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The Life of John Bunyan by Edmund Venables, M.A.

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This etext was orginally prepared from the 1888 Walter Scott edition
by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk, but will not be kept in
an exact match with that edition as we make corrections/emendations.

The Life of John Bunyan


John Bunyan, the author of the book which has probably passed
through more editions, had a greater number of readers, and been
translated into more languages than any other book in the English
tongue, was born in the parish of Elstow, in Bedfordshire, in the
latter part of the year 1628, and was baptized in the parish church
of the village on the last day of November of that year.

The year of John Bunyan's birth was a momentous one both for the
nation and for the Church of England. Charles I., by the extorted
assent to the Petition of Right, had begun reluctantly to strip
himself of the irresponsible authority he had claimed, and had
taken the first step in the struggle between King and Parliament
which ended in the House of Commons seating itself in the place of
the Sovereign. Wentworth (better known as Lord Strafford) had
finally left the Commons, baffled in his nobly-conceived but vain
hope of reconciling the monarch and his people, and having accepted
a peerage and the promise of the Presidency of the Council of the
North, was foreshadowing his policy of "Thorough," which was
destined to bring both his own head and that of his weak master to
the block. The Remonstrance of Parliament against the toleration
of Roman Catholics and the growth of Arminianism, had been
presented to the indignant king, who, wilfully blinded, had replied
to it by the promotion to high and lucrative posts in the Church of
the very men against whom it was chiefly directed. The most
outrageous upholders of the royal prerogative and the irresponsible
power of the sovereign, Montagu and Mainwaring, had been presented,
the one to the see of Chichester, the other - the impeached and
condemned of the Commons - to the rich living Montagu's
consecration had vacated. Montaigne, the licenser of Mainwaring's
incriminated sermon, was raised to the Archbishopric of York, while
Neile and Laud, who were openly named in the Remonstrance as the
"troublers of the English Israel," were rewarded respectively with
the rich see of Durham and the important and deeply-dyed Puritan
diocese of London. Charles was steadily sowing the wind, and
destined to reap the whirlwind which was to sweep him from his
throne, and involve the monarchy and the Church in the same
overthrow. Three months before Bunyan's birth Buckingham, on the
eve of his departure for the beleaguered and famine-stricken city
of Rochelle, sanguinely hoping to conclude a peace with the French
king beneath its walls, had been struck down by the knife of a
fanatic, to the undisguised joy of the majority of the nation,
bequeathing a legacy of failure and disgrace in the fall of the
Protestant stronghold on which the eyes of Europe had been so long
anxiously fixed.

The year was closing gloomily, with ominous forecasts of the coming
hurricane, when the babe who was destined to leave so imperishable
a name in English literature, first saw the light in an humble
cottage in an obscure Bedfordshire village. His father, Thomas
Bunyan, though styling himself in his will by the more dignified
title of "brazier," was more properly what is known as a "tinker";
"a mender of pots and kettles," according to Bunyan's contemporary
biographer, Charles Doe. He was not, however, a mere tramp or
vagrant, as travelling tinkers were and usually are still, much
less a disreputable sot, a counterpart of Shakespeare's Christopher
Sly, but a man with a recognized calling, having a settled home and
an acknowledged position in the village community of Elstow. The
family was of long standing there, but had for some generations
been going down in the world. Bunyan's grandfather, Thomas Bunyan,
as we learn from his still extant will, carried on the occupation
of a "petty chapman," or small retail dealer, in his own freehold
cottage, which he bequeathed, "with its appurtenances," to his
second wife, Ann, to descend, after her death, to her stepson, his
namesake, Thomas, and her own son Edward, in equal shares. This
cottage, which was probably John Bunyan's birthplace, persistent
tradition, confirmed by the testimony of local names, warrants us
in placing near the hamlet of Harrowden, a mile to the east of the
village of Elstow, at a place long called "Bunyan's End," where two
fields are still called by the name of "Bunyans" and "Further
Bunyans." This small freehold appears to have been all that
remained, at the death of John Bunyan's grandfather, of a property
once considerable enough to have given the name of its possessor to
the whole locality.

The family of Buingnon, Bunyun, Buniun, Boynon, Bonyon, or Binyan
(the name is found spelt in no fewer than thirty-four different
ways, of which the now-established form, Bunyan, is almost the
least frequent) is one that had established itself in Bedfordshire
from very early times. The first place in connection with which
the name appears is Pulloxhill, about nine miles from Elstow. In
1199, the year of King John's accession, the Bunyans had approached
still nearer to that parish. One William Bunion held land at
Wilstead, not more than a mile off. In 1327, the first year of
Edward III., one of the same name, probably his descendant, William
Boynon, is found actually living at Harrowden, close to the spot
which popular tradition names as John Bunyan's birthplace, and was
the owner of property there. We have no further notices of the
Bunyans of Elstow till the sixteenth century. We then find them
greatly fallen. Their ancestral property seems little by little to
have passed into other hands, until in 1542 nothing was left but "a
messuage and pightell (1) with the appurtenances, and nine acres of
land." This small residue other entries on the Court Rolls show to
have been still further diminished by sale. The field already
referred to, known as "Bonyon's End," was sold by "Thomas Bonyon,
of Elstow, labourer," son of William Bonyon, the said Thomas and
his wife being the keepers of a small road-side inn, at which their
overcharges for their home-baked bread and home-brewed beer were
continually bringing them into trouble with the petty local courts
of the day. Thomas Bunyan, John Bunyan's father, was born in the
last days of Elizabeth, and was baptized February 24, 1603, exactly
a month before the great queen passed away. The mother of the
immortal Dreamer was one Margaret Bentley, who, like her husband,
was a native of Elstow and only a few months his junior. The
details of her mother's will, which is still extant, drawn up by
the vicar of Elstow, prove that, like her husband, she did not, in
the words of Bunyan's latest and most complete biographer, the Rev.
Dr. Brown, "come of the very squalid poor, but of people who,
though humble in station, were yet decent and worthy in their
ways." John Bunyan's mother was his father's second wife. The
Bunyans were given to marrying early, and speedily consoled
themselves on the loss of one wife with the companionship of a
successor. Bunyan's grandmother cannot have died before February
24, 1603, the date of his father's baptism. But before the year
was out his grandfather had married again. His father, too, had
not completed his twentieth year when he married his first wife,
Anne Pinney, January 10, 1623. She died in 1627, apparently
without any surviving children, and before the year was half-way
through, on the 23rd of the following May, he was married a second
time to Margaret Bentley. At the end of seventeen years Thomas
Bunyan was again left a widower, and within two months, with
grossly indecent haste, he filled the vacant place with a third
wife. Bunyan himself cannot have been much more than twenty when
he married. We have no particulars of the death of his first wife.
But he had been married two years to his noble-minded second wife
at the time of the assizes in 1661, and the ages of his children by
his first wife would indicate that no long interval elapsed between
his being left a widower and his second marriage.

Elstow, which, as the birthplace of the author of "The Pilgrim's
Progress," has gained a world-wide celebrity, is a quiet little
village, which, though not much more than a mile from the populous
and busy town of Bedford, yet, lying aside from the main stream of
modern life, preserves its old-world look to an unusual degree.
Its name in its original form of "Helen-stow," or "Ellen-stow," the
STOW or stockaded place of St. Helena, is derived from a
Benedictine nunnery founded in 1078 by Judith, niece of William the
Conqueror, the traitorous wife of the judicially murdered Waltheof,
Earl of Huntingdon, in honour of the mother of the Emperor
Constantine. The parish church, so intimately connected with
Bunyan's personal history, is a fragment of the church of the
nunnery, with a detached campanile, or "steeple-house," built to
contain the bells after the destruction of the central tower and
choir of the conventual church. Few villages are so little
modernized as Elstow. The old half-timbered cottages with
overhanging storeys, peaked dormers, and gabled porches, tapestried
with roses and honeysuckles, must be much what they were in
Bunyan's days. A village street, with detached cottages standing
in gardens gay with the homely flowers John Bunyan knew and loved,
leads to the village green, fringed with churchyard elms, in the
middle of which is the pedestal or stump of the market-cross, and
at the upper end of the old "Moot Hall," a quaint brick and timber
building, with a projecting upper storey, a good example of the
domestic architecture of the fifteenth century, originally,
perhaps, the Guesten-Hall of the adjacent nunnery, and afterwards
the Court House of the manor when lay-lords had succeeded the
abbesses - "the scene," writes Dr. Brown "of village festivities,
statute hirings, and all the public occasions of village life."
The whole spot and its surroundings can be but little altered from
the time when our hero was the ringleader of the youth of the place
in the dances on the greensward, which he tells us he found it so
hard to give up, and in "tip-cat," and the other innocent games
which his diseased conscience afterwards regarded as "ungodly
practices." One may almost see the hole from which he was going to
strike his "cat" that memorable Sunday afternoon when he silenced
the inward voice which rebuked him for his sins, and "returned
desperately to his sport again." On the south side of the green,
as we have said, stands the church, a fine though somewhat rude
fragment of the chapel of the nunnery curtailed at both ends, of
Norman and Early English date, which, with its detached bell tower,
was the scene of some of the fierce spiritual conflicts so vividly
depicted by Bunyan in his "Grace Abounding." On entering every
object speaks of Bunyan. The pulpit - if it has survived the
recent restoration - is the same from which Christopher Hall, the
then "Parson" of Elstow, preached the sermon which first awoke his
sleeping conscience. The font is that in which he was baptized, as
were also his father and mother and remoter progenitors, as well as
his children, Mary, his dearly-loved blind child, on July 20, 1650,
and her younger sister, Elizabeth, on April 14, 1654. An old oaken
bench, polished by the hands of thousands of visitors attracted to
the village church by the fame of the tinker of Elstow, is
traditionally shown as the seat he used to occupy when he "went to
church twice a day, and that, too, with the foremost counting all
things holy that were therein contained." The five bells which
hang in the belfry are the same in which Bunyan so much delighted,
the fourth bell, tradition says, being that he was used to ring.
The rough flagged floor, "all worn and broken with the hobnailed
boots of generations of ringers," remains undisturbed. One cannot
see the door, set in its solid masonry, without recalling the
figure of Bunyan standing in it, after conscience, "beginning to be
tender," told him that "such practice was but vain," but yet unable
to deny himself the pleasure of seeing others ring, hoping that,
"if a bell should fall," he could "slip out" safely "behind the
thick walls," and so "be preserved notwithstanding." Behind the
church, on the south side, stand some picturesque ivy-clad remains
of the once stately mansion of the Hillersdons, erected on the site
of the nunnery buildings in the early part of the seventeenth
century, with a porch attributed to Inigo Jones, which may have
given Bunyan the first idea of "the very stately Palace, the name
of which was Beautiful."

The cottage where Bunyan was born, between the two brooks in the
fields at Harrowden, has been so long destroyed that even the
knowledge of its site has passed away. That in which he lived for
six years (1649-1655) after his first marriage, and where his
children were born, is still standing in the village street, but
modern reparations have robbed it of all interest.

From this description of the surroundings among which Bunyan passed
the earliest and most impressionable years of his life, we pass to
the subject of our biography himself. The notion that Bunyan was
of gipsy descent, which was not entirely rejected by Sir Walter
Scott, and which has more recently received elaborate support from
writers on the other side of the Atlantic, may be pronounced
absolutely baseless. Even if Bunyan's inquiry of his father
"whether the family was of Israelitish descent or no," which has
been so strangely pressed into the service of the theory, could be
supposed to have anything to do with the matter, the decided
negative with which his question was met - "he told me, 'No, we
were not'" - would, one would have thought, have settled the point.
But some fictions die hard. However low the family had sunk, so
that in his own words, "his father's house was of that rank that is
meanest and most despised of all the families in the land," "of a
low and inconsiderable generation," the name, as we have seen, was
one of long standing in Bunyan's native county, and had once taken
far higher rank in it. And his parents, though poor, were
evidently worthy people, of good repute among their village
neighbours. Bunyan seems to be describing his own father and his
wandering life when he speaks of "an honest poor labouring man,
who, like Adam unparadised, had all the world to get his bread in,
and was very careful to maintain his family." He and his wife were
also careful with a higher care that their children should be
properly educated. "Notwithstanding the meanness and
inconsiderableness of my parents," writes Bunyan, "it pleased God
to put it into their hearts to put me to school, to learn both to
read and write." If we accept the evidence of the "Scriptural
Poems," published for the first time twelve years after his death,
the genuineness of which, though questioned by Dr. Brown, there
seems no sufficient reason to doubt, the little education he had
was "gained in a grammar school." This would have been that
founded by Sir William Harpur in Queen Mary's reign in the
neighbouring town of Bedford. Thither we may picture the little
lad trudging day by day along the mile and a half of footpath and
road from his father's cottage by the brookside, often, no doubt,
wet and miry enough, not, as he says, to "go to school to Aristotle
or Plato," but to be taught "according to the rate of other poor
men's children." The Bedford school-master about this time,
William Barnes by name, was a negligent sot, charged with "night-
walking" and haunting "taverns and alehouses," and other evil
practices, as well as with treating the poor boys "when present"
with a cruelty which must have made them wish that his absences,
long as they were, had been more protracted. Whether this man was
his master or no, it was little that Bunyan learnt at school, and
that little he confesses with shame he soon lost "almost utterly."
He was before long called home to help his father at the Harrowden
forge, where he says he was "brought up in a very mean condition
among a company of poor countrymen." Here, with but little to
elevate or refine his character, the boy contracted many bad
habits, and grew up what Coleridge somewhat too strongly calls "a
bitter blackguard." According to his own remorseful confession, he
was "filled with all unrighteousness," having "from a child" in his
"tender years," "but few equals both for cursing, swearing, lying
and blaspheming the holy name of God." Sins of this kind he
declares became "a second nature to him;" he "delighted in all
transgression against the law of God," and as he advanced in his
teens he became a "notorious sinbreeder," the "very ringleader," he
says, of the village lads "in all manner of vice and ungodliness."
But the unsparing condemnation passed by Bunyan, after his
conversion, on his former self, must not mislead us into supposing
him ever, either as boy or man, to have lived a vicious life. "The
wickedness of the tinker," writes Southey, "has been greatly
overrated, and it is taking the language of self-accusation too
literally to pronounce of John Bunyan that he was at any time
depraved." The justice of this verdict of acquittal is fully
accepted by Coleridge. "Bunyan," he says, "was never in our
received sense of the word 'wicked.' He was chaste, sober, and
honest." He hints at youthful escapades, such, perhaps, as
orchard-robbing, or when a little older, poaching, and the like,
which might have brought him under "the stroke of the laws," and
put him to "open shame before the face of the world." But he
confesses to no crime or profligate habit. We have no reason to
suppose that he was ever drunk, and we have his own most solemn
declaration that he was never guilty of an act of unchastity. "In
our days," to quote Mr. Froude, "a rough tinker who could say as
much for himself after he had grown to manhood, would be regarded
as a model of self-restraint. If in Bedford and the neighbourhood
there was no young man more vicious than Bunyan, the moral standard
of an English town in the seventeenth century must have been higher
than believers in progress will be pleased to allow." How then, it
may be asked, are we to explain the passionate language in which he
expresses his self-abhorrence, which would hardly seem exaggerated
in the mouth of the most profligate and licentious? We are
confident that Bunyan meant what he said. So intensely honest a
nature could not allow his words to go beyond his convictions.
When he speaks of "letting loose the reins to his lusts," and
sinning "with the greatest delight and ease," we know that however
exaggerated they may appear to us, his expressions did not seem to
him overstrained. Dr. Johnson marvelled that St. Paul could call
himself "the chief of sinners," and expressed a doubt whether he
did so honestly. But a highly-strung spiritual nature like that of
the apostle, when suddenly called into exercise after a period of
carelessness, takes a very different estimate of sin from that of
the world, even the decent moral world, in general. It realizes
its own offences, venial as they appear to others, as sins against
infinite love - a love unto death - and in the light of the
sacrifice on Calvary, recognizes the heinousness of its guilt, and
while it doubts not, marvels that it can be pardoned. The
sinfulness of sin - more especially their own sin - is the
intensest of all possible realities to them. No language is too
strong to describe it. We may not unreasonably ask whether this
estimate, however exaggerated it may appear to those who are
strangers to these spiritual experiences, is altogether a mistaken

The spiritual instinct was very early awakened in Bunyan. While
still a child "but nine or ten years old," he tells us he was
racked with convictions of sin, and haunted with religious fears.
He was scared with "fearful dreams," and "dreadful visions," and
haunted in his sleep with "apprehensions of devils and wicked
spirits" coming to carry him away, which made his bed a place of
terrors. The thought of the Day of Judgment and of the torments of
the lost, often came as a dark cloud over his mind in the midst of
his boyish sports, and made him tremble. But though these fevered
visions embittered his enjoyment while they lasted, they were but
transient, and after a while they entirely ceased "as if they had
never been," and he gave himself up without restraint to the
youthful pleasures in which his ardent nature made him ever the
ringleader. The "thoughts of religion" became very grievous to
him. He could not endure even to see others read pious books; "it
would be as a prison to me." The awful realities of eternity which
had once been so crushing to his spirit were "both out of sight and
mind." He said to God, "depart from me." According to the later
morbid estimate which stigmatized as sinful what were little more
than the wild acts of a roystering dare-devil young fellow, full of
animal spirits and with an unusually active imagination, he "could
sin with the greatest delight and ease, and take pleasure in the
vileness of his companions." But that the sense of religion was
not wholly dead in him even then, and that while discarding its
restraints he had an inward reverence for it, is shown by the
horror he experienced if those who had a reputation for godliness
dishonoured their profession. "Once," he says, "when I was at the
height of my vanity, hearing one to swear who was reckoned for a
religious man, it had so great a stroke upon my spirit that it made
my heart to ache."

This undercurrent of religious feeling was deepened by providential
escapes from accidents which threatened his life - "judgments mixed
with mercy" he terms them, - which made him feel that he was not
utterly forsaken of God. Twice he narrowly escaped drowning; once
in "Bedford river" - the Ouse; once in "a creek of the sea," his
tinkering rounds having, perhaps, carried him as far northward as
the tidal inlets of the Wash in the neighbourhood of Spalding or
Lynn, or to the estuaries of the Stour and Orwell to the east. At
another time, in his wild contempt of danger, he tore out, while
his companions looked on with admiration, what he mistakenly
supposed to be an adder's sting.

These providential deliverances bring us to that incident in his
brief career as a soldier which his anonymous biographer tells us
"made so deep an impression upon him that he would never mention
it, which he often did, without thanksgiving to God." But for this
occurrence, indeed, we should have probably never known that he had
ever served in the army at all. The story is best told in his own
provokingly brief words - "When I was a soldier I with others were
drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it. But when I was just
ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room; to which
when I consented, he took my place, and coming to the siege, as he
stood sentinel, he was shot in the head with a musket bullet and
died." Here, as is so often the case in Bunyan's autobiography, we
have reason to lament the complete absence of details. This is
characteristic of the man. The religious import of the occurrences
he records constituted their only value in his eyes; their temporal
setting, which imparts their chief interest to us, was of no
account to him. He gives us not the slightest clue to the name of
the besieged place, or even to the side on which he was engaged.
The date of the event is left equally vague. The last point
however we are able to determine with something like accuracy.
November, 1644, was the earliest period at which Bunyan could have
entered the army, for it was not till then that he reached the
regulation age of sixteen. Domestic circumstances had then
recently occurred which may have tended to estrange him from his
home, and turn his thoughts to a military life. In the previous
June his mother had died, her death being followed within a month
by that of his sister Margaret. Before another month was out, his
father, as we have already said, had married again, and whether the
new wife had proved the proverbial INJUSTA NOVERCA or not, his home
must have been sufficiently altered by the double, if we may not
say triple, calamity, to account for his leaving the dull monotony
of his native village for the more stirring career of a soldier.
Which of the two causes then distracting the nation claimed his
adherence, Royalist or Parliamentarian, can never be determined.
As Mr. Froude writes, "He does not tell us himself. His friends in
after life did not care to ask him or he to inform them, or else
they thought the matter of too small importance to be worth
mentioning with exactness." The only evidence is internal, and the
deductions from it vary with the estimate of the counter-balancing
probabilities taken by Bunyan's various biographers. Lord
Macaulay, whose conclusion is ably, and, we think, convincingly
supported by Dr. Brown, decides in favour of the side of the
Parliament. Mr. Froude, on the other hand, together with the
painstaking Mr. Offor, holds that "probability is on the side of
his having been with the Royalists." Bedfordshire, however, was
one of the "Associated Counties" from which the Parliamentary army
drew its main strength, and it was shut in by a strong line of
defence from any combination with the Royalist army. In 1643 the
county had received an order requiring it to furnish "able and
armed men" to the garrison at Newport Pagnel, which was then the
base of operations against the King in that part of England. All
probability therefore points to John Bunyan, the lusty young tinker
of Elstow, the leader in all manly sports and adventurous
enterprises among his mates, and probably caring very little on
what side he fought, having been drafted to Newport to serve under
Sir Samuel Luke, of Cople, and other Parliamentary commanders. The
place of the siege he refers to is equally undeterminable. A
tradition current within a few years of Bunyan's death, which Lord
Macaulay rather rashly invests with the certainty of fact, names
Leicester. The only direct evidence for this is the statement of
an anonymous biographer, who professes to have been a personal
friend of Bunyan's, that he was present at the siege of Leicester,
in 1645, as a soldier in the Parliamentary army. This statement,
however, is in direct defiance of Bunyan's own words. For the one
thing certain in the matter is that wherever the siege may have
been, Bunyan was not at it. He tells us plainly that he was "drawn
to go," and that when he was just starting, he gave up his place to
a comrade who went in his room, and was shot through the head.
Bunyan's presence at the siege of Leicester, which has been so
often reported that it has almost been regarded as an historical
truth, must therefore take its place among the baseless creations
of a fertile fancy.

Bunyan's military career, wherever passed and under whatever
standard, was very short. The civil war was drawing near the end
of its first stage when he enlisted. He had only been a soldier a
few months when the battle of Naseby, fatal to the royal cause, was
fought, June 14, 1645. Bristol was surrendered by Prince Rupert,
Sept. 10th. Three days later Montrose was totally defeated at
Philiphaugh; and after a vain attempt to relieve Chester, Charles
shut himself up in Oxford. The royal garrisons yielded in quick
succession; in 1646 the armies on both sides were disbanded, and
the first act in the great national tragedy having come to a close,
Bunyan returned to Elstow, and resumed his tinker's work at the
paternal forge. His father, old Thomas Bunyan, it may here be
mentioned, lived all through his famous son's twelve years'
imprisonment, witnessed his growing celebrity as a preacher and a
writer, and died in the early part of 1676, just when John Bunyan
was passing through his last brief period of durance, which was to
give birth to the work which has made him immortal.


It cannot have been more than two or three years after Bunyan's
return home from his short experience of a soldier's life, that he
took the step which, more than any other, influences a man's future
career for good or for evil. The young tinker married. With his
characteristic disregard of all facts or dates but such as concern
his spiritual history, Bunyan tells us nothing about the orphan
girl he made his wife. Where he found her, who her parents were,
where they were married, even her christian name, were all deemed
so many irrelevant details. Indeed the fact of his marriage would
probably have been passed over altogether but for the important
bearing it hid on his inner life. His "mercy," as he calls it,
"was to light upon a wife whose father was counted godly," and who,
though she brought him no marriage portion, so that they "came
together as poor as poor might be," as "poor as howlets," to adopt
his own simile, "without so much household stuff as a dish or a
spoon betwixt" them, yet brought with her to the Elstow cottage two
religious books, which had belonged to her father, and which he
"had left her when he died." These books were "The Plain Man's
Pathway to Heaven," the work of Arthur Dent, the puritan incumbent
of Shoebury, in Essex - "wearisomely heavy and theologically
narrow," writes Dr. Brown - and "The Practise of Piety," by Dr.
Lewis Bayley, Bishop of Bangor, and previously chaplain to Prince
Henry, which enjoyed a wide reputation with puritans as well as
with churchmen. Together with these books, the young wife brought
the still more powerful influence of a religious training, and the
memory of a holy example, often telling her young graceless husband
"what a godly man her father was, and how he would reprove and
correct vice both in his house and amongst his neighbours, and what
a strict and holy life he lived in his days both in word and deed."
Much as Bunyan tells us he had lost of the "little he had learnt"
at school, he had not lost it "utterly." He was still able to read
intelligently. His wife's gentle influence prevailed on him to
begin "sometimes to read" her father's legacy "with her." This
must have been entirely new reading for Bunyan, and certainly at
first not much to his taste. What his favourite reading had been
up to this time, his own nervous words tell us, "Give me a ballad,
a news-book, George on Horseback, or Bevis of Southampton; give me
some book that teaches curious arts, that tells of old fables."
But as he and his young wife read these books together at their
fireside, a higher taste was gradually awakened in Bunyan's mind;
"some things" in them he "found somewhat pleasing" to him, and they
"begot" within him "some desires to religion," producing a degree
of outward reformation. The spiritual instinct was aroused. He
would be a godly man like his wife's father. He began to "go to
church twice a day, and that too with the foremost." Nor was it a
mere formal attendance, for when there he tells us he took his part
with all outward devotion in the service, "both singing and saying
as others did; yet," as he penitently confesses, "retaining his
wicked life," the wickedness of which, however, did not amount to
more than a liking for the sports and games of the lads of the
village, bell-ringing, dancing, and the like. The prohibition of
all liturgical forms issued in 1645, the observance of which varied
with the strictness or laxity of the local authorities, would not
seem to have been put in force very rigidly at Elstow. The vicar,
Christopher Hall, was an Episcopalian, who, like Bishop Sanderson,
retained his benefice unchallenged all through the Protectorate,
and held it some years after the Restoration and the passing of the
Act of Uniformity. He seems, like Sanderson, to have kept himself
within the letter of the law by making trifling variations in the
Prayer Book formularies, consistent with a general conformity to
the old order of the Church, "without persisting to his own
destruction in the usage of the entire liturgy." The decent
dignity of the ceremonial of his parish church had a powerful
effect on Bunyan's freshly awakened religious susceptibility - a
"spirit of superstition" he called it afterwards - and helped to
its fuller development. "I adored," he says, "with great devotion,
even all things, both the High Place" - altars then had not been
entirely broken down and levelled in Bedfordshire - "Priest, Clerk,
Vestment, Service, and what else belonging to the church, counting
all things holy that were therein contained, and especially the
Priest and Clerk most happy, and without doubt greatly blessed
because they were the servants of God and were principal in the
Holy Temple, to do His work therein, . . . their name, their garb,
and work, did so intoxicate and bewitch me." If it is questionable
whether the Act forbidding the use of the Book of Common Prayer was
strictly observed at Elstow, it is certain that the prohibition of
Sunday sports was not. Bunyan's narrative shows that the aspect of
a village green in Bedfordshire during the Protectorate did not
differ much from what Baxter tells us it had been in Shropshire
before the civil troubles began, where, "after the Common Prayer
had been read briefly, the rest of the day even till dark night
almost, except eating time, was spent in dancing under a maypole
and a great tree, when all the town did meet together." These
Sunday sports proved the battle-ground of Bunyan's spiritual
experience, the scene of the fierce inward struggles which he has
described so vividly, through which he ultimately reached the firm
ground of solid peace and hope. As a high-spirited healthy
athletic young fellow, all kinds of manly sports were Bunyan's
delight. On week days his tinker's business, which he evidently
pursued industriously, left him small leisure for such amusements.
Sunday therefore was the day on which he "did especially solace
himself" with them. He had yet to learn the identification of
diversions with "all manner of vice." The teaching came in this
way. One Sunday, Vicar Hall preached a sermon on the sin of
Sabbath-breaking, and like many hearers before and since, he
imagined that it was aimed expressly at him. Sermon ended, he went
home "with a great burden upon his spirit," "sermon-stricken" and
"sermon sick" as he expresses it elsewhere. But his Sunday's
dinner speedily drove away his self-condemning thoughts. He "shook
the sermon out of his mind," and went out to his sports with the
Elstow lads on the village green, with as "great delight" as ever.
But in the midst of his game of tip-cat or "sly," just as he had
struck the "cat" from its hole, and was going to give it a second
blow - the minuteness of the detail shows the unforgetable reality
of the crisis - he seemed to hear a voice from heaven asking him
whether "he would leave his sins and go to heaven, or keep his sins
and go to hell." He thought also that he saw Jesus Christ looking
down on him with threatening countenance. But like his own Hopeful
he "shut his eyes against the light," and silenced the condemning
voice with the feeling that repentance was hopeless. "It was too
late for him to look after heaven; he was past pardon." If his
condemnation was already sealed and he was eternally lost, it would
not matter whether he was condemned for many sins or for few.
Heaven was gone already. The only happiness he could look for was
what he could get out of his sins - his morbidly sensitive
conscience perversely identifying sports with sin - so he returned
desperately to his games, resolved, he says, to "take my fill of
sin, still studying what sin was yet to be committed that I might
taste the sweetness of it."

This desperate recklessness lasted with him "about a month or
more," till "one day as he was standing at a neighbour's shop-
window, cursing and swearing and playing the madman after his
wonted manner, the woman of the house, though a very loose and
ungodly wretch," rebuked him so severely as "the ungodliest fellow
for swearing that ever she heard, able to spoil all the youth in a
whole town," that, self-convicted, he hung down his head in silent
shame, wishing himself a little child again that he might unlearn
the wicked habit of which he thought it impossible to break
himself. Hopeless as the effort seemed to him, it proved
effectual. He did "leave off his swearing" to his own "great
wonder," and found that he "could speak better and with more
pleasantness" than when he "put an oath before and another behind,
to give his words authority." Thus was one step in his reformation
taken, and never retraced; but, he adds sorrowfully, "all this
while I knew not Jesus Christ, neither did I leave my sports and
plays." We might be inclined to ask, why should he leave them?
But indifferent and innocent in themselves, an overstrained
spirituality had taught him to regard them as sinful. To indulge
in them wounded his morbidly sensitive conscience, and so they were
sin to him.

The next step onward in this religious progress was the study of
the Bible, to which he was led by the conversation of a poor godly
neighbour. Naturally he first betook himself to the historical
books, which, he tells us, he read "with great pleasure;" but, like
Baxter who, beginning his Bible reading in the same course, writes,
"I neither understood nor relished much the doctrinal part," he
frankly confesses, "Paul's Epistles and such like Scriptures I
could not away with." His Bible reading helped forward the outward
reformation he had begun. He set the keeping the Ten Commandments
before him as his "way to Heaven"; much comforted "sometimes" when,
as he thought, "he kept them pretty well," but humbled in
conscience when "now and then he broke one." "But then," he says,
"I should repent and say I was sorry for it, and promise God to do
better next time, and then get help again; for then I thought I
pleased God as well as any man in England." His progress was slow,
for each step involved a battle, but it was steadily onwards. He
had a very hard struggle in relinquishing his favourite amusements.
But though he had much yet to learn, his feet were set on the
upward way, and he had no mind to go back, great as the temptation
often was. He had once delighted in bell-ringing, but "his
conscience beginning to be tender" - morbid we should rather say -
"he thought such practise to be vain, and therefore forced himself
to leave it." But "hankering after it still," he continued to go
while his old companions rang, and look on at what he "durst not"
join in, until the fear that if he thus winked at what his
conscience condemned, a bell, or even the tower itself, might fall
and kill him, put a stop even to that compromise. Dancing, which
from his boyhood he had practised on the village green, or in the
old Moot Hall, was still harder to give up. "It was a full year
before I could quite leave that." But this too was at last
renounced, and finally. The power of Bunyan's indomitable will was
bracing itself for severe trials yet to come.

Meanwhile Bunyan's neighbours regarded with amazement the changed
life of the profane young tinker. "And truly," he honestly
confesses, "so they well might for this my conversion was as great
as for Tom of Bedlam to become a sober man." Bunyan's reformation
was soon the town's talk; he had "become godly," "become a right
honest man." These commendations flattered is vanity, and he laid
himself out for them. He was then but a "poor painted hypocrite,"
he says, "proud of his godliness, and doing all he did either to be
seen of, or well spoken of by man." This state of self-
satisfaction, he tells us, lasted "for about a twelvemonth or
more." During this deceitful calm he says, "I had great peace of
conscience, and should think with myself, 'God cannot choose but
now be pleased with me,' yea, to relate it in mine own way, I
thought no man in England could please God better than I." But no
outward reformation can bring lasting inward peace. When a man is
honest with himself, the more earnestly he struggles after complete
obedience, the more faulty does his obedience appear. The good
opinion of others will not silence his own inward condemnation. He
needs a higher righteousness than his own; a firmer standing-ground
than the shifting quicksand of his own good deeds. "All this
while," he writes, "poor wretch as I was, I was ignorant of Jesus
Christ, and going about to establish my own righteousness, and had
perished therein had not God in mercy showed me more of my state by

This revolution was nearer than he imagined. Bunyan's self-
satisfaction was rudely shaken, and his need of something deeper in
the way of religion than he had yet experienced was shown him by
the conversation of three or four poor women whom, one day, when
pursuing his tinker's calling at Bedford, he came upon "sitting at
a door in the sun, and talking of the things of God." These women
were members of the congregation of "the holy Mr. John Gifford,"
who, at that time of ecclesiastical confusion, subsequently became
rector of St. John's Church, in Bedford, and master of the hospital
attached to it. Gifford's career had been a strange one. We hear
of him first as a young major in the king's army at the outset of
the Civil War, notorious for his loose and debauched life, taken by
Fairfax at Maidstone in 1648, and condemned to the gallows. By his
sister's help he eluded his keepers' vigilance, escaped from
prison, and ultimately found his way to Bedford, where for a time
he practised as a physician, though without any change of his loose
habits. The loss of a large sum of money at gaming awoke a disgust
at his dissolute life. A few sentences of a pious book deepened
the impression. He became a converted man, and joined himself to a
handful of earnest Christians in Bedford, who becoming, in the
language of the day, "a church," he was appointed its first
minister. Gifford exercised a deep and vital though narrow
influence, leaving behind him at his death, in 1655, the character
of a "wise, tolerant, and truly Christian man." The conversation
of the poor women who were destined to exercise so momentous an
influence on Bunyan's spiritual life, evidenced how thoroughly they
had drunk in their pastor's teaching. Bunyan himself was at this
time a "brisk talker in the matters of religion," such as he drew
from the life in his own Talkative. But the words of these poor
women were entirely beyond him. They opened a new and blessed land
to which he was a complete stranger. "They spoke of their own
wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief, of their miserable state
by nature, of the new birth, and the work of God in their souls,
and how the Lord refreshed them, and supported them against the
temptations of the Devil by His words and promises." But what
seems to have struck Bunyan the most forcibly was the happiness
which their religion shed in the hearts of these poor women.
Religion up to this time had been to him a system of rules and
restrictions. Heaven was to be won by doing certain things and not
doing certain other things. Of religion as a Divine life kindled
in the soul, and flooding it with a joy which creates a heaven on
earth, he had no conception. Joy in believing was a new thing to
him. "They spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with
such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance
of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had
found a new world," a veritable "El Dorado," stored with the true
riches. Bunyan, as he says, after he had listened awhile and
wondered at their words, left them and went about his work again.
But their words went with him. He could not get rid of them. He
saw that though he thought himself a godly man, and his neighbours
thought so too, he wanted the true tokens of godliness. He was
convinced that godliness was the only true happiness, and he could
not rest till he had attained it. So he made it his business to be
going again and again into the company of these good women. He
could not stay away, and the more he talked with them the more
uneasy he became - "the more I questioned my own condition." The
salvation of his soul became all in all to him. His mind "lay
fixed on eternity like a horse-leech at the vein." The Bible
became precious to him. He read it with new eyes, "as I never did
before." "I was indeed then never out of the Bible, either by
reading or meditation." The Epistles of St. Paul, which before he
"could not away with," were now "sweet and pleasant" to him. He
was still "crying out to God that he might know the truth and the
way to Heaven and glory." Having no one to guide him in his study
of the most difficult of all books, it is no wonder that he
misinterpreted and misapplied its words in a manner which went far
to unsettle his brain. He read that without faith he could not be
saved, and though he did not clearly know what faith was, it became
a question of supreme anxiety to him to determine whether he had it
or not. If not, he was a castaway indeed, doomed to perish for
ever. So he determined to put it to the test. The Bible told him
that faith, "even as a grain of mustard seed," would enable its
possessor to work miracles. So, as Mr. Froude says, "not
understanding Oriental metaphors," he thought he had here a simple
test which would at once solve the question. One day as he was
walking along the miry road between Elstow and Bedford, which he
had so often paced as a schoolboy, "the temptation came hot upon
him" to put the matter to the proof, by saying to the puddles that
were in the horse-pads "be dry," and to the dry places, "be ye
puddles." He was just about to utter the words when a sudden
thought stopped him. Would it not be better just to go under the
hedge and pray that God would enable him? This pause saved him
from a rash venture, which might have landed him in despair. For
he concluded that if he tried after praying and nothing came of it,
it would prove that he had no faith, but was a castaway. "Nay,
thought I, if it be so, I will never try yet, but will stay a
little longer." "Then," he continues, "I was so tossed betwixt the
Devil and my own ignorance, and so perplexed, especially at
sometimes, that I could not tell what to do." At another time his
mind, as the minds of thousands have been and will be to the end,
was greatly harassed by the insoluble problems of predestination
and election. The question was not now whether he had faith, but
"whether he was one of the elect or not, and if not, what then?"
"He might as well leave off and strive no further." And then the
strange fancy occurred to him, that the good people at Bedford
whose acquaintance he had recently made, were all that God meant to
save in that part of the country, and that the day of grace was
past and gone for him; that he had overstood the time of mercy.
"Oh that he had turned sooner!" was then his cry. "Oh that he had
turned seven years before! What a fool he had been to trifle away
his time till his soul and heaven were lost!" The text, "compel
them to come in, and yet there is room," came to his rescue when he
was so harassed and faint that he was "scarce able to take one step
more." He found them "sweet words," for they showed him that there
was "place enough in heaven for him," and he verily believed that
when Christ spoke them He was thinking of him, and had them
recorded to help him to overcome the vile fear that there was no
place left for him in His bosom. But soon another fear succeeded
the former. Was he truly called of Christ? "He called to them
when He would, and they came to Him." But they could not come
unless He called them. Had He called him? Would He call him? If
He did how gladly would he run after Him. But oh, he feared that
He had no liking to him; that He would not call him. True
conversion was what he longed for. "Could it have been gotten for
gold," he said, "what could I have given for it! Had I a whole
world, it had all gone ten thousand times over for this, that my
soul might have been in a converted state." All those whom he
thought to be truly converted were now lovely in his eyes. "They
shone, they walked like people that carried the broad seal of
heaven about them. Oh that he were like them, and shared in their
goodly heritage!"

About this time Bunyan was greatly troubled, though at the same
time encouraged in his endeavours after the blessedness he longed
for so earnestly but could not yet attain to, by "a dream or
vision" which presented itself to him, whether in his waking or
sleeping hours he does not tell us. He fancied he saw his four
Bedford friends refreshing themselves on the sunny side of a high
mountain while he was shivering with dark and cold on the other
side, parted from them by a high wall with only one small gap in
it, and that not found but after long searching, and so strait and
narrow withal that it needed long and desperate efforts to force
his way through. At last he succeeded. "Then," he says, "I was
exceeding glad, and went and sat down in the midst of them, and so
was comforted with the light and heat of their sun."

But this sunshine shone but in illusion, and soon gave place to the
old sad questioning, which filled his soul with darkness. Was he
already called, or should he be called some day? He would give
worlds to know. Who could assure him? At last some words of the
prophet Joel (chap. iii, 21) encouraged him to hope that if not
converted already, the time might come when he should be converted
to Christ. Despair began to give way to hopefulness.

At this crisis Bunyan took the step which he would have been wise
if he had taken long before. He sought the sympathy and counsel of
others. He began to speak his mind to the poor people in Bedford
whose words of religious experiences had first revealed to him his
true condition. By them he was introduced to their pastor, "the
godly Mr. Gifford," who invited him to his house and gave him
spiritual counsel. He began to attend the meetings of his

The teaching he received here was but ill-suited for one of
Bunyan's morbid sensitiveness. For it was based upon a constant
introspection and a scrupulous weighing of each word and action,
with a torturing suspicion of its motive, which made a man's ever-
varying spiritual feelings the standard of his state before God,
instead of leading him off from self to the Saviour. It is not,
therefore, at all surprising that a considerable period intervened
before, in the language of his school, "he found peace." This
period, which seems to have embraced two or three years, was marked
by that tremendous inward struggle which he has described, "as with
a pen of fire," in that marvellous piece of religious
autobiography, without a counterpart except in "The Confessions of
St. Augustine," his "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners."
Bunyan's first experiences after his introduction to Mr. Gifford
and the inner circle of his disciples were most discouraging. What
he heard of God's dealings with their souls showed him something of
"the vanity and inward wretchedness of his wicked heart," and at
the same time roused all its hostility to God's will. "It did work
at that rate for wickedness as it never did before." "The
Canaanites WOULD dwell in the land." "His heart hankered after
every foolish vanity, and hung back both to and in every duty, as a
clog on the leg of a bird to hinder her from flying." He thought
that he was growing "worse and worse," and was "further from
conversion than ever before." Though he longed to let Christ into
his heart, "his unbelief would, as it were, set its shoulder to the
door to keep Him out."

Yet all the while he was tormented with the most perverse
scrupulosity of conscience. "As to the act of sinning, I never was
more tender than now; I durst not take a pin or a stick, though but
so big as a straw, for my conscience now was sore, and would smart
at every twist. I could not now tell how to speak my words, for
fear I should misplace them. Oh! how gingerly did I then go in all
I did or said: I found myself in a miry bog, that shook if I did
but stir, and was as those left both of God, and Christ, and the
Spirit, and all good things." All the misdoings of his earlier
years rose up against him. There they were, and he could not rid
himself of them. He thought that no one could be so bad as he was;
"not even the Devil could be his equal: he was more loathsome in
his own eyes than a toad." What then must God think of him?
Despair seized fast hold of him. He thought he was "forsaken of
God and given up to the Devil, and to a reprobate mind." Nor was
this a transient fit of despondency. "Thus," he writes, "I
continued a long while, even for some years together."

This is not the place minutely to pursue Bunyan's religious history
through the sudden alternations of hopes and fears, the fierce
temptations, the torturing illusions, the strange perversions of
isolated scraps of Bible language - texts torn from their context -
the harassing doubts as to the truth of Christianity, the depths of
despair and the elevations of joy, which he has portrayed with his
own inimitable graphic power. It is a picture of fearful
fascination that he draws. "A great storm" at one time comes down
upon him, "piece by piece," which "handled him twenty times worse
than all he had met with before," while "floods of blasphemies were
poured upon his spirit," and would "bolt out of his heart." He
felt himself driven to commit the unpardonable sin and blaspheme
the Holy Ghost, "whether he would or no." "No sin would serve but
that." He was ready to "clap his hand under his chin," to keep his
mouth shut, or to leap head-foremost "into some muckhill-hole," to
prevent his uttering the fatal words. At last he persuaded himself
that he had committed the sin, and a good but not overwise man, "an
ancient Christian," whom he consulted on his sad case, told him he
thought so too, "which was but cold comfort." He thought himself
possessed by the devil, and compared himself to a child "carried
off under her apron by a gipsy." "Kick sometimes I did, and also
shriek and cry, but yet I was as bound in the wings of the
temptation, and the wind would carry me away." He wished himself
"a dog or a toad," for they "had no soul to be lost as his was like
to be;" and again a hopeless callousness seemed to settle upon him.
"If I would have given a thousand pounds for a tear I could not
shed one; no, nor sometimes scarce desire to shed one." And yet he
was all the while bewailing this hardness of heart, in which he
thought himself singular. "This much sunk me. I thought my
condition was alone; but how to get out of, or get rid of, these
things I could not." Again the very ground of his faith was
shaken. "Was the Bible true, or was it not rather a fable and
cunning story?" All thought "their own religion true. Might not
the Turks have as good Scriptures to prove their Mahomet Saviour as
Christians had for Christ? What if all we believed in should be
but 'a think-so' too?" So powerful and so real were his illusions
that he had hard work to keep himself from praying to things about
him, to "a bush, a bull, a besom, or the like," or even to Satan
himself. He heard voices behind him crying out that Satan desired
to have him, and that "so loud and plain that he would turn his
head to see who was calling him;" when on his knees in prayer he
fancied he felt the foul fiend pull his clothes from behind,
bidding him "break off, make haste; you have prayed enough."

This "horror of great darkness" was not always upon him. Bunyan
had his intervals of "sunshine-weather" when Giant Despair's fits
came on him, and the giant "lost the use of his hand." Texts of
Scripture would give him a "sweet glance," and flood his soul with
comfort. But these intervals of happiness were but short-lived.
They were but "hints, touches, and short visits," sweet when
present, but "like Peter's sheet, suddenly caught up again into
heaven." But, though transient, they helped the burdened Pilgrim
onward. So vivid was the impression sometimes made, that years
after he could specify the place where these beams of sunlight fell
on him - "sitting in a neighbour's house," - "travelling into the
country," - as he was "going home from sermon." And the joy was
real while it lasted. The words of the preacher's text, "Behold,
thou art fair, my love," kindling his spirit, he felt his "heart
filled with comfort and hope." "Now I could believe that my sins
would be forgiven." He was almost beside himself with ecstasy. "I
was now so taken with the love and mercy of God that I thought I
could have spoken of it even to the very crows that sat upon the
ploughed lands before me, had they been capable to have understood
me." "Surely," he cried with gladness, "I will not forget this
forty years hence." "But, alas! within less than forty days I
began to question all again." It was the Valley of the Shadow of
Death which Bunyan, like his own Pilgrim, was travelling through.
But, as in his allegory, "by and by the day broke," and "the Lord
did more fully and graciously discover Himself unto him." "One
day," he writes, "as I was musing on the wickedness and blasphemy
of my heart, that scripture came into my mind, 'He hath made peace
by the Blood of His Cross.' By which I was made to see, both again
and again and again that day, that God and my soul were friends by
this blood: Yea, I saw the justice of God and my sinful soul could
embrace and kiss each other. This was a good day to me. I hope I
shall not forget it." At another time the "glory and joy" of a
passage in the Hebrews (ii. 14-15) were "so weighty" that "I was
once or twice ready to swoon as I sat, not with grief and trouble,
but with solid joy and peace." "But, oh! now how was my soul led
on from truth to truth by God; now had I evidence of my salvation
from heaven, with many golden seals thereon all banging in my
sight, and I would long that the last day were come, or that I were
fourscore years old, that I might die quickly that my soul might be
at rest."

At this time he fell in with an old tattered copy of Luther's
"Commentary on the Galatians," "so old that it was ready to fall
piece from piece if I did but turn it over." As he read, to his
amazement and thankfulness, he found his own spiritual experience
described. "It was as if his book had been written out of my
heart." It greatly comforted him to find that his condition was
not, as he had thought, solitary, but that others had known the
same inward struggles. "Of all the books that ever he had seen,"
he deemed it "most fit for a wounded conscience." This book was
also the means of awakening an intense love for the Saviour. "Now
I found, as I thought, that I loved Christ dearly. Oh, methought
my soul cleaved unto Him, my affections cleaved unto Him; I felt
love to Him as hot as fire."

And very quickly, as he tells us, his "love was tried to some
purpose." He became the victim of an extraordinary temptation - "a
freak of fancy," Mr. Froude terms it - "fancy resenting the
minuteness with which he watched his own emotions." He had "found
Christ" and felt Him "most precious to his soul." He was now
tempted to give Him up, "to sell and part with this most blessed
Christ, to exchange Him for the things of this life; for anything."
Nor was this a mere passing, intermittent delusion. "It lay upon
me for the space of a year, and did follow me so continually that I
was not rid of it one day in a month, no, not sometimes one hour in
many days together, except when I was asleep." Wherever he was,
whatever he was doing day and night, in bed, at table, at work, a
voice kept sounding in his ears, bidding him "sell Christ" for this
or that. He could neither "eat his food, stoop for a pin, chop a
stick, or cast his eyes on anything" but the hateful words were
heard, "not once only, but a hundred times over, as fast as a man
could speak, 'sell Him, sell Him, sell Him,' and, like his own
Christian in the dark valley, he could not determine whether they
were suggestions of the Wicked One, or came from his own heart.
The agony was so intense, while, for hours together, he struggled
with the temptation, that his whole body was convulsed by it. It
was no metaphorical, but an actual, wrestling with a tangible
enemy. He "pushed and thrust with his hands and elbows," and kept
still answering, as fast as the destroyer said "sell Him," "No, I
will not, I will not, I will not! not for thousands, thousands,
thousands of worlds!" at least twenty times together. But the
fatal moment at last came, and the weakened will yielded, against
itself. One morning as he lay in his bed, the voice came again
with redoubled force, and would not be silenced. He fought against
it as long as he could, "even until I was almost out of breath,"
when "without any conscious action of his will" the suicidal words
shaped themselves in his heart, "Let Him go if He will."

Now all was over. He had spoken the words and they could not be
recalled. Satan had "won the battle," and "as a bird that is shot
from the top of a tree, down fell he into great guilt and fearful
despair." He left his bed, dressed, and went "moping into the
field," where for the next two hours he was "like a man bereft of
life, and as one past all recovery and bound to eternal
punishment." The most terrible examples in the Bible came trooping
before him. He had sold his birthright like Esau. He a betrayed
his Master like Judas - "I was ashamed that I should be like such
an ugly man as Judas." There was no longer any place for
repentance. He was past all recovery; shut up unto the judgment to
come. He dared hardly pray. When he tried to do so, he was "as
with a tempest driven away from God," while something within said,
"'Tis too late; I am lost; God hath let me fall." The texts which
once had comforted him gave him no comfort now; or, if they did, it
was but for a brief space. "About ten or eleven o'clock one day,
as I was walking under a hedge and bemoaning myself for this hard
hap that such a thought should arise within me, suddenly this
sentence bolted upon me, 'The blood of Christ cleanseth from all
sin,'" and gave me "good encouragement." But in two or three hours
all was gone. The terrible words concerning Esau's selling his
birthright took possession of his mind, and "held him down." This
"stuck with him." Though he "sought it carefully with tears,"
there was no restoration for him. His agony received a terrible
aggravation from a highly coloured narrative of the terrible death
of Francis Spira, an Italian lawyer of the middle of the sixteenth
century, who, having embraced the Protestant religion, was induced
by worldly motives to return to the Roman Catholic Church, and died
full of remorse and despair, from which Bunyan afterwards drew the
awful picture of "the man in the Iron Cage" at "the Interpreter's
house." The reading of this book was to his "troubled spirit" as
"salt when rubbed into a fresh wound," "as knives and daggers in
his soul." We cannot wonder that his health began to give way
under so protracted a struggle. His naturally sturdy frame was
"shaken by a continual trembling." He would "wind and twine and
shrink under his burden," the weight of which so crushed him that
he "could neither stand, nor go, nor lie, either at rest or quiet."
His digestion became disordered, and a pain, "as if his breastbone
would have split asunder," made him fear that as he had been guilty
of Judas' sin, so he was to perish by Judas' end, and "burst
asunder in the midst." In the trembling of his limbs he saw Cain's
mark set upon him; God had marked him out for his curse. No one
was ever so bad as he. No one had ever sinned so flagrantly. When
he compared his sins with those of David and Solomon and Manasseh
and others which had been pardoned, he found his sin so much
exceeded theirs that he could have no hope of pardon. Theirs, "it
was true, were great sins; sins of a bloody colour. But none of
them were of the nature of his. He had sold his Saviour. His sin
was point blank against Christ." "Oh, methought this sin was
bigger than the sins of a country, of a kingdom, or of the whole
world; not all of them together was able to equal mine; mine
outwent them every one."

It would be wearisome to follow Bunyan through all the mazes of his
self-torturing illusions. Fierce as the storm was, and long in its
duration - for it was more than two years before the storm became a
calm - the waves, though he knew it not, in their fierce tossings
which threatened to drive his soul like a broken vessel headlong on
the rocks of despair, were bearing him nearer and nearer to the
"haven where he would be." His vivid imagination, as we have seen,
surrounded him with audible voices. He had heard, as he thought,
the tempter bidding him "Sell Christ;" now he thought he heard God
"with a great voice, as it were, over his shoulder behind him,"
saying, "Return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee;" and though he
felt that the voice mocked him, for he could not return, there was
"no place of repentance" for him, and fled from it, it still
pursued him, "holloaing after him, 'Return, return!'" And return
he did, but not all at once, or without many a fresh struggle.
With his usual graphic power he describes the zigzag path by which
he made his way. His hot and cold fits alternated with fearful
suddenness. "As Esau beat him down, Christ raised him up." "His
life hung in doubt, not knowing which way he should tip." More
sensible evidence came. "One day," he tells us, "as I walked to
and fro in a good man's shop" - we can hardly be wrong in placing
it in Bedford - "bemoaning myself for this hard hap of mine, for
that I should commit so great a sin, greatly fearing that I should
not be pardoned, and ready to sink with fear, suddenly there was as
if there had rushed in at the window the noise of wind upon me, but
very pleasant, and I heard a voice speaking, 'Did'st ever refuse to
be justified by the Blood of Christ?'" Whether the voice were
supernatural or not, he was not, "in twenty years' time," able to
determine. At the time he thought it was. It was "as if an angel
had come upon me." "It commanded a great calm upon me. It
persuaded me there might be hope." But this persuasion soon
vanished. "In three or four days I began to despair again." He
found it harder than ever to pray. The devil urged that God was
weary of him; had been weary for years past; that he wanted to get
rid of him and his "bawlings in his ears," and therefore He had let
him commit this particular sin that he might be cut off altogether.
For such an one to pray was but to add sin to sin. There was no
hope for him. Christ might indeed pity him and wish to help him;
but He could not, for this sin was unpardonable. He had said "let
Him go if He will," and He had taken him at his word. "Then," he
says, "I was always sinking whatever I did think or do." Years
afterwards he remembered how, "in this time of hopelessness, having
walked one day, to a neighbouring town, wearied out with his
misery, he sat down on a settle in the street to ponder over his
fearful state. As he looked up, everything he saw seemed banded
together for the destruction of so vile a sinner. The "sun grudged
him its light, the very stones in the streets and the tiles on the
house-roofs seemed to bend themselves against him." He burst forth
with a grievous sigh, "How can God comfort such a wretch as I?"
Comfort was nearer than he imagined. "No sooner had I said it, but
this returned to me, as an echo doth answer a voice, 'This sin is
not unto death.'" This breathed fresh life into his soul. He was
"as if he had been raised out of a grave." "It was a release to me
from my former bonds, a shelter from my former storm." But though
the storm was allayed it was by no means over. He had to struggle
hard to maintain his ground. "Oh, how did Satan now lay about him
for to bring me down again. But he could by no means do it, for
this sentence stood like a millpost at my back." But after two
days the old despairing thoughts returned, "nor could his faith
retain the word." A few hours, however, saw the return of his
hopes. As he was on his knees before going to bed, "seeking the
Lord with strong cries," a voice echoed his prayer, "I have loved
Thee with an everlasting love." "Now I went to bed at quiet, and
when I awaked the next morning it was fresh upon my soul and I
believed it."

These voices from heaven - whether real or not he could not tell,
nor did he much care, for they were real to him - were continually
sounding in his ears to help him out of the fresh crises of his
spiritual disorder. At one time "O man, great is thy faith,"
"fastened on his heart as if one had clapped him on the back." At
another, "He is able," spoke suddenly and loudly within his heart;
at another, that "piece of a sentence," "My grace is sufficient,"
darted in upon him "three times together," and he was "as though he
had seen the Lord Jesus look down through the tiles upon him," and
was sent mourning but rejoicing home. But it was still with him
like an April sky. At one time bright sunshine, at another
lowering clouds. The terrible words about Esau "returned on him as
before," and plunged him in darkness, and then again some good
words, "as it seemed writ in great letters," brought back the light
of day. But the sunshine began to last longer than before, and the
clouds were less heavy. The "visage" of the threatening texts was
changed; "they looked not on him so grimly as before;" "that about
Esau's birthright began to wax weak and withdraw and vanish." "Now
remained only the hinder part of the tempest. The thunder was
gone; only a few drops fell on him now and then."

The long-expected deliverance was at hand. As he was walking in
the fields, still with some fears in his heart, the sentence fell
upon his soul, "Thy righteousness is in heaven." He looked up and
"saw with the eyes of his soul our Saviour at God's right hand."
"There, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or
whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, 'He wants my
righteousness,' for that was just before Him. Now did the chains
fall off from my legs. I was loosed from my affliction and irons.
My temptations also fled away, so that from that time those
dreadful Scriptures left off to trouble me. Oh methought Christ,
Christ, there was nothing but Christ that was before mine eyes. I
could look from myself to Him, and should reckon that all those
graces of God that now were green upon me, were yet but like those
crack-groats, and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in
their purses, while their gold is in their trunks at home. Oh, I
saw my gold was in my trunk at home. In Christ my Lord and
Saviour. Further the Lord did lead me into the mystery of union
with the Son of God. His righteousness was mine, His merits mine,
His victory also mine. Now I could see myself in heaven and earth
at once; in heaven by my Christ, by my Head, by my Righteousness
and Life, though on earth by my body or person. These blessed
considerations were made to spangle in mine eyes. Christ was my
all; all my Wisdom, all my Righteousness, all my Sanctification,
and all my Redemption."


The Pilgrim, having now floundered through the Slough of Despond,
passed through the Wicket Gate, climbed the Hill Difficulty, and
got safe by the Lions, entered the Palace Beautiful, and was "had
in to the family." In plain words, Bunyan united himself to the
little Christian brotherhood at Bedford, of which the former loose-
living royalist major, Mr. Gifford, was the pastor, and was
formally admitted into their society. In Gifford we recognize the
prototype of the Evangelist of "The Pilgrim's Progress," while the
Prudence, Piety, and Charity of Bunyan's immortal narrative had
their human representatives in devout female members of the
congregation, known in their little Bedford world as Sister
Bosworth, Sister Munnes, and Sister Fenne, three of the poor women
whose pleasant words on the things of God, as they sat at a doorway
in the sun, "as if joy did make them speak," had first opened
Bunyan's eyes to his spiritual ignorance. He was received into the
church by baptism, which, according to his earliest biographer,
Charles Doe "the Struggler," was performed publicly by Mr. Gifford,
in the river Ouse, the "Bedford river" into which Bunyan tells us
he once fell out of a boat, and barely escaped drowning. This was
about the year 1653. The exact date is uncertain. Bunyan never
mentions his baptism himself, and the church books of Gifford's
congregation do not commence till May, 1656, the year after
Gifford's death. He was also admitted to the Holy Communion, which
for want, as he deemed, of due reverence in his first approach to
it, became the occasion of a temporary revival of his old
temptations. While actually at the Lord's Table he was "forced to
bend himself to pray" to be kept from uttering blasphemies against
the ordinance itself, and cursing his fellow communicants. For
three-quarters of a year he could "never have rest or ease" from
this shocking perversity. The constant strain of beating off this
persistent temptation seriously affected his health. "Captain
Consumption," who carried off his own "Mr. Badman," threatened his
life. But his naturally robust constitution "routed his forces,"
and brought him through what at one time he anticipated would prove
a fatal illness. Again and again, during his period of
indisposition, the Tempter took advantage of his bodily weakness to
ply him with his former despairing questionings as to his spiritual
state. That seemed as bad as bad could be. "Live he must not; die
he dare not." He was repeatedly near giving up all for lost. But
a few words of Scripture brought to his mind would revive his
drooping spirits, with a natural reaction on his physical health,
and he became "well both in body and mind at once." "My sickness
did presently vanish, and I walked comfortably in my work for God
again." At another time, after three or four days of deep
dejection, some words from the Epistle to the Hebrews "came bolting
in upon him," and sealed his sense of acceptance with an assurance
he never afterwards entirely lost. "Then with joy I told my wife,
'Now I know, I know.' That night was a good night to me; I never
had but few better. I could scarce lie in my bed for joy and peace
and triumph through Christ."

During this time Bunyan, though a member of the Bedford
congregation, continued to reside at Elstow, in the little thatched
wayside tenement, with its lean-to forge at one end, already
mentioned, which is still pointed out as "Bunyan's Cottage." There
his two children, Mary, his passionately loved blind daughter, and
Elizabeth were born; the one in 1650, and the other in 1654. It
was probably in the next year, 1655, that he finally quitted his
native village and took up his residence in Bedford, and became a
deacon of the congregation. About this time also he must have lost
the wife to whom he owed so much. Bunyan does not mention the
event, and our only knowledge of it is from the conversation of his
second wife, Elizabeth, with Sir Matthew Hale. He sustained also
an even greater loss in the death of his friend and comrade, Mr.
Gifford, who died in September, 1655. The latter was succeeded by
a young man named John Burton, of very delicate health, who was
taken by death from his congregation, by whom he was much beloved,
in September, 1660, four months after the restoration of the
Monarchy and the Church. Burton thoroughly appreciated Bunyan's
gifts, and stood sponsor for him on the publication of his first
printed work. This was a momentous year for Bunyan, for in it Dr.
Brown has shown, by a "comparison of dates," that we may probably
place the beginning of Bunyan's ministerial life. Bunyan was now
in his twenty-seventh year, in the prime of his manly vigour, with
a vivid imagination, ready speech, minute textual knowledge of the
Bible, and an experience of temptation and the wiles of the evil
one, such as few Christians of double his years have ever reached.
"His gifts could not long be hid." The beginnings of that which
was to prove the great work of his life were slender enough. As
Mr. Froude says, "he was modest, humble, shrinking." The members
of his congregation, recognizing that he had "the gift of
utterance" asked him to speak "a word of exhortation" to them. The
request scared him. The most truly gifted are usually the least
conscious of their gifts. At first it did much "dash and abash his
spirit." But after earnest entreaty he gave way, and made one or
two trials of his gift in private meetings, "though with much
weakness and infirmity." The result proved the correctness of his
brethren's estimate. The young tinker showed himself no common
preacher. His words came home with power to the souls of his
hearers, who "protested solemnly, as in the sight of God, that they
were both affected and comforted by them, and gave thanks to the
Father of mercies for the grace bestowed on him." After this, as
the brethren went out on their itinerating rounds to the villages
about, they began to ask Bunyan to accompany them, and though he
"durst not make use of his gift in an open way," he would
sometimes, "yet more privately still, speak a word of admonition,
with which his hearers professed their souls edified." That he had
a real Divine call to the ministry became increasingly evident,
both to himself and to others. His engagements of this kind
multiplied. An entry in the Church book records "that Brother
Bunyan being taken off by the preaching of the gospel" from his
duties as deacon, another member was appointed in his room. His
appointment to the ministry was not long delayed. After "some
solemn prayer with fasting," he was "called forth and appointed a
preacher of the word," not, however, so much for the Bedford
congregation as for the neighbouring villages. He did not however,
like some, neglect his business, or forget to "show piety at home."
He still continued his craft as a tinker, and that with industry
and success. "God," writes an early biographer, "had increased his
stores so that he lived in great credit among his neighbours." He
speedily became famous as a preacher. People "came in by hundreds
to hear the word, and that from all parts, though upon sundry and
divers accounts," - "some," as Southey writes, "to marvel, and some
perhaps to mock." Curiosity to hear the once profane tinker preach
was not one of the least prevalent motives. But his word proved a
word of power to many. Those "who came to scoff remained to pray."
"I had not preached long," he says, "before some began to be
touched and to be greatly afflicted in their minds." His success
humbled and amazed him, as it must every true man who compares the
work with the worker. "At first," he says, "I could not believe
that God should speak by me to the heart of any man, still counting
myself unworthy; and though I did put it from me that they should
be awakened by me, still they would confess it and affirm it before
the saints of God. They would also bless God for me - unworthy
wretch that I am - and count me God's instrument that showed to
them the way of salvation." He preached wherever he found
opportunity, in woods, in barns, on village greens, or even in
churches. But he liked best to preach "in the darkest places of
the country, where people were the furthest off from profession,"
where he could give the fullest scope to "the awakening and
converting power" he possessed. His success as a preacher might
have tempted him to vanity. But the conviction that he was but an
instrument in the hand of a higher power kept it down. He saw that
if he had gifts and wanted grace he was but as a "tinkling cymbal."
"What, thought I, shall I be proud because I am a sounding brass?
Is it so much to be a fiddle?" This thought was, "as it were, a
maul on the head of the pride and vainglory" which he found "easily
blown up at the applause and commendation of every unadvised
christian." His experiences, like those of every public speaker,
especially the most eloquent, were very varied, even in the course
of the same sermon. Sometimes, he tells us, he would begin "with
much clearness, evidence, and liberty of speech," but, before he
had done, he found himself "so straitened in his speech before the
people," that he "scarce knew or remembered what he had been
about," and felt "as if his head had been in a bag all the time of
the exercise." He feared that he would not be able to "speak sense
to the hearers," or he would be "seized with such faintness and
strengthlessness that his legs were hardly able to carry him to his
place of preaching." Old temptations too came back. Blasphemous
thoughts formed themselves into words, which he had hard work to
keep himself from uttering from the pulpit. Or the tempter tried
to silence him by telling him that what he was going to say would
condemn himself, and he would go "full of guilt and terror even to
the pulpit door." "'What,' the devil would say, 'will you preach
this? Of this your own soul is guilty. Preach not of it at all,
or if you do, yet so mince it as to make way for your own escape.'"
All, however, was in vain. Necessity was laid upon him. "Woe," he
cried, "is me, if I preach not the gospel." His heart was "so
wrapped up in the glory of this excellent work, that he counted
himself more blessed and honoured of God than if he had made him
emperor of the Christian world." Bunyan was no preacher of vague
generalities. He knew that sermons miss their mark if they hit no
one. Self-application is their object. "Wherefore," he says, "I
laboured so to speak the word, as that the sin and person guilty
might be particularized by it." And what he preached he knew and
felt to be true. It was not what he read in books, but what he had
himself experienced. Like Dante he had been in hell himself, and
could speak as one who knew its terrors, and could tell also of the
blessedness of deliverance by the person and work of Christ. And
this consciousness gave him confidence and courage in declaring his
message. It was "as if an angel of God had stood at my back." "Oh
it hath been with such power and heavenly evidence upon my own soul
while I have been labouring to fasten it upon the conscience of
others, that I could not be contented with saying, 'I believe and
am sure.' Methought I was more than sure, if it be lawful so to
express myself, that the things I asserted were true."

Bunyan, like all earnest workers for God, had his disappointments
which wrung his heart. He could be satisfied with nothing less
than the conversion and sanctification of his hearers. "If I were
fruitless, it mattered not who commanded me; but if I were
fruitful, I cared not who did condemn." And the result of a sermon
was often very different from what he anticipated: "When I thought
I had done no good, then I did the most; and when I thought I
should catch them, I fished for nothing." "A word cast in by-the-
bye sometimes did more execution than all the Sermon besides." The
tie between him and his spiritual children was very close. The
backsliding of any of his converts caused him the most extreme
grief; "it was more to me than if one of my own children were going
to the grave. Nothing hath gone so near me as that, unless it was
the fear of the loss of the salvation of my own soul."

A story, often repeated, but too characteristic to be omitted,
illustrates the power of his preaching even in the early days of
his ministry. "Being to preach in a church in a country village in
Cambridgeshire" - it was before the Restoration - "and the public
being gathered together in the churchyard, a Cambridge scholar, and
none of the soberest neither, inquired what the meaning of that
concourse of people was (it being a week-day); and being told that
one Bunyan, a tinker, was to preach there, he gave a lad twopence
to hold his horse, saying he was resolved to hear the tinker prate;
and so he went into the church to hear him. But God met him there
by His ministry, so that he came out much changed; and would by his
good will hear none but the tinker for a long time after, he
himself becoming a very eminent preacher in that country
afterwards." "This story," continues the anonymous biographer, "I
know to be true, having many times discoursed with the man." To
the same ante-Restoration period, Dr. Brown also assigns the
anecdote of Bunyan's encounter, on the road near Cambridge, with
the university man who asked him how he dared to preach not having
the original Scriptures. With ready wit, Bunyan turned the tables
on the scholar by asking whether he had the actual originals, the
copies written by the apostles and prophets. The scholar replied,
"No," but they had what they believed to be a true copy of the
original. "And I," said Bunyan, "believe the English Bible to be a
true copy, too." "Then away rid the scholar."

The fame of such a preacher, naturally, soon spread far and wide;
all the countryside flocked eagerly to hear him. In some places,
as at Meldreth in Cambridgeshire, and Yelden in his own county of
Bedfordshire, the pulpits of the parish churches were opened to
him. At Yelden, the Rector, Dr. William Dell, the Puritan Master
of Caius College, Cambridge, formerly Chaplain to the army under
Fairfax, roused the indignation of his orthodox parishioners by
allowing him - "one Bunyon of Bedford, a tinker," as he is
ignominiously styled in the petition sent up to the House of Lords
in 1660 - to preach in his parish church on Christmas Day. But,
generally, the parochial clergy were his bitterest enemies. "When
I first went to preach the word abroad," he writes, "the Doctors
and priests of the country did open wide against me." Many were
envious of his success where they had so signally failed. In the
words of Mr. Henry Deane, when defending Bunyan against the attacks
of Dr. T. Smith, Professor of Arabic and Keeper of the University
Library at Cambridge, who had come upon Bunyan preaching in a barn
at Toft, they were "angry with the tinker because he strove to mend
souls as well as kettles and pans," and proved himself more skilful
in his craft than those who had graduated at a university. Envy is
ever the mother of detraction. Slanders of the blackest dye
against his moral character were freely circulated, and as readily
believed. It was the common talk that he was a thorough reprobate.
Nothing was too bad for him. He was "a witch, a Jesuit, a
highwayman, and the like." It was reported that he had "his misses
and his bastards; that he had two wives at once," &c. Such charges
roused all the man in Bunyan. Few passages in his writings show
more passion than that in "Grace Abounding," in which he defends
himself from the "fools or knaves" who were their authors. He
"begs belief of no man, and if they believe him or disbelieve him
it is all one to him. But he would have them know how utterly
baseless their accusations are." "My foes," he writes, "have
missed their mark in their open shooting at me. I am not the man.
If all the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged by the
neck till they be dead, John Bunyan would be still alive. I know
not whether there is such a thing as a woman breathing under the
copes of the whole heaven but by their apparel, their children, or
by common fame, except my wife." He calls not only men, but
angels, nay, even God Himself, to bear testimony to his innocence
in this respect. But though they were so absolutely baseless, nay,
the rather because they were so baseless, the grossness of these
charges evidently stung Bunyan very deeply.

So bitter was the feeling aroused against him by the marvellous
success of his irregular ministry, that his enemies, even before
the restoration of the Church and Crown, endeavoured to put the arm
of the law in motion to restrain him. We learn from the church
books that in March, 1658, the little Bedford church was in trouble
for "Brother Bunyan," against whom an indictment had been laid at
the Assizes for "preaching at Eaton Socon." Of this indictment we
hear no more; so it was probably dropped. But it is an instructive
fact that, even during the boasted religious liberty of the
Protectorate, irregular preaching, especially that of the much
dreaded Anabaptists, was an indictable offence. But, as Dr. Brown
observes, "religious liberty had not yet come to mean liberty all
round, but only liberty for a certain recognized section of
Christians." That there was no lack of persecution during the
Commonwealth is clear from the cruel treatment to which Quakers
were subjected, to say nothing of the intolerance shown to
Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. In Bunyan's own county of
Bedford, Quakeresses were sentenced to be whipped and sent to
Bridewell for reproving a parish priest, perhaps well deserving of
it, and exhorting the folks on a market day to repentance and
amendment of life. "The simple truth is," writes Robert Southey,
"all parties were agreed on the one catholic opinion that certain
doctrines were not to be tolerated:" the only points of difference
between them were "what those doctrines were," and how far
intolerance might be carried. The withering lines are familiar to
us, in which Milton denounces the "New Forcers of Conscience," who
by their intolerance and "super-metropolitan and
hyperarchiepiscopal tyranny," proved that in his proverbial words,
"New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large" -

"Because you have thrown off your prelate lord,
And with stiff vows renounce his liturgy
Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free!"

How Bunyan came to escape we know not. But the danger he was in
was imminent enough for the church at Bedford to meet to pray "for
counsail what to doe" in respect of it.

It was in these closing years of the Protectorate that Bunyan made
his first essay at authorship. He was led to it by a long and
tiresome controversy with the Quakers, who had recently found their
way to Bedford. The foundations of the faith, he thought, were
being undermined. The Quakers' teaching as to the inward light
seemed to him a serious disparagement of the Holy Scriptures, while
their mystical view of the spiritual Christ revealed to the soul
and dwelling in the heart, came perilously near to a denial of the
historic reality of the personal Christ. He had had public
disputations with male and female Quakers from time to time, at the
Market Cross at Bedford, at "Paul's Steeple-house in Bedford town,"
and other places. One of them, Anne Blackley by name, openly bade
him throw away the Scriptures, to which Bunyan replied, "No; for
then the devil would be too hard for me." The same enthusiast
charged him with "preaching up an idol, and using conjuration and
witchcraft," because of his assertion of the bodily presence of
Christ in heaven.

The first work of one who was to prove himself so voluminous an
author, cannot but be viewed with much interest. It was a little
volume in duodecimo, of about two hundred pages, entitled "Some
Gospel Truths Opened, by that unworthy servant of Christ, John
Bunyan, of Bedford, by the Grace of God, preacher of the Gospel of
His dear Son," published in 1656. The little book, which, as Dr.
Brown says, was "evidently thrown off at a heat," was printed in
London and published at Newport Pagnel. Bunyan being entirely
unknown to the world, his first literary venture was introduced by
a commendatory "Epistle" written by Gifford's successor, John
Burton. In this Burton speaks of the young author - Bunyan was
only in his twenty-ninth year - as one who had "neither the
greatness nor the wisdom of the world to commend him," "not being
chosen out of an earthly but out of a heavenly university, the
Church of Christ," where "through grace he had taken three heavenly
degrees, to wit, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit,
and experience of the temptations of Satan," and as one of whose
"soundness in the faith, godly conversation, and his ability to
preach the Gospel, not by human aid, but by the Spirit of the
Lord," he "with many other saints had had experience." This book
must be pronounced a very remarkable production for a young
travelling tinker, under thirty, and without any literary or
theological training but such as he had gained for himself after
attaining to manhood. Its arrangement is excellent, the arguments
are ably marshalled, the style is clear, the language pure and well
chosen. It is, in the main, a well-reasoned defence of the
historical truth of the Articles of the Creed relating to the
Second Person of the Trinity, against the mystical teaching of the
followers of George Fox, who, by a false spiritualism, sublimated
the whole Gospel narrative into a vehicle for the representation of
truths relating to the inner life of the believer. No one ever had
a firmer grasp than Bunyan of the spiritual bearing of the facts of
the recorded life of Christ on the souls of men. But he would not
suffer their "subjectivity" - to adopt modern terms - to destroy
their "objectivity." If the Son of God was not actually born of
the Virgin Mary, if He did not live in a real human body, and in
that body die, lie in the grave, rise again, and ascend up into
heaven, whence He would return - and that Bunyan believed shortly -
in the same Body He took of His mortal mother, His preaching was
vain; their faith was vain; they were yet in their sins. Those who
"cried up a Christ within, IN OPPOSITION to a Christ without," who
asserted that Christ had no other Body but the Church, that the
only Crucifixion, rising again, and ascension of Christ was that
WITHIN the believer, and that every man had, as an inner light, a
measure of Christ's Spirit within him sufficient to guide him to
salvation, he asserted were "possessed with a spirit of delusion;"
deceived themselves, they were deceiving others to their eternal
ruin. To the refutation of such fundamental errors, substituting a
mystical for an historical faith, Bunyan's little treatise is
addressed; and it may be truly said the work is done effectually.
To adopt Coleridge's expression concerning Bunyan's greater and
world-famous work, it is an admirable "SUMMA THEOLOIAE
EVANGELICAE," which, notwithstanding its obsolete style and old-
fashioned arrangement, may be read even now with advantage.

Bunyan's denunciation of the tenets of the Quakers speedily
elicited a reply. This was written by a certain Edward Burrough, a
young man of three and twenty, fearless, devoted, and ardent in the
propagation of the tenets of his sect. Being subsequently thrown
into Newgate with hundreds of his co-religionists, at the same time
that his former antagonist was imprisoned in Bedford Gaol, Burrough
met the fate Bunyan's stronger constitution enabled him to escape;
and in the language of the times, "rotted in prison," a victim to
the loathsome foulness of his place of incarceration, in the year
of the "Bartholomew Act," 1662.

Burrough entitled his reply, "The Gospel of Peace, contended for in
the Spirit of Meekness and Love against the secret opposition of
John Bunyan, a professed minister in Bedfordshire." His opening
words, too characteristic of the entire treatise, display but
little of the meekness professed. "How long, ye crafty fowlers,
will ye prey upon the innocent? How long shall the righteous be a
prey to your teeth, ye subtle foxes! Your dens are in darkness,
and your mischief is hatched upon your beds of secret whoredoms?"
Of John Burton and the others who recommended Bunyan's treatise, he
says, "They have joined themselves with the broken army of Magog,
and have showed themselves in the defence of the dragon against the
Lamb in the day of war betwixt them." We may well echo Dr. Brown's
wish that "these two good men could have had a little free and
friendly talk face to face. There would probably have been better
understanding, and fewer hard words, for they were really not so
far apart as they thought. Bunyan believed in the inward light,
and Burrough surely accepted an objective Christ. But failing to
see each other's exact point of view, Burrough thunders at Bunyan,
and Bunyan swiftly returns the shot."

The rapidity of Bunyan's literary work is amazing, especially when
we take his antecedents into account. Within a few weeks he
published his rejoinder to Friend Burrough, under the title of "A
Vindication of Gospel Truths Opened." In this work, which appeared
in 1667, Bunyan repays Burrough in his own coin, styling him "a
proved enemy to the truth," a "grossly railing Rabshakeh, who
breaks out with a taunt and a jeer," is very "censorious and utters
many words without knowledge." In vigorous, nervous language,
which does not spare his opponent, he defends himself from
Burrough's charges, and proves that the Quakers are "deceivers."
"As for you thinking that to drink water, and wear no hatbands is
not walking after your own lusts, I say that whatsoever man do make
a religion out of, having no warrant for it in Scripture, is but
walking after their own lusts, and not after the Spirit of God."
Burrough had most unwarrantably stigmatized Bunyan as one of "the
false prophets, who love the wages of unrighteousness, and through
covetousness make merchandise of souls." Bunyan calmly replies,
"Friend, dost thou speak this as from thy own knowledge, or did any
other tell thee so? However that spirit that led thee out this way
is a lying spirit. For though I be poor and of no repute in the
world as to outward things, yet through grace I have learned by the
example of the Apostle to preach the truth, and also to work with
my hands both for mine own living, and for those that are with me,
when I have opportunity. And I trust that the Lord Jesus who bath
helped me to reject the wages of unrighteousness hitherto, will
also help me still so that I shall distribute that which God hath
given me freely, and not for filthy lucre's sake." The
fruitfulness of his ministry which Burrough had called in question,
charging him with having "run before he was sent," he refuses to
discuss. Bunyan says, "I shall leave it to be taken notice of by
the people of God and the country where I dwell, who will testify
the contrary for me, setting aside the carnal ministry with their
retinue who are so mad against me as thyself."

In his third book, published in 1658, at "the King's Head, in the
Old Bailey," a few days before Oliver Cromwell's death, Bunyan left
the thorny domain of polemics, for that of Christian exhortation,
in which his chief work was to be done. This work was an
exposition of the parable of "the Rich Man and Lazarus," bearing
the horror-striking title, "A Few Sighs from Hell, or the Groans of
a Damned Soul." In this work, as its title would suggest, Bunyan,
accepting the literal accuracy of the parable as a description of
the realities of the world beyond the grave, gives full scope to
his vivid imagination in portraying the condition of the lost. It
contains some touches of racy humour, especially in the similes,
and is written in the nervous homespun English of which he was
master. Its popularity is shown by its having gone through nine
editions in the author's lifetime. To take an example or two of
its style: dealing with the excuses people make for not hearing
the Gospel, "O, saith one, I dare not for my master, my brother, my
landlord; I shall lose his favour, his house of work, and so decay
my calling. O, saith another, I would willingly go in this way but
for my father; he chides me and tells me he will not stand my
friend when I come to want; I shall never enjoy a pennyworth of his
goods; he will disinherit me - And I dare not, saith another, for
my husband, for he will be a-railing, and tells me he will turn me
out of doors, he will beat me and cut off my legs;" and then
turning from the hindered to the hinderers: "Oh, what red lines
will there be against all those rich ungodly landlords that so keep
under their poor tenants that they dare not go out to hear the word
for fear that their rent should be raised or they turned out of
their houses. Think on this, you drunken proud rich, and scornful
landlords; think on this, you madbrained blasphemous husbands, that
are against the godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also
you that hold your servants so hard to it that you will not spare
them time to hear the Word, unless it will be where and when your
lusts will let you." He bids the ungodly consider that "the
profits, pleasures, and vanities of the world" will one day "give
thee the slip, and leave thee in the sands and the brambles of all
that thou hast done." The careless man lies "like the smith's dog
at the foot of the anvil, though the fire sparks flee in his face."
The rich man remembers how he once despised Lazarus, "scrubbed
beggarly Lazarus. What, shall I dishonour my fair sumptuous and
gay house with such a scabbed creephedge as he? The Lazaruses are
not allowed to warn them of the wrath to come, because they are not
gentlemen, because they cannot with Pontius Pilate speak Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin. Nay, they must not, shall not, speak to them,
and all because of this."

The fourth production of Bunyan's pen, his last book before his
twelve years of prison life began, is entitled, "The Doctrine of
Law and Grace Unfolded." With a somewhat overstrained humility
which is hardly worthy of him, he describes himself in the title-
page as "that poor contemptible creature John Bunyan, of Bedford."
It was given to the world in May, 1659, and issued from the same
press in the Old Bailey as his last work. It cannot be said that
this is one of Bunyan's most attractive writings. It is as he
describes it, "a parcel of plain yet sound, true, and home
sayings," in which with that clearness of thought and accuracy of
arrangement which belongs to him, and that marvellous acquaintance
with Scripture language which he had gained by his constant study
of the Bible, he sets forth the two covenants - the covenant of
works, and the covenant of Grace - "in their natures, ends, bounds,
together with the state and condition of them that are under the
one, and of them that are under the other." Dr. Brown describes
the book as "marked by a firm grasp of faith and a strong view of
the reality of Christ's person and work as the one Priest and
Mediator for a sinful world." To quote a passage, "Is there
righteousness in Christ? that is mine. Is there perfection in that
righteousness? that is mine. Did He bleed for sin? It was for
mine. Hath He overcome the law, the devil, and hell? The victory
is mine, and I am come forth conqueror, nay, more than a conqueror
through Him that hath loved me. . . Lord, show me continually in
the light of Thy Spirit, through Thy word, that Jesus that was born
in the days of Caesar Augustus, when Mary, a daughter of Judah,
went with Joseph to be taxed in Bethlehem, that He is the very
Christ. Let me not rest contented without such a faith that is so
wrought even by the discovery of His Birth, Crucifying Death,
Blood, Resurrection, Ascension, and Second - which is His Personal
- Coming again, that the very faith of it may fill my soul with
comfort and holiness." Up and down its pages we meet with vivid
reminiscences of his own career, of which he can only speak with
wonder and thankfulness. In the "Epistle to the Reader," which
introduces it, occurs the passage already referred to describing
his education. "I never went to school to Aristotle or Plato, but
was brought up at my father's house in a very mean condition, among
a company of poor countrymen." Of his own religious state before
his conversion he thus speaks: "When it pleased the Lord to begin
to instruct my soul, He found me one of the black sinners of the
world. He found me making a sport of oaths, and also of lies; and
many a soul-poisoning meal did I make out of divers lusts, such as
drinking, dancing, playing, pleasure with the wicked ones of the
world; and so wedded was I to my sins, that thought I to myself, 'I
will have them though I lose my soul.'" And then, after narrating
the struggles he had had with his conscience, the alternations of
hope and fear which he passed through, which are more fully
described in his "Grace Abounding," he thus vividly depicts the
full assurance of faith he had attained to: "I saw through grace
that it was the Blood shed on Mount Calvary that did save and
redeem sinners, as clearly and as really with the eyes of my soul
as ever, methought, I had seen a penny loaf bought with a penny. .
. O let the saints know that unless the devil can pluck Christ out
of heaven he cannot pull a true believer out of Christ." In a
striking passage he shows how, by turning Satan's temptations
against himself, Christians may "Get the art as to outrun him in
his own shoes, and make his own darts pierce himself." "What!
didst thou never learn to outshoot the devil in his own bow, and
cut off his head with his own sword as David served Goliath?" The
whole treatise is somewhat wearisome, but the pious reader will
find much in it for spiritual edification.


We cannot doubt that one in whom loyalty was so deep and fixed a
principle as Bunyan, would welcome with sincere thankfulness the
termination of the miserable interval of anarchy which followed the
death of the Protector and the abdication of his indolent and
feeble son, by the restoration of monarchy in the person of Charles
the Second. Even if some forebodings might have arisen that with
the restoration of the old monarchy the old persecuting laws might
be revived, which made it criminal for a man to think for himself
in the matters which most nearly concerned his eternal interests,
and to worship in the way which he found most helpful to his
spiritual life, they would have been silenced by the promise,
contained in Charles's "Declaration from Breda," of liberty to
tender consciences, and the assurance that no one should be
disquieted for differences of opinion in religion, so long as such
differences did not endanger the peace and well-being of the realm.
If this declaration meant anything, it meant a breadth of
toleration larger and more liberal than had been ever granted by
Cromwell. Any fears of the renewal of persecution must be

But if such dreams of religious liberty were entertained they were
speedily and rudely dispelled, and Bunyan was one of the first to
feel the shock of the awakening. The promise was coupled with a
reference to the "mature deliberation of Parliament." With such a
promise Charles's easy conscience was relieved of all
responsibility. Whatever he might promise, the nation, and
Parliament which was its mouthpiece, might set his promise aside.
And if he knew anything of the temper of the people he was
returning to govern, he must have felt assured that any scheme of
comprehension was certain to be rejected by them. As Mr. Froude
has said, "before toleration is possible, men must have learnt to
tolerate toleration," and this was a lesson the English nation was
very far from having learnt; at no time, perhaps, were they further
from it. Puritanism had had its day, and had made itself generally
detested. Deeply enshrined as it was in many earnest and devout
hearts, such as Bunyan's, it was necessarily the religion not of
the many, but of the few; it was the religion not of the common
herd, but of a spiritual aristocracy. Its stern condemnation of
all mirth and pastime, as things in their nature sinful, of which
we have so many evidences in Bunyan's own writings; its repression
of all that makes life brighter and more joyous, and the sour
sanctimoniousness which frowned upon innocent relaxation, had
rendered its yoke unbearable to ordinary human nature, and men took
the earliest opportunity of throwing the yoke off and trampling it
under foot. They hailed with rude and boisterous rejoicings the
restoration of the Monarchy which they felt, with a true instinct,
involved the restoration of the old Church of England, the church
of their fathers and of the older among themselves, with its larger
indulgence for the instincts of humanity, its wider
comprehensiveness, and its more dignified and decorous ritual.

The reaction from Puritanism pervaded all ranks. In no class,
however, was its influence more powerful than among the country
gentry. Most of them had been severe sufferers both in purse and
person during the Protectorate. Fines and sequestrations had
fallen heavily upon them, and they were eager to retaliate on their
oppressors. Their turn had come; can we wonder that they were
eager to use it? As Mr. J. R. Green has said: "The Puritan, the
Presbyterian, the Commonwealthsman, all were at their feet. . .
Their whole policy appeared to be dictated by a passionate spirit
of reaction. . . The oppressors of the parson had been the
oppressors of the squire. The sequestrator who had driven the one
from his parsonage had driven the other from his manor-house. Both
had been branded with the same charge of malignity. Both had
suffered together, and the new Parliament was resolved that both
should triumph together."

The feeling thus eloquently expressed goes far to explain the
harshness which Bunyan experienced at the hands of the
administrators of justice at the crisis of his life at which we
have now arrived. Those before whom he was successively arraigned
belonged to this very class, which, having suffered most severely
during the Puritan usurpation, was least likely to show
consideration to a leading teacher of the Puritan body. Nor were
reasons wanting to justify their severity. The circumstances of
the times were critical. The public mind was still in an excitable
state, agitated by the wild schemes of political and religious
enthusiasts plotting to destroy the whole existing framework both
of Church and State, and set up their own chimerical fabric. We
cannot be surprised that, as Southey has said, after all the nation
had suffered from fanatical zeal, "The government, rendered
suspicious by the constant sense of danger, was led as much by fear
as by resentment to seventies which are explained by the
necessities of self-defence," and which the nervous apprehensions
of the nation not only condoned, but incited. Already Churchmen in
Wales had been taking the law into their own hands, and manifesting
their orthodoxy by harrying Quakers and Nonconformists. In the May
and June of this year, we hear of sectaries being taken from their
beds and haled to prison, and brought manacled to the Quarter
Sessions and committed to loathsome dungeons. Matters had advanced
since then. The Church had returned in its full power and
privileges together with the monarchy, and everything went back
into its old groove. Every Act passed for the disestablishment and
disendowment of the Church was declared a dead letter. Those of
the ejected incumbents who remained alive entered again into their
parsonages, and occupied their pulpits as of old; the surviving
bishops returned to their sees; and the whole existing statute law
regarding the Church revived from its suspended animation. No new
enactment was required to punish Nonconformists and to silence
their ministers; though, to the disgrace of the nation and its
parliament, many new ones were subsequently passed, with ever-
increasing disabilities. The various Acts of Elizabeth supplied
all that was needed. Under these Acts all who refused to attend
public worship in their parish churches were subject to fines;
while those who resorted to conventicles were to be imprisoned till
they made their submissions; if at the end of three months they
refused to submit they were to be banished the realm, and if they
returned from banishment, without permission of the Crown, they
were liable to execution as felons. This long-disused sword was
now drawn from its rusty sheath to strike terror into the hearts of
Nonconformists. It did not prove very effectual. All the true-
hearted men preferred to suffer rather than yield in so sacred a
cause. Bunyan was one of the earliest of these, as he proved one
of the staunchest.

Early in October, 1660, the country magistrates meeting in Bedford
issued an order for the public reading of the Liturgy of the Church
of England. Such an order Bunyan would not regard as concerning
him. Anyhow he would not give obeying it a thought. One of the
things we least like in Bunyan is the feeling he exhibits towards
the Book of Common Prayer. To him it was an accursed thing, the
badge and token of a persecuting party, a relic of popery which he
exhorted his adherents to "take heed that they touched not" if they
would be "steadfast in the faith of Jesus Christ." Nothing could
be further from his thoughts than to give any heed to the
magistrates' order to go to church and pray "after the form of
men's inventions."

The time for testing Bunyan's resolution was now near at hand.
Within six months of the king's landing, within little more than a
month of the issue of the magistrate's order for the use of the
Common Prayer Book, his sturdy determination to yield obedience to
no authority in spiritual matters but that of his own conscience
was put to the proof. Bunyan may safely be regarded as at that
time the most conspicuous of the Nonconformists of the
neighbourhood. He had now preached for five or six years with
ever-growing popularity. No name was so rife in men's mouths as
his. At him, therefore, as the representative of his brother
sectaries, the first blow was levelled. It is no cause of surprise
that in the measures taken against him he recognized the direct
agency of Satan to stop the course of the truth: "That old enemy
of man's salvation," he says, "took his opportunity to inflame the
hearts of his vassals against me, insomuch that at the last I was
laid out for the warrant of a justice." The circumstances were
these, on November 12, 1660, Bunyan had engaged to go to the little
hamlet of Lower Samsell near Harlington, to hold a religious
service. His purpose becoming known, a neighbouring magistrate,
Mr. Francis Wingate, of Harlington House, was instructed to issue a
warrant for his apprehension under the Act of Elizabeth. The
meeting being represented to him as one of seditious persons
bringing arms, with a view to the disturbance of the public peace,
he ordered that a strong watch should be kept about the house, "as
if," Bunyan says, "we did intend to do some fearful business to the
destruction of the country." The intention to arrest him oozed
out, and on Bunyan's arrival the whisperings of his friends warned
him of his danger. He might have easily escaped if he "had been
minded to play the coward." Some advised it, especially the
brother at whose house the meeting was to take place. He, "living
by them," knew "what spirit" the magistrates "were of," before whom
Bunyan would be taken if arrested, and the small hope there would
be of his avoiding being committed to gaol. The man himself, as a
"harbourer of a conventicle," would also run no small danger of the
same fate, but Bunyan generously acquits him of any selfish object
in his warning: "he was, I think, more afraid of (for) me, than of
(for) himself." The matter was clear enough to Bunyan. At the
same time it was not to be decided in a hurry. The time fixed for
the service not being yet come, Bunyan went into the meadow by the
house, and pacing up and down thought the question well out. "If
he who had up to this time showed himself hearty and courageous in
his preaching, and had made it his business to encourage others,
were now to run and make an escape, it would be of an ill savour in
the country. If he were now to flee because there was a warrant
out for him, would not the weak and newly-converted brethren be
afraid to stand when great words only were spoken to them. God
had, in His mercy, chosen him to go on the forlorn hope; to be the
first to be opposed for the gospel; what a discouragement it must
be to the whole body if he were to fly. No, he would never by any
cowardliness of his give occasion to the enemy to blaspheme the
gospel." So back to the house he came with his mind made up. He
had come to hold the meeting, and hold the meeting he would. He
was not conscious of saying or doing any evil. If he had to suffer
it was the Lord's will, and he was prepared for it. He had a full
hour before him to escape if he had been so minded, but he was
resolved "not to go away." He calmly waited for the time fixed for
the brethren to assemble, and then, without hurry or any show of
alarm, he opened the meeting in the usual manner, with prayer for
God's blessing. He had given out his text, the brethren had just
opened their Bibles and Bunyan was beginning to preach, when the
arrival of the constable with the warrant put an end to the
exercise. Bunyan requested to be allowed to say a few parting
words of encouragement to the terrified flock. This was granted,
and he comforted the little company with the reflection that it was
a mercy to suffer in so good a cause; and that it was better to be
the persecuted than the persecutors; better to suffer as Christians
than as thieves or murderers. The constable and the justice's
servant soon growing weary of listening to Bunyan's exhortations,
interrupted him and "would not be quiet till they had him away"
from the house.

The justice who had issued the warrant, Mr. Wingate, not being at
home that day, a friend of Bunyan's residing on the spot offered to
house him for the night, undertaking that he should be forthcoming
the next day. The following morning this friend took him to the
constable's house, and they then proceeded together to Mr.
Wingate's. A few inquiries showed the magistrate that he had
entirely mistaken the character of the Samsell meeting and its
object. Instead of a gathering of "Fifth Monarchy men," or other
turbulent fanatics as he had supposed, for the disturbance of the
public peace, he learnt from the constable that they were only a
few peaceable, harmless people, met together "to preach and hear
the word," without any political meaning. Wingate was now at a
nonplus, and "could not well tell what to say." For the credit of
his magisterial character, however, he must do something to show
that he had not made a mistake in issuing the warrant. So he asked
Bunyan what business he had there, and why it was not enough for
him to follow his own calling instead of breaking the law by
preaching. Bunyan replied that his only object in coming there was
to exhort his hearers for their souls' sake to forsake their sinful
courses and close in with Christ, and this he could do and follow
his calling as well. Wingate, now feeling himself in the wrong,
lost his temper, and declared angrily that he would "break the neck
of these unlawful meetings," and that Bunyan must find securities
for his good behaviour or go to gaol. There was no difficulty in
obtaining the security. Bail was at once forthcoming. The real
difficulty lay with Bunyan himself. No bond was strong enough to
keep him from preaching. If his friends gave them, their bonds
would be forfeited, for he "would not leave speaking the word of
God." Wingate told him that this being so, he must be sent to gaol
to be tried at the next Quarter Sessions, and left the room to make
out his mittimus. While the committal was preparing, one whom
Bunyan bitterly styles "an old enemy to the truth," Dr. Lindall,
Vicar of Harlington, Wingate's father-in-law, came in and began
"taunting at him with many reviling terms," demanding what right he
had to preach and meddle with that for which he had no warrant,
charging him with making long prayers to devour widows houses, and
likening him to "one Alexander the Coppersmith he had read of,"
"aiming, 'tis like," says Bunyan, "at me because I was a tinker."
The mittimus was now made out, and Bunyan in the constable's charge
was on his way to Bedford, when he was met by two of his friends,
who begged the constable to wait a little while that they might use
their interest with the magistrate to get Bunyan released. After a
somewhat lengthened interview with Wingate, they returned with the
message that if Bunyan would wait on the magistrate and "say
certain words" to him, he might go free. To satisfy his friends,
Bunyan returned with them, though not with any expectation that the
engagement proposed to him would be such as he could lawfully take.
"If the words were such as he could say with a good conscience he
would say them, or else he would not."

After all this coming and going, by the time Bunyan and his friends
got back to Harlington House, night had come on. As he entered the
hall, one, he tells us, came out of an inner room with a lighted
candle in his hand, whom Bunyan recognized as one William Foster, a
lawyer of Bedford, Wingate's brother-in-law, afterwards a fierce
persecutor of the Nonconformists of the district. With a simulated
affection, "as if he would have leapt on my neck and kissed me,"
which put Bunyan on his guard, as he had ever known him for "a
close opposer of the ways of God," he adopted the tone of one who
had Bunyan's interest at heart, and begged him as a friend to yield
a little from his stubbornness. His brother-in-law, he said, was
very loath to send him to gaol. All he had to do was only to
promise that he would not call people together, and he should be
set at liberty and might go back to his home. Such meetings were
plainly unlawful and must be stopped. Bunyan had better follow his
calling and leave off preaching, especially on week-days, which
made other people neglect their calling too. God commanded men to
work six days and serve Him on the seventh. It was vain for Bunyan
to reply that he never summoned people to hear him, but that if
they came he could not but use the best of his skill and wisdom to
counsel them for their soul's salvation; that he could preach and
the people could come to hear without neglecting their callings,

Book of the day: