« PoprzedniaDalej »
name Mary in thy imagination, and knowest not Him who was before the world was ; in whom alone is salvation, and in no other. If we would diligently search we should find thee, through feigned words, through covetousness, making mer. chandise of souls, and loving the wages of unrighteousness : and such were the scoffers Peter speaks of, among whom thou art found in thy practice, among them who are preaching for hire, and love the error of Balaam, who took gifts and rewards.—The Lord rebuke thee, thou unclean spirit, who has falsely accused the innocent to clear thyself of guilt ; but at thy door guilt lodges, and I leave it with thee! Clear thyself, if thou art able. Thou art one of the Dragon's army against the Lamb and his followers ; and thy weapons are slanders ; and thy refuge is lies. Thy Work is confused, and hath hardly gained a name in Babylon's Record.”
This is a specimen of what Burrough calls, “contending for the true faith of the Gospel of Peace in the spirit of meekness !” We may laugh at this as pretence; but the writer was quite serious. He saw nothing in all this bitter and railing accusation, but the true spirit of meekness. This is just the way in which meek spirits write when they kindle with zeal. It is only passionate men who remonstrate temperately, in religious controversy. They are afraid of their own spirit; and thus suppress its fire: whereas, bland and gentle spirits, when they burn, indulge it. Robert Sandeman was gentle as a lamb, although he wrote like a fury ; whereas John Glass, whose writings on Faith breathe nothing but love, is said to have been an irritable and violent man. One of the Ish. maels of the present day, is as mild as an emulsion. He said to me, the first time I saw him, “ you calculated upon meeting a roaring lion.” He was surprised when I told him, that the violence of his pen had convinced me of the gentleness of his spirit; and that I calculated upon finding him a lamb. The fact is, men of fiery mood, when they wax unusually warm, suspect that they are “ set on fire of hell ;” and thus resist a conflagration : whereas, when cool men kindle, they fan the flame, because they think it comes from heaven. Burroughs believed it to be inspiration. The hotter he became, the more heavenly he deemed himself. He seems, however, to have been a bland, as well as a bold man. His Letters to his fami. ly and his suffering friends, are full of tenderness. His eulogist, Howgill, says in his Epicedium (for it deserves that name, although in prose; being full of poetical “ thoughts which
breathe, and words which burn,”) “ For though thou didst cut as a razor—and many a rough stone hast thou squared and polished—and much knotty wood hast thou hewed in thy day; yet to the SEED, thy words dropped like oil, and thy lips as the honeycomb. William Penn is another illustration of this paradox.
I am not apologizing for Burroughs. His denunciations of Bunyan admit of no defence; and his sneers at him are ill. concealed alarms or mortifications. Had Bunyan's work not been telling within and beyond the pale of Quakerism, Bur. roughs would have let the Tinker alone. Bunyan answered him with great dignity, and much point. In reply to the calumnious charge of being a hireling, he calmly said, “ Ask others : I preach the truth, and work with my hands for mine own living, and for those that are with me." Burroughs had the meanness to give him the lie direct, to this vindication; and to say, " Thy portion shall be howling and gnashing of teeth; for the Liar's portion is the Lake.” The secret of this rage is, that Bunyan had nailed him with powerful questions, to which a “ Yea or Nay" answer was demanded. He had also placed him between the horns of a laughable dilemma, which all the country could understand. It was this. Bunyan had classed the Quakers with the false prophets, whom St. John describes. Burroughs said, in answer to this, that " there was not a Quaker heard of in these days.” Sad concession! Bunyan caught at it at once, and said, “ Thou art right: there was no Quaker ; but there were many of Christians then. By this you yourself do confess, that you are a new upstart Sect, which was not, at other times in the world, though christian saints have been always in the world. Friend, here, like a man in the dark, in seeking to keep thyself out of one ditch, thou art fallen into another: instead of proving yourselves no false prophets, you prove yourselves no Chris. tians; saying, “ there was not a Quaker heard of then.' But if Quakers had been Christians, they would have been heard of then.”
Bunyan could enjoy a joke, and point a sarcasm ; but there was no venom in his wit, and he had no taste for personalities. He, therefore, just vindicated his character and creed, and dropt the controversy, that he might devote himself to the work of an evangelist. We shall see, however, that he kept his eye upon Quakerism, even whilst he was a prisoner ; especially when Ludovic Muggleton began to rave. Then he sent
out warnings against fanaticism, which made the Quakers themselves denounce Muggleton. Richard Farnsworth him. self declared this maniac (the Courtenay of these times) “ to be punishable by the law of the land :" and Sewell seems to regret that he could not “find any punishment inflicted on him, other than the pillory, and half a year's imprisonment. -Sewell, vol. ii. p. 95. In other respects, the Qu
rs acquitted themselves well of all sympathy with the Muggletonian fanatics.
BUN YAN'S EXAMPLE.
ALTHOUGH no one's experience is exactly like Bunyan's, yet all who have had any experience of terror or temptation, of hope or fear, of agony or anguish, find something in his vicis. situdes, analogous to their own. The revolutions of his hopes and fears were indeed often abrupt, and always extreme; but they circled for ever around the question of his eternal salvation. It was for his soul he feared when he was shaken with terrors: it was for his soul he hoped when he shouted for joy. When he hung his harp upon the willows, it was because the hope of salvation had fallen into the dark waters of despair beneath; and when he took down that harp, it was because this hope had emerged from them again. For although he marked and felt the vicissitudes of his health and his family, he was absorbed chiefly by the varying aspects of eternity:
This is the real secret of our sympathy for him. It is a sympathy with him. Not, indeed, in all the depth of his wo, nor in all the height of his rapture : but, still, in the causes or springs of both. At the extremes of both hope and fear, he is beyond us. In the power of describing or expressing both, he is above us.
His harp, when muffled, is too sad for us; and when tuned to the harps around the throne, too loud or too sweet for the usual melody of our own hearts. But still, we feel it to be alike true to the fear of perishing, and to the hope of salvation. It was not too solemn when the sorrows of death compassed him, and the pains of hell gat hold upon him; nor too cheerful, even when it rung with rapture over the tokens of the divine presence, and the earnests of eternal glory. We may not exactly regret that we cannot rise to all the height of Bunyan's joy, when it is unspeakable, by its fulness of glory; and we may even dread and deprecate sinking so low in the fearful pit of terror as he did : but we cannot wonder that his song was loud when he felt his footing upon the Rock of Ages, nor that his grief was clamorous whilst he thought heaven shut against his prayers, and hell his inevitable portion; for his
feelings then are not too strong for such extremes of hope and fear. He may, indeed, have feared too much when the cloud was upon his spirit, and hoped too fondly when the rainbow spangled and dispersed that cloud : but he did feel all the hope and the fear he gave utterance to. He said nothing stronger than he thought and felt at the time, although he has said more about both his joys and sorrows than any other
It was not by accident, however, that he said so much, nor that he had so much to say. God was training him to teach many, and therefore made him “a wonder to many.' And he was just the man, so far as mind is concerned, to be thus selected for a sign to “ be wondered at :” for neither the great nor the wise can question his genius, and the poor
sympa. thise with his mean origin for ever.
No class can doubt his perfect sincerity, and all classes must feel his matchless power, Like the sun, he reveals himself by his own light, and reaches the meridian by his own strength, so far as human help is concerned. He owes little to circumstances, and still less to education, for what he became as a thinker or a writer. He was born, not made, an allegorical poet in prose.
It was both like God, and worthy of him, to select this man to be “a polished shaft in his quiver.” Bunyan may be shot anywhere, at any time, and with great effect, until the end of time. He can neither break nor blunt by long use, nor rust when unemployed. He is always new, however often read; and never entirely forgotten by the most superficial reader. Some fine image, or emphatic maxim, or thrilling sentiment, lays hold on the mind, and lingers in the memory, even if his devotional spirit be forgotten as penitence, or disliked as prayer.
It was just in a mind of this order, that a public manifesta. tion of the power of conscience could be made with effect. The terrors of a weak mind, or even of an ordinary mind, are easily ascribed to intellectual weakness : but when conscience overpowers an acute understanding, and saddens a spirit at once buoyant and mighty, and makes a creative genius create only visions of horror and despair, we are compelled to pause and ask, what must conscience be, seeing it can thus master all the other powers of the mind, and, without deranging them, turn each of them into a conscience, or make them all parts of itself? It is this fact that flames in the example of Bunyan. We see the man who had an eye for all that is lovely, and an ear for all that is sweet, and a heart for all that is sublime in