Great pains have been taken in collating this edition with other copies, in order to

render it a correct reprint of the original work. The original side notes, which often throw much light on the text, have been preserved. A very


expressions, that from the lapse of time have become obsolete or offensive, have been altered or omitted.

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JOAN BUNYAN was born at Elstow, one mile from the town of Bedford, in 1628. “His descent,” to use his own words, was of a low and inconsiderable generation, his father's house being of that rank which is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land.” His father was a tinker and brazier. Whether he was a gipsy has been disputed. In after years when John was in soul distress, and was ignorantly but earnestly looking hither and thither for comfort, the thought occurred to him whether his family “were of the Israelites or no ? For," he says, “ finding in the Scriptures that they were once the peculiar people of God, thought I, if I were one of this race, my soul must needs be happy. At last I asked my father of it; who told me no, we were not.” Whether the father meant that his was not a gipsy family, or merely that the gipsies were not, as many supposed them to be, Israelites, cannot be determined. He is described in one of the earliest lives of Bun. yan as “an honest poor labouring man, who, like Adam unparadised, had all the world before him to get his bread in.” Even English tinkers, however, were generally vagrants, and were often confounded with the gipsies.

The elder Bunyan, though a vagrant in his calling as a tinker, had a home at Elstow, and John was put to school when a boy,



He soon forgot, however, the little he had learned, “ and that almost utterly.” His boyhood was spent in a course of rude, rough wickedness. “It was my delight,” he says, “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 or swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God.”

He speaks of himself as “a ring-leader of all the youth that kept him

company into all manner of vice and ungodliness.” But when he specifies the vices in which he indulged, he never mentions drunkenness. The most daring profanity and reckless sabbathbreaking are the crimes which seem ever to rise up before his awakened conscience. “The strong depraving element in his character was his ungodliness.” And that which made him notorious in the days of his ungodliness was the energy which he put into all his wicked doings. There could be no mistaking whose servant he was; he wrought the works of the devil without disguise.

The author of his “Life” published in 1692, who was one of his personal friends, says that the first thing that sensibly touched young Bunyan in his unregenerate state, was " fearful dreams, and

“ visions of the night, which made him cry out in his sleep, and alarm the house, as if somebody was about to murder him; and being waked he would start, and stare about him with such a wildness, as if some real apparition had yet remained ; and generally those dreams were about evil spirits, in monstrous shapes and forms, that presented themselves to him in threatening postures, as if they would have taken him away, or torn him in pieces."

The impressions thus produced were soon thrown off, and the mad youth rushed on in his career of sin. He once fell into the sea, and another time out of a boat into “Bedford river,” the Ouse, and both times had a narrow escape from drowning. One day in the field with a companion, an adder glided across their path. Bunyan stunned it in a moment with a stick, and, with characteristic daring, forced open the creature's mouth, and plucked out the fangs-a foolhardiness which, as he himself observes, might, but for God's mercy, have brought him to his end. But he was neither startled nor changed by these deliverances.



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That such a youth should enter the army will occasion no surprise. He was at the siege of Leicester in 1645, and most probably among the royal troops. Here he had another narrow escape. He was appointed to a particular post. But when ready to set out, a comrade asked leave to take his place. Bunyan consented, and his companion, while standing sentry, was shot through the head, and died. But even this made no impression on Bunyan's mind. Whether he left the army when Charles was routed at the battle of Naseby, or was discharged, is not known. He returned to his native place only hardened in sin, and resolved to indulge in his accustomed pleasures. His neglecting his business, and following gaming and sports, to put melancholy thoughts out of his mind, which he could not always do, rendered him,” he tells us, “very poor and despicable.” One advantage Bunyan derived from his brief military career-he gained a familiarity with military ideas and expressions, which he turned to good account when, many years afterwards, he wrote his “Holy War."

When twenty years old, John Bunyan married. “And," he says, my mercy was to light upon a wife whose father was counted godly. This woman and I, though we came together as poor as poor might be—not having so much household stuff as a dish or spoon betwixt us-yet this she had for her portion, “ The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven,' and 'The Practice of Piety,' which her father left her when he died.” The


wife induced her husband to read these books, and became a great blessing to him.

He now " fell in very eagerly,” he tells us, “ with the religion of the times, to wit, to go to church twice a day.” He “said and sang” as others did, yet retained his wicked life. He was withal

so overrun with a spirit of superstition,” that he “ adored, and that with great devotion, both the high place, priest, clerk, vestment, service, and what else belonged to the church."

But superstition and practical ungodliness are no enemies to each other. On Sunday morning John Bunyan could worship the priest and the clerk and the church vestment; but on Sunday afternoon he was found among the foremost sabbath-breakers on Elstow Green.






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One day the minister preached on the evil of breaking the sabbath, either with labour, sports, or otherwise ; and Bunyan left the church with a great burden on his spirit. But he had no sooner eaten his dinner, than he “shook the sermon out of his mind,” and returned to his sports with great delight. His pleasure, however, was short-lived. In the midst of a game of cat,” he says, did suddenly dart from heaven into my soul, which said,' Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven? or have thy sins and go to hell ?” At this I was put into an exceeding maze.”

And the only escape he found from his perplexity was in despair. Like those of old who said, “There is no hope : no; for we have loved strangers, and after them will we go ;” John Bunyan said, “I have been a great and grievous sinner; Christ will not forgive me. If the case be thus, my state is surely miserable; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable if I follow them. I can but be damned, and if I must be so, I had as good be damned for many sins, as be damned for few.”

For a month or more the poor man, thus tossed between hope and despair, between remorse and the love of sin, went on in his evil ways, only grudging that he could not get such scope as his heart desired, when, one day standing at a neighbour's window, cursing and swearing, and,“ playing the madman after his wonted manner,” the woman of the house protested that he made her tremble, and that truly he was the ungodliest fellow for swearing that she ever heard in all her life, and quite enough to ruin the youth of the whole town. The woman was herself a notoriously worthless character; and so severe a reproof, from so strange a quarter, had a singular effect on Bunyan's mind. He was silenced in a moment. He blushed before the God of heaven; and wished with all his heart that he were a little child again, that his father might teach him to speak without profanity; for he thought his habit so inveterate now, that reformation was out of the question. Nevertheless, so it was, from that day he was cured of this wicked practice, and people wondered at the change.

One by one John Bunyan gave up his outward sins. He made many concessions to conscience, while as yet he had not yielded his heart to the Saviour. It was slowly, and regretfully, however that

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