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a royalist, whose Pilgrim's Progress has proved a most important blessing, not only to this nation, but to the whole world.
Bunyan was born in the village of Elstow, about a mile from Bedford, in a hun. ble cottage. Many attempts have been made to narrate the scenes of his remarkable life. Clergymen and dissenting ministers, laymen and a poet Laureat, even Roman Catholics and Puseyites, have united in bearing testimony to the holy tendency of his writings. All agree in bearing this evidence, that from his conversion, his spiritual baptism shed a sacred halo round all his actions.
Bunyan gives this account of his pedigree:-“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,” certainly a travelling tinker, probably' a gipsy. “I am thine if thou be not ashamed to own me, because of my low and contemptible descent in the world.” Ashamed of thee on account of thy poverty, thou delightful companion of our pilgrimage! Then must we be ashamed of that poor shepherd boy known throughout the world as the royal, the extatic Psalmist; and still more solemn thought, be ashamed of the despised son of a poor carpenter, who was God manifest in the flesh. “The poor Christian," said Bunyan,“ has something to answer them that reproach him for his ignoble pedigree. True, may that man say, I am taken out of the dunghill, but I fear God. This is the highest and most noble. He hath the honour, the life, and the glory that is lasting." 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 industrious and careful to maintain his family. In Bunyan's childhood
fur a short period, sent to school, to learn reading, but evil associates made sad havoc with these unshapen attainments. He says, “ To my shame, I
confess, I did soon lose that little I learned, and that almost utterly. 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 to 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, lying, and blaspheming the name of God.”
During this period, his conscience was ill at ease; the clanking of Satan's chains, in which he was hurrying to destruction, distracted him. “The Lord, even in my childhood, did scare and affright me with fearful dreams, and did terrify me with dreadful visions. When these terrible dreams did leave me, I 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 youths that kept me company into all manner of vice and ungodliness.
“When Mansoul trampled upon things divine,
Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.' In the midst of all this violent depravity, the Holy Spirit began the work of regeneration in his soul-a peculiar, a solemn, yea, an awful work-to fit this poor debauched youth for purity of conduci-for communion with heavenfor wondrous usefulness as a Gospel minister for patient endurance of suffer ings for righteousness' sake—for writing works which promise to be a blessing to the church in all ages-for passing the black river over which there is no bridge, to shine all bright and glorious in the firmament of heaven. “ Wonders of grace to God belong”
To a robust frame was added that natural courage which led him into frequent dangers. “God followed me with judgments mixed with mercy. 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; again, being in the field with one of my companions, an adder passed over the highway, so I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over the back, and having stunned her, I plucked her sting out with my fingers, by which, had not God been merciful to me, I might have brought myself to my end.” Once he fell into an exceeding deep pit as he was travelling in the dark, but escaped with little injury. Bunyan adds—“Here was judgment 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.”
During this career, he attended public worship in Elstow church, a venerable fabric. The same bell which called him to the service in the morning summon. ing the youth to sports in the afternoon. Upon one of these occasions a very remarkable scene took place. The sermon was against sabbath-breaking; conscience accused him, and he became wretched. After dinner he “shook the sermon out of his mind,” and went to his sports. In the midst of a game at cat on Elstow-green, a voice darted into his soul, “Wilt thou leave thy sins and
go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell ?" He conceived in his mind that the Lord was hotly displeased with him. While musing, he recollected the greatness of his sins, despaired of mercy, and rushed on in his career, concluding that heaven was gone already, so that on that he must not think. All this took place whilst he was in the act of striking the cat. It does not appear to have been noticed by the by.standers, and it shows the rapid succession of thoughts in his mind, so wondrously displayed in his Holy IVar.
That such a scape.grace entered the army is not surprising. His daring courage, his immoral habits, fitted him for the military glory of rapine and
desolation. He fought at the taking of Leicester, and was selected, with others, to make an assault, but one of his comrades thrust himself into his place, and was killed by a carbine-shot from the walls; this littl.: startled him, for, being in an army where wickedness abounded, he was the more hardened. The dreadful ravages committed by the royal troops under the eyes of Charles were soon avenged. The battle of Naseby followed in a few days, the royalists were cut to pieces, and from that day the king made feeble fight, and soon lost his crown and his life.
Bunyan returned to his occupation all the worse for his soldier habits; in this forlorn situation, under the unsought guidance of God, he entered into the marriage-state with a virtuous but very poor young woman, who had been blessed with a pious father. 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.” His wife possessed two books, The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and The Praclice of Piety. She enticed him to read, and he, by application, "again recovered that art which he had almost lost.” Her affectionate tender. ness became a blessing to him; his rugged heart was softened, and he felt alarmed for the salvation of his soul.
11. — THE INTERNAL CONFLICT, OR NEW BIRTH.
A woman that was a loose and ungodly wretch," hearing the young tinker's oaths, protested to him that "he swore and cursed at that most fearful rate, that she trembled to hear him," and "that he was able to spoil all the youth in a whole town.” This unexpected blow, given by one of Satan's slaves, wounded a conscience that had resisted all the overtures of mercy; the words proved to be good seed strangely sown, and their fruit in the profligate young man was bitter repentance. He thus delineates his character, and the effect of his first convic. tions upon his companions in wickedness.
“I was one of the 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. Christ took me first, and the contagion was allayed. When God made me sigh, they would hearken, and inquiringly say, What's the matter with John? When I went to seek the bread of life, some would follow, and the rest be in a muse."
He now fell in very eagerly with the outward observances cf religion, adoring the priest, the clerk, and even the vestments. At this time the Book of Common Prayer was abolished, and the Presbyterian Directory guided the public service.
A solemn event probably drove him from Sunday sports. A match at football on the Lord's-day was announced by ringing the church-bells, when a flash of lightning entered the belfry and killed both the ringers. From this time
he occasionally stood by the belfry-gate ; but very soon after he shunned these Sunday-sports. In the absence of spiritual life he became proud of his selfrighteousness, and, 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."
Bunyan had now become a brisk talker of religion, without feeling its inward power, when, by means simple and efficacious, he was stripped of his selfrighteousness. 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." “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. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own righteousness, as 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