« PoprzedniaDalej »
and the facts of it are appealed to by Henry Jessey in his “ Loud Call to England,” in 1660. It was not, therefore, the insurrection of the Fifth Monarchy men, that originated this persecution of the Baptists.
I HAVE been unable to procure, or even to hear of, any private Letters of Bunyan's. I am unwilling to believe, however, that none exist : for although a hundred and fifty years have elapsed since his death, that length of time has not destroyed them, if there were any in 1688. If any exist, they are heir. looms, wherever they may be. I am not without hope, there.
ore, that this volume may bring some of his private Letters to light, before my standard edition of his Pilgrim's Progress is finished. The descendants of Sir John Shorer, Mayor of London, in 1668 ; and of Mr. Strudwick, then of Snow Hill; and of the family in Bedfordshire, for whose sake Bunyan went his last journey to Reading, owe it, if any of them re. main, to the memory of their ancestors, as well as to him, to search and see whether the blank can be filled up. Dr. Southey says, that “the Brazier's Company would deem itself honoured if it could show the name of John Bunyan upon its rolls.” It would be a still higher honour for any family, to show by Letters that he was the friend of their great-grandfather. What if an American family should be the first to claim this distinction ? I have reason to think that Bunyan corresponded with some of the first Baptist settlers. I know that some of them wrote to him about their own prospects in America, as well as about the popularity of his Pilgrim.
I throw out these hints with much solicitude. In the mean time, the public must be contented with the following Pastoral Letters, even although the authorship of them is, except in one, but partly Bunyan's. They bear, however, more than his sig. nature. They breathe his spirit throughout, and sparkle occasionally with his own gems set in his own Saxon.
The first Letter is to the “ certain Anthony Harrington," as Dr. Southey calls him, “ whom Gifford thought (f en of killing, because he was a leading man" amongst the Dissenters of Bedford. He was driven from his family by a Writ de Excom. Capiend. in 1669; but returned in 1681. "Spend not your vacant hours as they that wept for Tammuz,” stamps it Bunyan's, quite as certainly as his signature.
“ DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER,
of his grace.
« Grace, Mercy, and Peace be with you always by Jesus Christ our Lord, to the praise of God the Father, and your everlasting consolation and increase of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen. Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by him hath called us unto his kingdom in glory ; to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches
“ With length of days is understanding; your long progress in the ways of God and our Father, hath given you rich ex. perience of that grace that is not only laid up for us in Christ, but to be brought unto us when he shall be revealed from heaven with all his saints. Wherefore, Brother, make it mani. fest that you are one of those scribes we read of that is not only instructed into but unto the kingdom of God. Let it be seen by all your ways that the secrets of God are with you, and that you have in store things new and old in your heart, as in God's treasure house. Gravity becometh the ancients in the house of God. Fathers should be examples unto children. We are comforted in the remembrance of thee, Brother, while we consider that notwithstanding thy natural infirmity, yet thou prizest good conscience above thine own enjoyments. And since thou couldest not with quiet enjoy it at home; thou hast left thy concerns in this world (though in much hazard and danger) that thou mayest keep it abroad. But remember the good word of God ; • No man shall desire thy land, when thou shalt go to appear before the Lord thy God, thrice in the year.' Wherefore let neither the remembrance of what thou hast left, nor thought of its being subject to casualty, either distract thee in thy communion with God, or prevail with thee to do aught against good conscience, or unworthy thy gray hairs; which are then
the glory of old men, when found in the way of righteousness. John saith, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Having always a good conscience towards God, and towards men: this is armour of righteousness both on the right hand, and on the left. You, Brother Harrington, have lived to see the slippery and un. stable nature that is in earthly things; wherefore we beseech you to expect no more therefrom than the word of God hath promised : which is as much in little as in much thereof, if not more in many respects. He that gathered much, had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack. While Israel sat by the flesh-pots in Egypt, they had no manna, they drank not the water out of the rock, these things were reserved for their wilderness condition ; to support them in the wastehowling wilderness. We speak this to encourage you, knowing you are subject to temptation with us. For we hope it is because God loveth you, that he hath driven you
your incumbrances, that you may have occasion before you die, therein to solace yourself with your God, and the Lord Jesus Christ; we mean that you may do it with more leisure and less distraction, than when the lowing of the oxen had continual sound in your ears. Man's life consisteth not in the abun. dance of the things he possesseth : wherefore being denied a fulness here is no token of God's displeasure against our spiritual welfare, but rather, yea always the contrary. Let not these dispensations then discourage and distress your
mind : bless God for the hope that is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you have heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.
« God is wise and doth all things for the best, for them that love him. You know not yet, but you may know afterward, what sins and temptations God hath prevented, by driving you thus from your habitation; and how hereby he hath made way for the exercise of some graces, that could not so well discover themselves in their virtues, when you was here. How subject we are to dote upon and to be entangled with the snares, that lay couched and hid in this present world, you have great experience with us. The which because God disliketh, it being uncomely for the men of another world, therefore after God plucketh down and pulleth up what we build and plant. It was customary with our Fathers to dwell in tents, and houses made with boughs ; for they sought a city that hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God. When we are desolate then we trust in God, and make prayers and supplications to him night and day. God help you therefore, that you spend your vacant hours not as they that wept for Tammuz, but as they who plainly confess to all they are strangers and pilgrims in the earth.
“ Brother, we write not but by way of exhortation, beseeching you that you call to remembrance your vows and tears, when you have been in distress ; and that you would arm yourself with that mind you read of, Heb. xii. 2, 3, 9, that you may have your garments always white, and that your head may lack no ointment; you cannot be there where no eyes are upon you ; you are a spectacle to God, angels, and men; and being exalted to the profession of Christianity, and also to the communion of God and saints, you can neither stand nor fall by yourself, but the name and cause and people of God, shall in some sense stand and fall with you; yea, let us have joy in thee, brother, refresh our spirits in the Lord. We have confidence in thee, that thou wilt be circumspect to the adorning of the doctrine of God our Saviour. Keep close to the words of faith and sound doctrine, wherein thou hast been instructed; and shun profane and vain babbling, not having to do with men of corrupt minds, that thy profession be not canker-eaten. Hear the word of God with diligence, and pray much for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And remember that God hath said, Though there were any of you cast out to the uttermost part of heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them into the place, that I have chosen to set my name there.
Finally, brother, Farewell, Grace be with thee, Amen. “ Written by the appointment of the congregation to which you stand related in the faith of the Gospel, and subscribed with their consent by the hands of your brethren,
« JOHN BUNYAN,” &c. (No date.)
The Minister to whom the following Letter is addressed, Mr. Wilson of Hitchin, became joint Editor with Mr. Chan. dler of Bedford, of the folio edition of Bunyan's works, in 1692.- Ivimey.
“OUR DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER WILSON,
“Grace, inercy, and peace be with thee through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Blessed be God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercy, and the God of all comfort, for the abundant grace bestowed on thee,