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will not forget this-forty years hence.” It went away, however, “ within less than forty days.” This can hardly be wondered at. It gave place, however, to a storm, utterly un. accountable, apart from Satan. “ In about the space of a month," he
says, a very great storm came down upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met with before. It came stealing upon me, now by one piece, and then by another. First, all my comfort was taken from me. Then, darkness seized upon me. After which, whole floods of blasphemous thoughts against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured in upon my spirit, to my great confu. sion and astonishment." Thus he was taken by surprise : and Bunyan is too honest to be suspected of tampering with sin or speculation, when he does not say so. Indeed, he had been more than usually prudent, for him, in reasoning about the comfort, when it came, and whilst it lasted. When, lo, a storm of blasphemous thoughts burst upon him, stirring up questions, he says, “ against the very being of a God, and of his only beloved Son, and whether there were in truth a God or Christ, and whether the Holy Scriptures were not rather a cunning story, than the pure Word of God.” This was not all nor the worst. Happily we do not know the worst. He wisely concealed that, when he wrote his Life. “ I may not, and dare not,” he says, “utter, by neither word nor pen (even) at this time, other suggestions.'
Altogether, “ they did,” he adds, “make such a seizure upon my spirit, and did so overweigh my heart, both with their numbers, continuance, and fiery force, that I felt as if there were nothing else but these within me from morning to night, and as though there could be room for nothing else. I also concluded, that God had given me up to them, to be carried away with them as by a mighty whirlwind."
When Bunyan himself tried to account for the permission of this whirlwind of temptation, he ascribed it to his neglect of “a sound sent from Heaven, as an alarm to awaken him to provide for a coming storm.” The sound
was, Simon, Si. mon, behold Satan hath desired to have you." These words had probably been addressed to him originally by Gifford, or some pious friend, who foresaw that his sudden comfort was not likely to last either forty years or forty days, upon such a foundation as the isolated words, “My Love." This conjec. ture is not improbable: for the man who wanted to tell the crows his joy, was sure to tell his friends of it ; and they were
equally sure to say,“ Simon, Simon,” when they heard Bunyan calculating that his heart could
“ Never lose
Thc relish, all his days." But, like Peter, he was self-confident, and thus forgot who warned him. The warning itself, however, recurred to him when his joy began to abate. At first, it “ sounded loud within him” only. In a little, it began to sound loud around him. “ Once above all the rest,” he says, “ I turned my head over my shoulder; thinking verily that some man behind me, half a mile, had called after me. And although that (Simon) was not my nams, yet it made me suddenly look behind me, be. lieving that he who called so loud meant me." This made him “muse and wonder, what should be the reason of this Scripture, that at this rate, so often and so loud, should still be sounding and rattling in his ears." Indeed, he never forgot its loud voice, nor doubted its heavenly origin. He said soon after,
6 I did both see and feel that it was sent from Heaven to awaken me.” Subsequently he said, “ it came, as I have thought since, to have stirred me up to prayer and watchful.
It came to acquaint me, that a cloud and a storm were coming down upon me: but I understood it not.” To his dying day he said, “ Methinks I hear still, with what a loud voice these words, Simon, Simon, sounded in mine ears. Thus Dr. Southey was fully warranted to say of these sounds, “ Real they were to him in the impression which they made, and in their lasting effect; and even afterwards when his soul was at peace, he believed them, in cool and sober reflection, to have been more than natural.”
Was Bunyan right in this? I am inclined to take the very same view of it, as of the Vision at the play-ground. Recollected Truth was the basis of both; a vivid imagination gave sensible forms to both ; but the timely suggestion of the truth itself belongs to the agency of the Holy Spirit, as a Remem. brancer. In both cases, it was neither unworthy of, nor un. like that Guide, to bring before the mind of a man who had so much of Peter's imprudence, the warning addressed to Peter by Christ. With the sounds, whether low or loud, as with the sights, Divine agency had no more to do, than it has when we hear voices during sleep.
It is hardly necessary, however, to draw upon Dreams, in order to account for Bunyan's illusion ; for, who has not look.
ed behind suddenly, as if there had been some one calling us by name? In times of deep abstraction and reverie, amongst woods, waters, or solitary mountains, both the voices and echoes of Nature seem to
“ Syllable men's names," and almost to utter the thought which chiefly absorbs the mind. Let not Bunyan be laughed at for hearing, “ a voice, which others could not” have heard at his side. He had as much poetry in his soul, as the Poet who claimed this power; and his “ inward ear” was quite as acute, and more attentive.
There was thus much in both his temperament and circum. stances at this time, to account for his thoughts becoming, as Dr. Southey well says, “vivid as realities, and affecting him more forcibly than impressions from the external world" but there was nothing which accounts for blasphemies he durst not name, nor for atheistical reasonings he had never heard, read, or dreamt of before. He had, indeed, been a blasphemer, in the vulgar sense, in early life; but now, he says, “ I was bound in the wings of a Wind, that would carry me away, to bolt out some horrible blasphemous thought or other, against God. I often found my mind suddenly put to it, to curse and swear, or to speak some grievous thing against God, or Christ his Son, and the Scriptures.” Thus both railing and reason. ing forced themselves into his new blasphemies. only profane before ; but now he was inclined to be alternately an Infidel and an Atheist.
All this would be somewhat unnatural, as to its degree, even in the case of a man who had been the companion of sceptics and scorners, or a reader of their books ; especially if these had not perverted his moral tastes, nor entangled him in guilty pursuits. Bunyan, however, had never read such books, and he had no vicious habits. The only dangerous books he had read, up to this time, were Antinomian. It is, therefore, some. what difficult to account for even his reasonings against the authority of the Scriptures. He himself refers them to no human source ; but traces them all directly to Satan. 66 The Tempter,” he says,
6 would much assault me with this, • How can you tell but that the Turks had as good Scriptures to prove their Mahomet the Saviour, as we have to prove our Jesus ? And, · Could I think that so many ten thousands, in so many countries and kingdoms, should be without the knowledge of the right way to heaven (if there were indeed a
heaven); and that we only who live in a corner of the earth, should alone be blessed therewith? Every one doth think his own religion rightest ; Jews, Moors, and Pagans: and, how if all our faith, and Christ, and Scriptures, should be but a think-so too? Sometimes I endeavoured to argue against these suggestions, and to set some of the sentences of blessed Paul against them : but, alas, I quickly felt, when I thus did, such arguings as these would return again upon me,—Though we made so great a matter of Paul and of his words, yet how could I tell, but that in very deed, he being a subtle and cunning man, might have given himself up to deceive with strong delu. sions, and take pains and travel to undo and destroy his fellows ?”
All this is very hollow to us: but it must have been very plausible to Bunyan, and might have puzzled his Bedford friends, had he submitted the questions to them; for it is not likely that even Gifford knew enough of the Koran or Maho. met, to unmask their pretensions. Bunyan, however, had he known them, would have seen through them at a glance, even at this stage of his distractions: and had he known that Ma. homet died of the poisoned lamb given him by the Jewess at Kheebar, and that the promise made to the Apostles of Christ (that none of them should die by poison) was literally fulfilled, it is easy to conceive, from Bunyan's temperament, what an effect this circumstantial evidence would have had upon his wonder-loving mind. The Viper at Malta would have rein. stated Paul's authority at once, with him, as well as reminded him of his own escape from the fangs of an adder. It was, however, well for him, that his faith found its anchorage again where it began, in the deep and sound moorings of Internal Evidence.
Bunyan did not find this soon nor easily: for his faith had no helper on the stormy sea, where it was now driven of the wind and tossed. Indeed, he seems to have been afraid or ashamed to submit his sceptical doubts to any one; Jest in uttering them, the horrid blasphemies which mingled with them, should bolt out at the same time, in spite of him.
It is painful to dwell upon this scene! I, indeed, would not do so, did not others as well as myself need to be stirred up to pray
with the understanding and the heart, “ Lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One;" • Tornpos. This Petition ought to be as fervent as it is frequent. Christ prayed thus for Peter, as well as taught us to pray so: a plain proof,
that the danger is neither imaginary nor slight. It is, therefore, desirable to hold up the case of Bunyan, as a warning speci. men of the “great wrath,” with which Satan can come down “ for a season,” when he knows his time to be but short. Why he is permitted to do so, need be no great mystery in a world where so many other trials are allowed to fall upon both mind and body. The agency is different in delirium and insanity; but the effects are much the same, in one sense. What Bunyan was tempted to do, many have done at the height of a fever. Malignant miasm has thus mystery about it, as well as the malignant spirit.
It is impossible here, however, not to ask the question, was Bunyan really insane at all, at this time? Now he himself says, “ At times I thought I should be bereft of my wits.” But this was his fear, only when “instead of lauding and magni. fying God and the Lamb, with others," he felt ready to curse them. This might well alarm any man for his wits, whilst it lasted, even if he had not, like Bunyan, a horror at blasphemy. Besides, he was perfectly conscious, that his spirit retained its “ distaste for” these things; and that “there was something within him which refused to embrace them.” Even when the temptation was upon him “ with force,” he “ often” compared himself to a child, “whom some Gypsy hath by force taken up in her arms, and is carrying from friend and country. He also made great efforts to get out of the wings of the wind, which was carrying him away.
Hence he says in his own style, “Kick sometimes, I did; and also shriek and cry.” “ These things did not make me slack my crying." Thus he was what Dr. Southey truly says, “ collected enough, even in the paroxysms
of the disease to observe its symptoms. He noted faithfully all that occurred in his reveries, and faithfully reported it.” Conder also has well said, in reference to this point, “ There are diseased conditions of the frame, not amounting to insanity, in which the imagination is distempered, but there is no delirium; in which unreasonable ideas have hold of the mind, but there is no eclipse of the controlling judgment; there are involuntary impressions, but no involuntary decisions. Such conditions, how nearly soever they approximate to insanity, are clearly distinct from it.”-Memoir.
I gladly avail myself of the opinions of acute men; but I much prefer the fact, that Bunyan himself reviewed his paroxysms, without detecting or suspecting mental aberration in them. He continued to the end of life to refer them to Satan;