图书图片
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the great and unchangeable principles which the offences; and from Breda issued his proclamation Creator has ordained to govern nature could be for liberty of conscience, and the kingdom was disturbed by the freaks of poor old crazy women, cajoled and sold. The king was scarcely seated on for purposes trifling and insignificant. No, such his throne, and armed with power, when he threw a man could never have circulated a report that off the mask. Men who had faithfully performed a woman was turned into a bay mare, and her very painful duties under the authority of Acts chemise into a horse-cloth and saddle ! Un- of Parliament were put to death, others inbridled sectarian feeling perverted some remark of prisoned and transported, and uniformity in religion his, probably made with the kindest intention, into was re-enacted under ferocious penalties. Bunyan a most incredible slander.

was to endure a cruel imprisonment, with all the Among the many singularities of that very fears of an ignominious death. • Now,' he

says, interesting period, one was the number of reli- 'as Satan laboured by reproaches and slanders, gious tournaments or disputations that were held to make me vile among my countrymen, that if all over the country. The details of one of these, possible my preaching might be made of none between Fisher, a Jesuit, and Archbishop Laud, effect, so there was added hereto a long and occupy a folio volume. In these wordy duels tedious imprisonment, that thereby I might be the Baptists and Quakers bore a prominent part. frighted from my service for Christ, and the world To write a history of them would occupy more terrified and made afraid to hear me preach, of space than our narrow limits will allow. Bun- which I shall in the next place give you a brief yan entered into one of these controversies with account.'3 the Quakers at Bedford Market-cross,' and probably held others in the church, those buildings

THE FIFTH PERIOD. being at times available under the Protectorate for such purposes. Bunyan was met by the son of BUNYAN SUFFERS PERSECUTION, AND A LONG AND DANGER

OUS IMPRISONMENT, FOR REFUSING TO ATTEND THE thunder, Edward Burrough, who was also assisted

COMMON PRAYER SERVICE, AND FOR PREACHING, by Anne Blackly, a remarkably pious woman and an able disputant. Bunyan pressed them

O happie he who doth possesse

Christ for his fellow prisoner, who doth gladde with the Scriptures, and dealt such severe blows

With heavenly sunbeames, goales that are most sad. that Mrs. Blackly, in the public assembly, bid him throw away the Scriptures. To which he (Written by William Prynne, on his Prison wall, in the Tower. answered, “No, for then the devil would be too The men who arraign their fellows before any hard for me.' The great controversy was as to standard of orthodoxy, or claim the right of dicChrist within his saints. Bunyan proved, by the tating forms of belief or modes of worship under holy oracles, that Christ had ascended, and was pains or penalties, are guilty of assuming the preat the right hand of God; to which Mrs. Blackly rogative of the Most High, and of claiming, for answered, that he preached up an idol, and used their frail opinions, infallibility. Such are guilty conjuration and witchcraft. To the charge of of high treason against the Majesty of heavenspiritual conjuration and witchcraft he made no and all their machinations have a direct tendency reply, it being unworthy his notice; but called to destroy human happiness—the wealth of the upon her to repent of ler wickedness in calling nation, and that universal good-will among men Christ an idol. With regard to his presence in which the gospel is intended to establish. Such

ints, he reminded her, that if any man have men present to us the various features of antinot the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.? As a christ, the dread enemy of mankind. matter of course, both parties claimed the victory; The duty of every intelligent creature is to and although the hearers were puzzled, doubtless watch the operations of nature, that he may be much good was effected.

led to just perceptions of the greatness of the These were comparatively happy days for God's Creator, and the goodness of his immutable laws. fearers—much valuable seed was sown, and the Soon he finds his perceptions dim, and is conlight of divine truth penetrated into many a be- scious of evil propensities, which baffle all bis nighted town and village. At length dark and efforts at sinless perfection. He finds nothing in portentous clouds rolled over the horizon. The nature to solve the solemn inquiry how sin is to Protector had entered into rest; his son was wholly be pardoned, and evil thoughts and habits to be incapable of taking the helm of public affairs. rooted out. The convinced sinner then feels the The exiled king, Charles II., declared his deter- necessity of a direct revelation from God; and in the mination to publish an amnesty for all political Bible alone he finds that astounding declaration,

which leaves all human philosopliy at an immeaSee postscript to The True Faith of the Gospel of Peace, British Museum. ? Vol. ii., p. 201.

Vol. i., p. 46.

his

a

[ocr errors]

a

surable distance - Ye must be born again.'' nal communications, assembled together. In somo God only can effect the wondrous change—man, cases, the barn or room in which they met, had a priest, prophet, or magi, can do him no good— door behind the pulpit, by which the preacher his terror-stricken conscience drives him to his could escape. A curious letter, preserved in the Creator, and faith in the Redeemer causes con- archives at Devonshire House, states, that when solation to abound.

a Christian assembly was held near Devonshire In every kingdom of the world, the Christian Square, while the minister was in his sermon, the inquirer is met by the opposition of antichrist, in officers and trained bands entered the meetin.r. some form or other, attempts will be made to limit house. The preacher immediately ceased preachhis free-born spirit to human inventions and me- ing, and gave out the lines of a hymn, which the diations in seeking Divine mercy. He feels that congregation joined in singing, and the officers he is bound, by all his hopes of happiness, here waited till the devotional exercise was ended. and hereafter, to obey God rather than man, in The preacher, taking advantage of their hesitaeverything pertaining to spiritual religion. In his tion, made his escape by a door at the back of the simple obedience to the Word of God, he braves all pulpit; thus,' says the quaint Quaker, he chokeil dangers, sure of the Divine blessing and support the informers off with his hymn.' In the Life of while encountering obloquy, contempt, allurements, Badman are some illustrative anecdotes relating and persecution, in its varied polluted forms and to informers and their violent ends, with an inteappalling cruelties.

resting cut of a religious meeting in the fields. After the decease of Oliver Cromwell, it soon One informer is in a neighbouring tree, to identify became apparent that the exiled king would be re- the meeters; while in the distance, another is runstored. In the prospect of that event, Charles II. ning for the officers, with this verse under the promised a free pardon to all his subjects, ex- print :cepting only such persons as should be excepted

‘Informer, art thou in the tree? by parliament; and “we do declare a liberty to

Take heed, lest there thou hanged he: tender consciences, and that no man shall be

Look likewise to thy foot-hold well; disquieted or called in question for differences of

Lest, if thou slip, thou fall to hell.' opinion in matters of religion, which do not disturb In many cases the justices considered a field the peace of the kingdom. Who could imagine, preacher to be equally guilty with a regicide." that, in the face of this solemn declaration, acts, One of the informers, named W. S., was very the most oppressive and tyrannical, would be passed diligent in this business ; "he would watch -compelling pretended uniformity in belief and a-nights, climb trecs, and range the woods a-days, real uniformity in the mode of public worship-- if possible to find out the meeters, for then they driving the most pious and useful clergymen from were forced to meet in the fields.' At length he their pulpits and livings-preventing them from was stricken by the hand of God, and died a most becoming tutors or schoolmasters—and not suffer- wretched object. ? The cruelties that were ining them to live within five miles of a city or town. flicted upon Dissenters are scarcely credible. Penn, Ruinous penalties were inflicted, not only on every the Quaker, gives this narrative of facts:— The minister, but upon every hearer, who met to wor- widow's mite hath not escaped their hands; they slip God in private houses or in the fields and have made her cow the forfeit of her conscience, woods. Christians, convinced of the wickedness not leaving her a bed to lie on, nor a blanket to of such laws, strove, by every possible means, to cover her; and what is yet more barbarous, and erade the penalties, with a stern determination to helps to make up this tragedy, the poor helpless worship God in the way that their consciences led orphan's milk, boiling over the fire, was flung them. They met their beloved ministers in pri- away, and the skillet made part of their prize; vate places, and at the most unseasonable hours. that, had not nature in neighbours been stronger It is said that Bunyan, to avoid discovery, went than cruelty in informers and officers, to open her from a friend's house disguised as a carter; with bowels for their relief, they must have utterly his white frock, wide-awake cap, and his whip in perished. One of these infamous, hard-hearted his hand, to attend a private meeting in a shel- wretches in Bedford, was stricken, soon after, with tered field or barn. To prevent these meetings, death; and such had been his notorious brutality, severe and almost arbitrary penalties were enforced, that his widow could not obtain a hearse, but was a considerable part of which went to the informers obliged to carry his body to the grave in a cart. -Inen of debauched habits and profligate prin- It is gratifying to leave these horrors—these ciples. With all their vigilance, these prohibited stains upon our national history-for a moment, meetings could not be prevented. In some cases, the persecuted disciples of a persecuted Lord took

Macaulay's History of England, vol. i.

Life of Badman. houses adjoining each other, and, by opening inter- 3 Penu's Enyland's Interest, 4to, 1075, p. 2.

2

years back,

to record an event which took place about fifty | upon his daily labour for food. If he escaped, he

The Rev. S. Hillyard, the pastor might continue his stolen opportunities of doing of Bunyan's church, thus writes:— When our good to the souls of men. He hesitated but for a meeting-house was lately repaired, we were al. few minutes for private prayer; he had hitherto lowed, by the Lord Lieutenant and the justices, shown himself hearty and courageous in preaching, to carry on our public worship, for a quarter of a and it was his business to encourage the timid year in the town-hall, where, if it had been stand-flock. “Therefore, thought I, if I should now run ing in Mr. Bunyan's time, he must have been and make an escape, it will be of a very ill savour tried and committed to jail for preaching.' How in the country ; what will my weak and newly different our position from that of our pilgrim converted brethren think of it? If I should run, forefathers.

now there was a warrant out for me, I might, by The justices, if the law had allowed them, so doing, make them afraid to stand when great would, from the first, have prevented Bunyan's words only should be spoken to them.' He preaching. When they had the power, he pos- retired into a close, privately, to seck Divine direcsessed nothing to excite the cupidity of an in- tion, and came back resolved to abide the will of former: this, with the caution of his friends, saved God. It was the first attempt, near Bedford, to him, for some months, from being apprehended; apprehend a preacher of the gospel, and he thus they met privately in barns, milk-houses, and argued with himself— If God, of his mercy, should stables, or in any convenient place in which they choose me to go upon the forlorn hope, that is, to were not likely to be disturbed. In addition to be the first that should be opposed for the gospel, these services, every opportunity was embraced to if I should fly it might be a discouragement to the visit his friends-praying with them, and adminis- whole body that should follow after. And I thought tering consolation, arming them with a steady re- that the world thereby would take occasion at my solve to be patient in suffering, and to trust in God cowardliness, to have blasphemed the gospel.' These for their safety and reward. At length an informa- considerations brought him to the noble resolution tion was laid, and he was caught in the very act of fulfilling his duty, under all its difficulties and of worshipping God with some pious neighbours. dangers. In these reasonings the same honourable Bunyan's account of this event is deeply interest- decision of mind animated him which impelled ing; but the want of sufficient space prevents my Daniel, and the three Hebrew youths, to violate giving more than an abstract of it, referring the the wicked laws of the nation in which they lived, reader to his Grace Abounding for fuller details. because these laws were opposed to the will of God. On November 12, 1660, as the winter was He and they, as well as the apostles, judged for

, setting in, having been invited to preach at Sam- themselves, and opposed statutes or ancient customs sell, in Bedfordshire, he prepared a sermon upon which, in their opinion, were contrary to the Divino these words—Dost thou believe in the Son of law by which they were to be judged at the solemn God ?' Jn. ix. 35; from which he intended to show and great day. Nor did they, in the prospect of the absolute need of faith in Jesus Christ, and the most dread personal sufferings, hesitate to that it was also a thing of the highest concern follow the convictions of their minds. Some laws for men to inquire into, and to ask their own are more honoured in the breach than in the ob. hearts whether they had faith or no. He had servance of them. The law of Pharaoh to destroy then been a preacher of the glorious gospel of the male children of the Israelites, in ancient times, Christ for five or six years, without any interrup. and the present Popish laws of Tuscany, that the tion; for, although indicted, he had continued his Bible shall not be read, are laws so contrary to useful career, and through grace had received common sense, and the most sacred duties of man, great encouragement and eminent proofs of the that God dealt well’ with those who broke them Divine blessing.

in Egypt, as he has ever dealt with those who Francis Wingate, a neighbouring justice of the have thus honoured him. The millions of prayers peace, having heard of the intended meeting, issued that were offered up for a blessing upon the conhis warrant to bring the preacher before him. The fessors, Madiai, have been answered. Had they intention of the magistrate was whispered about, perished in the prisons of Tuscany, they would and came to Bunyan's ears before the meeting have joined the noble army of martyrs before the was held, probably to give him an opportunity throne of God, to witness his judgments upon that of escape. His friends, becoming alarmed for his persecuting church which has shed so much holy safety, advised him to forego the opportunity. It blood. was a trying moment for him ; he had a beloved When Bunyan was advised to escape by dismisswife to whom he had not been long married, and ing the meeting, which consisted of about forty four dear children, one of them blind, depending persons, he replied, “No, by no means ; I will not Vol. ii., p. 593.

Vol. i.,

1

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

P.

51.

1

[ocr errors]

a

stir, neither wil I have the meeting dismissed that they met armel, or for treasonable practices : Come, be of good cheer, let us not be daunted ; but when the coustable told him that they were our cause is good, we need not be ashamed of it; to unarmed, and merely assembled to preach and hear preach God's Word is so good a work, that we shall the Word, he could not well tell what to say. be well rewarded if we suffer for that.” All Justice Wingate was not the only magistrate this took place about an hour before the officers who had felt difficulties as to the construction of arrired. The service was commenced with prayer the persecuting acts of 35 Eliz. and 15 Chas. II. at the time appointed, the preacher and hearers IIad he taken an opinion, as one of the justices at had their Bibles in their hands to read the text, that time did, it might have saved him from the when the constable and his attendants came in, infamy and guilt of punishing an innocent man. and, exhibiting the warrant, ordered him to leave The case was this :—* Two persons of insolent the pulpit and come down; but he mildly told him behaviour, calling themselves informers, demanded, that he was about his Master's business, and must on their evidence of having been present, without rather obey his Lord's voice than that of man. summons or hearing in presence of the accused, Then a constable was ordered to fetch him down, that a fine of £100 should be levied ; they were rho, coming up and taking hold of his coat, was at the meeting and heard no Common Prayer serabout to remove him, when Mr. Bunyan fixed his vice.' The opinion was that there must be evidence eyes steadfastly upon him ; having his Bible open showing the intent, and that the meeting was held in his hand, the man let go, looked pale, and re- under colour and pretence of any exercise of religion tired; upon which he said to the congregation, to concoct sedition. Mr. Wingate asked Bunyan

” "See how this man trembles at the Word of God.' why he did not follow his calling and go to church? Truly did one of his friends say, “ he had a sharp, to which he replied, that all his intention was to quick eye.' But being commanded in the king's instruct and counsel people to forsake their sins, name, he went with the officers, accompanied by and that he did, without confusion, both follow his some of his friends, to the magistrate's residence. calling and preach the Word.

At this the angry Before they left, the constable allowed him to justice ordered his commitment to jail, refusing speak a few words to the people of counsel and bail, unless he would promise to give up preaching. encouragement. Ile declared that it was a mercy While his mittimus was preparing, he had a short when called to suffer upon so good an account ; controversy with an old enemy of the truth, Dr. that it was of grace that they had been kept from Lindale, and also with a persecuting justice, Mr. crimes, which might have caused their apprehen- Foster, who, soon after, sorely vexed the people of sion as thieves and murderers, or for some wicked. God at Bedford. They tried their utmost endeaness ; but by the blessing of God it was not so, vours to persuade him to promise not to preach ; but, as Christians, they were called to suffer for well. a word from him might have saved his liberty ; duing; and that we had better be persecuted than but it was a word which would have sacrificed his the persecutors. The constable took him to the jus- religious convictions, and these were dearer to him tice's house, but as he was from home, to save than life itself. This was a trying moment, but he the expense and trouble of charging a watch to had been fore warned of his danger by the extrasecure his prisoner, he allowed him to go home, ordinary temptation scul Christ narrated in his one of his friends undertaking to be answerable Grace Abounding. His feelings, while they were for his appearance the next day. On the follow- conducting him to the prison, were so cheering as ing morning they went to the constable and then to enable him to forget his sorrows ; he thus deto the justice. The celebrated Quaker, John scribes them— Verily, as I was going forth of the Roberts, managed an affair of that kind better. doors I had much ado to forbear saying to them, There was plenty of time to have held and dis- that I carried the peace of God along with me; missed the meeting before the constable arrived, and, blessed be the Lord, I went away to prison and then he might have done as Roberts did — with God's comfort in my poor soul.”+ made the best of his way to the magistrate's house, Tradition points out the place in which this and demanded, • Dost thou want me, old man ?' eminently pious man was confined, as an ancient and when asked whether or not he went to church, prison, built with the bridge over the river Ouse, his ready reply was, “Yes, sometimes I go to the church, and sometimes the church comes to me. 3 Case and Opinion, under the head Conventicles,' British

When Bunyan and the constable caine before Museuin. There is also a rare Tract, to prove that the PerJustice Wingate, he inquired what the meeters

secuting Acts expired Oct. 21th, 1670.

4 Vol. i., p. 54. How unspeakable the mercy, that the did, and what they had with them ; suspecting persecutor cannot plunge his implements of torture into the

spirit, nor prevent its intercourse with heaven! 1 Vol. i., p. 51.

A very deeply interesting narrative of all the particulars of • This very interesting Demoir was published by the this examination and forin of trial, was recorded by the sufSociety of Friends, 1825.

ferer. Sce vol. i., r. 50. VOL. III.

I

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Seal

the foundation of the old

supported on one of the piers near the middle Manchester, charging him to keep it for his sake. of the river, 1 As the bridge was only four This ring must liave been a present from some yards and a half wide, the prison must have

person of property, as a token been very small. Howard, the pliilanthropist,

of great respect for Bunyan's visited the Bedford prison, that which was digni

pious character, and probably fied as the county jail about 1788, and thus de

from an indignant sense of his scribes it :-The men and women felons associate

unjust and cruel imprisonment. together ; their night-rooms are two dungeons.

By the kind permission of the Only one court for debtors and felons; and no

dean, we are enabled to give a apartment for the jailer.”? Imagination can hardly

correct representation of this realize the niseries of fifty or sixty pious men and

Impression of a

curious relic.

on a gold rings found in women, taken from a place of public worship and

Bunyan was thirty-two years incarcerated in such dens or dungeons with felons, prison, Bedford bridge.

of age when taken to prison. as was the case while Bunyan was a prisoner. Twelve He had suffered the loss of his pious wife, whose feet square was about the extent of the walls ; for conversation and portion had been so blessed it occupied but one pier between the centre arches to him. It is not improbable that her peaceful of the bridge. How properly does the poor pilgrim departure is pictured in Christiana's crossing the call it a certain DEN! What an abode for men river which has no bridge. She left him with four and women who had been made by God kings and young children, one of whom very naturally and priests—the heirs of heaven! The eyes of Howard, most strongly excited his paternal feelings, from à Dissenter, penetrated these dens, these hidden the circumstance of her having been afflicted with things of darkness, these abodes of cruelty. He blindness. He had married a second time, & revealed what lay and clerical magistrates ought woman of exemplary piety and retiring modesty ; to have published centuries before, that they were but whose spirit, when roused to seek the release not fit places in which to imprison any, even the of her beloved husband, enabled her to stand unworst of criminals. He denounced them, huma- abaslied, and full of energy and presence of mind, nity shuddered at the discovery, and they were before judges in their courts, and lords in their razed to their foundations. In this den God mansions. When her partner was sent to jail, she permitted his honoured servant, John Bunyan, to was in that peculiar state that called for all his be incarcerated for more than twelve years of the sympathy and his tenderest care. The shock was prime of his life. A man, whose holy zeal for the too severe for her delicate situation ; she became salvation of sinners, whose disinterested labours, dangerously ill, and, although her life was spared, wliose sufferings for Christ prove his apostolical all hopes had fled of her maternal feelings being (lescent much better than those who claim descent called into exercise. Thus did one calamity follow from popes, and Wolsey or Bonner—those fiends another; still be preserved his integrity. in human shape.

Bunyan was treated with all the kindness which Bedford bridge was pulled down in the year 1811, when the present handsome bridge was “The ring is of fine gold, very like in colour to that which has

- He has favoured us with the following description of it:built. One of the workmen employed upon the been brought into this country from California. The head is, ruins found, among the rubbish, where the prison I think, engraven, but the letters have not that sharpness had stood, a ring made of fine gold, bearing an

about them which indicates the engraving tool; and the I. B.

are undoubted indents made after the ring was finished.' It inscription which affords strony presumptive evi- is not the usual emblem of a mourning gist, for that would dence that it belonged to our great allegorist. Dr. have the cross-bones under the skull; it was more probably Abbot, a neighbouring clergyman, who had daily given as a special mark of esteem. Three things are certain

Ist, That if so valuable a gist excited the poor man's pride, its watched the labours of the workmen, luckily saw loss must have been a serious annoyance to one whose family it, and saved it from destruction. Ile constantly was dependent upon his daily labour. 2d, His preaching talent wore it, until, drawing near the end of his pilgri- author of the Pilgrim's Progress, to have brought him so valu

must have been highly appreciated, before he was known as the mage, in 1817, he took it off his own finger able a token of respect. But the most pleasing and remarkable and placed it upon that of his friend Dr. Bower, reflection, is the surprising progress of good-will among men then curate of Elstow, and at present the dean of of various denominations, that a ring, worn by a despised and

persecuted Nonconformist of a former age, is now highly • There were three prisons in Bedford-the county jail, the prized and worn, from respect to his memory, by a dignified bridewell, and the tower jail. No decisive evidence has been clerzyman of the Established church. discovered as to which prison Bunyan was committed. Two • This was not his only ring; he left, inter alia, all kis views of the bridge and prison are given in the plate at rings to his wife. See p. lxxii. p. 63, vol. i.

& After he had lain in jail five or six days, an application ? Howard's Account of Lazaretlos, &c. 4to, 1789, p. 150. was made to a liberal justice at Elstow, named Crumpton, to

* Elstow is a perpetual curacy or vicarage, worth at that release him on bail; but he declined, fearing to give offence. time only £35 per annum! forming one of the discreditable He, however, so felt for this persecuted servant of Christ, as anomalies of the church, in the division of its immense re

to sell him an edifice and barn, which, upon his release, was venues.

| converted into a large inecting-house.

6

3

« 上一页继续 »