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with fears of eternal fire, and the malignant demons who fed it in the regions of despair, he says that he often wished either that there was no hell, or that he had been born a devil himself, that he might be a tormentor rather than one of the tormented.
At an early age he appears to have married. His wife was as poor as himself, for he tells us that they had not so much as a dish or spoon between them ; but she brought with her two books on religious subjects, the reading of which seems to have had no slight degree of influence on his mind. He went to church regularly, adored the priest and all things pertaining to his office, being, as he says, “ overrun with superstition.” On one occasion, a sermon was preached against the breach of the Sabbath by sports or labor, which struck him at the moment as especially designed for himself; but by the time he had finished his dinner, he was prepared to “ shake it out of his mind, and return to his sports and gaming."
“ But the same day,” he continues, as I was in the midst of a game of cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike it a second time, a voice did suddenly dart from Heaven into my soul, which said, Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?' At this, was put to an exceeding maze ; wherefore, leaving my
cat upon the ground, I looked up to Heaven, and it was, as if I had, with the eyes of my understanding, seen the Lord Jesus look down upon me, as being very hotly displeased with me, and as if he did severely threaten me with some grievous punishment for those and other ungodly practices.
“ I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but suddenly this conclusion fastened on my spirit, (for the former hint did set my sins again before my face,) that I had been a great and grievous sinner, and that it was now too late for me to look after Heaven ; for Christ would not forgive me nor pardon my transgressions. Then, while I was thinking of it, and fearing lest it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair, concluding it was too late ; and therefore I resolved in my
mind to go on in sin ; for thought I, if the case be thus, my state is surely miserable ; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable if I follow them; I can but be damned ; and if I must be so, I had as good be damned for many
sins as be damned for few." The reader of Pilgrim's Progress cannot fail here to call to mind the wicked suggestions of the Giant to Christian, in the dungeon of Doubting Castle.
“I returned,” he says, “ desperately to my sport again ; and I well remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my soul, that I was persuaded I
could never attain to other comfort than what I should get in sin; for Heaven was gone already, so that on that I must not think ; wherefore, I found within me great desire to take my fill of sin, that I might taste the sweetness of it; and I made as much haste as I could to fill my belly with its delicates, lest I should die before I had my desires; for that I feared greatly. In these things, I protest before God, I lie not, neither do I frame this sort of speech ; these were really, strongly, and with all my heart, my desires ; the good Lord, whose mercy is unsearchable, forgive my transgressions.”
One day, while standing in the street, cursing and blaspheming, he met with a reproof which startled him. • The woman of the house in front of which the wicked young tinker was standing, herself, as he remarks," a very loose, ungodly wretch," protested that his horrible profanity made her tremble ; that he was the ungodliest fellow for swearing she had ever heard, and able to spoil all the youth of the town who came in his company. Struck by this wholly unexpected rebuke, he at once abandoned the practice of swearing ; although previously he tells us that “ he had never known how to speak, unless he put an oath before and another behind."
The good name which he gained by this change was
now a temptation to him. “My neighbors,” he says,
were amazed at my great conversion from prodigious profaneness to something like a moral life and sober man. Now, therefore, they began to praise, to commend, and to speak well of me, both to my face and behind my back. Now I was, as they said, become godly; now I was become a right honest man. But oh! when I understood those were their words and opinions of me, it pleased me mighty well; for though as yet I was nothing but a poor painted hypocrite, yet I loved to be talked of as one that was truly godly. I was proud of my godliness, and, indeed, I did all I did either to be seen of or well spoken of by men; and thus I continued for about a twelvemonth or more.”
The tyranny of his imagination at this period is seen in the following relation of his abandonment of one of his favorite sports.
“ Now you must know, that before this I had taken much delight in ringing, but my conscience beginning to be tender, I thought such practice was but vain, and therefore forced myself to leave it; yet my mind hankered; wherefore, I would go to the steeple-house and look on, though I durst not ring; but I thought this did not become religion neither; yet I forced myself, and would look on still. But quickly after, I began to think, • How if one of the bells should fall ?' Then I chose
to stand under a main beam, that lay overthwart the steeple, from side to side, thinking here I might stand sure ; but then I thought again, should the bell fall with a swing, it might first hit the wall, and then, rebounding upon me, might kill me for all this beam. This made me stand in the steeple door; and now, thought I, I am safe enough ; for if a bell should then fall, I can slip out behind these thick walls, and so be preserved not. withstanding
“ So after this I would yet go to see them ring, but would not go any farther than the steeple door. But then it came in my head, How if the steeple itself should fall ?' And this thought (it may, for aught I know, when I stood and looked on) did continually so shake my mind, that I durst not stand at the steeple door any longer, but was forced to flee, for fear the steeple should fall upon my head."
About this time, while wandering through Bedford in pursuit of employment, he chanced to see three or four poor old women sitting at a door, in the evening sun, and, drawing near them, heard them converse upon the things of God; of His work in their hearts ; of their natural depravity ; of the temptations of the Adversary ; and of the joy of believing, and of the peace of reconciliation. The words of the aged women found a response in the soul of the listener. 66 He felt his