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alleviations. His wife and children were allowed to visit him. His blind and most beloved daughter was permitted to cheer his solitude and her own. He had his Bible, and his “Book of Martyrs." He had his imagination, and his pen. Above all, he had a good conscience. He felt it a blessed exchange to quit the “iron cage” of despair for a “den ” oft visited by a celestial comforter; and which, however cheerless, did not lack a door to heaven.
Whether it was the man's own humanity, or whether it was that God who assuaged Joseph's captivity gave Bunyan special favour in the eyes of the keeper of his prison, the fact is certain, that he met with singlar indulgence at the least likely hands. Not only was he allowed many a little indulgence in his cell, but he was suffered to go and come with a freedom which could hardly have been exceeded had the county jail been his own hired house. For months together he was a constant attender of the church-meetings of his brethren in Bedford, and was actually chosen pastor during the period of his incarceration. On one occasion, soine of the bishops who had heard a rumour of the unusual liberty conceded to him, sent a messenger from London to Bedford to ascertain the truth. The officer was instructed to call at the prison during the night. It was a night when Bunyan had received permission to stay at home with his family; but so uneasy did he feel, that he told his wife he must go back to his old quarters. So late was it, that the jailer blamed him for coming at such an untimely hour; but a little afterwards the messenger arrived. “Are all the prisoners safe ?” “Yes.” “Is John Bunyan safe ?” “Yes.” “Let me see him.” Bunyan was called, and the messenger went his way; and when he was gone the jailer told him, "Well, you may go out again just when you think proper,
you know when to return better than I can tell you."
Among the best alleviations of his captivity were the works
which he there projected or composed. One of these was his own life, under the title of " Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners."
In 1672 he obtained his liberty, and his friends immediately built for him a large meeting-house, where he continued to preach with little interruption till his death. Once a-year he visited London, and was there so popular, that twelve hundred people would gather together at seven in the morning of a winter's working-day to hear him. Amongst the admiring · listeners, Dr Owen was frequently found; and once when Charles the Second asked how a learned man like him could sit down to hear a tinker prate, the great theologian is said to have answered, “May it please your Majesty, could I possess the tinker's abilities for preaching, I would most gladly relinquish all my learning.” But popular as he was, he was not fond of praise. One day after he had concluded an impressive discourse, his friends pressed round to thank him for his “sweet sermon.” “Ay,” he bluntly answered, "you need not remind me of that; for the devil told me as much before I left the pulpit."
He had numbered sixty years, and written as many books, when he was released from his abundant labours. A young gentleman, his neighbour, had fallen under his father's displeasure, and was much concerned at his father's estrangement as well as at the prospect of being disinherited. He begged Mr Bunyan's friendly interposition to propitiate his father, and prepare the way for his return to parental favour and affection. The kind-hearted man undertook the task, and having successfully achieved it, was returning from Reading to London on horseback, when he was thoroughly drenched with excessive rains. He arrived cold and wet at the house of Mr Strudwick, a grocer on Snow Hill. Here he was seized with fits of shivering, which passed off in violent fever, and after ten days' sickness, on the 31st of August 1688, his pilgrimage ended, and he went in by the gate into the city.
Bunyan's theological merits we rank very high. No one can turn over his pages without noticing the abundance of his Scriptural quotations; and these quotations no one can examine without perceiving how minutely he had studied, and how deeply he had pondered, the Word of God. But it is possible to be very textual and yet by no means very Scriptural. A man may have an exact acquaintance with the literal Bible, and yet entirely miss the great Bible message.
He may pos sess a dexterous command of detached passages and insulated sentences, and yet be strangely ignorant of that peculiar scheme which forms the great gospel revelation. But this was Bunyan's peculiar excellence. He was even better acquainted with the gospel as the scheme of God, than he was familiar with the Bible-text; and the consequence is, that though he is sometimes irrelevant in his references, and fanciful in interpreting particular passages, his doctrine is almost always according to the analogy of faith. The doctrine of a justification, free, instant, and entire, by the imputed righteousness of Christ, none, even of the Puritans, could state with more Luther-like boldness, nor defend with an affection more worthy of Paul. In his last and best days, Coleridge wrote, “I know of no book, the Bible excepted, as above all comparison, which I, according to my judgment and experience, could so safely recommend as teaching and enforcing the whole saving truth, according to the mind that was in Christ Jesus, as the "Pilgrim's Progress.' It is in my conviction the best Summa Theologiæ Evangelica ever produced by a writer not miraculously inspired."*
Invaluable as a theologian, Bunyan stands alone as a contributor to theological literature. In recent times no man has done so much to draw the world's delighted attention to the
* “Remains," vol. iii. p. 391.
subjects of supreme solicitude. No production of a mortal pen has found so many readers as that one work of his; and none has awakened so frequently the sighing behest, “Let me die the death of the righteous.” No writer uninspired has painted the beauty of holiness in tints more lovely, nor spoken in tones more thrilling to the heart of universal humanity. At first the favourite of the vulgar, he is now the wonder of the learned; and from the obscurity, not inglorious, of smoky cupboards and cottage chimneys, he has been escorted up to the highest places of classical renown, and duly canonised by the pontiffs of taste and literature. The man whom Cowper praised anonymously,
" Lest so despised a name should move a sneer,”
has at last extorted emulous plaudits from a larger host of writers than ever conspired to praise a man of genius, who was also a man of God. Johnson and Franklin, Scott, Coleridge, and Southey, Byron and Montgomery, Macintosh and Macaulay, have exerted their philosophical acumen and poetic feeling to analyse his various spell, and account for his unequalled fame; and though the round-cornered copies, with their diverting woodcuts, have not disappeared from the poor man's ingle, illustrated editions blaze from the shelves of every sumptuous library; new pictures, from the exhaustless theme, light up the walls of each annual exhibition; and amidst the graceful litter of the drawing-room table, you are sure to take up designs from the “ Pilgrim's Progress.” So universal is the ascendency of the tinker-teacher, so world-wide the diocese of him whom Whitefield used to call Bishop Bunyan, that probably half the ideas which the outside-world entertains regarding experimental piety, have, in some form or other, been derived from him. One of the most popular preachers in his day, in his little treatises, as well as in his longer allegories, he preaches to countless thousands still.—The cause of this unexampled popularity is a question of great practical moment.
And, first of all, Bunyan speaks to the whole of manto his imagination, his intellect, his heart. He embodied in his person, though greatly magnified, the average mind of England-playful, affectionate, downright. His intellectual power comes chiefly out in that homely, self-commending sense—the brief, business-like reasoning, which might be termed Saxon logic, and of which Swift in one century, and Cobbett in another, are obvious instances. His premises are not always sound, nor his inferences always legitimate; but there is such evident absence of sophistry, and even of that refining and hair-splitting which usually beget the suspicion of sophistry—his statements are so sincere, and his conclusions so direct—the language is so perspicuous, and the appeal is made so honestly to each reader's understanding, that his popularity as a reasoner is inevitable. We need not say that the author of the “Pilgrim" possessed imagination; but it is important to note the service it rendered to his preaching, and the charm which it still imparts to his miscellaneous works. The pictorial power he possessed in a rare degree. His mental eye perceived the truth most vividly. Some minds are moving in a constant mystery. They see men like trees walking. The different doctrines of the Bible all wear dim outlines to them, jostling and jumbling; and after a perplexing morrice of bewildering hints and half-discoveries, they vanish into the misty back-ground of nonentity. To Bunyan's bright and broad-waking eye all things were clear. The men walked, and the trees stood still. Everything was seen in sharp relief and definite outline-a reality. And besides the pictorial, he possessed in highest perfection the illustrative faculty. Not only did his own mind perceive the truth most vividly, but he saw the very way to give others a clear perception of it also. This is the great secret of successful teaching. Like a man who has clambered his difficult way to the top of a rocky eminence, but who, once he has reached the summit, per