37; Rev 21:6; 22:17).

But, I say, how can these Scriptures be fulfilled, if he that would
indeed be saved, as before said, has sinned the sin unpardonable?
The Scripture must not be made void, nor their truth be cast to the
ground. Here is a promise, and here is a sinner; a promise that
says he shall not be cast out that comes; and the sinner comes,
wherefore he must be received: consequently, he that comes to Christ
for life, has not, cannot have sinned that sin for which there is
no forgiveness. And this might suffice for an answer to any coming
soul, that fears, though he comes, that he has sinned the sin
against the Holy Ghost.

2. But, again, he that has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost
cannot come, has no heart to come, can by no means be made willing
to come to Jesus Christ for life; for that he has received such an
opinion of him, and of his things, as deters and holds him back.

(1.) He counteth this blessed person, this Son of God, a magician,
a conjuror, a witch, or one that did, when he was in the world,
what he did, by the power and spirit of the devil (Matt 9:34;
12:24,25,&c.; Mark 3:22-30). Now he that has this opinion of this
Jesus, cannot be willing to cast himself at his feet for life, or
to come to him as the only way to God and to salvation. And hence it
is said again, that such an one puts him to open shame, and treadeth
him under foot; that is, by contemning, reproaching, vilifying,
and despising of him, as if he were the vilest one, or the greatest
cheat in the world; and has, therefore, as to his esteem of him,
called him accursed, crucified him to himself, or counted him one
hanged, as one of the worst of malefactors (Heb 6:6; 10:29; 1 Cor
12:3).

(2.) His blood, which is the meritorious cause of man's redemption,
even the blood of the everlasting covenant, he counteth 'an unholy
thing,' or that which has no more virtue in it to save a soul from
sin than has the blood of a dog (Heb 10:29).42 For when the apostle
says, 'he counts it an unholy thing,' he means, he makes it of less
value than that of a sheep or cow, which were clean according to
the law; and, therefore, must mean, that his blood was of no more
worth to him, in his account, than was the blood of a dog, an ass,
or a swine, which always was, as to sacrifices, rejected by the God
of heaven, as unholy or unclean. Now he who has no better esteem
of Jesus Christ, and of his death and blood, will not be persuaded
to come to him for life, or to trust in him for salvation.

(3.) But further, all this must be done against manifest tokens to
prove the contrary, or after the shining of gospel light upon the
soul, or some considerable profession of him as the Messiah, or
that he was the Saviour of the world.

(a.) It must be done against manifest tokens to prove the contrary;
and thus the reprobate Jews committed it when they saw the works of
God, which put forth themselves in him, and called them the works
of the devil and Beelzebub.

(b.) It must be done against some shining light of the gospel upon
them. And thus it was with Judas, and with those who, after they
were enlightened, and had tasted, and had felt something of the
powers of the world to come, fell away from the faith of him, and
put him to open shame and disgrace (Heb 6:5,6).

(c.) It must also be done after, and in opposition to one's own open
profession of him. For if, after they have escaped the pollution
of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter
end is worse with them than the beginning; for it had been better
for them not to have know the way of righteousness, than after they
have known it, to turn from the holy commandment, which is the word
of faith delivered unto them.

(d.) All this must be done openly, before witnesses, in the face,
sight, and view of the world, by word and act. This is the sin
that is unpardonable; and he that hath thus done, can never, it
is impossible he ever should, be renewed again to repentance, and
that for a double reason; first, such an one doth say, he will
not; and [second] of him God says, he shall not have the benefit
of salvation by him.

Objection. But if this be the sin unpardonable, why is it called
the sin against the Holy Ghost, and not rather the sin against the
Son of God?

Answer. It is called 'the sin against the Holy Ghost,' because such
count the works he did, which were done by the Spirit of God, the
works of the spirit of the devil. Also because all such as so reject
Christ Jesus the Lord, they do it in despite of that testimony
which the Holy Ghost has given of him in the holy Scriptures; for
the Scriptures are the breathings of the Holy Ghost, as in all
other things, so in that testimony they bear of the person, of the
works, sufferings, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Sinner, this is the sin against the Holy Ghost. What sayest thou?
Hast thou committed it? Nay, I know thou hast not, if thou wouldst
be saved by Christ. Yea, it is impossible that thou shouldst have
done it, if indeed thou wouldst be saved by him. No man can desire
to be saved by him, who he yet judgeth to be an impostor, a magician,
a witch. No man can hope for redemption by that blood which he yet
counteth an unholy thing. Nor will God ever suffer such an one to
repent, who has, after light and profession of him, thus horribly,
and devil-like, contemned and trampled upon him.

True, words, and wars, and blasphemies, against this Son of man,
are pardonable; but then they must be done 'ignorantly, and in
unbelief.' Also, all blasphemous thoughts are likewise such as may
be passed by, if the soul afflicted with them, indeed is sorry for
them (1 Tim 1:13-15; Mark 3:28).

All but this, sinner, all but this! If God had said, he will forgive
one sin, it had been undeserved grace; but when he says he will
pardon all but one, this is grace to the height. Nor is that one
unpardonable otherwise, but because the Saviour that should save
them is rejected and put away. Jacob's ladder; Christ is Jacob's
ladder that reacheth up to heaven; and he that refuseth to go by
this ladder thither, will scarce by other means get up so high.
There is none other name given under heaven, among men, whereby
we must be saved. There is none other sacrifice for sin than this;
he also, and he only, is the Mediator that reconcileth men to God.
And, sinner, if thou wouldst be saved by him, his benefits are
thine; yea, though thou art a great and Jerusalem transgressor.43

FOOTNOTES:

1 Having preached many times, and from various texts, upon this
subject, the whole subs