Page images
PDF
EPUB

In this state he remained a great while, lamenting that God had made him a man, and not a beast or bird or fish, whose condition he coveted, because they were not, like himself, obnoxious to the wrath of God, and to be sent to hell when they died. But when God's time to comfort him was come, he providentially heard a sermon from Sol. Song, iv. 1. Behold thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair. The minister made these two words, my love, the subject of his sermon; from which, after he had a little opened his text, he discoursed on the following heads: • 1. That the church, and so every saved soul is Christ's • love, when loveless. 2. Christ's love, without a cause. «3. Christ's love, though hated of the world. 4. Christ's • love, when under temptation and desertion. 5. Christ's

love, from first to last. That which more particularly suited his case was the fourth head; and, in the application of which, in these words, he found his heart filled with hope and comfort, and belief that his sins would now be forgiven. If it be so (said the preacher) that the saved

soul is in Christ's love when under temptation and desertion, then, poor tempted soul, when thou art assaulted

and afflicted with temptations, and the hidings of thy Sa• viour's face, yet think on these two words, my love srill.' In further meditating on this discourse, be experienced such a display of God's mercy and love, that he could scarce contain himself; he thought he could have told of God's goodness to the very birds of the air, if they could have understood him, saying, “ Surely I shall not forget this forty years hence; but, alas, (adds he) within less than forty days I began to question all again.” However he was enabled to go on, believing that it was a true manifestation of grace unto his soul; notwithstanding at times he had lost much of the life and savour of it.

As Mr. Bunyan was designed in a very eminent degree to speak to others in cases of conscience, he was led on in such a manner, as to be richly furnished from his own experience to encourage professors of all descriptions in. the way of salvation; and he has explained at large, in his treatise before-mentioned, the grounds he had to believe, that God had appointed him to testify of his grace to others. Accordingly, after some private trials, he ventured openly to preach the gospel, in which (he says) he was attended with seals and success far beyond his expectation.

After he had publicly preached for five or six years before the Restoration, on the twelfth of November 1660,

he

he was apprehended by one Justice Wingate, at or near Harlington, in Bedfordshire, and committed to prison, where were above sixty dissenters. Here, with only two books--the Bible and the book of martyrs, he employed his time for twelve years and a half in preaching to, and praying with his fellow-prisoners, in writing several of his works, and in making tagged laces for the support of himself and his family. Indeed, his wife (whom he had married about two years before, having buried his former) made every effort to procure his release both at London and at Bedford assizes, but in vain. In the last year of his imprisonment, upon the death of their former pastor, the baptist congregation at Bedford, to whom he was joined, unanimously chose him for their pastor, Dec. 12, 1671. Bishop Burlow of Lincoln, procured his enlargement; after which he travelled into various parts of England to visit and confirm his brethren; and this procured him the title of Bishop Bunyan. In the reign of James the II. upon the famous declaration for liberty of conscience, Mr. Bunyan, by the voluntary contributions of his friends, built a public meeting-house at i-edford, and preached constantly to large congregations. He likewise frequently came to London and preached among the nonconformists there: And, it is said, the learned Dr. John Owen was often one of his hearers.

He died at his lodgings on Snow Hill, London, of a fever, contracted by a journey to Reading in very bad weather, where he had been to make up a dispute between a young gentleman and his father. This was on the thirty-first of August 1688, in the sixtieth year of his age. His body was interred in Bunhill Fields. He had, by his first wife, four children, one of which, wbom he tenderly loved, was blind. His second wife survived him but four years, dying in 1692.

He appeared in countenance (says the continuator of his life) to be of a stern and rough temper, but in his conversation he was mild and affable; not given to loquacity, or much discourse in company, unless some urgent occasion required it ; observing never to boast of himself or his parts, but rather seem low in his own eyes, and submit himself to the judgment of others; abhorring lying and swearing; being just in all that lay in his power to his word; not seeming to revenge injuries, loving to reconcile differences, and making friendship with all.

He had a sharp quick eye; accomplished with an excellent discerning of persons, being of good judgment, and quick

wit. As for his person, he was tall of stature, strongboned, though not corpulent; somewhat of a ruddy face, with sparkling eyes; wearing his hair on his upper lip, after the old British fashion ; his hair readish, but, in his latter days, time had sprinkled it with grey; his nose well set, but not declining or bending, and his mouth moderately large; his forehead something high, and his habit always plain and modest.

He was certainly a man of a great and vigorous genius, which, had it been properly cultivated, might have raised him to a very conspicuous eminence in the literary world. 'Tis wonderful, under so many disadvantages and depressions, that it could soar so high as it did: And it is one extraordinary proof, among many, that though the grace of G.. doth not impart new natural powers, yet, in super-addition to it's own proper effects, it usually gives new energy to those powers, and draws them on to attainments, which before could not have been expected or conceived. Mr Granger, (author of the Biographical History of England,) says of him, that when he arrived at the sixtieth year of his age, which was the period of his life, he had written books equal to the number of his years: But as many of these are on similar subjects, they are very much alike. His master-piece is his Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most popular, and, I may add, one of the most ingenious books in the English language. The same author also observes, that · Bunyan, who has been mentioned among the least and lowest of our writers, and even ridiculed as a driveller by those who have never read him, deserves a much higher rank than is commonly imagined. His Pilgrim's Progress gives us a clear and distinct idea of Calvinistical divinity. The allegory is admirably carried on, and the characters justly drawn, and uniformly supported. The Author's original and poetic genius shines ihrough the coarseness and vulgarity of his language, and intimates, that, if he had been a master of numbers, he might have composed a poem worthy of Spenser himself. As this opinion may be deemed paradoxical, I shall venture to name two persons of eminence of the same sentiments; one, the late Mr Merrick, of Reading; the other, Dr. Roberts, now Fellow of Eton College. Mr. Granger observes in a note, that · Mr. Merrick has been heard to say, in conversation, that Bunyan's invention was like that of Homer.' Another person well remembers an observation of the same. Mr. Merrick to bimself,' upon his kaving been presented by a noble lady with a new edition

of

of the Pilgrim ; That it was a complete poem, and a • very excellent and ingenious poem, with a religious ten

dency, which could be said but of few poems. To which may be added, the well-known remarks of a polite author, that · Bunyan's Pilgrim was a Christian; but Pa• trick's only a Pedlar.'

A new edition of Mr. Bunyan's Works is now publishing by Alexander Hogg, Paternoster Row, with elegant copper-plates, more complete than any former one, and afforded by the reverend Mr. Symonds of Bedford; the following are the titles: “ I. Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners, in a faithful account of the life of Mr. John Bunyan. II. A Confession of his Faith, and Reason of his Practice, &c. III. Differences in Judgment about Water-baptism, no Bar to Communion, &c. IV. Peaceable Principles and true, &c. V. The Doctrine of the Law and Grace unfolded; or, a Discourse touching the Law and Gospel. VI. The Pilgrim's Progress: Part 1st and 2d. VII. 'The Jerusalem Sinner saved, &c. VIII. The Heavenly Footman; or, a Description of the Man that gets to Heaven, &c. IX. Solomon's Temple spiritualized, &c. X. The acceptable Sacrifice; or, the Excellency of a broken Heart. XI. Sighs from Hell; or, the Groans of a damned Soul. XII. Come and welcome to Jesus Christ; a Discourse on John vi. 37. XIII. A Discourse upon the Pharisee and Publican, &c. XIV. Of Justification by an imputed Righteousness; or, No Way to Heaven but by Jesus Christ. XV. Paul's Departure and Crown; or, an Exposition upon 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7, 8. XVI. Of the Trinity and a Christian. XVII. Of the Law and Christian. XVIII. Israel's Hope encouraged ; or, what Hope is, and how distinguished from Faith, &c. XIX. The Life and Death of Mr. Badman ; this is in the form of a dialogue between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive. XX. The Barren Fig-tree; or, the Doom and Downfall of the fruitless Professor. XXI. An Exhortation to Peace and Unity. XXII. One Thing is needful; or, serious Meditations upon the four last Things, Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. XXIII. The Holy War, made by Shaddai upon Diobolus, for the regaining the Metropolis of the World; or, the losing and taking again of the Town of Mansoul. XXIV. The Desire of the Righteous granted; or, a Discourse of the righteous Man's Desires. XXV. The Saint's Privilege and Profit. XXVI. Christ, a complete Saviour; or, the Intercession of Christ, and who are privileged in it. XXVII.

Tbe

[ocr errors]

The Saint's Knowledge of Christ's love; or, the unsearchable Riches of Christ. XXVIII. A Discourse of the House of the Forest of Lebanon. XXIX. Of Antichrist and his Ruin; and of the slaying the Witnesses. XXX. Saved by Grace; or, a Discourse of the Grace of God. XXXI. Christian Behaviour, being the Fruits of true Christianity. XXXII. A Discourse touching Prayer. XXXIII. The strait Gate; or, the great Difficulty of going to Heaven. XXXIV. Some Gospel-Truths opened, according to the Scriptures. XXXV. A Vindication of Gospel-Truths opened. XXXVI. Light for them that sit in Darkness; or, a Discourse of Jesus Christ, &c. XXXVII. Instruction for the Ignorant, &c. XXXVIII. The holy City ; or, the New Jerusalem. XXXIX. The Resur. rection of the Dead and eternal Judgment. XL. A Caution to stir up to watch against Sin. XLI. An Exposition on the ten first Chapters of Genesis, and part of the eleventh. XLII. The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, &c. XLIII. Seasonable Counsel ; or, Advice to Sufferers. XLIV. Divine Emblems. XLV. Meditations on Seventy-four Things. XLVI. A Christian Dialogue. XLVII. A Pocket Concordance. XLVIII. An Account of the Author's Imprisonment, written by himself. XLIX. A Discourse of Election and Reprobation. L. A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification against Bishop Fowler, 1671. LI. A Treatise of the Fear of God. LII. The Greatness of the Soul and the Unspeakableness of its loss : Preached at Pinnershall, 1683. LIII. Advice to Sufferers, 1684. (Besides XLIII. the Seasonable Counsel, &c.) LIV. A holy Life the Beauty of Christianity, 1684. LV. The First-Day Sabbath, 1685. LVI. A Discourse of the Nature, Building, and Government of the House of God, 1688 LVII. The Water of Life grounded upon Rev. xxii. 1. printed 1688. LVIII. Mr. Bunyan's last Sermon, July 1699. LIX. Ebal and Gerizim ; or, the Blessing and the Curse. LX. Prison Meditations, directed to the Hearts of suffering Saints and reigning Sinners."

The third part of the Pilgrim's Progress is not Mr. Bunyan's; neither is that piece, printed with his name to it about ninety years ago, entitled, “ Heart's Ease in “ Heart's Trouble."

His Pilgrim, which is his master-piece, hath passed above fifty editions, and been translated into various languages.

It hath been remarked, that he died at sixty years of age, and left sixty books or tracts of his own composition behind him.

« PreviousContinue »