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The malignity of his enemies appears to have increased in proportion to the popularity and success of his preaching; and the vilest slanders were, by ignorant and malicious persons, " whirled up and down the country" against him. It was rumoured that he was a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman, and even a libertine; charges which he repelled with just and virtuous indignation. “ These slanders," he says, “I glory in, because but slanders and falsehoods cast upon me by the devil and his seed ; and should
! I not be dealt with thus wickedly by the world, I should want one sign of a saint, and a child of God. 'Blessed are ye,' said the Lord Jesus, • when men shall revile and persecute you, and shall
say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.' Matt. v, 11, 12
. “ These things, therefore, upon mine own account, troubled me not. No, though they were twenty times more than they are, I have
as had been asserted by the champions of prelacy; so as to draw forth Milton's biting sarcasm,
“New presbyter is but old priest writ large." It is probable, however, that personal enmity occasioned this attempt to check Bunyan's usefulness.-Conder.
a good conscience; and whereas they speak evil of me, as of 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, because it will increase my glory.
“ Therefore I bind these lies and slanders to me as an ornament; 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.
“But as for mine accusers, let them provide themselves to meet me before the tribunal of the Son of God, there to answer for all these things, with all the rest of their iniquities, unless God shall give them repentance for them, for the which I pray with all my heart.”
BUNYAN'S FIRST PUBLICATION : CONTROVERSY
WITH THE QUAKERS.
SHORTLY after he began to preach, Bunyan felt himself called to take up his pen in defence of the doctrines of the gospel, against the heresies then propagated by the people called Quakers. These Quakers, who were then a new sect, having originated during the commotion of the civil wars, were a very different people from their successors of the present day.
No body of professors were more full of fanaticism, or more eager to attack those who differed from them. Baxter, who frequently came in contact with them, thus describes their tenets and conduct :-" They were but the Ranters, turned from horrid profaneness and blasphemy to a life of extreme austerity on the other side. Their doctrines were mostly the same with the Ranters; they made the light which every man had within him to be his sufficient rule; and consequently the Scriptures and ministry were set light by. They spake much for the dwelling and working of the Spirit in us, but little of justification, and the pardon of sin, and our reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. They pretend their dependance on the Spirit's conduct, against set times of prayer, and against sacraments, and against their due esteem of Scripture and ministry. They will not have the Scriptures called the word of God, their principal zeal lieth in railing at the ministers as hirelings, deceivers, false prophets, &c.; and in refusing to swear before a magistrate, or to put off their hat to any, &c. At first they did use to fall into tremblings, and sometimes vomitings, in their meetings, and pretended to be violently acted on by the Spirit; but now that is ceased. They only meet, and he that pretendeth to be moved by the Spirit speaketh ; and sometimes they say nothing, but sit an hour or more in silence, and then depart. One while divers of them went naked through the several chief towns and cities of the land, as a prophetical act: some of them have famished and drowned themselves in melancholy; and others have undertaken, by the power of the Spirit, to raise the dead. They have oft come into the congregation, when I had liberty to preach Christ's gospel, and cried out against me as a deceiver of the people. They have followed me home, crying out in the streets, • The day of the Lord is coming, when thou shalt perish as a deceiver.'”
Such were the men against whose erroneous teachings Bunyan felt it his duty to warn the people, which he did in a pamphlet, entitled, “ Some Gospel Truths opened according to the Scriptures : or the Divine and Human Nature in Christ Jesus ; his coming into the World ; his Righteousness, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Intercession, and second coming to Judg. ment, plainly demonstrated and proved.” This work, which was Bunyan's first literary performance, appeared in 1656, the year in which
, he began to preach, with a commendatory preface by Burton.
“ An ill judgment,” observes Dr. Southey, "might be formed of this treatise, from that part of the title which promises 'profitable directions to stand fast in the doctrine of Jesus, the son of Mary, against those blustering storms of the devil's temptations, which do at this day, like so many scorpions, break loose from the bottomless pit, to bite and torment those that have not tasted the virtue of Jesus, by the revelation of the Spirit of God. Little wisdom and less moderation might be expected in a polemical discourse so introduced. It is, however, a calm, well-arranged, and well-supported statement of the Scriptural doctrines on some momentous points which the primitive Quakers