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Now the court of the Sabbath must be turned to the use of the King of Assyria !” This was bold language, at the time; for it was intelligible then. It is so still to those who know the King, and Gunning, and Sheldon, well. Bunyan, however, seldom shot mystical arrows at a high places.
There is, perhaps, no conceit of his more amusing than the defences of EARGATE, when Mansoul was summoned to sur. render by Boanerges. The Town had planted over Eargate two great-guns, the one called High-mind, and the other Heady. They were cast by one Mr. Puff-up, Diabolus's own founder, in the castle ; and mischievous pieces they were ! Old Mr. Prejudice (an angry and ill-conditioned fellow) was made Captain of the ward of that gate, and sixty men, called Deaf Men were put under him : inen advantageous to that service, inasmuch they mattered not what either captains or soldiers said !-Holy War, p. 74.
The Prefaces, as well as the Titles, of Books, were often whimsical in Bunyan's day : but the only odd one of his, that I recollect, is that to his Treatise on the Water of Life ; and it, although odd, is striking, 6 Courteous Reader, thou mayest, if thou wilt, call this Book, · Bunyan's Bill of his Master's Water of Life.' True; I have not set forth, at large, the excellent nature and quality thereof : nor can that be done by the pen or tongue of men or angels. But as men in their Bills, for the conviction of readers, do give an account to the Country of the persons cured by liquors and preparations made for that end, so could I, were it not done already to my hand by Holy Writ. Many of the Cured, indeed, are removed from hence, and live where they cannot be spoken with as yet; but abundance of them remain here, and have their abode with men. If thou wouldst drink of this water, drink it by itself. And that thou mayest not be deceived by the counterfeit, know that the true is clear as crystal.' I know that there are many Mountebanks in the world, and every one of them pretends to have this water to sell. But my advice is,-go directly to the Throne” from whence it proceeds.-Works, vol. ii. p. 1172. The Treatise did not need a Preface of this kind; but it admitted of such a one : for he acknowledged that he has allegorized, in that Work. He meant by Allegory, in it, however, such comparisons as the following : “ This is the wholesomest water in the world. You may take it at the third, sixth, ninth, or eleventh hour; but to take it in the morning of your age is best; for then
diseases have not so great a head.”-P. 1200. “Epsom Tun. bridge, and Bath waters, may be common; but they are a great way off: yet those who are loth to die make provision to have their dwellings by those waters.”—Pp. 1177, 1204. 6 He that stands on the banks of the River of Life, and washeth his eyes with the water, may see the stars of God ; as in fair waters, a man may see the very body of the heavens.”-P. 1197. “ The Water is sometimes muddied by false glosses and sluttish opinions. This is apparent enough by the very hue of some poor souls. The very
stain of Tradi. tion may be seen in their scales. For as the Fish of the river receive the changeable colours of the waters, so Professors look like the doctrines they drink. If their doctrines are muddy, their notions are muddy. If their doctrines are bloody, their tempers are bloody.”—P. 1197. “ Art thou a fish, man? Art thou a fish? Canst thou live in the River of the water of life? Is grace thy proper element ? I know there are some things besides fish, that can make a shift to live in the water. But not in the water only. The frog and the otter can live in it, but not in it only. Give some men grace and sin, grace and the world, and they will make a pretty good shift to live : but, hold them to grace only,ấput them into the River, and let them have nothing but river, and they die!” Works, vol. ii. p. 1179. This, if not allegory, is something better.
Bunyan can be odd and awful ; singular and solemn, at the same time. 66 A Christian bridles his lusts : but it is no strange thing to see Professors bridled and saddled, yea ridden by the very Devil from lust to sin, and from one vanity to another."-Vol. iv. p. 2154. “ There is a profession thạt stands with an unsanctified heart and life: but the sin of such will overpoise, their salvation. The sin-end being the heaviest end of the scale, they tilt over into perdition, not. withstanding their glorious profession.”--P. 2151.
6 Sirs, give me leave to set my Trumpet to your ears a little. A prating tongue will not unlock the gates of heaven nor blind the
eyes of the judge. Look to it! Covetous Professor, that usest religion to bring grist to thy mill, look to it! Christian, take heed that no sin in thy life goes unrepented of. That will make a flaw in thy evidences- a wound in thy conscience -a breach in thy peace; and, a hundred to one, if it do not drive all the grace in thee into so dark a corner of thy heart, that thou shalt not be able for a time to find it out for thy
comfort, even by all the torches that are burning in the Gospel.”—P. 2180.
Some of these hints and illustrations are anything but con. ceits. The form of them is singular, but the spirit of them is both philosophical and heart-searching. I have introduced them in this Chapter, however, in order to show the cast of Bunyan's mind. He is never odd, for the sake of mere peculiarity ; nor whimsical, from levity. Even when he is vulgar, he is either not at all aware of it, or it is in order to “gain” the vulgar. When he puns, it is to point a maxim, not to win a smile. He stoops, only to conquer. He himself knew well both his modes and his motives, and sung,
• As for the inconsiderableness
Works, vol. ii. p. 955. He said all this better, as well as more briefly, when he ex. claimed on one occasion, “ Bear with my plainness when I speak against sin I would strike it through with every word, because, else, it will strike us through with many sorrows. Works, vol. iv. p. 2118.
I am not apologizing for Bunyan, but merely explaining, in these remarks upon his style. Let his style be criticized, even in my pages, where its peculiarities abound; and, alas, for the critic! He will be pitied, however Bunyan may be blamed. D'Aubigné's apology for Luther will be verified by readers ;• We must accustom ourselves to find him sometimes using expressions too coarsely vituperative for modern taste. It was the custom of the time. But we generally find even in those words which shock our notions of propriety in language, a suitableness and strength which redeem their harshness.' Hist. Great Reformation, vol. i. p. 316.
CHURCH PERSE CU T E DO
The chief persecution of his own friends, Bunyan himself has nowhere told,—so far as I am aware; although his anecdotes of local Informers are very explicit. In 1670, however, his people were much harassed by mean Informers, and meaner Magistrates, overstraining the Conventicle Act,-if that be possible. That Act was revived in 1669, with new clauses, and received the royal assent in April, 1670. Neal says of it, • The wit of man could hardly invent any thing short of capital punishment, more cruel or inhuman.” This is true ; and therefore Neal ought not to have expressed any
wonder that either Charles II. or his conclave, should have agreed to it. Both would have agreed to anything hostile to Noncon. formity, which public opinion would have allowed them to per. petrate ;—the King, from reckless levity ; and the Court, from reckless revenge. Even the Parliament joined issue with them, and introduced a clause into the Conventicle Act, “ that if any dispute should arise in regard to the interpretation of any part of the act, the Judges should always explain the doubt in the sense least favourable to conventicles; it being the intention of Parliament entirely to suppress them.” Hume himself 'says of this clause, that the Commons “ violated the plainest and most established maxims of civil policy,—which require that, in all criminal prosecutions, favour should always be given to the prisoner."-Hume, vol. vii. p. 457.
In the space of one month, this Act began to be enforced upon Bunyan's friends, “in and near the town of Bedford,” while he himself was a prisoner in Bedford Jail. This appears from a Narrative published that very year. I have the This appears
original before me, which bears date 1670. It has long been a rare Pamphlet, and borne a rare price, although extending only to fifteen pages.
The noble conduct of the sufferers, and even of the mob, as evinced in the following extracts, will be the more intelligible, by the reader bearing in mind, that Bunyan was present at all the church-meetings of his flock that year. from the Church-book, at Bedford. And it is well known, that the Jailor gave him great liberties. The people were thus both counselled and encouraged by him, to take "joyfully the spoiling of their goods."
They had met for worship on Sabbath, at the house of “one John Fen, a Haberdasher of Hats ;" when two Apparitors obtained a warrant from Justice Foster, to enter the house, and arrest them. Accordingly, these officials of the spiritual Court, West and Feckham, forced them before the magistrate ; who fined them all, and committed the preacher to prison. Thus Foster's work ended for that day. Next day, however, he had to fine both a Church-warden and a Constable five pounds each, for refusing to assist the spiritual functionaries in distraining the goods of their nonconformist neighbours.-P. 4.
Still, the game was only beginning. Battison, another Churchwarden, tried to levy a fine of ten pounds upon a Maltster; but none of the Constables would help to break open the door of the Malt-house. The mob also tied a cow's tail to his back; and so hooted and hallooed him, that he was glad to leave Bardolf, the maltster, for a time.
He was not much more successful at Covington's, the Grocer, where he had only to distrain for five shillings. Battison himself had to seize a brass kettle; for none of the officers would distrain. Indeed, the worthy Warden had to wait “two hours,” before sixpence would bribe a boy to carry the kettle to his Inn. Even when it reached the Inn, neither Master nor Servants would allow it to enter the yard ; but set it out in the street; and there it stood, until an caused a beggar woman to carry it away at night.--P. 4. Thus ended another day of the spiritual Court's crusade at Bedford : a brass kettle was all the spoil !
Next day, however, their worships, the Justices, “ under. standing how Battison was discouraged in his work by the backwardness of the other officers, and the open
discounte. nance of the other people, commanded the doors to be broken open, and to levy the distresses ; and promised to bear them