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was released, he would make him pay my fees, which he said was due to him ; and further, told him, that he would com. plain of him at the next quarter-sessions for making of false calendars, though my Jailor himself, as I afterwards learned, had put in my accusation worse than in itself it was by far. And thus was I hindered and prevented at that time also from appearing before the judge: and left in prison. Farewell. JOHN BUNYAN.”
This was a long farewell to Liberty! For seven years from this time, there is no account of him in the Church Book at Bedford. That, indeed, would not be proof that he was never present at any of the Church Meetings : because prudence required that no record of his presence should appear upon the minutes, There is, however, no reason to suppose that he was ever permitted to go beyond his prison walls once, during seven years. And, be it remembered, Bedford Jail stood then upon the Bridge; and thus he had not even a yard or court within the walls to walk in for air or exercise. The late Mr. Parry, of Wymondly College, hardly exaggerated, therefore, when he drew the following touching picture of Bunyan's imprisonment. It is not altogether true : but alas, it is only too true! “ Look into that damp and dreary cell, through the narrow chink, which admits a few scanty rays of light, to render visible to the wretched his abode of woe.
Be. hold, by the glimmering of that feeble lamp, a prisoner, pale and emaciated, seated on the humid earth, and pursuing his daily task, to earn the morsel which prolongs his existence and confinement together. Near him, reclined in pensive sadness, lies a blind daughter, compelled to eat the bread of affliction from the hard earning of an imprisoned father! Paternal affection binds her to his heart, and filial gratitude has long made her the daily companion of his captivity. No other solace remains to him, save the mournful one arising from the occasional visits of five other distressed children, and an affec. tionate wife, whom pinching want and grief have worn down to the gate of death. More than ten summers' suns have rolled over the stone-roofed mansion of his misery, whose reviving rays have never once penetrated his sad abode. Sea. sons return,' but not to him returns the cheering light of day, the smiling bloom of spring, or sound of human joy! Unfor. tunate captive! What is his guilt, what his crimes ? Is he a traitor, or a parricide? A lewd adulterer, or a vile incen. diary? No, he is a Christian sufferer ! Under all his calama ities peace reigns in his breast, heavenly hope glistens in his eye, and patience sits throned on his pallid cheek. He is none other than honest John Bunyan, languishing through the twelfth year of his imprisonment in Bedford Jail for teaching plain country people the knowledge of the Scriptures and the practice of virtue !—It requires the energy of Fox, the eloquence of Burke, and the pathos of Sheridan, to paint the effect of such a scene on the feelings of Humanity. My feeble pen drops from the task, and leaves sensibility to endure those sensations of compassion and sorrow, which it fails to describe.”-Parry's Pamphlets on Tests.
This, if overcoloured, is not overdrawn. I venture to say the same of a painting by Harvey, in the possession of Mr. Moon; which will, I hope, be speedily engraved. It is a noble composition! Like Bunyan himself, it is equally original and natural; sublime and simple. Once seen, it can never be forgotten. It
be somewhat criticized, when it appears, by some of my readers; but none of them, nor any one else, will find fault with it. A reduced Engraving from it, ought to be the frontispiece of all future Editions of the Pilgrim's Progress.
Both the world and the Church are indebted to the Baptists for the ministry of John Bunyan. But for them, he might have “ lived and died a tinker.”-Southey.
Bunyan himself, however, was not much indebted to them as a body. Individual Ministers and Churches did much for him and his family, and the Calvinistic section of the body duly appreciated his orthodoxy ; But neither the General nor the Particular Baptists cared much about him. Both abetted some of their chief men in lessening his fame and influence. Well might Dr. Southey say, “They neither judged nor spoke so charitably of him (as he did of them.) They called him a Machiavelian, a man devilish, proud, insolent, and presumptuous. Some compared him to the devil ; others to a Bed. lamite; others to a sot; and they sneered at his low origin, and the base occupation from which he had risen.”—Life,
This is only too true. He was thus attacked by Kiffin and Denne, for advocating and preaching Open Communion. Jessey was not, however, as Dr. Southey states, one of “ the eminent Baptists who attacked him” for this. Henry Jessey was both the champion and exemplar of Free Communion, and (from all I can judge) one of Bunyan's best friends. His 6 JUDGMENT” on this question, “was never answered” by the strict Baptists, Bunyan says.--Works, p. 1204.
Bunyan's adherence and attachment to the Baptists, not. withstanding the attacks made upon him, do him great credit. He was also a loser by identifying himself with their name and cause, at the restoration : but he never flinched nor repented. And in this, he only did them justice. Their cause was good, and their name bad only by misrepresentation. Milton's and Locke's excepted, there are not nobler appeals on behalf of Toleration, in our annals, than some of those which the Baptists made to the throne and the nation. Even their Letter to Charles II., in 1657, when he was at Bruges, al. though somewhat fulsome in its compliments to both his father and himself, and unjust to Cromwell, closes with propositions to the King, which no flatterer or temporizer would have dared to make. They call upon him to pledge his royal word, “ that he will never erect, nor allow to be erected, any such tyrannical, popish and anti-christian Hierarchy (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or by what name soever called) as shall assume a power over, or impose a yoke upon, the consciences of others : but that every one of his subjects should be at liberty to worship God in such a way, as shall appear to them agreeable to the mind and will of Christ.”—Clarendon, vol. iii.
They plead also, and all but protest, against being “ compelled to contribute to the maintenance of that which is called the National ministry," and tell the King bluntly that "the whole nation, as well as the people of God, groans under the exaction of tithes." They conclude, by imploring “an am. nesty for all godly persons who may have committed any trea. son or offence, since the beginning of the unhappy wars; excepting only such as do adhere to that Ugly Tyrant, who calls himself protector.” Clarendon, as might be expected, calls these points, “extravagant propositions :" but he honestly records them; and not the less willingly, because of the following tirade against Cromwell : 66 We have been cheated, cozened and betrayed by that grand Imposter,—that loathsome Hypocrite,--that detestable Traitor,--that prodigy of Nature, —that opprobrium of Mankind,—that landskip of Iniquity, that sink of Sin, who now calls himself our Protector !” This torrent of abuse
" Out-Herods Herod !"
It is not, however, inexplicable. The 'Baptists, like others, were tired of Cromwell. He had never been able to do much for them, and now they expected nothing from him : for they had begun to intrigue with the Royalists for the restoration of the King, and had thus every reason to fear that they would be found out by the vigilant Protector. As they had, there. fore, to humble themselves, and to pay court, somewhere, for their own safety, they abused both Cromwell and themselves, in equally strong language, in their private Letter to the King. - Crosby's Appendix.
Bunyan was not of sufficient importance in 1657, to be applied to in this business. He was then a Minister and had been indicted for preaching at Eaton : but his influence was not begun. Even if it had, he would hardly have joined in such sweeping abuse of Cromwell. Not, however, that he admired him; but he was too little of a politician, and too much a philosopher to malign any one. Bishop Fowler would not have said so, I am aware. But although Bunyan handled him too roughly, there was no spite in the hard blows.
Bunyan was placed in a dilemma at the Restoration, when the great body of the Calvinistic Baptists published their Declaration of Faith, “ to inform all men of their innocent belief and practice in these days of scandal and reproach, when they were falsely called Anabaptists." This Declaration was “ owned and approved by more than 20,000” persons. It does not appear, however, that Bunyan was one of the number, al. though there be nothing in the theology or the politics of the document which he could not have signed. It was signed, Henry Adis says, by some of the General Baptists, on public grounds. It contained, however, a clause which, though softly worded, was sharply meant, and thus abhorrent to Bunyan. Baptism by dipping is, it says, “the right and only way of gathering Churches !" “ All such as preach not this doctrine, we utterly deny ; forasmuch as we are commanded to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them.”-Article XI. There is more in the letter of this article than I have quoted: but this is the spirit of it. It was, therefore, a public protest, in fact, against the Open Communion Churches with which Bunyan was identified, as well as against “all those wicked and devilish reports falsely cast upon" the Body, “ as though they would cut the throats of those who were not like minded in matters of religion” with themselves.
The authors of this Protest did not see the bearings of it. Bunyan and his party, however, felt the consequences of it. It placed them, though unintentionally, where other Protests had placed the Fifth Monarchy Baptists; out of the pale of the Associated Churches. This was a serious matter then. The best of their Churches had but a bad name, when Venner's insurrection took place; and thus, the churches which they did not own come in for a worse.
This is both a difficult and delicate subject to touch.