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Few books have been so generally received, or have passed through so many editions, as the Pilgrim's Progress, written by John Bunyan, who was once a tinker in the town of Bedford, but afterwards a very laborious, faithful, and able minister of the New Testament, and was confined in Bedford jail above twelve
years for nonconformity. Some may be ready, with a contemptuous sneer, to exclaim, “ What, a tinker become a minister !" Yes; and such a minister, that few have excelled him in spiritual and divine knowledge. He was one who approved him self a minister of God, according to the marks laid down by St. Paul, 2 Cor. iv. 6. He was. manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ; one who knew the mind of Christ; one, on whose heart the law of truth was written ; wherefore from his mouth dropped the words 3
of truth; one, who received his doctrine not from man, but by the Spirit of the Lord, whereby he was fatisfied that they were of God; one, to whom the Lord had given great spiritual discernment into the mysteries of the gospel; one, who had an understanding exercised to discern the difference between truth and error; one, who had experienced the different effects of truth and error in his own soul, therefore (when engaged in defence of the gospel, and contending for the faith delivered to the saints) he knew the nature of the controversy, the va- lue of the truth, and the baneful effects of every error; so that he was zealously affected, knowing that it was a good cause and an honourable service in which he was employed.
The works which he has left behind him will be lasting monuments of the grace and power of God, as perfected or manifested in this highly favoured and eminently distinguished servant of the Lord, who was indeed, in his day, a burning and shining light, and a glorious instance of the freeness and power of grace. By the account which he has given us of himself, it appears that he was a most
abandoned character, and was suffered to run awful lengths in profaneness — Yet -Oh! the freeness of grace! extended to one so notoriously wicked: Oh! the power of grace ! How great and visible must the change have appeared, even to those who could see no further than his outward conduct !
Many may outwardly appear religious, who are strangers to the power of God's grace, and the gospel salvation, who have never experienced a real change-passing from death unto life, and from the power of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son ; yet we are expressly told, that the grace of God-to whomsoever that grace is manifested and revealed, according to the effectual working of the Spirit of God, bringing falvation home to a finner's heart and consciencenever fails of teaching to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law: and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lufts. The power of God was no less
displayed in the conversion of his heart, than in that insight which was given him into the true meaning of the Scriptures, God having opened the eyes of his understanding to see into those things which are hid from the wise and prudent, but are revealed to babes. The Jews marvelled when they heard our Lord teaching in the temple, and cried out, saying, “ How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” He, who knows the mystery of the Father and the Son, knows that the Son can do nothing of himself“, as he says himself, The words that I speak unto
you, I speak not of myself; but the Fa" ther, that dwelleth in me, he doth the “ works b." It is true; God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him, but unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ; of which grace it is plain that the author of this book had been eminently a partaker. It is certain that he was well acquainted with the mystery of godliness; the way of life and falvation; the power and influence of divine grace; and the life of faith; by that sweet, favoury, precious, and experimental description which he • John v. 19,
• John xiv. 10.