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Behold! how he engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets:
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine, can make thine:
They must be groped for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch'd, whate'er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game ?
By divers means, all which one cannot name:
His guns, his nets, his lime-twigs, light, and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands; yea, who can tell
Of all his postures? Yet there's none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle to catch this,
Yet, if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in a toad's head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell:
If things that promise nothing do contain
What better is than gold, who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
That they may find it Now, my little book
(Though void of all these paintings that may make
It with this or the other man to take)
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
Well, yet I am not fully satisfied,
That this your book will stand when soundly tried.
Why, what's the matter? It is dark!
But it is feigned. What of that I trow?
Some men, by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine'
But they want solidness. Speak, man, thy mind!
They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God's laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By shadows, types, and metaphors? Yet loath
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The Highest Wisdom. No; he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
Be not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness, that I am rude:
All things solid in show, not solid be;
All things in parable despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words, they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets enclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth; yea, whoso considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see
That truths to this day in such mantles be
Am I afraid to say that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things
(Dark figures, allegories)? yet there springs
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any; yea, and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I dare adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, Truth, although in swaddling-clouts I find,
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
the memory too it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please;
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives' fables he is to refuse;
But yet grave Paul him no where did forbid
The use of parables, in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones, that were
Worth digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more : O man of God! Art thou offended! Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter in another dress?
Or that I had in things been more express?
To those that are my betters, as is fit,
Three things let me propound, then I submit:
1. I find not that I am denied the use Of this my method, so I no abuse
Put on the words, things, readers, or be rude
In handling figure or similitude
In application; but all that I may
Seek the advance of truth, this or that way.
Denied, did I say? Nay, I have leave
(Examples too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-days)
Thus to express my mind, thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.
2. I find that men (as high as trees) will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so: indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God; for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our minds and pens for his design
And he makes base things usher in divine.
3. I find that holy writ, in many places,
Hath semblance with this method, where the cases
Do call for one thing to set forth another:
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother
Truth's golden beams: nay, by this method may
Make it cast forth its rays as light as day.
And now, before I do put up my pen,
I'll shew the profit of my book, and then
Commit both me and it unto that Hand
That pulls the strong down, and makes weak ones stand.
This book, it chalketh out before thine eyes
The Man that seeks the everlasting prize :
It shows you whence he comes, whither he goes;
What he leaves undone; also what he does :
It also shows you how he runs and runs,
Till he unto the Gate of Glory comes.
It shews too who set out for life amain,
As if the lasting crown they would obtain.
Here also you may see the reason why
They lose their labour, and like fools do die.
This book will make a traveller of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its direction understand;
Yea, it will make the slothful active be;
The blind also delightful things to see.
Art thou for something rare and profitable
Or wouldst thou see a truth within a fable!
Art thou forgetful Wouldest thou remember
From New-year's day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be to the helpless comforters.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Wouldst thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Wouldst thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Wouldst thou read riddles and their explanation,
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or wouldst thou see
A man i' the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Wouldst thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or wouldst thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Wouldest thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm ?
Wouldst read thyself, and read thou knowest not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? O then come hither.
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den,1 and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and, behold, I saw a man clothed with rags standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. (Isaiah lxiv. 5. Luke xiv. 33. Psalm xxxviii. 4. Hab. i. 2.) I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and, as he read, he wept and trembled; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, 2 "What shall I do?" (Acts ii. 37.)
1 Mr Bunyan wrote this precious book in Bedford jail, where he was confined on account of his religion. The following anecdote is related of him. A Quaker came to the jail; and thus addressed him-" Friend Bunyan, the Lord sent me to seek for thee, and I have been through several counties in search of thee; and now I am glad I have found thee." To which Mr Bunyan replied: "Friend, thou dost not speak truth, in saying the Lord sent thee to seek me; for the Lord well knows that I have been in this jail some years; and if he had sent thee, he would have sent thee here directly."
2 The cry of an awakened sinner, who sees his own righteousness to be as filthy rags, his soul in a state of wrath and wretchedness, exposed to everlasting destruction: feeling the burden of his sins upon his back, he turns his face from his own house, from himself, from all his false hopes and vain confidences, for refuge, and takes his Bible in his hand, to direct him where he shall flee for refuge and salvation. The more a sinner reads therein, the more he is convinced of the wretched state and