Obrazy na stronie

thy face.' Job i, 9–11. How now, thought I; is this the sign of a renewed soul, to desire to serve God when all is taken from him ? Is he a godly man that will serve God for nothing, rather than give out? Blessed be God, then, I hope I have an upright heart; for I am resolved, God giving me strength, never to deny my profession, though I have nothing for my pains. ... Now was my heart full of comfort, for I hoped it was sincere. I would not have been without this trial for much: I am comforted every

time I think of it; and I hope I shall bless God for ever for the teaching I have had by it."

Under the title of “ Prison Meditations, dedicated to the heart of suffering saints and reigning sinners,” Bunyan set forth in rhyme the joys of those who suffer for righteousness' sake. The poem contains

seventy stanzas in all; but the following will suffice for a specimen :

“I am indeed in prison now

In body, but my mind
Is free to follow Christ, and how

Unto me he is kind.
For though men keep my outward man

Within their locks and bars,
Yet by the faith of Christ I can

Mount higher than the stars.
Their fetters cannot spirits tame,

Nor tie up God from me;

My faith and hope they cannot lame,

Above them I shall be.
I here am very much' refresh'd,

To think, when I was out,
I preached life, and peace, and rest,

To sinners round about.
The prison very sweet to me

Hath been since I came here;
And so would also hanging be,

If God would there appear.
This jail to us is as a hill,

From whence we plainly see
Beyond this world, and take our fill

Of things that lasting be.
Consider, man, what I have said,

And judge of things aright;
When all men's cards are fully play'd,

Whose will abide the light ?
Will those who have us hither cast?

Or those who do uis scorn ?
Or those who do our houses waste ?

Or us who have this borne ?
And let us count those things the best,

That best will prove at last;
And count such men the only blest,

That do such things hold fast." It is readily granted that there is much more truth than poetry in these lines. Indeed Bunyan, though he loved to rhyme, is never less poetical than when he attempts to give his thoughts the form of poetry.




The rigour of Bunyan's confinement appears to have continued about seven years. In the early part of his imprisonment, as the reader will remember, he was, through the kindness of his jailer, permitted to be often at large, so that he frequently attended the private meetings of the society at Bedford. He was there in July, 1661, but from that time to August, 1668, his name is not found on their minutes, nor is it known that during that whole period he was ever allowed . to pass the threshold of the prison.

But though closely confined, it does not appear that he was denied the visits of his family and friends. One of his early biographers says, “ It was by making him a visit in prison that I first saw him, and became acquainted with him; and I must confess, I could not but look upon him to be a man of an excellent spirit, zealous for his Master's honour, and cheerfully committing all his own concernments unto God's disposal. ... Nor did he, while he was in prison, spend his time in a supine or careless manner,


or eat the bread of idleness ; for there I have been witness, that his own hands have ministered to his and to his family's necessities, by making many hundred gross of long tagged thread laces, to fill up the vacancies of his time, which he had learned for that purpose, since he had been in prison.” He was thus, notwithstanding the severities he endured, enabled to contribute something to the support of those whom he loved. What was lacking was doubtless supplied by the charity of Christian friends.

He was not even now without opportunities for exercising his ministerial gifts. If he was in confinement, “the word of God was not bound.” Although he was the first in that part of the country to be shut up for nonconformity, yet it was not long before he was favoured with the society of some who were suffering in the

Among these were two Baptist preachers, Messrs. Wheeler and Dunn, with whom Bunyan took his turn in expounding the Scriptures to his fellow-prisoners. "What an alleviation to the sorrows of the people," observes Mr. Ivimey, “ that they had such ministers to preach to them! and what pleasure must it have been to these, that they had such godly people to preach to, who would rather suffer than sin !” The writer mentioned in the pre

same cause.


ceding page as visiting Bunyan in his confinement says,

" When I was there, above threescore dissenters were in the prison besides himself, taken but a little before at a religious meeting at Kaistow, in the county of Bedford ; besides two eminent dissenting ministers ; by which means the prison was much crowded. Yet in the midst of all that hurry which so many new comers occasioned, I have heard Mr. Bunyan both preach and pray with that mighty spirit of faith, and plethora of divine assistance, that has made me stand and wonder."

He would sometimes be visited in prison by those who sought to him for counsel. He gives an instance of this in his Life and Death of Mr. Badman:- " When I was in prison there came a woman to me that was under a great deal of trouble ; so I asked her, she being a stranger to me, what she had to say to me. She said she was afraid she should be damned. I asked her the cause of those fears. She told me that she had some time since lived with a shopkeeper at Wellingborough, and had robbed his box in the shop, several times, of money, to the value of more than now I will say: and pray,' says she, .tell we what I shall do?' I told her I would have her go to her master, and make him satisfaction. She said she was afraid. I asked her

« PoprzedniaDalej »