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LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.
THE number of men whose talents have raised them from obscurity to eminence in literature is not few; and there have been poets of humble birth and limited education whose names rank high: but Bunyan is almost a solitary example of an unlettered man, by the sheer strength of his genius, forcing his way as a prose writer into one of the foremost places in literature, having his biography written by men of the highest culture, and extorting praises from those who, wẹ fear, were unable to understand his theology, and were certainly opposed to it.
John Bunyan was born at Elstow, near Bedford, in the year 1628 His father seems to have been a tinker, a circumstance with which he was reproached in after life, but of which he was not ashamed. He was educated at a school for the poor in Bedford, but "to my shame," says, "I confess I did soon lose that little I learned, and that almost utterly." His mind was more engrossed with evil company than learning, and he had no parental instruction or example to check him. "I was," he says in his autobiography, "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." If we are to interpret his language concerning himself literally, he must have been habitually a violator of every sin in the decalogue. "I was," he says, "the very ringleader of all the youth that kept me company into all manner of vice and ungodliness." "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 my desire." "I was a great sin-breeder: Í infected all the youth of the town where I was born." His imagination indeed seems to have rioted in evil, for he says, "I often wished that I had been a devil to torment others."
These strong expressions must be received with very considerable limitations. One of his biographers passes a sentence upon him which, in our opinion, goes far beyond the evidence." He devoted his whole