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people, that they may not be “ burdensome to them.”—Previous however to the restoration of CHAR LES II, when the churches were principally filled by those, who have since been distinguished as non-conformists; he was expected to preach in a church nearCAM B R 1 no 1-: ; and a studenth thatuniversity, not remarkable for sobriety, observing a concourse of people, was induced by curiosity to hear ‘ the tinker pratez’ but the discourse made an unexpected impression on his mind; he embraced every future opportunity of hearing Mr. BUNYAN ; and at length became an eminent preacher in CAMBRIDGESHIRE.
\Vhen 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, Mr. BUNYAN was one of the first that suffered by‘ them: for being courageous and unreferved, he went on in his minis. terialwork without any disguise, and Nov. 12, 1660, was apprehended by a Warrant from Justice WINGATE at HARLI N GTON, near B EDFORD, with fixty otherpersons, and committed to the countyjail. Security was offered f0r his appearance at the sessions; bntit was refused, as his suretics 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 dcuz'lz's/zly and pernicz'ously ‘ abstained from coming to church to hear divine service; ‘ and was a common upholder of several unlawful meetings ‘ and conventicles, to the great dz'sturlzance 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 conform he was sentenced to perpetual banishment. This sentence indeed was not eXecutcd: but he was confined in BEDFOR D 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, excepta Bible, and Fox’s Martyrologytyet 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 forjudgement and sagacity, have observed among professors, or opposers of evangelical truth ! i
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 extraordinary 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 permitted to see his family and friends; and, during the forum;
part of his imprisonment, was even allowed to go out occasionally, and once to take a journey to LON DON, probably to see whether some legal redress might not be obtained; according to some intimations given by Sir MATTH aw HALE, when petitions in his favour were laid before the judges. But this indulgence of thejailor exposing him to great danger, Mr. BU N YAN was afterwards more closely confined. Hence I suppose has arisen the opinion, which commonly prevails, that he was imprisoned at a'rfkrcnt times: but he seems never to have been set at liberty, and then re-committcd; though his hardships and restraints were greater at one time than at another.
In the last year ofhis 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 thejail. 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 overruled both for his ownlspiritual improvement, and the furtherance of the gospel; by leading him to study, and to formhabits 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 ameeting house at Bnuroun, by the voluntary contributions of his friends; and here he statedly preached to large auditories, till his death, without meeting with any remarkable molestation.--He used to come up to LON DON 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 be 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 ofpopery, when the indulgence was granted to the Dissenters, by James II. in 1687: but that he advised his brethren to avail themselves of the sun-shine, by diligent endeavours to spread the gospel; and to prepare for an approaching storm by fasting and prayer.--The next year he took ajourney in very bad weather from Lonnon to READING, Bsaxs, 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
in BUNHILL fields, where a tomb-stone to his memory may still be seem—He was twice married: by his first wife, he left four children, one of which, a daughter named MARY, who was blind, died before him. He was married to his second wife A.D. 1658, two years before his imprisonment, by whom he seems not to have had any children: she survived him about four years. Concerning the other branches of his family we have not been able to gain any information.
Mr. BUNYAN was tall and broad set, though not corpulent: he had a ruddy complexion, with sparkling eyes; and hair inclining to red, but in his old age, sprinkled with grey. His whole appearance was plain, and his dress always simple and unaffected—He published sixty tracts, which equalled the number of years he lived. The Pilgrim’s Progress had passed through more than fifty editions in 1784.
His character seems to have been uniformly good, from the time when he was brought acquainted with the blessed gospel ofCHRtsrz and though his countenance was rather stern and his manner rough; yet he was very mild, modest, and affable, in his behaviour. He was backward to speak much, except on particular occasions, and remarkably averse to boasting; ready to submit to theiudgement of others, and disposed to forgive injuries, to follow peace with all men, and to employ himself as a peace-maker: yet he was steady to his principles; and bold in reproving sin without respect of persons.—Many slanders were spread concerning him during the course of his ministry; some of which he refuted: they have however all died away; and no one now pretends to say any thing to his disadvantage,—except as his firm attachment to his creed, and his practice as a Calvinist,a Dissenter, and an Anti-pcdo~baptist,fhas been called bigotry; and as the account given of his own experience has been misunderstood, or misrepresented.
He was undoubtedly endued with extraordinary natural talents; his understanding, discernment, memory, invention,