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but he never concluded that he had been “ bereft of his wits," although he feared the loss of them at this time. No wonder he was afraid. This temptation lasted nearly “a year. “ In these days,” he says, “ when I heard others talk of what was the Sin against the Holy Ghost,then would the Tempter so provoke me to desire to sin that sin, that I was as if I could not—must not neither should be quiet, until I had com. mitted it. Now no sin would serve--but that! If it were to be committed by speaking of such a word (a certain word,) then I have been as if my mouth would have spoken that word, whether I would or no. In so strange a measure was this temptation upon me, that often I have been ready to clap my hands under my chin, to hold my mouth from opening. To that end also, I have had thoughts at other times, to leap with my head downward, into some muck-hole, to keep my mouth from speaking."
This far exceeds any thing of the kind we know of. The wonder is, however, that it went no further, and took no darker form. Had it been insanity, it would have done so.
We have thus a remarkable proof of the truth of that promise, that God will not suffer thern who fear him, “to be tempted above what they are able to bear.” Bunyan bore far more than we could have expected ; judging from what we have hitherto known of him. We have not seen, however, the heavy end of his iron yoke yet. Again,” he says, “ I beheld the condi. tion of the dog and toad, and counted the state of every thing God had made, far better than this dreadful state of mine. Yea, gladly would I have been in the condition of a dog or a horse; for I knew they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weight of hell or sin, as mine was like to do. Nay, and though I saw this—felt this and was broken to pieces with it, yet that which added 10 my sorrow was, that I could not find that with all my soul I did desire deliverance from it. That Scripture also did tear and rend my soul, in the midst distractions, • The wicked are like the troubled sea,
whose waters cast forth mire and dirt. There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God.'
“And now my heart was, at times, exceeding hard. If I would have given a thousand pounds for a tear, I could not shed one.
No, nor sometimes scarce desire to shed one. I was much dejected, to think that this should be my lot. I saw some could mourn and lament their sin; and others again, could rejoice and bless God for Christ; and others again, could
quietly talk of, and with gladness remember, the Word of God; —while I only was in the tempest! This much sunk me. I thought my condition was alone. I would, therefore, much bewail my hard hap: but get out of, or rid of, these things, I could not.”
As might be expected, these things hindered him much in prayer. Indeed, the wonder is, that he could pray at all, amidst such distractions. And there were moments, “ when the noise, strength, and force of these temptations, would drown, and overflow, and bury all thoughts and remembrance of such a thing.” This made him think, “ Surely now, I am possessed of the devil. I thought also of Saul, and of the Evil Spirit that did possess him, and did greatly fear that my con. dition was the same with that of his." He did, however, pray even then, at times. Without intending it, he imitated the Saviour now and then, by praying “most earnestly,” as his agony increased. We shall see this by and by. In the mean time, the general state of his mind, when he was upon his knees, requires notice. He felt sure that « Satan stood at bis right hand to resist him.' And certainly, Satan could hard. ly have resisted him more, had he been at his side. 66 I have thought,” he says, “ that I felt the devil behind me, pulling my clothes. He would also be continually at me in time of prayer—to · have done make haste-break off; you have prayed enough:
:-stay no longer!' Sometimes also he would cast in such wicked thoughts as- -that I must pray to him, or for him. I thought sometimes of that,— fall down; or if thou wilt, fall down and worship me.' Matt. iv. 9.
“ Also when (because I have had wandering thoughts in the time of this duty) I have laboured to compose my mind, and fix it upon God, then with great force hath the tempter laboured to distract me, and confound me, and to turn away my mind, by presenting to my heart and fancy the form of a bush, a bull, a besom, or the like, as if I should pray to these. To these, especially at some times, he would so hold my mind, that I was as if I could think of nothing else, or pray to nothing but these, or such as they.” There is nothing in all “ the shapings” of his imagination, so like delirium as this. It was not, however, delirium ; for it was preceded by deliberate efforts to be composed, and accompanied with grief and shame, and often interrupted with strong cryings and tears to God for deliver
Accordingly he says, 6 Yet at times, I should have some strong and heart-affecting apprehensions of God, and the
reality of the truth of his Gospel. And, oh, how would my heart, at such times, put forth itself with inexpressible groan. ings! My whole soul was then in every word. I would cry with pangs after God, that he would be merciful unto me. Thus, as Conder well says, “ there was no eclipse of the controlling judgment." There were, however, what Bunyan himself calls, “ conceits,” followed this. Hence he adds, “ But then I should be daunted again with such conceits as these ;that God did mock at my prayers ; saying, in the audience of holy angels, this poor simple wretch doth hanker after me, as if I had nothing to do with my mercy but to bestow it upon him. Alas, poor soul, how art thou deceived! It is not for thee, to have favour with the Highest !'”
David and Asaplı, Job and Jereiniah, as well as John Bunyan, thought thus at times. It was, however, only a passing thought. It not only did not stop his praying, but made him pray so fervently, that Satan, he says, told “me, you are very hot for mercy, but I will cool you. This frame shall not last always. Many have been as hot as you for a spirt; but I have quenched their zeal. And with this, such and such (persons) who were fallen off, would be set before my eyes. (The devilish Ranter, of course, was one of them.) But, thought I, • I am glad this comes into my mind. Well
, I will watch, and take what care I can.'—- I shall be too hard for you,' said Satan, “I will cool you insensibly by degrees ; by little and little. What care I (saith he) though I be seven years in chilling your heart, if I can do it at last ? Continual rocking will lull a crying child asleep. I will ply close, but I will have my end accomplished. Though you be burning hot at present, I can pull you from this fire. I shall have
cold before it be long.'” Satan's speeches in Milton's Paradise Lost, are not more in keeping with his revealed character, than this speech. It indicates as much sound judgment of the Tempter, as any soliloquy or address Milton has put into his lips. It is just what Satan would have said, had he spoken to Bunyan. However much, therefore, Bunyan mistook him, when he suspected him of “pulling at his clothes,” he neither exaggerated nor underrated him, when he ascribed those “ cruel mockings” to him. It is delightful to trace the pure and strong sense which marks this vivid sketch of the depths, wiles, and malignity of Satan!
One of the effects of this temptation was, that, while it last. ed, he could attend " upon none of the ordinances of God, but
this sad year.
with sore and great affliction." His account of this is very touching “ Yea, then, I was most distressed with blasphemies. If hearing the Word, vileness, blasphemy and despair would hold me a captive there. If reading, then I had sudden thoughts to question all I read. Sometimes again, my mind would be so strangely snatched away, and possessed with other things, that I have neither known, nor regarded, nor remem. bered, so much as the sentence I had but just read.” Thus, “ Satan stood at his right hand to resist him.” Bunyan was not, however, without some alleviations during
“I had,” he says, “ some supports in this temptation, though they were all questioned by me then. That, in Jeremiah, was something to me—that though we had spoken and done evil things as we could, yet we should cry unto God,
My Father, thou art the guide of my youth,' and return unto him.” Thus, although God suffered him to be tempted, he did not suffer him to be tempted above what he was able to bear. We shall find this promise verified, even when temptation went far beyond all we have yet reviewed.
I have often thought, whilst analyzing and recording these strange and startling temptations, that I durst not have published them, had I alone been possessed of Bunyan's autobiography. It is, however, in the hands of thousands, and will never pass out of print; and, therefore, I pass by nothing it contains. Besides, his high and holy character is sufficiently known to all readers, by his Pilgrim : so that there is no dan. ger of sinking him, or of injuring religion, by any disclosure of his woes and weakness, however full, minute, or familiar it inay be. The recollection, that he wrote the PILGRIM's Pro, GRESS, corrects or counterbalances all unfavourable impres. sions.
AFTER remaining a whole year in such a wilderness of temptation, Bunyan may well be expected and allowed to give strong names to both the Grace and Providence, which kept him from sinking under his heavy burden, and which now began to lighten and unloose it. His first relief was very timely. He had begun to be afraid of long life, lest it should wear out all his “ remembrance of the evil of sin, the worth of heaven, and his need of the blood of Christ.” Time seemed to him, set upon spunging all this out of both mind and thought.” But he could not bear the idea of outliving his recollections, or his estimates, of the things which belonged to his eternal peace. The fear of this put him upon crying, louder than ever, for help from God. And, as might be expected, he found " help in time of need.”
He was more wise than usual in selecting an inscription for his first Ebenezer, when he came up from the wilderness. was this, “ I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. viii. 39. - This was a good word to me,” he says, “after I had suffered (from) these things.”
If I understand his meaning aright here, it explains the un. questioning ease and readiness with which he applied this s strong consolation” to himself. Had he not suffered much, his first work with this text would have been to make a rack of it, upon which he would have tortured himself with the questions—does God love me? how can that be? He had, however, just been assailed, as he thought and felt, by all the things which threaten to “ separate from the love of God :" and thus he ventured to conclude, that such an onset would not have been made upon him, had he been hated or given up of God. Besides, after long and deep suffering, the mind is glad to take up with a suitable promise, without nicely criti