Obrazy na stronie

which did so hide from me the things of God and Christ,that I was as if I had never seen or known them in my life. I was also so overrun in my soul with a senseless, heartless, frame of spirit, that I could not feel my soul to move or stir after grace and life by Christ. I was as if my bones were broken, or as if my hands and feet were tied or bound with chains. I felt at this time some weakness seize upon my outward man, which made the other affliction the more heavy and uncom. fortable to me.

“ After I had been in this condition three or four days, as I was sitting by the fire (it was now Spring) I suddenly felt this Word sound in my heart,—I must go to Jesus !' At this, my former darkness and atheism fled away, and the blessed things of Heaven were set in my view.” He could not, however, find the words which thus cheered him. I am not sorry that his memory failed him for a moment. We get a glimpse of his wife again, whilst it is at fault. “Wife," he said, 5 is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus ?'” He

not have appealed to her thus fondly and familiarly, if she had been unacquainted with her Bible. “ She said, she could not tell.” No wonder; the words as he quoted them are not in the Scriptures. The idea floating in his mind, was drawn from that sublime passage in the Hebrews, xii. 22 :“ Ye are come to Mount Sion, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.”

After musing “ two or three minutes, it came bolting upon him,” he says, “and Mount Sion was set before ” his eyes. A fine vision it must have been ! Brighter to him than Car. mel to the prophet, when it was encircled and enshrined with horses and chariots of fire. His was just the eye to catch the vision of

« The Mount of God," as it stands crowned with the eternal city, and crowded with the general assembly of saints and angels, and irradiated with the glory of the Lamb. “ With joy,” he says, “ I told my wife ; 0! now I know, I know! I longed also for the company of some of God's people, that I might have imparted to them what God had showed me. That was a good night to

I never had many better. Christ was precious to my soul that night. I could scarce lie in my bed for joy, and peace, and triumph, through Christ. This great glory did con. tinue upon me until the morning. It was a blessed scripture to me for many days together after this."


Bunyan did not forget this vision of Mount Sion, when he wrote his Pilgrim. His SHINING ONES tell Christian and Hopeful, just what he has told us; and these Pilgrims ascend Mount Sion just as his own thoughts did, “with agility and speed, although it was higher than the clouds.” Indeed, ex. cept the Trumpeters, who made the heavens to echo with melodious noises and loud,” the whole scene was present to him on this occasion. This will hardly be wondered at when his own account of the process of discovery is read.

“ The words are these,” he says: “ «Ye are come to Mount Sion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.' Through this sentence the Lord led me over and over again; first to this word, and then to that : and showed me wonderful glory in every one of them. These words also have oft since that time been great refreshment to my spirit."

He refreshed others, and especially his fellow prisoners, by them at a future day : for it was the vivid recollection of what he now saw in them, that enabled him to pour out that unpremeditated commentary on the heavenly Jerusalem, which he afterwards published under the title of “The Holy City.” The history of that remarkable work (which was a special fa. vourite with himself, because of “ the Jasper-lightin which it shone out upon him suddenly, when he thought he could not speak “ so much as five words of truth,”) will be found in the chapter of his Prison Thoughts.

This season of affliction was useful to Bunyan. It brought his best affections, as well as his best powers, into full operation. He said, in reference to it, “the incense was to be bruised, and so to be burned in the censer. and spices cast their fragrant scent into the nostrils of man, when beaten ; and the heart, when beaten and bruised, casts its sweet smell into the nostrils of God.”—Works, p. 543. He meant himself, also, when he said of David, “ He knew what it was to hang over the mouth of Hell, and to have Death pulling him down into the Pit. This he saw, to the

Sweet gums breaking of his heart. His relief, therefore, made him a thankful man! And if a man who has had a leg broken, is made to understand that by breaking of that, he was kept from breaking his neck, he will be thankful to God for a broken leg.”-Works, p. 547. Agreeably to these maxims, Bunyan was thankful for his visit to the gates of death.






expose his

If either the consciousness of mental power, or the command of intelligible and terse modes of expressing his religious thoughts and feelings, could have encouraged Bunyan to preach the Gospel to others, he would have begun to do so when he regretted that the Crows did not understand him. If, again, example could have tempted him to “ gifts” (according to the phrase and fashion of his times) he might have commenced when he liked, without being sent or sanctioned by any church ; for (as Dr. Chalmers told the Christian Influence Society, in his Presbyterian Lectures in aid of Episcopacy) “ the mystic superiority arrogated by do. mineering Churchmen who claim for themselves (to the exclu. sion of all others • as beyond the pale') the immaculate descent of a pure and apostolic ordination,” had rendered ordination a bye-word in the Army; and taught hosts of better men to say with Chalmers, “ We disclaim all aid from any such facti. tious argument;-an argument which could have been of no avail ágainst the Popery we rejected, and should be of as lit. tle avail against (other) denominations of Protestanism.” Chalmers' Last Lecture.

Bunyan had, however, an overwhelming dread of the ministry ; not merely because he was alive to its solemn responsi. bilities, and to his own lack of knowledge, but chiefly because he could not appropriate to himself the Salvation he wished to proclaim to others. He was thus as much awed at the bare idea of entering the ministry of the Church on earth, as a reflecting man is, in the immediate prospect of taking a part in the service of the Church in heaven. We must both remem. ber and realize this, if we would either understand Bunyan, or sympathize with him, at this point of his history.

Now we do not wonder at all, that a very great change must take place upon both the heart and conscience of even

the holiest Christians at death, before they can serve or enjoy God in heaven; for there, His servants serve Him day and night without weariness or dread. Such untiring and cheerful service is natural to Angels. There is nothing in their nature or history, to hinder it. Their spirit was never unfit, nor reluctant, nor afraid, to see or to serve God, face to face. They have thus no painful recollections of the past, and no fears as to the future. They can look back upon their whole life without one blush of shame, or one sigh of regret; and forward through Eternity, without one suspicion. It is, how. ever, just as true of the human spirits in Heaven, as of the angelic, that they too serve God without weariness or dread. Their power

and composure to do so arise, indeed, from other and widely different causes : but they have both power and composure to equal the Angels in duty and delight.

It is, I grant, easier to believe this of others, than to realize it for ourselves. We can hardly conceive how we could be able, for ages, to look up, at all, before the Eternal Throne, even if Angels conveyed, or old Friends welcomed us, into heaven. We feel, when we think of seeing God and the Lamb face to face, as if we should like to look at them first, from “ the borders of Emanuel's land.” We are so sure, that the “ great sight” must remind us of the long time during which, and the low reasons for which, we lived without God, and without Christ, in the world,—that we cannot help feeling as if we could not bear the sight at once; but as if it must overwhelm us with shame and confusion of face. Thus, so far as we can judge at present, we should prefer, when we enter Heaven to creep out of sight for a time; or to dwell alone in some retired spot amongst the hills of Immortality, until we could collect our thoughts, and compose our spirits, and be somewhat prepared to approach the Throne ; for it seems impossible now, that we could wear a crown of glory, or wave a palm of victory, or use a golden harp, at once, or even soon. Accordingly, the only thing we can realize as within the utmost reach of our power, whilst Heaven is all new to us, is, that we might just be able to sit down in the mansion of some of our old friends, and after recovering from our surprize take lessons from them on the duties of heaven.

I will not ask, why we feel thus when we think of entering into the presence, and upon the service, of God in heaven. We cannot help feeling thus intimidated, when we think thus distinctly. Now it is quite possible to be thus intimidated at

« PoprzedniaDalej »