« PoprzedniaDalej »
off the wrong way, it was not sanctified unto them: and (accordingly) they grew harder, and blinder, and more wick. ed after their trouble. This made me afraid, and made me cry to God the more, that it might not be so with me."
Much as I admire the heroism of the Martyrs, who would not “accept deliverance” from the stake or the wheel, at the expense of even a nod, or a grain of incense, to the national altars of Rome, I admire still more the heroism of Bunyan, in thus preferring to bear, for years, the agonies of "a wounded spirit,” rather than risk the purity or the tenderness of his conscience. This is the very highest homage which faith or patience can pay to the authority of moral Law. Whoever does not feel this, does not know what Job or Bunyan meant by “a wounded spirit.' Those who do, will not blame me for asking them to pause here,—to contemplate the holy integrity of John Bunyan, whilst a Tinker, in striving to fetch back upon his heart his overwhelming sense of guilt ; and in erying to God, “ let it not go off;" and in bringing “the pains of Hell ” around himself, lest it should go off in a wrong way, or in any way, but by the blood of Christ. Even those who cannot sympathize with his distress, must admire his selfdenying honesty.
We do not wonder that a “comforting time came to this man, at the close of such an effort to maintain a good con. science towards God. It did come at length, although it tarried long, and continued but for a short season. 6 I heard one,” he says, “ preach a sermon on these words in the Song, • Behold thou art fair, my Love. But at that time, he made these two words, •My Love,' his chief and subject matter. After he had a little opened the Text, he observed these several conclusions, 1. That the Church, and so every saved soul, is Christ's Love, (even) when loveless. 2. Is Christ's Love without a cause. 3. Christ's Love hath been hated of the world. 4. Is Christ's Love under temptation and utter distraction. 5. Is Christ's Love from first to last.
“But I got nothing, until he came to the fourth particular, (when) this was the word he said, If it be so, that the saved soul is Christ's Love when under temptation and distraction, then Poor Tempted Soul, when thou art assaulted and afflict. ed with temptations and hiding of God's face, yet think on these two words, My Love, still.”. So as I was going home, these words came again into my thoughts : and I well remember, I said this in my heart as they came in,--what shall I get
by thinking on these two words? This thought had no sooner passed through my heart, but the words began to kindle thus in my spirit, twenty times together,—Thou art my love, thou art my love!' And still as they ran in my mind, they waxed warmer and warmer, and began to make me look up. But being as yet between Hope and Fear, I still replied in my heart,--but is it true ; but is it true? At which that sentence fell upon me, · He wist not that it was true, which was done unto him of the Angel.' Acts, xii. 9.
“ Then, I began to give place to the word which, with power, did over and over make this • joyful sound,' within my soul ; • Thou art my love, and nothing shall separate thee from my love. With that my heart was filled full of comfort and hope. And now I could believe that my sins would be for. given me. Yea, I was now so taken with the love and mercy of God, that I remember I could not tell how to contain till I got home. I thought I could have spoken of His love, and told of His mercy to me, even to the very Crows that sat on the ploughed lands before me, had they been capable to have understood me.”
This wish to speak to the crows is no weakness. It is not unnatural, however unusual it may be. David went lower than Bunyan, and called even on “ creeping things," as well as upon “ flying foul and all cattle,” to praise the Lord with him. Whenever his adoring gratitude became unspeakable to his lips, or unutterable by his harp, he invariably devolved the song of praise, not only upon all the armies of Heaven, but upon all the works of Nature also. He turned the Universe into a vast Orchestra, and tuned all its voices to the melody of his own heart. Not only must all the Angels around the throne assist his mighty joys and grateful feelings, but the sun and moon, and all the stars of light, must join the song. The waters above and beneath the firmament, must roll to music, and even the storms of winter keep time and tune with the harp of Judah. He blended in his Hallelujah Chorus, the hum of the Bee, and the hymn of the Archangel. Bunyan remembered this, when his own harp required help; and thus wished to tell the crows his joy. The fact is, there is a “ful. ness of heart,” which must speak, and yet cannot speak fast enough, nor loud enough.
Bunyan wanted to relieve his heart at this time, by writing also. “ I said in my soul—with much gladness—Well
, would I had a pen and ink here, I would write this down before I go
any further.” Happy wish, for us and the world! It was the germ of his AUTHORSHIP. Critics differ about the real germ of his Pilgrim: but the incapacity of the Crows to understand him, originated his love to the pen. This was as happy an accident as the fall of the apple which, it is said, suggested to Newton, the doctrine of Gravitation. Theology owes as much to John Bunyan's pen, as Astronomy to Newton's. His Pilgrim, although it added nothing to the stock of theological knowledge, softened some of its harsh points, and simplified not a few of its mysticisms; and what is far better,—it has prepared millions of minds to understand sound divinity. But for it, how many would have had no taste at all for reading either Theology or Scripture ? " It will continue,” says MONTGOMERY, “ to be a Book exercising more influence over minds of every class, than the most refined and sublime genius, with all the advantages of education and good fortune, has been able to rival, in this respeet."
We come now to that mysterious period in the history of Bunyan, concerning which Philosophy must be silent, or say with Religion, “ he was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.” To say any thing else or less would be, as we have partly seen, unphilosophical and impertinent.
Philosophy can afford to lose from her ranks, all the “ brisk talkers" about the Principle of Moral Evil, as Bunyan would have called the anti-supernaturalists; especially, as the best of them will not be lost to Literature. Some of them own, as Poets, the Satan they deny as theologians; and thus prove that their craft cannot dispense with him, however their creed discard him. For, what if Poetry deal in fiction? She has never been able, in all her dealings with it, to invent a more plausible or pliable agency, than that of Satan, in order to explain the vices or violence of her daring characters. She was glad to speak common sense in common terms, when she had to disown the Byron School. She could not have pillor. ied it or its founder, before the Church or the world, had she not uttered those words of truth and soberness, 6 THE SATAN. ic School.” The hearts of all wise and good men respond. ed at once to this descriptive epithet. It will be everlasting, just because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
It will readily occur to, or be allowed by, every thinking man, that if there be a Devil, John Bunyan was just the person he was likely to “ sift as whent.” It was worth his while to keep him out of the Church of Christ, if he could. It required no great sagacity to foresee, that such a man would be“ a host in himself,” whatever side he might espouse in the contest between Truth and Error. Bunyan could be nothing by halves. Besides, whatever he was or wished to be, he could not conceal it. Out it came,—by day or by night! He both thought and dreamt aloud. He talked to himself whenever he was alone, and had dreamt of Satan and his
angels from his youth up. Satan had thus no great difficulty to find out either the talents or the taste of Bunyan. He had not to “consider” him, half so long as he studied Job, before hitting upon the likeliest method of betraying him. his weak side at a glance, and poured - fiery darts” into it without delay.
Thus it is not necessary to ascribe to Satan any improbable degree of intuition or influence, in order to account for his attempts upon Bunyan. A duller eye than the devil's might have foreseen, that the genius of John Bunyan, if once under the power of Divine Truth, would do more for that Truth, than even the Harp of John Milton. Accordingly, Satan was more afraid of the Tinker than of the poet. He let Milton alone; but came in like a flood upon Bunyan ; well knowing that a real Allegorist was more dangerous to the kingdom of darkness, than even the Prince of epic poetry; and that the Apollyon of the Pilgrim, would awe more than the Lucifer of the Paradise Lost. I do not mean, of course, that Satan anticipated either picture of himself; but that he could easily guess how the two artists would paint him, and thus calculate their comparative influence upon his own power in the world.
It may be unusual to speak in this straightforward way about Satan : but thus he should be spoken of if we would think of him, or resist him, as the Scriptures teach. There is neither extravagance nor levity in their descriptions of the Tempter. I have studied and written the Life of Bunyan, chiefly in order to prove this. And if I allow myself to be somewhat playful occasionally, it is only because mere theo. logy on this subject would not gain a hearing with many at present.
Bunyan himself had no doubts about the reality of Satanic agency, in his own case. How could he, after suffering even what we have already seen? And that is nothing compared with what we have now to contemplate. I have shown, that I am not inclined to ascribe to Satan too many of Bunyan's distractions. I have been, perhaps, over cautious hitherto : but now I must speak out, if I speak agreeably to the Oracles of God.
Bunyan's comfort from the words, “ My Love," did not last long. He did not calculate upon this.
so strong when it “ kindled in his spirit," that he exclaimed, “Surely I