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Relation of My Imprisonment
By JOHN . BUNYAN
Published in conjunction with a later version of Grace
Abounding. Unpublished until 1765.
This is not the 1765 edition.
Chapter 1Back To Top Of Page
A RELATION OF MY IMPRISONMENT IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER 1660
WHEN, by the good hand of my God, I had for five or six years together, without any
interruption, freely preached the blessed gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and had
also, through His blessed grace, some encouragement by His blessing thereupon; the
devil, that old enemy of man's salvation, took his opportunity to inflame the hearts
of his vassals against me, insomuch that at the last, I was laid out for by the warrant
of a justice, and was taken and committed to prison. The relation thereof is as followeth:-
Upon the 12th of this instant, November 1660, I was desired by some of the friends
in the country to come to teach at SAMSELL, by HARLINGTON, in BEDFORDSHIRE. To whom
I made a promise, if the Lord permitted, to be with them on the time aforesaid. The
justice hearing thereof (whose name is Mr FRANCIS WINGATE), forthwith issued out
his warrant to take me, and bring me before him, and in the meantime to keep a very
strong watch about the house where the meeting should be kept, as if we that were
to meet together in that place did intend to do some fearful business, to the destruction
of the country; when alas! the constable, when he came in, found us only with our
Bibles in our hands, ready to speak and hear the word of God; for we were just about
to begin our exercise. Nay, we had begun in prayer for the blessing of God upon our
opportunity, intending to have preached the word of the Lord unto them there present:
but the constable coming in prevented us.
So I was taken and forced to depart the room. But had I been minded to have played
the coward, I could have escaped and kept out of his hands. For when I was come to
my friend's house, there was whispering that that day I should be taken, for there
was a warrant out to take me; which when my friend heard, he being somewhat timorous,
questioned whether we had best have our meeting or not; and whether it might not
be better for me to depart, lest they should take me and have me before the justice,
and after that send me to prison (for he knew better than I what spirit they were
of, living by them): to whom I said, No, by no means, I will not stir, neither will
I have the meeting dismissed for this. Come, be of good cheer; let us not be daunted;
our cause is good, we need not be ashamed of it; to preach God's Word, is so good
a work, that we shall be well rewarded, if we suffer for that; or to this purpose
- (But as for my friend, I think he was more afraid of me, than of himself.) After
this I walked into the close, where I somewhat seriously considering the matter,
this came into my mind, That I had showed myself hearty and courageous in my preaching,
and had, blessed be grace, made it my business to encourage others; therefore thought
I, if I should now run, and make an escape, it will be of a very ill savour in the
country. For what will my weak and newly- converted brethren think of it, but that
I was not so strong in deed as I was in word? Also I feared that if I should run
now there was a warrant out for me, I might by so doing make them afraid to stand,
when great words only should be spoken to them. Besides I thought, that seeing God
of His mercy should choose me to go upon the forlorn hope in this country; that is,
to be the first, that should be opposed, for the gospel; if I should fly, it might
be a discouragement to the whole body that might follow after. And further, I thought
the world thereby would take occasion at my cowardliness, to have blasphemed the
gospel, and to have had some ground to suspect worse of me and my profession, than
These things with others considered by me, I came in again to the house, with a full
resolution to keep the meeting, and not to go away, though I could have been gone
about an hour before the officer apprehended me; but I would not; for I was resolved
to see the utmost of what they could say or do unto me. For blessed be the Lord,
I knew of no evil that I had said or done. And so, as aforesaid, I begun the meeting.
But being prevented by the constable's coming in with his warrant to take me, I could
not proceed. But before I went away, I spake some few words of counsel and encouragement
to the people, declaring to them, that they saw we were prevented of our opportunity
to speak and hear the Word of God, and were like to suffer for the same; desiring
them that they would not be discouraged, for it was a mercy to suffer upon so good
account. For we might have been apprehended as thieves or murderers, or for other
wickedness; but blessed be God it was not so, but we suffer as Christians for well
doing: and we had better be the persecuted, than the persecutors, etc. But the constable
and the justice's man waiting on us, would not be at quiet till they had me away
and that we departed the house. But because the justice was not at home that day,
there was a friend of mine engaged for me to bring me to the constable on the morrow
Otherwise the constable must have charged a watch with me, or have secured me some
other way, my crime was so great. So on the next morning we went to the constable,
and so to the justice. He asked the constable what we did, where we was met together,
and what we had with us? I trow, he meant whether we had armour or not; but when
the constable told him that there were only met a few of us together to preach and
hear the Word, and no sign of anything else, he could not well tell what to say:
yet because he had sent for me, he did adventure to put out a few proposals to me,
which were to this effect, namely, What I did there? And why I did not content myself
with following my calling? for it was against the law, that such as I should be admitted
to do as I did.
JOHN BUNYAN. To which I answered, That the intent of my coming thither, and to other
places, was to instruct, and counsel people to forsake their sins, and close in with
Christ, lest they did miserably perish; and that I could do both these without confusion
(to wit), follow my calling, and preach the Word also.
At which words, he was in a chafe, as it appeared; for he said that he would break
the neck of our meetings.
BUN. I said, It may be so. Then he wished me to get sureties to be bound for me,
or else he would send me to the jail.
My sureties being ready, I called them in, and when the bond for my appearance was
made, he told them, that they was bound to keep me from preaching; and that if I
did preach, their bonds would be forfeited. To which I answered, that then I should
break them; for I should not leave speaking the Word of God: even to counsel, comfort,
exhort, and teach the people among whom I came; and I thought this to be a work that
had no hurt in it: but was rather worthy of commendation, than blame.
WINGATE. Whereat he told me, that if they would not be so bound, my mittimus must
be made, and I sent to the jail, there to lie to the quarter sessions.
Now while my mittimus was making, the justice was withdrawn; and in comes an old
enemy to the truth, Dr Lindale, who, when he was come in, fell to taunting at me
with many reviling terms.
BUN. To whom I answered, that I did not come thither to talk with him, but with the
justice. Whereat he supposed that I had nothing to say for myself, and triumphed
as if he had got the victory; charging and condemning me for meddling with that for
which I could show no warrant; and asked me, if I had taken the oaths? and if I had
not, it was pity but that I should be sent to prison, etc.
I told him, that if I was minded, I could answer to any sober question that he should
put to me. He then urged me again, how I could prove it lawful for me to preach,
with a great deal of confidence of the victory.
But at last, because he should see that I could answer him if I listed, I cited to
him that verse in Peter, which saith, EVERY MAN HATH RECEIVED THE GIFT, EVEN SO LET
HIM MINISTER THE SAME, ETC.
LIND. Aye, saith he, to whom is that spoken?
BUN. To whom, said I, why to every man that hath received a gift from God. Mark,
saith the apostle, AS EVERY MAN THAT HATH RECEIVED A GIFT FROM GOD, etc.; and again,
YOU MAY ALL PROPHESY ONE BY ONE. Whereat the man was a little stopt, and went a softlier
pace: but not being willing to lose the day, he began again, and said:-
LIND. Indeed, I do remember that I have read of one Alexander a coppersmith, who
did much oppose, and disturb the apostles; - (aiming it is like at me, because I
was a tinker).
BUN. To which I answered, that I also had read of very many priests and pharisees,
that had their hands in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
LIND. Aye, saith he, and you are one of those scribes and pharisees: for you, with
a pretence, make long prayers to devour widows' houses.
BUN. I answered, that if he had got no more by preaching and praying than I had done,
he would not be so rich as now he was. But that scripture coming into my mind, ANSWER
NOT A FOOL ACCORDING TO HIS FOLLY, I was as sparing of my speech as I could, without
prejudice to truth.
Now by this time my mittimus was made, and I committed to the constable, to be sent
to the jail in Bedford, etc.
But as I was going, two of my brethren met with me by the way, and desired the constable
to stay, supposing that they should prevail with the justice, through the favour
of a pretended friend, to let me go at liberty. So we did stay, while they went to
the justice; and after much discourse with him, it came to this: that if I would
come to him again, and say some certain words to him, I should be released. Which
when they told me, I said if the words was such that might be said with a good conscience,
I should or else I should not. So through their importunity went back again, but
not believing that I should be delivered: for I feared their spirit was too full
of opposition to the truth to let me go, unless I should, in something or other,
dishonour my God and wound my conscience. Wherefore, as I went, I lifted up my heart
to God, for light and strength to be kept, that I might not do any thing that might
either dishonour Him, or wrong my own soul, or be a grief or discouragement to any
that was inclining after the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, when I came to the justice again, there was Mr FOSTER of Bedford, who, coming
out of another room, and seeing me by the light of the candle (for it was dark night
when I went thither), he said unto me, Who is there? JOHN BUNYAN? with such seeming
affection, as if he would have leaped on my neck and kissed me, which made me somewhat
wonder, that such a man as he, with whom I had so little acquaintance, and, besides,
that had ever been a close opposer of the ways of God, should carry himself so full
of love to me; but, afterwards, when I saw what he did, it caused me to remember
those sayings, THEIR TONGUES ARE SMOOTHER THAN OIL, BUT THEIR WORDS ARE DRAWN SWORDS.
And again, BEWARE OF MEN, ETC. When I had answered him, that blessed be God, I was
well; he said, What is the occasion of your being here? or to that purpose. To whom
I answered, that I was at a meeting of people a little way off, intending to speak
a word of exhortation to them; the justice hearing thereof, said I, was pleased to
send his warrant to fetch me before him, etc.
FOST. So (said he), I understand: but well, if you will promise to call the people
no more together, you shall have your liberty to go home; for my brother is very
loath to send you to prison, if you will be but ruled.
BUN. Sir (said I), pray what do you mean by calling the people together? my business
is not anything among them, when they are come together, but to exhort them to look
after the salvation of their souls, that they may be saved, etc.
FOST. Saith he, We must not enter into explication, or dispute now; but if you will
say you will call the people no more together, you may have your liberty; if not,
you must be sent away to prison.
BUN. Sir, said I, I shall not force or compel any man to hear me; but yet, if I come
into any place where there is a people met together, I should, according to the best
of my skill and wisdom, exhort and counsel them to seek out after the Lord Jesus
Christ, for the salvation of their souls.
FOST. He said, That was none of my work; I must follow my calling; and if I would
but leave off preaching, and follow my calling, I should have the justice's favour,
and be acquitted presently.
BUN. To whom I said, that I could follow my calling, and that too, namely, preaching
the Word: and I did look upon it as my duty to do them both, as I had an opportunity.
FOST. He said, To have any such meetings was against the law; and, therefore, he
would have me leave off, and say, I would call the people no more together.
BUN. To whom I said, that I durst not make any further promise; for my conscience
would not suffer me to do it. And again, I did look upon it as my duty to do as much
good as I could, not only in my trade, but also in communicating to all people wheresoever
I came the best knowledge I had in the Word.
FOST. He told me that I was the nearest the Papists of any, and that he would convince
me of immediately.
BUN. I asked him, Wherein?
FOST. He said, In that we understood the Scriptures literally.
BUN. I told him that those that were to be understood literally, we understood them
so; but for those that was to be understood otherwise, we endeavoured so to understand
FOST. He said, Which of the Scriptures do you understand literally?
BUN. I said this, HE THAT BELIEVES SHALL BE SAVED. This was to be understood just
as it is spoken; that whosoever believeth in Christ shall, according to the plain
and simple words of the text, be saved.
FOST. He said that I was ignorant, and did not understand the Scriptures; for how,
said he, can you understand them when you know not the original Greek? etc.
BUN. To whom I said, that if that was his opinion, that none could understand the
Scriptures but those that had the original Greek, etc., then but a very few of the
poorest sort should be saved (this is harsh); yet the Scripture saith, THAT GOD HIDES
THESE THINGS FROM THE WISE AND PRUDENT (that is, from the learned of the world),
AND REVEALS THEM TO BABES AND SUCKLINGS.
FOST. He said there were none that heard me but a company of foolish people.
BUN. I told him that there was the wise as well as the foolish that do hear me; and
again, those that were most commonly counted foolish by the world are the wisest
before God; also, that God had rejected the wise, and mighty, and noble, and chosen
the foolish, and the base.
FOST. He told me that I made people neglect their calling; and that God had commanded
people to work six days, and serve Him on the seventh.
BUN. I told him that it was the duty of people, (both rich and poor), to look out
for their souls on them days as well as for their bodies; and that God would have
His people exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day.
FOST. He said again that there were none but a company of poor, simple, ignorant
people that come to hear me.
BUN. I told him that the foolish and the ignorant had most need of teaching and information;
and, therefore, it would be profitable for me to go on in that work.
FOST. Well, said he, to conclude, but will you promise that you will not call the
people together any more? and then you may be released and go home.
BUN. I told him that I durst say no more than I had said; for I durst not leave off
that work which God had called me to.
So he withdrew from me, and then came several of the justice's servants to me, and
told me that I stood so much upon a nicety. Their master, they said, was willing
to let me go; and if I would but say I would call the people no more together, I
might have my liberty, etc.
BUN. I told them there were more ways than one in which a man might be said to call
the people together. As for instance, if a man get upon the market-place, and there
read a book, or the like, though he do not say to the people, Sirs, come hither and
hear; yet if they come to him because he reads, he, by his very reading, may be said
to call them together; because they would not have been there to hear if he had not
been there to read. And seeing this might be termed a calling the people together;
I durst not say, I would not call them together; for then, by the same argument,
my preaching might be said to call them together.
WING. AND FOST. Then came the justice and Mr Foster to me again; (we had a little
more discourse about preaching, but because the method of it is out of my mind, I
pass it); and when they saw that I was at a point, and would not be moved nor persuaded,
Mr Foster, the man that did at first express so much love to me, told the justice
that then he must send me away to prison. And that he would do well, also, if he
would present all those that were the cause of my coming among them to meetings.
Thus we parted.
And, verily, as I was going forth of the doors, I had much ado to forbear saying
to them that I carried the peace of God along with me; but I held my peace, and,
blessed be the Lord, went away to prison, with God's comfort in my poor soul.
After I had lain in the jail five or six days, the brethren sought means, again,
to get me out by bondsmen; (for so ran my mittimus, that I should lie there till
I could find sureties). They went to a justice at Elstow, one Mr Crumpton, to desire
him to take bond for my appearing at the quarter sessions. At the first he told them
he would; but afterwards he made a demur at the business, and desired first to see
my mittimus, which ran to this purpose: That I went about to several conventicles
in the county, to the great disparagement of the government of the church of England,
etc. When he had seen it, he said that there might be something more against me than
was expressed in my mittimus; and that he was but a young man, therefore he durst
not do it. This my jailor told me; and, whereat I was not at all daunted but rather
glad, and saw evidently that the Lord had heard me; for before I went down to the
justice, I begged of God that if I might do more good by being at liberty than in
prison, that then I might be set at liberty; but if not, His will be done; for I
was not altogether without hopes but that my imprisonment might be an awakening to
the saints in the country, therefore I could not tell well which to choose; only
I, in that manner, did commit the thing to God. And verily, at my return, I did meet
my God sweetly in the prison again, comforting of me and satisfying of me that it
was His will and mind that I should be there.
When I came back again to prison, as I was musing at the slender answer of the justice,
this word dropt in upon my heart with some life, FOR HE KNEW THAT FOR ENVY THEY HAD
Thus have I, in short, declared the manner and occasion of my being in prison; where
I lie waiting the good will of God, to do with me as He pleaseth; knowing that not
one hair of my head can fall to the ground without the will of my Father, which is
in heaven. Let the rage and malice of men be never so great, they can do no more,
nor go any further, than God permits them; but when they have done their worst, We
know all things shall work together for good to them that love God.
HERE IS THE SUM OF MY EXAMINATION BEFORE JUSTICE KEELIN, JUSTICE CHESTER, JUSTICE
BLUNDALE, JUSTICE BEECHER, JUSTICE SNAGG, ETC.
AFTER I had lain in prison above seven weeks, the quarter-sessions were to be kept
in Bedford, for the county thereof, unto which I was to be brought; and when my jailor
had set me before those justices, there was a bill of indictment preferred against
me. The extent thereof was as followeth: That John Bunyan, of the town of Bedford,
labourer, being a person of such and such conditions, he hath (since such a time)
devilishly and perniciously abstained from coming to church to hear Divine service,
and is a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the great
disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the
laws of our sovereign lord the King, etc.
THE CLERK. When this was read, the clerk of the sessions said unto me, What say you
BUN. I said, that as to the first part of it, I was a common frequenter of the Church
of God. And was also, by grace, a member with the people, over whom Christ is the
KEELIN. But, saith Justice KEELIN (who was the judge in that court), do you come
to church (you know what I mean); to the parish church, to hear Divine service?
BUN. I answered, No, I did not.
KEEL. He asked me, Why?
BUN. I said, Because I did not find it commanded in the Word of God.
KEEL. He said, We were commanded to pray.
BUN. I said, But not by the Common Prayer-Book.
KEEL. He said, How then?
BUN. I said, With the Spirit. As the apostle saith, I WILL PRAY WITH THE SPIRIT,
AND WITH THE UNDERSTANDING. 1 Cor. xiv. 15.
KEEL. He said, We might pray with the Spirit, and with the understanding, and with
the Common Prayer-Book also.
BUN. I said, that the prayers in the Common Prayer-Book were such as was made by
other men, and not by the motions of the Holy Ghost, within our hearts; and as I
said, the apostle saith, he will pray with the Spirit, and with the understanding;
not with the Spirit and the Common Prayer-Book.
ANOTHER JUSTICE. What do you count prayer? Do you think it is to say a few words
over before or among a people?
BUN. I said, No, not so; for men might have many elegant, or excellent words, and
yet not pray at all; but when a man prayeth, he doth, through a sense of those things
which he wants (which sense is begotten by the Spirit), pour out his heart before
God through Christ; though his words be not so many and so excellent as others are.
JUSTICES. They said, That was true.
BUN. I said, This might be done without the Common Prayer-Book.
ANOTHER. One of them said (I think it was Justice BLUNDALE, or Justice SNAGG), How
should we know that you do not write out your prayers first, and then read them afterwards
to the people? This he spake in a laughing way.
BUN. I said, it is not our use, to take a pen and paper, and write a few words thereon,
and then go and read it over to a company of people.
But how should we know it, said he?
BUN. Sir, it is none of our custom, said I.
KEEL. But said Justice KEELIN, It is lawful to use the Common Prayer, and such like
forms: for Christ taught His disciples to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
And further, said he, Cannot one man teach another to pray? Faith comes by hearing;
and one man may convince another of sin, and therefore prayers made by men, and read
over, are good to teach, and help men to pray.
While he was speaking these words, God brought that word into my mind, in the eighth
of the Romans, at the 26th verse. I say, God brought it, for I thought not on it
before: but as he was speaking, it came so fresh into my mind, and was set so evidently
before me, as if the scripture had said, Take me, take me; so when he had done speaking,
BUN. I said, Sir, the scripture saith, that IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT HELPETH OUR INFIRMITIES;
for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us, with sighs and groanings which cannot be uttered. Mark, said
I, it doth not say the Common Prayer-Book teacheth us how to pray, but the Spirit.
And it is THE SPIRIT THAT HELPETH OUR INFIRMITIES, saith the apostle; he doth not
say it is the Common Prayer-Book.
And as to the Lord's prayer, although it be an easy thing to say, OUR FATHER, etc.,
with the mouth; yet there is very few that can, in the Spirit, say the two first
words in that prayer; that is, that can call God their Father, as knowing what it
is to be born again, and as having experience, that they are begotten of the Spirit
of God: which if they do not, all is but babbling, etc.
KEEL. Justice KEELIN said that that was a truth.
BUN. And I say further, as to your saying that one man may convince another of sin,
and that faith comes by hearing, and that one man may tell another how he should
pray, etc., I say men may tell each other of their sins, but it is the Spirit that
must convince them.
And though it be said that FAITH COMES BY HEARING: yet it is the Spirit that worketh
faith in the heart through hearing, or else THEY ARE NOT PROFITED BY HEARING. Heb.
And that though one man may tell another how he should pray: yet, as I said before,
he cannot pray, nor make his condition known to God, except the Spirit help. It is
not the Common Prayer-Book that can do this. It is the SPIRIT THAT SHOWETH US OUR
SINS, and the SPIRIT THAT SHOWETH US A SAVIOUR, Jn. xvi. 16, and the Spirit that
stirreth up in our hearts desires to come to God, for such things as we stand in
need of, Matt. xi. 27, even sighing out our souls unto Him for them with GROANS WHICH
CANNOT BE UTTERED. With other words to the same purpose. At this they were set.
KEEL. But says Justice KEELIN, What have you against the Common Prayer-Book?
BUN. I said, Sir, if you will hear me, I shall lay down my reasons against it.
KEEL. He said I should have liberty; but first, said he, let me give you one caution;
take heed of speaking irreverently of the Common Prayer-Book; for if you do so, you
will bring great damage upon yourself.
BUN. So I proceeded, and said, My first reason was, because it was not commanded
in the Word of God, and therefore I could not use it.
ANOTHER. One of them said, Where do you find it commanded in the Scripture, that
you should go to ELSTOW, or BEDFORD, and yet it is lawful to go to either of them,
is it not?
BUN. I said, To go to ELSTOW, or BEDFORD, was a civil thing, and not material, though
not commanded, and yet God's Word allowed me to go about my calling, and therefore
if it lay there, then to go thither, etc. But to pray, was a great part of the Divine
worship of God, and therefore it ought to be done according to the rule of God's
ANOTHER. One of them said, He will do harm; let him speak no further.
KEEL. Justice KEELIN said, No, no, never fear him, we are better established than
so; he can do no harm; we know the Common Prayer- Book hath been ever since the apostles'
time, and it is lawful for it to be used in the church.
BUN. I said, Show me the place in the epistles, where the Common Prayer-Book is written,
or one text of Scripture, that commands me to read it, and I will use it. But yet,
notwithstanding, said I, they that have a mind to use it, they have their liberty;
that is, I would not keep them from it; but for our parts, we can pray to God without
it. Blessed be His name!
With that, one of them said, Who is your God? Beelzebub? Moreover, they often said,
that I was possessed with the spirit of delusion, and of the devil. All which sayings
I passed over; the Lord forgive them! And further, I said, Blessed be the Lord for
it; we are encouraged to meet together, and to pray, and exhort one another; for,
we have had the comfortable presence of God among us. For ever blessed be His holy
KEEL. Justice KEELIN called this pedler's French, saying, that I must leave off my
canting. The Lord open his eyes!
BUN. I said that we ought to exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day,
KEEL. Justice KEELIN said that I ought not to preach; and asked me where I had my
authority? with other such like words.
BUN. I said that I would prove that it was lawful for me, and such as I am, to preach
the Word of God.
KEEL. He said unto me, By what Scripture?
BUN. I said, By that in the first epistle of Peter, chap. iv. 10, 11, and Acts xviii.,
with other Scriptures, which he would not suffer me to mention. But said, Hold; not
so many, which is the first?
BUN. I said this: AS EVERY MAN HATH RECEIVED THE GIFT, EVEN SO LET HIM MINISTER THE
SAME UNTO ANOTHER, AS GOOD STEWARDS OF THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD. IF ANY MAN SPEAK,
LET HIM SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD, ETC.
KEEL. He said, Let me a little open that Scripture to you: AS EVERY MAN HATH RECEIVED
THE GIFT; that is, said he, as every one hath received a trade, so let him follow
it. If any man have received a gift of tinkering, as thou hast done, let him follow
his tinkering. And so other men their trades. And the divine his calling, etc.
BUN. Nay, sir, said I, but it is most clear, that the apostle speaks here of preaching
the Word; if you do but compare both the verses together, the next verse explains
this gift what it is, saying, IF ANY MAN SPEAK, LET HIM SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD.
So that it is plain, that the Holy Ghost doth not so much in this place exhort to
civil callings, as to the exercising of those gifts that we have received from God.
I would have gone on, but he would not give me leave.
KEEL. He said, We might do it in our families, but not otherways.
BUN. I said, If it was lawful to do good to some, it was lawful to do good to more.
If it was a good duty to exhort our families, it was good to exhort others; but if
they held it a sin to meet together to seek the face of God, and exhort one another
to follow Christ, I should sin still; for so we should do.
KEEL. He said he was not so well versed in Scripture as to dispute, or words to that
purpose. And said, moreover, that they could not wait upon me any longer; but said
to me, Then you confess the indictment, do you not? Now, and not till now, I saw
I was indicted.
BUN. I said, This I confess, we have had many meetings together, both to pray to
God, and to exhort one another, and that we had the sweet comforting presence of
the Lord among us for our encouragement; blessed be His name therefore. I confessed
myself guilty no otherwise.
KEEL. Then, said he, bear your judgment. You must be had back again to prison, and
there lie for three months following; and at three months' end, if you do not submit
to go to church to hear Divine service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished
the realm: and if, after such a day as shall be appointed you to be gone, you shall
be found in this realm, etc., or be found to come over again without special licence
from the king, etc., you must stretch by the neck for it, I tell you plainly: and
so he bid my jailor have me away.
BUN. I told him, as to this matter, I was at a point with him; for if I were out
of prison to-day, I would preach the Gospel again to- morrow, by the help of God.
ANOTHER. To which one made me some answer: but my jailor pulling me away to be gone,
I could not tell what he said.
Thus I departed from them; and I can truly say, I bless the Lord JESUS CHRIST for
it, that my heart was sweetly refreshed in the time of my examination, and also afterwards,
at my returning to the prison. So that I found Christ's words more than bare trifles,
where He saith, I WILL GIVE YOU A MOUTH AND WISDOM, WHICH ALL YOUR ADVERSARIES SHALL
NOT BE ABLE TO GAINSAY, NOR RESIST. Luke xxi. 15. And that His peace no man can take
Thus have I given you the substance of my examination. The Lord make this profitable
to all that shall read or hear it. Farewell.
THE SUBSTANCE OF SOME DISCOURSE HAD BETWEEN THE CLERK OF THE PEACE AND MYSELF; WHEN
HE CAME TO ADMONISH ME, ACCORDING TO THE TENOR OF THAT LAW, BY WHICH I WAS IN PRISON.
WHEN I had lain in prison other twelve weeks, and now not knowing what they intended
to do with me, upon the third of April 1661, comes Mr Cobb unto me (as he told me),
being sent by the justices to admonish me; and demand of me submittance to the church
of England, etc. The extent of our discourse was as followeth.
COBB. When he was come into the house he sent for me out of my chamber; who, when
I was come unto him, he said, Neighbour BUNYAN, how do you do?
BUN. I thank you, Sir, said I, very well, blessed be the Lord.
COBB. Saith he, I come to tell you, that it is desired you would submit yourself
to the laws of the land, or else at the next sessions it will go worse with you,
even to be sent away out of the nation, or else worse than that.
BUN. I said that I did desire to demean myself in the world, both as becometh a man
and a Christian.
COBB. But, saith he, you must submit to the laws of the land, and leave off those
meetings which you was wont to have; for the statute-law is directly against it;
and I am sent to you by the justices to tell you that they do intend to prosecute
the law against you if you submit not.
BUN. I said, Sir, I conceive that that law by which I am in prison at this time,
doth not reach or condemn either me, or the meetings which I do frequent; that law
was made against those, that being designed to do evil in their meetings, making
the exercise of religion their pretence, to cover their wickedness. It doth not forbid
the private meetings of those that plainly and simply make it their only end to worship
the Lord, and to exhort one another to edification. My end in meeting with others
is simply to do as much good as I can, by exhortation and counsel, according to that
small measure of light which God hath given me, and not to disturb the peace of the
COBB. Every one will say the same, said he; you see the late insurrection at LONDON,
under what glorious pretences they went; and yet, indeed, they intended no less than
the ruin of the kingdom and commonwealth.
BUN. That practice of theirs, I abhor, said I; yet it doth not follow that, because
they did so, therefore all others will do so. I look upon it as my duty to behave
myself under the King's government, both as becomes a man and a Christian, and if
an occasion were offered me, I should willingly manifest my loyalty to my Prince,
both by word and deed.
COBB. Well, said he, I do not profess myself to be a man that can dispute; but this
I say, truly, neighbour BUNYAN, I would have you consider this matter seriously,
and submit yourself; you may have your liberty to exhort your neighbour in private
discourse, so be you do not call together an assembly of people; and, truly, you
may do much good to the church of Christ, if you would go this way; and this you
may do, and the law not abridge you of it. It is your private meetings that the law
BUN. Sir, said I, if I may do good to one by my discourse? why may I not do good
to two? And if to two, why not to four, and so to eight? etc.
COBB. Ay, saith he, and to a hundred, I warrant you.
BUN. Yes, Sir, said I, I think I should not be forbid to do as much good as I can.
COBB. But, saith he, you may but pretend to do good, and instead, notwithstanding,
do harm, by seducing the people; you are, therefore, denied your meeting so many
together, lest you should do harm.
BUN. And yet, said I, you say the law tolerates me to discourse with my neighbour;
surely there is no law tolerates me seduce any one; therefore if I may by the law
discourse with one, surely it is to do him good; and if I by discoursing may do good
to one, surely, by the same law, I may do good to many.
COBB. The law, saith he, doth expressly forbid your private meetings; therefore they
are not to be tolerated.
BUN. I told him that I would not entertain so much uncharitableness of that Parliament
in the 35th of ELIZABETH, or of the Queen herself, as to think they did, by that
law, intend the oppressing of any of God's ordinances, or the interrupting any in
way of God; but men may, in the wresting of it, turn it against the way of God; but
take the law in itself, and it only fighteth against those that drive at mischief
in their hearts and meeting, making religion only their cloak, colour, or pretence;
for so are the words of the statute: IF ANY MEETINGS, UNDER COLOUR OR PRETENCE OF
COBB. Very good; therefore the king, seeing that pretences are usually in and among
people, so as to make religion their pretence only; therefore he, and the law before
him, doth forbid such private meetings, and tolerates only public; you may meet in
BUN. Sir, said I, let me answer you in a similitude: Set the case that, at such a
wood corner, there did usually come forth thieves, to do mischief; must there therefore
a law be made, that every one that cometh out there shall be killed? May not there
come out true men as well as thieves out from thence? Just thus is it in this case;
I do think there may be many that may design the destruction of the commonwealth;
but it doth not follow therefore that all private meetings are unlawful; those that
transgress, let them be punished. And if at any time I myself should do any act in
my conversation as doth not become a man and Christian, let me bear the punishment.
And as for your saying I may meet in public, if I may be suffered, I would gladly
do it. Let me have but meeting enough in public, and I shall care the less to have
them in private. I do not meet in private because I am afraid to have meetings in
public. I bless the Lord that my heart is at that point, that if any man can lay
any thing to my charge, either in doctrine or in practice, in this particular, that
can be proved error or heresy, I am willing to disown it, even in the very market-place;
but if it be truth, then to stand to it to the last drop of my blood. And, Sir, said
I, you ought to commend me for so doing. To err and to be a heretic are two things;
I am no heretic, because I will not stand refractorily to defend any one thing that
is contrary to the Word. Prove any thing which I hold to be an error, and I will
COBB. But, goodman BUNYAN, said he, methinks you need not stand so strictly upon
this one thing, as to have meetings of such public assemblies. Cannot you submit,
and, notwithstanding, do as much good as you can, in a neighbourly way, without having
BUN. Truly, Sir, said I, I do not desire to commend myself, but to think meanly of
myself; yet when I do most despise myself, taking notice of that small measure of
light which God hath given me, also that the people of the Lord (by their own saying),
are edified thereby. Besides, when I see that the Lord, through grace, hath in some
measure blessed my labour, I dare not but exercise that gift which God hath given
me for the good of the people. And I said further, that I would willingly speak in
public if I might.
COBB. He said, that I might come to the public assemblies and hear. What though you
do not preach? you may hear. Do not think yourself so well enlightened, and that
you have received a gift so far above others, but that you may hear other men preach.
Or to that purpose.
BUN. I told him, I was as willing to be taught as to give instruction, and I looked
upon it as my duty to do both; for, said I, a man that is a teacher, he himself may
learn also from another that teacheth, as the apostle saith, WE MAY ALL PROPHESY
ONE BY ONE, THAT ALL MAY LEARN. 1 Cor. xiv. 31. That is, every man that hath received
a gift from God, he may dispense it, that others may be comforted; and when he hath
done, he may hear and learn, and be comforted himself of others.
COBB. But, said he, what if you should forbear awhile, and sit still, till you see
further how things will go?
BUN. Sir, said I, WICKLIFFE saith, that he which leaveth off preaching and hearing
of the Word of God for fear of excommunication of men, he is already excommunicated
of God, and shall in the day of judgment be counted a traitor to Christ.
COBB. Ay, saith he, they that do not hear shall be so counted indeed; do you, therefore,
BUN. But, Sir, said I, he saith, he that shall leave off either preaching or hearing,
etc. That is, if he hath received a gift for edification, it is his sin, if he doth
not lay it out in a way of exhortation and counsel, according to the proportion of
his gift; as well as to spend his time altogether in hearing others preach.
COBB. But, said he, how shall we know that you have received a gift?
BUN. Said I, Let any man hear and search, and prove the doctrine by the Bible.
COBB. But will you be willing, said he, that two indifferent persons shall determine
the case; and will you stand by their judgment?
BUN. I said, Are they infallible?
COBB. He said, No.
BUN. Then, said I, it is possible my judgment may be as good as theirs. But yet I
will pass by either, and in this matter be judged by the Scriptures; I am sure that
is infallible, and cannot err.
COBB. But, said he, who shall be judge between you, for you take the Scriptures one
way, and they another?
BUN. I said the Scripture should: and that by comparing one Scripture with another;
for that will open itself, if it be rightly compared. As for instance, if under the
different apprehensions of the word MEDIATOR, you would know the truth of it, the
Scriptures open it, and tell us that he that is a mediator must take up the business
between two, and a mediator is not a mediator of one, - BUT GOD IS ONE, AND THERE
IS ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, EVEN THE MAN CHRIST JESUS. Gal. iii. 20; 1 Tim.
ii. 5. So likewise the Scripture calleth Christ a COMPLETE, or perfect, or able HIGH
PRIEST. That is opened in that He is called man, and also God. His blood also is
discovered to be effectually efficacious by the same things. So the Scripture, as
touching the matter of meeting together, etc., doth likewise sufficiently open itself
and discover its meaning.
COBB. But are you willing, said he, to stand to the judgment of the church?
BUN. Yes, Sir, said I, to the approbation of the church of God; (the church's judgment
is best expressed in Scripture). We had much other discourse which I cannot well
remember, about the laws of the nation, and submission to governments; to which I
did tell him, that I did look upon myself as bound in conscience to walk according
to all righteous laws, and that, whether there was a king or no; and if I did any
thing that was contrary, I did hold it my duty to bear patiently the penalty of the
law, that was provided against such offenders; with many more words to the like effect.
And said, moreover, that to cut off all occasions of suspicion from any, as touching
the harmlessness of my doctrine in private, I would willingly take the pains to give
any one the notes of all my sermons; for I do sincerely desire to live quietly in
my country, and to submit to the present authority.
COBB. Well, neighbour BUNYAN, said he, but indeed I would wish you seriously to consider
of these things, between this and the quarter-sessions, and to submit yourself. You
may do much good if you continue still in the land; but alas, what benefit will it
be to your friends, or what good can you do to them, if you should be sent away beyond
the seas into SPAIN, or CONSTANTINOPLE, or some other remote part of the world? Pray
JAILOR. Indeed, Sir, I hope he will be ruled.
BUN. I shall desire, said I, in all honesty to behave myself in the nation, whilst
I am in it. And if I must be so dealt withal, as you say, I hope God will help me
to bear what they shall lay upon me. I know no evil that I have done in this matter,
to be so used. I speak as in the presence of God.
COBB. You know, saith he, that the Scripture saith, THE POWERS THAT BE, ARE ORDAINED
BUN. I said, Yes, and that I was to submit to the King as supreme, and also to the
governors, as to them who are sent by Him.
COBB. Well then, said he, the King then commands you, that you should not have any
private meetings; because it is against his law, and he is ordained of God, therefore
you should not have any.
BUN. I told him that PAUL did own the powers that were in his day, to be of God;
and yet he was often in prison under them for all that. And also, though JESUS CHRIST
told PILATE, that He had no power against him, but of God, yet He died under the
same PILATE; and yet, said I, I hope you will not say that either PAUL, or Christ,
were such as did deny magistracy, and so sinned against God in slighting the ordinance.
Sir, said I, the law hath provided two ways of obeying: the one to do that which
I, in my conscience, do believe that I am bound to do, actively; and where I cannot
obey actively, there I am willing to lie down, and to suffer what they shall do unto
me. At this he sat still, and said no more; which when he had done, I did thank him
for his civil and meek discoursing with me; and so we parted.
O! that we might meet in heaven!
Farewell. J. B.
HERE FOLLOWETH A DISCOURSE BETWEEN MY WIFE AND THE JUDGES, WITH OTHERS, TOUCHING
MY DELIVERANCE AT THE ASSIZES FOLLOWING; THE WHICH I TOOK FROM HER OWN MOUTH.
AFTER that I had received this sentence of banishing, or hanging, from them, and
after the former admonition, touching the determination of the justices if I did
not recant; just when the time drew nigh, in which I should have abjured, or have
done worse (as Mr Cobb told me), came the time in which the King was to be crowned.
Now, at the coronation of kings, there is usually a releasement of divers prisoners,
by virtue of his coronation; in which privilege also I should have had my share;
but that they took me for a convicted person, and therefore, unless I sued out a
pardon (as they called it), I could have no benefit thereby, notwithstanding, yet,
forasmuch as the coronation proclamation did give liberty, from the day the King
was crowned, to that day twelvemonth, to sue them out; therefore, though they would
not let me out of prison, as they let out thousands, yet they could not meddle with
me, as touching the execution of their sentence; because of the liberty offered for
the suing out of pardons. Whereupon I continued in prison till the next assizes,
which are called MIDSUMMER ASSIZES, being then kept in AUGUST, 1661.
Now, at that assizes, because I would not leave any possible means unattempted that
might be lawful, I did, by my wife, present a petition to the judges three times,
that I might be heard, and that they would impartially take my case into consideration.
The first time my wife went, she presented it to Judge HALE, who very mildly received
it at her hand, telling her that he would do her and me the best good he could; but
he feared, he said, he could do none. The next day, again, lest they should, through
the multitude of business, forget me, we did throw another petition into the coach
to Judge TWISDON; who, when he had seen it, snapt her up, and angrily told her that
I was a convicted person, and could not be released, unless I would promise to preach
no more, etc.
Well, after this, she yet again presented another to judge Hale, as he sat on the
bench, who, as it seemed, was willing to give her audience. Only Justice CHESTER
being present, stept up and said, that I was convicted in the court, and that I was
a hot-spirited fellow (or words to that purpose), whereat he waived it, and did not
meddle therewith. But yet, my wife being encouraged by the high-sheriff, did venture
once more into their presence (as the poor widow did before the unjust judge) to
try what she could do with them for my liberty, before they went forth of the town.
The place where she went to them, was to the SWAN-CHAMBER, where the two judges,
and many justices and gentry of the country, was in company together. She then coming
into the chamber with a bashed face, and a trembling heart, began her errand to them
in this manner:-
WOMAN. My lord (directing herself to judge Hale), I make bold to come once again
to your Lordship, to know what may be done with my husband.
JUDGE HALE. To whom he said, Woman, I told thee before I could do thee no good; because
they have taken that for a conviction which thy husband spoke at the sessions: and
unless there be something done to undo that, I can do thee no good.
WOMAN. My lord, said she, he is kept unlawfully in prison; they clapped him up before
there was any proclamation against the meetings; the indictment also is false. Besides,
they never asked him whether he was guilty or no; neither did he confess the indictment.
ONE OF THE JUSTICES. Then one of the justices that stood by, whom she knew not, said,
My Lord, he was lawfully convicted.
WOM. It is false, said she; for when they said to him, Do you confess the indictment?
he said only this, that he had been at several meetings, both where there were preaching
the Word, and prayer, and that they had God's presence among them.
JUDGE TWISDON. Whereat Judge TWISDON answered very angrily, saying, What, you think
we can do what we list; your husband is a breaker of the peace, and is convicted
by the law, etc. Whereupon Judge HALE called for the Statute Book.
WOM. But, said she, my lord, he was not lawfully convicted.
CHESTER. Then Justice CHESTER said, My lord, he was lawfully convicted.
WOM. It is false, said she; it was but a word of discourse that they took for a conviction
(as you heard before).
CHEST. But it is recorded, woman; it is recorded, said Justice CHESTER; as if it
must be of necessity true, because it was recorded. With which words he often endeavoured
to stop her mouth, having no other argument to convince her, but it is recorded,
it is recorded.
WOM. My Lord, said she, I was a while since at LONDON, to see if I could get my husband's
liberty; and there I spoke with my lord BARKWOOD, one of the House of Lords, to whom
I delivered a petition, who took it of me and presented it to some of the rest of
the House of Lords, for my husband's releasement; who, when they had seen it, they
said, that they could not release him, but had committed his releasement to the judges,
at the next assizes. This he told me; and now I am come to you to see if any thing
may be done in this business, and you give neither releasement nor relief. To which
they gave her no answer, but made as if they heard her not.
CHEST. Only Justice CHESTER was often up with this, - He is convicted, and it is
WOM. If it be, it is false, said she.
CHEST. My lord, said Justice CHESTER, he is a pestilent fellow, there is not such
a fellow in the country again.
TWIS. What, will your husband leave preaching? If he will do so, then send for him.
WOM. My lord, said she, he dares not leave preaching as long as he can speak.
TWIS. See here, what should we talk any more about such a fellow? Must he do what
he lists? He is a breaker of the peace.
WOM. She told him again, that he desired to live peaceably, and to follow his calling,
that his family might be maintained; and moreover, said, My Lord, I have four small
children, that cannot help themselves, one of which is blind, and have nothing to
live upon, but the charity of good people.
HALE. Hast thou four children? said Judge Hale; thou art but a young woman to have
WOM. My lord, said she, I am but mother-in-law to them, having not been married to
him yet full two years. Indeed, I was with child when my husband was first apprehended;
but being young, and unaccustomed to such things, said she, I being smayed at the
news, fell into labour, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered,
but my child died.
HALE. Whereat, he looking very soberly on the matter, said, Alas, poor woman!
TWIS. But Judge TWISDON told her, that she made poverty her cloak; and said, moreover,
that he understood I was maintained better by running up and down a preaching, than
by following my calling.
HALE. What is his calling? said Judge Hale.
ANSWER. Then some of the company that stood by, said, A tinker, my lord.
WOM. Yes, said she; and because he is a tinker, and a poor man, therefore he is despised,
and cannot have justice.
HALE. Then Judge HALE answered very mildly, saying, I tell thee, woman, seeing it
is so, that they have taken what thy husband spake for a conviction; thou must either
apply thyself to the King, or sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error.
CHEST. But when Justice CHESTER heard him give her this counsel; and especially (as
she supposed) because he spoke of a writ of error, he chafed, and seemed to be very
much offended; saying, My lord, he will preach and do what he lists.
WOM. He preacheth nothing but the Word of God, said she.
TWIS. He preach the Word of God! said Twisdon; and withal, she thought he would have
struck her; he runneth up and down, and doth harm.
WOM. No, my lord, said she, it is not so; God hath owned him, and done much good
TWIS. God! said he, his doctrine is the doctrine of the devil.
WOM. My lord, said she, when the righteous Judge shall appear, it will be known that
his doctrine is not the doctrine of the devil.
TWIS. My lord, said he, to Judge Hale, do not mind her, but send her away.
HALE. Then said Judge Hale, I am sorry, woman, that I can do thee no good; thou must
do one of those three things aforesaid, namely, either to apply thyself to the King,
or sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error; but a writ of error will be cheapest.
WOM. At which Chester again seemed to be in a chafe, and put off his hat, and as
she thought, scratched his head for anger: but when I saw, said she, that there was
no prevailing to have my husband sent for, though I often desired them that they
would send for him, that he might speak for himself; telling them, that he could
give them better satisfaction than I could, in what they demanded of him, with several
other things, which now I forget; only this I remember, that though I was somewhat
timorous at my first entrance into the chamber, yet before I went out, I could not
but break forth into tears, not so much because they were so hard- hearted against
me, and my husband, but to think what a sad account such poor creatures will have
to give at the coming of the Lord, when they shall there answer for all things whatsoever
they have done in the body, whether it be good, or whether it be bad.
So, when I departed from them, the book of statutes was brought, but what they said
of it I know nothing at all, neither did I hear any more from them.
SOME CARRIAGES OF THE ADVERSARIES OF GOD'S TRUTH WITH ME AT THE NEXT ASSIZES, WHICH
WAS ON THE 19TH OF THE FIRST MONTH, 1662.
I SHALL pass by what befell between these two assizes, how I had, by my jailor, some
liberty granted me, more than at the first, and how I followed my wonted course of
preaching, taking all occasions that were put into my hand to visit the people of
God; exhorting them to be steadfast in the faith of Jesus Christ, and to take heed
that they touched not the Common Prayer, etc., but to mind the Word of God, which
giveth direction to Christians in every point, being able to make the man of God
perfect in all things through faith in Jesus Christ, and thoroughly to furnish him
unto all good works. 2 Tim. iii. 17. Also how I having, I say, somewhat more liberty,
did go to see the Christians at LONDON; which my enemies hearing of, were so angry,
that they had almost cast my jailor out of his place, threatening to indict him,
and to do what they could against him.
They charged me also, that I went thither to plot and raise division, and make insurrection,
which, God knows, was a slander; whereupon my liberty was more straitened than it
was before; so that I must not now look out of the door. Well, when the next sessions
came, which was about the 10th of the 11th month (1661), I did expect to have been
very roundly dealt withal; but they passed me by, and would not call me, so that
I rested till the assizes, which was held the 19th of the first month (1662) following;
and when they came, because I had a desire to come before the judge, I desired my
jailor to put my name into the calendar among the felons, and made friends of the
judge and high-sheriff, who promised that I should be called: so that I thought what
I had done might have been effectual for the obtaining of my desire: but all was
in vain; for when the assizes came, though my name was in the calendar, and also
though both the judge and sheriff had promised that I should appear before them,
yet the justices and the clerk of the peace, did so work it about, that I, notwithstanding,
was deferred, and was not suffered to appear: and although I say, I do not know of
all their carriages towards me, yet this I know, that the clerk of the peace (Mr
Cobb) did discover himself to be one of my greatest opposers: for, first he came
to my jailor and told him that I must not go down before the judge, and therefore
must not be put into the calendar; to whom my jailor said, that my name was in already.
He bid him put it out again; my jailor told him that he could not: for he had given
the judge a calendar with my name in it, and also the sheriff another. At which he
was very much displeased, and desired to see that calendar that was yet in my jailor's
hand, who, when he had given it him, he looked on it, and said it was a false calendar;
he also took the calendar and blotted out my accusation, as my jailor had written
it (which accusation I cannot tell what it was, because it was so blotted out), and
he himself put in words to this purpose: That John Bunyan was committed to prison;
being lawfully convicted for upholding of unlawful meetings and conventicles, etc.
But yet for all this, fearing that what he had done, unless he added thereto, it
would not do, he first ran to the clerk of the assizes; then to the justices, and
afterwards, because he would not leave any means unattempted to hinder me, he came
again to my jailor, and told him, that if I did go down before the judge, and was
released, he would make him pay my fees, which he said was due to him; and further,
told him, that he would complain of him at the next quarter sessions for making of
false calendars, though my jailor himself, as I afterwards learned, had put in my
accusation worse than in itself it was by far. And thus was I hindered and prevented
at that time also from appearing before the judge: and left in prison.
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