"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."

Bunyan began now to read the Bible with great eagerness. Those portions which he had hitherto disliked, the epistles of Paul, became the subject of his special study. He fell in, at the same time, with a sect of practical Antinomians, whose maxim was, that nothing is sin but what a man thinks to be so. He was strongly tempted to adopt this notion. But "God," he 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."

says, "who had,

He now finally parted from all his wicked companions. "There was a young man in our town," he says, "to whom my heart before was bent more than to any other; but he being a most wicked creature, 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 own swearing and mad way, answered he was well. But, Harry,' said I, 'why do you curse and swear 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 ?"" "There is a wild strange pathos," says one, "in the contrast between the old companions parting on the road of life-the affectionate tenderness of Bunyan, and the dare-devil recklessness of his friend."

to me.

"About this time," he tells us, "the state and happiness of these poor women at Bedford was thus, in a kind of vision, presented I saw as if they were 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 even go 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 gap or passage to 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. Now, the passage being very strait and narrow, I made many efforts to get in; but all in vain, even till I was right beat out in striving to get in. At last, with great striving, methought I at first did get in my head, and after that, by a sideling striving, my shoulders and my whole body. Then I was exceeding glad, 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 were 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 Christian and the world; and the gap which was in the wall I thought was Jesus Christ, who is the way to God the Father. 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 who were in downright earnest, and unless they left that wicked world behind them; for there was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin."

This waking dream, as it seems to have been, did Bunyan good. He was no longer a proud Pharisee, but a deeply humbled sinner. "My original and inward pollution-that was my plague and affliction," he says; "that I saw 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 a toad; and I thought I was so in God's eyes too."

Years of despondency, however, passed over him before he came to the enjoyment of the peace of the gospel.

The light which first stole in upon his soul, and before which his darkness finally melted away, was, he tells us, a clear discovery



of the person of Christ, more especially a distinct perception of the dispositions which he manifested while here on earth. And one. thing greatly helped him. The providence of God threw in his way an old copy of Luther's Commentary on Galatians, "so old," he says, "that it was ready to fall piece from piece if I did but turn it over. When I had but a little way perused the book, I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had been written out of my heart." His happiness was now as intense as his misery had been. He wished he were fourscore years old, that he might die quickly, that he might go to be with Him who had made his soul an offering for his sins. But another period of fearful agony awaited him, and, like the last, it continued for a year. It arose from a temptation which took this strange and dreadful form-to sell and part with his Saviour, to exchange Him for the things of this life-for anything. This horrid thought he could not shake out of his mind, day nor night, for many months together. It intermixed itself with every occupation, however sacred, or however trivial. The only case he could compare to his own was that of Judas Iscariot. At last, after many alternations of feeling, he so far emerged from his misery that "he seemed to stand upon the same ground with other sinners, and to have as good a right to the word and prayer as any of them." This was a great step in advance. Relief came slowly but steadily, and was the more abiding because he had learned by experience to distrust any comfort which did not come from the word of God. Such passages as these, "My grace is sufficient for thee," and "Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out," greatly lightened his burden; but he derived still stronger encouragement from "considering that the gospel, with its benignity, is much more expressive of the mind and disposition of God than the law with its severity. Mercy rejoiceth over judgment." "How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." 2 Cor. iii. 8-10.



One day, as he was passing into the field, these words fell upon his soul, "Thy righteousness is in heaven." "I saw, moreover," he says, "that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." He was now loosed from his bondage; his temptations fled away; and he went home rejoicing for the grace and love of God. The words, "Thy righteousness is in heaven," were not to be found in the Bible, but then there were these, "He is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."

This blessed truth was his peace with God. He was complete in Christ Jesus.

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The occasion of the lengthened conflict through which John Bunyan passed into the kingdom of God, is not to be found in the gospel, but in himself. It was partly the result of his excitable temperament and an unbridled imagination. His sensitiveness amounted almost to disease. His passions and his love of sin were strong. And withal he was in early life very ignorant. Of one portion of the bitter struggles by which his progress to life was retarded he has himself said, that he was tossed between the devil and his own ignorance." A man cannot have too deep a sense of his guilt and sin in the sight of God. But when deeply abased before his Maker, he often finds it hard to confide in Jesus Christ, as able to save to the uttermost. The way to the cross of Christ is very direct, and so plainly laid down in the Bible chart, that he "may run that readeth it." But men create difficulties to themselves and get out of the way, now to the right hand, and now to the left, and it is only after wearying themselves in vain with their devices that they consent to say

"Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come."

In the year 1653, being the twenty-fifth of his age, John Bun

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yan avowed his faith in Christ by connecting himself with the Baptist Congregation in Bedford, of which those good women were members whose conversation had proved so profitable to his soul. His pastor was as illustrious a monument of Divine grace as himself. John Gifford, when a young man, had been licentious and daringly ungodly. Being engaged in a royalist rising in Kent, he was arrested, and, with eleven of his comrades, was sentenced to die. The night before the day fixed for his execution, his sister came to visit him. She found the guard asleep, and assisted her brother to effect his escape. For three days the fugitive lay hid in a field, in the bottom of a deep ditch, but at last got away to a place of safety in the neighbourhood of Bedford. There, being a perfect stranger, he ventured on the practice of physic, and abandoned himself to reckless habits and outrageous vice. One evening he lost a large sum of money at the gaming table; and, in the fierceness of his chagrin, his mind was filled with the most desperate thoughts of the providence of a God. In his vexation he snatched up a book, a sentence of which so fixed itself on his conscience, that for many weeks he could get no rest in his spirit. At last he found peace through the blood of the cross, and his joy was great. For some time the few pious individuals in that neighbourhood would not believe that such a reprobate was really converted. But nothing daunted by their distrust, like Saul of Tarsus, he began to preach the word with boldness, and great success attended his ministry.

In John Gifford, John Bunyan found a congenial friend and an instructive teacher. But his mental struggles were not yet at an end. "For three-quarters of a year," he says, "fierce and sad temptations did beset me to blasphemy, that I could never have rest, nor find ease." But obeying the Divine command "resist the devil," he received the fulfilment of the Divine promise, "and he will flee from you."

Soon after, Bunyan was threatened with consumption, and was compelled to look death in the face. His outward profession of religion and the good opinion of his fellow-men were rightly judged by him to be no sufficient evidence of his preparation for eternity. And when he began to recall his former experience of the Divine

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