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shows us, that numbers are durably harassed by such perplex. ities, for want of doctrinal knowledge and faithful instructors and counsellors.--He was, however, afterwards enabled by means of these inward trials to caution others to better effect, and more tenderly to sympathize with the tempted.
After some time Mr. BUNYAN became acquainted with Mr. GIFFORD, an Anti-pædo-baptist minister at BEDFORD, whose conversation was very useful to him: yet he was in some respects more discouraged than ever, by fuller discoveries of those evils in his heart, which he had not before noticed ; and by doubts concerning the truth of the scriptures, which his entire ignorance of the evidences by which they are authenticated, rendered durably perplexing to him. He was, however, at length relieved by a sermon he heard on the love of Christ; though the grounds, on which he de. rived satisfaction and encouragement from it, are not very accurately stated.—Soon after this he was admitted, by adult baptism, a member of Mr. GIFFORD's church, A. D. 1655, being then 27 years of age,—and after a little time, was earnestly desired by the congregation to expound or preach, in a manner which is customary among the Dissenters, as a preparation to the ministry. For a while he resisted their importunity, under a deep sense of his incompetency; but at length he was prevailed upon to speak in a small company, which he did greatly to their satisfaction and edification. Having been thus proved for a considerable time, he was at length called forth, and set apart by fasting and prayer to the ministerial office, which he executed with faithfulness and success during a long course of years; though frequently with the greatest trepidation and inward disquietude.
As he was baptized 1655, and imprisoned 1660, he could not have been long engaged in the work, previous to that event: and it does not appear whether he obtained a stated employment as a minister; or whether he only preached occa. sionally, and continued to work at his trade; as many Dissen, ters very laudably do, when called to minister among poor
people, that they may not be" burdensome to them.”—Previous however to the restoration of CHARLES II, when the churches were principally filled by those, who have since been distin. guished as non-conformists; he was expected to preach in a church nearCAMBRIDGE; and a student of that university, not remarkable for sobriety, observing a concourse of people, was induced by curiosity to hear the tinker prate:' but the discourse made an unexpected impression on his mind; he embraced every future opportunity of hearing Mr. Bun. YAN; and at length became an eminent preacher in CAMBRIDGESHIRE.
When the restoration took place; and, contrary to equity, engagements, and sound policy, the laws, were framed and executed with a severity, evidently intended to exclude every man, who scrupled the least tittle of the doctrine, liturgy, discipline, or government of the established church, Air. BUNYAN was one of the first that suffered by them: for being courageous and unreserved, he went on in his ministerial work without any disguise, and Nov. 12, 1660, was apprehended by a warrant from Justice WINGATE at HARLINGTON, near BEDFORD, with sixty other persons, and committed to the county jail. Security was offered for hisappearance at the sessions; but it was refused, as his sureties would not consent that he should be restricted from preaching any more. He was accordingly confined till the quarter-sessions, when his indictment stated, -' That John BUNYAN, of the town of BEDFORD, labourer, had devilishly and perniciously · abstained from coming to church to hear divine service; ' and was a common upholder of several unlawful meetings ' and conventicles, to the great disturbance and distraction • of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the laws • of our sovereign Lord the King.' The facts charged upon him in this absurd indictment were never proved; as no witnesses were produced. He had confessed, in conversation with the magistrates, that he was a dissenter, and had preached; these words being considered as equivalent to
conviction were recorded against him; and as he refused to con. form he was sentenced to perpetual banishment. This sentence indeed was not executed: but he was confined in BEDFORD jail more than twelve years; notwithstanding several attempts were made to obtain his deliverance!
During this tedious imprisonment, or, at least, part of it, he had no books, except a Bible, and Fox's Martyrology: yet in this situation he penned the Pilgrim's Progress, and many other treatises. He was only thirty two years of age, when he was imprisoned; he had spent his youth in the most disadvantageous manner imaginable; had been no more than five years a member of the church at BEDFORD ; and less time a preacher of the gospel : yet in this admired allegory he appears to have been most intimately acquainted with all the variety of characters, which ministers, long employed in the sacred service, and eminent for judgement and sagacity, have observed among professors, or opposers of evangelical truth !
No fewer than sixty Dissenters, and two ministers were confined with Mr. BUNYAN in this jail! and as some were discharged, others were committed during the time of his imprisonment: but this painful situation afforded him an opportunity of privately exercising his ministry to good effect. He learned in prison to make tagged thread laces, in the intervals of his other labours; and by this employment provided in the most unexceptionable manner for himself and his family. He seems to have been endued with extraordi. nary patience and courage, and to have experienced abundant consolations, while enduring these hardships: he was however sometimes distressed about his family, especially his eldest daughter, who was blind; but in these trying seasons he received comfort from meditating on the promises of scripture'.
He was at some times favoured by the jailors, and permit. ted to see his family and friends; and, during the former
Jer. xv. 18. xlix. 11.
part of his imprisonment, was even allowed to go out occasionally, and once to take a journey to LONDON, probably to see whether some legal redress might not be obtained; according to some intimations given by Sir MATTHEW HALE, when petitions in his favour were laid before the judges. But this indulgence of the jailor exposing him to great danger, Mr. BUNYAN was afterwards more closely confined. Hence I suppose has arisen the opinion, which commonly prevails, that he was imprisoned at different times: but he seems never to have been set at liberty, and then re-committed; though his hardships and restraints were greater at one time than at another.
In the last year of his imprisonment, (A. D. 1671,) he was chosen pastor of the dissenting church at BEDFORD; though it does not appear what opportunity he could have of exercising his pastoral office, except within the precincts of the jail. He was however liberated soon after, through the good offices of Dr. Barlow bishop of LINCOLN, after many fruitless attempts had been made for that purpose. Thus terminated his tedious, severe, and even illegal, imprisonment, which had given him abundant opportunity for the exercise of patience and meekness; and which seems to have been over. ruled both for his own spiritual improvement, and the further. ance of the gospel; by leading him to study, and to form habits of close reflection, and accurate investigation of various subjects, in order to pen his several treatises: when probably he would neither have thought so deeply, nor written so well, had he been more at ease, and at liberty.
A short time after his enlargement, he built a meeting house at BEDFORD, by the voluntary contributions of his friends; and here he statedly preached to large auditories, till his death, without meeting with any remarkable molesta. tion.—He used to come up to LONDON every year, where he preached among the non-conformists with great acceptance; and it is said that Dr. Owen frequently attended on these occasions, and expressed his approbation in very decided
language. He also made stated circuits into other parts of ENGLAND; and animated his brethren to bear the cross patiently, to obey God rather than man, and to leave all consequences with him. He was at the same time peculiarly attentive to the temporal wants of those who suffered for conscience sake, and of the sick or afflicted: and he employed his influence very successfully, in reconciling differences among professors of the gospel, and thus preventing disgraceful and burdensome litigations.—He was very exact in family religion, and the instruction of his children: being principally concerned for their spiritual interests, and comparatively indifferent about their temporal prosperity. He therefore declined the liberal proposal of a wealthy citizen of LonDON, to take his son as an apprentice without any premium, saying · God did not send me to advance my family but to
preach the gospel:'--probably disliking the business, or situation, as unfavourable to piety.
Nothing material is recorded concerning him, between his enlargement in 1672, and his death in 1688. It is said, that he clearly saw through the designs of the court, in favour of popery, when the indulgence was granted to the Dissenters, by James II. in 1687: but that he advised his bre. thren to avail themselves of the sun-shine, by diligent endea. vours to spread the gospel; and to prepare for an approaching storm by fasting and prayer. The next year he took a journey in very bad weather from London to READING, BERKS, to make up a breach between a father and his son, with whom he had some acquaintance; and having happily effected his last work and labour of love, he returned to his lodgings on SNOW-HILL apparently in good health; but very wet with the heavy rain that was then falling: and soon after he was seized with a fever, which in ten days terminated his useful life. He bore his malady with great patience and composure, and died in a very comfortable and triumphant manner, Aug. 31, 1688, aged sixty years; after having exercised his ministry about thirty two. He lies buried