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practical labors, void of general ideas and refined tastes, dulled by texts, dry and obstinate reasoners, who twisted the Scripture in order to extract from it a form of government or a table of dogma. What could be narrower or more repulsive than these pursuits and wrangles ? A pamphlet of the time petitions for liberty of conscience, and draws its arguments (1) from the parable of the wheat and the tares which grow together till the harvest; (2) from this maxim of the Apostles, Let every man be thor. oughly persuaded in his own mind; (3) from this text, Whatsoever is not of faith is sin; (4) from this divine rule of our Savior, Do to others what you would they should do unto you. Later, when the angry Commons desired to pass judgment on James Nayler, the trial became entangled in an endless juridical and theological discussion, some declaring that the crime committed was idolatry, others seduction, all emptying out before the House their armory of commentaries and texts. Seldom has a generation been found more mutilated in all the faculties which produce contemplation and ornament, more reduced to the faculties which nourish discussion and morality. Like a beautiful insect which has become transformed and has lost its wings, so we see the poetic generation of Elizabeth disappear, leaving in its place but a sluggish caterpillar, a stubborn aud useful spinner, armed with industrious feet and formidable jaws, spending its existence in eating into old leaves and devouring its enemies. They are without style; they speak like business men; at most, here and there, a pamphlet of Prynne possesses a little vigor. Their histories, like May's for instance, are flat and heavy. Their memoirs, even those of Ludlow and Mrs. Hutchinson, are long, wearisome, mere statements, destitute of personal feelings, void of enthusiasm or entertaining matter; " they seem to ignore themselves, and are engrossed by the general prospects of their cause.” Good works of piety, solid and convincing sermons; sincere, edifying, exact, methodical books, like those of Baxter, Barclay, Calamy, John Owen; personal narratives, like that of Baxter, like Fox's journal, Bunyan's life, a large collection of documents and arguments, conscientiously arranged, this is all they offer; the Puritan destroys the artist, stiffens the man, fetters the writer; and leaves of artist, man, writer, only a sort of abstract being, the slave of a watchword. If a Milton springs up amongst them, it is because by his great curiosity, his travels, his comprehensive education, above all by his youth saturated in the grand poetry of the preceding age, and by his independence of spirit, haughtily defended even against the sectarians, Milton passes beyond sectarianism. Strictly speaking, the Puritans could but have one poet, an involuntary poet, a madman, a martyr, a hero, and a victim of grace; a genuine preacher, who attains the beautiful by chance, whilst pursuing the useful on principle; a poor tinker, who, employing images so as to be understood by mechanics, sailors, servant-girls, attained, without pretending to it, eloquence and high art.
1"Upon the common sense of Scripture," said Major-general Disbrowe, "there are few but do commit blasphemy, as our Saviour puts it in Mark: “sins, blasphemies; if so, then none without blasphemy. It was charged upon David and Eli's son, 'thou hast blasphemed, or caused others to blaspheme.'"-Burton's Diary, i. 54. ° Guizot, Portraits Politiques, 5th ed., 1862.
VI. Next to the Bible, the book most widely read in England is the Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. The reason is, that the basis of Protestantism is the doctrine of salvation by grace, and that no writer has equaled Bunyan in making this doctrine understood.
To treat well of supernatural impressions, a man must have been subject to them. Bunyan had that kind of imagination which produces them. Powerful as that of an artist, but more vehement, this imagination worked in the man without his cooperation, and besieged him with visions which he had neither willed nor foreseen. From that moment there was in him as it were a second self, ruling the first, grand and terrible, whose apparitions were sudden, its motions unknown, which redoubled or crushed his faculties, prostrated or transported him, bathed him in the sweat of agony, ravished him with trances of joy, and which by its force, strangeness, independence, impressed upon him the presence and the action of a foreign and superior master. Bunyan, like Saint Theresa, was from infancy "greatly troubled with the thoughts of the fearful torments of hell-fire,” sad in the midst of pleasures, believing himself damned, and so despairing, that he wished he was a devil,“ supposing they were only tormentors; that if it must needs be that I went thither, I might be rather a tormentor, than be tormented myself.”] There already was the assault of exact and bodily images. Under their influence reflection ceased, and the man was suddenly spurred into action. The first movement carried him with closed eyes, as down a steep slope, into mad resolutions. One day, “ being in the field, with my companions, it chanced that an adder passed over the highway; so I, having a stick, struck her over the back; and havin stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my stick, and plucked her sting out with my fingers, by which act, had not God been merciful to me, I might, by my desperateness, have brought myself to my end." In his first approaches to conversion he was extreme in his emotions, and penetrated to the heart by the sight of physical objects, “adoring” priest, service, altar, vestment. “ This conceit grew so strong upon my spirit, that had I but seen a priest (though never so sordid and debauched in his life), I should find my spirit fall under him, reverence him, and knit unto him; yea, I thought, for the love I did bear unto them (supposing they were the ministers of God), I could have laid down at their feet, and have been trampled upon by them; their name, their garb, and work did so intoxicate and bewitch me."2 Already his ideas clung to him with that irresistible hold which constitutes monomania; no matter how absurd they were, they ruled him, not by their truth, but by their presence. The thought of an impossible danger terrified him just as much as the sight of an imminent peril. As a man hung over an abyss by a sound rope, he forgot that the rope was sound, and he became giddy. After the fashion of English villagers, he loved bell-ringing; when he became a Puritan, he considered the amusement profane, and gave it up; yet, impelled by his desire, he would go into the belfry and watch the ringers. “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 notwithstanding. 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 into my head, 'How if the steeple itself should fall ?' And this thought (it may, for
i Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, $ 7.
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." 1 Frequently the mere conception of a sin became for him a temptation so involuntary and so strong, that he felt upon him the sharp claw of the devil. The fixed idea swelled in his head like a painful abscess, full of all sensitiveness and of all his life's blood. “ Now no sin would serve but that; if it were to be committed by speaking of such a word, then I have been as if my mouth would have spoken that word whether I would or no; and in so strong a measure was the temptation upon me, that often I have been ready to clap my hands under my chin, to hold my mouth from opening; at other times, to leap with my head downward into some muckhill hole, to keep my mouth from speaking.”2 Later, in the middle of a sermon which he was preaching, he was assailed by blasphemous thoughts; the word came to his lips, and all his power of resistance was barely able to restrain the muscle excited by the tyrannous brain.
Once the minister of the parish was preaching against the sin of dancing, oaths, and games, when he was struck with the idea that the sermon was for him, and returned home full of trouble. But he ate; his stomach being charged, discharged his brain, and his remorse was dispersed. Like a true child, entirely absorbed by the emotion of the moment, he was transported, jumped out, and ran to the sports. He had thrown his ball, and was about to begin again, when a voice from heaven suddenly pierced his soul. ««Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell ?' At this I was put to an exceeding maze; wherefore, leaving my cat upon the ground, I looked up to heaven, and 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 these and other ungodly practices." 3 Suddenly reflecting that his sins were very great, and that he would certainly be damned whatever he did, he resolved to enjoy himself in the meantime, and to sin as much as he could in this life. He took up his ball again, recommenced the game with i ardor, and swore louder and oftener than ever. A month afterwards, being reproved by a woman, “I was silenced, and put to secret shame, and that too, as I thought, before the God of heaven : wherefore, while I stood there, hanging down my head, I wished that I might be a little child again, and that my father might learn me to speak without this wicked way of swearing; for, thought I, I am so accustomed to it, that it is in vain to think of a reformation, for that could never be. But how it came to pass I know not, I did from this time forward so leave my swearing, that it was a great wonder to myself to observe it; and whereas before I knew not how to speak unless I put an oath before, and another behind, to make my words have authority, now I could without it speak better, and with more pleasantness, than ever I could before.”] These sudden alternations, these vehement resolutions, this unlooked-for renewal of heart, are the products of an involuntary and impassioned imagination, which by its hallucinations, its mastery, its fixed ideas, its mad ideas, prepares the way for a poet, and announces an inspired man.
1 Grace Abounding, 56 33, 34.
2 lbid. § 103.
3 Ibid. § 22
In him circumstances develop character; his kind of life develops his kind of mind. He was born in the lowest and most despised rank, a tinker's son, himself a wandering tinker, with a wife as poor as himself, so that they had not a spoon or a dish between them. He had been taught in childhood to read and write, but he had since “ almost wholly lost what he had learned.” Education diverts and disciplines a man; fills him with varied and rational ideas; prevents him from sinking into monomania or being excited by transport; gives him determinate thoughts instead of eccentric fancies, pliable opinions for fixed convictions; replaces impetuous images by calm reasonings, sudden resolves by carefully weighed decisions ; furnishes us with the wisdom and ideas of others; gives us conscience and self-command. Suppress this reason and this discipline, and consider the poor ignorant working nan at his toil; his head works while his hands work, not ably, with methods acquired from any logic he might have mustered, but with dark emotions, beneath a disorderly flow of confused images. Morning and evening, the hammer which the uses in his trade, drives in with its deafening sounds the same thought perpetually returning and self-commun.
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