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JOHN BUNYAN born in a wayside cottage near Harrowden in the year 1628, probably in the closing days of November, as his christening took place on the 28th of that month, at Elstow Church, near Bedford. He died in London, at the house of a friend in Snow Hill, August 31, 1688. Of those sixty years, twelve were spent in Bedford gaol, for conscience sake : they were the years of his prime, from 1660 to 1672. After some three years of liberty, he was again confined for a probable term of six months, in 1676. The “ Pilgrim's Progress” (i.e. the First Part) was entered at Stationers' Hall in 1677, and was published the following year. The Second part came out early in 1685. Of the First Part, three editions appeared within year-an earnest, by early favour, of its permanent place among the books that take the heart with the beauty of truth.
Bunyan's own life provided the materials for this book ; the English Bible furnished the mould ; genius did the rest.
From the first he was an intimate of the spiritual world ; like Augustine, like Luther, before him, like Newman in these later days, he heard voices no ordinary ears have caught, he saw visions of devils and els no common eyes have ever seen. His “Grace Abounding” is the autobiography of his soul, written now in fire, now in dew. “God did not play in convincing of me,” he writes, in excuse for the straightforwardness of his speech,“ the Devil did not play in tempting of me; neither did I play when I sunk as into a bottomless pit, when the pangs of hell caught hold upon me : wherefore I may not play in my relating of them, but be plain and simple, and lay down the thing as it was.' In his earlier life there was a period of loose speech rather than of loose living: of lying, cursing, swearing, but neither of drunkenness nor of unchastity. Then came the hunger of virtue, of good conscience and clean speech. But even yet
his conflict was but begun. The hour came, not of the conviction of vices, but the conviction of sin. It came with clouds and tempest, with winds of earth and fires of heaven. At one moment he is tempted to prove the power of his faith by commanding the puddles on the road between Elstow and Bedford to be dry: at another, he is tempted to look upon himself as a man guilty of the unpardonable sin. His final deliverance came with the words “My grace is sufficient for thee," thr.ce repeated as though with audible voice, and “as
though he had seen the Lord Jesus look down from heaven through the tiles” upon him. The Puritanic sense of sin wrought in him the Puritanic sense of salvation-both with mighty power, shaking his whole nature as a tree in the meeting-place of strong winds.
He was thirty-eight years of age when this marvellous autobiography appeared, half-way through the term of his twelve years' imprisonment. It was too soon yet for the
Pilgrim's Progress” to be conceived or written. If it be true that the book could not have been written without those