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Several persons have indeed already favoured the public with illustrations of this kind : but as the proprietors did not deem that consideration a sufficient reason for omitting this part of their design; so the editor, on mature deliberation, did not think himself precluded by it from communicating his sentiments on a favourite, book, according to a plan he had formed in his own mind. Every man, who thinks for himself, has his own views of a subject, which commonly vary, more or less, from the sentiments of others, whom he nevertheless esteems and loves with great cordiality: and the great Head of the church has entrusted different talents to his servants, to qualify them for usefulness among distinct descriptions of persons. It is indeed incontrovertible, that some men will receive the great truths of christianity with candour and docility, when exhibited in a style and manner suited to their peculiar taste, who disregard and reject them, when conveyed in language which numbers, perhaps justly, think far more interesting and affecting. It need not, there. fore, be apprehended, that the labours of different writers on the same subject should materially interfere with each other: rather we may indulge an hope, that, as far as they accord to the standard of divine truth, they will, in different circles, promote the common cause of vital godliness.
The editor's aim, in this attempt to elucidate the Pilgrim's Progress, is, to give a brief key to the grand outlines of the allegory, from which the attentive reader may obtain a general idea of the author's design, as he proceeds :-to bestow more pains in fixing the precise meaning of those parts, which might most perplex the reader, and which seem to have most escaped the notice, or divided the sentiments of expositors :—to staté and establish, compendiously but clearly, those doctrinal, practical, and experimental views of christianity, which Mr. Bunyan meant to convey; guarding them carefully from those extremes and perversions which he never favoured, but which too frequently increase men's prejudices against them:-10
delineate the more prominent features of his various characters, with a special reference to the present state of religious profession; and with cautions to the reader, to distinguish accurately what he approves from the defects even of true pilgrims:—and in fine, to give as just a representation, as may be, of the author's sentiments concerning the right way to heaven; and of the many false ways, and by-paths, which prove injurious to all who venture into them, and fatal to unnumbered multitudes. In executing this plan, no information that he can procure is neglected; but he does not invariably adhere to the sentiments of any man: and while his dependence is placed, as he hopes, on the promised teaching of the Holy Spirit, he does not think himself authorized to spare any pains, in endeavouring to render the publication acceptable and useful.
It may be proper to subjoin also a general account of the plan of this edition.—The notes are reserved to be placed at the end of each part separately. This is deemed conducive to elegance in printing; and in the present case it may have another advantage: the attentive reader finds a pleasing mental exercise, in endeavouring to unriddle for himself the enigmas of the allegory: when successful, he derives satisfaction and encouragement, on consulting the notes, and discovering that he has found out the generally approved interpretation : and should any part baffle his utmost efforts; it will be both pleasant and useful to have a key at hand, by which he may be preserved from the discouragement of proceeding in uncertainty to another subject. It may, therefore, perhaps be most expedient to consult the notes, after previous attentive consideration of the text, and not to read them with it, as is commonly done.
The text is, in most places, printed, as it stands in those old editions, which may be supposed to contain the author's own terms; which later editors have frequently modernized. A few obsolete or unclassical words, and unusual phrases,
seem to become the character of the Pilgrim; and they are often more emphatical than any which can be substituted in their stead. A few exceptions, however, are made to this rule; as the author, if living, would certainly change some expressions for others less offensive to modern ears. Great pains have been taken to collate different copies of the work, and to examine every scriptural reference; in order to render this edition, in all respects, as correct as possible.—The author's marginal references seemed so essential a part of the work, that it was deemed indispensably requisite to insert them in their places. But as the other marginal notes do not appear to convey any material instruction distinct from that contained in the text, and to be principally useful in pointing out any passage, to which the reader might wish to refer; it was thought most advisable to omit them, and to supply their place by a running title on the top of every page, conveying as nearly as possible the same ideas : for, indeed, they so encumber the page, and break in upon the uniformity of printing, that all hope of elegance must be precluded while they are retained.
Mr. Bunyan prefixed to each part of the Pilgrim's Progress a copy of verses: but as his poetry does not much suit the taste of these days, it hath been deemed expedient to omit them. That prefixed to the first part is entitled “The • Author's Apology for his Book:' but it is now generally allowed, that the book, so far from needing an apology, indeed merits the highest commendation. In this he informs us, that he was unawares drawn into the allegory, when employed about another work; that the further he proceeded, the more rapidly did ideas flow into his mind; that this induced him to form it into a separate book; and that, showing it to his friends
Some said, “John, print it,' others said, 'Not so;'
The public will not hesitate in determining which opinion was the result of the deeper penetration ; but will wonder that a long apology for such a publication should have been deemed necessary. This was, however, the case; and the author, having solidly, though rather verbosely, answered several objections and adduced some obvious arguments in very unpoetical rhymes, concludes with these lines, which may serve as a favourable specimen of the whole.
« Would'st thou divert thyself from mclancholy?
The poem prefixed to the second part, in a kind of dialogue with his book, is less interesting; and serves to show, that the pious author had a more favourable opinion of its comparative merit, than posterity has formed; which is no singular case. It is, therefore, presumed, that the omission of it in this edition will not be thought to require any further apology with the more judicious admirers of the work. Some verses are likewise found at the bottom of certain plates that accompanied the old editions, which they, who omit the plates, or substitute others, know not where to insert. To show all regard, however, to every thing that Mr. Bunyan wrote as a part of the work, such as are most material may be found in the notes on the incidents to which they refer.
The celebrated author of the Pilgrim's Progress was born, A.D. 1628, at Elstow, a small village near BedroRD. His father earned his bread by the low occupation of a common tinker; but he bore a fair character, and took care that his son, whom he brought up to the same business, should be taught to read and write.-We are told indeed, that he quickly forgot all he had learned, through his extreme profligacy: yet it is probable, that he retained so much, as enabled him to recover the rest, when his mind became better disposed; and that it was very useful to him in the subsequent part of his life.
The materials, from which an account of this valuable man must be compiled, are so scanty and confused, that nothing very satisfactory should be expected.-He seems from his earliest youth to have been greatly addicted to impiety and profligacy: yet he was interrupted in his course by continual alarms and convictions, which were sometimes peculiarly overwhelming; but had no other effect at the time, than to extort from him the most absurd wishes that can be imagined. A copious narrative of these early conflicts and crimes is contained in a treatise published by himself, under the title of • Grace abounding to the chief of Sinners.'
During this part of his life he was twice preserved from