Obrazy na stronie

reason to fear that this will be the character by which our age will be known to posterity,—that it was the age which talked of Religion most, and loved it least. Jars and divisions, wranglings and prejudices, eat out the growth, if not the life of religion. These are those waters of Marah, that embitter our spirit, and quench the Spirit of God. Unity and Peace are said to be like the dew of Hermon, and as a dew that de. scended upon Sion, when the Lord promised his blessing.". Southey's Bunyan, p. 77.

Bunyan cherished fond and even brilliant hopes of the eventual reign of Love in the kingdom of Christ; but not ex. travagant expectations. “I know," he says, “ there are extravagant opinions in the world, about the kingdom of Christ, -as if it consisted in temporal glory, and as if He would take it to him by carnal weapons, and so maintain its greatness and grandeur. But I confess myself an alien to these notions, and believe and profess quite the contrary. I look for the coming of Christ to judgment personally; but betwixt this and that, for His coming in the Spirit, and in the power of his Word to destroy Antichrist,—to inform Kings,-and so to give quietness to His Church on earth. Let not, therefore, Kings, Princes, or Potentates be afraid ; the Saints, that are such indeed, know their places, and are of a peaceable disposition.”- Works, vol. iii. p. 1851. Thus, even his Millenarian. ism was full of peace on earth, and of good will towards all



Did then Bunyan see nothing against the Church of England? I answer unhesitatingly,-nothing directly against either her general Creed or Constitution, so far as I can dis

He said much against admitting the profane and the ungodly to the Sacrament, and more against blind Priests preaching doctrine subversive of both the letter and spirit of the Thirty-nine Articles; but nothing against Episcopacy as such, nor more against the Clergy than Bishop Burnet did. Not, however, that he believed a word about diocesan Episco. pacy. How could he; seeing he had no books besides his Bible, except the Book of Martyrs ? and all the Protestant Bishops, it made him acquainted with, he loved and revered with all his heart. He gave the same unhesitating and grate. ful homage to the Episcopalian, as to the primitive Martyrs. In saying this, I do not forget, nor wish to conceal, that Bun. yan identified with Antichrist,—all that was human, secular, or sectarian, in both Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, just as he identified with Babylon the Shibboleth of the Baptist. And, with what else could he identify either? Great allowance ought to be made for a man who had read nothing but his Bible, on these subjects. For had we nothing else to read, we should soon feel ashamed of our differences. The Bible, and the Bible only, is, indeed, the Religion of Protestants inasmuch as nothing is religion but what it enjoins : but we have, in all our Churches, more things than our religion. The Prisoner of Bedford saw this, and said so to all Churches : and, certainly, no man could have said it, who more deserves our respect. Posterity, at least, will admire his spirit on this subject, as much as we admire his Pilgrims. They will relish, if we do not, this “ New HONEY IN A B;"_if I may be al. lowed to apply his own pun upon his name, to his own Catholicity.


[blocks in formation]

If any Bishop either procured, or directly helped to obtain, Bunyan's liberation, he deserves to be called “ The Angel of the Church” of England, and ought to be named for ever along with the Angel who released Peter from prison. No man would more readily or cheerfully award this tribute of gratitude to Bishop Barlow, than myself, if I could make it even highly probable that Bunyan was indebted to him for liberty. Now there are, certainly, some probabilities in Barlow's favour. No other Bishop has ever been named, as at all friendly to Bunyan, or as even affected in the least by his sufferings : whereas, there can be no doubt that he both sym. pathized with him and interchanged (not Letters indeed, but) messages with Dr. Owen, about 6 straining a point to serve the author of the Pilgrim's Progress. That Work could not fail to commend itself to such a scholar as Dr. Barlow; and, as he was a Calvinist of Bunyan's order, and thus obnoxious to Archbishop Sheldon, he would naturally prize a popular Allegory which threw around the Genevan creed the charms of genius and practical wisdom. Accordingly, all testimony concurs in the fact that he both admired and pitied Bunyan. I give prominence as well as priority to this fact, that it may make its own impression, and maintain its influ. ence in favour of Dr. Barlow, whilst other facts claim our at. tention.

Now Bunyan was released from prison, at least two years before Dr. Barlow was made Bishop of Lincoln ; and thus whatever he owed to the Doctor, he owed nothing to the Bishop, in the matter. Bunyan was released late in 1672, or early in 1673; and Barlow was not raised to the Bench until 1675. It does not follow from this, however, that he had no influence with the State before he was made a Prelate. The probability is, indeed, that he had more influence before than after; as Sheldon was not his friend, nor Calvinism a court virtue then. He was, however, too near the Bench in 1672,

to employ his own influence directly, even for Bunyan, although Owen appealed to him as his old tutor: but he may have used some, though not at Owen’s request. This, I have no doubt, is the true solution of Barlow's conduct. He had enemies on the Bench, because of his Calvinism ; and he was afraid of making more, by patronizing even a nonconformist Genius, at the request of a nonconformist Doctor. He thus persuaded himself that he could not afford to be liberal, until the Mitre was upon his head.

Ivimey's version of this affair is as follows: “ This event has been generally ascribed to Dr. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln. What assistance he afforded, may be seen by the following ex. tract from the Preface to Dr. Owen's Sermon, p. 30, printed at London, 1721. The author observes that “notwithstanding the Doctor's nonconformity, he had some friends among

the Bishops, particularly Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, who was very cordial to him; and Dr. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln, formerly his tutor ; who yet, on a special occasion, failed him, when he might have expected the service of his professed friendship.'

6 • The case was this, Mr. John Bunyan had been confined to a jail twelve years, upon an excommunication for nonconformity ; now there was a law, that if any two persons will go to the bishop of the diocese, and offer a cautionary bond, that the prisoner shall conform in half a year, the bishop may release him upon that bond; whereupon a friend of this poor man desired Dr. Owen to give him his letter to the bishop on his behalf, which he readily granted. The bishop having read it, told the person that delivered it, that he had a particular kindness for Dr. Owen, and would deny him nothing he could legally do; nay, says he, with my service to him, I will strain a point to serve him. (This was his very expression.) But, says he, this being a new thing to me I desire a little time to consider, it, and if I can do it you may be assured of my readiness. He was waited upon again about a fortnight after, and his answer was, That indeed he was informed he might do it ; but the law providing, that in case the bishop refused, application should be made to the Lord Chancellor, who thereupon should issue out an order to the bishop, to take the cautionary bond, and release the prisoner. . Now, said he, you know what a critical time this is, and I have many enemies; I would desire you to move the Lord Chanceller in this case, and upon his order I will do it. To which it was replied, this method was very chargeable, and the man was poor, and not able to expend so much money, and being satisfied he could do it legally, it was hoped his Lordship would remember his pro. mise, there being no straining a point in the case. But he would do it upon no other terms, which at last was done; but little thanks to the bishop.'

“From this account, it should seem the honour given to Dr. Barlow has been ill-bestowed, as it is evident that even his friendship for Dr. Owen did not operate sufficiently powerfully to exercise his ability, lest it might expose him to the censures of the high church party.”Ivimey's Bunyan, p. 291.

This conclusion, although not exactly unfair, is drawn with more asperity than such facts warrant ; unless, indeed, it could be shown that Barlow had before him examples of magnani. mity, which ought to have inspired him to prefer Bunyan's rights, to an episcopal throne, as Frederic did Luther's, to the Pope's smile. But who ever risked a Mitre for the sake of a Nonconformist? This is too much to expect from any man, whọ believes that a Mitre is useful! It may be very easy for those who regard it as a mere bauble, and the episcopate as unscriptural, to assure themselves that they would have preferred the fame of liberating John Bunyan, to the Primacy itself. So would I. But this is nothing to the point. The real question is, ought Dr. Barlow, believing as he did in diocesan episcopacy, to have perilled his prospects for the sake of John Bunyan? It is impossible to answer, except in the negative. He must have thought his own elevation a greater benefit to the world, than the liberty of Bunyan. It did not, indeed, turn out so: but who could have foreseen that ?

Besides, Barlow was not the man to make sacrifices of any kind, for the sake of Nonconformists. He was not a time. server, indeed ; but he humoured the times dexterously, in all things save his Calvinism. In 1660, whilst the King was yet talking about toleration, the Doctor wrote in favour of it to Sir Robert Boyle: but in 1684, he published a Charge to his Clergy, calling on them to enforce the laws against Dissenters,

agreeably to the Resolutions of the Bedfordshire Justices, (Bunyan's old enemies !) adopted at Ampthill.” He published also, in 1679, a Treatise on the Canon Law for whipping Heretics : but whether for or against that canonical virtue, I cannot tell ; its title only being given in the Biog : Brit: and in the Bibliographies. Another of his works attempts to prove that real grace ought to be judged of rather by its kind than

« PoprzedniaDalej »