[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fill a greater than an imperial throne! Yet, evenTHE FIRST PERIOD.

tually that swine-herd was clothed in purple and

fine linen, and, under the title of Pope Sixtus V., THIS GREAT HAN DESCENDED FROM IGNOBLE PARENTS

became one of those mighty magicians who are BORN IN POVERTY-HIS EDUCATION AND EVIL HABITS FOLLOWS HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS AS A BRAZIER-Enlists described in Roger's Italy, as FOR A SOLDIER-RETURNS FROM THE WARS AND OBTAINS Setting their feet upon the necks of kings, AN AVIABLE, RELIGIOUS WIFE-HER DOWER.

And through the world subduing, chaining down

The free, immortal spirit—theirs a wondrous spell."? • We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.'—2 Cor. iv. 7. A woman that was 'a loose and ungodly wretch'

hearing a tinker lad most awfully cursing and * For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your Pays my ways, saith the Lord.'—Isa. lv. 8.

swearing, protested to him that he swore and

cursed at that most fearful rate that it made her Though ye hare lien among the pots, yet shall be as the vings of a dore corered with silver, and her feathers with tremble to hear him,' that he was the ungodliest yellow gold.-Ps. Ixviii. 13.

fellow for swearing that ever she heard in all her

life,' and that he was able to spoil all the youth When the Philistine gjant, Goliath, mocked the in a whole town, if they came in his company." host of Israel, and challenged any of their stern This blow at the young reprobate made that indewarriors to single combat, what human being lible impression which all the sermons he had heard could have imagined that the gigantic heathen had failed to make. Satan, by one of his own would be successfully met in the mortal struggle slaves, wounded a conscience which had resisted by a youth “ruddy and of a fair countenance ?' all the overtures of mercy. The youth pondered who unarmed, except with a sling and a stone, her words in his heart; they were good seed ' gave the carcases of the hosts of the Philistines strangely sown, and their working formed one of to the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of those mysterious steps which led the foul-mouthed the earth.'

blasphemer to bitter repentance; who, when he Who, upon seeing an infant born in a stable, had received mercy and pardon, felt impelled to and laid in a manger, or beholding him when a bless and magnify the Divine grace with shining, youth working with his father as a carpenter, burning thoughts and words. The poor proflicould have conceived that he was the manifestation gate, swearing tinker became transformed into the of the Deity in human form, before whom every most ardent preacher of the love of Christ-the kuee should bow, and every tongue confess Him to well-trained author of The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, be THE ETERNAL ?

or Good News to the Vilest of Men. Father Michael, a Franciscan friar, on a journey How often have the saints of God been made a to Ancona, having lost his way, sought direction most unexpected blessing to others. The good from a wretched lad keeping hogs — deserted, seed of Divine truth has been many times sown forlorn, his back smarting with severe stripes, by those who did not go out to sow, but who were and his eyes suffused with tears. The poor ragged profitably engaged in cultivating their own graces, boy not only went cheerfully with him to point enjoying the communion of saints, and advancing out his road, but besought the monk to take him their own personal happiness! Think of a few into his convent, volunteering to fulfil the most poor, but pious happy women, sitting in the sun degrading services, in the hope of procuring a one beautiful summer's day, before one of their little learning, and escaping from those filthy cottages, probably each one with her pillow on her hogs.' How incredulously would the friar have listened to any one who could have suggested that

· For a most interesting account of the rise of Sixtus V., this desolate, tattered, dirty boy, might and would 1807, p. 152.

see the new volume of the Lounger's Common-place Bock, VOL. III,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

xxiii. 9.


lap, dexterously twisting the bobbins to niake lace, I in 1628, a year memorable as that in which the the profits of which helped to maintain their chil. Bill of Rights was passed. Then began the struggle dren. While they are communing on the things against arbitrary power, which was overthrown of God, a travelling tinker draws near, and, over- in 1688, the year of Bunyan's death, by the acceshearing their talk, takes up a position where he sion of William III. Of Bunyan's parents, his might listen to their converse while he pursued infancy, and childhood, little is recorded. All that his avocation. Their words distil into his soul; we know is from his own account, and that printhey speak the language of Canaan ; they talk of cipally contained in his doctrine of the Law and holy enjoyments, the result of being born again, Grace, and in his extraordinary development of acknowledging their miserable state by nature, his spiritual life, under the title of Grace Aboundand how freely and undeservedly God had visited ing to the Chief of Sinners. His birth would have their hearts with pardoning mercy, and supported shed a lustre on the wealthiest mansion, and have them while suffering the assaults and suggestions of imparted additional grandeur to any lordly palace. Satan; how they had been borne up in every dark, Had royal or noble gossips, and a splendid entercloudy, stormy day; and how they contemned, tainment attended his christening, it might have slighted, and abhorred their own righteousness as been pointed to with pride; but so obscure was his filthy and insufficient to do them any good. The birth, that it has not been discovered that he was learned discourses our tinker had heard at church christened at all; while the fact of his new birth by had casually passed over his mind like evanescent the Holy Ghost is known over the whole world to the clouds, and left little or no lasting impression. vast extent that his writings have been circulated. But these poor women, ‘methought they spake as He entered this world in a labourer's cottage of the if joy did make them speak; they spake with such humblest class, at the village of Elstow, about a pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such mile from Bedford.” Dis pedigree is thus narrated appearance


grace in all they said, that they by himself:—My descent was of a low and inconwere to me as if they had found a new world, as siderable generation, my father's bouse being of if they were people that dwelt alone, and were that rank that is meanest and most despised of not to be reckoned among their neighbours. Num. all the families in the land." Bunyan alludes to

this very pointedly in the preface to A Few Sighs 0! how little did they imagine that their pious from Hell:—*I am thine, if thou be not ashamed converse was to be the means employed by the to own me, because of my low and contemptible Holy Spirit in the conversion of that poor tinker, descent in the world.'+ His poor and abject and that, by their agency, he was to be trans- parentage was so notorious, that his pastor, John formed into one of the brightest luminaries of Burton, apologized for it in his recommendation heaven; who, when he had entered into rest would to The Gospel Truths Opened :- · Be not offended leave his works to follow him as spiritual thunder because Christ holds forth the glorious treasure to pierce the hearts of the impenitent, and as of the gospel to thee in a poor earthen vessel, heavenly consolation to bind up the broken-hearted; by one who hath neither the greatness nor the liberating the prisoners of Giant Despair, and wisdom of this world to commend him to thee.' directing the pilgrims to the Celestial City. Thus And in his most admirable treatise, on The Fear were blessings in rich abundance showered down of God, Bunyan observes — The poor Christian upon the church by the instrumentality, in the first instance, of a woman that was a sinner, but Elizabeth, the daughter of John Bonyon, was born 14th day most eminently by the Christian converse of a few of April, 1654.

Thomas ? Bonion of the town of Bedford, and Elizabeth poor but pious women.

of the parish of Elstow, were married, May 10, 1656. This poverty-stricken, ragged tinker was the son (The Christian name of the husband, and the surname of the of a working mechanic at Elstow, near Bedford. wife

, are very much obliterated). So obscure was his origin that even the Christian

Ann Bonyonn, Widdo, was buried, 12th day of April, 1659.

Thos. Bunyan, buried, Feby. 7th, 1675. name of his father is yet unknown:1 he was born Ann Bunyon, Widdo, buried in Woolen, September 25, 1680.

The marriage here recorded, May 10, 1656, could not be 1 The Rev. J. H. A. Rudd, the Vicar of Elstow, has most that of John Bunyan to his second wife Elizabeth; for she kindly furnished me with an extract from the registers of all declared to Judge Hale in August, 1661, that she had not the entries relative to Bunyan's family. The register com- been married to him yet full two years.'— Vol. i. 61. mences in 1641, and has been searched to 1750. It confirms ? This cottage has long ceased to exist, and has been rethe Rev. J. Juke’s impression, that. soon after Bunyan joined placed by another of the poorest description. But from an old Gilford's church he left Elstow to live in Bedford.

print we bave given in the Plate, p. 1, vol. i., a representation Thomas Bonion, buried, Dec. 9, 1641.

of the original, with the shed at side often mentioned as “The Margaret Bonion, wife, buried, June 20, 1644.

forge;' thus leading us to believe, that to the ‘tinker's' humble Margaret Bonion, b., July 24, 1644.

calling might be united that of the 'smith,' a more manly and Charles, the son of Thos. Bunion, bapt., May 22, 1645.

honourable trade. Charles Bunion, bar., May 30, 1645.

3 Grace Abounding, No. 2. Vol. ii., p. 674. Mary, the daught. of Joh. Bonion, bapt., July 20, 1650.

• Vol. ii., p. 140.

5 1

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

hath something to answer them that reproach him his whole soul and body to licentiousness-As for for his ignoble pedigree, and shortness of the my own natural life, for the time that I was withglory of the wisdom of this world. True may out God in the world, it was indeed according to that man say I am taken out of the dunghill. I the course of this world, and the spirit that now was born in a base and low estate; but I fear God. worketh in the children of disobedience. It was This is the highest and most noble ; he hath the my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his honour, the life, and glory that is lasting' In will: being filled with all unrighteousness; that his controversy with the Strict Baptists, he chides from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, them for reviling bis ignoble pedigree :—You swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name closely disdain my person because of my low of God.” descent among men, stigmatizing me as a person It has been supposed, that in delineating the early of That rank that need not be heeded or attended career of Badman, “Bunyan drew the picture of unto.'? He inquired of his father-Whether we his own boyhood.”' But the difference is broadly were of the Israelites or no? for, finding in the given. Badman is the child of pious parents, who Scripture that they were once the peculiar people gave him a 'good education' in every sense, both of God, thought I, if I were one of this race, my moral and secular;10 the very reverse of Bunyan's soul must needs be happy.' This somewhat training. His associates would enable him to draw justifies the conclusion that his father was a Gipsy the awful character and conduct of Badman, as a tinker, that occupation being then followed by the terrible example to deter others from the downGipsy tribe. In the life of Bunyan appended to ward road to misery and perdition. the forged third part of the Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan's parents do not appear to have checked, his father is described as an honest poor labouring or attempted to counteract, his unbridled career of man, who, like Adam unparadised, had all the world wickedness. He gives no hint of the kind; but before him to get his bread in; and was very care- when he notices his wife's father, he adds that he ful and industrious to maintain his family.'! was counted godly ;' and in his beautiful non

Happily for Bunyan, he was born in a neigh- sectarian catechism, there is a very touching conbourhood in which it was a disgrace to any parents clusion to his instructions to children on their not to have their children educated. With grati- behaviour to their parents :— The Lord, if it be tude be records, that it pleased God to put it his will, convert our poor parents, that they, with into their hearts to put me to school to learn both us, may be the children of God.'l1 These fervent to read and to write. In the neighbourhood of his expressions may refer to his own parents ; and, birthplace, a noble charity diffused the blessings of connecting them with other evidence, it appears that lettered knowledge. To this charity Bunyan was he was not blessed with pious example. Upon one for a short period indebted for the rudiments of occasion, when severely reproved for swearing, he education; but, alas, evil associates made awful says—' I wished, with all my heart, that I might Davoc of those slight unshapen literary impres- be a little child again, that my father might learn sions which had been made upon a mind boisterous me to speak without this wicked way of swearing. '12 and impatient of discipline. He says--"To my In his numerous confessions, he never expresses shame, I confess I did soon lose that little I pain at having, by his vicious conduct, occasioned learned, and that almost utterly.' This fact will grief to his father or mother.

From this it may recur to the reader's recollection when he peruses be inferred, that neither his father's example nor Israel's Hope Encouraged, in which, speaking of precept had checked this wretched propensity to the all-important doctrine of justification, he says swearing, and that he owed nothing to his parents

- It is with many that begin with this doctrine for moral training; but, on the contrary, they had as it is with boys that go to the Latin school; connived at, and encouraged him in, a course of life they learn till they have learned the grounds of which made him a curse to the neighbourhood in their grammar, and then go

home and forget all.” which he lived. As soon as his strength enabled him, he devoted In the midst of all this violent depravity, the Holy

Spirit began the work of regeneration in his soul

Vol. ü., p. 617. 3 Grace Atounding, No. 18.

a long, a solemn, yea, an awful work-which Extracted from the first edition in the British Museum.

was to fit this poor debauched youth for purity of It was much altered in the subsequent impressions.

conduct-for communion with heaven—for wonIn 1566, Sir Thomas Harper, Lord Mayor of London, gave drous usefulness as a minister of the gospel-for £180 for thirteen acres and a rood of meadow land in Holboru. This was settled, in trust, to promote the education of the poor patient endurance of sufferings for righteousness' in and round Bedford. În 1868, it produced a yearly revenue sake—for the writing of works which promise to of £99—a considerable sum in that day, but not in any proportion to the present rental, which amounts to upwards of 8 Grace Abounding, No. 4. ' Philip's Life of Bunyan, p. 4.

ii Vol. ii., p. 561, Grace Abounding, No. 3. ? Vol. i., p. 618.

I Vol. i., p. 490.

[ocr errors]


10 Vol. iii., p. 597.

1? Grace Abounding, No. 27.

£12,000 a-year.




even in

be a blessing to the Church in all ages—for his He thus solemnly adds, “In these things, I protest support during his passage through the black river before God, I lie not, neither do I feign this sort which has no bridge-to shine all bright and of speech; these were really, strongly, and with all glorious, as a star in the firmament of heaven. my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose mercy • Wonders of grace to God belong.'

is unsearchable, forgive me my transgressions.' During the period of his open profligacy, his The whole of his career, from childhood to manconscience was ill at ease ; at times the clanking hood, was, “According to the course of this world, of Satan's slavish chains in which he was hurrying according to the prince of the power of the air, to destruction, distracted him. The stern reality the spirit that now worketh in the children of dis. of a future state clouded and embittered many of obedience.' Ep. ii. 2. those moments employed in gratifying his baser These reminiscences are alluded to in the propassions. The face of the erentful times in which logue of the Holy War :-he lived was rapidly changing; the trammels were • When Mansoul trampled upon things Divine, loosened, which, with atrocious penalties, had fet- And wallowed in filth as doth a swine, tered all free inquiry into religious truth. Puritan. Then I was there, and did rejoice to see ism began to walk upright; and as the restraints

Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.' imposed upon Divine truths were taken off, in the The Laureate had read this, and yet considers it same proportion restraints were imposed upon in the language of a heart that never was hardpiety, profaneness, and debauchery. A ringleader ened.' He says that the wickedness of the in all wickedness would not long continue without tinker has been greatly overcharged, and it is reproof, either personally, or as seen in the holy taking the language of self-accusation too literally conduct of others. Bunyan very properly attri- to pronounce of John Bunyan, that he was at any buted to a gracious God, those checks of conscience time depraved. The worst of what he was in his which he so strongly felt even while he was ap- worst days is to be expressed in a single word, parently dead in trespasses and sins. «The Lord, the full meaning of which no circumlocution can

my childhood, did scare and affright me convey; and which, though it may hardly be with fearful dreams, and did terrify me with deemed presentable in serious composition, I shall dreadful visions.' 'I often wished that there had use, as Bunyan himself (no mealy-mouthed writer) been no hell, or that I had been a devil to torment would have used it, had it in his days borne the others.' A common childish but demoniac idea. same acceptation in which it is now universally Ilis mind was as the troubled sea, when it can understood ;-in that word then, he had been a not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.' 'A blackguard. while after, these terrible dreams did leave me ;

The very head and front of his offending and with more greediness, according to the strength

Hath this extent-no more.' of nature, I did let loose the reins of my lusts, and delighted in all transgression against the law of The meaning of the epithet is admirably explained; God.' 'I was the very ringleader of all the youth but what could Dr. Southey imagine possible to that kept me company, into ALL MANNER of vice render such a character more vile in the sight of and ungodliness."

God, or a greater pest to society? Is there any Dr. Southey and others have attempted to vicious propensity, the gratification of which is not whiten this blackamore, but the veil that they included in that character ? Bunyan's estimate of throw over him is so transparent that it cannot his immorality and profaneness prior to his converdeceive those who are in the least degree spiritu- sion, was not made by comparing himself with the ally enlightened. He alleges that Bunyan, in his infinitely Holy One, but he measured his conduct by mad career of vice and folly, was never so given that of his more moral neighbours. In his Jeruover to a reprobate mind,' as to be wholly free salem Sinner Saved, he pleads with great sinners, from compunctions of conscience. This is the the outwardly and violently profane and vicious, case with every depraved character ; but he goes that if he had received mercy, and had become further, when he asserts that “Bunyan's heart regenerated, they surely ought not to despair, but never was hardened." This is directly opposed to to seek earnestly for the same grace. He thus his description of himself :— I found within me a describes himself:—' I speak by experience; I was great desire to take my fill of sin, still studying one of those great sin-breeders ; I infected all the what sin was yet to be committed; and I made youth of the town where I was born ; the neighas much haste as I could to fill my belly with its bours counted me so, my practice proved me so: delicates, lest I should die before I had my desire.' wherefore, Christ Jesus took me first ; and, taking

me first, the contagion was much allayed all Grace Abounding, No. 5.

2 Ibid., No. S. 3 Life, p. vi. * Ibid. p. viii.

Life,. pp. sli., slii.

[ocr errors]



upon me!


the town over. When God made me sigh, they | body was about to murder him; and being waked, would hearken, and inquiringly say, What's the he would start, and stare about him with such a matter with John ? When I went out to seek the wildness, as if some real apparition had yet rebread of life, some of them would follow, and the mained; and generally those dreams were about rest be put into a muse at home. Some of them, evil spirits, in monstrous shapes and forms, that perceiving that God had mercy upon me, came presented themselves to him in threatening poscrying to him for mercy too. Can any one, tures, as if they would have taken him away, or in the face of such language, doubt that he torn him in pieces. At some times they seemed was most eminently a brand snatched from the to belch flame, at other times a continuous smoke, fire;' a pitchy burning brand, known and seen with horrible noises and roaring. Once he dreamed as such by all who witnessed his conduct? He he saw the face of the heavens, as it were, all on pointedly exemplified the character set forth by fire; the firmament crackling and shivering with the James, 'the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, noise of mighty thunders, and an archangel flew set on fire of hell,' Ja. iii. 6. This was as publicly in the midst of heaven, sounding a trumpet, and a known before his conversion, as the effects of the glorious throne was seated in the east, whereon wondrous change were openly seen in his Christian sat one in brightness, like the morning star, upon career afterwards. He who, when convinced of which he, thinking it was the end of the world, sin, strained his eyes to see the distant shining fell upon his knees, and, with uplifted hands light over the wicket-gate, after he had gazed upon towards heaven, cried, O Lord God, have mercy

What shall I do, the day of judgment - The wondrous cross Oo which the Prince of glory died,'

is come, and I am not prepared! When imme

diately he heard a voice behind liim, exceeding became a luminous beacon, to attract the vilest cha- loud, saying, Repent. At another time he dreamed racters to seek newness of life; and if there be that he was in a pleasant place, jovial and riothope for them, no one ought to despair. Far being, banqueting and feasting his senses, when a it from us to cloud this light, or to tarnish so mighty earthquake suddenly rent the earth, and conspicuous an example. Like a Magdalene or a made a wide gap, out of which came bloody flames, thief on the cross, his case may be exhibited to and the figures of men tossed up in globes of encourage hope in every returning prodigal. Dur- fire, and falling down again with horrible cries, ing this period of his childhood, while striving shrieks, and execrations, whilst some devils that to harden his heart against God, many were the were mingled with them, laughed aloud at their glimmerings of light which from time to time torments ; and whilst he stood trembling at this directed his unwilling eyes to a dread eternity. sight, he thought the earth sunk under him, and In the still hours of the night in a dream God a circle of flame enclosed him ; but when he opened' his ears ?—the dreadful vision was that fancied he was just at the point to perish, one devils and wicked spirits laboured to draw me in white shining raiment descended, and plucked away with them.' These thoughts must have left bim out of that dreadful place ; whilst the devils a deep and alarming impression upon his mind; cried after him, to leave him with them, to take for he adds, of which I could never be rid.' the just punishment his sins had deserved, yet he

The author of his life, published in 1692, who escaped the danger, and leaped for joy when he was one of his personal friends, gives the following awoke and found it was a dream.' account of Bunyan's profligacy, and his checks of Such dreams as these fitted him in after life to conscience :—He himself hath often, since his be the glorious dreamer of the Pilgrim's Progress, conversion, confessed with horror, that when he in which a dream is told which doubtless embodies was but a child or stripling, he had but few equals some of those which terrified him in the night for lying, swearing, and blaspheming God's holy visions of his youth. name — living without God in the world; the thoughts of which, when he, by the light of Divine there was one rising out of bed, and as he put on his raiment

In the Interpreter's house he is ‘led into a chamber where grace, came to understand his dangerous condi- he shook and trembled. Then said Christian, Why doth this man tion, drew many showers of tears from his sor- thus tremble? The Interpreter then bid him tell to Christian rowful eyes, and sighs from his groaning heart. the reason of his so doing. So he began and said, This night, The first thing that sensibly touched him in this as I was in my sleep I dreamed, and beh

the heavens grew his unregenerate state, were fearful dreams, and exceeding black; also it thundered and lightened in most visions of the night, which often made him

fearful wise, that it put me into an agony. So I looked up in

cry out in his sleep, and alarm the house, as if some which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a man

my dream, and saw the clouds rack at an unusual rate, upon

sit upon a cloud, attended with the thousands of heaven--they Vol. i., p. 79. 2 Job, xxxiii. 15.

were all in flaming fire ; also the heavens were in a burning Grace Abounding, No. 5, vol. i., p. 6.

flame. I heard then a voice saying, "Arise, ye dead, and come

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« 上一页继续 »