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SOME ACCOUNT OF
AUTHOR OF THE
JOHN BUNYAN, the author of the Pilgrim's Progress, was born at Elstow, near Bedford, England, in the year 1628. The history of his early life is given in his remarkable work, "Grace Abounding." His religious experience was most extraordinary; with him, indeed, the affairs of the soul and of the heavenly world seemed to be all absorbing, and he paid but little heed either to the pleasures or to the cares and troubles of this life. The thoughts of his afflicted family, who were left unprotected during his twelve years' imprisonment in Bedford jail, where he was confined for preaching contrary to an act of Parliament, would sometimes press upon his mind, especially the case of one of his four children, who was blind,-but he was comforted by this scripture: "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me." It was during his incarceration that he wrote the first part of the Pilgrim's Progress; a work which we cannot, perhaps, characterize better in a few words, than by quoting the closing lines of his "Apology:"
"Would'st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would'st thou read thyself, and read thou knowest not what,
By reading the same lines? Oh! then come hither!
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together."
After a long imprisonment, he was at length set at liberty, through the instrumentality of Dr. Barlow, then Bishop of Lincoln, and other influential friends.
His valuable life, worn out with sufferings, age, and ministerial labors, was closed with a memorable act of Christian charity. He was well known under the blessed character of a peace-maker. He was therefore desired by a young gentleman in the neighborhood of Bedford, to interpose as a mediator between him and his offended father, who lived at Reading, in Berkshire: this friendly business he cheerfully undertook, and happily effected. But, in his return to London, being overtaken with excessive rain, he came to a friend's on Snow Hill, very wet, and was seized with a violent fever, the pains of which he bore with great patience, resigning himself to the will of God, desiring to be called away, that he might be with Christ, looking upon life as a delay of that blessedness to which his soul was aspiring, and after which it was thirsting. In this holy, longing frame of spirit, after a sickness of ten days, he breathed out his soul into the hands of his blessed Redeemer, August 12, 1688, aged 60 years.
His natural abilities were remarkably great; his fancy and invention uncommonly fertile. His wit was sharp and quick, his memory very good, it being customary with him to commit his sermons to writing after he had preached them. His works are collected in two volumes folio, and contain as many treatises as he lived years. His judgment was sound and deep in the essential principales of the Gospel, as his writings sufficiently evince. His piety and sincerity towards God were apparent to all who conversed with him. He constantly maintained the God-like principle of love, often bewailing that there should be so much division among Christians. He was a man of heroic courage, resolute for Christ and the Gospel, and bold in reproving sin, both in public and private; yet mild, condescending and affable to all. Thus lived and died a man in whose character, conduct, and unselfishness, that scripture was remarkably verified, "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that 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 to confound the wise-that no flesh should glory in his presence."
TO ACCOMPANY THE
SCENE 1. BUNYAN DREAMING.-May.
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep: and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
SCENE 2. CHRISTIAN MEDITATING IN THE FIELD.—May. 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. 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, “What shall I do?”
SCENE 3. EVANGELIST POINTING OUT THE WICKET GATE.-Kyle and May.
Now I saw, upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, "What shall I do to be saved?"
I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would run: yet he stood still, because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, Wherefore dost thou cry?
He answered, Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second!
Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field. Do you see yonder wicket-gate? The man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder shining light? He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate: at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.
SCENE 4. SLOUGH OF DESPOND.-Kyle and May.
So I saw in my dream, that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door, when his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “ Life! life! eternal life!" So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the plain.
The neighbors also came out to see him run: and as he run, some mocked, and others threatened, and some cried after him to return, and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate, and the other Pliable.
Well, neighbor Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point; I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him.
Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough, this is called the Slough of Despond.
Then said Pliable, Ah, neighbor Christian, where are you now?
Truly, said Christian, I do not know.
At that Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me of all this while? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect between this and our journey's end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me. And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house, so away he went, and Christian saw him no
Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone. But I beheld in my dream that a man came to him, whose name was Help. * * Then said he, Give me thy hand; and he drew him out and set him on sound ground, and bid him go on his way.
SCENE 5. LEGALITY HILL.-Kyle and May.TM,
Now as Christian was walking solitarily by himself, he espied one afar off come crossing over the field to meet him; and their hap was to meet just as they were crossing the way of each other. The gentleman's name that met him was Mr. Worldly Wiseman: he dwelt in the town of Carnal Policy, a very great town, and also hard by from whence Christian came. This man then, meeting with Christian, and having some inkling of him (for Christian's setting forth from the city of Destruction was much noised abroad, not only in the town where he dwelt, but also it began to be the town talk in some other places),-Mr. Worldly Wiseman, therefore, having some guess of him, by beholding his laborious going, by observing his sighs and groans, and the like, began thus to enter into some talk with Christian.
Now was Christian somewhat at a stand; but presently he concluded, If this be true, which this gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his advice; and with that he thus further spake.
Chr. Sir, which is my way to this honest man's house?
Chr. Yes, very well.
World. By that hill you must go, and the first house you come at is his.
So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr. Legality's house for help; but, behold, when he was got now hard by the hill, it seemed so high, and also that side of it that was next the way-side did hang so much over, that Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the hill should fall on his head; wherefore, there he stood still, and wist not what to do. Also his burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way. There came also flashes of fire out of the hill, that made Christian afraid that he should be burnt: here therefore he did sweat, and quake for fear. And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. Worldly Wiseman's counsel; and with that he saw Evangelist coming to meet him, at the sight also of whom he began to blush for shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and nearer; and coming up to him, he looked upon him with a severe and dreadful countenance, and began to reason with Christian.