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Your private life did a just pattern give.
How fathers, husbands, pious sons, should live;
Born to command, your Princely virtues slept,
Like humble David's, while the flock he kept
But when your troubled country call'd you forth,
Your flaming courage and your matchless worth.
Dazzling the eyes of all that did pretend,
The fierce contention gave a prosperous end.
Still as you rise, the state, exalted too,
Finds no distemper while 'tis changed by you;
Changed like the world's great scene! when, without noise,
The rising sun night's vulgar lights destroys.
Had you, some ages past, this race of glory
Run, with amazement we should read your story:
But living virtue, all achievements past,
Meets envy still to grapple with at last.
Illustrious acts high raptures do infuse,
And every conqueror creates a Muse:
Here in low strains your milder deeds we sing;
But there, my Lord! we'll bays and olive bring
To crown your head: while you in triumph ride
Of his shorter pieces, the following has been pronounced "one of the most graceful poems of an age from which a taste for the highest poetry was fast vanishing."
Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
And shuns to have her graces spied,
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.
Of beauty from the light retired:
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.
The common fate of all things rare
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair
JOHN BUNYAN. 1C28—1688.
Ingenious dreamer, in whose wcll-tolj tale
Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail;
Whose humorous vein, strong sense, and simple style.
Ma; teach the gayest, make the gravest smile;
Witty, and well employM, and, like thy Lord,
Speaking in parables bis Blighted word;
1 name thee not, lest so despised a name
Should move a sneer at thy deserved tame;
Yet e'en in transitory life's late day,
That mingles all my brown with sober gray,
rtevere the man, whose pilgrim marks the road,
And guides the progress of the soul to Ood.—CoWTSB.
With what pleasure do we turn from the character of Waller, to that never to-be-forgotten and ever-to-be-revered name—John Bunyan, the poor "tinker of Bedford.1' If there was danger in Cowper's time of "moving a sneer" at the mention of his name, there is none now; for it is doubtful whether, within the last fifty years, more editions have been published of any one book in the English language, the Bible excepted, than of Pilgrim's Progress.
John Bunyan was born in the village of Elston, near Bedford, in the year 1628. Hi.s father was a brazier or tinker, and the son was brought up to the same trade. Though his parents were extremely poor, they put him to the best school they could afford, and thus he learned to read and write. He says of himself, that he was early thrown among vile companions, and initiated into profancness, lying, and all sorts of boyish vice and ungodliness. Thus plainly he speaks of himself in view of his early sins, but it is just to say that to drinking and to licentiousness in its grossest forms, ho was never addicted. He married very early, at the ago of nineteen. "My mercy was," he says, "to light upon a wife whose father was counted godly." Who can tell the happy influence that this connection exerted over him> And how vastly would the sum of human happiness be increased, if, in choosing a companion for life, moral and religious character were regarded more, and worldly circumstances less. Soon after this, Bunyan left off his profanity, and began to think more seriously. "My neighbors were amazed,'' he says, "at this my great conversion from prodigious profaneness to something like a moral life: they began to praise, to commend, and to speak well of me." Flattered by these commendations, and proud of his imagined godliness, he concluded that the Almighty "could not choose but be now pleased with him. Yea, to relate it in mine own way, I thought no man in England could please God better than I."
He was awakened from this self-righteous delusion by accidentally overhearing the discourse of three or four poor women, who were sitting at a door in the sun, in one of the streets of Bedford, " talking about the things of God." What especially struck him was, that they conversed about matters of ruligion "as if joy did make them speak," and "as if they had found a new world." He was most deeply impressed by this, and carried the words of these poor women with him wherever he went. His spiritual conflict was long, and attended with many and sore temptations; but God heard his prayer;1 his views of truth became clear, and in 1CS3, when twenty-five years
l « o Lord, I am a fool, and not able to know the truth from error; Lord, leave mc not to my own blindness. Lord, 1 lay my soul only at thy f^t; let mc not be deceived, I humbly beseech thee." guch a prayer was never uuule In vain.
of age, he joined the Baptist church at Bedford. He occasionally addressed small meetings of the church, and at their urgent request, so full of power and unction did they deem his preaching, when their pastor died in 1655. he was desired by them to till, for a time, his place. He did so, and also preached in other places, and attracted great attention. But "bonds and imprisonments awaited him." He had, for five or six years, without any interruption, freely preached the gospel; but, in November, 1660, he was taken up by a warrant from a justice, who resolved, as he said, "to break the neck of such meetings.'' Such was one of the first-fruits of the Restoration. The bill of indictment against him ran to this effect: "That John Bunyan, of the town of Bedford, lnl»rer, hath devilishly and perniciously abstained from coming to church' to hear divine service, and is a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles,'' &c.
The result was, of course, that he was convicted; and accordingly he was 6ent to Bedford jail, where he was confined for twelve long years, lest, like the great apostle of the Gentiles, he should persuade and "turn away much people." But how impotent is the rage of man! "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision." In the inscrutable purposes of Providence, this was the very way designed for this humble individual to do the greatest amount of good. It was there, in the damps of his prison-house, that he, ignorant of classic lore, but deeply read in the word of God, composed a work full of the purest spirit of poetry; caught indeed from no earthly muse, but from the sacred volume of inspiration :—a work which is read with delight by all,—by the man of the world, who has no sympathy with its religious spirit, and by the Christian, who has the key to it in his own heart; a work which has been the delight of youth, and the solace of age; a work which has given comfort to many a wounded spirit, which has raised many a heart to the throne of God. What an illustrious instance of the superiority of goodness over learning! Who now reads the learned wits of the reign of Charles the Second? Who, comparatively, reads even Dryden, or Tillotson, or Barrow, or Boyle, or Sir William Temple? Who has not read, who will not read the immortal epic of John Bunyan? Who does not, who will not ever, widi Cowper,
11 rtcvere the man whose pilgrim marks the road,
What an aflfecting account he gives of his feelings during his imprisonment! "I found myself a man encompassed with infirmities: the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from the bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I should have after brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was likely to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all beside. Oh! the thoughts of the hardship I thought my poor blind one might undergo, would break my heart to pieces. Poor child! thought I, what sorrow thou art like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a> thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you." What a heavenly spirit! what true sublimity of character does such language display!
1 Meaning, of course, the "established" church.
The only books that Bunyan had with him in prison, were the Bible and Fox's Book of Martyrs. What use he made of the former the wide world knows, in that immortal fruit of his imprisonment—the u Pilgrim's Progress." Well is it that wicked men, persecutors, and oppressors cannot chain tiie mind:
"The oppressor holds
He was not released from prison till 1072. But no sooner was he out than, like the early apostles after their imprisonment, he entered at once on his Great Master's work, preaching his word not only to his former congregation, but wherever he went. Every year he paid a visit to his friends in London, where Ins reputation was so great that thousands flocked to hear him; and if but a day's noti.ee were given, the meeting-house could not hold half the people that attended. It is said that Dr. Owen was among his occasional auditors; aud an anecdote is on record, that, being asked by Charles II. how a learned man, such as he was, could "sit and hear an illiterate tinker prate," be replied: « May it please your majesty, could I possess that tinker's abilities for preaching, I would most gladly relinquish all my learning." He continued his labors until 1688, when, having taken a violent cold in a rain-storm, while on a journey to preach, he died August 12th, in the 61st year of his age.
Bunyan was a voluminous writer, having written, it is said, as many books as he was years old. Of these, the Holy War would have immortalized him, had he written nothing else. The title of this is, "The Holy War made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the Regaining the Metropolis of the World, or the Losing and Retaking of Mansoul." Here the fall of man is typified by the capture of the flourishing city of Mansoul by Diabolus, the enemy of its rightful sovereign, Shaddai or Jehovah ; whose son Immanuel recovers it after a tedious siege. Some of his other works are,11 Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners," being an account of his own life: "The Doctrine of the Law and Grace unfolded:" "The Life anil Death of Mr. Badman," in the form of a dialogue, giving an account of the different stapes of a wicked man's life, and of his miserable death: "The Barren Fig Tree, or the Doom and Downfall of the fruitless Professor:" "One Thing is Needful:" "A Discourse touching Prayer," &c.
But his great work, and that by which he will ever best be known, is "The Pilgrim's Progress," an allegorical view of the life of a Christian, his difficulties, temptations, encouragements, anil ultimate triumph. This work is so universally known as to render all comment unnecessary. No book has received such general commendation. As to the number of editions through which it has passed, it is impossible to form a conjecture. Mr. Southey thinks it probable that " no other book in the English language1 has obtained so constant and so wide a sale," nnd that "there is no European language imo which it has not been translated." Dr. Johnson, Cowpcr, Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Southey, Montgomery, have united to extol this truly original work: indeed, pages might be occupied with the encomiums with which poets and
l The Bible, of course, excepted, and probably Watts'a Ptsalma and Hymn*.
critics have delighted to honor this once obscure and despised religious writer.1
Wo will make but one extmct from the Pilgrim's Progress, as it is in the hands of almost every one, and that will be the case of
CHRISTIAN IN DOUBTING CASTLE.
Now there was, not far from the place where they lay, a castle, called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in his grounds they now were sleeping; wherefore he, getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then, with a grim and surly voice, he bid them awake, and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds? They told him they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way. Then said the giant, You have this night trespassed on me, by trampling and lying on my ground, and therefore you must go along with me. So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They also had but little to say, for they knew themselves in fault. The giant, therefore, drove them before him, and put them into his castle, in a very dark dungeon, nasty, and stinking to the spirits of those two men. Here they lay from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, without one bit of bread, or drop of drink, or Tight, or any to ask how they did: they were therefore here in evil case, and were far from friends and acquaintance. Now, in this place Christian had double sorrow, because it was through his unadvised haste that they were brought into this distress."
Now, Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence: so when he was gone to bed, he told his wife what he had done,
1 Tlie poet Southey lias written his life; but lie wns not qualified lbr It, having littie sympathy with Bunyan as a Reformer. Read an excellent article in the 79th number of the North American Review: also, another in Macaulay's Miscellanies, 1. 428. From the latler I cannot but extmct the following: —" The style of Bunyan Is delightful to every reader, and invaluable as a study to every person who wishes to obtain a wide command over the English language. The vocabulary is the vocabulary of the common people. There Is not an expression, if we except a few technical terms of theology, which would puzzle the rudest peasant. We have observed seveml pages which do not contain a tingle word of more than two syllables. Yet no writer lias said more exactiy what he meant to say. For magnificence, for pathos, for vehement exhortation, for subtle disquisition, for every purpose of the poet, the omtor, and the divine, this bomely dialect, the dialect of plain working-men, was perfectly sullick'nt. There is no hook in our litemture on which we would so readily stake the fame of Ihe un poll lit ed Enetinh tunae- • . • — ". —