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the experiences, mistakes, falls, recoveries distresses, temptations, conflicts, supports, and consolations of serious persons of this class in our own times, as exactly as if it had been penned from the observation of them, and for their immediate benefit : while, like the sacred Scriptures, it remains a sealed book to all who are strangers to evangelical religion.
These remarks may very properly be concluded with the words of a justly admired poet of the present day, who in the following lines has fully sanctioned all that has been here advanced
"Oh thoa, whom, borne on Fancy's eager wing
That mingles all ny brown with sober gray,
Cowper, Tirocinium, v. 129, In respect of the present edition of the Pilgrim's Progress it may be proper to observe, that it having become general to publish every approved work in such a style of elegance, and with such decorations, as may recommend it to a place in the collections of the curious and affluent, and thus attract the notice of those who would perhaps otherwise have overlooked it; something of this nature was proposed by the proprietors of this edition, who deemed it requisite that it should be accompanied with original explanatory notes. 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 edilor, 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 view of a subject, which commonly varies, 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 intrusted different talents to his servants, to qualify them for usefulness among distinct descriptions of persons. It is indeed incontrovertable, 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, therefore, be apprehended, that the labours of different writers on the same subject should materially interfere with each other : rather we may indulge a hope, that, as far as they accord to this 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 ho 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 state 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; to 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 byepaths, which prove injurious to all who ven
ture into thom, 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 dependance 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. 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 latter 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 ; ns the author, if living, would certainly change some expressions for others less offensive to modern
Great pains have been taken to collate different copies of the work, and to examine every scriptural referenco ; in order to render this edition, in all respects, as correct as possible. The author's marginal references scemed 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.
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 farther he proceeded, the more rapidly did ideas flow into his mind ; that this induced him to form it into a separate book; and that shewing it to his friends,
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so ;
Sone said, It mighi do good ; others said, No.' 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 ob. jections, and adduced some obvious argue ments in very unpoetical rhymes, concludes with these lines, which may serve as a favourable specimen of the whole :
"Woull'st thou divert thyself froni melancholy?