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mind from heaven to earth, as, at some other times, to elevate his mind from earth to heaven.

THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

Before his conversion, Bunyan had formed a strong attachment to a young man of very loose morals, whose acquaintance he now found it necessary to drop; but meeting with him a few months afterwards, and asking him how he did, the other replied in his usually wild and profane language, "But, Harry, (said Bunyan,) why do you swear and curse thus?" The other replied in a great rage-"What would the devil do for company, if it were not for such as I am ?"

About this time Mr. Bunyan met with some books written by the ranters of that age, who were a set of practical, as well as theoretical, antinomians. Their leading maxims seem to have been, (when fairly expressed,) those diabolical ones mentioned by St. Paul "Let us do evil, that good may come :-let us sin, that grace may abound."

About this time he began to read the scripture "with new eyes," and as he had never done before; especially St. Paul's epistles, which were now very delightful, though formerly they had much offended and disgusted him. In short, the Bible became his constant companion, and he was (as he says) "never out of it, either by reading or meditation;" constantly crying to God, that he might know the truth, and follow it.

A fresh difficulty however occurred. Reading in the New Testament, of the various extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, wisdom, knowledge, faith, &c, he was particularly stumbled at the latter; and, misunderstanding some of our Lord's words on that subject,(a) he was tempted to try to work a miracle to prove his faith. One day, in particular, walking between Elstow and Bedford, it was strongly suggested

(a) Matt. xvii. 20.

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THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

to him to bid the puddle" be dry," and to say to the dry places, "Be you puddles." But just as he was about to speak, the thought came into his mind, to go under the hedge to pray that God would enable him. On the other hand it occured to him, that if he tried and could not effect it, it would discourage and sink him into deep despair. For this reason he prudently declined it.

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While his mind was thus agitated between hope and fear, he had what he calls "a kind of vision," respecting the good people of Bedford, which is thus related in his own words: "I saw, as if they were on the sunny side of some high mountain, there refreshing themselves with the pleasant beams of the sun, while I was shivering and shrinking in the cold, afflicted with frost, snow, and dark clouds: methought also, betwixt me and them I saw a wall that did compass about this mountain; now through this wall my soul did greatly desire to pass, concluding that, if I could, I would even go in the very midst of them, and there also comfort myself with the heat of their sun.

About this wall I thought myself to go again and again, still prying as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by which I might enter therein. But none could I find for some time. At the last I saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a little door-way in the wall, through which I attempted to pass; now the passage being very strait and narrow, I made many offers to get in, but all in vain. At last, with great striving, methought I at first did get in my head, and after that by a sideling striving my shoulders, and after that my whole body. Then was I exceeding glad, went and sat down in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat of their sun.

"Now this mountain and wall, &c. was made thus out to me: the mountain signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone thereon, the comfortable shining of his merciful face on them

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that were therein; the wall I thought was the world, that did make separation between the Christians and the world; and the gap which was in the wall I thought was Jesus Christ, who is the way to God the Father. (a) But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could not, but with great difficulty, enter thereat, it showed me none could enter into life, but those that were in downright earnest."

This vision, whatever it was, abode much upon his mind, gave him an ardent desire to enjoy the sunshine of the divine presence, and excited him to cry mightily to God for it.

THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

A variety of temptations succeeded these; but with every temptation the Lord made a way for his escape. At length he began to break his mind to the good people of Bedford, and they introduced him to their minister, Mr. Gifford, who invited him to mingle with those serious persons that frequented his house; and to listen to the experience of others, in order to enlarge his own.

He now acquired a deeper acquaintance with the human heart, its inward corruptions and unbelief; evils which he felt so strongly working in himself, that he thought it impossible he should be already converted, and had little hopes that he ever should. His spiritual conflicts, therefore, increased rather than diminished, insomuch that he compares himself to the possessed child, brought by his parent to Jesus Christ, who, while he was yet coming to him, was thrown down by the devil, and cruelly torn by him. (6)

Bunyan observes here, as a sign that his convictions were of the right sort, that they made him very conscientious; so much so, as to tremble at the verge of duty, and shudder at the approach of sin. He now became (as is often the case with converts) so scrupulous, that he who once never spake without

(a) John xiv. 6. Matt. vii. 14.

(b) Luke ix. 42

THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

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an oath, was afraid to speak at all, lest he should speak idly, or misplace his words.

He was not, however, so entirely taken up with his own feelings, as totally to neglect observation upon those around him. The following remarks, as they cannot easily be better expressed, shall be given in his own words:

"While I was thus afflicted with the fears of my own damnation, there were two things would make me wonder: the one was, when I saw old people hunting after the things of this life, as if they should live here always: the other was, when I found professors much distressed and cast down, when they met with outward losses: as of husband, wife, child, &c. Lord, thought I, what ado is here about such little things as these? What seeking after carnal things by some, and what grief in others for the loss of them! If they so much labour after, and shed so many tears for, the things of this present life, how am I to be bemoaned, pitied, and prayed for! My soul is dying, my soul is damning. Were my soul but in a good condition, and were I but sure of it, ah! how rich would I esteem myself though blessed with bread and water! I should count those but small afflictions, and should bear them as little burdens. A wounded spirit who can bear?" "

Painful as he felt his convictions, yet was he at times fearful of their dying away, or being removed by improper means; because he had observed persons in similar distress, who, when their troubles wore away, or were improperly removed, became more carnal, and more hardened in wickedness, than before. That scripture lay much upon his mind, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission;"(a) and he was led to cry earnestly to the Lord, that he might be delivered from "an evil conscience," only by the sprinkling of atoning blood.

(a) Heb. ix. 22.

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THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

At length the time of his deliverance approached, and he received his first consolation through a sermon on those words of Solomon, "Behold, thou art fair, my love."(a) This reached Bunyan's case, afforded him "strong consolation," and gave him a happy interval of joy and triumph in the Lord but his triumph was of short duration: the enemy returned to the charge with double force, reattacked him with increased malice, and he was now tempted to question the first principle and ground-work of all religion, the very being of a God. Or, admitting this, said the spirit of infidelity, "How can you tell but the Turks have as good scriptures to prove their Mahomet to be the Saviour, as we have to prove our Jesus? Every one thinks his own religion right, Jews, Moors, and Pagans! and what if all our faith, and Christ, and scriptures, should be no more!"

These sceptical suggestions were accompanied with strong temptations to immorality and profaneness.... even to curse God, and to blaspheme his Son. For infidelity and profaneness are of near neighbourhood, and the arch-enemy of mankind knows how to accelerate the course of sinners from one unto the other.

Sometimes he attempted to reason with his temptations, but under great disadvantages, for want of his being acquainted with the external evidences of Christianity. The principal check his doubts received was from an internal principle, which rejected and disrelished them. At length it pleased God, however, to permit him for a time to sink again into despondency; and, at intervals, he feared that his senses would have left him; at other times he thought himself possessed by the devil.

But the sorest trial of this period of his life, was a temptation to commit the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost; this he was prompted even to covet the opportunity of committing, though the new prin

(a) Cant. iv. 1.

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