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CONTAINING A PARTICULAR ACCOUNT OF HIS CONVERSION, EXAMINATION,
AND IMPRISONMENT ;
COMPILED FROM AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS:
REV. JOSEPH IVIMEY,
Minister of Eagle Street Chapel, London.
ISAAC, TAYLOR HINTON,
4, WARWICK SQUARE.
IF it should be asked what necessity there was for the present undertaking, the Editor replies, that although many excellent commentaries contain just remarks upon the sentiments, yet none of them in his opinion illustrate the design of the Author, which appears to him to have been, to give an allegorical history of his own religious life, and of the times which passed over the body of nonconformists, of which he was a member, between the years 1650 and 1688.
In the changes which took place in the ecclesiastical establishment during that period, Mr. Bunyan was treated as a sectary both by presbyters and prelates. Impartiality demands this statement, however hard it may bear on a large branch of the nonconformists. The same impartiality compels the Editor to add, that though the Presbyterians did not, any more than the Episcopalians, understand the right of private judgment in matters of religion, they were a noble race of men, and good ministers of our Lord Jesus Christ. They had to cleanse an Augean stable, the filth of which had been rapidly
collecting by means of the promulgation of the “ Book of Sports” in the reign of the first two princes of the house of Stuart: nor will any impar tial person who reads the history of that period, withhold from them the honour of having effected a wonderful reformation among all classes of the community
These were the ministers whose manners, principles, and labours were held up to ridicule and contempt by the witty and profane Samuel Butler, in his poem entitled “ Hudibras.” That such a production should be relished and admired in the dissolute and profligate reign of Charles II. excites no surprise: but that its malevolent and caricature representations should find not only an apologist, but an admirer, in a writer of the last century, is a proof of the force of prejudice. It is not to be wondered at, however, that the man who could, in his “ Lives of the Poets,” depreciate the learned and amiable Dr. Watts for his nonconformity, should vent the spleen and rancour which appear in the following paragraph, extracted from his “ Life of Butler."
“ Much therefore of that humour that transported the seventeenth century with meriment is lost to us, who do not know the sour solemnity, the sullen superstition, the gloomy moroseness, and the stubborn scruples of the ancient puritans, or, if we know them, derive them only from. books, or from tradition, having never had them before our eyes, and cannot but by recollection and study understand the lines in which they are