John Bunyan, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Old Portraits and Modern Sketches

     "Wouldst see
     A man I' the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?"

Who has not read Pilgrim's Progress? Who has not, in childhood, followed the wandering Christian on his way to the Celestial City? Who has not laid at night his young head on the pillow, to paint on the walls of darkness pictures of the Wicket Gate and the Archers, the Hill of Difficulty, the Lions and Giants, Doubting Castle and Vanity Fair, the sunny Delectable Mountains and the Shepherds, the Black River and the wonderful glory beyond it; and at last fallen asleep, to dream over the strange story, to hear the sweet welcomings of the sisters at the House Beautiful, and the song of birds from the window of that "upper chamber which opened towards the sunrising?" And who, looking back to the green spots in his childish experiences, does not bless the good Tinker of Elstow?

And who, that has reperused the story of the Pilgrim at a maturer age, and felt the plummet of its truth sounding in the deep places of the soul, has not reason to bless the author for some timely warning or grateful encouragement? Where is the scholar, the poet, the man of taste and feeling, who does not, with Cowper,

         "Even in transitory life's late day,
          Revere the man whose Pilgrim marks the road,
          And guides the Progress of the soul to God!"

We have just been reading, with no slight degree of interest, that simple but wonderful piece of autobiography, entitled Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners, from the pen of the author of Pilgrim's Progress. It is the record of a journey more terrible than that of the ideal Pilgrim; "truth stranger than fiction;" the painful upward struggling of a spirit from the blackness of despair and blasphemy, into the high, pure air of Hope and Faith. More earnest words were never written. It is the entire unveiling of a human heart; the tearing off of the fig-leaf covering of its sin. The voice which speaks to us from these old pages seems not so much that of a denizen of the world in which we live, as of a soul at the last solemn confessional. Shorn of all ornament, simple and direct as the contrition and prayer of childhood, when for the first time the Spectre of Sin stands by its bedside, the style is that of a man dead to self-gratification, careless of the world's opinion, and only desirous to convey to others, in all truthfulness and sincerity, the lesson of his inward trials, temptations, sins, weaknesses, and dangers; and to give glory to Him who had mercifully led him through all, and enabled him, like his own Pilgrim, to leave behind the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the snares of the Enchanted Ground, and the terrors of Doubting Castle, and to reach the land of Beulah, where the air was sweet and pleasant, and the birds sang and the flowers sprang up around him, and the Shining Ones walked in the brightness of the not distant Heaven. In the introductory pages he says "he could have dipped into a style higher than this in which I have discoursed, and could have adorned all things more than here I have seemed to do; but I dared not. God did not play in tempting me; neither did I play when I sunk, as it were, into a bottomless pit, when the pangs of hell took hold on me; wherefore, I may not play in relating of them, but be plain and simple, and lay down the thing as it was."

This book, as well as Pilgrim's Progress, was written in Bedford prison, and was designed especially for the comfort and edification of his "children, whom God had counted him worthy to beget in faith by his ministry." In his introduction he tells them, that, although taken from them, and tied up, "sticking, as it were, between the teeth of the lions of the wilderness," he once again, as before, from the top of Shemer and Hermon, so now, from the lion's den and the mountain of leopards, would look after then with fatherly care and desires for their everlasting welfare. "If," said he, "you have sinned against light; if you are tempted to blaspheme; if you are drowned in despair; if you think God fights against you; or if Heaven is hidden from your eyes, remember it was so with your father. But out of all the Lord delivered me."

He gives no dates; be affords scarcely a clue to his localities; of the man, as he worked, and ate, and drank, and lodged, of his neighbors and contemporaries, of all he saw and heard of the world about him, we have only an occasional glimpse, here and there, in his narrative. It is the story of his inward life only that he relates. What had time and place to do with one who trembled always with the awful consciousness of an immortal nature, and about whom fell alternately the shadows of hell and the splendors of heaven? We gather, indeed, from his record, that he was not an idle on-looker in the time of England's great struggle for freedom, but a soldier of the Parliament, in his young years, among the praying sworders and psalm-singing pikemen, the Greathearts and Holdfasts whom he has immortalized in his allegory; but the only allusion which he makes to this portion of his experience is by way of illustration of the goodness of God in preserving him on occasions of peril.

He was born at Elstow, in Bedfordshire, in 1628; and, to use his own words, his "father's house was of that rank which is the meanest and most despised of all the families of the land." His father was a tinker, and the son followed the same calling, which necessarily brought him into association with the lowest and most depraved classes of English society. The estimation in which the tinker and his occupation were held, in the seventeenth century, may be learned from the quaint and humorous description of Sir Thomas Overbury. "The tinker," saith he, "is a movable, for he hath no abiding in one place; he seems to be devout, for his life is a continual pilgrimage, and sometimes, in humility, goes barefoot, therein making necessity a virtue; he is a gallant, for he carries all his wealth upon his back; or a philosopher, for he bears all his substance with him. He is always furnished with a song, to which his hammer, keeping tune, proves that he was the first founder of the kettle- drum; where the best ale is, there stands his music most upon crotchets. The companion of his travel is some foul, sun-burnt quean, that, since the terrible statute, has recanted gypsyism, and is turned pedlaress. So marches he all over England, with his bag and baggage; his conversation is irreprovable, for he is always mending. He observes truly the statutes, and therefore had rather steal than beg. He is so strong an enemy of idleness, that in mending one hole he would rather make three than want work; and when he hath done, he throws the wallet of his faults behind him. His tongue is very voluble, which, with canting, proves him a linguist. He is entertained in every place, yet enters no farther than the door, to avoid suspicion. To conclude, if he escape Tyburn and Banbury, he dies a beggar."

Truly, but a poor beginning for a pious life was the youth of John Bunyan. As might have been expected, he was a wild, reckless, swearing boy, as his father doubtless was before him. "It was my delight," says he, "to be taken captive by the Devil. I had few equals, both for cursing and swearing, lying and blaspheming." Yet, in his ignorance and darkness, his powerful imagination early lent terror to the reproaches of conscience. He was scared, even in childhood, with dreams of hell and apparitions of devils. Troubled with fears of eternal fire, and the malignant demons who fed it in the regions of despair, he says that he often wished either that there was no hell, or that he had been born a devil himself, that he might be a tormentor rather than one of the tormented.

At an early age he appears to have married. His wife was as poor as himself, for he tells us that they had not so much as a dish or spoon between them; but she brought with her two books on religious subjects, the reading of which seems to have had no slight degree of influence on his mind. He went to church regularly, adored the priest and all things pertaining to his office, being, as he says, "overrun with superstition." On one occasion, a sermon was preached against the breach of the Sabbath by sports or labor, which struck him at the moment as especially designed for himself; but by the time he had finished his dinner he was prepared to "shake it out of his mind, and return to his sports and gaming."

"But the same day," he continues, "as I was in the midst of a game of cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike it a second time, a voice did suddenly dart from Heaven into my soul, which said, 'Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?' At this, I was put to an exceeding maze; wherefore, leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked up to Heaven, and it was as if I had, with the eyes of my understanding, seen the Lord Jesus look down upon me, as being very hotly displeased with me, and as if He did severely threaten me with some grievous punishment for those and other ungodly practices.

"I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but suddenly this conclusion fastened on my spirit, (for the former hint did set my sins again before my face,) that I had been a great and grievous sinner, and that it was now too late for me to look after Heaven; for Christ would not forgive me nor pardon my transgressions. Then, while I was thinking of it, and fearing lest it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair, concluding it was too late; and therefore I resolved in my mind to go on in sin; for, thought I, if the case be thus, my state is surely miserable; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable if I follow them; I can but be damned; and if I must be so, I had as good be damned for many sins as be damned for few."

The reader of Pilgrim's Progress cannot fail here to call to mind the wicked suggestions of the Giant to Christian, in the dungeon of Doubting Castle.

"I returned," he says, "desperately to my sport again; and I well remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my soul, that I was persuaded I could never attain to other comfort than what I should get in sin; for Heaven was gone already, so that on that I must not think; wherefore, I found within me great desire to take my fill of sin, that I might taste the sweetness of it; and I made as much haste as I could to fill my belly with its delicates, lest I should die before I had my desires; for that I feared greatly. In these things, I protest before God, I lie not, neither do I frame this sort of speech; these were really, strongly, and with all my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose mercy is unsearchable, forgive my transgressions."

One day, while standing in the street, cursing and blaspheming, he met with a reproof which startled him. The woman of the house in front of which the wicked young tinker was standing, herself, as he remarks, "a very loose, ungodly wretch," protested that his horrible profanity made her tremble; that he was the ungodliest fellow for swearing she had ever heard, and able to spoil all the youth of the town who came in his company. Struck by this wholly unexpected rebuke, he at once abandoned the practice of swearing; although previously he tells us that "he had never known how to speak, unless he put an oath before and another behind."

The good name which he gained by this change was now a temptation to him. "My neighbors," he says, "were amazed at my great conversion from prodigious profaneness to something like a moral life and sober man. Now, therefore, they began to praise, to commend, and to speak well of me, both to my face and behind my back. Now I was, as they said, become godly; now I was become a right honest man. But oh! when I understood those were their words and opinions of me, it pleased me mighty well; for though as yet I was nothing but a poor painted hypocrite, yet I loved to be talked of as one that was truly godly. I was proud of my godliness, and, indeed, I did all I did either to be seen of or well spoken of by men; and thus I continued for about a twelvemonth or more."

The tyranny of his imagination at this period is seen in the following relation of his abandonment of one of his favorite sports.

"Now, you must know, that before this I had taken much delight in ringing, but my conscience beginning to be tender, I thought such practice was but vain, and therefore forced myself to leave it; yet my mind hankered; wherefore, I would go to the steeple-house and look on, though I durst not ring; but I thought this did not become religion neither; yet I forced myself, and would look on still. But quickly after, I began to think, 'How if one of the bells should fall?' Then I chose to stand under a main beam, that lay overthwart the steeple, from side to side, thinking here I might stand sure; but then I thought again, should the bell fall with a swing, it might first hit the wall, and then, rebounding upon me, might kill me for all this beam. This made me stand in the steeple door; and now, thought I, I am safe enough; for if a bell should then fall, I can slip out behind these thick walls, and so be preserved notwithstanding.

"So after this I would yet go to see them ring, but would not go any farther than the steeple-door. But then it came in my head, 'How if the steeple itself should fall?' And this thought (it may, for aught I know, when I stood and looked on) did continually so shake my mind, that I durst not stand at the steeple-door any longer, but was forced to flee, for fear the steeple should fall upon my head."

About this time, while wandering through Bedford in pursuit of employment, he chanced to see three or four poor old women sitting at a door, in the evening sun, and, drawing near them, heard them converse upon the things of God; of His work in their hearts; of their natural depravity; of the temptations of the Adversary; and of the joy of believing, and of the peace of reconciliation. The words of the aged women found a response in the soul of the listener. "He felt his heart shake," to use his own words; he saw that he lacked the true tokens of a Christian. He now forsook the company of the profane and licentious, and sought that of a poor man who had the reputation of piety, but, to his grief, he found him "a devilish ranter, given up to all manner of uncleanness; he would laugh at all exhortations to sobriety, and deny that there was a God, an angel, or a spirit."

"Neither," he continues, "was this man only a temptation to me, but, my calling lying in the country, I happened to come into several people's company, who, though strict in religion formerly, yet were also drawn away by these ranters. These would also talk with me of their ways, and condemn me as illegal and dark; pretending that they only had attained to perfection, that they could do what they would, and not sin. Oh! these temptations were suitable to my flesh, I being but a young man, and my nature in its prime; but God, who had, as I hope, designed me for better things, kept me in the fear of His name, and did not suffer me to accept such cursed principles."

At this time he was sadly troubled to ascertain whether or not he had that faith which the Scriptures spake of. Travelling one day from Elstow to Bedford, after a recent rain, which had left pools of water in the path, he felt a strong desire to settle the question, by commanding the pools to become dry, and the dry places to become pools. Going under the hedge, to pray for ability to work the miracle, he was struck with the thought that if he failed he should know, indeed, that he was a castaway, and give himself up to despair. He dared not attempt the experiment, and went on his way, to use his own forcible language, "tossed up and down between the Devil and his own ignorance."

Soon after, he had one of those visions which foreshadowed the wonderful dream of his Pilgrim's Progress. He saw some holy people of Bedford on the sunny side of an high mountain, refreshing themselves in the pleasant air and sunlight, while he was shivering in cold and darkness, amidst snows and never-melting ices, like the victims of the Scandinavian hell. A wall compassed the mountain, separating him from the blessed, with one small gap or doorway, through which, with great pain and effort, he was at last enabled to work his way into the sunshine, and sit down with the saints, in the light and warmth thereof.

But now a new trouble assailed him. Like Milton's metaphysical spirits, who sat apart,

"And reasoned of foreknowledge, will, and fate," he grappled with one of those great questions which have always perplexed and baffled human inquiry, and upon which much has been written to little purpose. He was tortured with anxiety to know whether, according to the Westminster formula, he was elected to salvation or damnation. His old adversary vexed his soul with evil suggestions, and even quoted Scripture to enforce them. "It may be you are not elected," said the Tempter; and the poor tinker thought the supposition altogether too probable. "Why, then," said Satan, "you had as good leave off, and strive no farther; for if, indeed, you should not be elected and chosen of God, there is no hope of your being saved; for it is neither in him that willeth nor in him that runneth, but in God who showeth mercy." At length, when, as he says, he was about giving up the ghost of all his hopes, this passage fell with weight upon his spirit: "Look at the generations of old, and see; did ever any trust in God, and were confounded?" Comforted by these words, he opened his Bible took note them, but the most diligent search and inquiry of his neighbors failed to discover them. At length his eye fell upon them in the Apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus. This, he says, somewhat doubted him at first, as the book was not canonical; but in the end he took courage and comfort from the passage. "I bless God," he says, "for that word; it was good for me. That word doth still oftentimes shine before my face."

A long and weary struggle was now before him. "I cannot," he says, "express with what longings and breathings of my soul I cried unto Christ to call me. Gold! could it have been gotten by gold, what would 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. How lovely now was every one in my eyes, that I thought to be converted men and women. They shone, they walked like a people who carried the broad seal of Heaven with them."

With what force and intensity of language does he portray in the following passage the reality and earnestness of his agonizing experience:—

"While I was thus afflicted with the fears of my own damnation, there were two things would make me wonder: the one was, when I saw old people hunting after the things of this life, as if they should live here always; the other was, when I found professors much distressed and cast down, when they met with outward losses; as of husband, wife, or child. Lord, thought I, what seeking after carnal things by some, and what grief in others for the loss of them! If they so much labor after and shed so many tears for the things of this present life, how am I to be bemoaned, pitied, and prayed for! My soul is dying, my soul is damning. Were my soul but in a good condition, and were I but sure of it, ah I how rich should I esteem myself, though blessed but with bread and water! I should count these but small afflictions, and should bear them as little burdens. 'A wounded spirit who can bear!'"

He looked with envy, as he wandered through the country, upon the birds in the trees, the hares in the preserves, and the fishes in the streams. They were happy in their brief existence, and their death was but a sleep. He felt himself alienated from God, a discord in the harmonies of the universe. The very rooks which fluttered around the old church spire seemed more worthy of the Creator's love and care than himself. A vision of the infernal fire, like that glimpse of hell which was afforded to Christian by the Shepherds, was continually before him, with its "rumbling noise, and the cry of some tormented, and the scent of brimstone." Whithersoever he went, the glare of it scorched him, and its dreadful sound was in his ears. His vivid but disturbed imagination lent new terrors to the awful figures by which the sacred writers conveyed the idea of future retribution to the Oriental mind. Bunyan's World of Woe, if it lacked the colossal architecture and solemn vastness of Milton's Pandemonium, was more clearly defined; its agonies were within the pale of human comprehension; its victims were men and women, with the same keen sense of corporeal suffering which they possessed in life; and who, to use his own terrible description, had "all the loathed variety of hell to grapple with; fire unquenchable, a lake of choking brimstone, eternal chains, darkness more black than night, the everlasting gnawing of the worm, the sight of devils, and the yells and outcries of the damned."

His mind at this period was evidently shaken in some degree from its balance. He was troubled with strange, wicked thoughts, confused by doubts and blasphemous suggestions, for which he could only account by supposing himself possessed of the Devil. He wanted to curse and swear, and had to clap his hands on his mouth to prevent it. In prayer, he felt, as he supposed, Satan behind him, pulling his clothes, and telling him to have done, and break off; suggesting that he had better pray to him, and calling up before his mind's eye the figures of a bull, a tree, or some other object, instead of the awful idea of God.

He notes here, as cause of thankfulness, that, even in this dark and clouded state, he was enabled to see the "vile and abominable things fomented by the Quakers," to be errors. Gradually, the shadow wherein he had so long

         "Walked beneath the day's broad glare,
          A darkened man,"

passed from him, and for a season he was afforded an "evidence of his salvation from Heaven, with many golden seals thereon hanging in his sight." But, ere long, other temptations assailed him. A strange suggestion haunted him, to sell or part with his Saviour. His own account of this hallucination is too painfully vivid to awaken any other feeling than that of sympathy and sadness.

"I could neither eat my food, stoop for a pin, chop a stick, or cast mine eye to look on this or that, but still the temptation would come, Sell Christ for this, or sell Christ for that; sell him, sell him.

"Sometimes it would run in my thoughts, not so little as a hundred times together, Sell him, sell him; against which, I may say, for whole hours together, I have been forced to stand as continually leaning and forcing my spirit against it, lest haply, before I were aware, some wicked thought might arise in my heart, that might consent thereto; and sometimes the tempter would make me believe I had consented to it; but then I should be as tortured upon a rack, for whole days together.

"This temptation did put me to such scares, lest I should at sometimes, I say, consent thereto, and be overcome therewith, that, by the very force of my mind, my very body would be put into action or motion, by way of pushing or thrusting with my hands or elbows; still answering, as fast as the destroyer said, Sell him, I will not, I will not, I will not; no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands of worlds; thus reckoning, lest I should set too low a value on him, even until I scarce well knew where I was, or how to be composed again.

"But to be brief: one morning, as I did lie in my bed, I was, as at other times, most fiercely assaulted with this temptation, to sell and part with Christ; the wicked suggestion still running in my mind, Sell him, sell him, sell him, sell him, sell him, as fast as a man could speak; against which, also, in my mind, as at other times, I answered, No, no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands, at least twenty times together; but at last, after much striving, I felt this thought pass through my heart, Let him go if he will; and I thought also, that I felt my heart freely consent thereto. Oh, the diligence of Satan! Oh, the desperateness of man's heart!

"Now was the battle won, and down fell I, as a bird that is shot from the top of a tree, into great guilt, and fearful despair. Thus getting out of my bed, I went moping into the field; but God knows with as heavy a heart as mortal man, I think, could bear; where, for the space of two hours, I was like a man bereft of life; and, as now, past all recovery, and bound over to eternal punishment.

"And withal, that Scripture did seize upon my soul: 'Or profane person, as Esau, who, for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright; for ye know, how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."

For two years and a half, as he informs us, that awful scripture sounded in his ears like the knell of a lost soul. He believed that he had committed they unpardonable sin. His mental anguish 'was united with bodily illness and suffering. His nervous system became fearfully deranged; his limbs trembled; and he supposed this visible tremulousness and agitation to be the mark of Cain. 'Troubled with pain and distressing sensations in his chest, he began to fear that his breast- bone would split open, and that he should perish like Judas Iscariot. He feared that the tiles of the houses would fall upon him as he walked in the streets. He was like his own Man in the Cage at the House of the Interpreter, shut out from the promises, and looking forward to certain judgment. "Methought," he says, "the very sun that shineth in heaven did grudge to give me light." And still the dreadful words, "He found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears," sounded in the depths of his soul. They were, he says, like fetters of brass to his legs, and their continual clanking followed him for months. Regarding himself elected and predestined for damnation, he thought that all things worked for his damage and eternal overthrow, while all things wrought for the best and to do good to the elect and called of God unto salvation. God and all His universe had, he thought, conspired against him; the green earth, the bright waters, the sky itself, were written over with His irrevocable curse.

Well was it said by Bunyan's contemporary, the excellent Cudworth, in his eloquent sermon before the Long Parliament, that "We are nowhere commanded to pry into the secrets of God, but the wholesome advice given us is this: 'To make our calling and election sure.' We have no warrant from Scripture to peep into the hidden rolls of eternity, to spell out our names among the stars." "Must we say that God sometimes, to exercise His uncontrollable dominion, delights rather in plunging wretched souls down into infernal night and everlasting darkness? What, then, shall we make the God of the whole world? Nothing but a cruel and dreadful Erinnys, with curled fiery snakes about His head, and firebrands in His hand; thus governing the world! Surely, this will make us either secretly think there is no God in the world, if He must needs be such, or else to wish heartily there were none." It was thus at times with Bunyan. He was tempted, in this season of despair, to believe that there was no resurrection and no judgment.

One day, he tells us, a sudden rushing sound, as of wind or the wings of angels, came to him through the window, wonderfully sweet and pleasant; and it was as if a voice spoke to him from heaven words of encouragement and hope, which, to use his language, commanded, for the time, "a silence in his heart to all those tumultuous thoughts that did use, like masterless hell-hounds, to roar and bellow and make a hideous noise within him." About this time, also, some comforting passages of Scripture were called to mind; but he remarks, that whenever he strove to apply them to his case, Satan would thrust the curse of Esau in his face, and wrest the good word from him. The blessed promise "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out" was the chief instrumentality in restoring his lost peace. He says of it: "If ever Satan and I did strive for any word of God in all my life, it was for this good word of Christ; he at one end, and I at the other. Oh, what work we made! It was for this in John, I say, that we did so tug and strive; he pulled, and I pulled, but, God be praised! I overcame him; I got sweetness from it. Oh, many a pull hath my heart had with Satan for this blessed sixth chapter of John!" Who does not here call to mind the struggle between Christian and Apollyon in the valley!

That was no fancy sketch; it was the narrative of the author's own grapple with the Spirit of Evil. Like his ideal Christian, he "conquered through Him that loved him." Love wrought the victory the Scripture of Forgiveness overcame that of Hatred.

He never afterwards relapsed into that state of religious melancholy from which he so hardly escaped. He speaks of his deliverance as the waking out of a troublesome dream. His painful experience was not lost upon him; for it gave him, ever after, a tender sympathy for the weak, the sinful, the ignorant, and desponding. In some measure, he had been "touched with the feeling of their infirmities." He could feel for those in the bonds of sin and despair, as bound with them. Hence his power as a preacher; hence the wonderful adaptation of his great allegory to all the variety of spiritual conditions. Like Fearing, he had lain a month in the Slough of Despond, and had played, like him, the long melancholy bass of spiritual heaviness. With Feeble-mind, he had fallen into the hands of Slay-good, of the nature of Man-eaters: and had limped along his difficult way upon the crutches of Ready-to-halt. Who better than himself could describe the condition of Despondency, and his daughter Much-afraid, in the dungeon of Doubting Castle? Had he not also fallen among thieves, like Little-faith?

His account of his entering upon the solemn duties of a preacher of the Gospel is at once curious and instructive. He deals honestly with himself, exposing all his various moods, weaknesses, doubts, and temptations. "I preached," he says, "what I felt; for the terrors of the law and the guilt of transgression lay heavy on my conscience. I have been as one sent to them from the dead. I went, myself in chains, to preach to them in chains; and carried that fire in my conscience which I persuaded them to beware of." At times, when he stood up to preach, blasphemies and evil doubts rushed into his mind, and he felt a strong desire to utter them aloud to his congregation; and at other seasons, when he was about to apply to the sinner some searching and fearful text of Scripture, he was tempted to withhold it, on the ground that it condemned himself also; but, withstanding the suggestion of the Tempter, to use his own simile, he bowed himself like Samson to condemn sin wherever he found it, though he brought guilt and condemnation upon himself thereby, choosing rather to die with the Philistines than to deny the truth.

Foreseeing the consequences of exposing himself to the operation of the penal laws by holding conventicles and preaching, he was deeply afflicted at the thought of the suffering and destitution to which his wife and children might be exposed by his death or imprisonment. Nothing can be more touching than his simple and earnest words on this point. They show how warm and deep were him human affections, and what a tender and loving heart he laid as a sacrifice on the altar of duty.

"I found myself a man compassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from the bones; and also it brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants, that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all beside. Oh, the thoughts of the hardships I thought my poor blind one might go under would break my heart to pieces.

"Poor child! thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you: oh! I saw I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the heads of his wife and children; yet I thought on those 'two milch kine that were to carry the ark of God into another country, and to leave their calves behind them.'

"But that which helped me in this temptation was divers considerations: the first was, the consideration of those two Scriptures, 'Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me;' and again, 'The Lord said, verily it shall go well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat them well in the time of evil.'"

He was arrested in 1660, charged with "devilishly and perniciously abstaining from church," and of being "a common upholder of conventicles." At the Quarter Sessions, where his trial seems to have been conducted somewhat like that of Faithful at Vanity Fair, he was sentenced to perpetual banishment. This sentence, however, was never executed, but he was remanded to Bedford jail, where he lay a prisoner for twelve years.

Here, shut out from the world, with no other books than the Bible and Fox's Martyrs, he penned that great work which has attained a wider and more stable popularity than any other book in the English tongue. It is alike the favorite of the nursery and the study. Many experienced Christians hold it only second to the Bible; the infidel himself would not willingly let it die. Men of all sects read it with delight, as in the main a truthful representation of the 'Christian pilgrimage, without indeed assenting to all the doctrines which the author puts in the month of his fighting sermonizer, Great-heart, or which may be deduced from some other portions of his allegory. A recollection of his fearful sufferings, from misapprehension of a single text in the Scriptures, relative to the question of election, we may suppose gave a milder tone to the theology of his Pilgrim than was altogether consistent with the Calvinism of the seventeenth century. "Religion," says Macaulay, "has scarcely ever worn a form so calm and soothing as in Bunyan's allegory." In composing it, he seems never to have altogether lost sight of the fact, that, in his life-and-death struggle with Satan for the blessed promise recorded by the Apostle of Love, the adversary was generally found on the Genevan side of the argument. Little did the short-sighted persecutors of Bunyan dream, when they closed upon him the door of Bedford jail, that God would overrule their poor spite and envy to His own glory and the worldwide renown of their victim. In the solitude of his prison, the ideal forms of beauty and sublimity, which had long flitted before him vaguely, like the vision of the Temanite, took shape and coloring; and he was endowed with power to reduce them to order, and arrange them in harmonious groupings. His powerful imagination, no longer self-tormenting, but under the direction of reason and grace, expanded his narrow cell into a vast theatre, lighted up for the display of its wonders. To this creative faculty of his mind might have been aptly applied the language which George Wither, a contemporary prisoner, addressed to his Muse:—

              "The dull loneness, the black shade
               Which these hanging vaults have made,
               The rude portals that give light
               More to terror than delight;
               This my chamber of neglect,
               Walled about with disrespect,—
               From all these, and this dull air,
               A fit object for despair,
               She hath taught me by her might,
               To draw comfort and delight."

That stony cell of his was to him like the rock of Padan-aram to the wandering Patriarch. He saw angels ascending and descending. The House Beautiful rose up before him, and its holy sisterhood welcomed him. He looked, with his Pilgrim, from the Chamber of Peace. The Valley of Humiliation lay stretched out beneath his eye, and he heard "the curious, melodious note of the country birds, who sing all the day long in the spring time, when the flowers appear, and the sun shines warm, and make the woods and groves and solitary places glad." Side by side with the good Christiana and the loving Mercy, he walked through the green and lowly valley, "fruitful as any the crow flies over," through "meadows beautiful with lilies;" the song of the poor but fresh-faced shepherd- boy, who lived a merry life, and wore the herb heartsease in his bosom, sounded through his cell:—

              "He that is down need fear no fall;
               He that is low no pride."

The broad and pleasant "river of the Water of Life" glided peacefully before him, fringed "on either side with green trees, with all manner of fruit," and leaves of healing, with "meadows beautified with lilies, and green all the year long;" he saw the Delectable Mountains, glorious with sunshine, overhung with gardens and orchards and vineyards; and beyond all, the Land of Beulah, with its eternal sunshine, its song of birds, its music of fountains, its purple clustered vines, and groves through which walked the Shining Ones, silver-winged and beautiful.

What were bars and bolts and prison-walls to him, whose eyes were anointed to see, and whose ears opened to hear, the glory and the rejoicing of the City of God, when the pilgrims were conducted to its golden gates, from the black and bitter river, with the sounding trumpeters, the transfigured harpers with their crowns of gold, the sweet voices of angels, the welcoming peal of bells in the holy city, and the songs of the redeemed ones? In reading the concluding pages of the first part of Pilgrim's Progress, we feel as if the mysterious glory of the Beatific Vision was unveiled before us. We are dazzled with the excess of light. We are entranced with the mighty melody; overwhelmed by the great anthem of rejoicing spirits. It can only be adequately described in the language of Milton in respect to the Apocalypse, as "a seven-fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies."

Few who read Bunyan nowadays think of him as one of the brave old English confessors, whose steady and firm endurance of persecution baffled and in the end overcame the tyranny of the Established Church in the reign of Charles II. What Milton and Penn and Locke wrote in defence of Liberty, Bunyan lived out and acted. He made no concessions to worldly rank. Dissolute lords and proud bishops he counted less than the humblest and poorest of his disciples at Bedford. When first arrested and thrown into prison, he supposed he should be called to suffer death for his faithful testimony to the truth; and his great fear was, that he should not meet his fate with the requisite firmness, and so dishonor the cause of his Master. And when dark clouds came over him, and he sought in vain for a sufficient evidence that in the event of his death it would be well with him, he girded up his soul with the reflection, that, as he suffered for the word and way of God, he was engaged not to shrink one hair's breadth from it. "I will leap," he says, "off the ladder blindfold into eternity, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell. Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture in thy name!"

The English revolution of the seventeenth century, while it humbled the false and oppressive aristocracy of rank and title, was prodigal in the development of the real nobility of the mind and heart. Its history is bright with the footprints of men whose very names still stir the hearts of freemen, the world over, like a trumpet peal. Say what we may of its fanaticism, laugh as we may at its extravagant enjoyment of newly acquired religious and civil liberty, who shall now venture to deny that it was the golden age of England? Who that regards freedom above slavery, will now sympathize with the outcry and lamentation of those interested in the continuance of the old order of things, against the prevalence of sects and schism, but who, at the same time, as Milton shrewdly intimates, dreaded more the rending of their pontifical sleeves than the rending of the Church? Who shall now sneer at Puritanism, with the Defence of Unlicensed Printing before him? Who scoff at Quakerism over the Journal of George Fox? Who shall join with debauched lordlings and fat-witted prelates in ridicule of Anabaptist levellers and dippers, after rising from the perusal of Pilgrim's Progress? "There were giants in those days." And foremost amidst that band of liberty-loving and God- fearing men,

         "The slandered Calvinists of Charles's time,
          Who fought, and won it, Freedom's holy fight,"

stands the subject of our sketch, the Tinker of Elstow. Of his high merit as an author there is no longer any question. The Edinburgh Review expressed the common sentiment of the literary world, when it declared that the two great creative minds of the seventeenth century were those which produced Paradise Lost and the Pilgrim's Progress.