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of me, as an evil.doer, they shall be ashamed that falsely accuse my good conversation in Christ.
“So then, what shall I say to those who have thus bespattered me? Shall I threaten them? Shall I chide them ? Shall I flatter them? Shall I entreat them to hold their tongues ? No, not I. Were it not for that these things make them ripe for damnation, that are the authors and abettors, I would say unto them, report it, becaase it will increase my glory.
“ Therefore I bind these lies and slanders to me as an orna. ment; it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached and reviled ; and since all this is nothing else, as my God and my conscience do bear me witness, I rejoice in reproaches for Christ's sake.
“ I also call all those fools and knaves that have thus made it any thing of their business to affirm any of these things aforenamed of me; namely, that I have been naught with other women, or the like. When they have used the utmost of their endeavours, and made the fullest inquiry that they can, (I defy them) to prove against me truly, that there is any woman in heaven, or earth, or hell, that can say, I have at any time, in any place, by day or night, so much as attempted to be naught with them. And speak I thus to beg my enemies into a good esteem of me? No, not I: I will in this beg belief of no man. Believe me or disbelieve me in this, all is a case to me. “My foes have missed their mark in this their shooting at
I am not the man. I wish that they themselves be guiltless. If all the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged up by the neck till they be dead, John Bunyan, the object of their envy, would be still alive and well. I know not whether there be such a thing as a woman breathing under the copes of the heavens, but by their apparel, their children, or by common fame, except my wife.
6 And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that he made me shy of women from my first conversion until now. These know, and can also bear me witness, with whom I have been most intimately concerned, that it is a rare thing to see me carry it pleasantly towards a woman; the common salutation of women I abhor ; it is odious to me in whomsoever I see it. Their company alone, I cannot away with. I seldom so much as touch a woman's hand, for I think these things are not so becoming me. When I have seen good men salute those women that they have visited, or that have visited them,
I have at times made my objection against it; and when they have answered, that it was but a piece of civility, I have told them, it is not a comely sight. Some indeed have urged the holy kiss ; but then I have asked why they made baulks, why they did salute the most handsome, and let the ill-favoured go. Thus, how laudable soever such things have been in the eyes of others, they have been unseemly in my sight.
“And now for a wind-up in this matter; I calling not only men, but angels, to prove me guilty of having carnally to do with any woman save my wife; nor am I afraid to do it a se. cond time, knowing that I cannot offend the Lord in such a case, to call God for a record upon my soul, that in these things I am innocent. Not that I have been thus kept, be. cause of any goodness in me, more than any other, but God has been merciful to me, and has kept me: to whom I pray that he will keep me still, not only from this, but from every evil way and work, and preserve me to his heavenly kingdom. Amen!"
Such was Bunyan's own review of his work, warfare, and reward, as a Minister, up to the time of his imprisonment. It admits of much amplification and illustration ; but as it is complete in itself, I reserve the additional facts of the period, to throw light upon the origin and cast of some of his wri. tings, whilst he was a prisoner. For as a man and a minister, he is now sufficiently before us, to secure both our sympathy and confidence, as we follow him to the Jail and the Bar. Indeed, we are quite prepared already to exclaim, " This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds,"
DR. SOUTHEY says “Bunyan was one of the first persons, after the Restoration, punished for Nonconformity.” So he was: and as nonconformity was quite enough to account for his punishment, when the Act of the 35th of Elizabeth, as well as the spirit of Laud, was restored by the last and the worst Charles, there was no need for further explanations. Not so, however, has Dr. SOUTHEY allowed the matter to stand. He asserts, that Bunyan was known to be hostile to the re. stored church.” He insinuates, that Bunyan's service in the Parliament's army” had some influence upon his doom. He maintains, that Bunyan's “calling might well be deemed incompatible with his office.” This is bad enough; but it is not the worst. The Fifth Monarchy men, who proclaimed King Jesus, are dragged in to account for the persecution of Bunyan, although he was lodged in Bedford Jail two months before VENNER, their leader, made the proclamation. Indeed, it was only on the 3d of April, Bunyan heard of it from Cobb, the Clerk of the Peace! These attempts to explain and palli. ate the conduct of Bunyan's persecutors, might be forgiven, if the policy of either the Church or the State, at that time, were worthy or capable of any imitation now :--but they are unpardonable, now that neither Church nor State would, or could, revive that policy. Viewed in this light, it is infatuation to defend the Church, as Charles II. headed it, and Cla. rendon ruled it, and Jeffries sustained it. For, what would the defenders of the Church of that time, have us to believe ? If not, that the Establishment might yet persecute Noncon. formists in the old style, it is both unfriendly and unfair to palliate the old style of Prelacy. That, indeed, can only be done by arguments which, if they prove any thing, excuse Nero and Domitian, the Vatican and the Inquisition, far more than they do the Church of the Restoration. For the Nonconformists of that age differed less from the thirty-nine Arti. cles, than the first reformers did from the Church of Rome. And if Bunyan might well be persecuted for State reasons, Paul and Polycarp, Latimar and Ridley deserved their doom. The matter comes to this! Here the logic of palliation lands us.
Were I hostile to the Establishment, I would not espostu. late thus against defences of it, which defame the Puritans, and abet a King who superseded “the reign of the saints, by the reign of strumpets; who was crowned in his youth with the Covenant in his hand, and died with the Host sticking in his throat, after a life spent in dawdling suspense between Hopbism and Popery" (Ed. Rev.,) and in degrading bondage to levity and licentiousness. The Church would not persecute Bunyan now: why then should she be insulted by vindica. tions of his persecutors? She would not, even if she durst, revive the policy of the Restoration : why then should she own any
“ Book of the Church,” which dares to justify that policy? They are not her best friends who say, “ Aha, we would have it so.”
The persecution of Bunyan for preaching did not com. mence, however, with the Restoration. An indictment was preferred against him in Cromwell's time. The Church Book, preserved at Bedford, contains this entry, “On the 25th December, 1657, the Church resolved to set apart a day for seeking council of God, what to do with respect to the indict. ment against brother Bunyan at the assizes, for preaching at Eaton." This action seems to have broke down; for both in February and July of 1658, he was present at the Church. meetings of his flock. The fact is, it was not so easy to sus. tain an action of this kind during the Commonwealth, as before and after it: for Cromwell
, although he gave no counte. nance to persecution for conscience' sake, could not always prevent it. The Presbyterian party contrived to elude his vigi. lance, and to defeat his measures, at times. He described them well when he said, “Nothing will satisfy them, unless they can put their finger upon their brethren's conscience, and pinch them there." Indeed, as a party, they were a ptoud aristocracy, until the execution of Love, and the ele. vation of Owen, humbled them a little. In 1649, Parliament had to say of them, “Our being obliged to take away all such acts and ordinances as are penal in matters of conscience, hath given them great offence.” This offence had not ceased
in 1657, when Bunyan was indicted. His grand offence, however, was his popularity in the country. It was that, “ opened wide the mouths of the Priests and Doctors." Their flocks would hear the Tinker, in spite of all warning; and therefore he was indicted as a wolf without even sheep's clothing. This seems to have been the real secret of his first persecution. Solemn drones could not keep him out of their par. ishes, nor always out of their palpits; for the people drew him into both : and the Geneva cloak could no more brook this then, than the surplice can now. Still, it could not prevent this, even in Cambridgeshire. He often preached in the churches of that county, and occasionally had gownsmen amongst his hearers. Crosby (the historian of the Baptists) says, that a Cambridge scholar-not one of the soberest-on hearing that a tinker was to preach in church, resolved “ to hear him prate,” and gave a boy twopence to hold his horse during the sermon. The sermon soon made him serious as well as sober. He began from that day to embrace every opportunity of hearing Bunyan, whether in churches or barns, and became a godly man and a useful minister. This fact, although it does not exactly identify the author of the Sketch of Bunyan's Life, in the British Museum, shows that Bunyan had a clerical friend, who was likely to embalm his memory. My own opinion is, that this convert was the author of that Sketch. I am led to this conclusion, not merely because I cannot trace the tribute to any one else, but chiefly because it manifests so much intimacy with, and veneration for, Bunyan. The following account of his preaching and arrest could come only from one who loved him much, and who had strong reasons for loving him.
“He saw that his powerful and piercing words brought tears from the eyes, and melted the hearts (of his hearers ;) but he knew that would not continue long upon thein, without God's grace. But by often teaching, at last he saw such signs of contrition in his hearers, that he boldly expressed himself in St. Paul's words, • Though I be not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am unto you, for the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord.' 1 Cor. viii. 2.
“ By this time his family was increased, and as that in. creased God increased his stores, so that he lived now in great credit among his neighbours, who were amazed to find such a wonderful reformation in him ; that from a person so vile as he had been, should spring up so good a Christian; and people